I am submitting this article on behalf of a friend and neighbour, Jill Barnes née Adams. Jill doesn’t use a computer much but has given me some details of her family, including some photographs, together with her permission to publish them on the website. Jill lived in Victoria Avenue, Langdon Hills throughout her childhood and attended Langdon Hills School and Laindon High Road School.
To avoid the Blitz, Jill’s grandparents, Alfred and Lillian Bailey, moved from West Ham to a bungalow called “St Michaels” in Victoria Avenue, Langdon Hills. Their children, daughters Lillian (known as Bubs, short for bubbles due to her very curly hair) and Edith, known as Edie and son Ronald, known as Ron, all settled in Victoria Avenue, an unmade road. Lillian (Bubs) Bailey married Bernard who coincidently also had the surname Bailey and they lived in ‘St David’s’. Their three children are, Peter, David and Jennifer. Edith married Jack Adams and lived in a large house called “St Elmo”. Initially they rented the house from the Clarke family of ‘Holmcroft’ next door, but later bought it from them. Edith and Jack had two children, Michael born 1943 and Gillian born 1945 (known as Jill). Ron Bailey married Eileen Manning and lived in ‘Blythwood’ and had two children, Alan born 1945 and Janice born 1947.
Victoria Avenue ran from just south of the railway, almost parallel with the High Road until it reached Lee Chapel Lane. Jill recalls neighbours in Victoria Avenue as follows: Alf and Margaret Clarke of ‘Holmcroft’ with their son John and twins Stephen and Tommy. The St. John family, the Thomas family, the Jasper family, the Hunt family, the Telford family, Mr Eric Rand, Mr and Mrs Balcolme, and lastly a builder called Mr Carter.
During Jill’s childhood, she remembers a man called Wilhelm, a German prisoner of war from the prison camp, who came to do gardening and other odd jobs at the family home. He became a friend of the family and after he returned home to Germany, Jill’s mum kept in contact with him until at least 1952. She spoke no German and he spoke no English, so their letters needed to be translated. Jill also remembers a Polish man called Jacob who also did gardening and odd jobs. Both appear in the photos that Jill has supplied.
Jill remembers being able to roam the area freely with her friends, the only rule being that she should return home at lunch time and again at dinner time. She and her friends often wandered down to the railway line to play.
Jill recalls a disaster that happened in Victoria Avenue during the fifties, although unsure of the exact date. A deep ditch was being dug in order to lay drains, when the clay sides caved in, killing a number of men who had been working there.
Jill remembers her parents going to socials that were regularly held at Churchill Johnson’s.
Jill’s family home was compulsory purchased in 1959 and she and her parents moved to Berry Lane. Jill left school and went to work at HMSO in Basildon. When she was 16, she met Barry Barnes when on holiday in Osmington Bay, Weymouth. They married in 1966 and have a son called John.
The Northern end of Victoria Avenue is now a nature reserve. Staneway was built further to the south, cutting across Victoria Avenue from east to west and what remains of Victoria Avenue is now to the south of Staneway.
I would be happy to pass any messages or comments on to Jill.