My Laindon My Story

Pre-school years part 2

After my fathers demob from the army as I told you we were given a Prefab in Worthing Rd. The welfare state did not come in until the National Insurance Act 1946 and National Health Act 1948 so everyone had to manage the best they could and had to try to be self-supporting. 

My father had come from a family of costers (barrow boys) from the East End and he knew he would not be able to work for anyone but himself, as he had come to love Laindon and its people he tried to earn a living here. His first attempt was to try a bit of door to door selling, I recall going round the houses with colouring pencils and books, I think he took me because I looked a bit like orphan Annie and he thought he would sell more. No chance after the war - you only got toys at Christmas. Most of Laindon families then were pretty much in the same boat – not to well off. 

I do recall we all tried to be self sufficient, we had veggy patches chickens etc. I recall one year my grandad fattened up a goose for Christmas, us kids called her Peggy. On Christmas Day when she was put on the table we all cried so much we couldn’t eat her. Strange what memories we have. Whether or not we ate other fattened up poultry I can’t recall, but Peggy we definitely didn’t eat.

My fathers next attempt at earning a living was to buy a horse and cart. Her name was Dalia (in fact she was a mule). She was either lazy or very clever. She didn’t like heavy loads. I really don’t know how my father got away with it but he would keep her tethered on the kids playing field between Worthing Rd and Victoria Rd.  All the kids loved her and would get rides when he put her to the cart to go off to work. I wonder if anyone remembers my dad and Dalia.  He always wore a white shirt with rolled up sleeves and a trilby hat and shouted ”any ole lumber”.  Sometimes he gave goldfish for rags. One time I recall he had picked up a piano from a house in Langdon Hills. He was taking it to the second hand arcade opposite Barclay’s bank near Coles fish shop. The arcade was like Aladdin’s cave, does any one remember it? After she got her bun from Cottis’s bakers she saw the railway bridge, felt the load and took off my dad in hot pursuit.  She flew round the station bend past the Winston club and came to a halt outside the Paramount radio shop and hairdressers (where I had my first D.A. cut when I was 14) just before Morris’s big department store. One of the shops along there always left water out for the trade horses. As I said I think our mule was clever, the piano fell off on the station bend. My dad told many a tale like this about Dalia and himself.

In those days you needed an accumulator to use a radio. This was her next job picking them up for people to get them charged and delivering paraffin for stoves. This was from Collins oil shop. I can’t be sure but I think they also charged the accumulators. Dad and Dalia lasted about 2 years. I’m not sure if they were evicted from the playing field or my dad got tired of her temperamental ways but my father told me she had gone off to become the friend of some kiddies in Langdon Hills. I like to think this part is true. If anyone has any memories of this it would be grand.

My parents split up when I was 16 in 1958 so these memories are as true as I can make them. After this my dad went back to London to work. He would catch the mail train every morning from Laindon station to London and the 6:20 from London back home. He would get one of Parkinson’s lovely black cabs from Laindon station home every night. He sold flowers from his stall in London and was often called on by someone in Laindon to supply flowers for a special occasion. 

On the corner of Beatrice Rd., where I spent the first three years of my life, where it met Berry Lane was a little general stores called Langley’s.  My nan used to send me up there  and ask me to ask Mrs Lungley to put it on the bill. My nan used to go and pay at the end of the week. Mrs Lungley was the sweetest of ladys. She would give us our sweets in a coned shaped piece of newspaper (the same ply as the toilet paper I would think). Will I ever forget the old red telephone box outside Lungley’s. My auntie Eileen sat me on the shelf in there to tell me I had a little baby brother. 

My grandad was a warden in Laindon during the war and after he went back to his own trade as a plasterer. Sunday teatime was always great fun at Lilac. The fish man would come round. We would have a pint of cockles, a pint of shrimps and a pint of winkles. I will never forget everyone hunting around for a pin to get their winkles out, but you had to make sure grandad had his first, wonderful memories. 

Beatrice path ran along the side of the railway track. The steam trains would roll out of Laindon station on their way to London (up the line we called it). My brother Fred and I would watch them for hours, we would go down the white station steps to the path. The trains would rumble under the bridge getting up steam with their lovely red carriages to go steaming off to London. You can see just this scene on the Langdon Hill pictures titled ‘bring back steam’. I recall in one of the bungalows on the left the Boniface family lived. Janet was a friend of ours. where is she now I wonder?

Just a little further along the path were the railway allotments on the right. I recall a man named Mr. Warren had one there. I went to school with his Mary. Mr.Warren always had a walking stick made from a brussel sprout stick. I do hope someone remembers this.

At the top of Vowler Rd where it met Berry Lane there was another little stores. They sold tiger nuts and real liquorice sticks like twigs. We would chew on them all day. Just along opposite Raglan Rd was a little electric appliance shop. We bought our first t.v. there. A 9″ screen Stella. I remember one of the first things I watched was a serialised version of the little match girl, it really made me cry.

When you got to the left hand sharp bend in Berry Lane, if you went straight on into, I think it was Cumberland Drive, you could walk the back way all the way to the Arterial Rd (A127). My brother Fred and I walked this way to my grandparents every Sunday.  We would go along Railway Approach passing numerous bungalows and shacks. Unfortunately I can’t remember any of their names.  Pass a turnpike every now and then. Then we would come to the little stone bridge at the top of Durham Rd. I wonder if it is still there? We would wait for a train to go under then run to the other side. I can still smell the smoke and the steam. It would take us all morning to get to our grandparents but no one ever worried about us. I think people knew the whole community would watch over each others kids. Oh! sweet nostalgia of days long past, my eyes are damp longing for the same for my grandchildren. 

Before I end my pre school years I must just mention our wonderful big carnivals the whole town came out to watch. A ll the local businesses and clubs would decorate a float or trailer, many on loan from Derick Jenkins removals. Billy Foyle used to lead it on his beautiful Palomino horse always dressed in black. A local girl was always queen and the floats would go to the field at the back of the Laindon hotel to be judged. I am sitting here with tears in my eyes. Anyone remembering these times will know why. 

Does anyone remember the two lions Billy Foyle kept in cages at his front gates? This would never be alowed today and I would be the first to protest but it is still part of my early life.

There are of course so many more things I recall about my early childhood in Laindon. The huge bunches of bluebells from Crown Woods, the baskets of mushrooms from dung heaps, the newspaper toilet rolls, the hair washed in water from the butt. 

I do hope you have enjoyed the journey through my pre-school years. Till next time bye for now Gloria.

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  • Being reminded of “Sunview” by June and Peter prompted several thoughts. Although many residencies in the Laindon area were erected for sale by builders (Foulger and Isaac Levy come to mind), many were built by individuals. This was probably the case with “Sunview” which had to be one of the last such bungalows in the Laindon area (1947) to be built.

    Bill Long had worked “on the buildings” all his life. I imagine he had picked up many of the necessary skills in his long career. Some work was no doubt bartered where, if Bill Long needed expert electrical help for example, a qualified pal would provide the expertise in return for Bill Long putting up his wallpaper. A similar exchange might take place when certain work could not be done without a second pair of hands. As for work requiring a specific license………well there may or may not have been a license involved! I am sure the BUDC building inspector had more important things to do than check closely on what was going on at the bottom of a very muddy field off Berry Lane.

    I wonder how Bill Long purchased the actual piece of ground and from whom? He would need a building license from the BUDC. but the BUDC were in the beginning throes of planning for the new town development. Would they have issued such a building license knowing the bungalow would probably be torn down for redevelopment in a few years?

    More perplexing perhaps was how did Bill Long secure the materials to construct the bungalow? This was 1947. Post war austerity was the watchword. The King Edward estate was just being built and work was constantly being halted there for lack of building materials. I know this for a fact because I avidly watched progress every day on the way to and from school as we were due to take possession of 2 King Edward Terrace. Rebuilding from the blitz, new estates that were being started all over the country, the post war baby boom, all these factors put new housing at a premium. Materials simply could not satisfy the demand. I imagine there were tight government controls on where the available materials went and who got them. So how did Bill Long get the materials to build “Sunview”? Pals in the building trade? After all there was always a certain “wastage” and “damage” which ensured that the accounts could not tally to the last two by four. Then there was always the black market!

    Financing the construction had to be difficult. I cannot imagine going to a bank in that heavily government regulated environment and asking for a mortgage. Was “Randley” across the field owned by Helen Hall and Bill Long. Did they sell it to Gertrude and Arthur Avis? Is this where the money to construct “Sunview” came from? Certainly it seems reasonable to suspect that the original reason to build “Sunview” was to provide more space for the two families. With Arthur’s return from the war and the birth of Peter, the two families living in “Randley” were seven in number. My memory says “Randley” had two bedrooms.

    As Yul Brynner says in “The King and I” “’tis a puzzlement.”

    Editor: ‘Sun View‘ appears on the 1949 survey as follows:  Brick, stucco and tiles.  Estimated No. of rooms – 4.   Condition – good.   Estimate life – 20-25 years.   Architectural quality – bad.  Description of plot – tidy.  

    By Alan Davies (24/03/2015)
  • Hello June and Peter. We are cousins. Your mother Gertrude and my father George were siblings. Helen Hall was their mother. We lived in “Lowlands” until 1947. Up to this time there were only two houses in Raglan Road, “Randley” and “Lowlands”. “Randley” was occupied by our grandmother Helen Hall, her “live in luv” as my mother referred to Bill Long, Arthur (after his return from the war) and Gertrude Avis and their children Arthur and June. Peter not yet being born that I can recall. After we left “Lowlands” in January 1947 our uncle Len and his wife Elsie moved in. Len’s mother was Helen Hall while his father was Helen’s second husband.

    Some time between 1947 and 1950 “Sun View” was built in what was previously our playing field across from the two pre-existing houses. Helen Hall and Bill Long moved into “Sun View” leaving “Randley” to the Avis family.

    I shall be visiting the UK in a few weeks and shall be meeting two additional cousins with whom I have kept in contact over the years. Tony, uncle Will’s son who lived in Lincewood Park Drive and Ron, uncle Albert’s son who lived in Wash Road. Both from the Helen Hall side of the family.

    By Alan Davies (22/03/2015)
  • I don’t either I was born there in 1946 and it was a great place to live. June is my sister we both went to Langdon Hills Primary School.

    Editor:  This is Raglan Road, Langdon Hills.  The Electoral Registers from 1949 to 1955 show Helen Hall and William Long were living in ‘Sun View’.  In 1956 Helen E Hall was living there alone. 

    There were seven properties listed in Raglan Road on the 1949 Electoral Register.  ‘White House’ – Elsie and Frederick Sears.  ‘Lyndhurst’ – Elizabeth Cox plus Henry and Sarah Hill. ‘Dunelm’ -William and Robert Forster. ‘Southfields’ – Ellen and Cecil Nicholls.  ‘Randley’ – Gertrude and Arthur Avis.  ‘Lowlands’ Elsie and Leonard Hall.    

    By Peter Avis (20/03/2015)
  • Gloria, just re-reading your article; many things are very familiar to my childhood in Laindon too. 

    The secondhand arcade you mention might be Mr Hardy’s – a gent who wore a black bowler hat? I loved going in there too, Aladdin’s cave. 

    Also, about accumulators being charged – I used to take ours to Paramounts, just further up on the same side of the road?

    By Andrea (25/01/2013)
  • Further to my comment in respect of the very old survivors of Laindon. Three other names have emerged from my memory as still being with us. Doris Connell (nee Lockett), Dolly James (nee Marshall) and Leonard Flack . I do hope that more will emerge as it is said that “Time like an ever rolling stream bears all its sons away” , but hopefully with the help of the Archives they will not die forgotten..

    By W.H.Diment (23/01/2013)
  • Barry commented on the 18/1/2013 that he had a photograph of a horse and cart in Windsor Road I have just added this to the site. 

    Click to see

    By Ian Mott (22/01/2013)
  • Nina Thank you so much for that information. You have solved the mystery of where the name came from, something I have thought a lot about over the years. And to have names of former owners is great. 

    When we purchased the place back in 1993 or 94 it was totally derelict and had been left empty for some years. It took 8 large skips to clear just the rubbish and then there was all the asbestos to contend with but we got over it and think it was worth all the hard work. 

    The wooden frame to the bungalow was like new after the asbestos sheeting had been removed. All the internal doors are original with the original locks and keys we have also kept the cast iron fireplaces. 

    If I remember right the family’s name I purchased it from was Padon but we never met them as it was all left in the hands of a solicitor thanks so much again.

    By Barry Ellerby (20/01/2013)
  • It was sad to see that Doug Bonniface has died. While I did not know him very well, he was a friend of my late wife Peggy from her childhood days at Dunton. Peggy’s maiden name was Hunt and she had three older brothers, all of whom are now dead. 

    It seems that the Laindon teenagers of the 1930s’ are all being whittled away. I can now only remember a few from that era who still survive, Hilda Porter (nee Pitt), Don Sheppard, Harry Rossiter (whom I only vaguely knew) and I am not sure about Cliff Cowell and Jack Goldingay. I believe there may be others out there and hope someone will name them as those who were part of the transition of Laindon appear to be very few and far between. 

    By W.H.Diment (20/01/2013)
  • Barry. I may be able to help you. From your description I believe your bungalow is called “Ormvill” or “Ormevilla”. If correct, it appears to have been named after a former owner called Ormond Hook.

    On the 1949 Electoral Register (shown as Ormeville), Ormond and Eliza Hook were living there with their daughter Eva. The 1949 survey describes the building as stucco and tiles, with 4 rooms, in good condition on a tidy plot. The 1929 Electoral Register shows the name as “Ormvill” again with Ormond Hook living there with his wife Eliza and daughter Eva. “Ormvill” isn’t listed on the 1918 Electoral Register indicating that it was built sometime between 1918 and 1929. The 1911 Census shows, Ormond (a labourer aged 43) and Eliza (age 41) living in East Ham with their three children. The BMD records show that Ormond Hook died in 1952 aged about 85. His daughter Eva died in 1968 aged about 69.

    I live not far from you and find the history of the older buildings in the area fascinating.

    By Nina Humphrey(née Burton) (19/01/2013)
  • Hi gloria I found your article very intresting and a good read.

    I have an old photo of two men on a horse and cart it was taken in Windsor Rd., next to the Winston Club this also looks more like a mule than a horse. I will try to get the photo put on the site so you can see it.

    You talk about Berry Lane a bit where I live, right opposite Shakespeare Ave. We own the last wooden bungalow left in Laindon. It’s nearly a hundred years old now and I have spent a fortune over the years trying to keep it looking how it should. You must have past it hundreds of times on the way to the recreation ground. 

    You may even remember someone who lived in it? I am trying to find out about its past. Thanks for a good read

    By Barry Ellerby (17/01/2013)
  • Hi since my last comment to this page I took a phone call this morning and was told uncle Doug Bonnieface died this morning. He was 93 and a very active man, he died of a heart attack and did not suffer unlike my poor aunt who is devastated.

    By Lyn Eleftheriades (16/01/2013)
  • Hi my mums sister married a Boniface his name is Doug and is alive and well in his 90’s! He still cycles to Laindon from Billericay to get the bread!

    By Lyn Eleftheriades (11/01/2013)
  • I would love to know which sister Mary Hawkins sister was friends in Billy Foyles family as it could be my mum! Please tell me, I am so excited to have found this site as have told my own sons that uncle bill had a horse that played football!

    By Lyn Eleftheriades (10/01/2013)
  • I do remember Mr Warren, wasn’t his first name Ellfy, always doing up cars in his side garden as I recall. Was his daughters name Mary, we called her Toppy for short? Toppy always reminded me of Ann of Greengables, and had a personality to match. Toppy was more of my older sister Carol friend than mine though. Didn’t Ellfy have a sister that lived just passed Lynn Davies house, just passed the little water bridge toward the white steps in Beatrice Lane. 

    I seem to remember a rape of a young girl in Berry Lane on that little bridge, maybe in the early 70s even maybe late 60s come to think, I know they caught the man because I saw the black maria police car waiting to get him at the top of Berry Lane, near Langley’s grocery shop. Me and my sister were sitting at a table in the window of our bedroom and saw him pass the house that day and remarked that he looked like the description of a man in the paper that they were looking for. So we looked up the path to see if it could be him and thats what we saw a black fancy looking car, as we thought it to be, with 3 or 4 plain clothed men grabbing him and pushing him in. We were only about 10 or 11 i’d guess, I wonder if it was him or they were just friends picking some innocent young man up from the station, but in our young vivid minds we always believed we saw the arrests, or with the passing of time have thing become confused. I don’t think so, because next thing we heard they had caught him. It was very alarming thing to happen in those days and was for us as kids very scary. Dad was particularly concerned as there were 4 of us girls and 5 boys only living literally 10 seconds walk from the incident. 

    I do remember the sweetshop you were talking about opposite the Berry Lane end of Vowler Road but can’t remember the name, but it was a dark musty little room with hardly any stock to speak of, just a few jars of sherbet pips and powdered sherbet that you would make lemonade by adding water, or was that just us !!! You could dip your finger in and use it like a lollipop, even though you’d have a stained yellow finger for days after.

    By Shirley Cleverly (30/03/2012)
  • I lived in “Randley” Raglan Road Laindon, my Nanna lived opposite and my Aunt and Uncle lived next door. There were only three houses. I lived there from 1940 to 1956. Is this the same as your Raglan Road? I don’t remember any of the houses being called Sunview

    By June Wagner (née Avis) (06/12/2011)
  • I read with interest your comments on Laindon Carnivals which I loved as a kid. I believe the last one was about 1957 and the daughter of Buckenham the Butchers was the carnival queen. At this time Basildon was really taking off and in 1958 the carnivals were moved to there.

    In 1959 I was Basildon Carnival Queen and had Joan Bartle (who’s sister was queen the previous year) as my princesses. I was crowned at the then new community hall in Laindon by Tommy Trinder. 

    I had dozens of prizes that were donated by all the new shops in Basildon including jewellery, a bouquet of flowers every week for a year, dresses from Ambers in East Walk, shoes and a made to measure tailored suit from Austin’s Taylors. 

    This carnival procession was also headed by Billy Foyle on “King” his palamino. I met many famous people including Jill Ireland and her then husband David McCullam, (she later married Charles Bronson) Gordon Pirie, Adam Faith and Frederick Bartman who played Simon Forrester in “Emergency Ward 10” which was a great hit on TV at that time. 

    I have many local newspaper articles and photos of that time but I am not sure how to attach them here.

    Editor: you could write an article and there is then the opportunity to add scanned images and photographs. Or if you do not have the facilities to scan images we can do it for you at a memory day or by special arrangement.

    By June Higgs (Ferguson) (29/08/2011)
  • I don’t think it was the same Davies. My gran had 8 children so she didn’t work, but my Aunty Eileen Davies when she came home from serving in the ATS after the war worked there. It was at the back of what became Kentex Cleaners and she was the forelady there. I am not sure what they made then but later it was ties. Do you remember the old Baigent works further down towards the Fortune, it was a printers but about 1958 it became a dress making factory.

    By Gloria Sewell (12/07/2011)
  • I worked for a Mr & Mrs Davies when I was a teenager we made curtains and recovered chairs for people in London, this was up the side of the Winston Club. My mother also worked there for a time.

    By Mary (04/07/2011)
  • You may remember my mothers family the Davies? My grandad was chairman in the Winston club. I don’t live in the area now, has the Gordens Gin Plant gone as well? I worked for John Langs who built that in the 80s

    By Gloria Sewell (22/06/2011)
  • Yes I was born in Dunton Drive in 1935, oh how I wish my children could have grown up in those days, so much friendship and happy times. I now hear after burning all our houses to put Fords up, it is now going back to housing. Progress!

    By Mary Hawkins nee Pratt (18/06/2011)
  • Thats right they won £75,000 which was loads then. They bought a big farmhouse opposite the Dukes Head at top of Noak Hill on the bend. Can I ask you what year you were born Mary?

    By Gloria Sewell (17/06/2011)
  • I can remember the lions at Billy Foyle’s, my sister was friends with his sister, I seem to remember his mum and dad lived near us in Dunton, and they won the football pools, and later moved to Billericay. Your letter bought back many memories of Dunton and Laindon, I lived in Dunton until I was 19.

    By Mary Hawkins (15/06/2011)
  • Yes I do remember Cards Fish Shop you also lived in Tyler Ave Pat didn’t you, it’s lovely to be in touch with you. Do you remember the little hut on the recreation ground we used to have our sandwiches in and the awful toilet block in the right hand corner of the field. Across the wooden style at the top of the field took us across the sand pits (the bombs had made big craters) and we played in them. If you walked through the woods and across the cricket field you came to the Crown Hotel. Then back down the hill to Berry Lane, hey presto another way home. Hope this brings back some more memories for you Pat.

    By Gloria Sewell (11/06/2011)
  • What an interesting read, and all memories come flooding back I loved growing up in laindon, I remember the carnivals. I was asked to be beauty queen one year, but I was to shy, so I declined. I lived in Berry Lane near the receation ground, as us kids called it, what fun we had up there.

    Someone out there might remember my dad, he was a Forman on railway, Jack Card and his half brother Tommy Card owed the fish and chip shop.

    By Patricia Cash (nee) Card (08/06/2011)

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