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.