Some people in our area may remember him as Professor Noall-Stevens. He has recently been mentioned in a Facebook memories group and as he sounded a very interesting character, I decided to do some research.
Walter Charles Edward Stevens was born in Poplar on 21st March 1906.
The 1911 Census shows him aged 7, living at 6, Raverely Street, Poplar London where he remained until 1928 when he married Bridget McManus. They had two sons, Charles A (born 1929, Stepney) and Maurice W (born 1939, Epping).
The 1939 Register show the family living at 635 Greenfield Road, Tottenham, Walter described as a G.P.O. Postman.
In 1965 the family were living at 3a St Stephen’s Road, Bow, E3.
Sadly Bridget died in 1968. Soon after, one of our Archive members, Paul Gibson was called upon to move Walter and his son Charlie to 4th Avenue, Dunton. Paul takes up the story:-
“Professor Noall and his son Charlie lived at 3a St Stephen’s Road, Bow, E3. In the late 60s or 70s, he got in touch with my Laindon office for a telephone quote to move his furniture and effects to a property in 4th Avenue, Dunton. Some weeks later, I took a team and removal lorry to carry out the job. Over the years doing household removals I thought I had seen it all but was not prepared for the Prof and his son, along with his retinue of animals and their meagre belongings. The property and contents were filthy; my team wanted me to refuse to move them because of the state of them, their animals and the contents. But a quote’s a quote and the Prof told me he was being evicted.
On arrival at Dunton we were told to unload the effects in a rundown orchard as they were not allowed into the boarded up plotland bungalow, but a friend had let them have use of the outbuilding and garden. Charlie told me they were going to sleep in the shed and the tent that they had just erected.
Charlie earned his money window cleaning, carrying his ladders on his pushbike, always accompanied by a dog or two running loose after him. The Prof who never got along with his son Charlie was rehoused by the Council to ‘Etheledene’ Rusticana Crescent, near the Fortune of War public house. I believe he died in his late 80s.
He was a well-known character who had extreme political views and used to share them publicly, with his poetry and verse at the Laindon Shopping Centre or Basildon Town Centre along with his old van which was adorned with his political beliefs scrolled on by hand. Some would say he was mentally ill as he would be out in all weathers preaching and giving out copies of his musings. The Basildon Recorder newspaper ran at least one story about him. One I recall was when he fell out with a 95 year old Dunton resident and they were pictured in fighting pose in that week’s paper. He was one of Laindon’s colourful characters”.
Walter apparently made a number of recordings around 1980, one was called ‘The People’s Anthem’.
At some point, Charlie moved from 4th Avenue to the corner of 2nd Avenue and Central Avenue which he turned into a squat, practically barricading himself in. Apparently, he was a compulsive hoarder, evidence of which can still be seen at the scene – at least one broken caravan, old typewriters etc.
Walter died in Laindon on 24th September 1990 at the age of 84. His probate records show that as in the case of many slight eccentrics, he left a substantial amount of money.
His son Charlie, moved to a care home in 2006 and died in 2012.
Editor: If anyone has any photos or paper cuttings featuring Walter or Charlie, the Laindon Archive would be very interested to see them and perhaps add them to this article. Thank you.