Laindon Park Primary School.

School Play 1958.

These are the Goblins who featured in a school play in 1958. I can’t remember the name of the play but I can name the characters.

From left to right

Back row:

Raymond BlackwellDavid McNallyJohn McNallyRobert Connell

Middle row:

John RobertsonLesley WillinghamPhilip TrewPaul Gilbert

Front row: 

Alan HealMichael DayTerry LudlowLinda Craft

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  • I remember everyone Jackie Nuth. I lived in Elgar Close

    By Barry (20/11/2022)
  • I went to Laindon park, loved that school! I was born in 1963 so must have started about 68 I think. Mr Lilly I think was headmaster and I remember him being very tall, glasses and slim with white hair? Mrs Lowe, (terrified me) was a teacher, can’t remember any others at the moment, but probably will if I see their names. Dinner lady Mrs Bird I think it was? She was so lovely and was really small if I remember rightly. School children I remember are Lorraine Pearce, year older and my best friend. Simon Jackson, Russell Savage, Wayne Perry, Tony Francis, Wolie Ajose (might be wrong spelling) Gwen Tyler, Trevor Burton I remember but not sure if it was the High Road school. Can’t remember anyone else but I’m sure someone will add and jog my memory! Sorry Wolie if I have spelt it wrong, fond memories of all mentioned. Excuse my shocking memory. We had two ways we could walk to school, one being through the bushes on Pound Lane past all the horse fields and the church being up the hill, to come out by the school. We also use to go up Elgar Close to the top and through the alley to Pound Lane and go up beside the hall round to the right then up past the church, all the way down and round to the school! think I was taken that way mostly if the field way was bad. Great memories, and a few very funny ones! Does anyone remember the swing by the church?. Kind Regards, Jacqueline Nuth.

    By Jacqueline Nuth (08/05/2018)
  • There has been much mention regarding class sizes e.g. the number of pupils allocated to a class with just one form teacher. Numbers bandied about start in the low 40s to mid 40s and high 40s, I have even seen low 50s suggested. I have recently taken possession of 3 of my old school reports that I will endeavour to upload to the site. The most astonishing thing I read on one of them was the class numbers —– 61 !!! How did the teacher manage ? Quite well it would seem as almost all went on to senior school both literate and numerate !
    As a footnote, it seems I was lazy and could have done better ! No change there then.

    Editor:- Donald, please note that images can not be uploaded into a comment, so you will need to create a new page to upload them. Cheers. (Look forward to reading your reports).

    By Donald Joy (11/01/2018)
  • Lesley I remember you too and your brother, we did live next to Charlie Gunner, my grandparents owned The Nook next door to him, I remember he used to keep pidgeons. We moved when I was 4 to The Haven across the road opposite the Jefferies. Happy days.

    By Gloria O Sullivan (14/04/2017)
  • I moved to Laindon in 1954 and went to Laindon Park School.  I was in Mrs Hughes’ class initially and then Mr Stone, Mrs Hodgson and I think Mr Rand.  I loved that school.  My mates at the time were Linda Brazier, Jackie Sheppard and Jill Strutt.  I played the recorder.  I can remember the new building being built. Remember putting on Snow White and the Seven Dwarves in the church hall.  I used to love the trek up to the church hall – it seemed such a long way away.  Sometimes we went along the road (so dangerous) and in summer cut across the school field and through some waste land to get there.

    My Mum and Dad were on the Parents Teachers Association and the Swimming Pool Committee.  I remember my Mum giving out the prizes at Sports Day one year – I was so embarrassed as my Mum wore a fancy hat.   Happy, carefree days.  We were so lucky in those days.  I could walk or cycle to school.  Play out all day without fear.   Lovely memories.   My parents put on a party for me at the end of my time at Laindon Park and loads of children came and Mr Rand and Mrs Hodgson came as well.   Can you imagine nowadays children wanting their teachers to come to their party.   I can remember crying when it was over.  

    By Jan Wright nee Smithers (02/01/2017)
  • I too was a pupil at Laindon Park, in ’57 I sat and passed the 11+ exam. I was accepted at Palmers but because my mother could not/would not pay for the uniform and travel costs the offer was rejected. I don’t believe I would have fitted in so went to LHR instead (don’t think I fitted in too well there either).  I recall all the names that Richard Haines mentions plus a few more, so why oh why Richard do I not remember you?

    At LHR I too was in Upper 1B, I was told there that academically I should be in Upper 1A but because of my disruptive behaviour, it would be fairer to the other pupils if I were not with them! Anyway who wanted to be in Reeses class? Not me! Would it not be fair to the pupils in Upper 1B if I was disruptive or did they not matter as they were not deemed to be the elite?

    By Don Joy ( Smith ) (12/08/2015)
  • OMG was I shocked when my brother emailed me that picture of the school play. I don’t remember having it taken. All I remember is my name was ‘Face Ache’.  I recall most of the teachers, Mr Rand, Mr Stone, Mrs Hughes (didn’t like her), Mrs Hodgeson and I remember when we had PE we had to change in a small room that was off Mr Jones’ classroom. I remember you Gloria, you used to live near Frank Gunner and I lived in Royston Avenue.

    By Lesley Zanco (nee willingham) (04/04/2015)
  • I went to Donaldson’s school in 1938 and have enjoyed reading these memories.  I like the one about Coopers, you could only get your rations in one chosen shop and Coopers was our shop.  Thank you every one.  Jemima

    By Jemima Chapman (04/06/2014)
  • One small comment in respect of Richard Haines comment, 31/05/14.      I believe that Barking, Ilford and Upney were not considered to be in the east end of London at the time he is referring, but Essex,  although later were classified as Greater London.   Nor can I imagine that anyone from these areas, or Laindon,  gained admission  to Bury St. Edmunds School by scholarship but probably as a paying pupil.

    By W.H.Diment (03/06/2014)
  • Following up on Richard Haines and John Rolfe’s references to class. It seems to me that while class may have played only a minor role in achieving acceptance at Palmers and other such schools, the fact was that class was an acknowledged and very real part of our culture at that time.

    Living in the US for most of my life, it is said here that underlying almost everything is the shadow of race. I suggest that, at the time I lived in the UK, underlying almost everything was the shadow of class. I cannot speak to the present.

    My friend Jim Grindle of Douglas Road, after graduating from Palmers, won a full scholarship to Oxford. This was the time of Clement Attlee’s government. When the government was not engaged in more important matters such as the nationalisation of Tate and Lyle sugar, they turned their attention to expanding the population of Oxford and Cambridge to include some of those unfortunates who had not previously attended Eton, Harrow, or other similar schools. 

    Thus did Jim, with one small suitcase containing two shirts, three pairs of underwear, two pair of socks, a jersey, shaving necessities, and toothbrush and paste take off for life with the toffs. Jim was not made welcome by his upper class fellow students. To begin with he had the wrong accent. Scholarship boys, if not actually shunned, were effectively excluded. While the toffs had the financial means to go punting on the Ox and lead the sort of lives that their backgrounds enabled, Jim and the other lads from “the wrong side of the tracks” led a more bleak existence.

    I have no way of proving it but I have always surmised that Jim was the first Laindoner to attend Oxford. Indeed, I wonder how many have attended since?

    By Alan Davies (31/05/2014)
  • Further to the comments in respect of class in our educational system.  As Palmers and Brentwood County High have always taken paying students, it is obvious to me that this would mean fewer places for scholarship applicants who might possibly have been better qualified than some of those admitted under the paying system who might well not have been admitted if selection was based on educational merit.

    It could also place a financial burden on some ordinary families who decided to pay for entry rather than await the possibility of their children losing out in the allocation lottery based on the assessment of teachers whose decision was only in respect of those within their own schools and that some better qualified, may have been rejected in other schools as not actually being the top performers.

    By W.H.Diment (31/05/2014)
  • Further to the comment by Nina in respect of Laindon Park School.  The Laindon and District Recorder of April 1936 reports on a flag day collection in aid of the playing fields association as follows.

    Total collected was £4.5s 6d. Collectors were: Langdon Hills School – 10s,  Laindon High Road – 7s 9d, Markhams Chase – 7s 6d and NICHOLAS LANE SCHOOL – 5s 9d.  7 other individual collectors were noted, one of whom I believe may be of interest,  Mrs. Bathurst 7s.

    By W.H.Diment (31/05/2014)
  • Apparently the eleven plus examination came in during 1944. Before the war there was a similar system I believe called the scholarship exam. Also in 1944 the Education Act of that year did away with elementary schools, creating the secondary modern schools and confining under 11s to primary schools. The leaving age was increased to 15.

    GCE O levels came in during 1951 but until 1955 only grammar school and public school children were allowed to take them. Laindon High Road School was reasonably quick off the mark in allowing children to stay on for an extra year, beyond 15 to take these exams and late in the decade this change took place and I think this was why my own career developed fairly well, possibly on a par with some who may have passed their eleven plus in 1958.

    By 1963 when I took mine it was commonplace to get around five O Levels but rare or non-existent for anyone to go further and study for A levels and University (this study became available for a chosen few who went to Palmers from LHR in 63/64).

    LHR also promoted the RSA exams which were, apart from practice at exam taking, virtually useless.

    By Richard Haines (31/05/2014)
  • Thank you William, that’s very interesting.  Old local papers are so helpful in many ways.  Now we know the school’s name was changed to ‘Laindon Park School’ sometime after 1936.  We’re getting closer to the answer.  Best wishes.

    By Nina Humphrey(née Burton) (31/05/2014)
  • Richard.  I sat and passed RSA exams at LHRS in 1962.  They were far from useless as they stood me in good stead when pursuing a secretarial career.  I still cherish those Certificates along with several Honour Certificates I received while on the school’s extended commercial course, including one for a ten minute typing test of 30 words per minute with 100% accuracy.  My speed increased considerably during my working years to around 60 or 70 wpm, can’t say the same for the accuracy though, but ‘tippex’ took care of the occasional typing error before the invention of the ‘word-processor’. 

    Due to the facts you mentioned in you comment, I now realise my older brother narrowly missed having to stay on to age 15.  He was born in 1930 and once told me he left LHRS on his 14th birthday and started his first job the following day.  That was in July 1944.  That suited him well as he was a very practical person, who wasn’t into academics.

    My sister left LHRS in 1955 after completing an extended year course.  This possibly may have been the first that had been run.  Apparently there were only about 16 students in the single class, 5X.  When I took the same course in class 5X 1961/62 there were so many staying on, there was a second class 5X2.

    By Nina Humphrey(née Burton) (31/05/2014)
  • John Rolf talks of the East End of London as if all people coming from there are working class. This may be true for many but my parents came to Laindon to buy their first own house, one set of Grandparents having already owned a beautiful house in Chudleigh Crescent, between Barking and Ilford.

    My other set of Grandparents came from Poplar where life was infinitely different. The struggle to be among the middle classes is therefore not a new one. My nephew, Robbie went to Bury St Edmunds school and went on to Exeter College, Oxford. His brother Nicholas is just finishing at Queens College, Belfast. My niece Philippa is currently lining up Cambridge for the Autumn.

    Not bad for their generation, considering my brother Phil (their father) and I were born in Upney Hospital Barking and both went to Laindon Park School.

    By Richard Haines (31/05/2014)
  • Responding to Alan, 30/05/14.  I apologise for misconstruing his letter in my thinking he was saying that the 11 never took place at Langdon Hills, yet his explanation does not clear my  confusion.

    He states that for him, the 11 plus took place in wartime but continues to say that it MAY have been preserved for two preselected pupils and not available for the hoy polloi, from which I presume that for him the 11 plus did not take place, in contradiction to his earlier statement.

    Possibly that due to old age my literal faculties have deteriorated and that I no longer assimilate the true meaning of the written word.

    By W.H.Diment (30/05/2014)
  • Further to the name of the school, my parents always referred to it as Donaldson’s. Owing to the fact that my older sisters and brother attended the school in the late 1930s through to the late 40’s. Does anyone know why it was called Laindon Park School and when it assumed this name? Also was there ever a park in this area?

    By Paul Stickland (30/05/2014)
  • Laindon Park School was its name in the 1957-58 season when I was there. However, my Summer Term 1958 report signed by Mrs E Hodgson and Mr J J Wilson shows the school to have had another name. St Nicholas Lane, County Junior Mixed School, Laindon is the proud heading.

    There were 45 children in my class (born between 1946 and 1947). My positions in subjects were Reading 5th, Spelling 5th, Geography 2nd, Comprehension 2nd. However my maths wasn’t too good and my position in Arithmetic was 28th. This is one of the reasons why, wisely Mr Wilson advised against the 11 plus in my case.

    I have no problem about his decision as I struggled with the one subject all through LHR. This did not deter me and I went on to college to gain Higher National Certificate in Civil Engineering and then became a Chartered Engineer with the ICE.

    Having said all this, the class system ruled then, just as it does now. However, I wouldn’t have changed anything about my time at Laindon Park School, all the teachers were well educated and kind, one of them, Miss Davies being very pretty. The classrooms were comfortable, the dinners quite nice as well. There was even the start of the ‘school run’ with one or two lucky pupils being occasionally dropped off in their fathers cars. Mrs Hodgson had the most eloquent handwriting, along with Mr Rees of LHR.

    I think I was lucky to have studied under such a good system with such excellent teachers.

    By Richard Haines (30/05/2014)
  • When the school opened in 1877 it was called ‘St Nicholas Board School’ (see Ken Porter’s article “Laindon Park Junior School”.  I don’t think it was ever officially called Donaldson’s even though many people knew it as that.  It was probably just an affectionate nick-name that was adopted due to Mrs Margaret Donaldson’s long service as Headmistress.

    I don’t know when its name was changed to Laindon Park School, maybe Ken Porter knows the answer to that.

    By Nina Humphrey(née Burton) (30/05/2014)
  • I wondered when someone would mention the class system. This may well have gained some students places at Palmers, but I have to say that there were boys there from all backgrounds. Meaning no offence to them, but one could hardly say the boys from the Belhus Estate were upper class. In my case I came from a working class family. Both of my parents were originally from the East End of London.

    By John Rolph (30/05/2014)
  • Responding to Paul Strickland 30/05/14.    I do not believe that there was ever a park in the vicinity but the area was often described by estate agents as Laindon Park and the club near to the school was at one time called Laindon Park Country Club.  I do not know how far this alleged Laindon Park extended, but at one time the building next to Parkinsons at the Fortune of War was also once called Laindon Park Country Club.  Possibly it was named as such by the estate agents to make it sound more attractive.

    By W.H.Diment (30/05/2014)
  • In response to Bill Diment’s posting of 29/05/2014.

    1. I did not say the exam never existed. I said “It was as IF it never existed.”

    2. Eleven plus, for me, took place during the war years. I accept the fact that the exam took place before and after the war. This is incontrovertible. It is, however, quite conceivable that the exigencies of war mandated a change in the way of doing things. I reiterate that there was no mention of the exam at Langdon Hills when I was eleven. There may well have been an exam restricted to the two pupils chosen by the teaching staff. I do not know. Or, these two may have been simply nominated by the teaching staff without an exam being necessary. Again, I do not know. In any case it was certainly not available to the hoi polloi.

    By Alan Davies (30/05/2014)
  • Richard, we must have been in the same class as I left Laindon Park summer 58. I am afraid I do not remember your name, nothing personal but I have always had a problem remembering names. I can’t even remember who went to Palmers with me.

    The only three names I can remember from that class are Howard Davies and Philip Trew, both mentioned elsewhere on this site and Peter Stringer who lived down the road from me.

    One thing I do remember is the quality of teaching at Laindon Park, especially as you mentioned, Mrs Hodgson. Both her sons were at Palmers when I started there.

    By John Rolph (29/05/2014)
  • Alan Davies appears to deny the existence of the 11 plus exam stating it was never taken or mentioned at Langdon Hills, yet continues to say they only knew who passed or failed by those who did not turn up at LHR which would infer that the selection was based on teachers’ assessment.  Even in the early thirties the exam was in place and I sat it at Pitsea Primary School, also prior to the exam it was necessary to select ones preference of schools from a very small list.   Even so, Alan, later in his letter queries whether the selection would be made by the  school staff.

    My son Billy did sit and pass the eleven plus but was sent to Fryerns which was not his first choice. I will not say who advised me in respect of Tom, but was a personal friend who would have known the method of allocation was doing me a favour, but I would hasten to add that those selected may have been better qualified  and also that an examination does not always reveal true potential which can be affected by exam nerves.

    John Rolph mentions two of Mrs. Hodgson’s sons obtained placement to Palmers and I could name others over the years, which could be ‘coincidence’ or merely that they were better educated than the remainder of the pupils otherwise it could be suggested that they were more favourably treated.

    I do not know what the position is today, as so many ‘good’ schools place advertisements in local papers, it would seem that it is the choice of the parent subject to the chosen schools own assessment or possibly an earlier entry on payment. Whether there is any gain by early entry I do not know as I have two grandaughters, both attended Mayflower, but one moved early to Brentwood County High as a paying pupil and is now in Canada on an extended university course and the other left Mayflower for the University of Kent and obtained a degree with honours.

    It does pose the question, who can best assess the capability of children the school or the parent?

    By W.H.Diment (29/05/2014)
  • I am very interested in this discussion about the 11+. I attended Laindon Park School between 1955 and 1961. My recollection is that we were streamed at 10. Those thought capable went into Mr Rand’s class and sat the exam. The rest, me included, were in a lower class, (I cannot recall the teacher’s name) and did not get a chance to sit the exam. A school friend told me at the time that during a lunch time detention he witnessed Mr Rand and Mr Wilson (headmaster) going through a list of names and deciding who should be in the top class. Several children, myself, twin brother and the afore mentioned friend included were assigned to the lower class on the grounds that we were to much trouble.

    Probably they were right in retrospect but it did seem a bit arbitrary at the time. Also it was explained to me some years later that passing the exam was no guarantee of a place as there were only two places per school. 

    Nevertheless, I loved it at Laindon Park and have very fond memories of Miss Davis and Mrs Hodgson and of playing on the field which seem huge at the time and quite tiny now. Is the school currently in use? It is amazing that this little corner of old Laindon has survived amid all the destruction. I also recall spending my bus money on black jack’s in Cooper’s store, they were four a penny!!

    By Paul Stickland (29/05/2014)
  • So nice that at last a member of the 1958 Laindon Park School, John Rolph, is writing on this site. Yes I can remember that Howard Davies (he lived in Church Road) and Philip Trew, (lived somewhere on the King Edward Estate) were at Laindon Park. In my class in 1958 were Barry Keeble, Keith English, Brian Stepney, Robert McMasters, Donald Smith and Russell Stubbs. I believe the latter was one of the boys who went to grammar school possibly Fryerns. Certainly Mr J J Wilson the headmaster told my parents that I should not attempt the 11 plus and that I would be better placed going to LHR which was about four minutes walk from our house in Nichol Road. He was proved correct as I was not even in the top class U1A in 1958-59 which I still believe to this day held a lesser number of pupils than the other four first-year classes in order to provide closer tutorage.

    I wish people wouldn’t keep referring to Laindon Park as Donaldsons, what a strange phrase.

    By Richard Haines (29/05/2014)
  • I agree with Richard, it’s strange how Laindon Park School is still often referred to as ’Donaldsons’.  I must admit that during the time I was at Markhams Chase School between 1951 and 1957, I only ever knew the school behind the church as ‘Donaldsons’ (Mrs Margaret Donaldson had been headmistress between 1920 and 1948). 

    I can’t recall when I eventually learned that the correct name of ‘Donaldsons’ was Laindon Park School  – probably in the late sixties when my older brother’s two youngest sons went there (they lived on the Pound Lane Estate). 

    Interestingly, their two older brothers had gone to Markhams Chase School in the fifties, the same as me, but when the younger two reached school age, the school catchment areas had changed.  This was due to the new housing estates in Lee Chapel North and the opening of Chowdhary School in 1966 quite near to Markhams Chase School. 

    Yes, Laindon Park School is still in use.  Most schools now have their own website which may be of interest to former pupils.      

    By Nina Humphrey(née Burton) (29/05/2014)
  • I am pleased to note that Richard appears to endorse my statement that  it was the headmaster J.Wilson, although I did not name him in my letter, who advised his parents not to enter him into the 11 plus exam. Jack Wilson was a good friend as captain of the Laindon Cricket Club and it was he who told me not to enter Tom for the 11 plus. He stated that it was extremely difficult to decide to whom the two places should be awarded and decided that Tom was less interested in an academic career than the other two but could succeed in the more practical form of education, which eventually proved to be true.

    He also felt that Woodlands would be more suitable but although it was not normally available to children outside its catchment area he said I should submit a claim stating that I required him to be educated at a single sex school and there were at that time national guidelines in support of such claims. In my experience, Jack was dedicated to the best for his pupils and it must have been hard for him having to make such decisions which could affect the remainder of a child’s life and also incur the  displeasure of disappointed parents.

    Incidentally I stated  that in the early thirties the 11 plus exam was held at Pitsea Primary School, it was of course not called the 11 plus in those days but simply known as the scholarship exam.

    By W.H.Diment (29/05/2014)
  • I attended Langdon Hills and hence can offer no opinion on Donaldson’s. However, the different comments have stirred some memories and questions.

    Bill Diment makes reference to his younger son being advised not to sit the eleven plus as the two available spaces were going to be awarded to the children of other more prominent families. In other words “no sense in sitting the exam because the results are fixed.”

    My memory says that there was no exam! No notice. No talk of it in class. No mention by our teacher or by the headmaster. It was as if it never existed. The two best students (boys, I cannot remember what happened with the girls)  went on to Palmers. The rest of us only knew this when they failed to show up at LHR in September. I always assumed they were simply chosen by the teaching staff and that two places was the allotment allowed to Langdon Hills.

    I wonder if each of the primary schools was reserved a certain number of places and it was up to the individual school to make the selection. Bill’s posting infers that it was Donaldson’s that made the decision as to whom the two places would go. Or, if the local school did not make the actual selection, perhaps they chose which students would sit the exam and presumably a subsequent interview. (I know this was the format when I eventually was accepted to Chelmsford Tech at thirteen plus.) Misguided as this might be it would seem to tie in to the advice given to Bill “to take the exam and not be selected might give a sense of failure.”

    As Bill says “fixing a place” for a specific student was probably not uncommon. Having said that, my friend Jim Grindle of Douglas Road was awarded a place at Palmers. A year later his younger sister followed. A second sister followed the year after. There is absolutely no way Jim’s family would have been referred to as prominent. Six children, no father, and a mother who worked on a farm near Childerditch!

    By Alan Davies (29/05/2014)
  • There is truth in the letters of John Rolph and Richard Haines in respect of the schooling at Laindon Park and also the restrictions of opportunity to some of possible equal intelligence both pre and post war. 

    Prewar my eldest sister Violet did go straight from Laindon Park to Brentwood County High School for girls where she eventually became head girl but others whom we knew were not so lucky, but her younger sister was not selected for the available vacancy and decided to go to LHR rather than the other lesser out of town secondary schools.

    I came up against a similar situation in post war years with my own children at Laindon Park.  My eldest son passed the 11 plus but due to restrictions on availability of places was sent to Fryerns.  When it came time for my younger son, I was advised not to let him take the 11 plus as two pupils had already been earmarked for vacancies, both of whom I knew and were children of two more prominent local people and that to take the exam and not get selected may have given him a sense of failure.

    James Hornsby at that time was out of favour and out of town applications were being refused, but I was given advice as to how circumvent this instruction and Tom went to Woodlands where he became head boy and gained City and Guilds passes in electronics but did not pursue this as a career and joined the Essex Police where he rose from the ranks to become a chief inspector achieving a post graduate degree in forensic subjects.  On his retirement he moved to Canada and after a couple of years of leisure joined the Calgary Police Force on the beat, but has since been persuaded to move up into management.

    It would seem that educational ability alone was not at that time the prime factor for grammar school places, but I do not know whether this still applies today.

    By W.H.Diment (28/05/2014)
  • John Rolph mentions that only four places were available for those hoping to go to Grammar School from Laindon Park. However, even if this was the case, assuming there were 40 in class in that 1958 summer and four went to those schools (Frierns or Palmers) that is still 10% of the group. In those days that was a high achievement and a credit to Mrs Hodgson. Can John confirm which year he left Laindon Park and who else went to Grammar school that summer term. His name is familiar, maybe he was in my class (it was 56 years ago after all).

    By Richard Haines (28/05/2014)
  • Dear Gloria O’Sullivan. I well remember Cooper’s Stores at the top of Church Road. In fact a book of my poetry (Destroy The Minefields – Lady Diana) contains a long description of it which I repeat below.

    The Village Store

    Cooper’s Stores     

    In yonder village shop, beside the way, where stamps are ‘licked’ and paltry little pensions pay, there, on its dusty shelves, everything is found, to feed the village people, living all around.

    Passing through the door, a dingy little room, strewn with sawdust, on knotted knobbly floorboards, hardly ever seen a broom. With stacks of varnished shelves, bursting at their seams, jammed high against the beams.

    Here can be bought everything a country dweller needs, Digger-Mixture, prunes and lettuce seeds.  Blocks of salt and red-carbolic soap, broken biscuits, tea and processed peas to soak. On the floor in sacks and ranged around, barley, rice and beans and chicken feed are found.

    ‘Atop’ the pine boarded counter, safe away from flies, a glassy case protects the ‘curly’ bacon,  ageing cheese and pies. ‘Selling-slogans’  dangle down on string and brass contraptions at the door cause a servants’ bell to ring. Lined up like stiff white soldiers, next the ‘bloomers, splits and tins’  evaporated milk is placed with rust around the rims. 

    To light the farm-hand’s cottage and to make it cosy from within, a broad-lipped gallon measure jug is used when selling paraffin.  But so as not to taint the ‘shop goods’, it’s nearby on a rack and filled through filtered funnels from a large tank ‘out the back’.

    On the bending shelves things stand wildly out of order, jelly packs next candles, Camp coffee, tea and biscuits, and hairnets with a border.  Whether rice or tea or chicken feed, liver pills or bacon strands, all are packaged in a ‘dark blue bag’, and sealed with rubber bands.

    As well as serving farm-hands who spend a shiny ‘tanner’, the shop supplies a ‘weekly-lot’ of produce to the manor. This is indeed an honour to serve the county’s lords and sages.  But though they ‘pick and choose’ and get first-call, they don’t  pay up for ages.

    Editorial note: The text formatting in the poem had to be adjusted.  Hope it looks okay.

    By Derek Wyndham Mayes (27/05/2014)
  • I do not know if Derek Wyndam Mayes intended the description of the village stores to depict Coopers, but from my memory there is little similarity. 

    Coopers was always a clean shop and to my mind never had sacks of rice etc. stacked around the walls, nor any rusty tins or stale bacon in blue wrappings.   It sold papers, periodicals, confectionery, bread and tinned foods, but most householders used the High Road for their main weekly shopping. I cannot remember Coopers selling bloomers or paraffin from a container by the door, nor do I remember the farm hands spending their ‘tanners’ and I believe the nearest farm cottages were those at the northern end of Church Road.

    I suggest Coopers never had any monthly accounts with any of the more affluent who, together with the majority of locals would have done their weekly shopping in with the High Road shops either by personal visit or by delivery.

    The butchers in the High Road delivered and Mr. Francis would on Saturdays travel the area with a flat bed cart with fruit and vegetables. Smiths of Crays Hill would do weekly rounds with a large tank of paraffin plus soaps, soda and other household hardware. Milk and eggs were readily available by delivery or collection from the farms. One milk deliverer who lived at the east end of Wash Road had a pony and trap with a large churn of milk and with a pint measure would fill the purchaser’s own jugs.

    As to his memories of Donaldson’s school. I attended there in the late 1920s’ to the early 1930s’ but have never heard of it being described as the poor relation of Laindon Schools, which by using ‘poetic licence’, Derek seemingly attempts to emphasise with reports of boys wearing their sister’s worn out shoes.  While it is true, the schools would collect clothing to distribute, I suggest the major player in this field was Janet Duke of Markham’s Chase School.

    Whether or not the status of the school deteriorated during the war years I do not know, but it was certainly not so during the war years.

    By W.H.Diment (27/05/2014)
  • Further to my comment in respect of the suggested deterioration of Donaldson’s school, I should have said it was certainly not so “before” the war years, and not “during” as printed.

    By W.H.Diment (27/05/2014)
  • I certainly agree with Bill Diment when he disputes Laindon Park as being the poor relation of schools. For me this was a top quality little school, as by reading all the stories on this site were the other two primary schools Markhams Chase and Langdon Hills.

    This means, to me at least that there were no poor relations at all and when children went on to LHR there was a perfect bonding between all the students.

    My earlier school was Cambell Juniors in Barking which again had a lovely feel to it and a similar bond existed there. My year at Laindon Park looking back was a very happy season spent with some very intelligent children. Many of the students in my final term, under Mrs Hodgson, went on to Grammar School and therefore did not reappear at LHR in the following September. The atmosphere in class was always one of respect and awe of the teachers and interest in what we were being taught. Poor relation – I don’t think so.

    The year by the way was 1958 and everyone had smart shoes and well presented clothes, very happy days indeed !

    By Richard Haines (27/05/2014)
  • Richard Haines states that many of the students in his final term went on to Grammar School. As far as I remember, there were only two places available at the boy’s school and possibly the same at the girl’s school. Some places were also available at the Grays Technical College.

    By John Rolph (27/05/2014)
  • I was at this school from 1938 until 1944. It was known as Donaldson’s school after the name of the headmistress. (She was a great advocate of control by the cane which most pupils felt at some time.)

    We spent a lot of our time in the bomb shelters when the war started. I am now  eighty and live in Thailand. If you wish I could tell you many stories about the school, did you know that a 2,000 lb bomb fell in the playing field and blew tiles off the roof and all the school windows out?

    Donaldson’s, was always thought of as the ‘poor-relation’ of schools in Laindon, but I have to tell you that it was a place of contentment and happiness, even though some of the boys had to wear their sister’s ‘cast-off’ shoes.

    God bless all the pupils there now.

    Derek Mayes. AMITSC

    By derek wyndham mayes (26/05/2014)
  • Ah, that would explain why I didn’t remember Keith. I had left home and moved away by the time my parents sold The Haven and moved into Cromford, by a couple of years if I remember properly.  I wasn’t around when any building work was being done, by the time I visited they had everything finished.

    By Gloria O Sullivan (14/03/2014)
  • Gloria O’Sullivan, 22/02/14 states she cannot place Keith Nock. I do not know if it will help her memory, or not, but it was Keith’s father and uncles who laid the brick frontage to the last house Gloria lived in next door to The Nook at the north end of Church Rd.

    It is still there.

    By W.H.Diment (26/02/2014)
  • I have been trying to place you Keith.  I remember Ashdene, have all those places gone now? I know my old house has, I got such a shock when I came back to England for a holiday and found I didn’t know the area anymore! I went up to Laindon Park for a visit and they very kindly let me look around.  It felt really odd as some places hadn’t changed at all from when I was there. Does anyone have any pictures of the teachers 50s to 60s?

    By Gloria O Sullivan (22/02/2014)
  • I went to school at Laindon Park, I would have started aged 5 in 1959. We lived in Church Road, near to Wash Road, and had to cross the A127, the crossing had a lollipop man called Perry.

    I was in Mrs.Card’s class and even remember my first day, a long while ago now. I remember being in Mrs.Lowe’s, Mr.Harris and Mrs.Wilson’s classes too.

    We used to walk up to the church hall to do country dancing across the playing field; the verger was the father of my friend Jacky Banks. We also had Sunday school in the church hall too.

    I remember the weather vane from St Nicolas church falling down and being stored at the school until it was repaired, at ground level it was huge!

    I also recall there being a sweet shop at the top of Church Road near the school, does anyone else?

    By Gloria O'Sullivan (11/11/2013)
  • Hi, I went to Laindon Park 1955-61. I remember you Gloria you lived on corner of Church Road and Waverley. I lived in Ashdene I remember crossing A127 at Church Road before underpass was built. The sweet shop was Cooper’s.

    My teachers were Mrs Hodgson, Mrs Hughes and Mrs Card. I too remember walking up hill to go country dancing. I remember a slope in playground when snow came we slide down it and school sports day in field, lovely school.

    By Keith Nock (11/11/2013)
  • This looks like the same play as the other photo with Linda Smith and the moonbeams.

    By Val Scurlock nee Newman (23/06/2013)

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