Snippet from the Past (1)

Charles looking after his tobbaco patch
Wickford Times 1949
HMS Londn

Did you know that back in 1949 tobacco was being grown in Laindon? The Wickford Times on Friday, September 9th, 1949 reported the following:

He Grows His Own

Pipe smoker, Mr Charles Frederick Bright of Glenhurst, Church Road, is a Laindon man without a tobacco care. He is never without a smoke, always gets the brand he likes best and does not know what it is to make a fruitless tour of the shops in search of a smoke. And it’s quite inexpensive.

For Mr Bright, retired Navy man working now as a postman grows his own tobacco.

Last year, at his first attempt, he grew enough tobacco between 14 and 15 pounds – to last him round until this year’s crop is ready. He thinks that this year’s crop will yield as much as he grew last year – and that means another 12 months of contented smoking.

Mr Bright retired from the Navy in 1945 after completing 34 years service. His wife and daughter have lived in Laindon for 24 years.

Mr Bright first saw tobacco grown in Nudros, one of the Southern Islands of Greece, in 1919 but he did not think then that he would ever become a successful grower himself. To him it is just a hobby but as he draws contentedly on his pipe, confesses that it is a very useful hobby.

Curing note: The sun dries his leaves and he then treats them with saltpetre and glycerine.

I thought this was an unusual hobby but in an earlier edition of the newspaper I found that a former Mercantile Marine Captain, Arthur Curtis Wilson from Billericay was also growing his own tobacco. So it might not have been so unusual 65 years ago.

What interested me with regards to Charles Bright is that he had signed on for the Navy around 1911 which meant he must have seen action not only in the First World War but also the Second World War. Unfortunately I have not been able to find his war records other than establishing according to the 1911 census that he was on board HMS London in the port of Gibraltar. Rank, ordinary seaman and he was 18 years of age born in Bisley, Surrey. HMS London was a 1st Class Battleship part of the Atlantic Fleet. In May 1912 it joined the 5th Squadron for experiments with seaplanes and it remained with the squadron until the outbreak of war. Served with the Channel patrols from August 1914, then transferred to the Dardanelles to replace losses. Moved on to the Aidriatic in May 1915, to bolster Italian resistance and remained at Taranto until 1917, returned home for conversion to a Minelayer, joining the 1st Minelayer Squadron in January 1918.

One can only assume that Charles remain with the ship during this period. The question is does anybody remember the family it would be great to establish his war story. Just another one of our unsung heroes’.

The Electoral register for 1929 has him living in Church Road, Laindon with his wife Ellen and daughter Lydia.

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  • This is not relevant to Mr Bright’s service record, but in the late 1940’s/50’s I had piano lessons with a Miss Bright who lived with her parents in Church Road. 

    By Anne Burton (05/12/2013)
  • Further to the Bright family.  Ann Burton states she had piano lessons from Miss Bright who was a daughter.  The entry in the electoral register showing the  daughter to be named Lydia  conflicts with my memory as I knew her well and she was most certainly known as Norma.  Apart from teaching the piano she was well known as a classical  pianist.  Her mother was also quite well known among some of the local ladies as a fortune teller.

    One small item which sticks in my memory (although having no relevance to the above) was that they lived opposite the Gordon Swift shop in one of the semi detached bungalows which was cut in half to allow another bungalow to be built, I have never before heard of such a procedure.   Norma continued to live in the severed half possibly because she kept her horse in the field behind it.  I last heard of her around the early 1970s’.  

    By W.H.Diment (05/12/2013)
  • William is correct about Norma being the daughter.  She was born Norma Edith E Bright in Romford, 5th May 1923 to her parents Charles and Ellen Bright.  She married Cyril L Wells in 1941.  The 1949 Electoral Register lists her in her parent’s home ‘Glenhurst’, Church Road as Norma Edith Bright-Wells.  Norma died aged 75 in Aug 1998,  Brentwood.  The record of her death is in her single name – Norma Edith E Bright.  I have been unable to trace any records of her husband.

    (Perhaps Lydia Bright shown on the 1929 Electoral Register may have been some other family member and over the age of 21 to be the voting list.  Norma however, would only have been 6 years old at that time).   

    By Nina Humphrey(née Burton) (05/12/2013)
  • Yes, I knew the daughter (my piano teacher) as Norma.  Apparently she had been married and divorced (told to me by my Mother in a hushed whisper as this was a rarity in those days).  She was a  brilliant pianist and a bit feisty.  One afternoon another pupil and I were taken into the garden and left to play on the garden swing as “Miss Bright”  had a visitor. There was an altercation and Miss Bright screamed at the visitor to “Get out!” slamming the door behind her.  Happy days!  She apologised to us and then carried on as if nothing had happened.  I never heard her play apart from one occasion when my lesson was over she suddenly broke into a rendition of  ”The Gollywog’s Cakewalk” – I was so impressed.

    By Anne Burton (05/12/2013)

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