Heathcote - Douglas Road

The history of a house.

By Nina Humphrey(née Burton)

Photo:Douglas Road.  No. 313 is Heathcote.

Douglas Road. No. 313 is Heathcote.

The 1949 Survey (Ordnance Survey)

Heathcote was a two-storey house, probably built by Harry Foulger as described in the publication ‘Lovely Laindon’.  This leaflet, published around 1907, describes how Mr Foulger began his land development in 1897 and within 10 years had established several estates with more than 120 houses.

The 1911 Census shows Sarah and Richard Guy (both retired) living at Heathcote, Station Estate, Laindon with their son aged 28, a costume manufacturer. Also in residence was another son called Albert, a draper aged 22, with his wife Dorothy and their son Cecil aged 2 years.  The family had been born in Cornwall.  

The 1918 Electoral Register shows that Heathcote was occupied by Thomas and Florence Maycock.

The 1929 Electoral Register shows the resident of Heathcote had a famous namesake:- William Shakespeare.  His wife was called Madeline.

The following advertisement appeared in the 12th, 19th and 26th July issues of the 1946 Essex Chronical:-

31st July 1946.  Preliminary Notice.  With Vacant Possession, on completion of the purchase the freehold detached residence known as “Heathcote”, Douglas Road, Laindon, Essex.

A brick-built property standing on eight plots, enjoying a frontage of some 154ft and containing 3 bedrooms, 3 reception rooms, dining room, kitchen, scullery etc.  Outside bathroom.  Two greenhouses, one fitted Horseshoe boiler, electricity, gas, Company’s water, cesspool drainage, large garden. 

The remaining household furniture, bedroom suites, dining chairs, tables, carpet, lino and curtains, refrigerator etc.  Also motor mower.  Catalogue now in preparation.

Also available, building land adjoining.  To be offered in three Lots, having frontages of 115ft., 140ft., and 160ft respectively.  The above will be offered for sale by public auction on the premises.   Particulars and conditions of sale when ready, from the Auctioneers or the Solicitor: A. W Coleman, 7 High Road, Laindon.   

The 1949 Electoral Register names Leonard and Mabel Cole in residence in Heathcote.

The 1949 Survey Map shown above, gives No. 313 as Heathcote with the description:-  ‘Brick and slate, 2 storey, 6 – 7 rooms, poor condition.  Plot cared for and cultivated.  No. 312 is the field alongside described as:-  Timber and corrugated iron huts, more or less derelict, market garden!  Description of plot – neglected’.

The 1953 Electoral Register show the dwellings and families in Douglas Road were as follows:-   

Grantham – Louisa and Edward Murphy.  Eureka – Rose and Frederick Geall plus Joyce and Frank Smart.  Mayview – Matilda and Francis Steel.   Heathcote – Mabel and Leonard Cole.  Belle Vue – Lily Hicks.  The Haven – Margaret and Arthur Morrish.   Malmesmead – Harriet and Henry Bartley plus Jane Harris.  Porthpean - Emma and Albert Mace.  Hillcrest – Jane Grindle.  St Johns – Thomas Wilcox.  St Marys – Harriet Freeman plus Frank Rous and Frank C Rous.

The 1954 telephone directory shows Leonard C Cole, Heathcote, Douglas Road, Laindon:-  Telephone: Laindon 65

The 1957 Electoral Register shows the dwellings and families in Douglas Road were as follows:-

Grantham – Louisa and Edward Murphy plus Jessie and Terence Murphy.  Eureka – Rose and Frederick Geall.  Valencia – Ivy and William Cockerell.  Belle Vue – Lily Hicks.  The Haven – Arthur and Margaret Morrish.  Malmesmead – Harriet and Henry Bartley.  Porthpean - Emma and Albert Mace.  Hillcrest – Jane Grindle and Geogina Peall.  St Johns – Thomas Wilcox.  St Marys – Joan Turner.

Heathcote isn’t listed on this register, an indication that the house was unoccupied at that time and very close to the end of its life prior to re-development of the area.

This page was added by Nina Humphrey(née Burton) on 09/10/2014.
Comments about this page (Add a comment about this page)

Linda mentioned Plot No. 314 on the map and the two ladies who lived there.  That bungalow was called ‘Anchorage’ and the two ladies were Kate Hall and Mary Price.

The 1929 Electoral Register also lists the following dwellings in Douglas Road:-  ‘Portpean’ – Reginald Daniel plus Ethel and Kathleen Richardson, ‘Kerswell’ – Alice and John Hartison plus Maud and George Wise, ‘Bellevue’ - Lily and Stephen Hicks, ‘Grantham’ – Agnes MacDonald, ‘Hillcrest’ – Jessie and Charles Osborn, ‘The Haven’ – Jessie and Arthur Russell and ‘Grantham’ – Walter Swift.   Therefore these were built sometime between 1922 and 1929.

By Nina Humphrey(née Burton)
On 16/10/2014

One further note on the perplexing question of public footpaths. I think it is a fair assumption that originally a footpath existed which became what we referred to in our day as Pelham's alley. In retrospect there seems to be no reason for the parade of shops and the row of cottages to leave an alleyway  between them unless it was deliberate. It seems reasonable to infer that the alley was in fact a public footpath which the developers could not encroach upon.

The whole question of public footpaths in the Laindon area, how so many of them were bloocked off and why, and which still remain would make an interesting subject of study.

By Alan Davies
On 16/10/2014

Brilliant anecdotes from Alan, I can imagine the dark figure approaching out of the night. Also I can imagine more vividly the white tennis outfit worn by Renee. Going back to the footpath I found on the OS maps, it only appeared on the 1956 version. I have looked at the 1896 map where Douglas Road and the surrounding roads had appeared but there were no properties shown. By 1922 there was one property on Douglas Road- Heathcote. By 1939 (that ominous pre war year) all the bungalows we are familiar with were shown on the map, forming the final layout shown on Nina's plan above. The next one available was 1956, the main difference here being that overgrown plots were now shown as wooded areas in some cases. Fascinating research indeed - certainly scrumping was also on the agenda in Autumn 1957, along with birds egg collecting in the following spring by keen 10 year old enthusiasts (now illegal of course). There were many bird nests on the property boundary hedges and in the deserted gardens and in other woodland. A lovely place to be before the whole area disappeared. Happy times.

By Richard Haines
On 14/10/2014

Two anecdotes come to mind surrounding Heathcote both dating to around the time that Linda first moved into Sunningdale.

The Coles were a family of four. Renee aged seventeen or eighteen at the time and a younger brother of perhaps nine. Renee was a very attractive girl and as befitted one of the "posh people in the big house" (to quote Linda) she played tennis. Tennis was a very up market game in that era and was played wearing an all white attire. All white was worn by players from Wimbledon down to the most modest village player. My memory is of Renee, all in white with racquet under her arm, walking down Douglas Road either to or from tennis. Quite where she played I know not. To my knowledge there was only one tennis court in Laindon, at the Basildon Country Club on the corner of St Nicholas Lane and Church Road. Renee probably played further afield. Billericay perhaps.

Around this same time the Coles took in a lodger. I doubt that it was a paying lodger. My assumption was always that the Coles were opening their house as an act of kindness (they were one of the few in Laindon to have the room to spare) to a young man who had just been transferred into the area. The young man in question was Reverend Telford who, as a young curate had just been attached to St Nicholas. Of course over the years he became very well known and highly thought of in the area. At this time he was a fresh young curate.

I was courting a girl from Douglas Road. After our evening walk or perhaps a visit to the Radion I would walk her home up St Nicholas Lane and into Douglas Road. Street lights in those days were few and far between and not nearly as bright as today, particularly in the fog. There was one light at the corner of St Nicholas Lane and Douglas Road but no other until one came to lot 311 on Nina's map. This left a considerable distance of darkness in between with high hedges. As young people the world over are wont to do this is where we routinely stopped and said our long good nights.

One night we heard the steady and purposeful sound of boots approaching along Douglas Road. The night was dense with fog which magnified the sound of the approaching boots. Suddenly from out of the fog came this large figure which looked for a moment like some large terrible winged bat. All black. We were petrified. It was the young Reverend Telford. His all black cassock swinging outward like wings with his sudden approach out of the fog gave a moment of terror.

Relief! There followed a murmured "good evening" then he passed us dissapearing rapidly into the fog. We often saw him after that but the first time was certainly a scare. One I have not forgotten even after all these years.

By Alan Davies
On 14/10/2014

Well done Nina what a fascinating insight into the residents and history of Douglas Road - a real trip down memory lane for me. We moved from Canning Town to plot 318 'Sunningdale' in 1952 and sadly moved out 1959/60 when a compulsory purchase order was placed on our lovely bungalow by the Basildon Development Corp - a sad day indeed. As children we were always fascinated by the 'posh people' in the big house but I never knew it was called Heathcote, I remember they had two paddocks, a little pony called Trixie lived in one - somewhere I have a photo of me on her and in the large paddock where the jumps were lived a gorgeous grey mare called Dawn. As shown on the map the Coles had a large orchard and off Berwick Road a field with a large pond so as children we had fun skating on the pond in winter when it froze over (no health and safety in those days) and 'scrumping' for apples in the orchards (there was also a small one off Berwick Rd) - oh the freedom we kids had!

Plot 314 in Berwick Road lived two old ladies (at least they seemed old to us) who we used to call Nurse and Sister - I can only assume they worked in the health service and in Plot 315 'Jacobean' lived my aunt and uncle, Wal and Pat Lindsell. I also remember on plot 339 someone used to live in an old railway carriage.

When we moved to Sunningdale there was the usual outside chemical toilet and tin bath that had to be brought into the kitchen on bath night, my father built an extension to the bungalow and dug out a cesspit for drainage so we then had the luxury of a bathroom and flushing toilet and we didn't have to go outside in all weathers to use the loo!!

Although at first life was quite basic it seemed like heaven to us after the bomb damaged East End of London, we loved the many shops in the High Road, the fields to play in and the lovely community spirit that Laindon had at that time - how different it all is now.

Thanks again Nina - seeing the map and remembering the names of neighbours and friends has been a real treat.

By Linda Mayes (nee Snares)
On 13/10/2014

Richard, Nina, thanks for clearing up that mystery. Very interesting but, as is often the case, the answer prompts another question.

Most of the houses in this area were probably built in the 10's, 20's and 30's. The footpath probably dates back generations if not centuries. Importantly Richard says it is still shown as a public footpath on a 1956 OS 1/2500 map. There are implications.

1. A public footpath means that pedestrian traffic has an absolute right to use the footpath. There is no trespass.

2. We know from Richard's research that the footpath still existed in 1956 and from my own recollection of the signpost. It may not have been in active use that late but it was still legally a public footpath. We know the houses in the area were built pre war and Heathcote in particular in 1911 or earlier.

3. The footpath runs through many yards. Was this revealed by the developer? Who would buy a property where people legally could walk through your back yard? In addition the homeowner would be unable to put up a fence because a public footpath cannot legally be obstructed. The homeowner would also be liable if his dog attacked the walker in the yard. The walker has every right to be there. It is a public footpath! Possibly the footpath is often located on the boundary line between the properties rather than across your tomato bed in the back yard but this really does not alter anything. So now the walker travels between you and your neighbour. You still cannot put up a fence which will interfere with the footpath in any way and you still have to keep the dog chained.

I wonder how these conflicting problems were resolved.

By Alan Davies
On 12/10/2014

All the comments here about displaced words on the OS map are correct. These maps are notorious for that but all the information there is exactly right. The footpath Alan is talking about appears on the 1956 OS 1/2500 plan. It seems to start further south than the point Alan mentioned, maybe reached by an alleyway between the shops. It cuts across north of 283 on this plan in a west to east direction, on the boundary of 290 and 322. It then skirts north round the un-numbered plot referred to the other day by Alan (heavily wooded on this map) thence cutting through Cambridge Road,  Connaught Road and Leinster Road. It continues to Markhams Chase but is marked Udf for its entire length which I take to mean undefined. It is also marked Ward Boundary in the position where it runs parallel to St Nicholas Lane.

By Richard Haines
On 11/10/2014

Alan. Thank you for raising some interesting points and I completely agree with you regarding the position of the bench and fountain. 

The photograph you mention showing the bench and drinking fountain in front of St Peter’s Hall on the corner of High Road and St Nicholas Lane can be found on Joy Springate’s article entitled ‘Laindon Memories’.

The chart accompanying the 1949 Survey map describes plot 288 as ‘Public religious hall with 3 rooms and corrugated iron roof’ (St Peter’s Church Hall). Due to lack of space, the word ‘Hall’ has encroached into plot 289, which is described as ‘derelict land’.   The drinking fountain is shown as a little mark at the High Road end of plot 288.  Again due to lack of space, the abbreviation ‘D.Fn’ has encroached into plot 287, which is also described as ‘Vacant land – overgrown’.  Plot 286 is ‘Green Stores’ – grocers.  Plot 285 is Bell Cleaners.  Plot 284 is ‘A Maulkin’ – butchers.

The footpath you mention will need further investigation.

By Nina Humphrey(née Burton)
On 11/10/2014

Nina, the map shows lot 288 on the corner as having a building on it while lot 287 to the south is shown as the commemorative lot with a drinking fountain, memorial and wooden bench at the back facing the High Road. The commemorative lot with the fountain etc was definitely on the corner and there was no building on it. I am sure others can vouch for this and I think there are photos to support it in these archives.

About six feet  south of the bench, on the church hall property stood a post indicating a public footpath. It pointed in the direction of Lancaster Road and, further on, Berwick Road. But no footpath existed! Your map shows no footpaths at all and it would probably take a so called "definitive map" which the council is obligated to maintain, to see all of the existing footpaths. It is not easy for a land owner, usually a farmer, to eliminate a public footpath. It is not unusual, however, for farmers to knock down the sign posts in an attempt to impede the path in some manner. In this case the footpath simply did not exist. Only the sign post!

Can you throw any light on the mysterious case of lots 287/288 and the public footpath that never was?

Some footpaths go back hundreds of years and represent ancient rights of way . These were usually used to enable people to walk to church on Sunday or the village centre on market day.

By Alan Davies
On 11/10/2014

Alan.  Thanks for pointing out the empty space on the map that wasn’t given a lot number.  My theory is that the surveyor was unable to access the area to determine its condition and use. 

As far as can be established, the surveyor did not enter the dwellings during the survey.  He stood outside, made a note of the building materials and then ‘estimated’ the number of rooms, (as indicated on the chart accompanying the survey map).

It will be interesting to see if anyone who lived in the area comes forward with some answers.

By Nina Humphrey(née Burton)
On 10/10/2014

Nina, can you speculate on the rather large piece of land totally surrounded by lots 108/114, 325/320, 314/315, 326, 328, 330, 332, and 335? What is it? What use could it have been to anyone completely surrounded by other lots? It does not even merit a lot number. Could it simply be a piece of low lying, swamp land deemed of no use for anything or anyone?

By Alan Davies
On 10/10/2014

Fabulous and quick research here on Douglas Road by Nina - well done indeed. The attached map is brilliant and shows the area as I remembered, with the big vacant plot 295 opposite Heathcote (so that was its name) showing empty in 1949, this means it was sadly never built on until the dreaded modern development in the late 1960s.

How fascinating that Nina has found the 'for sale' details of the house, right down to the motor lawnmower, clearly needed to manage the 154 foot frontage.  Splendid information for Alan Davies and also Eric Pasco who remembered this area on the community board section of this website a while back. A snapshot in time then, a whole network of roads laid out, houses constructed and lived in and gone within 50 years, now covered in an  unsympathetic redevelopment.  Superb little article !

By Richard Haines
On 10/10/2014
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