'Mr Laindon - Parky'

Anybody that has been acquainted with Laindon over the last 80 years will no doubt have come across Cliff Parkinson

By Ken Porter

Photo: Illustrative image for the ''Mr Laindon - Parky'' page
Anybody that has been acquainted with Laindon over the last 80 years will no doubt have come across Cliff or in the early years his father, James and brothers Bert and Cecil.

Clifford Dennis Parkinson was born in Laindon, in 1911, so he would have been about 9 or 10 when his father and brothers bought an old 14/18 war Army hut and set up business as motor and cycle repairs on the corner of Somerset Road and the High Road in 1920.  Cars in those days were few, so to help supplement the business two petrol tanks were sunk beneath the ground and the petrol was hand pumped to your car. Cliff has always claimed that it was the first garage to open up in Laindon.

It is understood that Cliff’s father had been in the building business and for many years you would come across man-hole covers with the name Parkinson’s on them.

Cliff was 17 when he joined the business and soon afterwards his Brother Bert and his son Brian opened another garage opposite the Fortune of War on the corner of the High Road and the Arterial Road. This garage was eventually sold to Mobil Oil in the early 1960’s.

During the Second World War, Cliff joined the Air Force and was, for best part of it, stationed in India working on Lancaster engines. Though he never had a flying licence he loved flying and was still arranging for private flights out of Southend airport well into his 80’s.

When his father died he took over the business and in the years that followed, the business diversified, not only dealing in motor and bicycles spares and repairs, but also selling petrol, paraffin, new bicycles and motor bikes and ran a taxi and wedding service. On the opposite corner of Somerset Road was Markham ’s Dairies and the garage used to service the milk lorries, motorised and hand trolleys.  This for a time was quite a lucrative business for them. Hand trolleys were needed because during the winter months it was impossible for lorries and motorised trolleys to get up and down the majority of roads around Laindon. During the 2nd World War, Markham ’s employed local girls to deliver milk on bicycles. Markham was a local farmer, owning Great Berry Farm in Langdon Hills.

Cliff was a great accumulator of bits and pieces. The garage and shop always looked a tip but he could always find what he was looking for and although he always seemed to be walking around with his head bowed and never smiling, he had an obliging nature which was appreciated by many.

In 1962 following pressure from the Basildon Corporation he relocated to the old Greens Stores shop with a garage at the back on the corner of Durham Road and the High Road.

This is where he was to stay for the next 40 years until he retired in 2004 at the age of 92.

Cliff was a workaholic and did not have much of a social life, did not marry but in later life started to take a few holidays and regretted not taken them earlier. When he retired he said it is time to go and take things easy but it is going to be an awful wrench to have to go.

He also blamed the changing times and supermarkets for the slump in trade. “There have been big changes in Laindon and trade was much better years ago” also “Supermarkets sell oil these days, which I don’t think should be allowed and cars are also very different. People used to spend Sunday working on them, but cars are so complicated now, they can’t.”

“I enjoyed having a chat and a joke with customers and I shall miss them.” Not as much as we miss you Cliff, you were its son and heart of Laindon.

Cliff passed away peacefully only a few months after he retired on the 24th September 2004 .

This page was added by Ken Porter on 07/06/2011.
Comments about this page (Add a comment about this page)

Evelyn Parkinson was Cliff's niece, and was a hairdresser. Alastair was her late sister's son, she looked after him when his mum died. Cliff was my great uncle. A very interesting family xx

By Margaret Lloyd
On 17/02/2017

I lived in Thundersley and had refurbished a vintage tractor but could not stop the carburettor from leaking. I needed a fibre washer and although I had visited all my local hardware stores it was to no avail. Then - brainwave - go to Laindon, go to Parkinson's,  as I walk into the shop there is a brown overall clad man bent over a pushbike. I make conversation by telling him I used to come here years ago for things and that I knew his Dad Cliff. He arises from his crouched stance over the bike, turns to me and says "I am Cliff", you cannot imagine my surprise! I felt sure he would have gone to the garage in the sky years before, as he seemed very old to me when I was a mere teenager. This visit got me exactly what I needed, cost me a whole 10p but he insisted I take 2 of slightly different size to be sure I had the one I needed. This was early 2003 and I am just happy to have reacquainted myself to this genuine part of Laindon's history. R.I.P. Parky. 

By Donald Joy
On 08/09/2015

As my uncle William Diment explains above, there certainly was a Parkinson who was a friend and hairdresser to my mother Violet. Although I remember her as Eve, a lovely lady who once whisked me off to hospital when I'd injured myself. I believe she had a son called Alistair?

By Robert Clegg
On 09/10/2014

I grew up in Laindon too in the 80's & 90's in Devonshire Road. My Rattlesnake BMX was always being repaired in Parkinsons. As soon as it was repaired, back over 'the backs' (Victoria Park) to go on the BMX track or to play soldiers in the long grass around the world war 2 pillbox. And then they built Dunnies under Royal Court Flats, where we could buy our wham bars!! Great times ! There was a great big orchard somewhere in the region of Gordons Gin, we used to go over after the 'Newt Pond' but I cannot remember the exact location.

By Bert
On 26/10/2013

I can remember "Parky" well he used to have a taxi business and took the school children from Bulphan School to Doesgate Lane and that included me. It is a good tribute to him that they call his old shop road Parkinson's Corner. He was a really nice man --very quite and a real gentleman.

By Adrian Vidler
On 25/07/2013

While so many remember the history of Cliff and his brothers, I feel it is strange that no one seems to remember his nephew, a WW2 hero who was killed in a bombing raid over Germany.

Editor: My wife's cousin Jack Rose is married to Margery Parkinson, the niece of Cliff. We have asked Jack to provide information on the family for the archive but at this time he does not wish to do so.

By W.H.Diment
On 22/11/2011

I remember "old boy Parky" very well. I grew up in Laindon in the late 80's early 90's and Parkys was the place to go if you had a problem with your bmx or mountain bike. Almost every saturday we'd stop off on our way to Langdon Hills and have Parky oil our chains and wd40 our wheel nuts. He'd also never let us out the shop without tightening our brakes. We were a group of about 7 lads, all around 10 years old and he never charged us once for this weekly "maintenence" - it was just his nature, looking after the locals. Sadly Laindon has changed even in my short lifetime. 

My child now goes out on bike rides but the thought of stopping a shop that would gladly strip your bike down and grease it up for the day for FREE is something he cannot comprehend.

Its a good job I watched Parky all them years ago, as its now my turn to pass down the tricks and shortcuts he showed us to my own children. A true gent, and ever so sorely missed.

By Sean L
On 30/09/2011

Responding to Gloria Sewell, I believe Eva was a hairdresser who visited peoples homes whether this was on a professional basis or not but she certainly attended to my late sister Violet.

By w.h.Diment
On 26/09/2011

I seem to recall Cliff also had a sister Eva who was great friends with my uncle Ken and his family, not too sure on this but I think she drove taxis for Parkinson's. I may be mixing her up with Beral Farmer who drove Farmers taxis.

By Gloria Sewell
On 06/07/2011
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