My Laindon My Story

My Teen Years

By Gloria Sewell

Photo:Laindon High Rd netball team 1955

Laindon High Rd netball team 1955

Gloria Sewell

I remember when I left Markham’s Chase School what a sad day it was for me but at the same time it was scary and exciting as well. I was off to Laindon High Road school after the annual holidays and at the age of 11 to a school with 15 and 16 year old boys. I also knew this was the start of being grown up, becoming an adult and the rest of my life. Wow!!!

Mr Woodward was the head master and Mrs Verlin was the Head Mistress. My first form teacher was Miss Jollyman.  I could go on about so many things about this teacher but here are just just a few memories of those who were taught by her and others who were not. Other writers on this site hopefully will tell you all you need to know about the famous Miss Jollyman. Bees Wax & Lavender Polish, Cigarette smoke and sausage roll hair and tweed skirts. The famous line "You lazy blighters" was a well known saying by her but a better and fairer teacher I could not have wished for. Eleven year olds were introduced slowly into Laindon High Road School life. We had separate playgrounds for the girls and boys, the four classes to the left of the quadrangle were out of bounds to older pupils. The gates when school started in the mornings were always locked and you could only leave the school grounds if you had a home lunch note. Mum knew you were safe all day until home time. What a good idea. The dining hall was like two long army huts and I think later they were used as classrooms. Grace was always said before lunch "For what we are about to receive may the Lord make us truly thankful, Amen". Every day this was said before eating but you did not dare laugh or talk during the prayer or you would get a rap on the knuckles. We had a lovely big assembly hall in Laindon School where we would all go after register in the mornings to say prayers, sing hymns, talk about school affairs etc. One pupil always did a reading and the teachers all sat on the stage in a row. You were not allowed to talk during assembly but of course you would get one of the boys have a joke of course, we would all laugh especially if it smelt as well, boy were we in trouble then. The hall was also used for a gym, big plastic mats, the horse, ropes and bars. I really did love P.E. or P.T. as it was known back then. Once a week we would go off to the children's residential home in Hutton to learn to swim. They allowed us to use their pool and I recall the first time we went I told the teacher I could not swim because I wanted to stay in my friend's group. Of course she soon realised I was swimming about without using the floats!  Nearly every weekend my brother and I would cycle to Billericay Lakes armed with sugar sandwiches and orange juice to swim in the pool. An old chap had a pool at the back of the lakes, it was absolutely filthy it was so green you could not see the bottom. I really don't know what  nasty things lurked beneath the surface but we are still here to tell the tale. He used to charge us one old penny to get into the pool that is less than half a new penny in decimal money today.

In the school field there were some old air-raid shelters and we were told these were out of bounds, not the best thing to say to young teens. We used to sneak round the back to share our flip-top pack of 5 Woodbines bought at Mrs Pelham's shop on the way to school. I remember once I smuggled an old wind up gramophone over the back fence. I don't know how long we used it before we were caught but I'm sure it must have been fairly quickly. Lunchtimes could be fun at Laindon High Road, Mr. Bear used to hold a ballroom dancing class, he was a very good dancer. We were also allowed to use the science room as it was the biggest room that could be used as a recreation area. Once a cleaner reported us for dancing on the tables and we were all sent to Mr. Woodward to explain ourselves as we were being silly. Me being my usual saucy self answered "There was not enough room on the floor Sir". More rapped knuckles!!! Funny the things you remember. 

My very best pal at school was Veronica Nightingale from Royston Road. Her family moved back to Wales when we were 15 and remember staying a week with her, after that I have never seen her since. I would love someone to read this and put us back in touch. I did have many other pals in school but I don't know if my popularity was down to the fact that I was unafraid to speak my mind or if I was sure I was right whether it be teacher or student. I did well in all my exams, I was goal keeper in the netball team and I participated in all the school sports. That was until in my last year I was blamed for something I did not do. Half of the teachers believed me, the other half didn't but I did lose respect and trust in the school and in my last year I am afraid I became a bit of a rebel. At Laindon School we had a defaulters book and an honours book. If your name was put in the defaulters book you were sorted out by Miss Harris, she was a bit like a Sergeant Major but good at her job. Mr. Lane our maths teacher used a billiard cue to bang on his desk to get your attention. He would put you in the defaulters book for putting your elbows on the desk. All in all though my time at Laindon school was a magical time.  I will never forget the end of school dance. I had a pink silk dress with sequins on the body. I will never forget Mr.Bear saying to me "You are going to be a beautiful young lady,  use your beauty wisely". What a nice thing to say.Another teacher wrote in my autograph book "The paths of life are like untrodden snow, be careful where you tread for every step will show". Wise words indeed. While I was at Laindon School we went on a trip to Norwich to see the castle and museum. I recall the whole school going on the train, what a day that must have been for the teachers. Little did I know then I would end up living just 25 miles from Norwich later in life. I went off to get some lollies for us all.  When I got back the teachers were in a panic because I was not where I should have been. I got in trouble for that but Mr. Bear stuck up for me on that occasion because I had taken the blame for everyone that had the lollies. I don't think I was really bad deep down but this was the beginning of a exciting new age for us young people. Equality, free speech, swinging sixties,flower power, this was my time and I was going to live it to the full.

I left school and went to Sumlock calculating Collage. I passed my exams there and went to work in London. That's another story. 

Friday nights in Laindon were always great fun for  teenagers. The Memorial Hall was where the local hop was held weekly. On a concrete wall outside the local boys and the young national service soldiers from the army camp used to sit and eye up the local girls as they went inside the hall. "Great!" We were outnumbered about 3 to1 so plenty of choice. We would dance the night away on the old wooden floor, how it held up I don't know. Salt used to be spread on the floor so we used to slide everywhere in our stilettos and winkle picker shoes. It was about the time of the teddy boys, just before I left school and my aunty Marion was into that fashion. She had given me a Donegal tweed skirt, a black bootlace tie and a pair of suede creepers. I had my hair cut at Doris's hair dressers into a D.A. I thought I was the cats whiskers and you know what I was!!!!!!

I recall another hall being built behind Toomey's garage a few years later. I went to a north come south show there, it was very good. How many of you remember the fair that used to come once a year on the field, if I remember correctly in Durham Road. I remember the waltzer at the fair and if you could stand up on it as it went round you earned real credibility. Other haunts we used as teens in Laindon were Enefer's cafe, it had two rooms. The one at the back had the duke box in it and the one where we used to spend lots of time in listening to records such as "Unchained Melody" by the Righteous Brothers, "Guitar Man" by Cliff Richard, "Heartbreak Hotel", by Elvis Presley and "Lipstick on your collar" by Connie Francis. Oh, I could go on and on. 

Dirty Bills cafe was another building on the opposite side of the A127,  then the Laindon Service Station beside the Cracker Factory. Lots of the local boys had motor bikes and when I joined them I started to go further afield. The Halfway House at East Horndon, The Blinking Owl by the Rayleigh cutting on the A127 and the Crown Hotel which had a room on one side where we were allowed to use as a meeting place, I also had my sixteenth birthday party there. Here are some of the names I remember. 

David Rand, my on off boy friend till I married him, Freddy Rand, Brian Reynolds, I had a crush on him, David Flashman, Ernie and Jean Byron, Tony Dowel, Jack and Barbara Flint, Silvia Turner, Roy Webster, Pat Davies, Ronnie Herbert, Maggie Cove, Chris Ash, Andrea Ash, Roger Pierce, Janet and David Nightingale, Josie Bowen, Eddie Murphy,Ken Page, Ray Nuth, Fred Sewell, Richard Haines, Pam Callow, Stanley Parrish and neat and tidy Mr. Malcolm Payne, Ronnie Bains, Ken Appleby. The last two it saddens me to say were the two I knew that were killed on their motor bikes.  Ron was going out with a local girl and Ken was a young soldier from Newcastle stationed in Laindon. He was killed in Orsett on his way back from leave. His family knew his love for Laindon and its people and Ken was not taken back north to be buried, he stayed with us in Laindon and was buried in the little church yard next to the army camp. He was given a full military funeral and on his grave was a military head stone. I feel sure it must still be there. The Church is now a private residence. If any of you visit please place a flower on it for me. Thank You.  As long as I lived in Laindon those lads were never forgotten by any of us and may they always rest in peace.

Rodney Moss was a lad I remember well because he made his little BSA Bantam look like a racing bike, I can still see it popping down the high road even now. There were many others in our motor bike gang from Laindon. I can never recall breaking the law, we got up to mischief perhaps but never broke the law. A couple of examples Ronnie Bains upset Bill one night and was asked to leave his cafe, next thing we knew he had nailed a plank across the door and shut us all in. Another night, again at Bill's cafe he asked us all to leave which we promptly did but taking his chairs and tables with us and sat in the middle of the Fortune of War roundabout to finish our drinks, that's about as bad as we ever got. Another thing, I can never remember being bored in Laindon as a teenager. Some of the boys who were not so much into bikes bought themselves old Black Ford 8's. They are worth an absolute fortune now.They were not content for their vehicles to be painted black, everyone had there names written on them. I recall my name was written across the side of another car, yet another one was painted bright purple but my favourite one was black and white with a highway patrol motif on the doors. Please please can anybody remember them?

I wonder if anybody also remembers Freddy (Brian) Rand's Black hearse, we had some fun in that also my brother Fred's big old black V.8.Pilot.

My future husband's family had a little bungalow in First Avenue in Dunton Plotlands. I always remember riding down the little narrow paths to go to see them. Two of my aunts and uncles had bungalows there as well so I spent quite a lot of time there as a youngster. The motor bikes were of course the pride and joy of  the lads most of them rode English bikes. These are hard to come by now but I will try to name a few. B.S.A. Gold Star, Gold Flash and Bantam, Norton Dominator, Matchless, Vincent Black Knight and Black Prince, double framed Triumph also Harley Davidson, Vellocette's and many more. The local bobbys had little grey L E Vellocette's that they used to pop around on, they had no chance of catching us!

Oops careful! Gloria. There was no national speed limit then so every one tried to go for the "ton". My poor mum, I can still see her looking out of the window with that "mum" worried look on her face as I streaked off down King Edward Road. My Aunt Pat Davies was only 11 months older than me so we used to go out together.  Southend Kursaal was a  favourite place of ours to go together. Corduroy was popular and fashionable at that time and I recall  we made ourselves dresses and as we didn't have time to finish them so there we were on the train to Southend taking up the hems.  I smile now but these are the occasions that made my teen years so amazing and unforgettable. The last train back from Southend was always packed and because people had been drinking for safety reasons you could not go on to the platform until the train pulled into the station, then it was a mad rush to get to the engine end of the train.

Because the station exit at Laindon was this end we had to run from the train to get the last bus to King Edward Road or walk the mile along the High Road to get home. I think I was married before a dance hall opened in Basildon (was it Raquel's?) I went to a few hen nights there but I don't think I used it much. 

Another weekend fun trip we had was on Saturday nights we would all go through Blackwall Tunnel down the Rochester bypass to Brands Hatch for motor bike racing. We would camp for the night in a wood at the side of the track so we could get in the meeting early in the morning. I recall Ray Nuth used to bring his guitar and we would sing and doze off to the music at night time. Fun Fun Fun. We would all arrive back home and meet up at Enefer's Cafe to exchange tales of our ride back home. The "Ton up boys", you know what I mean.

I would not change a thing about my teenage life in Laindon, I married David Rand in 1960 and in 1961 had my first son and so the story continues. Thank you so much to those who have read my story so far and I hope you have enjoyed reading it as much as I have writing it so until the next time!!!!! But just before I do go I would just like to mention one other young lady from my young days in Laindon. Who could forget the sweet little Bubbles Blackerry, she lived in Berry Lane with her family. Another dear friend I am in touch with in Laindon (Pat Cash) spoke about her just the other day. Bubbles had brittle bones so she spent most of her life in a wheelchair pushed about by her devoted mother who knew my Grandmother. I often saw her when I went to my see gran in Beatrice Road. Anyone who didn't know bubbles and those of you who did will agree her name says it all. Bye to you all for now.

Editor: sorry for the delay in posting Gloria

This page was added by Gloria Sewell on 27/09/2011.
Comments about this page (Add a comment about this page)

If anyone would like a catch up, I have just had my first contact with my school friend Veronica in a letter today thanks to Mike Fruin and this site. The first in nearly 54 years, lots of letter writing now as Veronica does not use the internet.

By Gloria Sewell
On 18/01/2012

If anyone is interested June has turned out to be a relative of mine her Grandma and my Grandpa were in fact siblings and we had the same Great Nanna Hall from "Sun View" Raglan Rd We have not seen or heard of each other for 55 years, thanks to this site we are now emailing each other thank you.

By Gloria Sewell
On 11/01/2012

Hallo June, I was born in Betrice Road, the road next to that was Raglan Road, it was a small community in that area of Laindon so we must have known each other. My Gt.Granma Ellen Hall lived in "Sun View" Raglan Rd., she had a daughter named Gertie who would be about your age. 

Do you remember Lungleys little stores and P.O. on the cornor of Berry Lane?

My families name was Davies. 

The Turners lived in Silvan Road, same area, they had a daughter Mavis, may also have been your age, Vera the older daughter married my Uncle Bobby and also lives in New Zealand. Makes a small world out of this big one doesn't it.

By Gloria Sewell
On 07/12/2011

I went to the school for two years in 1951 and 52 I had a big crush on Mr Bear,if this is the same one? From memory I think he had two little boys, but I'm 71 now so the memory is getting a little dim. My brother was born in Billericay but I was born at home in Raglan Road. I now live in New Zealand.

By June Wagner (nee Avis)
On 06/12/2011

Hello Mick, yes this is the same family, Harry was a couple of years older than Veronica and I. The last I saw of him was getting petrol at the Laindon Service Station approx.1958. It really is a small world Veronica and I were bosom pals. One of my dreams is to get in touch again, I have not seen her since Wales 1958. The website has my email address, please ask Ian for it, i’m sure he will oblige I don’t like to put on line.

The Nightingales were a large family I think 2 boys and about 4 girls. What I recall most about my stay in Wales with them was the little gutter that ran through the middle of the kitchen floor in their 16th century cottage, as it was built on a hillside, so quaint. Thanks again Mick I do so hope you can find out about Veronica and family for me.

By Gloria Sewell
On 10/11/2011

Gloria. It may be a small world. You mentioned you were friends with Veronica Nightingale whose family moved to South Wales. Well here's the twist. My sister Jackie married a Harry Nightingale from Laindon when he was living in South Wales! They still live there. Could this be the same Nightingale family? Harry is in his early 70s now. My sister is not on the internet, but if you think it is the same family, I can make enquiries by post.

By Mike Fruin
On 10/11/2011

THE GIRLS NAMES netball team top of page kindly supplied by Ann Rugg (Bullimore) Standing: L/R Miss Thomas, Josie Bowen, then me Gloria Sewell, Pat Day, Miss Hope. Seated: L/R Pamela Heath, Maureen Wright, Joan Archibald, Shirley Newman.

By Gloria Sewell
On 20/10/2011

Thank you so much Ann. Please still send a copy as the ones I have are all in my emails and I dont have a printer yet. Thanks again for all the names all falling into place now.

By Gloria Sewell
On 02/10/2011

Hello there Gloria, Have just seen that you have already got one of the photos that I am copying for you but you say you are short of the names so thought I would provide them via this site. Left to Right back row Miss.Thomas, Josie Bowen,Gloria Sewell, Pat Day, Miss Hope?. Front row Left to Right Pamela Heath, Maureen Wright, Joan Archibald, Shirley Newman. My picture is dated 1956-7. My reading group picture has over twenty of the girls with us from 1952 and should soon be on the site.

By Ann Rugg (nee Bullimore)
On 30/09/2011

I hope someone can please help with the names of the girls on the netball team? I know every face but can't put names to them, I am the one who looks like I have got attitude, middle of back row, and Josie Bowen is on my left.

By Gloria Sewell
On 28/09/2011

Hi Gloria, love your memories, by heck you woke up some of mine too. I went into Miss Jollyman’s class in 1955, upper 1a it was known as then.

We went to Hutton school for swimming as well, I could already swim as we had a caravan on the banks of the Blackwater and I was swimming when I was six years old.

My next teacher was Alan Bear, he was a great bloke I reckon, one of the best in the school, he rarely raised his voice even when we were driving him nuts, but one day he gave poor Philip Washington a backhander round the chops that was so hard his watch flew off his wrist and broke to pieces. I don’t know what poor Phil did to deserve it because he was a quiet lad then, the least likely to play up in class.

Remembering the school hall for assembly of a morning and lunch time dances for the older kids, the teachers in charge wanted to teach us proper ballroom stuff but all we wanted to do was jive, I can barely manage to do the creep nowadays.

There was a well equipped gymnasium on the opposite side of the quad, it had wall bars, ropes, beams and vaulting horses etc., and on rainy days during P.E. classes we would end up there doing all sorts of healthy type activities. Mr Gilchrist was PE teacher then, a small scottish bloke a fit as a flea, he used to make us run around the oval track on the sports field. One day he was showing us how to accelerate hard for the 100 yard dash. He lined us up two at a time to compare our styles. I was 6 feet tall skinny as a rake, he put me up against John Sargent who was about 5'2". John was a keen sports kid, me! I wasn’t keen at all, he beat me by about 50 yards. However! a couple of lads Phil Washington and Alan Collen lined up for the race but as the gun cracked to start them off instead of haring down the track they strolled along chatting like a couple of blokes on their way to the pub. It was hilarious,Mr Gilchrist just collapsed to the grass in a hopeless fit of giggles he lost it completely for the rest of the period, just sent us off around the track until the bell went. I bet he recounted it in the staffroom at lunchtime to the amusement of the rest of the staff.

Regarding the dances at the Memorial Hall, I only went a couple of times, once on a very very foggy night that was extremely cold too, we all had the old duffle coats in those days, I bought mine when I was 14 from Henbest’s and I still have it now though it is getting a bit sad around the edges, it was about 30 bob in those days, talk about value for money indeed!. Getting back to the dances, it wasn’t salt they threw on the floor, that would have scratched the timber, but french chalk which was used on most dance floors then and probably still is.

By Ken Page
On 28/09/2011
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