Work and a schoolboy

By Donald Joy

My first foray into the demanding world of work was as a newspaper delivery boy. I worked for Pollards the newsagents and sweet shop along the Arterial Road situated between Church Road and Pound Lane. My round took me all the way out to my furthest delivery in Crays Hill. Why this customer ordered newspapers from Pollards was always a puzzle to me, surely there was a newsagents closer to that address? One morning I was stopped by the local bobby as my front light had ceased working and for this heinous crime I was fined 10 shillings, which meant that I worked from an ungodly hour each morning for a whole week for nothing. Not a happy chappy! Gave up this job as a result of the fine and my inability to stop sulking. 

My next employment was with D.C.Jeakins whose yard was along the High Road, between the Laindon Hotel and Simmons Stores. My tasks were many and varied, some exciting, others interesting, at least they were to a lad of my age. After school on weekdays I would feed and walk the two Alsatian dogs that were kept in the yard as guard dogs, while they looked and acted fierce they were really soft. I walked miles with them right out as far as Dunton caravan park, all through the unmade roads. I would then answer the phone to take taxi bookings up until pub closing time. Saturdays I helped carry furniture from the shop to the front of the shop to be sold. Next I would either wash any lorries or taxis that were in the yard or I would wash and polish and tie ribbons to  a black and grey Mk2 Zodiac that was used as a wedding car. Two of the lorry drivers there at that time were my heroes, Tony Spencer and Kenny Slaughter. They didn't appear to be much older than me, although obviously they were and I so wanted to be like them, driving lorries. If I was lippy to them they would punish me by dipping me head first into a galvanised tank of cold stinking water. Sundays were the most interesting as I got to wear my own overalls and help with the maintenance of the vehicles. Climbing underneath lorries checking and topping up oil in the back axles, greasing up the many grease nipples found on lorries back then   Checking engine oils, water in the radiators and distilled water in the batteries, it all made me feel so important. So many hours each week and all for 15 shillings, but I felt that I learned  a lot of interesting stuff which made it all seem worthwhile. 

After Jeakins I went to Coles the greengrocers who had a shop in Langdon Hills. This was only a Saturday job which involved me riding my bike to the shop at about 5 O'clock in the morning, filling a copper boiler with water, lighting the gas under it and emptying several boxes of beetroot into it to cook them. Some time later the lorry would arrive having been to Covent Garden to pick up all the fruit and vegetables to be taken to the market in Basildon town centre, as well as those intended to stock the shop. I don't know how I managed it but I had to carry 1 hundredweight sacks of potatoes from the lorry to the market stall throughout the day as well as all the other sacks and boxes of goodies. I don't recall what the wage was, but I did get to take home, on the handlebars of my bike, a box of mixed fruits and vegetables for free. 

Job number 4 was a bit special, it made me feel really grown up as it was  in a factory. Not really that special, but it seemed like it at the time as I had never been in a factory before. Working with sulphuric acid, hydrochloric acid, nitric acid, chromic acid and caustic soda was for a schoolboy quite scary. These were all used in the many different processes used to anodise aluminium products. My time at Chromadising seemed like more of an adventure than a job and on top of that it paid a proper wage. Chromadising was along the Arterial Road nestled in between the petrol filling station and the dartboard factory. 

As can be seen that in just a couple of years, I had had 4 jobs and that rather set the tone  for the whole of my adult life. I got to be fed up with jobs so left them and moved on to another. Work was for me too regular with not enough holiday time, even at school they used to let me have 6 weeks off in the summer!

This page was added by Donald Joy on 24/06/2017.
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I stated that my employment record, while still at school, likely set the pattern for my future employment when my schooldays were over. And so it seems this was correct in relation to the first decade of work, many jobs all short term.

One of these was at a petrol filling station on the A127 London bound just past where Ford's research centre was later built. A Fina garage next to what at that time was Arnock Motors owned by a family named Croll, the other side of which was a rose nursery with a Dutch sounding name that I can no longer recall.

I am recounting this as I feel that it was almost a part of Dunton, which has been included as a part of this Laindon site previously. At the time I worked here there were 3 different grades of petrol, Regular, Super and Super Plus, all different octanes and a little used diesel pump.

On one occasion it just happened to be budget day a man came from West Horndon with his car towing a bowser. He flew his own light aircraft from an airstrip somewhere locally and wanted to fill up with a couple of hundred gallons of Regular before 6pm when the price increase took effect. Regular at that time was 4 shillings a gallon and was to increase by fourpence to 4s and 4d a gallon. There were other filling stations closer fo him to use but, importantly, we gave Green Shield stamps.

Those were the days, cigarette coupons from No.6, Guards and Embassy and stamps from Green Shield, you almost didn't need money? ? ?

Editor:  I believe the nursery referred to is Timmermans.

By Donald Joy
On 24/07/2017

Gentlemen, as I read this in my study at 11pm with cold Guinness, you have evoked some great memories from the early eighties when I got my first schoolboy job.  I will submit details soon.

Editor:  We look forward to hearing from you.

By Rob Wood
On 26/06/2017

Just a quick p.s.  The unmade road whose name I couldn't think of, could it have been Kenilworth?

Editor: Yes, I knew a family who lived in Kenilworth Road.

By Donald Joy
On 25/06/2017

I omitted to say that I really enjoyed my job with Pollards as I loved cycling, yes even in the rain. Another aspect that made me very happy there was seeing their son, David or as we knew him Dave. He was my idol as he was one of Basildon's first mods. He wore the smartest clothes imaginable and the tailor made suits were just so sharp. I didn't want to be like him though, I actually wanted to be him. 

Ken, did you never question the distance your round covered? Surely there had to be newsagents shops closer to some of the addresses you delivered to? My round took me out to Kimberley Road and another unmade road the name of which escapes me. Then down Wash Road, Hardings Elms Road up to Crays Hill, back via Gardiners Lane and then a mad dash along the cycle track beside the A127 Arterial Road. Arrive back at shop totally puffed out. 

By Donald Joy
On 24/06/2017

My work as a schoolboy in Laindon took on many forms, mainly encouraged by others who had already taken up part time roles. My very first go at working was with my close friend Keith Jackson who lived in Dunton. Keith said a local farmer wanted us to do some hoeing in a field off Dunton Wayletts. We turned up in the summer holidays 1961. After one day hoeing a huge field opposite the A127 I realised I was not cut out to do soul destroying agricultural work in fields. I can't remember if we were paid or not. Needless to say I didn't turn up for day two.

Next, Keith said we should try working on a pig farm near Dunton. Keith had already worked there and my first job was wheeling a heavy barrow full of pig muck. This was ok, but just as I was getting used to it I trod on a huge nail sticking out of some planks. The nail went straight into the sole of my foot through my wellingtons. I went straight home and my dad rushed me by car to Billericay hospital where I had a tetanus injection. End of job on pig farm.

Next, in summer 1962 my school friend Geoff Heather invited me to form a new paper round by taking papers off the train on Saturday afternoon and selling them around the doors - my area was to be the Kathleen Ferrier Estate. We waited with the boss, a guy called Dennis, in a cafe near Laindon Station on the first Saturday. My papers were split off a huge block of Evening Standards into groups known as a 'quire'. Off I went, walking up the unmade Inverness Road, over Laindon Link into Kathleen Ferrier Crescent. Of course cold calling was very hard. Nobody seemed to want my Evening Standards, only one or two houses took pity on me. I went home with most of them unsold and a telling off from Dennis for not doing well; end of paper round.

So from summer 1962 I was back at Laindon High Road School for my final year. At Christmas I was told there would be a part time job for me at Hatters garage which sold Regent petrol. This job would teach me a lot about life. I met many characters in my job which was from 4-7 in the evenings and all day Saturday and Sunday. I loved it. I was working with Kathy Hymas a lovely girl who had already left LHR and another girl Susan King, who was in my class at the school. We worked from a tiny kiosk in the centre of the petrol pumps, filling cars and lorries and checking oil etc. Kathy would leave at 4 oclock on weekdays just as I arrived but we would all chat for a while before she left. Susan would stay till 6 leaving me to work until 7 oclock. The weekends were the best, it would be just me, in charge for 8 hours each day along with two senior men who were the forecourt supervisors, Graham and Albert. We had two Alsatians to look after, Paddy and Prince, these were left in the yard behind the garage and were fierce guard dogs.

My other role was to prepare brand new Austin cars from the factory for first time sale. We had Mini Coopers, Austin Healey Sprites, A40s and the big A55 Cambridge and A60 Westminsters. My two biggest telling offs were for breaking a whole bottle of Duckhams oil on the showroom floor and also for filling up a diesel coach with twenty gallons of petrol. I could write a book about some of the experiences I had in that garage, which I left in summer 1963 when my parents moved us all to another part of Essex. These were happy Laindon days, my early teens and I loved every minute of them.

By Richard Haines
On 24/06/2017

Hi Don.  I also worked for Pollards for about a year from 1958 until I left school. I thought my round was the longest I went all the way down Dunton Road then back up Rectory Road to Little Burstead Church before return and delivering papers along the unmade plotland roads. I use to collect the paper money on a Saturday and Sunday mornings. Initially my wage was 10s a week but went up to 12s 6d when I added a few more houses to the round. Tips were greater than my weekly wages in excess of £1. I started at 6.30 in the morning  and like you I never really made any money as I was knocked off my bike on a Saturday morning crossing the A127 losing £4.00 of the paper money which I had to pay back weekly at 2s 6d a week. Also pay for a new bike. Then I went and lost the money back on another occasion ad had to pay this back. However, I still really enjoyed it.

At 15 it was straight from the newspaper round to Ford Motor Company at Dagenham where I spent the next 18 months as a Mail boy, at least the pay was better.

By Ken Porter
On 24/06/2017