Memories of the Railway Cottages - Laindon

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East Horndon (later renamed West Horndon when the authorities realised that their geography was wrong)

By Charlie Clark - March 2011

My grandfather, Charles Edward Clark moved to East Horndon (later renamed West Horndon when the authorities realised that their geography was wrong) in 1883 from Pinchbeck in Lincolnshire to work on the railway link from Upminster to Pitsea with the stations East Horndon and Laindon. He stayed at the Railway Hotel, East Horndon.

Photo:Railway Hotel (1905) West Horndon

Railway Hotel (1905) West Horndon

The Railway Hotel, East Horndon was built in 1886 it was originally called ‘The Railway Hotel & Posting Establishment’. Beer was supplied by Ind Coope Ltd. The Railway still retains some original branding above the pub sign and also the Victorian lamp attached to the front of the building is still there. Steam locomotion reached East Horndon ( West Horndon ) from Fenchurch Street in 1886, the station buildings, hotel and cottages were already in place or being erected. The date of photograph is 1905.

The Link was completed in 1888 and opened on the 1st June 1888. While my grandfather was staying in East Horndon he met Elizabeth Lawrence whom he later married on the 19th November 1888. The railway company built railway cottages for its workers, eight at East Horndon and eight at Laindon and my grandfather was offered and moved into No.1 at Laindon.

Photo:Laindon Railway Station pre 1910

Laindon Railway Station pre 1910

Their first son Edward was born in February 1890 and my dad John followed on the 17th April 1891, they went on to have seven more children.

My father John served in the Surrey Regiment during the First World War and went to work in the gunpowder works at Kynock town which is now Corytown Oil Terminal. John often called in at the Laindon Hotel for a drink; here he met Cecelia Henty who worked in the Hotel. She lived in Bexleyheath, Kent and worked for Jack Holman. Jack bought the Laindon Hotel and asked Cecelia if she would move and continue working for him, which she did.

Photo:Laindon Hotel, built in 1896, closed down in 1980 and burnt down in 1991

Laindon Hotel, built in 1896, closed down in 1980 and burnt down in 1991

John and Celelia got married in August 1915; they went on to have eight children, which of course included me. I was born in April 1939 in a bungalow called Uplands, in Basildon Road (which is still there today). We moved across the road to a big house called Woodbine. At the bottom of the garden I remember they had searchlights and anti-aircraft guns. Our local shop was Cooper’s stores which stood on the corner of Church Road and Basildon Road. The nearby school was known as ‘Donaldson’s’ after the headmistress. My sister Christine and I went to this school.

My grandfather died in 1933 and my grandmother ten years later in 1943, they are both buried at St Nicholas Church. This meant that their home No. 1 Railway Cottages became empty so it was handed down to my father; it meant we were on the move again, it was still war time. The way to the cottages was opposite the entrance to the station with steps going down and along a path to the cottages.

Photo:Railway Cottages.(1901) No.1 is at the far end of the block.

Railway Cottages.(1901) No.1 is at the far end of the block.

The cottages had gas lighting, electric was not connected up until the 1950s, we had outside toilets built at the bottom of the gardens but fortunately they were connected to the main sewer. In the winter though, you had to put an old hurricane lamp in the shed to stop it freezing up. Many of us used the chamber pot so you didn’t have to go out in the cold at night. There was an old copper in another shed; you lit a fire beneath it to get hot water to wash your clothes. Bath time was a tin bath in front of the fire, the water either came from the copper or from the kettle being heated up on top of an old Kitchener stove. The stove fire was stoked from the top via a lift off round lid.

Photo:Kitchen Stove

Kitchen Stove

Charlie Clark

One of my jobs my mother gave me was to clean the stove with black lead polish and chop wood to light it in the morning. If we ran out of coal we had to go down to the coal yard at the station and get a bag in the pushchair. If you were cold at night you just put an overcoat on top of the bed.

While the war was on you had to have black blinds to stop any light showing outside. There was bomb in Vowler Road, which took out at the back of the railway cottages all the up-stair windows.

Following the move to the cottages, my sister and I transferred to Langdon Hills Primary School. It was here that I met Joey Cottrill who would later become Joe Goodman the famous comedian. At 11 I moved on to Laindon High Road School.

I clearly remember the other people who lived in the cottages. No. 1 my grandfather Jack a platelayer, No. 2 Mr & Mrs Hunt, he was a signalman, No. 3 Mr & Mrs Martin, he worked on Laindon Station, No. 4 Mrs Wellington and her son Bill, he worked for Collings the hardware shop in the High Road, No. 5 Mrs Hymas, my mother cooked her Sunday lunch and I would take it into her, No. 6 Mr & Mrs Saltmarsh, No. 7 Mr & Mrs Baker, he worked in the booking office and No. 8 Mr & Mrs Monk.

All the cottages were allotted an allotment which was the other side of the railway; there was a gate (called kissing gate) which was opened to allow you to cross when no trains were coming. Everybody grew their own vegetables it was only when we ran out did we go to the local greengrocers ‘Townsend’s’ who were opposite ‘Churchill Johnson’s’.

In 1970 the Railway Cottages were compulsory purchased, my parents did not want to leave but in 1971 they moved to 52 Basildon Drive. 

I left school in 1955 and in 1959 I was called up for three years National Service in the Royal Air force. I married Rita Pedrick of Royston Avenue, Laindon at St Nicholas Church in 1963. We now live in Pound Lane, Laindon – never been one for moving too far.

Return to Laindon Memories

This page was added by Ken Porter on 16/03/2011.
Comments about this page (Add a comment about this page)

An old thread but I thought an old West Horndon hand might add something to the discussion. I was born in 1960 and lived from birth in West Horndon until around 1988, my brother and mum are still there. We grew up having been told that the Railway Station was actually built on the insistance of Lord Petre who had a residence at Thordon Hall. Apparently this was for a time known as the manor of West Horndon, which is bizzar when considering the locality of East Horndon, because that lies between the two and both east Horndon and the manor are north! I though I was told that it was a flag stop and that its primary rational was in order that Lord Petre could conveniently get supplies of coal to the manor. Could it have been a case of the gentry justifying their agenda by using "a concern" for local the farming community. As for the hotel maybe the justification was similarly to provide for Lord Petre's late arriving vistors as the ride to the hall might have perhaps taken an hour or so!

By Andrew Seabrook
On 01/05/2017

Great Reading.

By Robert English
On 31/01/2015

Hi to Louise, Robert and Ray. Your grandmother and mine (May) were sisters. I would be so happy for you to contact me.

By Valerie Hayter
On 19/03/2014

Hi Charlie you said about a girl called Jackie, her maiden name was Baker. She lived next door to flacks, she did marry a scotsman but he died a few years back. Jackie had a pal called Barbara Flint who lived in Martindale, she also married Jock's mate Joe French, he was good mates with Jackie's husband. Barbra lives in Stockton on Tees, her brother Frank & sister Joan still live in Martindale.

By Alan Taylor
On 24/10/2013

Hi Charlie I know Rita and you but new Rita more as I lived in Martindale Ave. Can you remember the Saltmarsh's who lived in Railway Cottages? I think it was number 6. Did you have a sister called Joyce?

By Alan Taylor
On 24/10/2013

My name is Louise Davis nee Martin. My nan and pop lived in 3 Railway Cottages, my dad Arthur was their son, dad joined the Royal Marines and married my mum Olive in Australia, have a brother Robert and Ray is my cousin. Love looking at this as it is part of my family history. By Louise Davis 22/4/2013

By Louise Davis Nee Martin
On 22/04/2013

Hi Charlie. my name is Ray Martin. My dad was Bert Martin .....Arthur's Brother. I emigrated with my wife Sue and two boys to Oz in 1982. Robbie my cousin is in Sydney and myself in Melbourne. Dad got transferred up to Derby in the 40s as he worked on the Railways at Bow Works. He was sent up to Derby Locomotive Works. Aunty Doris (Sarfas) and Vera (Patching) still going strong and I love em to bits. I remember Railway Cottages with great love and affection. My Pop and Nannie lived at no 3. (The Martins). Pop worked on the Station. I remember I had a great grandfather Clark (maybe with an e) he had a big long white beard. Are we related? This was on my Nans side. Regards Ray Martin.

By Ray Martin
On 08/04/2013

Hello Charlie my name is Robert Martin my grandfather & grandmother lived in No 3 my fathers name was Arthur. He became a Royal Marine & married mum in Australia. He has past on now it would be good to catch up. Best regards

By Robert Martin
On 03/04/2013

A point which puzzles me in respect of the staion being named as being geographically incorrectly is that in the Peter Lucas book it shows a 1777 map by Chapman and Andre of the villages surrounding the area chosen for the station were: Langdon, Dunton, Bulphan, Little Warley, Childerditch and East Horndon. There was no mention of any West Horndon. When did the name and the village first come into being. 

Also there sems to be a presumption that East Horndon was named from its geographical position to Horndon on the Hill which was due south of East Horndon and if so should be called North Horndon.

By W.H.Diment
On 28/01/2013

Ian, I thank you for the historical background. Since the Railway Hotel in East Horndon is still existing and in operation it would be most interesting to see if the present owners have anything to contribute to this discussion. I wonder if some old ledgers and business records might still be extant that would shed additional light on the subject. 

I take your point about the railway providing better access to the London markets for the produce grown by the local farmers. However, crops are seasonal so it would only be during the harvest season that the railway would be used by the farmers. 

The farmers may well have used the hotel during harvest season in that they, with their produce, would need to be at the station early next morning in order to catch the milk train into London. This would have necessitated getting to the railway station the night before. That being said, who uses the hotel now? To build a hotel and rely upon farmers during the harvest season still seems a most dubious use of capital to me. Having said that people make odd business decisions all the time! 

I accept your point that the name change to West Horndon was made in 1949. However, I know from personal experience that it took years to change the actual signs on the station itself. I traveled into the city every day day until I left the UK in 1955. Until the day I left the signs on the station itself still said East Horndon.

Editor: It was the railway that made the mistake, the village that had a population of around 850 at the time was West Horndon. East Horndon was at the junction known to most of us as the Halfway House and was much smaller.

West Horndon grew with the creation of the agricultural industrial equipment manufacturer Howard Rotivators and various other manufacturers joined them. 

By alan davies
On 11/01/2013

Just to provide a little historical information:

The railway link between Barking and Pitsea was started in 1883 and had reached East Horndon Station by 1886, the station being opened to the public in May. 

The link to Pitsea being completed in 1888. The Hotel was built at the same time as the station buildings and most likely by the same builders and is still in use today.

It must be remembered that the station did not only serve East Horndon but a large rural area surrounding. This gave the local farmers improved access to the markets on London for their produce. It was realised that the station designation was in correct and it was renamed West Horndon in 1949. 

Laindon Hotel:

When this was built it was envisaged that Laindon would become a thriving high class community as Southend had become. This can be seen by some of the large early homes that were built in Laindon and Langdon Hills. This was before the local estate agents realised that there was money to be made by selling plots to the East Enders wishing to escape from the squaller of London.

By Ian Mott
On 09/01/2013

Regarding the Railway Hotel in East Horndon and the Laindon Hotel. Charlie Clark states that his grandfather came to the area from Lincolnshire in 1883 to work on the planned Upminster to Pitsea railway line. He stayed at the Railway Hotel in East Horndon. 

Strange! There was no railway at the time. By definition it was only a planned line extension. How then was the pre-existing hotel named the Railway Hotel? Did it change its name in anticipation of the coming railway link? If so what was its former name?

Who on earth would build a hotel in the middle of such a desolate rural area as it was then? Who did it serve? What sort of business man or traveling salesman would need a hotel room in such a rural area? How did the hotel stay in business? If the answer is that its income came from beer and operating as a public house then where did the customers come from, on foot mind you, in such a thinly populated area. 

The Laindon Hotel, built in 1896, prompts similar questions. It was built a few years after Laindon station opened but surely it could have derived little income as a result of the railway. Why would businessmen or traveling salesmen journey to Laindon? Who was there to do business with? Most goods required from out of town by the local shops could be ordered. It would not require a call from a salesman for what must have been very small orders. Even if a salesman did visit a Laindon merchant, with the railway station a couple of hundred yards away, he would be back to London the same day. So, who used the hotel? 

The population was somewhat larger than East Horndon, I would have thought, so it is possible that the public house side of the business did better. However, to put that sort of capital into building these hotels in that era with such a small potential customer base seems extraordinary.

By Alan Davies
On 09/01/2013

Hi Charlie, I lived at No 7 Railway Cottages. I can also clearly remember the other occupants including your family. when the old lady at No 5 died the Flack family moved in, Len & ? plus their daughter Linda who at one time was living in Basildon. I remember your motor bike(s) & I am sure you gave me a ride or two around those old cinder paths which connected to the various gateways, you were a few years older than me so I held you in high esteem! I have never forgotten those childhood days when kids could go out & play all day with no worries. I also can still picture the fair that was held about one field away, all powered by traction engines. These days I live in New Zealand, since 1975 in fact, feel free to contact me if you would like to.

By John Baker
On 08/11/2011

Hello Charlie, what a lovely surprise to find all of this fantastic family information! Your Great Grandfather John Clark (born 1832 in Pinchbeck Lincolnshire) was a brother of my great great grandma Hannah. I have only just found out about your grandfather moving from Pinchbeck to Essex, and am enjoying adding your branch to my family tree. I live about three miles from Pinchbeck, I don't think that many Clark family members left Lincolnshire. It would be great to hear from you so that we could compare notes!

By Marion Wright
On 05/11/2011

Hello Charlie. After reading your article I have found out that you are my husbands cousin!! His father was Henry George Clark, born 2.10.1907, who I believe was your father's brother. I would love to get in touch with you to see if you have any more family history to add to that which we already have. 

By Jane Clark
On 01/11/2011

Hello Charlie, I'm sure my grandfather Tom Willis was born in one of the railway cottages in 1903. Do you have list of names that might have occupied the cottages around that time. He also went to school in the school house on the top of crown hill, now a private house. Anything you might know I would be extremely interested. Regards, Andy.

By Andy Willis
On 25/10/2011

Hello Charlie. I'm sure Rita was a friend of mine we used to play together with another girl called Jacky who married a scotsman from the army camp and Veronica Nightigale There was a shop in Wash Rd near where Rita lived where we used to get sweets. 

When we were older we used to go to the Prince of Wales pub a few of us locals and lads from the army camp used to meet there.

By Gloria Sewell
On 12/07/2011

Wonderful memories, even for me having my First pint in The Railway Hotel, West Horndon, while working at Brown & Tawse Tubes in Childerditch Lane.

By Brian Baylis
On 03/04/2011
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