My Life in Laindon

An Essex girl growing up

by Patsy Mott (née Tyler)

Photo:My first photograph 1945 in Northumberland Avenue

My first photograph 1945 in Northumberland Avenue

Patsy Mott (née Tyler)

Born - Where - Northumberland Avenue, Laindon, Essex.

When - Spring 1945

Time - 8-30 pm. 

Obviously my recollections of that day are pretty vague! Apparently according to my siblings it was very warm that springtime. My sister who was nearly five years old at that time tells me that when she first saw me at a few hours old she exclaimed "She looks like a little red monkey". Charming. 

Photo:Family Group 1946 - guess who the passenger is?

Family Group 1946 - guess who the passenger is?

Patsy Mott (née Tyler)

Photo:Patsy now driving 1947 - I wonder where the camouflage netting came from?

Patsy now driving 1947 - I wonder where the camouflage netting came from?

Patsy Mott (née Tyler)

My brother who was seven was also unimpressed when I arrived. Apparently he exclaimed to the family "Oh no, not another girl!! I wanted a brother". So I was a bit of a surprise and disappointment on all counts. 

Photo:1947 Me, Joyce and Don in back garden of "Toby". Camouflage netting was obviously in abundance

1947 Me, Joyce and Don in back garden of "Toby". Camouflage netting was obviously in abundance

Patsy Mott (née Tyler)

Photo:Spring 1948 - Me on my first bike in garden at Northumberland Avenue just before we moved

Spring 1948 - Me on my first bike in garden at Northumberland Avenue just before we moved

Patsy Mott (née Tyler)

My first few years in our small bungalow are a little hazy but my very first vivid memory was in the summer of 1947 when I was just 2 years old. My sister had just had a new pair of black plimsolls for P.E. I wanted a pair just like hers but the shops in the High Road only had a tiny pair of brown gym shoes with black rubber soles in my tiny size. In my mind they reminded me of the square black/brown Bassets Liquorice Allsorts and to this day whenever I see those sweets I still visualise my first pair of plimsolls. 

I clearly remember walking to meet my sister from Markhams Chase School through Blue House Farm. The path across this pasture was a raised walkway sloping away each side to the fields where cows were usually grazing. They seemed so huge and although being reassured by my mother I was always frightened of them and to this day am very nervous of these bovine beasts. As my family will testify even now as an adult I have been known to break into a trot then a hasty jog when out hiking when confronted by a field of cows, much to their amusement.

In the summer months we used to stand on the fence at the bottom of our garden that ran beside the railway line waving at the steam trains as they puffed their way to Southend with a  cargo of excited holiday makers leaning out of the windows and waving back to us. We were not far from the station so the engines were still going slowly building up steam for the journey ahead.

Photo:1950 We three in Aunt's garden at "Oliveville" Northumberland Avenue with water tower in background

1950 We three in Aunt's garden at "Oliveville" Northumberland Avenue with water tower in background

Patsy Mott (née Tyler)

Having grandparents, aunts, uncles and various other relatives all living close by life was very stable and cosy.

Life changed in summer 1948 when we moved to a brand new semi detached house on the King Edward Estate. The new development by the Billericay Urban District Council  started about 1945-46 with the first houses being built in King Edward Terrace then the groups of semis at the bottom (High Road end) on the newly constructed roads of the estate. In those days when houses were completed they were left empty to "dry out" for six months before being occupied. Our house in Powell Road together with only one other on the estate have "Hip Roofs", all the rest are "Gable ended". Our house was white pebble dashed like the five double semi detached houses in King Edward Road. The other hip roof was Councillor Tanswell's house in King Edward Terrace but this was left red brick like the rest of the houses on the estate. The other exception being the "Airey" houses at the top of the estate (west end) which were built with concrete slabs. 

Photo:Just moved into Powell Road July 1948

Just moved into Powell Road July 1948

Patsy Mott (née Tyler)

Our new property was built early 1947 but unlike the rest of our group in Powell Road, it was set back on the plot further than the neighbouring properties. This may indicate that it could have been built earlier together with the first houses at the entrance to the estate being of the same design. Our house appears to have been built straddling the line of two old field boundaries (one semi each side of the north-south line) as the back garden fence line between the adjoining property deviates by a considerable amount impeding over our neighbours garden on the east side. We always wondered at this anomaly but as we have discovered from an old map we acquired some time ago, it became clear and logical why the fence deviated, it was following an old field boundary.

When we first moved into the property my grandfather and father spent a considerable time getting rid of several oak tree stumps in the middle of the lawn near the house which had been chopped down to make way for the building. These trees again were on the alignment of the existing trees still on the old boundary.

Photo:July 1948 - Back Garden Powell Road with two large Oak tree stumps that had to be removed to make way for the lawn

July 1948 - Back Garden Powell Road with two large Oak tree stumps that had to be removed to make way for the lawn

Patsy Mott (née Tyler)

There are still several very large oak trees on the adjoining back fence line in both directions. The derelict land in Roberts Road where these trees are growing has been earmarked for development. Several years ago when plans were submitted for flats to be built we were concerned about the loss of the mature oak trees. Our daughter who still lives in our family home contacted the council and has managed to get a preservation order on them so hopefully they should be safe for the future. 

When we moved into the house that July I can remember riding round the house on my little bike going through the kitchen, hall, living room, dining room again and again in a circuit, great fun after living in a small bungalow. Our house also had two toilets which was amazing after the outside loo we had in Northumberland Avenue. 

Talking of toilets!!!!! Only a few weeks after we moved in I went to the toilet upstairs by myself dressed only in my little white cotton vest on getting out of bed (it was high summer) I started fiddling with the lock on the inside of the door. Guess what! I locked myself in so my mother in a panic ran across to the builders working on the flats in Briar Mead telling them her daughter was locked in the toilet and asking them for help to free me and to hurry as she was cold only wearing a vest, they readily agreed. They picked and hacked at the door lock while I shivered with fright and  pulling my little vest over my knees crouched beside the toilet crying my heart out. When they eventually broke the door lock they fell about laughing as apparently they were expecting a much older "young lady" so they were a bit disappointed to be confronted by a three year old and not a comely wench.

Photo:September 1948 Grandad's path taking shape with early experimental wind turbine. The brick base is still there and in use, but the wind turbine was not successful

September 1948 Grandad's path taking shape with early experimental wind turbine. The brick base is still there and in use, but the wind turbine was not successful

Patsy Mott (née Tyler)

Photo:May 1949 Back garden progressing with dad in charge of lawnmower

May 1949 Back garden progressing with dad in charge of lawnmower

Patsy Mott (née Tyler)

Not long after that my older brother took me to climb on the buildings in Briar Mead opposite our house where the flats were being constructed. The walls were just emerging from the foundations and a stack of Crittle metal window frames were piled ready for use. I fell and cut myself, I was very lucky, the injury just missed my eye so things could have been very different. Needless to say I was banned from the building site after that incident.

After the group of houses built at the bottom of Powell Road were finished the style of the properties changed so it is possible to plot which groups were added at each stage of  development.

On the south bottom side of Powell Road there was an orchard, this was behind a small bungalow fronting onto Tattenham Road. This was a great playground also a source of scrumped fruit. A few years later four semi detached houses were built on this land.

There was a Residents Association set up and run by the folks on the estate. If I remember rightly Mr Tanswell was the chairman, my father was the secretary and together they arranged all sorts of activities for both the adults and children. A community soon developed.

When we first occupied the property the front gardens were open plan but due to popular demand fences and gates were added making it safe to play. Most families were proud of their new homes and many planted privet hedges, most of the original bushes that my father planted are still there, not bad after 64 years.

Photo:May 1950 top of Powell Road looking South to houses still under construction. Photo taken from first flat past Brook Mead

May 1950 top of Powell Road looking South to houses still under construction. Photo taken from first flat past Brook Mead

Patsy Mott (née Tyler)

Photo:1953 Powell Road in back garden - Me, Mum and Pat Barnett (best friend) Dads greengage fruit tree still there and producing fruit

1953 Powell Road in back garden - Me, Mum and Pat Barnett (best friend) Dads greengage fruit tree still there and producing fruit

Patsy Mott (née Tyler)

Photo:1955 The two Pats outside No 15, Briar Mead on right

1955 The two Pats outside No 15, Briar Mead on right

Patsy Mott (née Tyler)

Comments have been made about the playing field between King Edward/Powell Roads being rough with bushes. The top end (west end) could have possibly been used temporally while construction continued for storing building materials etc. before it was added to the grassed area. The bottom end (east side) opposite our house was a grassed area very early on as we played there most of the time. Also the mention of bonfires on the playing field is something I do not remember. It was BUDC land and they were very strict  on what tenants were allowed to do to in and on their property. I have asked many local residents about the field and bonfires (without prompting) and all those I have asked don't appear to remember any fires or rough areas. 

The area that both adults and children used to haunt on the estate was the onion field, this was near the top of Powell Road on the west side of Devonshire Road. On summer evenings residents of all ages would congregate there to play games together. Still memories are memories.

In the mid fifties the Co-op had a Sports Day and Fete on the playing field. A fancy dress parade was planned and I asked my mother if I could join in but making costumes was not her thing, I remember looking out of our landing window at the festivities looking at the children all dressed up in their colourful clothes and listening to the music.

The playing field had a path running around the perimeter of the area with the pavement running diagonally across each corner of the field and later a layby in King Edward Road. In those days Powell Road & King Edward roads were narrower with grass verges between the paths and roads. Later the grass areas were removed from Powell Road and widened to accommodate the larger volume of traffic using the area.

Photo:September 1958 front garden looking North East- - Hawthorn Tree planted by the Council still there but more of a feature now

September 1958 front garden looking North East- - Hawthorn Tree planted by the Council still there but more of a feature now

Patsy Mott (née Tyler)

Photo:1961 My dog Rex in front garden by the Hawthorn sapling - Small white bungalow near where the orchard use to be is on the right at junction with Tattenham Road. Now occupied by Flats

1961 My dog Rex in front garden by the Hawthorn sapling - Small white bungalow near where the orchard use to be is on the right at junction with Tattenham Road. Now occupied by Flats

Patsy Mott (née Tyler)

Like many of the local children we spent our days roaming across Laindon exploring the area. Days out on our bikes armed with a picnic to pick bluebells in the woods bringing home bunches of poor drooping flowers to give mum, playing at the "Big Rec" at Langdon Hills which seemed such a long way for my little legs. Our parents did not allow us to go in the blue paddling pool at the bottom of the large field because of the polio scares at that time, it was sometime difficult to watch other children enjoying the water while we watched. 

I recall walking to Victoria Road, pond dipping at the "Lily Pond" for newts, walking along the unmade section of Devonshire Road on the duck boards and playing on the swings at the "Little Rec" which was situated between Victoria Road and Worthing Road where the prefabs were built around the playing field. These are fond memories but we must just be grateful we were able to have such freedom and an area of countryside in which to play and learn. Pity all this has been lost so we can have the amenities and the pleasure of Basildon!!!!!

Photo:1961 Mum playing with Rex on field with Cromer Avenue Left hand side in distance with row of garages. OAP bungalows at end of Bushy Mead on Right

1961 Mum playing with Rex on field with Cromer Avenue Left hand side in distance with row of garages. OAP bungalows at end of Bushy Mead on Right

Patsy Mott (née Tyler)

Photo:1961 Rex resting on playing field looking westerly towards King Edward Road, Brook Mead to left and Home Mead to the Right and you can just make out the telephone box

1961 Rex resting on playing field looking westerly towards King Edward Road, Brook Mead to left and Home Mead to the Right and you can just make out the telephone box

Patsy Mott (née Tyler)

Photo:June 1964 Dads Ford Prefect outside No 15 with privet hedge and Hawthorne tree getting larger

June 1964 Dads Ford Prefect outside No 15 with privet hedge and Hawthorne tree getting larger

Patsy Mott (née Tyler)

Photo:June 1964 looking North from front garden over privet hedge mostly still there

June 1964 looking North from front garden over privet hedge mostly still there

Patsy Mott (née Tyler)

This page was added by Patsy Mott on 19/05/2012.
Comments about this page (Add a comment about this page)

Now there's a name I recall fondly, Rita Theobald, my very first girlfriend. Also given to believe her Dad was our milkman for a number of years. Recognise most of the other names mentioned.

By Donald Joy
On 19/09/2015

I lived in 3 King Edward Terrace from 1946/47 moving to 25 Roberts Road approx 1959. I lived two doors from the Austin Family and remember the Venners, the Theobalds, Cutlers, Hills, Davies and Lewis family - have memories of get togethers on Bonfire night!

By Helen Sutton nee Brown
On 13/06/2013

Lovely article. I'm intrigued as to the coincidence, though I'm pretty sure there's no connection. My Nan, who lived in Topsham Road, Laindon was Jesse Mears and was born Jessie Tyler. Small world.

By Ray Stroud
On 26/06/2012

Hi Patsy, yes I do remember all those names, I do recall that Terry Venner was a bit of a hero to us first years on the sports field especially on the evening of the 1959 sports day at LHR when I think he took part in the mile race, or one of the other longer distance track events. However I seem to recall he was in Hillsmen (yellow) and at the end of the sports day our Plainsmen (blue) flag was at the top of the pole. 

As for Geoff Cochrane, a nice boy, I was in his class in my first year 58-59 then I moved up but always used to chat with him now and again. So many kids on that King Edward Estate, including of course Gloria and Freddy Sewell and also the Pound Lane Estate where I had many friends as well. Look forward to more of your memories take care Rich.

By Richard Haines
On 25/05/2012

Thank you Richard, glad its jogged your memory. Yes there will be more when time allows. An article on LHR amongst others will appear in the not too distant future hopefully, but life is so busy at the moment. 

Just to give you something to think about until then, do you remember these family names? Alan & Michael Shead, Rita Theobald, Jimmy & Kathleen Roache, the Venner family. 

By the way Geoff Cockrane is a relative of our family. Thanks again and don't forget any more of your memories would be welcome on the site!

By Patsy Mott
On 24/05/2012

This is another brilliant article by Patsy, full of nostalgic photos and so well written. I wish I had so many photos of when I was in Laindon, I think my mum has most of them. As Patsy was at LHR around the same time as me I wonder if we could look forward to some more of her detailed memories of that time including teachers, sports days whatever, that would be great - the good and the bad are always equally interesting. Also recollections of the school children's names in Powell Road and King Edward Road would be good to jog some memories. I know that John Austin, Michael Venables, Geoff Cochrane, Micky Yates all came from that area. Let’s have more from Patsy - thanks!!

By Richard Haines
On 24/05/2012
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