A Note to All

Not through rose-coloured glasses!

By Andrea Ash (née Pinnell)

GUYS & GALS – DON’T BE SHY

This Laindon site is amazing and becoming better all the time; I have been asking around and know I am not the only person to think how well the site is doing.  However, it is only down to the contributions sent in from all over and of course our clever Webmaster producing our articles in such an interesting format.

I get the feeling that there are quite a lot of ex Laindoners out there who are avidly reading the Laindon History site but are not actually contributing with their stories and/or photographs.  It may be that they feel their story isn’t interesting enough or that they are just shy. If you have any connection with Laindon, then you have the right to contribute.  I also believe there are some owners of good material who do not wish their personal details splashed all over the site for various reasons.  I too have promised a relative I will not publish their old photos, because that’s their wish, but I hope they will change their mind one day.  We are not here for always and when we are gone, our survivors might be searching for glimpses of their ancestors’ pasts and surely that would be an everlasting gift to them.

I feel old Laindon was unique and there is nothing to replace it now.  This is not a romantic idea because it wasn’t a perfect place nor were streets paved with gold (more like mud-tracks).  There was a lot of heartache and misery but what it did have was spirit: this having been revived somewhat by the contributors to the site.  We have a good bond with each other which cannot be broken, due to our knowledge of the old Laindon.  We have the true and interesting history stories and the heart-felt funnies; we also have learned folk who will correct our stories when we have possibly gone a bit off course. Priceless!

I hope this note may stir some more folk to contribute to the Laindon history site, including the Dunton Plotlands area; for them to tell of their lives or to relate family stories and supply photos.  I suspect quite a few of us may have aging relatives/friends who have stories to tell.  Maybe we should take the time and ask them about the old times before it’s too late. This method of putting down our stories is much better than a book because I feel we are getting to the heart of things and it will always be there on-line for us all to use, enjoy and enrich our knowledge. 

This page was added by Andrea Ash (Nee Pinnell) on 19/12/2011.
Comments about this page (Add a comment about this page)

In respect to Donald's posting. I spent over a month in the UK last summer, most of it in the Laindon area. Nina and Colin were especially kind to me and spent time ferrying me around. I have been meaning to write an article on my thoughts and the changes that impressed themselves upon me. I have been putting it off. Donald's comments have spurred me to do something about it. I shall start work on it shortly. Thanks Donald. I needed that little push.

By Alan Davies
On 13/12/2015

Somewhat akin to Andrea's original post (Dec 2011) asking for more Laindoners to contribute their memories and stories to this site. I cannot help but notice that many of the early contributors appear to have not contributed recently. Have they run out of things to share? Things that others of us might find fascinating no matter how trivial they might think they are. History could be being lost.

I do appreciate that we have lost a number of these valuable contributors through natural events, but there are many more of a similar age to myself who have lapsed. Just look at some of the waffles I have posted, somebody could find them interesting or hopefully amusing. Please share with us, as we could well be interested. 

By Donald Joy
On 12/12/2015

Hi, Just found this amazing site! I know I will enjoy reading through all the comments with great interest. My father is Joey Cotterill and I am eager to learn as much as I can about his childhood and the environment he grew up in from those who know/knew him.  Thanks in advance for any info. or photos out there.

By Tracey Wilson nee Goodman/Cotterill
On 30/12/2013

I can equate with a lot of the comments on this page. We moved to Kings Road Laindon, about 1950. I went to Markhams Chase, then Grays Tech. Soon got fed up with that, and managed to finish my schooling at LHR School. I worked at Fred Myers Tractor & Equipment Ltd, a few miles up the Arterial towards London. Used to bike back and forth, till I saved up enough, and was old enough to get a motor bike. I joined the RAF in 1957, only went back a few times before I met the girl of my dreams, and the rest, as they say, is History! Regards

By Ken Elliott
On 11/03/2013

Hi John if you click on the article list and follow it down you will come to east anglian film archive. Click on to it their is a short film on Basildon and Laindon. In the film is the old adventure playground in Somercotes with two lads in the tree where the rope bridge was and Raleigh chopper bikes, very seventies

Editor: Click here for that link

By Barry Ellerby
On 07/01/2013

I grew up on the five links estate and I would not change nor wish my childhood any different from what it was. There was never a fear of cars coming onto the estate, kids would happily be allowed to play out on the green until 10/11pm at night and your parents knew you were safe. 

I re visited Laindon again in the late 90s and saw it had started to go down hill and they were just starting the regeneration work on the five links estate. I again visited Laindon in 09 and saw just how bad the area and estate had become, but one thing I will always be grateful to Laindon for was the friends I made and the childhood it gave me.

By John
On 07/01/2013

Hello Andrea, Yes Ken lives in Australia and has brothers Michael and Allen.  Ken's late mum was my late dad’s sister.

I look forward to coming to a memory day with my brother and sister on the 25th May. Great site thank you.

By Julie Rothwell (Judith Drewer)
On 19/03/2012

Hi Julie, glad you have discovered this site; it is very addictive! Your cousin Ken, is he a relation of Michael Marchant and his brothers I wonder? Look forward to your stories and photos. Keep spreading the word. Best wishes

By Andrea
On 17/03/2012

Hello Andrea, I have just enjoyed reading most of the very interesting comments on this page. I wondered if maybe like me, there are a lot of people out there who have no idea of this website. I have only known about it since talking to my dear cousin Ken Marchant two weeks ago, now I am hooked!! I will look forward to writing about my family story once I have all the information together from my brother and sister. We were all born in "Corona" Corona Road Langdon Hills. We all went to Markhams Chase then to LHR. Our late dad worked for Cottis Bakery all his working life. I am sure between us we can put together a story with some photos hopefully.

By Julie Rothwell (Judith Drewer)
On 17/03/2012

Quite so Mr Diment; and if you saw some earlier photos of me and my family, you would probably say the same as my husband - ''ah, Beverley Hillbillies'', but weren't we happy.

By Andrea
On 04/03/2012

It might seem that Andrea in choosing to head her page "Not through rose coloured glasses", may have echoed the sentiments of a bygone editor of The Laindon and District Recorder, as on the 8th May 1936 issue he wrote, "Laindon has been allowed to develop into the most ramshckle, tumbledown blot on the face of Essex". Well it has always been said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

By W.H.Diment
On 04/03/2012

Hi Ken, keep us up to date with your return to England.

I would love to hear more news of you Jo and Eddie. Have you seen the photos Brian Cordell has put on site, priceless, wow! didn’t they remix the old grey matter, fantastic.

Perhaps you can tell me if the Velocette Brian Reynolds is pictured with is the same one he has over his fireplace.

I am the same as you settled in a village in Suffolk much like old Laindon, even got a High St. about the same length. Most of the shops have gone but at least they have not been flattened like Laindon they are now residential.

By Gloria Sewell
On 04/02/2012

How lovely to hear about all your childhood memories, I was born in Dunton Drive and always thanked god for putting me through a few hardships as I consider it has made me a better person.

I loved Dunton and remember my mum making chrildrens dresses which she had to take back to Southend each fortnight to be paid, this was to make ends meet, but although all our presents were home made we loved them. 

Yes it was hard with no running water or electric, and walking through mud and snow to school, but I am sure it did us good. 

My husband who moved from London to Laindon about this time remembers his mother turning one of his fathers suits inside out and shortening it for him, by hand, yes we had our hardships but the neighbours were such that you always felt if things got really bad there was help round the corner. 

I am lucky that in my old age I have found a little road with the same feel, but I suspect they are few and far between now.

My memories of Dunton are of the open space and freedom we had as children. 

This has been such a interesting topic, well done Andrea hope to see more on this site.

By Mary Hawkins
On 02/02/2012

What a great can of worms have we opened here!!. I have been reading all of the stories here with great interest, the underlying thing seems to be though Laindon wasn't the pretty little country village, it was and had, a spirit and life of its own that we have all cherished over the years.

It may seem strange to UK viewers of both of our [Aussie] worst exports, Neighbours and Home and Away, but I do not live in a big fancy house like those depicted in those fantasys, but a simple rendered three bedroomed house near the sea that was built in the 50s as a holiday shack. It's actually not a great deal bigger than Peacehaven my childhood home. It does have all mod cons of course including air con and central heating but it is very much like the old Laindon timber dwellings.

The small bayside town we live in [Hastings, pop about 8000] has the same sort of feel that Laindon had all those years ago. Never could you say you came from BASILDON, it was always Laindon to me and always will be.

I will be there again in April for a few days, hope to meet up with some of you again,ooroo.

By Ken Page
On 01/02/2012

Well done Gloria - you are so human. Like you say some of us didn't have perfect lives growing up in old Laindon, but would we have preferred swapping with today's children - don't think so. But like you say, we have known the difference so can really appreciate all the mod cons we enjoy today.

By Andrea
On 01/02/2012

Brian, well said - the sentiments of every Laindoner you meet or hear from on this site. I can't believe that when I am talking to people on here, i have not seen most of them for over 30yrs some, over 50 years. It's like I only spoke to them yesterday, such is the closeness and spirit of old Laindoners. Just to clear a point.  Anyone now living in the Laindon area, where do your grandkids say they were born Laindon or Basildon ....

By Gloria Sewell
On 30/01/2012

Thank you everybody for the wonderful memories above. I had a 'Cousin' who worked at Clarnico's, and sadly died a few years ago now. My parents moved from Stratford to the original number 6, Tyler Avenue, Laindon, but unable to give details of this, as we lost Mum 25 years ago, and Dad 18 months ago, but Dad did tell me how it came about. I just can't remember right now, how they came to move to Laindon, but still Very proud I was born there. It will NEVER in a month of Sundays as Mum would say, ever be Basildon to me. Laindon IS Laindon.

By Brian Baylis
On 25/01/2012

I have sat here, tonight, in my little two bedroom centrally heated house, in a nice little cul-de-sac in Suffolk with my steaming hot chocolate, my Laptop, my flat screen T.V. and my three cats eating better food than I ate as a child. I know many of you younger readers will not believe this but I am so glad I had the life I had as a child. Although I love my "Mod Cons" I would not change the many memories good and bad I have for the world. 

One day I hope I will pluck up the courage to tell of some of the really bad times, things that would not be accepted in today society. Things I may not have got through if it was not for the help of my family and friends in Laindon. 

The morale physical and mental support of everyone to each other who lived there is so apparent on this site. It’s so sad to think that it has all been bulldozed in the name of progress. History ended for me in Laindon 30 years ago and started for me again here in Suffolk.

I love all my "Mod Cons" without them I would not be writing this now, but I say thank you every day for the first 40 years of my life, the fun, the pain and the devil may care at times, which is me Gloria an old Laindoner.

I raise my hot chocolate to all of you who have contributed to this site like me. I dare any of you to say you would have wanted it any different.

By Gloria Sewell
On 24/01/2012

Lots of similarities here above in all our families. Like Bill Diment's father, my grandad (Haines) did not serve in WW1. Instead he served on the London Brighton and South Coast Railway out of Victoria Station as a fireman. He was very young then probably still about 18 or 19 and used to tell me about the thousands of troops he took down to the boats, a lot of them on their final journeys. He later drove a Sentinal steam lorry into Bromley gas works in the 1930s through to the 1950s on coke deliveries.

Our family also made their own music, the banjo again being used (my Uncle Len had a George Formby signed banjo which now would be a collectors item). All my uncles were proficient on the piano which stood in the parlour and Nan would join in on wash board. 

Now about heating in houses. In Barking we had a coal fire in the front room and again upstairs in the main bedroom (this like Glorias was never lit). In one of the back bedrooms there was a gas fire which Nan would put on low heat sometimes but only rarely to keep the cost down. 

When we moved to Laindon the coal fire was always lit early, my brother Phil and me sitting like ornaments at each side till our legs burnt. The Rayburn electric fires in the two main bedrooms were rarely switched on, they were so ineffective anyway. The corner boxroom which I had, overlooking Nichol Road and the High Road, was always damp, I wonder if it still is today. One year it was so cold all us elder brothers (me, Phil and Rob) shared one big bedroom (with Mum, Dad and baby Chris in the main bedroom) to conserve heat and keep the bills down. But happy times all the same.

By Richard Haines
On 21/01/2012

What fun this topic is Andrea really bringing the memories to the surface.

Richard I can’t believe how parallel things seem to run for us, I too loved my visits on Saturdays to Romford Market on the A.6 bus which went round West Horndon and Upminster to see the Livestock, but as I got older i’m afraid I began to row with the stockman about the treatment of the animals, which I suppose helped start my lifelong campaign for animal welfare. Yes I picketed the life centre at stock against use of animals but thats another story.

The Ford Prefect, mine was grey, my parents never learned to drive although my mother did try when she ran Baigent Works in Laindon High Road, but after 8 tests she finally admitted it was not for her. So I drove at an early age, my first car was the Prefect in which I hit a fence on the first day out which didn’t please my brother Fred, because he had to fix it for me. He then had a workshop somewhere over Stanford-le-hope way at that time.

The Cambridge, mine was a bright red one with the wings at the back.

Most of my mothers side of the family came from the East End to live in Laindon. Way back in 1956 my mothers Aunt Gertie, my grandpar’s sister, and her husband Arthur and their children emigrated abroad. I remember my great Aunt Gertie because she was a lovely dancer, that was 56 years ago and gone forever, so I thought. Imagine my surprise and joy to read on the message board, of this site, that her daughter June in New Zealand was looking for her parents family, that lived in Laindon, me being one of them. We are now emailing thanks to this site.

Nina I have just started to read Jennifer Worth so far so good. I was talking to Lilian Shipley whom I believe has sadly passed away now and I remember her saying to me when her mother had her younger brother and sister she was told run get Mrs Davies (MY NANNA) I am in Labour.  It is such memories that make me so proud to have been part of it all. 

Maybe there were the times, and this was in a modern ‘Airey’ house as they called them just after the war, that I remember getting up, emerging from our lovely thick army blankets and scrapping the ice off the inside of the windows just to see out . Yes, they did have a fire grate upstairs, but we could not afford two fires then, no way. My brother Fred and I would rush downstairs to the fire my father always lit at 4 o’clock in the morning, before he left for London, to get the prime seat in front of it with old Snowy the dog and Sandy the cat Happy days.

Something else I can relate to Richard, is my mother trying to keep herself smart on the small income she had. She was a dressmaker doing her apprenticeship before the war in London, making blouses and finished making Army Uniforms, maybe she made dads he was a gunner in the signals. Do you know something, the more I write the prouder I feel.

By Gloria Sewell
On 19/01/2012

Gloria, yes amazing how our families are so alike in their backgrounds. Being born in Barking gives me a slightly different take on early life. With my grandad already gone when I was born and my mum, Jean at work full time I was really brought up by my nan. I can remember trolley buses picking us up at Blakes Corner where a huge bombing raid had wiped out shops in East Street Barking during the war and some craters were still cordoned off in the early 1950s. 

My first school was Cambell Infants where mum had previously attended in the 30s. Both grandads had worked at Bromley Gas Works, my mum's father, Hugh Allen was a stoker in the furnaces (extremely hard work) and my dad's father George Haines drove a Bromley Gas Works lorry. Photos of them show the typical cap wearing boiler suited men of the east end working classes. 

Despite these backgrounds my nan was extremely proud and would spend ages just getting ready to go shopping, a treat would be to go with her to East Ham Co-op, Harrison Gibsons in Ilford or Romford Market Place which still had live cattle then. 

Sometimes we would visit my great grandparents in Limehouse where steam trains seemed to run directly outside the kitchen windows and other times we would visit my mum's sister Phyllis in East Putney, a long run on the District Line through all the stations I would later become familiar with in my working career. Anyway, all this was pre-Laindon and you can imagine what a complete change it was for us to move there. Mostly I missed my nan but it was so easy to go back to see her either on the train at weekends or later as a family in dad's cars, firstly a green Jowett Bradford followed by a black Ford Prefect then finally a blue Austin Cambridge. Brilliant days. Keep the memories rolling.

By Richard Haines
On 07/01/2012

Gloria. I loved reading your comments. I’ll try to remember some more Laindon stories to write on here. 

In the meantime, another coincidence, I read the book ‘Call the Midwife’ by Jennifer Worth a couple of years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it – couldn’t put it down in fact. Great characters and stories, some desperately sad and others heart warming. Can’t wait to watch the programme. I was amazed that there was no such thing as anti-natal care or proper midwives before 1904. Mind you, I don’t think all women had the benefit of either for some years to come after that. I remember my Nan telling me when she was having my mum in Bethnal Green in 1914, she was attended by her older, married sister Nell. She told me she was in labour for two days and Nell kept trying to encourage her by popping her head round the door and saying:- “Come on Jess, you can do it”. Nan kept snapping back at her:- “Who’s having this baby, me or you?" I can just imagine the two of them! 

In those days, it was mainly family members or neighbours who acted as midwives and a doctor was only called if there was a complication. (I remember reading that your granny was an unofficial midwife during the war years and I imagine many ladies like her became just as capable and experienced as those who’d had some training). 

By Nina Humphrey (née Burton)
On 07/01/2012

I was most interested in the account of Nina and her relatives as she mentioned family in Sth. Hackney, as my own mother's name was Lillian Clements and lived in Hackney Wick at the same time as her grandmother. I do not know a great deal about her life there although I knew she worked in a sweet factory, Clarnicos (Clarke, Nichols and Coombs). Perhaps there may have been some family connection. 

Her mother was quite well known in the area as an unofficial money lender under the name of Mrs. Fields. 

My father never served in WW1 as he was too old, being born in the reign of Queen Victoria. He had many tales as to his younger days, one that struck me as strange was that he had to pay for his schooling at 4d per week. He also saw many names from the past such as William Cody (Buffalo Bill) and his wild west show and the Barnum and Bailey circuses and Jenny Lind. 

People used to make much of their own entertainment and my father could play many stringed instruments and I still have one of these which he played a Banjo Mandolin also my mother could play the piano quite well, yet none of her children ever learned to play, this was probably due to the onset of wireless. 

I myself can remember listening to 2LO on a crystal set, but the content was intermixed with the 'mush' one can hear in a large seashell. Radio quickly progressed and in the late thirties we had our first all electric radio and would listen to the commercial Radio Luxembourg and sometimes late at night could get the american Radio Wayne on the long wave although this also suffered from the seashell effect. Television had also started but was in its infancy and had yet reached household usage. It seems I have meandered from the original subject, for which I apologise and claim age as mitigation.

By WH. Diment
On 08/01/2012

These are just the articles that help put together the early years of the Laindon us older ones remember good and bad times.

Richard how strange talk about a small world (Us old Laindoners I don’t know). I have just started to read a book called "Call the Midwife " by Jennifer Worth and one of the photos centre page is Crisp St. slums.

Ken such sad time for your family in the early days. Yes the vaccination programmes are very important, now as then, we have also seen a rise in these illnesses here I can’t really remember having a choice when my kids were young. Dr Cavaroli and Dr Martin saw to it that the little ones had them although the measles one was not so well known. When my eldest Tony was young I recall Dr Caviroli trudging through the backroads of Albermerle Cres. because he was so ill. My twins also got whooping cough, even with the vaccination, and I was told just think how ill they would have been without it. So come on young ones do it for your little ones.

My Uncle Bob contracted Polio in the 30s’ and was sent to a sanatorium somewhere in Essex he has walked with a limp ever since, he is now 92 living happily in New Zealand with his wife and family.

Sorry Ken when you read of the horrors today maybe it was the same then we just didn’t hear about it, kids never leaving their front room because of the games they play, the obesity, the drugs, the weapon carrying and the assaults on the elderly, can you honestly say you would prefer to have been young today.

STOP !!!!!! before anyone yells at me that their kids and grandkids are not like that neither are mine but it’s there to read about every day.

Nina your story touched my heart so sad at times but also so uplifting. I can remember when I was a child "Old Joe" walking up King Edward Rd. with his stick and always carrying an elderly persons shopping. I suppose today they would be scared if you asked them if you could carry it myself included.

I loved the story of the Starlings pretty much the same today very industrious birds, we have an amazing flock that fly around Lowestoft Bridge and shelter nice and warm and snug under the bridge all night fantastic to watch thousands of them.

Oh yes and snuggling round the fire in the evenings and mum having the lace affect legs where the fire would burn them and dad asleep the other side with one leg on the mantelpiece mouth open snoring away, but then he did get the mail train from Laindon in the mornings to get to Covent Garden to buy his flowers by 5 o’clock. He pushed his barrow every day but Mondays (that was the day he always cooked us egg and chips to come home from school, as mum had to work and never got home till 6pm, so my brother and I would prepare her tea) from East End to Marble Arch to sell them and return home in Mr Farmers Taxi about 8.30pm, so I think he deserved his nap.

It’s great to see things falling into place about our past community from people all over the world keep in up folks no one else can tell it. 

By Gloria Sewell
On 07/01/2012

This has been one of my favourite topics and I have loved reading the comments and opinions, particular those of Gloria and Ken who write straight from the heart with honesty and passion. 

The hardships of our parents’ and grandparents’ era overlapped into our early years, yet their spirit and ability to ‘just get on with it’ was invaluable and made us kids happy and content with the little we had and really appreciate any occasional treats that came our way. 

No, we didn’t like the cold draughty winter evenings in the ‘almost unfit for habitation’ dwellings without central heating or double glazing but the memory of throwing a few more logs and what lumps of coal we had on the fire and drawing our chairs nearer to toast a slice of bread held over the flames on a fork, is a sweet one.

It wasn’t just hand-me-down clothes that were relied upon, but household items for newly wed couples whose big day was usually arranged on a shoe string. Any second-hand pieces of furniture and kitchen equipment were gratefully accepted from family members and had to suffice until they could be replaced with new, sometimes after several years. Yet putting a home together in this fashion was considered quite fun. I remember the time we were eventually able to replace a second-hand dressing table that Colin’s Aunt had given us. We had been so grateful to her and pleased that our family were kind enough to help us out in that way. I’m sure that most of today’s young couples wouldn’t consider moving into their new home unless it was completely fitted out with everything brand new from King size bed to dishwasher and wide flat screen TV. 

Life is continually evolving and producing eras. That of our parents and grandparents brought times of real genuine hardship but was accompanied by a spirit and determination that enabled them to cope with life on a day to day basis which they did with cheerfulness and humour. 

As a small child in the fifties I remember when walking in the village with my Mum or Nan, everybody smiled and said ‘good morning’ to each other, often stopping for a chat and asking after each other’s well being. My Nan, Jessica Devine, knew most people in Laindon and was always willing to help out in any way. Although her bungalow was small, she provided lodgings for various people from time to time when needed. 

She also did the washing for an old man called ‘Joe’ who lived in a bungalow in Devonshire Road between King Edward Road and Powell Road. He was quite frail and partially sighted but fiercely independent. When Nan moved from her bungalow around 1958, my mum took over and it was my job to go and collect his bag of washing once a fortnight on my bike. I did that regularly from the age of 11 until I started work. Nan had done his washing by hand, but since we’d had the electricity connected, my mum was lucky enough to have a single tub washing machine. His washing consisted of a couple of pairs of long combinations and shirts all of which had been white. Due to the ‘sooty’ state of his bungalow, they had become a dingy grey, but were improved a bit by a good wash. 

Joe had an open coal fire, the chimney of which was often blocked causing the bungalow to be constantly sooty. Everything had a coating of soot. Sometimes he would try to ‘sweep’ it himself by lighting a newspaper and throwing it up the chimney to release the soot. It is a wonder he didn’t burn the place down. 

His table was in the middle of the room and on it he kept his teapot, a cup and saucer, a jar of jam and a loaf of bread, all within easy reach as he couldn’t see clearly which was just as well as there was usually a little cloud of flies hovering above. I can’t imagine anyone being allowed to live like that now, Social Services would probably insist he went into a home, but with a little help from us, he managed to remain independent. 

On each visit, he would ask me to thread a few needles for him so that he could sew on any buttons that came off his shirts. As I sat in the chair and threaded two needles with white cotton and two with black cotton, he would ask after the health of my mum and nan and enquire how I was getting on at school. Before I left for home he always gave me a handful of cheap sticky toffees that he had bought from Pelhams shop. 

I would occasionally see him walking very slowly down Powell Road towards the shops, using his white stick. I have thought of him from time to time, wonder where he had originated from, and feel sure he must have had plenty of tales to tell. 

I only ever knew of one fire in the area and that happened in the mid sixties when the outbuildings of a bungalow near us called ‘Tre-Pol-Pen’ burnt down. However, it’s a wonder there weren’t more fires in Laindon as many of the bungalows were basically made of wood. I heard that early in the fifties, starlings had obviously got in under the roof of ‘Pendennis’, my grandparents’ bungalow, so my Grandfather and Uncle Dick got a ladder to climb up and pull out the nest. Huh! Not only did they pull out the nest but enough hay and straw to build a bonfire as the starlings had completely filled the roof capacity, creating an enormous fire hazard. 

Not everyone fared so well in the hard times of course, far from it. My grandfather Henry Devine’s family had come from Bethnal Green. His mother Selina, had married at 18 and had 6 children by the time she was 25. 1891 was a horrid year for her, first her husband died leaving her with 6 young children but within four months she had married her bachelor neighbour, Henry Devine Snr, mainly I would guess as a provider for her children. Within two months she was pregnant with my Grandfather. Before the end of the year, her youngest son, not yet a year old, died. My grandfather was born in July 1892 and named after his father. Selina went on to have another 7 children, only 3 of which survived. In fact of her 14 children, 6 of them died, mostly around 6 or 7 months, due mainly to poor nutrition after weaning. 

Selina and Henry sometimes used the surname ‘Gardner’ instead of Devine. According to the programme ‘Who Do You Think You Are’ using an alternative name was not unusual in those times, mainly due to not wanting to be traced because of debt. 

On Christmas Day 1911, when my Grandfather was 18, his mother, Selina aged 47, took her own life by drinking household disinfectant. I have her death certificate which states ‘suicide’ ‘temporary insanity’. I will never agree with that. She was a sane woman living in poverty in impossible intolerable conditions and had reached desperation point.

A couple of years later in 1913, my Grandfather Henry Devine married Jessica Clements, my mother Jessica Devine was born in July 1914 and very soon after he joined the army and in November was sent to France. He spent two years in the trenches, was shot twice, a third bullet fracture his scull and he was sent home shell shocked and with a metal plate in his head, needless to say he had almost forgotten about life back home and that he had a two year old daughter. 

Moving to Laindon in 1923 must have felt like heaven to them, leaving behind the slums of Bethnal Green and some horrible memories. Fresh air and green fields made up for the lack of amenities. Work was hard to come by and I heard that apparently until he joined the Post Office in 1927, on occasions he would cycle on his pushbike many, many miles for a day’s work, sometimes having to stop to mend a puncture on the way.

Nan was able to grow vegetables in the garden and raise chickens, a dozen at a time that she would sell to friends and neighbours, especially at Christmas time. When they were ready, she would do the whole process herself, starting with wringing their necks, cleaning and plucking and making them ready for the oven. 

Family and friends who still lived in Bethnal Green and South Hackney, loved to spend days and even their holidays with my Nan in Laindon as it was such a hospitable place and in summer, always beautiful. I can remember happy summer days in her garden laughing and singing with family members while shelling peas, each of them reluctant to leave Laindon and return to their homes and jobs in London at the end of their stay. They would be counting the days until their next visit. Glamorous it certainly wasn’t, but Laindon in those times had a charm of its own and like many others, I wouldn’t have missed any of it for the world.

By Nina Humphrey(née Burton)
On 06/01/2012

Gday William, I don't think there was a real misunderstanding, what you said was very true. My parents both lived in Barking from 1909 to 1935, both came from large families where several siblings died of the horrible diseases that were around at the time. Mum had TB and missed several years at school because of it, she had three siblings that died of whooping cough and diphtheria, dad had a brother with polio, those illnesses were finally conquered by vaccination in the 50s. 

A lot of misguided folk are opting out of this programme now and we are seeing a revival of whooping cough here in Australia, 3500 casers in 2011 alone.

Both myself and brother had chicken pox, boils and mumps etc, I well remember the cod liver oil [yuck] but Virol tasted ok and the tins of cod liver oil and malt were palatable as well. We lived in I guess a substantial house even though it was only three rooms and a scullery. Dad built it himself over a couple of years in the 30s, it was warm, dry, heated by firstly a black range then a Rayburn cooker which supplied hot running water albeit at low pressure. We had a "bucket and bury it" loo which laughingly gave us great vegetables from the veggie garden dad worked at on his weekends off. We kept chooks and pigs for a while so had fresh eggs and chickens to eat on occasions; over the years living conditions for all of us improved as the country recovered from the wars losses, we all got much healthier and those that were in substandard housing, i.e shacks, were relocated to the new estates with roads and all mod cons. 

We eventually moved onto Berry Lane when I was 14, electricity, flush loo, gas, water etc., much bigger house but I don’t think we were that much happier than our earlier days at Peacehaven. The hardships of the past were certainly forgotten as we moved into the swinging sixties and all the changes that were coming so rapidly for us all.

Nowadays as we are getting older and I guess we are looking back at those earlier times with nostalgia, I for one wouldn’t like to go back to those early conditions, however with todays technology and vehicles, living in the plotlands wouldn’t be anywhere near as difficult as it was in those far off times.

By ken page
On 06/01/2012

Some interesting facts are emerging today about the roots of some Laindoners. Like Gloria's grandparents mine also are from Poplar. My mother was born in Chrisp Street in 1926. 

To escape those areas many moved to Barking to the huge new Becontree estate in the 30s just like my nan's family of five children. My grandad cycled to work every day winter and summer from our house near Becontree Station to the gasworks at Bromley by Bow. He died at the age of 49 in February 1947 (probably from hard work) and just missed my birth in Upney hospital in June of that year. 

By 1957 many Barking people were moving away to areas in the countryside and my parents with myself and brother Phil were among them when we arrived in Laindon that year. My parents pushed themselves to their financial limits get a deposit to buy our house in Nichol Road but I am forever in their debt for them doing so, giving me the freedom to roam those muddy back roads in all weathers as a child of ten and making so many life long friends at Laindon Park and LHR schools. Like Ken Page I too wore the snake belt but luckily with my khaki shorts, summer wear only. 

Us people with East End backgrounds are proud to be such and will always protect and defend one another. This is probably why all ex-Laindoners fell such a strong bond.

By Richard Haines
On 06/01/2012

Hello William, the comments you, Ian and Ken have made about the hardships the people suffered are what this sites all about. We all have different stories to tell good and bad that need to be told, not as you say best forgotten. 

Keep telling your side of the story you are a very interesting man I must admit when you tell about items,  such as your sisters and your health problems, it brings the reality of this period home. There are of course problems today that our grandkids will talk about good and bad, everything and every bodies views must be aired this is what makes this site so valuable for today and in the future.

Ian’s comments about people growing their own food chickens etc. also played a big part in my childhood Peggy the Goose of course you can read about in one of my articles and will I ever forget the spinach that took over the back garden every year in King Edward Rd

Kens comments, oh yes with two aunties just a bit older than me my mother did not have to buy me any clothes and could I ever forget the Sunday best dresses made from bright yellow parachute silk and the endless hooks and eyes on the liberty bodice. If I got one of aunty Pat’s one year older not too bad, if I got one of aunty Marion’s, she was five years older than me, I had hooks and eyes down to my knees.

Mind you a good thing about having older aunts I had a pair of jeans (The start of my motor bike days) when I was only 12 (aunty Marion’s) I thought I was really something walking down the High Road, even though they were rolled up 4/5 times.

All the comment about whatever and whoever are so important, please everyone keep them coming. There must have been something in the Laindon air all those years ago everyone has such good memories. Good topic Andrea well done.

By Gloria Sewell
On 06/01/2012

Further to the submision by Ian, I feel there has been a misunderstanding as my comparison was with the history of Laindon between the 1930s' and that of the 1950s' which may be mistaken to be representative of the whole of the periods covered in the archive. 

However, I do fully understand the points Ian is making, as I too lived the first seven years of my life in such conditions in the east end of London, where living conditions subjected us to series of health contagious diseases. I spent two periods in the Dartford Isolation Hospital apart from having contracted other diseases such as measles, mumps and chicken pox and it was the death of my elder sister from diphtheria which promted our move to Laindon in the 1920s where we were fortunate enough to live in a brick built bungalow on a hard road, which I still occupy. 

Initially we only had mains water with gas a couple of years later, but it was after 1936 before mains drainage and electriciy arrived. I agree that my family were very fortunate, even though it placed an extra 4hrs a day on the part of my father. Yet I feel my personal circumstances were at considerable variance with the hundreds of families suffering the effects of the great depression in totally unsuitable living conditions which to my mind seem to glamourise the history of the period, although I accept that others may feel differently and the hardships of the past are best forgotten.

By W.H.Diment
On 05/01/2012

Back in 49, 50, 51, 52 I wore my brothers hand me downs, he was 5 years older than me and a fair bit bigger. I went to school at Langdon Hills Primary in this clobber, shorts held up with the "famous" snake belt, pulled tight with about four inches of said shorts sticking out above the belt. Hanging out of the legs of these shorts was about two inches of my brothers cast off under pants, this ensemble was topped by either an old blouse from a neighbours older daughter, possibly one of the Muchmore lasses, or another of my brothers old shirts.

There was enough room in this attire for a couple of skinny little runts like me so I had plenty of freedom to run around inside them[lol]. I looked a right bag of rags but so did a lot of kids in those days, money was tight, my dad was a factory worker in Barking, [Sherwoods Paints] earning about 5 quid a week, our house was paid for but a fiver a week didn't leave much for luxuries like new clobber for me.

I wonder if todays little darlings would even put these clothes on, let alone wear them to school every day, I must admit I wasn't too happy with the arrangement as I looked a real dag[aussie expression] and when mum started working at Tollworthys things started to improve on the fashion front for me.

Some where in my piles of stuff I have a photo of myself in this Dior creation, I will endeavour to locate it and send it to Ian for you amusement I have a couple with Joey Cotterill [Goodman] in too.

Happy New Year to you all loads and love to the lot of you stay healthy and happy. I'm sweltering in 40c heat in Oz.

By ken page
On 05/01/2012

I could not agree more Ian. Of course there was great poverty everywhere in Britain between the wars and for a considerable period after

William; Part of your comment proves the way the people of Laindon would rally round "The local headmistress seeking cloths, the begging of chemist for cod liver oil etc. 

My Grandad moved his family of 8 children from Poplar slums to the unmade roads and shack like dwellings of Laindon and they never looked back. My father when he married my mother keep his family in Laindon when his roots were in Paddington. I myself in 1962 had my first home in Albermerle Crescent Langdon Hills no main drainage, Elson loo, at least an hours walk along narrow paths with a baby in a pram for shopping etc., would I want to change anything no. I suppose I was one of the lucky ones being born at the start of the Welfare State reforms, but the old stories passed down through the family make me truly believe I was also lucky to have lived in Laindon. 

There was a great community spirit but you still helped yourself as much as you could, even today there are still people who think everything should be handed to them on a plate, not so, unless you are working the system for many its still not easy. Times were defiantly very hard but given the choice I am sure most old people of Laindon would choose to live there before anywhere else. A great pity they no longer have that choice. 

You are of course right William, there were very hard times and they should never be forgotten, but I for one I am so glad my hard times were spent in Laindon. I feel my start in life, even though I slept in a bed with 4 aunts, walked 1.5 miles to school through mud and wet, was treated for boils, nits and chilblains as a child, had compensations that my children with all their mod cons are missing out on. Lucky as they are today and it is exciting times for all, there are somethings from my childhood that I would love them to have.

By Gloria Sewell
On 05/01/2012

Although I agree with William that the times were hard in Laindon in the 30s' and 40s', I would add that living in the two up two down and tenement properties that formed the slums of the East End, South London and many other cities, was not a paradise. 

These slum properties could still be found up until the early 60’s and were the trigger for creating the New Towns. 

The parents of both my wife and I would tell us about the hardships their families had when living in London similar to those described by William and how moving out to places like Laindon, with its lack of modern conveniences such as main drainage and electricity, may not have been utopia but it was far healthier than the London they had left. They also had the ability to grow fresh vegetables and fruit, also to have a few chickens and possibly a goat or pig. 

There were other difficulties imposed by the lack of infrastructure and these extended into the 50s’ and early 60s’ when I walked from Lower Dunton Road to Laindon Station, up the avenues and through the Glade to Berry Lane, to go to school at Chalkwell and Southend to School and College. 

Even with all this inconvenience I look back at my childhood in Dunton with pleasure and feel that we had a freedom that the children of the 90s’ and 21st century have had taken away from them.

By Ian Mott
On 04/01/2012

While Andrea heads her submission as 'Not through rose coloured glasses', I feel it can only be true of the later history of Laindon in the 1950s' and onwards., as the 1930s' and 40s' are mainly a story of hardship and harsh living. While there were some good times the memory of the poverty and people existing in dwellings which today would be considered unfit for human habitation.

While I was fortunate never to have been in this position, I do remember those attending school, even in the depth of winter in ragged clothes and possibly having little more than a slice of bread and dripping for breakfast. When the local headmistresses would be constantly seeking old clothes and shoes for those without or begging the local chemists for cod liver oil and malt to combat the malnutrition. 

The desperate plight of the unemployed who had to approach the Relieving Officers who would then attend the houses to see if there were any luxury items such as armchairs or wireless sets which had to be sold before giving a few shillings in relief and as secondhand furniture was not in great demand, many just chopped it up just to qualify. 

As I previously said I did not experience this but was friendly with many who did. My own schooldays from the age of 11 years incurred leaving home at 7.15am walking to the station approx 1 mile and a half to catch a train, changing at Upminster for a train to Grays then another over a mile walk to school. This was repeated in reverse in the evening and I would arrive home around 6pm where after tea I had an hours homework. While we fondly remember the good memories, I believe we blot out the hard times, but should really remember these if we are to give an accurate detail of the history of the area.

By W.H.Diment
On 04/01/2012

Yes, Gloria, you put it so well; we were both lucky to have been born in Laindon in the 1940lalala's and both attended the same school. Wasn't it good as really young kids going up and down the High Road and doing the things we did!

By Andrea
On 03/01/2012

Gloria is right, if there are stories to be told then it will be as well to write them down. 

My memories of 57-63 Laindon are crystal clear and bright. I dont think much has been lost over time but who knows, maybe there is a touch of rose tinted raybans. All I know is when I go back so much has been lost. Just like a movie set in a western, where they just tear it all down after the shoot. That network of roads south of St Nicholas Lane which I put on the message board recently, Douglas Road and Lancaster Road, Ulster Road and Kent Road, all gone when it would have been simpler to properly pave them and build some nice houses in the traditional style, just look at Tavistock Road and Claremont Road now, thats how it could have been done. 

The whole thing was left to a group of local government architects who proceeded to decimate the whole area and cover it with sixties and seventies gross housing. Just like the heartbreaking maisonettes I lived in on Fryerns for three months in 1970, before seeing sense and moving back to outer Essex. It would be great if some more teenagers from back in the day could add their memories of the motor bikes, cars, dances at LHR on Friday nights etc - fantastic times in the best era ever.

By Richard Haines
On 03/01/2012

Thanks Andrea, for your article, I suppose its fair to say not everyone wants their life published.

I for one as you know really don’t mind my children are thrilled reading what I write even though I have told them most of it on family evenings. May I say to those of you who have old information and photos, Laindon is no more, no never again, gone for ever. Not just all the old shops, green fields, local characters and community. It’s now like a face with Botox no character nothing to tell you what went on there or how the community effected our lives. 

By helping to build this site we are giving back to our descendants an insight to Laindoners as we were rich, poor, honest dishonest, young, old, clever or dim whatever we were, we were important to the community. A whole way of life was taken ground up and then spat . Who cares, we do, us old Laindoners, we have to tell the story be it good or bad thats how you get a future by having a past.

Now all the material things have gone all that is left is the spirit Don’t let that be broken tell your stories I am telling mine and I was no angel but what the heck it’s too late to change anything now.  I am so proud of my roots I want to spread them so everyone in the future will know what I and the town of Laindon stood for, good or bad. 

The characters I recall being in and around our town must have left their descendants, be proud of them tell their stories. Each line on my face tells a different story some good some bad, if you don’t want to read about it then don’t I am still going to tell it nobodies perfect lets have some fun lets all tell it as it was Keep our beliefs legends and past alive.

By Gloria Sewell
On 03/01/2012

From what Andrea, Ken and Eric are saying here, there is a select group of people interested in this amazing little website. Our ages seem to range in the main between coverage of the 1956-58 photos of LHR (Eric you only missed out by one school year although I know most of your group being one of the youngest in the 58 photo). What amazes me are the people who might be reading all this but not contributing, there must be thousands in Essex alone, I guess thats what Andrea is saying above. I really cant believe that Ken and Eric are writing in from Australia frequently when all the ex LHR gang from around the county are silent. Can we be the only ones with laptops? I've only been on here since August but would like to say that each contributor has their own little style, Nina the detail in yours is quite remarkable. I also like Gloria's frank and passionate style in her articles and Joan's entries are brilliant little clips of her childhood, the one on making lanterns got me a bit choked up it was so real. Then there are the Ellen Burr photos which are just fantastic, including the one today of those smartly dressed kids on the Langdon Hills outing in 1956, so typical of those times!! Andrea thanks for all your bits as well especially on the message boards (and I hope we finally got Kathy Hymas right, the last time I saw her was shopping in Basildon about 1970 - thats 41 yrs ago already - so I have some excuse). Happy Holidays to everyone !

By Richard Haines
On 23/12/2011

Well written Andrea as I wish now I had asked far more questions when I was younger, but you don't do you.

Like Ken I left for Australia on the same adventure however I did make it back for a visit after 10 years, but by that time my end of Laindon (Nicholas Lane to the Station) had become a concrete jungle. 

Most of the people who contribute are just a few years older than me (except Richard) but their memories are just as vivid to me and so many of the names are familiar as friends of my sisters. 

A Merry Xmas and safe New Year to everyone concerned with putting this site together.

By Eric Pasco
On 21/12/2011

Very well put Andrea, couldn't have done it better myself. It would be nice if a few others could/would contribute, I am 12,000 miles away and have had a totally different life style from my youth in Laindon. However, as I get older [bugger!] I find myself looking back at my past, I can thank the internet for this, without it I would not have bothered trying to trace all you old friends from my much younger days. It was UK’s climate mainly and a sense of adventure that saw me come to the antipodes in 1964. I intended staying for a couple of years and then make my way back to England via NZ and USA. However, I soon fell under Australia's magic spell and it was 2000 before I returned for the first time. 

I came back in 2005 with my two eldest grand kids [14& 16 at the time] now 20 & 22 now, to have another look around and show the kids where I came from. My wife was born in Charing Cross Rd in London just across from 84 Charing Cross Rd the site of the bookshop that was in the famous movie a few years ago.

I find myself combing through those fabulous photographs searching for old faces, remembering them but not their names, wondering whats become of them over the years. Some I have had the great fortune to have met again in 2005, i've met more via the internet and Skype as well and communicate with them frequently, great stuff indeed!. 

Like Andrea said about old Laindon, it was no place paved with gold, indeed mud was far more prevalent, over on Berry Park it was blooming awful in the winters but SUMMER!!, what a place to be a kid!!. The spirit and camaraderie of the folk that lived in the plotlands estates was second to none, our house was never locked even when we went away for a couple of weeks holiday, nothing was ever stolen or touched, I wonder if you could do that now??!.

I would love to hear from the Muchmores, the Franklins, the Pilchers, the Chapmans, the Nashs and many of the others that shared our life's experiences in those far off days in that other world. 

Merry Christmas and a Happy and safe New Year to you all, keep the memories flowing, PS I'll see some of you next year

By Ken Page
On 20/12/2011
Add a comment about this page

If you're already a registered user of this site, please login using the form on the left-hand side of this page.