Ron Herbert's House

By Brian Cordell

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Ron Herbert's House' page

Brian Cordell

Photo taken in early 1960's from left to right facing Eddy Morris, Ron Herbert, Tony Dowd, Brian Howard and Brian Cordell,  Brian Reynolds sitting astride his Velocette special, a pre-war model KSS modified with swinging arm frame, Royal Enfield forks and Enfield front wheel.  A much modified engine Mk8 racing cams high compression piston TT carburator and Manx Norton exhaust pipe.  

All the modifications were carried out by Brian Reynolds who was a time serviced apprentice engineer at Rotary Hoe's factory building tractors. 

I remember Ron Herbert and Brian Reynolds having a race one time and Brian's 350cc Velocette was a good match for Ron's 600cc Norton 99 Dominator.

This page was added by Brian Cordell on 01/02/2012.
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Tom Card, the fishmonger, as the editors have indicated, lived at “Victoria Lodge” in Victoria Avenue which was, by my reckoning, next door but one to the Herberts. As a surname “Card” was quite numerous in the area. In 1949, another family of that name (John and Susan) were living at “Whitchurch” in Shelley Road, Langdon Hills. In the Lee Chapel area of Laindon (also in 1949) a Card family consisting of Alf, Doris, Ethel, Reg and Ron all lived at “Clovelly”, Church Avenue while Wally and Gladys Card lived at “Peacehaven”, Hilltop Road.  Wally Card was very well known around the district, probably even more so than Tom Card, since Wally hosted many functions over the years and his name frequently appeared in the local press as a result. In 1941 he became involved a long correspondence with a journalist at the “Laindon Recorder” (“Cumbrian in Essex”) about matters relating to Basildon. (I believe I have posted on this before). Unfortunately, I am unable to give any information on how any of these Card families might be inter-related. Card is not particularly common so some relationships is possible. Talking of which, “Burr” is not particularly common either as a surname also which prompts me to ask if Mrs English (née Burr) has read the entries on the Wickford Community Archive website concerning Burr Hall at Runwell?

After I had posted on 4/7/2015 on this thread, I felt I had not given full justice to Mrs Elsie Hill, who was also an educationalist associated with Langdon Hills School. I had mentioned that I had remembered her and her younger sister (whose name I do not know) joining the Tilbury Ferry bound coach at the Old Hill Avenue corner in South Hill, Langdon Hills when we were all on the way to Palmers School at Grays. This fact was particularly memorable on one occasion; the coach arrived at the stop and Elsie’s sister was standing there alone in rather an anxious state because Elsie had run back to their home at the end of the Avenue to collect a book she had left out of her satchel. Her young sister had pleaded with the ‘bus crew to wait for the both while Elsie ran back. As might be expected, her sister’s pleas, couched in a tone of voice which to the rest of us oicks who predominated among the passengers already on the coach and who were exponents to a man of “Estuary” English, sounded exceedingly “posh”. Derisive laughter was the result which, of course, made the poor girl more agitated than before. Luckily, the ‘bus crew acceded to her request and, panting, Elsie joined the coach and all was well.

Years later when I met Mrs Elsie Hill (née Neville) I did not tell her the above yarn. Instead I learned from her that the Neville family had moved to “Kilima Bande”, Old Hill Avenue, in order to avoid the Blitz from a part of Bow, East London, with which I was quite familiar. Where her family was living when the war started, was in or close to Cantrell Road, E3, a road which no longer exists. The reason I was familiar with this particular corner of London was two-fold. Firstly Cantrell Road was a link off Bow Common Lane which led to Devons Road. It was in turnings off Devons Road that both maternal grandfather (Blackthorn Road) and my maternal grandmother (Christian Street) had been born. The second reason was that it was also possible from Cantrell Road to gain entry (providing one was authorised, which I was) to a signal cabin on the railway.

This particular signal box (known as “Gas Factory Junction”), which no longer exists, was probably familiar to all those people from Laindon station who travelled regularly into Fenchurch Street because every train passed under the control of the signalman there. Gas Factory Junction Signal box took its official name from its proximity to Bow Common Gas Works which was, I believe, one of the earliest places to start to produce “town gas” from coal. However, regardless of the official name for the signal box, one, at least, of the men who manned this box on a regular basis called “Shipwreck” (his nickname, I have forgotten his real name) always answered the ‘phone by responding “Boneyard”. The reason for this was because on the other side of Cantrell Road, across from where the signal box was situated on the railway viaduct was the disused Tower Hamlets Cemetery.

Even this place has implications for the history of Laindon and district because it is in this cemetery that the remains of Will Crookes were buried. Crookes, it may be recalled was responsible with his colleague, George Lansbury ( Angela’s grandfather)in persuading Joseph Fels to set up the Dunton Farm Colony for the use of the destitute men of Poplar.  Of recent times the cemetery has been opened as a public park and also extended in such a manner as to completely obliterate Cantrell Road, turning its original route into a pathway. Incidentally, for the motorcycle enthusiasts; the signalman I have called “Shipwreck” was also a keen collector of vintage machines and had restored two or three pre-WW1 motor bikes which he exhibited.

I believe that the reason that the sister of Elsie Hill (née Neville) caused us p-taking boys on the school bus to be so raucously and derisory was that the sisters had had the advantage of a good family background and no doubt both attended “suitable” schools before they fled London. Does anyone know more? Also, since I have now mentioned Palmers School yet again, there is a further question needing an answer.  After the ‘bus to Grays picked up the Nevilles in South Hill, its next stop was at the corner where the B1007 joins the Lower Dunton Road (near to Great Malgraves). A boy named Bonnet (query spelling) who was at Palmers also for a short time who lived somewhere along Lower Dunton Road either in that road itself or in Kirkham Road or the turnings off where there were a few bungalow. I seem to recall that he stopped attending Palmers because somebody in his family, possibly his mother, had been killed by a bomb fragment that fell in that area at the height of blitz. Can anybody enlighten me further?

By John Bathurst
On 05/07/2015

Just as a little addition, the next avenue past Victoria Avenue was Woodgrange Avenue.

I believe Tom Card the fishmonger lived next door to the Herberts in Victoria or very close to them.

Editor: In 1949 - Thomas, Emma and Kathleen Card, Victoria Lodge, Victoria Avenue.

By Ellen English Nee Burr
On 04/07/2015

I am exceedingly grateful to Mrs English for confirming what I had expected. The Mrs Edna Herbert of Dry Street was the same lady who was Head Cook at Blue House Junior School. My late wife, Barbara Bathurst, also worked at Blue House in the School’s Meal Service (SMS) having moved there when that school was first opened. Previously, she (Barbara) cooked at Markhams Chase (aka Janet Dukes) when our daughters were pupils there.

Clearly Mrs Herbert and my wife were colleagues at BlueHouse, which is why I would have visited the Herbert’s place in Dry Street. What the motivation was I do not recall. Just for the record; Barbara went on from the SMS to become Head Cook at Basildon District Hospital during the time when it prepared all the food from scratch for its staff’s and patients’ meals.

The fact that the Herbert family lived in Victoria Avenue has prompted me to look again at the earlier residents’ list of who it was once lived in that surprisingly long avenue and, similarly, at Nightingale Avenue adjacent since Ellen English mentions this also in her reply. Both Nightingale and Victoria Avenues ran parallel to High Road, Langdon Hills and both were well populated. There were over 30 dwellings in Nightingale and more than 40 in Victoria.

I note that previous submissions to this web site have already dealt with some of the names that are recorded as being resident in either Nightingale or Victoria. However on a quick look through these earlier posts the surnames missing that I recognised in particular were Rand and Greenaway in Victoria and Grottick and Happé in Nightingale. The name Grottick is remembered because the Grotticks ran a Chemist’s Shop of that name in High Road, Langdon Hills while Eric Rand (later Head-teacher at Ghyllgrove Primary School) was a fellow pupil at Palmer’s Endowed School for Boys at Grays. I am not quite sure why Greenaway and Happé should be memorable; I think they were later involved, similarly, in education matters. Perhaps, somebody will prompt me?

Eric Rand was particularly friendly with John Pavie who lived in High Road, Langdon Hills right next door to Langdon Hills Junior School. John’s father ran the Tie and Cravat factory at the Old Fortune of War and John was also a Palmer’s boy. The coach we all travelled to Grays on would stop just after passing the “Crown” at Old Hill Avenue to pick up Elsie Hill (another educationalist!) and her younger sister on their way to Palmer’s Girls School.

Another person of note connected previously with Victoria Avenue was John Reeves who lived in either “Primrose Cottage” or “Rose Cottage”, I am not quite sure which. John attended Laindon High Road School and was regarded there as being rather “backward”. However, when John left at age 14, Mr Radford, the school’s head, persuaded stationmaster Harry Sims at Laindon Station to take him on as a junior porter and John took to the job and flourished in doing so.  He never worked elsewhere and, as a result, became well recognised at Laindon by many of those passengers who were regular users of the station. After a time, John became the Senior Railman at Laindon and when Victoria Avenue was obliterated he moved to a self-contained ground floor flat in Lee Chapel South. It was here that I visited him as he had become a near neighbour of mine. John, as he had matured, had developed a love for Opera and Ballet and his collection of Opera recordings was far superior to that of mine who shared the same enthusiasm as he did.

He also made good use of the travel facilities that his employment granted him to attend many great performances at Covent Garden as he could, a fact I very much envied. Unhappily, John was killed on the railway at Pitsea. He had been sent to investigate a report of children trespassing on the track near the road bridge at Timberlog Lane, Vange. It was the kind of thing the staff at Laindon were often requested to do since this particular area was prone to such activity by children particularly during school holidays. Having ridden to the area of the bridge in the driver’s cab of the next train after that the driver of which had made the initial report, John went on to Pitsea to report his findings to the Pitsea Signal Cabin. To reach the cabin, John did what he had done umpteen times before. He crossed from the Southend end of platform 1 at Pitsea to platform 2 where the cabin was then situated. He did this at track level instead of using the footbridge which was a long way round. Familiarity must have lulled John into a false sense of security since he clearly forgot his safety training about walking on the track, for he was struck and killed by a fast moving London bound train.  It was very sad and, as far as I am aware, a bench seat on platforms 1 and 2 at Laindon, the cost of which was raised by subscription at the time, still stands as a memorial to this unhappy event.

The subject that engendered this particular thread was the photograph of Brian Reynolds astride his Velocette motorcycle and, from the accompanying write up we learn that Brian had served an engineering apprenticeship at Rotary Hoes’ factory at West Horndon. This means that Brian might well have known my late brother, Mike Bathurst who worked in Rotary Hoes personnel department up until the time of that firm’s great stand off!

By John Bathurst
On 04/07/2015

Hi Mr Bathurst,  Ronnie Herbert and his parents lived in Victoria Avenue, Langdon Hills.

When compulsory purchase took Nightingale Avenue and Victoria Avenue, I believe Mrs Edna Herbert moved to Dry Street opposite the Red Cow.

Mrs Herbert also worked in the canteen at Langdon Hills Primary School.  I do not know if she had any connection with Bluehouse School 

By Ellen English Nee Burr
On 02/07/2015

Reading both the surname Herbert and the keeping of goats in the same sentence prompts a question. If the statement will not be misunderstood, there were quite a lot of Herberts in the Laindon/Langdon Hills area, but was there ever a connection between Dry Street (opposite the”Red Cow” and cooking for the kids at Blue House School? I would be pleased to learn more.

By John Bathurst
On 30/06/2015

Lovely photo of you all and the bike. Ron Herbert could that be a Robert Herbert?

Regards Carolann.

By Carol Bennett
On 29/06/2015

The item I am sending is not to do with bikes but a little bit of memories from my sister re the Herbert family. The Herberts lived in the next avenue to us in Langdon Hills and apparently Mr Herbert, Ronnie’s dad had two goats. These goats were put on waste land that adjoined our bungalow they were put there in the morning and Mr Herbert would come for them late afternoon/evening.  My sister Kath said she used to help him, she held one goat’s lead and he held the other, when they got back to Mr Herbert's house he used to give her a cup of goat's milk. This would have been c.1946/7. Come to think of it, I remember seeing goats on waste ground in several places when I was young.

By Ellen English
On 30/04/2012

Hi Lora lovely to read your comments on site about your dad such a small world.

I believe you now live not to far away from me now in Norfolk. 

The bike is still on the wall amazing.

By Gloria Sewell
On 20/04/2012

Gloria, I can confirm dad does still have the bike on his wall. I have seen it with my own eyes. It is so wonderful looking at these pictures!

By Lora-Jane Reynolds
On 19/04/2012

Fantastic photo Brian, I remember the ‘Velocette’ well. I believe Brian still has this bike and I am think Ken Page said, so somewhere on this site, that it sits over his fireplace.

Ron’s parents cottage was ‘Rose Cottage’ in Lee Chapel Lane and I do believe it is still there, not sure though perhaps someone can look that one up. I remember Ron’s ‘Dominator’ well he bought it brand new and rode it for a week or two then for a little while he and the bike disappeared. One night outside the Memorial Hall Ron turned up on his Dominator completely modified with drop handlebars, racing seat, the lot it looked real good. I would like to think I had the first ride on it modified, but can’t say that for sure. 

They were a good crowd of lads had some fun times with them. In fact it was Ron’s mum that played a part in my first home in Albermerle Crescent, I think she knew my landlady. 

Everyone of you on this photo including the bike came to our barbecues when we lived there, we could make as much noise as we liked it was far enough away from the neighbours. Brian Reynolds rented the house after we got our council house he lived in Southend and used to travel to Laindon almost every night to be with us lot. 

I remember it all like yesterday, thank you so much Brian for putting these photos on for us.

By Gloria Sewell
On 04/02/2012
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