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Basildon Stories
Laindon through my eyes - Part 2
by Andrea Ash


     As regards Berry Lane Recreation ground, yes I can remember the the paddling pool with blue painted steps leading up to a fountain; a lovely recreation ground with so much space. We had many picnics and a lot of fun up there. And the Crown Woods - were we the only kids who would come home with arms ladened with bluebells? It's no wonder they have put restrictions up there now!

     Most of the properties were on unmade roads with perhaps a narrow concrete footpath so it could be very muddy in bad weather. I recall making friends with Christine Bird who lived in Helmore Crescent – that seemed quite a way from my house. I would go over to her place to play and have tea; I remember her mum, dad and brother. At the end of their back garden, that had no fence, was the end of someone else's garden; it belonged to an old lady who lived in a bungalow there. She kept nanny goats and they were simply no bother to anyone. I loved going over there. Unfortunately at the age of nine I was hospitalised and on my return found that I was going to live in another part of Laindon, and I never saw Christine again.


     I knew most of the shopkeepers because I was always in and out of the shops. Mr Hardy's junk shop sticks out in my mind; he used to wear a black bowler hat and wore gold rimmed glasses; his narrow shop seemed to go on forever, stacked both sides with all kinds of ''junk'' probably termed today as antiques! I was about one when my dad bought me a black cocker spaniel puppy from the little 'half' shop opposite Denbigh Road, on the other side of the High Road. I had her till she was 15. Mrs Hernandez, my friend Jessie's mum, was in charge of the library on the Kentex side of the road. (When I was 21 I called in to join the library (was married too) but was informed that I needed my parents' permission first!

     I used to play in the Quintons' house which was at the back of the shops on that side of the road too – there was a very large archway and they lived to the right, as you walked through. My friend was Gladys Quinton and I marvelled at the wonderful playroom they had. Theirs was a largish family and I recall seeing an ''in and out'' board on the wall listing all the family names, as one came in, they would slide a piece of wood across to note they were in; the last one in, locked the front door. I remember Winston Hill – the Butcher and his daughter Gloria (Gannon) lived up there on the left; they had a big nut tree at the bottom of their garden and we would scrump their walnuts.


     That was Langdon Hills Primary, Miss Neville, Miss Wilkinson (with plaits around her head) and the dreaded Miss O'Brien; yes she scared me too, her anger would flush up from her neck and spread up to her face and then she would explode – I got a smacked face from her once. Her hand felt like rubber. Many years later Miss Neville became Mrs Hill and she taught at my children's' school in Vange; I have also met her up at the Plotlands. Miss Wilkinson is still about and indeed I bought the book she wrote a few years back.


     At nine years old, I left Langdon Hills primary school and was whisked off to a sanatorium in Harpenden, Hertfordshire, as I had a shadow on my lung. Even when better, I had to stay there till mum and dad could find a better house. I was almost a year away before returning home and joining Laindon High Road School, which was quite a way through the first year. My teachers there were Miss Jollyman, Mr Cluff, Mr Gay and Mr Gilchrist. I thought Mr Minikin was a good art teacher and Mr Wood was the crazy music teacher, playing the death march on the piano if he was in a bad mood! I stayed on the extended course 4X and 5X where the commercial tutor was Miss Maitland – another force to be reckoned with. I found Mr Cluff a very encouraging teacher. I left Laindon High Road School in 1959 at the age of 16 years old.


     Straight from LHR, I went to Brown & Tawse at West Horndon, working in the office there. My second job was in Bonallack's offices near Bartons Bakery in Paycocke Road, Basildon. Mr Bonallack was looking out the window when I turned up for my interview, wearing a blue mohair batwing style coat, which was all the rage – he later told me that he thought it looked as if I was going to take off in that coat! I was the baby in the office and the other girls would take me out with them, we'd get back late from lunch and have to hide, creeping in the long grass from Bartons, trying to keep out of the eye of our bosses. We did get caught, but they got into trouble, not me! Although very happy there, I teamed up with another girl and we decided London was the place to work, so we left Bonallacks.


     Chris and I were married in Laindon's St Nicholas Church by Rev. Winfield in August 1962. We left Laindon for a year and lived in Westcliff. We then returned and lived in Laindon for another five years before moving to Vange. Things hadn't changed much and it was good to be back in Laindon. In 1971, whilst working at Basildon District Council, Keay House, Town Square, I became pregnant with our first child. I attended my doctors at Laindon, but got caked in mud from the building work going on around there, so decided it was time to find a doctor in Vange. From then on my ties with Laindon lessened.


     Years have passed and it seems we have gone full circle. We attended a Laindon Reunion several years back and it was great to meet up with old faces from our past. Just recently, having retired, we attended some local reunions held this summer and now can't wait to meet up again with folk from our old Laindon days. Friends Reunited and Basildon History pages play a big part in my life nowadays.

Title: Laindon through my eyes by Andrea Ash.

Copyright: © Andrea Ash, December 2008.

Comments: This account was supplied by Andrea Ash for use on the Basildon History website.

Page added: December 2008
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