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Basildon Stories
A person's life in Vange - Part 2
by Mrs. J.R. Cartwright

     On our way to the Barge, we may have met Mrs. Humphreys. She lived next to the large black wooden house. This stood at the bottom of Paynters Hill almost opposite the Off License.

     At the side of the Off License were the Heights. The tiny timber and rough cast bungalows of the Heights, were laid out in streets. The streets, themselves, were nothing more than wooden sleepers. These were treacherous in wet weather.

     On the other side of the Off License, the road forked. One being the main Paynters Hill and the other the old Paynters Hill. This road led to the War Memorial and a series of unmade roads. These stretched back as far as where the golf course is now. On this road also stood The Cot. A tiny two roomed bungalow that was the very first fish and chip shop in Vange. It has been the home of two of my sisters and their husbands, at different times, naturally.

     Now where this road joins with the main road, stood old white cottages. Here lived Ted Wood and his family. Next door to him lived a little old lady who always dressed in dark clothes. Travelling still toward the Barge we would pass Dorlings, the builders, Bishops Garage and Ramsey Stores. There was no estate on Paynters Hill then, just wide open space. Field after field that let you enjoy the view all the way to Coryton.

     Past Rowe's Dairy and the little Catholic Church. Opposite Wharf Lane, was Thomas's garage. Churchill Johnsons had a timber yard down Wharf Lane, and it was also down there, where the swimming pool used to be. We spent many a happy time there. It was only a small pool, complete with chute and a diving board. The changing rooms were wooden and draughty and if it rained all our clothes would get wet too.

     At the Barge was where most of the shops were situated. On the left of Timberlog Lane was Allens fish shop, a cafe and a sweet shop. These stood next to the Church Hall, where we went to Sunday school. I remember two of our teachers quite well. There was Marian Nice and Doris Head. Doris, I believe, later became a missionary.

     A little further along from the Church Hall was the hairdressers. After more houses and bungalows, past Gordon Hall to the right, was Gales grocery shop. This is how Gales corner got its name. Mr. Gale was an old man who suffered from Arthritis. His gnarled hands cut the cheese and butter rather clumsily, in his dark and gloomy shop with its creaking wooden floor boards. This shop stood opposite a row of tumble down cottages, where the present Bull public house stands.

     Back at the Barge and that old photograph! Seeing that again, I could almost see Mr. Murray standing outside, selling his Evening papers, could almost hear too the jolly laughter of the day trippers, when their coaches stopped there, for refreshment, before continuing on their way to Southend.

     Over the road from the Barge Inn, was Mills Greengrocery. Mrs. Mills was helped by her daughter Florrie. Florrie was a jolly person and she brightened many a dull day for her customers.

     Next to Mills was another unmade road, down which was the scout hut.

     Beside the car park of the Barge Inn was Saunders, the Bakers, where I worked for a time. I can still smell that lovely hot bread and taste the fat, golden Jam Doughnuts. Hear the sound of horses hooves as Ernie Thorndyke returned to reload the bakers cart.

     Adjacent to the bakers shop was Doug Royce's barbers. It was he that nicknamed my four year old brother "The Professor". My brother, although now in his late thirties, he's sometimes referred to by that "title".

     Further along was the Co-op. I can remember, as a little girl, how fascinated I was to watch the network of cash tramlines. On paying for a purchase, the assistant would reach up, and with a twist of the wrist, take down the little pot and pop your money and bill inside it, then return it to its holder. She would then pull a lever that sent the little pot gliding across the shop, above your head, to the office. After everything was done in the office they would send it back with your bill and any change.

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Page added: October 2002
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