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Basildon Stories
A person's life in Vange - Part 3
by Mrs. J.R. Cartwright

     On the opposite side of the road, more shops. There was Tew's Shoe Repairers. Mr. Tew was a man of ample proportions. He always had a mouth full of nails. These were removed one by one, as he worked deftly at his last.

     His neighbour was the Chemist. Mr. Ralph was chemist then, followed by Mr. Conduit.

     Next to the Chemist was a sweet shop. This is where we would redeem our sweet coupons. We were allowed just a quarter pound of sweets a week, this was shared by four of us, our family not being complete at this point in time.

     Mr. Rose had his haberdashery shop next. He was a pleasant man. He would always greet you with a doff of his hat and a cheery smile.

     Past the next row of houses was Kemps Stores. This was also the Post Office. Past the big bush of Old Man's Beard and there was Highways, the butcher and Green Stores. Mrs. Marriage and her daughter Barbara, lived opposite, with neighbours Mrs. Whitehead and Mr. & Mrs. Chester and their families.

     Bellfontaines, the jewellers, came next, with an ironmongers at the corner of Kent View Road. This was not much more than a cart track then. On the other corner stood Carltons sweet shop next to the wool shop. Up a few concrete steps and there was a little greengrocers. These shops stood on the opposite side of the road to Bedwells shoe shop and gentlemans outfitters. Stewards newsagents came next with Cattles Corn Chandlery and several other small shops. I remember a tiny cafe that was next to an Optician. These two very small shops fronted the Dressmaking factory. This was Turners, where I first started work when I was fourteen. It was a wooden and corrugated iron building, unbearably hot in summer and freezing cold in winter. This cluster of buildings stood opposite Mudd's Grocery and Off License store. I also worked there, a few years later. Mr. Coulton being the manager of provisions. Between the row of houses, that ran along side of Mudds, was Aster Nurseries. This was owned by Bob Trew. Plants from here were sent all over the country.

     On the other side of the road to the nurseries was the fire station. This was manned mainly by part time firemen, all volunteers. The firemen were chiefly the shop owners. Whenever the warning sounded, you would see the men jump onto their cycles and race to the fire station. They were there and out again with the fire engine, in a surprisingly short time.

     On the same side as the fire station, there was the Assistance Board, as it was known then. The Busy Bee Cafe and Evelins Garage beside the Working Mans Club.

     Facing the club was another road. Here stood the Library. This was a wooden place and reminded one of a chapel.

     A few more bungalows followed, where Dr. Proctor had his house and surgery. Dr. Corboy later took over this practise.

     Over the road again and Riverview Drive. On the corner stood the White Tower Cafe. Down to the bottom of Riverview you would come to Kiln Farm. This is where the Websters lived. Across the railway and the fields we would reach the creek. Here were moored about a dozen house-boats. It was on one of these that my husband and I made our first home. This was in 1955. It was a large converted Thames barge, roomy and comfortable. We more often than not spent a very pleasant evening, rowing our little dinghy in the creek.

     Back to the High Road and just before reaching the railway bridge, was Knibbs. This again was a wooden building. You could buy anything there, from a gallon of tar to a mouse trap.

     Vange had a lot to offer in those days. There would be all sorts of things going on. There was the Annual Carnival which joined the one at Pitsea. Everyone seemed to take part in some way or other. The Christmas Bazaars were always popular. The ladies sewing and knitting all year, to make their own particular bazaar a huge success. I remember too how we enjoyed the lantern slide shows. These were held in the church hall. Everyone knew everyone else of course, so where ever you went there was a warm greeting. No matter whether it was at one of the functions I have already mentioned or at the school play, the school sports or just a trip to the shop.

Title: A person's life in Vange by Mrs. June R. Cartwright.

Source: Local Studies section - Basildon Central Library, St. Martin's Square, Basildon.

Comments: This account is reproduced in its entirety, unedited and unabridged.

Page added: October 2002
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