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Basildon Stories
Laindon in the 1950s and 1960s - Part 3
by Brian Baylis

High Road continued

     From the Memorial Hall, I recall there were more shops and one of them was a toyshop. In the doorway of this same shop, was a door on the left that took one into Barrett’s Barbershop. It was in their window, I saw the very first ‘Matchbox’ series on display. They were about 1/3d each and 48 in the series. The next we knew, Martin next door was suddenly getting them. As I was only getting 1/- a week pocket money, I never got them. When I left school, I was getting just 2/- a week pocket money. Further along this short row was a Dairy/shop we knew as Markham’s Dairy. Many a time when walking past there, Barry and I would jump through the gap next to the Dairy, up on to the platform by the Milk machine (half-pint carton at 6d.) run the short distance and jump off the end into Somerset Road that ran down the side and between their place and the then Parkinson’s Garage. Somerset Road was another unmade one and directly opposite where the Laindon Link started. ‘Parky’, as we knew him, sold ‘Shell’ petrol and at 1/4d a gallon.

     From Parky’s, on the same side of the High Road, there were some bushes and in between them and to the left, was a gate & a house then Wilson’s Chemist. Next to Wilson’s was some shrubbery for a short space then Squire’s Television & Radio dealer. It was in there, in late 1959/early 1960, that I bought my first ever 45 rpm record. Frankie Laine singing ‘Rawhide’ from the television series. I remember I had got it because I wanted Frank Sinatra singing ‘High Hopes’ but they hadn’t got it in yet. I drove my Dad up the wall by constantly playing this record. Next to ‘Squire’s’ was another greengrocer named W. Watts. I don’t know for sure just how long Watts remained before the two brothers now known to be the Peachey’s, set up a greengrocer stall on a barrow outside Squire’s. They eventually took over Squires shop and opened their first. It was between this shop and New Century Road that the local cinema the ‘Radion’ stood. I have some lovely memories of this place and even knew it as the ‘local flea pit’ for some years. It was run by a couple who I knew as Mr. & Mrs. Hayes. I remember they also lived about halfway along Basil Drive. When I was just 15, I convinced them I was 16 just to get in to see the ‘A’ certificate film, ‘High Society’ with Frank Sinatra and I think Grace Kelly. They never did ask Mum or Dad my true age to my knowledge.

     Across New Century Road from the ‘Radion’ stood Griffin’s sweet shop. From there it was a stretch of wasteland with bushes in but fenced off up to the local Co-operative store and 4 or 5 departments, each with their own entrance, but a through section towards the back of each except the butchery. I can recall the Drapery was first and that is also where all cash went on little containers from all other departments, by way of an overhead wire system. I loved watching them pull a little handle and the container whiz off. Sometimes, I used to ‘chase’ it through the different departments hoping to beat it to the other end. Needless to say, I never did beat it. I can recall a butchery section and the grocery section at the end against Worthing Road. If memory serves me correctly, I think there was another timber merchant a matter of yards down Worthing Road and on the right. Back in the High Road there was some more shrubbery and then set back was ‘Buckingham’ the butcher (he had a Commer van for deliveries), then there was a space and a rather short Manor Road. From there, I recall some sort of old yard where second-hand cars were sold. Then more houses then Howard’s Dairy and Victoria Road at what I always knew as ‘The Hiawatha’ for some reason.

     From the Laindon Link to ‘The Hiawatha’ and on the opposite of the High Road, there was A. G. Butler the Funeral Director’s/Undertaker in the first of the big houses then a lot more of them before the bungalows in which our local GP Dr. Chowdhary, had his surgery. There were more places before a load of trees either side of Ulster Road leading to Leicester Road, another two of the unmade roads and opposite the Co-op/Worthing Road. Marlene had a schoolmate who lived up in Leicester Road by the name of Maureen Barker. From there up to the shops at ‘The Hiawatha’ my mind is blank apart from one shop that stood alone and was painted green. The shops further on I recall are a little tiny sweet shop, another Gents Hairdressers, ‘Williamson’s’ Butchers, a dry cleaners and then a second shop owned by ‘Green’s Stores’. On the corner was a low wall with shrubbery behind it and went round into St. Nicholas Lane. Behind ‘Green’s Store’s’ shop was a wooden hall that was used for different functions. I recall going in there once or twice to ‘Jumble sale’s’ with Mum.

From Hiawatha to the Fortune of War

     From the opposite side of St. Nicholas Lane and going down towards the Southend Arterial Road (A127) and the ‘Fortune of War’ pub there was another Doctors Surgery where Dr. Long had his base. Around the corner were a few shops in North Parade and they were ‘Grays Co-operative’, Ling’s bike shop, Boons newsagent, and an ‘Off Licence’ called The Challenger but I am certain there was another little shop. I can’t remember from there until practically opposite the High Road Secondary School, and where there were a lot of houses and bungalows including one where Mr. Minikin, one of the Art teachers from this same school lived. There were two more yet other unmade roads including Nichol and then Paul’s Road that was opposite the school and this eventually led up the side of the home of Mr. Minikin. More bushes and I think some bungalows down to near the ‘Fortune’ and Holst Avenue. Just beyond there, was the A127 and ‘Fortune of War’ on the opposite side of that.

     Back to the ‘Hiawatha’ and from Victoria Road, we had the local Police station on the corner, then one or two houses immediately before Compton Walk and where we moved to when I was 14. Just beyond Compton Walk there were 2 more shops. One was Sloper’s Dairy and the other was a Sub Post Office. Then there were more houses and shops again. The first shop was another Newsagent called Keith’s, and I recall going in there just after the news broke about the assassination of President John Kennedy and the manager, I think his name was Keith Cullis, told me. Along from there was Ashton’s timber yard where on many an occasion when in Tyler Avenue, we would push an old pram down to, to get some logs for the fire. After that came King Edward Terrace and the Council houses before King Edward Road then just beyond there, Laindon High Road School. Next to the school was the British Legion Hall where functions were held. I know a bit further down was Archer Road, yet another of the unmade roads in Laindon and then a few more shops. I remember one was a newsagent and called ‘Weedons’ and there were I think 3 other shops. These were set very close to the filling station at the A127 and ‘Fortune of War’ and where it was once reported, a Vicar whilst driving his Bedford Dormobile on the A127 from Southend, he failed to negotiate the roundabout and demolished the first one of the petrol pumps.

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Page added: January 2005
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