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Laindon in the 1950s and 1960s
by Brian Baylis


    I entered this world at about 10.35.p.m. on Sunday 8th September 1946 in Tyler Avenue, Laindon, Essex to my parents, being Sybil and Frank Baylis. Tyler Avenue was classed as an unmade road in those days as it was mainly old rubble as can be seen in a photograph in the Peter Lucas book ‘Basildon - BIRTH OF A CITY’ and shows the very edge of the house in which I was born, but now sadly demolished and a car park exists where the back garden once stood. I obviously never knew it at the time, but Dad was a Welder by trade and worked for some years in Brown & Tawse Tubes at West Horndon. I know he later went to work for Brigg’s Body Works in Dagenham until he returned to Brown & Tawse Tubes, where he stayed until August 1964, when he left to move to Norfolk. As a note of interest, our semi-detached house was Number 6, and Tyler Avenue in those days began at Basil Drive - Laindon Link at that time had not yet been constructed - and was I believe, named after the man responsible for many of the houses constructed along it. I have since discovered that the numbering sequence was reversed and now begins at the Laindon Link end.

    My earliest memory that I remember is being in my pram outside in the front garden and my sister Marlene tipped me out. I was not wearing reins at the time. Our brother Barry had at this time not been born. My strongest early memories are when I was aged about 4 years old and Marlene was teaching me to read and write, having started school and learning to do the same and so teaching me.

    From my earliest memories of the shops at Laindon, I used to ask Mum why we always had to shop in Laindon. Every couple of months we would get a 53 or 53a bus from outside the Post Office, then opposite the ‘Laindon Hotel’ and go to Grays, or a couple of trains to Romford to go shopping. I preferred going to Romford because we could go by train and I loved trains and still do.

    In her book ‘High Spirits’ the late actress Joan Sims, refers to her time in Laindon Station where her father was Station Master. In this book, there is a photograph of Joan as a child in the station yard as it would be known, standing in front of some trucks. I can remember Hall’s the coal merchant often being seen to unload coal from the ‘trucks’ and into sacks on the back of a Bedford lorry for delivery. I think they were like Charrington’s and painted dark green with yellow writing of the name on the cabs. In the background behind Joan and the trucks, there is a large house. I can remember two lads who I very occasionally played with. All I can remember about one of them, is his surname was Scott and the other was Newson. He had cousins in Buckingham Road that ran parallel with Tyler Avenue.

High Road - Laindon

    The shops at Laindon I remember are from the Station going towards the ‘Fortune of War’ pub now all very sadly gone, are very few name wise, but I will do my best to remember. Opposite Station Approach, there were two shops on stilts. One I do believe, but stand to be corrected on, was an Estate Agent and the other I do know was a Photographic Studio. As I write this, my Father who is still alive, has a photo of my sister and I that was taken in there. On the right hand side and at the junction of Winston Hill (Windsor Road) and High Road, stood Kentex Cleaners. Across from them on the opposite side of the High Road, stood Townsend’s the Greengrocers. The times I remember having to stand there with mum waiting to be served. As we stood there one day, I was wearing my school-cap when a funeral cortege passed by. Everybody stood still and silent in respect. The next thing I knew was when Mum snatched my cap off my head and thrust it at me. That was the day I learnt it was the correct thing to do, and to take headwear off when a funeral passes.

    Going back and just down Northumberland Avenue a short distance, the Salvation Army had their little church where on many a Sunday, I attended with Marlene and Barry for Sunday School and got a star stamped in a little book to say we had attended and paid our 1d or 2d into the collection. One man I will always remember was Norman Shelley, who one day, kept saying ‘Amen’ during one of the prayers being said by another Officer. When he got married, we went to the service and on leaving for their Honeymoon, the train driver was given a tip and he blew the ‘Special’ whistle to inform the passengers there was a couple of newlyweds on board. Churchill Johnson’s, building suppliers, I remember, stood between Station Approach and Northumberland Avenue.

    From Kentex Cleaners, and on the same side, I remember the Library, Gem’s sweet shop where Dad once sent my brother in to ask how much their penny liquorices were? Then I think it was Glenny’s another Estate Agent. I have reason to believe there were another couple of shops and a gap with like stalls in and a gate across, where a hardware company sold their wares. Then I believe came Cole’s fishmonger shop. At the front they sold wet fish and at the back they did the frying and we got fish and chips for I think about 1/3d (6p). I can’t remember exactly what was next but I think it was possibly a butchers. Soon after that, there was a small double office where one of them was the reception/office and the other was the drivers’ rest room of Jeakins Taxi’s. Then there was a ramp of a driveway leading to the rear of a Restaurant that access to, was gained, by walking up a series of steps. Next to them was Blackwell’s the newsagent. I do remember and still know as I write, one member of staff from that same newsagent.

    Next to Blackwell’s stood a wooden shop of an Electrical nature and I remember Dad used to take the accumulator from the radio to have it charged up again. On the odd occasion, I had the job of taking it in there. I think the man used to charge about 6d to re-charge it. At the time, where we lived we had to have gas for lighting as I don’t think there was any electricity laid on in our house. Next to this shop, but back to the pavement area, I can recall an old furniture shop where the old boy always stood at the door and wore a hat. I seem to recall that one day when he failed to open up, the Police were called and he was found dead at the back of the shop. Then there was a clothing shop called Morris’s. I know the Ladies department was first, then there were the children’s clothes and the third was for Gentlemen. Beyond there I can recall ‘Bata’s’ for shoes and Mum always took us there for our shoes and I got treated to my very first pair of Basketball Boots at 6/6d. I can’t remember the next shop but I do remember Tommy Card’s fish shop with the live eel’s wriggling about in an enamel square tank. Then I think it was Gibson’s the greengrocer, Cramphorn’s the seed merchant and Cottis’s the bakers next to the new joint Sorting Office and Post Office.

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Page added: January 2005
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