Memories of Hullbridge (1)

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As told by Gillian Martin (nee Marr):

"I was born in Hullbridge in March 1964. My parents had moved to Mapledene Avenue in 1963. It was a brand new house. The plans showed it to be part of the Hilltop Estate and the road was provisionally called Riverview Gardens but perhaps the name was changed when it was apparent that the River Crouch was not visible from the properties!

On the day I was born my father took my 3 year old brother round to Pellings in Ferry Road to buy him something to keep him amused. He bought a second hand wind up gramophone complete with 2 records. My mother spent her labour listening to repeat after repeat of “Kiss me, Sugar Sugar, Kiss me...” The midwife who delivered me was called Mrs Dark and she enjoyed a dinner, cooked by my Dad, after I was safely born. I was christened in September 1964 at the Hullbridge Free Church on Lower Road.

My mother was a nurse and she worked in the village surgery which was attached to the house owned by the Doctors Kendall in Ferry Road. She worked there for a number of years eventually moving into the purpose-built surgery further along Ferry Road. We often had callers at the door asking for her advice out of surgery hours.

I remember going to a play-school in the village hall during the 1960s. My mother would drop me off there before going to work at the doctors’ surgery. I also remember attending dancing classes at the Miss Elizabeth School of Dancing which were also held in the village hall with a very patient man playing the piano for Miss Elizabeth. There were various shows produced by Miss Elizabeth and I remember a dressmaker in the village called Mrs Duro making a lot of the outfits. I have a hazy memory that Mrs Duro was also involved with the play-school.

I started at the Riverside Primary School in 1969. I can remember that my Dad was part of a team who built the swimming pool at the school. He had a cine film of the volunteers digging out the pool and was very committed that all the children living in a village with a river running through it should learn how to swim. I had very happy times at the school before moving to the Park School in 1975. I remember various teachers including Mrs Spicer, Mrs Fairbrass, and of course the headmaster Mr Hardy.

I enjoyed cycling and walking around the village as a child. I remember several unmade roads with lots of chalets and caravans rather than conventional houses. In one of the caravans lived Beattie, a dwarf who worked in the post office. I seem to remember that Anthony Armstrong-Jones came to the village to make a documentary about dwarves, featuring Beattie, which was shown on TV.

At the corner of Mayfield Avenue and Ferry Road was a sweet shop called “The Mayfield” where we used to get quarter pounds of various sweets as a treat. I believe that it had been or still was a club but I can only remember it as a sweet shop. The newsagent shop in Ferry Road was owned by Mr Long who always greeted my brother and me with the phrase:

“It is many moons and many winters since I saw you last”

I presume he did the same to all the children!

Another shop I remember going to was Mrs Wortley’s. She sold wool, shoes, and clothes among other items. Mrs Wortley was also a leading light with the Brownies and Guides and I can remember attending both of these groups at the Church Hall in Thorpedene Avenue. I presume that the Church and Church Hall were built in the late 60’s or early 70’s as I don’t have earlier memories of them. I have already mentioned Pellings in Ferry Road which sold second hand furniture and riding clothes.

Catering was limited to Ferry Fisheries and The Anchor Pub in those days – I can’t remember anywhere else which served food or drink.

The river was a major source of pleasure for our family. My Dad built a Mirror Dinghy in the garage and then joined Hullbridge Yacht Club. We all learnt to sail and spend many happy hours on the Crouch.

In conclusion, I have happy memories of growing up as a child in Hullbridge. It felt safe and secure and we had freedom to cycle around the streets, visiting friends, and having fun."

This page was added by Helen Barnard on 18/05/2011.
Comments about this page (Add a comment about this page)

Hi, my name is Trish Swinscoe, daughter to.Ernie and Peggy Swinscoe who owned the Mayfield club and sweet shop, I would love to get in touch with Diane.Swinscoe, I wonder find my details could be passed on.

By Patricia Ellison
On 27/05/2022

I went to the Elizabeth school of dancing from 1965 until 1977. I then went to stage school, and became a professional dancer. My Mums name was mentioned above. She was indeed a dress maker, and became the wardrobe mistress for the dancing schools shows. There were many many costumes all over our bungalow in Hilltop Avenue for a few months before each show. The pianist mentioned was Mr. Camp. he was lovely but quite deaf, so Miss Elizabeth had to shout at him to get him to stop playing.

By alison duro
On 27/05/2022

I was born in Hullbridge in 1953. My great uncle Charles Elliott owned the Newsagents before he retired and sold it to Ernie Long. My grandmother owned the Wool Shop which was next door to the newsagents. It was very popular especially with ladies who after buying their purchases they would sit in my nan's living room for a cuppa and a chat! I loved the school with Mrs Alderton, Miss Weir, Mrs Longthorne, Mr Rose, Mr Hardy (Headmaster) and Miss Crabb (School Secretary). We used to live next door to the Mayfield House club until 1982 which was run by Ernie and Peggy Swinscoe. Before the housing estate was built Keswick Ave was called Skewpath and there was a very big pond there where we caught tadpoles and took them home, and my Dad couldn't understand where all the frogs came from! I could go on and on with my memories, very happy days in Hullbridge Village.

By Heather Moore
On 13/12/2021

Good afternoon.

Firstly  I must say I am so excited to find this page!! I am currently sitting at my mum's having a cup of tea; Mum is 92 now. We were discussing my late father (Edgar Swinscoe), he owned this club with his brother Ernie! As we were talking about it I thought I would just google the Mayfield Club Hullbridge, and here I am!!! I’ve just told my mum and she is so excited too. She has so many stories to tell and this is amazing to find out about. Please do get in touch if you would like, as my mum has lots to tell! 

By Diane Swinscoe
On 18/08/2019

The owner's name of the Mayfield was Swinscoe.

By kevin reeman
On 24/05/2016

I was the first resident to move into Kendal Close in 1957. It was a real village then. I believe we were one of the first roads to be made up (the builder did it). It cost us £2,000 for a two bed roomed bungalow. I loved the village hall, it was the heart of the village. Everything went on there including Family social nights, once a month on Saturday evening. We took our own refreshments/drinks. The music was played on a record player.

The children used to be very excited about going. I think once it was sold off and the new Community Centre got built, we stopped being a village. 


By Pauline Dewberry
On 06/01/2016

My Mother's name was Betty and we did live at 25 Mapledene Avenue.


By Gillian Martin
On 02/11/2015

During one harsh winter in Hullbridge the snow drifted and in the local paper it said how Beattie struggled often up to her waist in snow. They did not mention that Beattie was a dwarf! Good memories of Hullbridge.

By Gill White
On 17/08/2015

Was your mother's name Betty and did you live at 25 Mapledene?  I lived at 35 until 1981 when I moved to Australia.

By Margaret Johnson
On 02/03/2014

The Mayfield was a private members club with a sweet shop attached. I remember going there after rehearsals with the Hullbridge Players,an amateur drama group run by Barbara Morley, and we put on several plays in the old village hall in the 1960s.

By PamG
On 01/04/2012

"The Mayfield" was a club,(sometime in the 1950's, if I remember correctly). I think the owners name was Ernie .....(but can't remember the surname). With my group of friends I used the club at times. (when we were not in "The Smugglers" R,F.D......... P.S. Ernie's surname may have been Swinscote?.

By Richard Dobson
On 24/07/2011
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