Arcadia for all (First published 1984)

by Dennis Hardy and Colin Ward


Reprinted in 2004

From Canvey to Jaywick Sands, from Peacehaven to Pitsea: in the first 40 years of last century, thousands of families made their own place in the sun, without benefit of councils, planners, architects, building societies, or even builders. Were they as many planners and environmentalists suggested, making rural slums and seaside eyesores, or were they providing a unique example of unaided self-build housing, with lessons for us all today? (from the back of the book)

The book has a section on Canvey and I found some comments very interesting:

At the height of the Second World War, J A Steers reported to the government on the future of the East Anglian Coast. He found Canvey ‘an abomination…. a town of shacks and rubbish…. It caters for a particular class of people and short of total destruction and a new start, little if anything can be done’.

Did he not like Canvey? He obviously did not vote us tenth in the Times online Top ten days out.

From Thames online Feb 19th 2009

‘In the cheerful bustle of this modern resort it is easy to forget the 1953 storm surge flood that cost so many lives – though the locals have not. Canvey Island has a marvellously seasidey atmosphere, with golden sands, young families fishing for crabs from the seawall and Ove Arup’s 1932 Art Deco beachfront Labworth Cafe giving wonderful views across the fairway to the Kent shore. It is a fine spot from which to enjoy a Thames barge match on a summer’s day.’

Below are a couple of the pictures supplied by Fred McCave and were included in the book.

Picture of Canvey that was used on the back of this book

Some of the quaint bungalows. Buccleuch Lodge, Leigh Beck c1905

Comments about this page

  • Good Heavens. That last image is of the salubrious privy of the house with the salubrious privy. The Mulleys’ ‘Buccleuch’ bungalow with members of the family. Can they be enlarged? I am sure Barbara Pearce would be able to give names to the people. See the story elsewhere on this website: ‘Paul Smyth (1883-1963) An artist’s view of Canvey’.

    By Robert Hallmann (23/03/2009)
  • Robert in Fred McCave’s book the picture is very poor but his captions says ‘Buccleuch Lodge, Leigh Beck c1905, Marla, Arly, Duport, Vickers, Hopkinson & Tubby Leslie Bugler are the boys in the picture.’

    It is definately the same picture but there is far more on the left of the picture. But as I said the picture in Fred’s book is almost impossible to see.

    I can send you a copy of the one from this book. I took a large scan if you want it.

    The Paul Smyth page can be seen here

    By Janet Penn (23/03/2009)
  • Yes, please. Thanks, Robert

    By Robert Hallmann (23/03/2009)
  • I am half way through this book. I have the original copy that has the Leigh Beck Photo covering the front and back. A fascinating picture showing the Refreshments hut on the left of the road – this building still stands and is a bungalow. On the right you can see ‘The Barn’ which was a shop / cafe and to its right Leigh Beck farm. The picture would have been taken from near where the Transport Museum stands today.

    By David Bullock (25/03/2009)

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