Gleanings from old Essex Countryside magazines.

Courtesy of Essex Countryside January 1969.

Tilikum at Canvey Island in 1911

Canvey Memories

The letter and photograph of Canvey in your November issue sent by Mrs C. Fildes brought back many memories of my days at Canvey, where we had a weekend bungalow next to The Chalet, mentioned by Mrs Fildes.

The building shown in the photograph was named Marlborough House and was a kind of hotel and shop, but I do not remember the nick-name Rat-run.

On the beach side of the sea wall we used to gather what was locally called sea spinach, very similar to the garden variety and said to have considerable medicinal value.

In the early days of the island’s development one had to be ferried across Benfleet creek in a rowing boat by a Mr Wright. At low water the crossing was made over stepping stones.

Transport had to be arranged prior to a visit, and this was by a horse drawn wagonette provided by the proprietor of the Red Cow in Canvey village. For a short time a monorail car, on which I rode many times, ran from the Winter Gardens to Leigh Beck. The driver of this strange transport was dressed in the national costume of Holland and looked very picturesque. One horse provided the motive power and was harnessed alongside the open car, thus balancing the car on a single rail. The car carried about twelve people.

About the year 1916 I owned the hull of the famous old boat ‘Tilikum’ in which Captain Voss sailed round the world single-handed. She was thirty-seven feet long, with a very narrow beam of six feet, and was carved out of a single log in Australia. I had her moored in Oyster Creek. ‘Tilikum’ is now in a museum in California.

My recent letter to readers’ forum produced a letter from Mrs Fildes, whose family I had lost touch with for about fifty-five years.

This is my second contact via readers’ forum, which is a feature of your splendid magazine that I very much enjoy.

L.F. Bentley         Hadstock, Cambridge

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Essex Countryside,  April 1969

I was very interested in the letter published in your January issue referring to ‘Canvey Memories’, in particular the reference to the famous old boat ‘Tilikum’ in which Captain Voss sailed round the world.

My uncles, Messrs. A.W. and E. Byford, owned the ‘Tilikum’ for a number of years, and I have a photograph of her at Canvey. I have been told that they presented ‘Tilikum’ to Vancouver, British Columbia. She used to stand outside the town hall, but recently has been moved indoors to preserve her. Vancouver was chosen because this was where Captain Voss bought her. In the book ‘The Voyages of Captain Voss’ it is explained that the boat was originally an Indian dug-out canoe, the word ‘tilikum’ being the Indian for friend.

(Miss) J.M. Byford.   Westcliff-on-Sea.

Comments about this page

  • Very shortly Rod Bishop and myself will start planning our latest talk and the story of the Tilikum will be one of the main subjects! 👍 Graham.

    By Graham Stevens (20/03/2024)

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