A Visit to Canvey-on-Sea
Essex Newsman Sat 05 Apr 1902
There is no waste here. The tree roots are fantastically arranged and built up, with statues and statuettes standing on the top. All the available space at the back is utilised for seedlings; Dutch bulbs are in bloom, fruit trees are growing nicely, fixed to wires to keep them in shape; and accomplished gardeners are busy at work. One of the latter my brother recognised as an old Epping Forest gardener, from Buckhurst Hill.
Amusements in the shape of Edison’s phonograph, and other phones and graphs, and music are provided free. There are also a grocer’s shop, a sweetmeat stall, some beautiful pea fowl to look at; and Mr. Hester, jun., kindly gave us refreshments before we left. Already this winter garden is attractive. A tram rail is laid through the centre of the garden, and they tell me that a steamboat is to call at Canvey from London, and that these covered-in gardens are to be extended to many miles, so that passengers will ride from the steamboats into the Winter Gardens, all the way under cover from the rain on a wet day.
Hot water pipes are being laid on. How comfortable all this will be on a wet, cold day, and what a feast for the eyes, nose, ears, and mouth! When you are tired, there are lounges and ante rooms where you can rest after such a feast of the senses.
We came across a Dutch house nearly 300 years old, walked down to the beach, and saw the wreck of a China steamer off the island with a coastguard on duty, in a sort of sentry box telescope in hand. The beach here is said to be superior to that at Southend. Boating, fishing, and shooting are to be had, and it is said they are going to have gondolas, in the Venetian style, near the Winter Gardens. There are hundreds of marine bungalows built and in hand. A tramway to connect to various estates is in course of construction.
The Central Park Estate is within 15 minutes walk of Benfleet railway station, and within five minutes of the old Dutch village of Canvey. We walked over the creek in the morning as the tide was out, but on retracing our steps found a boatman in readiness, rowing us over in a few minutes for a penny. We caught the 2.40 p.m. train to Pitsea, having thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, notwithstanding a heavy shower of rain. One can reckon he is in Holland when on the island, as everything bears a Dutch name. If a man wants a thorough change he can get it in a short time, and fancy he is in a foreign country.”