Coryton Refinery in 1953

A 40th anniversary

1953 was a memorable year in positive and negative ways.

coryton celebration.
Courtesy of Castlepoint Transport Museum

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  • My dad worked for Mobil in 1950’s. We lived in Coryton. On the night of the 31st January 1953 there was a party at the Manor House in Coryton, it was to celebrate the new oil refinery. I have always been under the impression that it was to celebrate the first time it produced petrol, I maybe wrong, I was only 5 at the time. Anyway, when the party finished there were some food left over and as my mum had 4 children she was given some to take home. When she got home she put the food on top of a cupboard in the hall. As you may well know the night of 31st January 1953 Coryton was flooded as the sea walls gave way. It took, I think 2 days to rescue us and the only food we had to eat was that food left over from the party. I can still see in my minds eye a Mobil petrol tanker trying to rescue us the day after the floods. We got out on a rowing boat.   my memory is hazy, but there used to be two red coaches that were used to take people to and from Corringham and Stanford le Hope. The larger of the two we nicknamed father Christmas.

    There was a railway in the refinery and we used to get rides on the engine. 

    One other story about Coryton, involves my two elder brothers and some of their mates. They broke into the Charrington (I think that was what it was called) depot and stole all the keys for the petrol tankers. If my memory is correct several boys were taken to court in Grays. I don’t know what the outcome of the court case was, but there were some very unhappy parents in Coryton after it. As for the refinery, I can recall what seems dozens of coaches arriving and leaving. We use to go out to a bend in the Manor way to watch them. I must admit we use to toss a few stones at them when they went by. I would guess that the coaches were transport for the people who were building the refinery. I would not be surprised if the workers were housed in one of the old army camps that were in that part of Essex. A year or so after the flood there was a massive explosion as 7 (think) storage tanks blew up. After that my parents decided to move out of Coryton to Basildon. The road in Coryton we lived in was called Freemans Avenue or at least I think that was the name. My dad worked at the refinery from the early 50’s to the early 70’s . I have some very fond memories of the times I lived in Coryton.  I hope this is of some interest to whoever reads it.  

    Phil Walpole, the only member of a family of 6 who never worked for Mobil oil Co. But, who spent part of his childhood trying to  get into and out of the Coryton refinery as it was my playground.


    By Phil Walpole (27/01/2016)
  • Hi, my mum remembers the explosions As a young girl, they lived in Stanford le hope in prospect ave. my grandad drove tankers for Stevinson & Hardy co Ltd fuel oil in the 1950’s .I have some great photos of some of his adventures not all good ones , as a point of interest I will try to email some to the website if that’s okay with the editor .
    Many thanks Martin.

    By Martin (17/05/2021)
  • Hi, it’s Martin , I sent some pictures ,I hope you got them ok, taken 17.01.53 when the road collapsed not sure of the last one.

    By Martin (17/05/2021)

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