A Shopping Basket Full of Memories. Pt 5 (Full-up)

Gafzelle Drive to Gainsborough Ave

Kismet Cottage and the garages are seen on the left possibly at the time of the photo still being used for their original purpose.

Really to complete this tour along the High St just 3 buildings remain. At the top of Gafzelle Drive (W. side a line of ramshackle buildings ran down from the High St, they were erected as far back as 1910 as garages for the cars of the wealthy Levi family who owned ‘Kismet’ a villa at the sea-front end of Weel Rd (now Kismet Park). This was obviously the best access to the London Rd/HighSt/Benfleet Approach (take your pick) and part of the same development would be the well constructed, brick-built chauffer’s accomodation ‘Kismet Cottage.’

The garages, top of of Gafzelle Dve c 1977.

I don’t know when the Stevens family acquired this site, I only know my Grandad owned it when we were children. The garages were used by many small firms over the years. In the 50s, my Uncle Ray started his car repairs there, then it was Todds’ the sign-writers, Billy Wells had a stint there, with boys chopping kindling firewood and paraffin deliveries, Tony Frost was in charge. Brian Cripps had one for car repairs and finally there was a firm of carpenters and staircase makers (name eludes me) who became part of the Halcon Organisation and moved to Charfleets. One of these garages was the final resting place on Canvey of Gpa Stevens well-known old Wolseley car. When we moved to Gafzelle Dve in 1947, Kismet Cottage was the home of the Wright family, Billy, Bert, May-may and Tom-Tom were all childhood playmates. When the Wrights moved to North Ave, my Uncle Ray, who then owned the property, refurbished it and lived there with his family for a short time before buying Marine Garage and moving to Leigh Rd.

Now they’ve gone! A young Mark Stacey looks in amazement at the garages swift disappearance.

The last occupants of Kismet Cottage (from the late 50s to 1970) were my Dad’s cousin, Ethel Hall, her husband Eddy (pastrycook at the bakery) and their children, Sheila, Robert and Eileen. Next -door to Kismet Cottage, was ‘Churchside’, a small wooden bungalow, which was probaby purchased by my Great-grandmother Sarah Stevens prior to 1910, for the purpose of holiday lets. In the 50s this was Mrs Mulley’s bungalow mentioned in Robert Hallman’s piece about the artist Paul Smyth. It was from the corner of ‘Churchside’s’ garden that Paul Smyth painted the water-colour which is the icon for this whole series, so really we’re back where we started. All of this site was re- developed as houses in the 1970s by my Uncle Ray Stevens.


Comments about this page

  • What memories have come flooding back! I grew up at 4 Gainsborough Ave from the time it was built and well remember my Mum nipping to the Steven’s bakers early in the morning before breakfast. She had to go to the side window I think. The are was still quite unspoilt in 1965. What happened to the old Nurses home across the road ?

    By Heather Turnbull (nee Martin) (18/08/2011)
  • Hi, my parents brought our family to Bardenville Rd in 1968, (I was 7.) I seem to have a vague memory of a general store called I think Hopkins Stores. Does anyone remember this or is my memory playing tricks on me? It was situated on the west side of Station Rd. I remember having to negotiate a couple of rickety wooden steps to enter the shop when running errands for my mum and our neighbours. Then between Station Rd and Seaview Rd was a newsagents out of which I did a morning paper round in 1975/6 before it relocated to the other side of Seaview where the current shop is. If anyone could shed any light on my memories, it would be much appreciated.

    By Mark DeBond (28/11/2020)
  • Hi Mark,
    If you go to Pt 3 of Shopping Basket you can see as many photos of the area you are referring to as I could gather together. Also they probably are from the time of your memories. The whole series covers the area you would remember when living in Bardenville. I put this on the site such a long time ago but it is nice to see that it’s still of interest. G.

    By Graham (28/11/2020)
  • Yes you are right Mr and Mrs Hopkins and there son Barry had it for a while before moving to Sandon Essex.

    By .Tony Frost (28/11/2020)
  • Thank you Tony for confirming. Was sure my memory wasn’t playing tricks on me.
    Absolutely fascinating trip down memory lane, thanks Graham too.

    By Mark DeBond (28/11/2020)
  • I just heard Terry Cotgrove has just past away he and hes mum and dad lived in Gafzelle Drive next to the Frost family my old school mate, r.i.p. Terry.

    By COOK BEN. (02/12/2021)
  • RIP Terry Cotgrove. Remember him first walking past our house at the top of Gafselle, the elegant Teddy Boy in a powder blue suit and amazing coiffed D A blonde hairstyle. Much later early 2000s we crossed paths in Tenerife where we both had timeshares. Graham.

    By Graham (02/12/2021)
  • Before moving to Urmond Rd from London, my Mother used to take me with her house hunting on the island.This must have been around 1958/9.We used to come here for our summer holiday and Mum fell in love with Canvey. My question is does anybody remember a tearoom/restaurant just past Maurice Rd called Nobbies of woodville I think it had a wriggly tin roof.

    By Spud Edwards (26/02/2022)
  • Yes i remember it was on corner of Woodville rd and high st.On opposite corner was The Travellers Rest Cafe and opposite on corner of Taranto Rd was the Road House Cafe, so 3 on top of one and other.

    By TONY FROST. (26/02/2022)

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