My memories of Canvey Island 1920's-1930's

Written by Peg Kitchener

Peg Kitchener lives in Cambridgeshire, as a young girl she used to spend a great deal of time with her Grandmother on the Island. Here are some of her memories of that time, we believe the photo we have included is the one Peg is writing about.

I was shown the cover of a booklet taken from the internet which was the same as the booklet I bought in May 1946 – except mine was a pale apple green colour and priced 6p. In it was a photograph of my step-grandad, Nathaniel Channel (Nat) in the little rowing boat ‘little Peggy’ on Smallgains Creek with the old ship ‘Annie Jones’ berthed in the mudbank behind.

‘Little Peggy’ on Smallgains Creek

He was married to my gran – Carrie (Caroline Channel) of ‘Ye Captain’s Mess’, Leigh Beck.  Married three times – Gran had three daughters from her first marriage, Bessie, Amy and Charlotte (Lotty), my mother and Dorothy, Colin and Eva Butcher from her 2nd marriage.  Eva married Jack Nicholls – somehow connected to the Islands buses. Roy Brown – Dolly’s son lived with Gran. He went to Dunkirk with the little ships – although under age – and died later in the Navy during the war.

‘Captain’s Mess’ was a two roomed bungalow – living room and bedroom. Out back was a pantechnicon, in which slept granddad, Colin and Roy – a privy and a long shed containing all the supplies.  Tea, sugar, tins of Libby’s evaporated milk etc. delivered fortnightly or monthly as needed from Lewis – grocery stores, Gasgoine Road, Barking. All the cooking was done in the front of the shed on primus stoves or outside weather permitting. Those were the days – shops gave us Xmas gifts! Paths from the bungalow to the pentechnion, privy and shed were made from empty milk cans sunk into the ground.

Across the road was ‘Grekis’, Temptin Avenue, there lived the ‘Monkey Lady’ – she kept at least six monkeys around, all running free – I played with them many times.

After the war, Aunt Doll and Uncle Arthur Brown bought ‘Grekis’ and lived there with their sons Harold and Clifford.  I believe they adopted two girls.  Harold was killed in a motorbike accident.

I remember using the stepping stones and the pony trap at Benfleet and the opening of the Casino.

Comments about this page

  • How well I remember old Mr Channel and the Brown family. The Captains Mess was in Gifhorn Road and on the corner of Lime (now Limetree) Road. My grandfather, James (Jack) Banaghen, lived there with Mr Channel in the earlys 1950s and was there during the Floods. My grandfather refused to leave the house and I think it took all the persuasion of the local catholic priest, Father Manning, to move him. He was transferred to Nazareth House, London Road, Westcliff, where he died a couple of weeks later.

    Mr & Mrs Brown lived opposite Mr Channel and only by reading Mrs Kichener’s story did I realise that the front of the house was in Temptin Avenue. I always assumed it fronted Gifhorn. I remember Clifford well. He was a little ‘eccentric’ and I remember him running up and down the road holding a teatowel above his head. I often played with Jacqueline, who I think was the older of the two girls. Happy days!

    By Maureen Buckmaster (04/02/2009)
  • My Great Grandparents are Nellie and Abraham Lewis who owned Lewis Grocers mentioned in this story.   The family now lives far and wide with the majority of their descendants in Australia.  This is a wonderful story!

    By Cathy Cope (22/02/2015)

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