Canvey As I Remember It
Episode one of many
Sitting out here in Australia in my Seventy fourth year with the temperature on 38 degrees Centigrade and a cold Tooheys in my hand my mind went back to the wonderful memories of my teenage years on Canvey Island, so I decided to put pen to paper and take a happy trip down memory lane which your readers might like to share with me. As it is a rather long trip I am spreading it over a number of episodes I hope a lot of members of my blog site are senior citizens as they will remember the 50s and sixties and there are quite a lot of people on the Island who were in their teens in the fifties.
My first memories of Canvey Island when I moved from London with my family just after the war were the wide open country spaces and the unmade roads. My parents had rented a small bungalow at the very end of Beach Road which in the winter became a quagmire and impassable, luckily we had a back path which led up to the High Street, but these conditions were nothing to the pleasures that Canvey gave to a Londoner used to congested streets and little freedom. This back path went past a row of shops that included the “Toothman” who made false teeth, Selby’s the barber, a gun shop, a shop used for storage (Just found out it was owned by Ken Macquarie) one used by Mr. Bishop as storage and a few other shops that I cannot recall, the path ended in the High Street by Tremains the newsagent and just past Tremains was Bishops the greengrocers and then Attewells the butchers where my brother Roy had a part time job delivering the orders (this was whilst he went to school and before he joined the Royal Navy as a Boy seaman). Our next door neighbors were a Mr. and Mrs. Watts (who was instrumental in getting me a job with the Regent Oil Co.) and next to him lived Jack Surrage and his family. Mr. & Mrs. Watts lived in a bungalow that was at one time a school.
The bungalow that my father rented was a small two bedroom fibro one and, having sisters, my brother and I slept in a shed in the garden (this may sound rough but the extra freedom it gave us outweighed the discomfort). This shed was provided by the Coastguard Department (unbeknownst to them). During the war they had built a two storey observation post on a field at the sea wall end of Weel Road (in what is now called Kismet Park I believe) which was left empty when the war ended, so every night my brother and I stripped a couple of planks from it and with our father walking on the other side of the road took them home. End result one shed in our garden and just a 4 x 2 frame at the seafront. I suppose he thought it was better for us to get caught than himself (only joking)
Our bed in the shed was covered with numerous greatcoats (all obtained from the Sally Army) so we were very warm in the winter, plus the fact that our mum used to put a couple of house bricks in the oven and when it was time to go to bed the bricks were rapped up in an old pillowcase and into the bed. By sleeping out in the shed we had the opportunity to sneak out and go exploring (only God help us if our father had found out). That was fantastic as my brother was 12 and I was 14
More to come