Canvey Lads I knew

Late 50s & Early 60s

Some of the lads I knew, Rod Bishop, Chas Hall, superb jazz pianist and owner of a SS Jaguar which broke down fairly regularly when the flywheel worked loose, I always carried a large adjustable spanner to tighten it up.

My 1953 Ford V8 Pilot

Benny Rushforth, I used to drive his Dormorbile to take the rock band Red Diamond and their equipment to gigs, I was the Chauffer because I didn’t drink, they played at the Casino most Saturdays, another popular venue was the Salvation Army Hall at Hadleigh which always ended in a free for all often with the bands instruments being damaged, Les Woods always picked up a chair to protect his drum kit.

At  time I had a Ford V8  Pilot, the fights always spilled out into the car park I always stood in front of my car with a baseball bat (of course not allowed) my car was never damaged. Canvey boys always had trouble with Hadleigh and Leigh boys, when I changed my car to a Mk 7 Jaguar I used Benny’s Dormobile to take the band.

Mk 7 Jaguar, Rod will recognise this one

Allan Whitley the ladies man always having parties at his large house. Mick Dowden he had a very nice Wolseley, Brian Marsom, always playing practical jokes on us until Chas and I pushed his soft top Sunbeam Alpine into the Labworth field lifted the back up and put it on bricks and took the wheels off. then emptied two dustbins inside.

Cris Harris the happy drunk who later became a professional wrestler, all the members of the Red Diamonds, Dave (Gilly) Rodman the band rehearsed at his house once a week.

Tony Buckmaster, Roy Hepworth & Brian Gale OK on their own, different story when together and had a drink.

We spent a lot evenings in the Commodore Café, top of Seaview Road, where I first met my wife. Something which stands out is of all those lads I knew then and still in contact with are still married to their original partners…

Does anyone remember the tall slim PC on his bike, he was always stopping me for some unknown reason, walking round the car twice looking for something wrong with note book in hand, when I changed my Ford V8 Pilot for a Mk & Jaguar he stopped me on the sea front the conversation went like this; ‘Is this your car Son’ reply, First of all I’m not your Son, no its not my car, ‘What are you doing driving it  then’ reply, I’m allowed to drive it, ’Who does it belong to then’  reply, a finance company I might own the hub caps, he jumped on his bike in a temper and fell off, of course I didn’t laugh? I got fed up with being stopped so I went to the police station with all my documents,

I knew the Sergeant, cannot remember his name he was a decent bloke, and complained about the PC on the bike, never got stopped again.

I still see some of the lads, Rod lives just up the road, Chas & Jackie came to visit us last year, the first time I had not seen them for over 30 years  they haven’t changed much.

I see Brian Gale occasionally. And I know Benny moved to Australia.

I often wonder how many of us are left, I was the oldest as I had already served Queen & Country.

We had some really great times together, not to mention the Girls.

Comments about this page

  • Hi Mike, Yes! I remember the car, how could I forget, it was the envy of us all. Your V8 Pilot was a great car too. Mick Dowden also had a Green Jag, but it never came up to the same standard as yours. I will never forget the great nights spent at the Casino Ballroom with the Red Diamonds. One of my favourite numbers was a drum solo by Les Woods. I can remember “Rubber Legs” Benny Rushforth, who regulary jived with Janet Watts who also had “Rubber Legs” with her flared skirts and loads of net petticoats. Oh, those parties at Allan Whitley’s!! Allan now lives in Scotland. You also mentioned Brian Marsom, but unfortunately he is no longer with us having recently passed away. I believe Chas Hall is still playing with a jazz band and is now writing books, as I found out when I was in contact with him last year. I purchased a copy of his “Bad Faces” and not normally being a reader of novels, I literally could not put it down, finishing it in two days. Well worth a read. I remember the P.C. you mentioned, but like you cannot bring his name to mind. You mentioned Chris Harris, well Aileen still compares me to him when I hoist a jacket over my shoulders, like Chris did, saying ” You look just like Chrissie Harris” as he was always doing that !! Such great times to reflect upon.

    By Rod Bishop (26/01/2013)
  • Hi Rod, I must admit I do not remember Mick Dowden’s Jag I only remember the Wolseley mainly because he asked me to show him how to do a handbrake turn In the snow, he lost control and hit the kerb very hard near Small Gains corner and bent both near side stub axles, he was very upset as he thought the world of his car. Sorry to hear the passing of Brian Marsom. Do you remember the Chas Hall jazz rendition of Greensleeves. Come to think of it Aileen is right, you do resemble Chrissie Harris, same build but not the same habits or temperament. As you say Rod, great times to reflect on.

    By Mike Brown (27/01/2013)
  • I was there in 1960..I remember Rodney Gardiner and his sister Gail who lived in Lottem Road. Paul someone who’s dad owned an electrical shop..think it was Betts .and his mate Les, Tony Zapp , a chap who worked on the dodgems at The Casino nicknamed Oxo….a lot we only knew by their christian names…

    By Sandra Springall (11/02/2015)
  • Hi, Chris Harris was my cousin. I believe the Sargeant could have been Bill Mead or possibly Mr Foreman, who ended up as a Funeral Director for Stibbards.

    By Paul Hayes (28/05/2020)
  • “Oxo” on the Dodgem is Norman Woods; Peter Woods brother.

    By Steve Licence (05/10/2020)
  • I wonder if you remember Brian Acraman

    By melissa acraman (16/10/2020)
  • My Brother is Dave(Gilly)Rodman. I remember all the practices at my house, I was about 11 years old and was always in awe of the group. Dave emigrated to Australia in 1972. He still plays his guitar and his children are musical as well. The poor old boy is 81 now and not in great health

    By Maureen Hart (19/04/2021)
  • Sandra Springall Mentioned she knew Rodney Gardiner, He was a good friend of my brother Graham Brown, they were in the ATC together. I wondered if she remembered Graham.

    By Stephen Brown (25/11/2021)
  • Wow by chance I’ve come across this what a great story and I’m able to hear about the young years of Mr Brian gale I met him in eastbourne as job he and Ron Stacey’s brother (Pete?) had a building contract on the other Kings Holiday Park in eastbourne one of their labourers mick Lane I. Later married and Buckmaster came to it. This was in 1966, so Brian (gabby as he was also called was older he I must say was a gent, I later met his lovely wife two children John and Sarah yes I liked Gabby very much, Dave not as popular. Buck fun but goes over top a bit so lovely to hear about them now, I’m divorced unlike the guys, anyway so I have lost touch of all, I wasnt from canvey mick was. The date of this chat is 9 years ago. Love your story though wild then quite tame by today’s standard (that’s putting it mildly) it’s made my day a really lovely trip down memory Road, I hope your able to get in touch 😊happy new year all 2022 loved visiting canvey, I lived at rayleigh a while before I met the lads . If any one gets to read this from. Canvey I’d love some news, also about the wroes Ann wroe, jacku wroe, Carol, mick, John sadly died. I’d love to hear news of any, stay safe people.

    By Lindsay (01/01/2022)
  • Oh, those were the days. I remember that policeman aforementiond alright. During 1957, ending in December, a learner driver could drive around unaccompanied. I extended this into January 1958 and was followed home by the policeman with; ‘Passed your test then?’ Looking a bit sheepish, I shook my head and replied, ‘It’s due in two weeks time.’
    In Southend court was fined £5 however, I passed at the end of January, and always felt compelled to give a friendly wave when passing that ‘jobsworth copper.’
    I still write books as well as playing rock a boogie piano. ‘The Stealers’ features a chapter set on Canvey Island.
    Chas Hall ex ‘Red Diamonds’

    By Chas Hall (23/01/2022)
  • My brother Dave Rodman (known as Gilly) member of the Red Diamonds has sadly passed away in Australia on the 17th December 2023
    He was 85 years old and until fairly recently was still playing his beloved guitar

    By Maureen Hart (31/12/2023)
  • Hi Maureen,
    Sad to hear of the passing of Gilly. The Red Diamonds are well remembered by those who used to go to to the dances at the Casino in the late 50s/ early60s. They were the main Canvey band !!. I recall you mentioned to me once that my younger brother Chris used to stand outside your house on the corner of Seaview and South Parade listening to the band practicing.Obviously a big influence on him as he became a local drummer , singer and all round entertainer ( aka Chris Stevens the Entertainer, Mr Wiz magician, childrens’ party entertainer and most importantly owner of a very influential music shop in Southend in the 60s& 70s).
    I will make sure that he gets this news !

    By Graham Stevens (31/12/2023)
  • Hi Graham
    Yes please tell Chris the sad news
    I do often wonder why Chris was not invited in
    Hope he is doing okay
    We are all getting older but have great memories of how Canvey used to be in the .good old days

    By Maureen Hart (01/01/2024)

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