My Early Memories of Canvey

Steve’s Store, Maurice Rd

I grew up initially at “Monawa” my Grandparents home in Maurice Road and later my family lived at “Inanda” also in Maurice Road. Whilst living there, I met my two life-long friends – Brian Staines, whose parents owned the shop “Steve Stores” which was on the double bend in Maurice Road, and Kenny Bassett.

At the top of Maurice Road was “The Clock House” run by a woman named Ruth and next door was “Swayne Lodge” where Bill Johnson the builder lived. Further along there was a small shop run by a disabled man named Mr. Eames. Next to it was a fish shop run by a father and son, and across the road was “Hooton Stores” owned and run by Mrs. Hall, mother of Rodney Hall the local entrepreneur, which sold everything from candles to paraffin and you could charge your accumulator batteries for your radio here. Outside the shop were two petrol pumps, which had to be turned with a handle to pump fuel into your car, the garage part being run by Jock Hendry.

On the corner of Maurice Road stood a huge metal bin, which was the community rubbish bin, which was collected and emptied by a Canvey character named Arthur Reed, on a green cart pulled by a huge white horse.

Nearby, there was a concrete path which led to a parade of shops which resembled a setting for a Western film. Mr. Selby had one of these shops which was a hairdressers. At the top of the path, Mr. Tremain had a sweet shop and I can remember having to have coupons to get any sweets.  This shop was later managed by a gentleman named Riodene who had four sons. The youngest, Colin, unfortunately was killed by a concrete pipe.

Express Laundry

Next to the Sweet Shop was my Grandparents’ Greengrocers and next to them was Green Stores. Across the Road was The Clock House, selling all kinds of fancy goods and next to this was The Express Laundry run by The Byron family, the laundry being collected and delivered by pony and trap.

Back across the road to the right side of Green Stores was a haberdashery run by a lady called Miss Albut and next door to her was Atwells The Butchers. Further along towards the corner was The Canvey Club, and opposite was a Tudor building which was Williams The Estate Agents. Next to this was The Corner Club, which I remember going into when it was a Soup Kitchen during The War. Behind these buildings was a small boy’s Heaven, where we used to play cowboys and make camps all day long. There was a huge Essex Barn in front of which stood a long building which was Prouts the canoe and dinghy makers, who went on to make the World famous Catamarans. Running alongside this building were old stables in which Bobby Rook made all kinds of oars.

Continuing round the corner on the left, was another Club and next to that was Canvey’s first Cinema run by a gentleman called Mr. Pettit. The building later became Dudley’s Machinists. Mr Pettit also had a mobile cinema called “Pettit’s Popular Pictures.”

Jolly Boys Cafe

Further along was the Jolly Boys Café, run by a little crippled man affectionately called Tiny Tim. Across the Road was Green Glades, which had a long corrugated building. Here, my Father belonged to a group called The Creaksea Boys, who used to wear striped blazers and straw boaters.

Moving on, was Smith’s Garage, then Holmes Bros’ Ironmongers Store. Next to them was The Cosy Café and moving along, was Picketts’ Bike Shop, then Chambers Dairy at the junction of High Street and Chamberlain Avenue. On the Adjacent corner here, was Miss Sartin’s Shop. She was lovely lady who sold clothing etc. and directly opposite her was my Uncle Bill’s Shop – Bishop’s Greengrocers. Next door was Eastons The Printers and Post Office, then The Estuary Store selling groceries.

UPDATE photo mentioned below added

Photograph believed to be taken on trip to Kenley for Aircrew Selection Board. L-R Back row. (First six unknown squadron,) ATC Fit Sergeant Chris Partridge, ATC Sergeant Ken Bassett, ATC Cadets David Clayton, Peter (Willie) Williams, ?, David Reeve, Bob White. Front Row, Pilot Officer Ivan Woulds (Flew Meteors), Unknown Officer, Warrant Officer

Comments about this page

  • Hi Tony, Good to hear your memories. Less than half an hour I bumped into Dave Clayton and we were talking about you and Kenny Bassett, Chris Partridge and other A.T.C mates of his. What a coincidence! Dave said you were his staff-sergeant and the smartest turned- out of the lot. I never knew about Colin Riordean, he was in my class at Leigh Beck. See you around, Graham.

    By Graham Stevens (13/11/2012)
  • If this is the same Tony Matthews who was part of my introduction to Canvey through the ATC along with Ken Bassett .Chris Partridge Brian Edgington and David Harmes. The one in charge Flt/Lt. “Streaky” Wilkins. Great times but disciplined.

    By snowdrop (13/11/2012)
  • When working for G Prout & Sons at Small Gains corner use to visit The Cosy Cafe for lunch. Remember Hootons store, later worked for Rodney Hall at Halcons { HAL l CONstruction }, see Canvey Island companies.

    By Ian Hawks (14/11/2012)
  • Yes I am that Tony Matthews, who is snowdrop,ex RAF police?

    By Tony Matthews (14/11/2012)
  • Jock Hendrey later had one of the barns next to Prout’s, as a car repair workshop.The main Prout workshop was the old Canvey bus garage,

    By Ian Hawks (14/11/2012)
  • Hello Tony I remember those names from my time in the A.T.C where I had a great time. There was a time when our armoury was broken in to and several rifles were stolen. At the time there was a rumour that they had been taken by the i.r.a but the police said that was a stupid idea because they hadn’t been in existence since the 1920s. This was about 1958-1960. Others I remember were corporal Dave Greenwood. Flight sergeants Dave Clayton. Chris Partridge and his younger brother. and Seamus Mc Dermott. Also a chap called ?Nugent. Our C.O. was Flt Woulds. Second in command was Pilot Officer Groves And civilian instructor Mr Owens Regards. Sparrow

    By Robin Howie (14/11/2012)
  • Hi there. Yes I was a snowdrop but I was on the dog section so we had brains as well. Some of the memories that come flooding back when reading this page.Robin Howie I remember meeting you a few years ago but lost your contact details. When we went to play the Sea Rangers at table tennis at Leigh Beck, we were not allowed there on our own (??). marching all the way to Leigh Beck with .303 rifles Before they were de-activated to play ” war games “. Have talked to Graham Stevens about my time in the ATC and now think it would be a good idea to include everyone else. Yes or No ?

    By David Clayton (14/11/2012)
  • Tony, After re-reading your letter I realised I used to shoot at Canvey Island Rifle Club with Bill Bishop,Len Knapp the milkman, Jack Chapman, who used to run the Village Post Office (and also a one time chairman of the ATC) Jack Chapman started me into target shooting through the ATC at the range behind the Anchor pub in Benfleet in 1955. Although the Benfleet range has long gone the club is still going but we now shoot in Westcliff and still every Tuesday. When we used to go shooting at Benfleet as cadets the new cadets initiation was to walk through St.Mary’s churchyard on their own or they were told they could not shoot.I don’t think anyone was ever put off.

    By David Clayton (14/11/2012)
  • Hi David, If you look in Workplaces & Clubs you will find some pictures of the Canvey Rifle Club. Bill Bishop was my father.

    By Rod Bishop (14/11/2012)
  • Remembering my time at those ranges in Benfleet,on instruction from W/O Frank Munday, enabling me RAF Marksman,and wearing crossed rifles on my sleeve.

    By Tony Matthews (15/11/2012)
  • Hi David Just got a photo from Ken Bassett, taken at RAF kENLY, In front of an Anson, Chris Partridge Ken yourself Peter Williams —- David Reeves finally Bob White.

    By Tony Matthews (20/11/2012)
  • Hi Tony Any chance of uploading the pic? Regards

    By Robin Howie (21/11/2012)
  • The photo has been added

    By Janet Penn (24/11/2012)
  • Just seen the Anson photograph.According to my old logbook this was taken on the 20/8/1956 at RAF Kenley annual camp and this was the repaired PH774 that we all refused to go up in. Because of that while at that camp we were given TWO flights, one of 1.10 and the other of 1.15. 1st left-unknown 2nd left Ian McCarthy(deceased) 3rd left Alan Whitley,4& 5 unknown 6th Peter Hollington(?).”nd from rightDerek Reeve(australia).Front row right W/O Kent (used to live in the then unmade Thelma Avenue)

    By Dave Clayton (25/11/2012)
  • Just realised I have made a mistake when I added some names to the Anson photograph.Second from the right is CLIFF Reeve (who emigrated) not Derek.Derek,I believe finished as an Inspector on the Eastern National buses

    By David Clayton (27/11/2012)
  • Hi Tony. My sister, Patricia Thorpe, had her wedding reception at the Canvey Club , at the end of the war. You used to get to it by walking across the dyke. I think it burned down. When I’ve mentioned it to people they say I must mean the current Canvey Club or the Corner Club. You’re the only person, so far, who remembers it.

    By Maureen Buckmaster (28/11/2012)
  • Hi Maureen The Club had two Bridges over it, we made camps under them as Kids. Rosa and Frank Keegan performed at parties, I remember her Balloon Dances well. I dont know if I am correct, but thought the Hoad family lived there at the back.My Wife Joy nee Lynch, used to sit on the top.of the Piano while her Mum played it.

    By Tony Matthews (29/11/2012)
  • Not sure about the Hoads. The grandparents lived down Woodville or Wylrich but I can remember Bert & May living near the junction of Yamburg and Westerland. What ever happened to the Miles family? Mrs Miles ran the Corner Club and there were two children, Peter and Susan. They lived down the little turning opposite the old Canvey Club,’through the trees’ as it was known. I remember Joy’s mum very well. I think she was friends with Kit Hunt.

    By Maureen Buckmaster (29/11/2012)
  • Hello Tony, Just a brief note regarding your recent letter “Memories of early Canvey” posted on the Canvey Island web site. I read it with much interest as it reminded me of the holidays our family spent on the Island in the 30s,40s and 50s. I think it was Maurice road where we stayed in a place owned by Mrs Bishop. I’m Fred eldest son of Frederick Matthews one of your Dad’s brothers. I particularly remember the mobile fruit and veg shop and your uncle Bill’s place. My younger brothers Doug, Ray and Rod used to enjoy cockling down in the mud but my syster Vivienne was not so keen. One of the photographs I have of those days shows your Dad, My Mum and three of my syblings in front of the mobile shop. other pictures (snaps), that appear to have been taken on the Island in the 30s, are of our fathers with their brothers,sisters and wives, a couple of which include your Mum. I expect you already have copies of these, if not you are welcome to the scans. Seasons Greatings to you and yours, not forgetting Valerie Frederick Matthews

    By Frederick Matthews (16/12/2012)
  • HI Fred, So very pleased you have contacted me, I will always remember your Dad taking me round to a OFF Licence, at the time of Nan & G/Dads Golden Anniversary,and him in RAF uniform. You were right about Mrs Bishop,my G/Mother, her house was called Monawa. The last time I saw you all,was when we called on you one Sunday in 95. Seasons Greetings to you all, we will have to meet up .

    By Tony Matthews (19/12/2012)
  • Hi David Have just got an up date from Kenny Bassett, about the dates concerning the Anson, which seem to differ in dates from yours, i would be prepared to let you have them, either by post, or by calling round. 693936.

    By Tony Matthews (15/02/2013)
  • I have just seen the Anson photo. Lad described as Derek Reeve isn’t me but my brother Cliff. The only name I remember is Dave Clayton from the ATC but didn’t recognise him from the photo. Cliff is still in Australia with his wife Maureen. Myself, I’m with my wife of 48 years and living in Benfleet, retired since 2006. Our little sister Beverley lives in Kent with her husband.

    By Derek Reeve (18/02/2013)
  • My grandmother Harriet Topping had the Cosy (or Cosie) cafe during the war, does anyone have any info or a picture? Or can place it in the High Street now?

    By Ken Topping (18/11/2020)
  • Near Chamberlain Avenue. It’s in the text of the article.

    By Janet Penn (18/11/2020)
  • Ken Topping,

    Regarding Cosy Cafe.
    There was a Building plan (Ref 2883) that was approved in 22nd March 1935 for some additions this might give an exact location and idea of how it looked. The person applying for the additions was Mr F. E. HOLMES.

    A second addition was also applied for in 5th Feb 1936 (Ref 3237) .

    The plans are obtainable from the Essex Record office

    By Martin Lepley (18/11/2020)
  • The Cosy Cafe was on on the corner of Gills Ave and the High St just after the War Memorial Hall, it was obviously part of the site owned by Holmes Bros. Afraid I can’t remember exactly when the whole site was re-developed as flats, probably 70s. The present day situation can be seen on Google Streetview heading west from Smallgains Corner.

    By Graham Stevens (19/11/2020)
  • Can anyone share any stories or photos of William and Sarah Murray.They are my ancestors.They lived there 1901
    With thanks Sandra

    By Sandra Murray (26/05/2022)
  • If you put Murray in the search engine you might find what you are looking for.

    By Janet Penn (26/05/2022)
  • Thank you for your help.I live in NZ & am researching my family tree. you have a wonderful site!

    By Sandra Murray (26/05/2022)
  • Thank you Sandra

    By Janet Penn (26/05/2022)
  • Re the photo of the Anson. Firstly I didn’t attend the camp at Henley I had probably left the ATC by then having other things on my mind namely the girl I married. Unfortunately the only flight I had in an Anson was from Southend Airport which can be the only explanation for my presence in the photo, out over the Estuary, luckily in the cockpit with the pilot. When and what date I cannot remember.
    Cliff Reeve

    By Cliff Reeve (20/09/2022)
  • The name Tony Matthews rings a bell .My dad was Jock Hendry who worked the petrol pumps and had the workshop.

    By Ian Hendry (17/09/2023)

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