Canvey Island

Before the bridge

David Edward Williams (Senior), my Grandfather, was born 1875 in Rotherhithe, Surrey and brought his family to Canvey Island in 1924.

He had qualified as a Sanitary Inspector and in 1926 became the first Water Supply and Sewer Drainage Engineer to the newly formed Canvey Island Urban District Council; this position he held until his death from pneumonia in 1936 said to have developed soon after becoming wet- through in heavy rain during a drainage inspection – he is buried in St. Katherines Churchyard.

The Williams Family Buses

1925 MayFord bus owned by D.E.Williams (Senior), Oyster Fleet, Canvey Island
1925 Julyfailed to display fare board
1926 AprilCanvey Island Urban District Council formally established
1926D.E.Williams (Senior) was one of the 17 members of the Canvey Island Motor Association (formed 1919), each member was granted a Hackney Carriage Licence
1926He had two Fords – TB 4173 and XM 2706 also in 1927 a Chevrolet RK 9310.
1926the Association became the Associated Omnibus Owners of Canvey Island
1926A member, H.Timberlake, had his licence withdrawn, leaving 16 members (Nov)
1929The Williams’ bus business transferred to D.E.Williams (Junior).
1930 Novthis group then became the Canvey Auxiliary Motors – still 16 members. D.E.Williams named one of his daughters and one of his buses “Grace Darling” in admiration of the famous young heroine who in 1838 rowed from her father’s lighthouse off the Northumberland coast and rescued four men
1931 Maythe bridge to the mainland, opened
1931D.E.Williams (Junior) quit the Association
1931 OctThe Canvey and District Motor Transport Co., Ltd was formed with 15 members which D.E.Williams (Junior) declined to join. D.E.Williams (Junior) was issued with a separate licence.
1932 AprilService continued by D.E.Williams (Junior) as Williams’ Bus Service with two ex-London General Omnibus Co., A.E.C.,’K’ type double-deckers. Calling” Anyone for Canvey at 6d each- – the same fare as the bus”” – (being independent of the company he was able to operate his ‘taxi’ from outside Benfleet Station) “the family – real Canvey pioneers”.
1933H.R.Bridge unsuccessfully offered £520 to buy Williams’ Bus Service.
1934Williams Bus Service sold to Canvey & District Motor Transport Co. Ltd (H.R.Bridge).

My Mother’s family the Goddard’s were also Island pioneers – my Grandfather Charles Goddard (bom 1865 in Shepherds Bush, London ) and his wife Eliza were living on the Island in 1924 and established The Central Club” in Foksville Road. The club was later renamed The Premier Club about 1931 and was then run by my father David E. Williams (‘ Junior’ ) and my mother Julia.

Before the bridge was built, when the tide came in Canvey Island was somewhat isolated from the licensing restraints of the mainland and club owners became complacent.

A Canvey Island press cutting reveals that in 1930 a few months before the bridge was completed, 30 policemen dressed as trippers drove onto the Island in a charabanc at low tide and were still on the Island at the next high tide. Unlike a public house, a club of course could only serve alcohol to members for themselves and guests.  A member of the public was coerced by the police into requesting the doorman to buy him a drink and surprise, surprise, grandfather Charles Goddard wasn’t the only club owner to lose his licence on that occasion.

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