This picture came to me some time ago from the Jackie Barnes collection. Her father used to run an antiques and junkshop in Benfleet High Road and he had quite a collection of local images acquired from house clearances. This Canvey image has long puzzled me, as nobody I asked could identify it. Does anyone know where and what it was? (Or maybe is?) There seems to be smoke coming from the tall thin chimney…
Update** (Ed)Could this answer the question. If you mirror image the picture it matches the building in the picture below which is from the Point area. The bottom left corner is the roundabout at the Point with what is now Point Road going off to the right.
This is from the 1930’s map showing where the building was situtated. The wall, Benfleet Downs everything in its right place. The man pictured would be standing about where the junction of the wall is.
What do you think?
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Great photo. A total guess but it could it be the cockle shed that became Merlins / Jacksons photography between the Point and Smallgains Creek?
This was my first thought, Dave, but it can’t be the whiteweed/Merlins building cos it’s facing the wrong way. Then I thought it might be Canvey Supply’s wood mill but I’ve had a look around there and none of the buildings fit the profile. Also far right of photo if this is a Canvey creek wall why is a large tree growing in the creek?
Re the shrubs – I’m wandering if the Sea Wall is turning northwards there – that is assuming (as I believe) that is Benfleet Downs in the background. There was a ramp at the end of Wall Road and the Seawall turns there with some land the creek side of the wall. This would also put the huts near where the current pumping station is for Croppenburg Lake – perhaps we can see evidence of an old Sluice here in the close up?
Have just had a chat with Francis Prout and he believes it was the old waterworks pump and later the Island yacht club had their first HQ there and still later Mr Lawrence purchased the land to start The Canvey Supply Ltd; and his son Tom built a house there. Mr G Prout built a house in Bommel Ave where the building of the Folding Boats started before moving to Small Gains Corner.
Further to my last comments, we seem to remember that that there was a Sea Fern factory on this site and the name could have been Merlin
I’d forgotten the sea fern factory. I can remember when I was very young the girls who worked there used to come out with bright green hands!
Hi The building on the left has buttressing round the bottom half. This implies that it is houses some kind of tank. Is this a clue? Regards Sparrow
Very well observed. I love it. Reversing a picture was easily done when the negative went upside-down in the enlarger. It certainly tallies with the grainy picture and the map. It means the close-ups also need to be imagined left to right. So what’s the final verdict? A sea fern factory with green-handed workers? What’s a sea fern factory do?
I will leave you all to sort out ‘what it was’. I have confirmed where it was. The Timber and Ballast Yard is next door which is now Canvey Supply. We now know it was already there in the 1930’s. The shrubs Graham pointed out are on the correct side of the wall as we are looking over the juction area.
I seem to remember the ‘sea fern’ was only about 6 inches high and was quite soft. It was died bright green and, I think, used by manufacturers to decorate pictures and ornaments. After a while it would dry out and crumble away. By the way, where was the Ekco factory. That was up near the seawall as well, I think.
Maureen, the Echo factory was on Canvey road, just about where Charfleets road is now. I worked there for 2 or 3 weeks, in the maintenance dept. after leaving school, then the family moved to Norfolk.
Hello. The factory on Canvey road did do contract work for EKCO but it was called Egen Electric. Regards Sparrow
Hello The sea fern was made from “white weed” which floats on the sea and is abundant in the estuary. It is trawled by local fishermen from Hole Haven when the fishing is thin. It is then dyed green and is used for wedding buttonholes and bouquets. This practice was still going on in the 80s although the Canvey factory may have gone by then. Regards Sparrow
Hi george. The Ekco factory I’m talking about was up the Point, near the creek seawall, during the late 1940s and early 50s, before the Charfleets site had been developed.
Ah, i didn’t know about that one, Maureen. As Sparrow said, the one on Canvey road was Egans, and they did components for Ekco. Egans was always there when i was growing up, before Charfleets industrial estate was. I was born on the island in 1947, and left in 1962. So, was the Ekco you are talking about, the same Ekco that Egans did work for, Maurren? I suppose it must be. Charfleets was just open fields at the bottom of our garden. I think the farmers name was Cass. We were allowed to roam those fields as much as we liked, play football & cricket etc. I used to make a lot of money collecting mushrooms on those fields, and selling them. Also used to work on Jock Norris’s farm (i think Jock rented the land from Ray Howards dad) Also worked there for Roy Whent (sp) I took a big pay cut when i left school & i went to work at Egans, for £2 a week!
Thanks Jan , you certainly seem to have solved the puzzle by putting the photo into it’s right perspective. Nice bit of detective work! This now confirms Ian Hawks earlier post with Francis Prouts info re the Waterworks Pumping Station(I think the artesian well is there). Maureen, my only memories of the east side of the Canvey Supply yard(early 50s) are there were two properties up against the seawall, first the Scouts/Cubs hut and then the white-weed factory. I can’t say whether the white-weed factory was built expressly for that short-lived phenoma or it had a more productive purpose beforehand. There are still some around who might have some knowledge, maybe former Cub Pack members? The only connections with electronics I recall in that area was Electric Windings who moved into the former Prouts factory in the mid 70s where they remained until 1997.
I think we can almost put this one to bed. At a recent ‘old mates’ get together we were discussing the Canvey Supply yard, mill etc when Ken Harding came up with ” Do you remember that cockle shed behind the yard? He immediately came up with an exact description of this photo both the building and the location(it was to the N of the waterworks site). Apparently when Ken was 7yrs old and living in the White Houses next to the Bus Garage on Sundays his Mum used to send him up to the Point on his bike to buy shellfish from this place(no pun intended). He said he could even recall the pungent odour emitting from the building. So, it was a cockle shed(the boat might have been a clue) we know it was there in 1950 when Ken was 7 but when was it built, it looks pristine in the photo, and although it must have been replaced by the Island Yacht Clubhouse we’re not sure of its time of demise.
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