I’ve been asked to remember bits of my past when I half lived on Canvey and half lived in London but came every weekend and every summer holidays to Canvey, to stay with my grandparents. I lived in May Avenue and I still live there in the same bungalow and my chosen location is the view from Canvey Heights towards Benfleet and then east to Southend because I remember when none of the present development was there and it was just fields and cows. What I remember most about where I used to stay, at Grandma’s, was that it was very rural, and very basic. There was an outside toilet which had to be emptied every day. My granddad was absolutely assiduous in making sure that we didn’t go out at that time, and it was taken to the top of the garden behind the roses, I believe, and I stayed for most of the summer holidays even when I was about eighteen, with my grandparents.
The road at that time was not called Tewkes Road, as it is now, but was Jarlsberg Avenue, which was a very old Dutch name as Hester had named it, and their bungalow was wooden, it was charming basic, and always seemed to-be sunny. And their wooden bungalow had an upstairs and it was reached by an outside staircase, which had a safety handrail and at the top it became a little balcony, and from there I would be able to look out with no gaps, without anything to stop the view, straight from my grandma’s upstairs balcony, across the sea wall which was much lower than it is now, to Leigh and Hadleigh Castle. And running along the base of Hadleigh Castle was the railway line that went from Southend, to Benfleet and up to London, and my boyfriend lived at Leigh, and so when we made an arrangement to meet I would stand and watch the train from Leigh, past Hadleigh Castle, and I would be on the balcony, and watching it draw in, to Benfleet station, and thinking, ooh he’ll be here soon, he’ll be here soon, and feeling somewhat romantic about it all, and I can always remember afterwards, looking back on that and thinking, I wish I had shown to him the excitement that I felt, because I don’t think I ever told anybody until now, the sort of ‘Ooh lovely, he’s coming’ sort of feeling.
Margaret’s story published with permission of Lucy Harrison – Canvey Guides 2007.