I was born at Poplars Farm on 28th September 1938, my sister Margaret arriving in December 1939. Our older brother Brian was born at White Post Farm which is on Laindon Common, just outside Billericay some four years earlier than me, I was introduced into the world in the front, upstairs bedroom facing Geoff when he took his picture, nurse Salvage was in attendance. My sister was born in the same room, and I was often told by mother that I was under a table, in the same room, and pulled a large box of Cadburys chocolates off the table, and had spoiled them by sinking any teeth that I had into each chocolate, and then discarding them onto the floor all around me.
I remember the the chimney stack, in the front of the picture being Blown Down in a gale one day. It had no ties to the timberwork in the roof, and from geofgs pictuture, it still does’nt have any. Mother asked us children where we thought dad might be and I am told that my response was , ‘outdoors dead I suppose’ fortunately I was wrong, Anyone of my age reading this will, I’m sure be able to remember Christmas under wartime conditions. We didn’t get many presents, and I do recall that one year, I received a model of a Tank, painted in Army Green. This had as wheels Two of the cotton reels, which had a deep bit where the cotton was wound on them. That had been cut into four pieces and skillfully positioned in recesses, underneath which enabled it to be pulled along. I also recall that I was given a metal tin of Biscuits one Christmas. It was app in the shape of a cube measuring TWO INCHES SQUARE The ‘tank’ was painted in Army Green, so there are no prizes to be had to name the source!!Poplars farm did not have electric in those days, this was put on after the war when the farm had been sold to a Mathew Walker. In our days, lighting was by Paraffin lamps, Aladdin seems to come to mind. Heating was by coal fires, with a kitchen range for heating and cooking. We had the benefit of being a farm, where each year a load of Steam Coal was delivered to the farm, to fuel the traction engines, to thrash the corn.The domestic water was provided by the kitchen range. This did all of the cooking as well. In the kitchen,there was a stone flagstone floor, which also extended along a passage, which led to the Larder, which was huge. It was in this passageway that I, when Playing Marching Soldiers, I tripped over, I was carted off to The Chelmsford and Essex hospital in London Read Chelmsford in fathers car, I was seen by Mr. Harris, A man who was wonderful at doctoring, but a little ‘brusk’ with words. My parents were told by Mr Harris the “that three is nothing wrong with that child, and my fee is Two Guineas.The radio we had was operated by Accumulators, we had two of these as they had to go away , in rotation,to be recharged, We had to take them to the end of Poplars chase, where they were collected form Mrs Turpins house, and returned the next week. I can still recall the speeches made on the radio by Winston Churchill, if we children were about at that time we had to be as quiet as .mice, so that mother never missed a word of what he said.. I think that I recall those days with fondness and admiration’.In Sheila Fords bit about Tom Ford, I do remember him, especially when he left the farm at the end of the war, I seem to remember that it was to go and help dig the first bore of the Dart ford crossing, but I may be wrong!! The photo shows me at about 2/3 sitting on the tractor that was “Tom.s” How ever he was able to Steer it I don’t know, as at sometime after then I was riding on the tractor whilst it was driven by my father, and he said that he wanted to go look at something, and that I could drive the tractor over a meadow and he would get me at the other side–well, I wouldn’t have won any prizes, for plouging a strait furrow. I could just about turn the front wheels. There was no Power steering in those days, and also the front wheels were steel, and had a ‘rib’ round the middle which dug into the surface of the soil. A favorite Past time of mine at harvest time was to sit oh the back of Lion, a cart horse who was used to wallk round all day to provide the power to the Elevator, to get the sheaves of corn up to the top of the stack. We had a youger horse, name of Short, very strong but not good for youg people to ride on his back The meadow I mention in the last para. was the one which had the Famous Runwell well in it. We were not allowed as children to go anywhere near this area–certainly by mother. Each year, in the summer the Rev Basil Corbin used to visit the well, we guess to bless it. After his visit to the well he used to come to the farmhouse, and ask mother if he could have a glass of milk (pure, as from the cow) and a biscuit, she always gave this to him, but she never invited him in, as she had a suspicion that he was involved with ‘the occult Sheila mentions that the land of Poplars, straddled Warren Road.. Does anyone remember a fantastic crop of oats which father grew in the field adjoining Scrub Wood. It grew so well that it became badly ‘laid’ and it was a massive job to harvest it, it was stacked in the corner of the field, beside Warren Road. Unfortunately it was damp when stacked, and it caught fire, it took days to extinguish, and was left for sometime before it was cleared away, during which time it had become infested with rats. Father spent hours there shooting them with the aid of his wonderful Wirehaired Fox terrier, name of Peter. That dog was bred by a Mr Shepard who lived just off Warren Road, through Foxearth wood, which belonged to Jim Mallinson The farm workers who worked for father at Poplars were Tom Ford–Tractor driver: George Reeve who was a general hand, and lived in the Farmhouse, which was Giffords farm at the end of The Chase. Ernie Brown was Horseman, whilst his wife assisted mother in the house. The Browns had three daughters, one of which, Pauline married Eric Everret whose sister married, I think, a Mr Viscardini and has published in these papers’ After the farm was sold to Mr Walker, father was to be his farm manager, but if you know about the Smiths, they mostly had to be the boss, and It didn’t work out. By that time we had been moved into No1 Poplars farm cottages, and then from there we moved to Woodham Ferrers to live opposite to Bell Pub, until father bought Hanningfield post office and shop from thr Clarence family. He stayed there until retiring to Wickford, buying a Carter And Ward bungalow on Franklins Field.