Sidney C. Darby

Memories of Mrs Toplis

Outside Darby's factory c.1918. The small boy on the left is Mr Bill Lepper. The man holding the motorcycle handle is Mr Stan Nicholls, at one time Essex and England cricketer.

Sixty years ago I started work at Sidney C. Darby (Wickford) Ltd., as an office junior.  The Managing Directors were Miss Knight (Mrs. Dorman), Mr. Churcher and Mr. Stock.  Mrs. Ford, who I believe was formerly Miss Darby, lived just along the road.  Mr. Franklin was in charge of the garage, and, if my memories are correct, he was also a part time fireman for the town.  Mr. Sparrow, Mr. Lepper and Mr. Eeles were also fellow employees.  Mr. O’Connor, a very Victorian gentleman, worked in the office.  I worked with Olive Curtis, Daphne Samouelle and Joyce Land, all from Wickford.  Joyce married David Haswell, a sales rep., and Daphne had a brother, Leslie, who also worked as one.  Mrs. Dorman lived up by Wickford School, in a house with the turret on the corner, and drove a Riley car.  I travelled from Rayleigh each day, either on the 250 or 251 City Bus.  (One service went via Shotgate the other via Rettendon Turnpike, to Wood Green).

This was before all the redevelopment of the town.  In those days there was a live animal market on Mondays.  So many properties have been removed and many others built.  Except for the main street it is hard to recognise the town.  Darby’s is now a building site and I don’t think that Mrs Ford’s house is there anymore.

I have fond memories of the town, from Darby’s up to Campbell’s corner.  Perhaps someone who worked there then is still around, with similar memories.

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  • Our family purchased a run-down but very large house in Southend Road, next to St.Catherine’s Church in 1956. Everyone seemed to know “Mount Cottage” as being the “Darby House”. As kids we were always known as “The Darby’s”, despite our protestations the message didn’t get through to the locals for some years.

    By Philip Merrin (11/10/2013)

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