Policemen at Crays Hill

Recollections of Mrs P M Clark

PC Drain of Crays Hill
Isobel Johnson Collection

Mr Drain

“I remember him (Mr Drain) as our policeman in the twenties. He lived first in Vale Cottages, Oak Avenue, then at No 1 Council Houses. He was a very big, broad man and used to cycle round the parish.

The village was very law-abiding and very few examples of wrong doing occurred. He would call diligently at the houses to see if occupiers had their Dog Licences.

The Headmaster, Mr H C Bear, used to have whist drives when the school was first opened and I remember once during an interval, Mr Drain said that the Doctor had told him his ‘insides’ was black through drinking too much strong tea.

There was an occasion when three regular church-going households, including the Rectory, were broken into during Evening services, but nothing of great value was stolen. My mother said, “We shall be next” – she was the organist at the time. So we were, but not on a Sunday. She was teaching at the School and when we returned home one day as we walked up the path, she said “I didn’t pull those curtains so far over I’m sure”. We found out that ‘our turn’ had come, but as we expected a break-in, no money was left in obvious places. (We didn’t have much anyway!) Also, we had no jewellery of any great value. The mattresses had been turned over and the CMS Missionary box had been broken, but as it had been emptied recently, it only contained about 1s 11 ¾d (10p) we estimated, but it was a very unpleasant feeling to find that one’s home had been broken into. No suspects were found, but certain village boys were rather suspect.

Mr Drain had three sons, Victor, Leonard and Sidney, and a daughter Ida.

Subsequent policemen

I cannot recall anything outstanding about subsequent policemen, as we were not personally acquainted. I seem to recall a PC Pilberry who lived, I believe, in No 5 Council Houses and later a PC Hales, then PC Kemp who lived in the police houses on the A127 at Nevendon. He and his wife went to old-time dancing, and so did my neighbour, Mrs Lloyd, and I.  I can recall going to a police old-time dance at the Archer Hall in Billericay. I wore a pale pink voile dress with a floral design, a black velvet neckband with an ivory ornament and long black gloves. I did enjoy it. I taught Mr Kemp’s daughter, Jacqueline, for a year, then she went to Clarks College in Southend.

Recalled by a Crays Hill resident  P M Clark

Comments about this page

Add your own comment

  • My dad, Jack Head, who is 89, came from Sugden Ave, Wickford, has got lots of stories of going round the bombsites, and collecting all sorts, a V2 landing near where he lived.

    By Jacqui Carden nee Head (20/01/2021)
  • Hello Angela, did your Dad work on road building in the 60s, for a contractor called Scott Hale? If so I knew him well.

    By BOBCROOT (24/10/2019)
  • My Grandfather, Ernest George Drain, lived at no 7 Council Houses, until he passed away 4th November 1959, having retired from the Police Force after 25 years 89 days, on the 31st January 1924. He and my Grandmother had ten children in all, seven daughters and three sons, my Dad being Leonard James. Drain.

    By Angela Randall (29/03/2014)
  • I too remember Sgt Brewer.  In the early 1950s I was coming home from the ATC one night with a friend on my crossbar of my bike. Sgt Brewer had a low light on the wheel of his bike so having seen this low light approach I said jump off, but the Sgt saw us, “I caught you young Croot”. I denied it but my mate admitted it, so a visit to dad came early evening, another ticking off.

    By BOBCROOT (18/06/2013)
  • Regarding Mr. John Simpson’s enquiry concerning the Nevendon Police Houses…….from interviewing very long term Nevendon resident, Mr. Roland Wilson, Roland told me that they stood in front of where Sainsbury’s now stands bordering the A127….as a young lad Roland witnessed much of the Battle of Britain and had on occasion to visit the Police Station to hand various objects in….one such item was the parachute worn by F/Lt. John Terence webster,DFC,RAF….of number 41 (F) Squadron from RAF Hornchurch…..when his Spitfire blew up over Bonvilles Farm…spreading extensive wreckage across the fields from Bonvilles Farm…Cranfield Park Road and the area of Nevendon. Roland Wilson and has extensive knowledge of the area and is a tremendously interesting man to listen to. He was very instrumental in my own research but sadly today is getting on in years. But an absolute fount of knowledge.

    By T.A.Williams (10/09/2012)
  • When you grow up as I have….with a very over active interest in the place of your birth…and the individual interest in WW2….to get to the root of an incident you are always in search of Police….Fire Brigade and ARP reports….and IF available those of the local Home Guard or Royal Observer Corp. These records make your task so much simpler because hopefully you will get an incident…date….location…and a summary of what happened and what action was taken. During the war years our Police Station was in lower Southend Road….a huge siren atop a pole stood on the right hand side….and those Police Houses still stand to this day. In all the years of my research…talking with old Wickford residents….one mans name always came to the front when speaking of Wickford Policeman….Sargent Brewer. The next part of this text I will quickly add the word respect….because I would never want to portray this man as a figure of fun….he was the local peace officer….but you must also realise he was the local Bobby of a rural little village. My own Father told me of the day he got caught by Sargent Brewer when he emerged from an orchard in Runwell Road laiden with apples. As he emerged through the fence….CRASH and he fell flat on his face apples in every direction….Ah caught yeah young Williams….the crash was his rolled up cape landing on my Dad’s back….what you might call ‘A fair Cop’…..here is the lesson, in those far distant wonderful days everyone knew everyone, and Sargent Brewer certainly knew my Dad’s parents…’well young Alf, do I tell Jack and Emma or have you learnt that it doesn’t pay to scrump somebody else’s apples’ ?. Oh yes said my Dad….trying to regroup his ill gotten gain. Oh no said Sargent Brewer….you leave them there…..and after my Dad’s confession to me, we both drew the conclusion that the evidence was probably given to Mrs. Brewer who in turn probably made them into a nice apple crumble or pie for her husband. By chance one day I was shown the ‘Wickford Incident Book’…which was the property of Sargent Brewer….rescued from the war years. Two pieces of brown card…held together with a boot lace or string binding….the pages were made up of lined paper and an assortment of different paper in differing sizes….remember everything was on ration. The inside of this book/document was fascinating to read. Each page detailed the following….High Explosive Bombs….Incendiary Bombs…..Phosphorus & Oil Bombs…..Aircraft…..Barrage Balloons…..V1 & V2 rockets….landmines etc. All containing dates and locations in and around Wickford. Thankfully I was able to copy the book and make an almost duplicate of it….at the same time making a copy available to PC Geoff Whiter when he was a serving Policeman. But the saddest observation was in finding at the top of each page was a flag colour that denoted the incident….and it was very quickly ascertained that the book complete with string loop at the top of the spine…..for hanging on the counter. Was infact the colour key to a big map which would have had the appropriate flag against the incident location marked upon it with the suitable colour flag. Wickford and Runwell with its many different characters of the past must have been a wonderfully close community….such wonderful times when the local village Bobby or Bobbies knew everyone and most things that were going on in the village….and although there is always an element that will flout the law……..most if not all showed their peace keepers respect……so do we really move forward ?. its a great shame we cant have an inscribed board in our local Police Station baring the names and dates of past serving officers….and their service given to the local community.

    By T.A.Williams (10/09/2012)
  • Do you have any idea when Mr Drain left No 1 Council Houses? It’s just that my nan and grandad (Fred and Maud Rayner), lived there when I was a child, and I am trying to piece together some family history. Any info would be much appreciated – thank you.

    By Jackie Brown (05/07/2011)
  • I am interested in the history of Nevendon and I am a co-author of a book called “The Story of Nevendon”, we are particularly interested in this police house and believe it was positioned opposite where the old Marconi building (Now Selex) is situated. Anyone any information about this police house? The map shows that it was on the site of where Sainsburys is.

    By John Simpson (19/05/2011)

Add a comment about this page

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *