Shotgate Boys Go Scrumping

These are some of the City Buses that used to travel from Wickford to Southend

While interviewing local residents who have lived in Wickford most of their lives, many of their stories mentioned scrumping. For those too young to  know what scrumping was: it was the removing of fruit from trees either growing wild or more often than not, from landowners gardens and orchards without permission. This pursuit was mostly carried out by young boys but girls often helped themselves too. This story was told to me recently.

“As a child I lived in Shotgate and attended the Senior School in Market Road. The ‘Shotgate boys’ were always getting into trouble. On the way home from school one afternoon, we decided to go scrumping in Hawkins Orchard. This was owned by two sisters who lived in an old house on the property. We filled our pockets with apples and started home. The apples were too tempting so we started eating them, they were horrible. They turned out to be cider apples and were very sour.We needed to get rid of them so climbed up onto the railway line and onto the bridge as it crossed Southend Road.. Hanging over the bridge we took turns to drop the apples onto passing vehicles and watch them bounce. The City buses were best as the apples  bounced all the way along the roof. When we had disposed of all the apples we continued home. 

The next day the headmaster held assembly and at the end he asked for all the ‘Shotgate boys’ to stay in the hall. We were given a ‘good telling off’ as the head had had lots of complaints”.

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  • I remember my great uncle telling me stories last christmas about him going scrumping. They lived in Shotgate most their lives – the Thorns.

    By Sharon coltart (07/03/2015)
  • I remember as a boy travelling on the City Bus to Romford market, where we changed and got on a red London Transport bus to Hornchurch to visit my Nan.

    By Denis Ketley (11/01/2014)
  • Surfing the Web, as one does, I have found a web page at This site has a full history of the City Bus and Westcliffe Bus Co. that from 1928 until 2000 ran a route from London to Southend via Wickford.

    By Geoff Whiter (21/09/2012)
  • I thought the city buses were from London to Southend via Wickford. As a young boy another school boy swung his satchel at me (no names mentioned) just as a city bus went by, the last two wheels going over my toes as I stepped off the kerb. I hobbled around to my dad, who worked at John Sadds in Jersey Gardens at that time, who bathed my black toes and took me home.

    By BOBCROOT (17/09/2012)

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