In 1941 my family moved from Thundersley to Wickford. At first we lived in a rented house called “The Highlands”, near the railway crossing in Wick Lane / Drive. It was owned by Mrs Sargent and her husband had a van from which he sold fruit, vegetables and other groceries. Although it was nice and large, there were paraffin oil lamps, the water came from a pump and often had tadpoles swimming in it. It also had an outside toilet. We only stayed there for 6 months as my Mum (Lily Watts) made my Dad (Tom Watts) buy a house with better amenities !
So we moved to a chalet bungalow called St. Margaret’s (now 115) in Church End Lane, Runwell by Wantz Corner. It had been occupied by troops earlier in WW2 and we moved in once it was vacated. It was next to a poultry farm run by Miss Cottenham which was on the corner of Swan Lane and Church End Lane. There was a fish pond in our front garden and in front of the property wall was a small oak tree which is still there, but much larger and I hope is preserved.
I went to Wickford School in Market Road until I was 14 and a half and this is where I met my future husband, Geoff Shynn. When it rained heavily, Wantz Corner always got flooded and when I was working at Swallows Raincoats at the Kursaal, Southend making raincoats for the Navy, my Dad had to push me round the corner on my bike in his wellies, so I didn’t get my feet wet.
I later worked at Runwell Hospital in the laundry and Geoff was a Locomotive Fireman based at Southend Victoria. We got married at 3pm 29th April, 1950 at Runwell Church and it rained all day until 5pm. It was Cup Final day between Arsenal (Geoff’s team) and Liverpool. We then went to live in a small wooden bungalow called “The Hut” in Runwell Gardens opposite the Scout Hut. It belonged to Mr and Mrs Pearmain who had moved to a bigger bungalow on the corner of Runwell Gardens and Church End Lane. It was an unmade road and got very muddy in the winter. Geoff would bring some clinker home from the trains to put on the path.
As well as my parents living in St Margaret’s with my brother Jack, who was in the merchant navy with Orient Line, both my sisters also lived in Church End Lane. Marge (Clarkson) and her husband, Jack and children Barbara and David, lived in Dalkeith (now 132 and part of The Laurels care home) and Doris (Waterman) and her husband Len and son Alan rented the house that had previously been owned by Miss Cottenham before moving to Galleywood.
We stayed at The Hut until our first daughter, Elizabeth, was born in 1953 and then moved to another bungalow called “Yamato” in Nevendon Road, Wickford where our second daughter, Liane, was born. This belonged to Hall Mark Hatcheries which is where Geoff went to work with his father, Frank Shynn and that’s another story ……