Memories of Wickford High Street

Memories of the "Memory Wall"

In the recent relocation of the Wickford Library to the Willows Centre a number of memories written on cards or post it notes were discovered. These probably relate to various exhibitions or workshops which were held over the years and seem to be dated, if at all, about 2011-2013. See for example the High Street Memory Wall. We don’t always know who wrote them but we thought you might be interested to know what people have remembered over the years. Additions, clarifications and corrections are welcome in the Comments pages. Who knows, some of the contributors may have already contributed their thoughts elsewhere in this archive.

I have lived in Wickford since 1954 but was born on Canvey Island and recall that during the 30s and 40 a bus would make a special trip from Canvey Island to Wickford to meet the demand for people wishing to visit Wickford on market day held every Monday. (There was only vehicular access to Canvey Island at low tide until 1931 when the first island bridge was opened).

Leyland and Thorn: Sold chickens and eggs when the cattle market was held every Monday. Many times chickens were seen in the High Street having escaped the pens.

Edward Rex: The Castle Pub: Edward used to go every Saturday with his father and spent many pleasurable hours there. Edward has many fond memories of his experiences with his father at this pub.

1961: I can remember Suttons like a house type shop front-door, with tin kettles and things hanging on string around the doorway. Warners the coal merchants next to Franklins butchers next to which is now the fish shop, Edens the electric shop, the Willow café, Sebons (?) coal office up the muddy lane by the station. I still have my TV bought at Rumbelows.

I remember when there was a fire at Suttons. After the shop reopened I made my mum take me there so I could see that the ‘Silent Night’ hippo was OK. He was singed but recovering from his ideal.

The British Restaurant was held during the 1939-45 War, attached to the Congregational Church. A two course substantial meal cost 11d. I think the staff were voluntary, probably part of their war effort, but I am not sure. A meal taken there helped to eke out our rations.

Dr Robert Frew, Dr James Frew, Thomas Frew, their house and surgery was called ‘Ladybrow’.

I have been a member of Wickford Library for about 55 years. When I joined it was in the High Street, opposite Moore’s. It was a cottage style building next door to Hall’s shop and agricultural chandlers. I am now 80 years old and cannot begin to count the number of books I have read, which range from historical to crime. Over the years I have learnt about ancient Rome, Caesar and Oliver Cromwell and hope to do so for a long while.

My memory of Wickford Library: It’s a lovely, peaceful and happy library. Staff are always very helpful and always smile to anyone. I’ve spent a lot of time here during my school holidays.

I remember working at the library for my school work experience. Back in 1988 I worked with Yasmin Green for three weeks and I really enjoyed myself with the staff that were very friendly and helpful. Now I am taking my daughter to the same library.

I ran the café at the Community Centre next door for many years and many of the library’s customers used to come in (1990-2005). I have lived in Wickford since 1971 so have seen many changes, some good, others not so good like shops closing down.

As a boy in the mid-1950s I remember the old Wickford Library down the High Street near Halls Corner. I would go into the library during the cold winter snow and eagerly pick out and interesting book. With growing excitement of the pleasure to come of reading it I would go home, clear out the living room fire grate and lay and light the fire and spend many hours reading in front of that coal fire and maybe eating some sugar almonds as well. Bliss.

4 Sept 1965: Key Markets store has replaced the Walkers and Green food stores at Wickford. [Now W. H. Smiths).

The following list, four pages of a note pad, are headed 1960. Sadly there is no writer’s name or date.

Wickford Station had open fires in the waiting rooms.
Sutton’s shop was a house. They sold everything from a sink plug to a tea set.
Doctor Frew’s surgery was in the High Street. It was called “Ladygate”.
Giles the Baby Shop. I bought my son’s carry cot there.
Fishes Drapery Store, they always wrapped your purchases up in brown paper.
Wickford Market: I believe market day was Monday.
Shoe shops: Willcocks, Pococks and Bata.
In the Broadway we had a row of terraced cottages one of which Mr and Mrs Warner lived and you used to go and order your coal there.
Adcocks newsagents. You could also book tickets for the theatre.
Harvey’s garage. Sadds builders merchants.
Simpsons the lovely wallpaper shop in the Southend Road, they also had a tea shop upstairs.
Under the bridge was the Midland Bank, Egan electrical shop, greengrocers, Baby clothes shop, Wool shop and the Willow Café.
Congregational Church in the High Street, Selina’s toy shop, Franklin’s the butcher, Green’s, Pardey and Johnson, Harringtons, Mrs Mayes florist, Mayes hardware, Feathers a dress shop, Wet fish shop.
St Andrews Church was built in the sixties.
We had a Gas showroom and Electricity Board showroom.
E and K grocers. The lady who served you always wore mittens and one marigold glove.
Halls sold everything from farm implements, grass seed and yeast for your bread making.
Tilbury butchers.
Peggotty wool shop and sweet shop in Southend Road.

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