Andrea Olley's memories of her home in Laburnham Avenue, in the mid-1950s.

39, Laburnham Avenue, (the bungalow with pink roses). Photograph taken in 1993.

My parents and I (aged 7) moved to this bungalow, from Tottenham, in March 1954. It was newly built by Carter and Ward builders. Most of our neighbours also moved from various areas of London. My parents chose it as a plot of land, and I remember us travelling from Liverpool Street station to Wickford on a Saturday, by steam train, to inspect the progress of the building.  I loved this outing, because Dad bought me a comic to read on the train, and we walked down from Wickford station to the High Street, to the Willow Café, and I had egg and chips for dinner, my favourite!

The bungalow had 2 bedrooms, a front room, a bathroom and dining room leading into quite a spacious kitchen. We did not have a fridge. We had a meat safe on the wall outside. I think Mum got her first washing machine whilst we lived here, with a mangle attached. We also had a brick coal bunker on the back wall under the kitchen window, outside. It had a lift-up lid where the Coalman could empty the sacks of coal. Then there was a hatch near the bottom where we could shovel out the coal into the coal scuttle, to take indoors. We had a coal fire in the dining room which was also a sitting room. The front room had a “posh” modern electric fire. Our television was kept in this room, which we only watched at weekends! I recollect, it was freezing in winter!! We had a gas geyser over the bath to give us hot water, and an electric water heater over the kitchen sink. Our garden was quite long and the width of the bungalow, so a good size. My Mum and Dad worked hard to make a pretty garden. They grew a lot of roses and some vegetables. I was given my own small patch to sow some flower seeds and look after. My Dad and Grandad built me a wooden swing which I loved.

Further down Laburnum Avenue were prefabs. Situated between Laburnum and Azalea Avenues. There were some larger prefabs at the bottom of Laburnum, before you got to the Nevendon Road.

My Dad was a policeman when we moved here. He transferred from the Metropolitan Police. He was stationed at Pitsea Police Station. He used to cycle to his shifts. This was some distance and after a time he became ill and had to resign. He then got a job at Marconi’s new factory at Basildon New Town, which was just starting to grow. He still cycled to work (we didn’t have a car and he could not drive at this time). He was a Time and Motion Study Engineer.

I attended Wickford Junior School. Because we moved in March it was mid – term, and I was put in class 1A. All the class sizes were very big. At one point there were 48 of us in my class! I walked to school with my friends. Our route took us down Laburnum Avenue, along the path through the prefabs (I think it was called Green Walk?), into Azalea Avenue. Walked down to the end, and cross London Road then turn to the right and walk along London road, until Carter’s the Undertakers, turn left there and walk up an unmade road to the schools at the top. (This is how I remember it, but I might not have it exactly right).

In the school holidays us children amused ourselves, playing out and about. There was a big old barn half way down Azalea Avenue, facing onto the Rec. I think local football teams used to change in there. There was a bench and some coat hooks. It was not locked and, my friends and I formed a “secret” society using the barn as our HQ. We imagined we were Enid Blyton’s “Famous Five” and we sat in the barn making up secret codes and looking for mysteries to solve!! I also recall going over to the old Brickfields, on the opposite side of Nevendon Road to Laburnum Avenue, to catch Tadpoles and bring them home in a jam jar. Another enjoyment(?) was walking the length of Nevendon Road to where it met the Southend Arterial Road, and standing on the verge, writing down car number plates, in notebooks bought from Woolworths with our pocket money!! Beggars belief as I write this!!

My Mother started the 2nd Wickford Brownie Pack, and I belonged to that, together with lots of my school friends.

We moved away from Wickford, to Billericay, at Easter 1957.

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