Wickford Industrial Site

In my teens I became interested in model making, particularly of aeroplanes. On more than one occasion I went into Cullys and bought a kit for making a balsa wood plane. The suprise to me was that on the box the maker’s name was Keil Kraft and their factory was in “Wickford, Essex”. I spent many frustrating hours putting the things together. Sometimes they would fly and most times they crashed. The power to these was an elastic band, or if you were lucky a small diesel engine which you started by turning over the prop. Keil Kraft factory no longer exists, but you can still buy their kits on e-bay!

This brought me to think of the Industrial Area of Wickford in Russell Gardens. It is difficult today to place this address correctly. Is it Russell Gardens, or Bruce Grove or an extension to Wick Lane? Back in the 50s as you left Wickford on the Southend Road you turned right in to Wick Lane. Just before you reached the level crossing to the Wick you turned to the left onto a road made up of two parallell tracks of concrete. On your left were residential houses and these continued for most of the way down the road until you arrived at the Keil Kraft factory. On the right were, firstly Poulten, Selfe and Lee. I think they made a sort of Pyrex glass. I also seem to remember that Mayes Bros had a site there, manufacturing galvanised housing for chickens or chicks. Continuing on the right hand side was Essex Stonecraft, they were recycling prefabs, prefabricated housing manufactured during the war to house displaced people (full of asbestos, no doubt). Next came Karrimix and Mercury Block, both subsidaries of Carter and Ward, and then a storage site for Carfox another company related to Carter and Ward. It was opposite these sites that Keil Kraft had their factory. Next to the Carfox site was perhaps something strange to find in Wickford, a foundry. This was owned and run by the Huntly brothers, Alf and Bill. They had moved to Wickford from Tottenham. Staunch ‘Spurs’ supporters and one, Mrs Huntly, was secretary at Wickford Junior School. Next to the foundry was a scrap yard, no doubt a source of scrap iron. I am not sure, if in those days you could get from Russell Gardens through to Bruce Grove.

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  • Does anyone know about Edward Farr’s engineering works built on Nathan’s old small holding. I worked there 1957/9

    By Kenneth saward (02/05/2019)
  • I used to work at Essex Stonecrafts in Russell Gardens in the early 1970s. They sold out to Wernicks from Billericay in the late 1970s. I actually married the cousin of John Mellon and nephew of John’s father, Jack Mellon.

    By Marion Mellon Née Carter (23/03/2015)
  • Keil Kraft is actually Russell Gardens (unit 1 and 2) as my dad’s factory is part of the old Keil Kraft site (directly opp car wash)!!

    By Donna Stratford (22/10/2014)
  • From year 1960 until around year 1966 I was a week-day resident of Aldersbrook House, Romford Road, Manor Park by the old GLC/Metropolitan Essex border in East London. This was a well appointed timber faced factory-built construction manufactured during the early 1950s, to the best of my memory, by Stonecraft of Wickford, Essex and served as a British Railways, Eastern Region hostel for locomotive drivers on turn-around duties, residential Signal Engineers courses and other transient and semi-permanently located staffs. The large accommodation comprised reception area and office, canteen and dining room, two toilet blocks, one including including bath, showers, and communal wash basins, games and activity rooms, a very long corridor leading on both sides to single occupancy sleeping cells, a sick bay, signals dept. training workshop and lecture rooms, all having very efficient under-floor electric heating, overall to an excellent standard. The residential hostel manager and family resided in a facing bungalow of the same construction. To the best of my knowledge there was no stone or similar material in the construction. This edifice remained standing well into the late-1970s and I believe was eventually sold on to a second party as single-person accommodation. Any further information regarding this hostel where I experienced many happy and comfortable times and an account of the eventual fate of Wickford Stonecraft will be most welcome.

    By Derek Hayes (26/10/2011)

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