A Brief History of Shotgate.

Shot Farm was built in the mid-16th century. Mid iron-age pottery found there shows that the area was inhabited in 300 BC.

Shotgate today is a civil parish located just to the east of Wickford. In Roman times, a road ran from Ilford to Latchingdon through here. In the Saxon period, common hold land was often sliced into parallel strips known as `Sceats’. This is the origin of our name, which has nothing to do with shooting or hunting. The Domesday Book of 1086 lists four farmsteads in Wickford, one of which was probably on the site of Shotgate. By 1300, this was listed as Ames or Ames Farm. By 1540, the Rede family owned the farm and one of its members, Elizabeth, emigrated to America to marry the son of the governor of Massachusetts and is an ancestor of both former US President George Bush and Presidential contender John Kerry. In 1663, Turnpike (Toll) roads appeared in England and, until 1866, one ran from Shenfield to Rayleigh along the Old Southend Road, after which it was turned over to the Rochford Highway Board. During this period (1747), the Sharpe family renamed Ames Farm as Shotgate Farm. Perhaps this indicated the existence of a tollgate at the Wickford/Rawreth boundary. During this period, an inn, the King’s Head, stood near present day Oak Avenue. In 1907, houses were built in Enfield Road and Oak Avenue as part of the `Plotlands` initiative. In 1921, the Archer family bought Shotgate Farm, and in 1927, sold land for development. This led to the foundation of present-day Shotgate, consisting of Bruce Grove, First to Fifth avenues and the shopping parades. In 1989, the village was greatly expanded by the Hodgson Way Industrial Estate, so named after the W.W.2  RAF airman, Pilot Officer William Henry Hodgson, a New Zealander, who, on 31st May 1940, was engaged with hostile bombers and fighters over the River Thames in his Hawker Hurricane, which was hit and caught fire. In attempting to return to his base at RAF Debden, he resisted bailing out, which would have left the aircraft to crash on a populated area, and instead crash landed in fields just outside Shotgate, to avoid damage and injury to local people. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his bravery. There is a memorial to him located in Hodgson Way, opposite the junction with Blake Hall Drive.

There is more about Shotgate here.

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  • For me its funny how memories of a cherished place never prioritise its local history. Only how warm the summers were and how wet, foggy and cold the winters were. Yet as an adult this background becomes the cherry on the iced bun.

    I was born in Shotgate in the winter of 1947 above the end shop of five on Wickford Gardens Parade now what’s left of Southend Road. My mother Catherine Emily could not get to the hospital because of the drifts. I remember visiting your home David Bignell to play in your large garden and have jam sandwiches and squash. My friend Peter Cox lived in Fanton Walk and at the back of his home the air raid pillbox became a meeting place and eventually the catalyst that helped me overcome my fear of heights….well six feet off the ground was the Grand Canyon to a small boy. We played war games and football and talked endlessly about stuff that boys talked about. Our footballs were bottle tops and the pitch was the hard standing outside the row of shops. Games lasted until we could see the tops no more or the residents of the shops/maisonettes told us to go home. I of course was home…so we played on.
    In the 50’s the floods lapped at our shop’s doorstep and made the main road a river, the smogs were Quatermass play areas long before Dr Who scared us on tv. Winters left ice on the inside of our windows and we slid to school on yards of ice covered pavements. My mother walked to work at Bell Cleaners and my father bicycled, then later in life, mopeded to his work in Rayeigh as a French Polisher.

    In summer we caught sticklebacks in the streams, lizards on the wooden fence posts of Bakers Farm and slow worms under rocks and sheets of discarded corrugated iron. We annoyed Mr Archer by using his field as a playground/warzone. He was a decent enough man though and eventually I got to visit his farm and ride on his tractor at harvest time. His guard geese were a totally different matter though.

    The garage next door became an Ice Cream storage facility…what more could children ask for. The contents of damaged in transit boxes were given away by kindly workers on hot summer afternoons. Mivvies never taste so good. Occasionally a block or tub of neopolitan would be offered to the lads who helped ‘us out’.

    Iced bun memories topped off with historical cherries as previously mentioned by others.
    As previous contributors have also told this place of our youth is now not what we remember. Playing fields of freshly cut wheat are now housing estates…where children once roamed free cars now force them inside.
    Life goes on and evolves now but I’m sure our(my) memories will be never be equalled.

    By Alan Wood (21/07/2022)
  • Well I never did!
    I never thought I would read about my childhood at Shotgate during the period your author is referring to.
    I was definitely there at that time. I remember everything Peter Hannan is writing about in great detail. I was undoubtedly one of the gang who grew up at that time in Shotgate. I lived on the corner of Bruce Grove and First Ave and remember and went to all the places Peter refers to, the farm walks, the shops, even knew the owners of the shops. Mr Lovell was the owner of the Arkright type shop and Mr Wright owned the grocers, Mr Spud the greengrocer, Archers Farm, we drove him nuts. He was always chasing us off his land, the dangerous railway bridge we played on, making arrow heads for our bows and arrows. The cafe was our meeting place, (don’t think we were Teddy Boys though) where we listened to the juke box, and Deacons the butchers where I got my first job as a school boy. He helped me lay down a very lucrative job in retail which lasted 50 years.
    The off licence where we bought Manns Brown and took it to Bakers barn to sit and drink it out of sight.
    We really were enjoying life to the full and now realise what little buggers we were, it was all good fun. We were kids, I can barely remember all the names but it would be nice to reminisce. We did have so much fun them days.
    I am 76 now and all this seems like yesterday and it would be easy to write more. I hope I have jogged more memories and it encourages others to add their memoirs
    for the good old days,

    By David Bignell (16/09/2021)
  • I was born in 34 Fanton Walk and lived there until around 1970.
    My father claimed he helped dig Fanton Walk’s sewers, just before the WW2. I remember seeing a photo of him looking young and healthy, waste deep in a trench.
    I have so many memories of the good times between the early 50s and late 60s.
    There was a group of kids, from Fanton Walk and First Avenue, all about the same age, that used to play in, what seemed then, our expansive gardens, climbing real fruit trees, playing on Jane’s garden swing or investigating the local countryside between Fanton Chase and the farmland the other side of the Wickford to Southend rail line. This called for the gang to pass through a dangerous bridge on the local bridal path, just beyond our local limit of Fourth Avenue.
    The local parade of shops was another boundary, situated on the bend of the Southend Road, to one side the open fields of Bakers Farm and to the other, on one corner, an Off License, Stowells I think, Deacons the butchers and a local Arkwright type store where we ordered our freshly baked Hot Cross Buns for Easter.
    On the other side a Post Office, visited weekly by our mothers to get the Child Allowance and later Widows Benefit. There was a café, not a place for us with its jukebox music and known as a place for Teddy Boys, and next to that the local grocery store that changed ownership so often it’s hard to remember names apart from Mr Butcher.
    The summers were always just the right mix of warm sun in the day and rain at night, and the winters were always cold, especially 1963.

    By Peter Hannam (24/07/2021)
  • I was actually born in Shot Farm Cottage in 1936. Lived there until  it was almost demolished by a rocket which landed the other side of Archers Farm during the war 194?

    After a few years on Isle of Wight, we moved to Shotgate. I believe in 1946

    By Peter Houghton (18/10/2017)
  • Hi I am a new member and have lived in Wickford since 1979 and in Shotgate since 2001. I believe the semi detached bungalow I now live in is possibly one of the first two buildings on the Shotgate estate mentioned in the first response by Maurice Wakeham to the above original article that belonged to Mr & Mrs Wade with her parents Mr & Mrs Wheller living next door, the homes being known as The Nest and Holmleigh. Does anyone have any further details of where these two buildings were in Fifth Avenue.

    I have heard a story from an old neighbour that the old lady who lived in my bungalow until around the early/mid 1990’s (?) had lived there since she was a child of around 8 and can remember the building materials being brought up from the Southend Road by horse and cart over the fields.

    My bungalow and the one attached have been heavily altered since first built and there is very little visible evidence externally of their age which I believe from the deeds is somewhere between 1927 and 1930, both buildings are due to have further alteration very shortly.

    Of interest is that me and my wife live in the left hand bungalow and the attached property is occupied by our daughter and husband and our grandchildren, something of a repeat of history.

    By David Underwood (16/05/2017)
  • Mrs Barbara Carter wrote to us:

    I knew Mr and Mrs Nathan and their daughters very well. My aunt and uncle, Betty and Arthur Dunning, lived in the bungalow joined to Mr and Mrs Nathan.

    By Bob Plimmer (10/12/2015)
  • This message is for Jim Hurse above, I do hope he sees this!  My great grandmother was Esther Archer and my grandmother was Mary, who went on to marry Arthur Carter and they lived at Lendor for many, many years.

    I would love to see the postcard you have from my nan to my little Nan so if you see this message please could you get in touch with me at sam.claussen@yahoo.com

     Indeed if anyone has any history involving my family they could share, I would love to hear from you.

    By Samantha Claussen (27/04/2015)
  • Please can you give me some more information on this postcard as Mary was my husband’s mother. His name is Michael Carter.

    By Barbara Carter (27/04/2015)
  • I have recently purchased a postcard to Mrs E Archer from her daughter Mary to SHOT FARM COTTAGE  approx  1915 -1920 .Was this before they bought SHOT FARM?

    By Jim Hurse (15/12/2013)
  • I spent two periods of my life in Russell Gardens. The first time was when I was 4 years old in 1958. (I just about remember the floods in the town). My Dad, Arthur Adams (known as “Buck” to everyone), worked as a printer at Keil Kraft. Ron and Eddie Keil often came into our bungalow which was named “Chilton”. (I still have pictures. Wish I could post them on here!) I also remember a Mr Hill, an old man who lived in one of the first houses in Russell Gardens. I moved away after 18 months or so, but returned to live with my dad 10 years later in 1969. My first job was at Keymarkets store in Wickford, then I managed to get a job at Poulton, Selfe and Lee in Russell Gardens, which was more or less just across the road from “Chilton”. I lasted about 2 weeks there! I was useless at glass-blowing! My final job before leaving Wickford was at Cranfield Kennels in Cranfield Park Road which was a short walk across the level crossing (at the bend by Wick Lane), and across fields, which I believe is now a rather larger housing estate. I returned to the Midlands where I was originally from, but my Dad and sister are both buried in Wickford Cemetery. I’ve been back a couple of times over the many years since I left in 1970. It has changed so much, I hardly recognised the old place. In fact I ended up getting totally lost. I see that Keil Kraft has long since gone, along with “Chilton”, my Dad’s cottage/bungalow. I have written my autobiography (as I spent most of my childhood in care), and Wickford in 1959/60 features a lot.

    By Baz Adams (22/11/2013)
  • The Venture Piggeries were sold and the site had the factory of Edward Farr Ltd built on it. Bridge Road was unmade and I often wonder what happened to the families who lived there which were mainly bungalows and a couple of houses.

    By Susan Murton (01/10/2013)
  • My grandmother Violet was secretary of the OAP club which met at the hall in Bruce Grove on a Wednesday. It was a job she took very seriously and she had a big ledger which she wrote the minutes in after the meeting in beautiful writing. At shows they did she always dressed in a man’s suit and top hat and sang ‘Burlington Bertie’ with Mrs Manderson.

    By Susan Murton (01/10/2013)
  • My grandparents Joe and Violet Nathan moved to Shotgate about 1929 and lived at First Avenue and also had The Venture Piggeries at Bridge Road. They had three daughters Ruth, Gertrude and Sonia.

    By Susan Murton (26/09/2013)
  • A little bit more about Shotgate. Just to get the location – Shotgate is a civil parish to the east and adjacent to Wickford. Today it is mainly a housing area and separate industrial estate tucked between the railway lines to Southend and Southminster and the Southend Road. It even includes a little nature reserve called Shotgate Thickets. The meaning of the name is not certain. One explanation is that it derives from the word sceat, which is a type of an anglo-saxon coin, or, more likely in this case, an area divided into strips of farm land, while the word geat or gata, refers to an entrance through a wall or enclosure. In the seventeenth century Thomas Dallingood was found not to have cleared the ditches of the road from Wickford Church. Later that century the road leading to the western end of ‘Rawreth Shoot’ was ‘unpasabell’ and the local inhabitants were ordered to repair it. Possibly a reason why it was turned into a Turnpike Road. In 1921 the area was farmland. The Archer family kept cows, sheep, pigs, and horseson what was now known as Shot Farm. Barley, beans, oats and wheat were the main crops. What is today Fanton Chase and Fanton Walk was a cart track. The area began to develop as part of the plotland settlements common in the Wickford area with establishment of Enfield Road and Oak Avenue. The Archer family sold off some Wickford Barns Farm (which had been incorporated into Shot Farm) for development of what was called the Shotgate Estate in 1927 – Bruce Grove, First to Fifth Avenue and the shopping parades. The original plan is slightly different to what exists today. Early inhabitants were Pru and Jim Wade and her parents, Mr and Mrs Wheeler, who had bungalows, “The Nest” and “Holmleigh”, in Fifth Avenue. The Geere family moved in in 1929. This account is based on a talk Alice Geere gave to the Women’s Institute and wrote up in 1969. Other people she recalled were Mrs Theedum, (purportedly a descendent of US President Garfield) and Mr Steele, a blind man who maintained his own allotment. Shotgate was fairly typical of plotland developments in its early days. Houses varied in quality, the roads were often like dirt tracks, with no lights or mains drainage. Cesspools had to be emptied regularly. Dusty in summer, winter rains made the roads muddy. Coal was delivered in the summer because the lorry could get bogged down in winter. If the doctor called he would leave his car on the main road, put on his wellingtons, then walk to the house. London commuters would leave their wellingtons at the newsagents (Mrs Richardson) then catch a bus to the station. Milk came from Archers Farm. A man would bring an urn on his pushbike and ladle it out. There was no electricity or gas to start with. Cooking was done on a kitchen range or a primus stove. Most of the early cottages have probably gone or been redeveloped. Many of the original buildings were cleared for food production during the war if they appeared not to be used. The estate is still mainly made up of bungalows and ‘chalet’ style houses. Before the roads were made up, Bruce Grove ended in a field. Surrounding lands were farmed, including a large chicken farm owned by Chase Cross Bakeries. Later a small industrial estate was opened off Russell Gardens and Wick Lane. Early factories based there included Poulton, Selfe and Lee, Southwold Foundry, No Sag mattresses, Keilcraft, Stonecraft, Bell Cleaners and Carter and Ward. There was very little in the way of entertainment. Among groups which were formed around Shotgate were the Allotment Holders and Gardeners Association (a response to the wartime Dig for Victory campaign), a pensioners club which met in the Merley Club, located opposite Fred’s Timber Yard on the Southend Road, and the Women’s Institute, which met in the Baptist Church Hall. The Baptist Church, a corrugated tin and asbestos structure, began in Third Avenue and was later moved on rollers nearer to the main road, in Bruce Grove. A more substantial building was built in 1961. A small group of local people decided to raise money for a community hall. Whist drives, paper collections and fetes were held to raise money. Adding these funds to a grant from the Ministry of Education enabled land to be purchased from Basildon Urban District Council. The building incorporated second hand materials, including wood panelling from a pub in the East End of London. Some labour was freely given by local volunteers, which kept the construction costs down. The Hall, also in Bruce Grove, eventually opened in November 1958. It has been extended and refurbished several times since and is still very much in use. Shotgate was greatly expanded by the building of the Hodgson’s Way industrial estate in 1989. Housing was incorporated between Hodgson’s Way and Fanton Chase with industrial units infilling south to the railway line and joining up with the older Russell Gardens estate.

    John Kerry, is now (2013) US Secretary of State.

    By Maurice Wakeham (15/06/2013)

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