“I was searching through a collection of old Wickford photos and found the picture below. Attached to it was a description of the people in the photo, possibly written in the 1960s. We have understood in the family that this photo of Wickford High Street dates from about the 1880s, before the railway came in 1887. It is in black and white since some years ago I had a negative made of the sepia print to help sharpen the detail. On the left of the photo George English, grocer and draper, with his handcart, is talking to Mr Sparrow, who is standing in his garden. Behind them in the rear garden of the house next door is Mrs Lark, shielding her eyes from the sun as she watches the photographer. Both Mr Lark and Mr Sparrow were employed by Matthias Wendon on his farm.
Matthias Wendon’s house, Denbigh Villa, is the second from the right, on the right of the photo. In the late 1880s my grandmother, Kate Wendon, was living there with her grandmother, Hannah Wendon, Matthias’ widow. Her older brother Fenton and her uncle Walter Weldon also lived there.
My grandfather, Frederick Woodland (1866-1952), was working as a railway navvy for his older brother Lovel (1864-1934), a civil engineer. Lovel was given the contract by the Great Eastern Railway to extend the railway from Wickford through to Southend. Rather than having his brother Frederick billeted in the huts by the railway line, Lovel got lodgings for him at the cottage on the extreme right of the photo, where Mr and Mrs Burrows lived and were next door neighbours to the Weldons. Thus Frederick began courting Kate Wendon, although he was not initially welcome to the Weldon family because of his rough and lowly occupation. Eventually they married in February 1891 in Stanford Hill, and one of the witnesses to the marriage was Eleanor Harriet Burrows, Frederick’s landlady and Kate’s neighbour. Lovel too met and married a Wickford girl, Emma Corker, schoolmistress and daughter of James Corker, Gentleman.
The second photo is of Denbigh Villa with Walter Weldon standing outside aged about 28 years with his dog”.