Betty Shynn’s memories of “The Hut”, Runwell Gardens

In 1941, my family and I moved to a chalet bungalow called ‘St. Margaret’s’, Church End Lane (number 115). I was very pleased recently to see that the big oak tree which was in front of our home still remains, with a couple of houses now where our original property was.

I married Geoff Shynn in 1950 at Runwell Church, and we then moved in to ‘The Hut’. It was a small wooden building in Runwell Gardens, off Church End Lane, opposite the Cubs and Scouts hut. It had been built by the Pearmain family who were now living in a much bigger bungalow at the corner of Runwell Gardens and Church End Lane. Mr Pearmain, our landlord for the next 3 years, was a local councillor, well known in Runwell, and Pearmain Close, off Ethelred Gardens, was presumably named after him.

I have fond memories of ‘The Hut’, which originally had 4 small rooms but was extended before we moved in, adding a kitchen and bathroom across the back. We only used the backdoor, as the furniture in the sitting room (lounge) was blocking the front door. We also had a dining room and a bedroom which was the combined length of the sitting room and dining rooms. One of the photos shows me in front of ‘The Hut’ on a sunny day and shows a window in the attic, but I don’t remember ever going up there. Geoff loved gardening, and started his own vegetable patch at the side of the house, as soon as we moved in. However, I remember that as soon as he grew his first lovely tomatoes they disappeared overnight, as we didn’t have a fence to deter thieves!

Runwell Gardens was at that time an unmade road and got very muddy when it rained. Geoff was a locomotive fireman and made a path with clinker – residual ashes from the firebox of the steam engines which were then coal powered. This was a great help, especially after the birth of our first daughter, Elizabeth, in 1953, as I could then push her pram and miss all the mud. As clinker was very heavy, he always had to push his bike home from the railway depot when he had a sack of it – a journey of over a mile. One night he was stopped and questioned by a policeman. Luckily, he had his official railway pass with him which permitted him to have it, so he was allowed on his way.
In 1953 the local railway depot at Wickford closed, so Geoff left the railways and went to work at Hallmark Hatcheries in Nevendon Road, where we moved into a tied cottage called ‘Yamato’. This was named after a region in Japan, as the best chicken sexers originally came over from Japan to pass on their skills.

My nephew David Clarkson lived at this time at ‘Dalkeith’, Church End Lane (number 132), which is now part of ‘The Laurels’ Care Home. He also used to attend the 1st Runwell Cubs and Scouts and remembers a Pill Box at the junction of Runwell Gardens and Church End Lane, but I am unable to remember it, despite living there for 3 years! I wonder if anyone can remember when it was dismantled, or when the road became a made up road, or even when ‘The Hut’ was replaced by the 2 properties that are there now….?

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  • Thanks, Bob, I really thought with your great memories you would have remembered the pillbox. It makes me think I am dreaming, but it remained there until Runwell Gardens was turned into a concrete road, when it was demolished to make way. I wish I could dig the Pearmains up and ask them as that would be the definitive answer.

    I also remember the pillbox at Wantz Corner on the junction of Brock Hill and CEL, where the flats are now.

    My brother in law, Dennis Smith, remembers you well, but unfortunately he is now in a nursing home, suffering from dementia, and although he has memories of Poplars Farm and South Hanningfield, he cannot remember the pillbox.

    By David Clarkson (17/03/2020)
  • Sorry I can’t remember a pill box in Church End Lane, there was one at Wantz corner. Ask Dennis Smith if he remembers? He is my age, sorry.

    By bobcroot (09/03/2020)
  • My Auntie Betty is pleased to read your comments and remembers you well.
    Can you please put my mind at rest and confirm if the pillbox existed at the top of Runwell Gardens where it met Church End Lane. I remember climbing over it, but it worries me that Betty can’t remember it.

    By David Clarkson (19/01/2020)
  • I remember you. I did gardening for Mr Pearmain. He had an orchard between his house and ‘the Hut’.
    The roads had extensive rebuilding in the 1960s in Runwell. Geoff was in hospital in Billericay when my son went in at the age of 9years old, in the same ward. They taught my son to play cards!

    By bobcroot (11/01/2020)

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