Views of Bread and Cheese Hill

Do you know where its name came from?

By Margaret March

Several ideas have been put forward as to the origin of the name Bread and Cheese Hill, some say that it is due to the shape of the hill resembling a cottage loaf, others disagree.  If you have any suggestion as to its origin please add it to the comments. 

In slippery and snowy weather the hill can become impassable as cars and other vehicles slide down the steep incline.  It is not unusual for the hill to be closed by only a light flurry of snow.

Bread and Cheese Hill is now a busy road with a constant stream of traffic, very different to these pictures of the 1950's and earlier.  Half way down the hill a new bus lane was installed in May 2011 to ease congestion.

Photo:The top of Bread and Cheese Hill July 1955

The top of Bread and Cheese Hill July 1955

From the collection of the late Kath Fisher with the permission of Paddy Marrisson

Photo:Bread and Cheese Hill May 2011

Bread and Cheese Hill May 2011

Photo:The top of Bread and Cheese Hill May 2011

The top of Bread and Cheese Hill May 2011

Margaret March

Photo:Bread and Cheese Hill with the newly completed bus lane May 2011

Bread and Cheese Hill with the newly completed bus lane May 2011

Margaret March

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Views of Bread and Cheese Hill' page

R F Postcards

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Views of Bread and Cheese Hill' page

R F Postcards

This page was added by Margaret March on 27/05/2011.
Comments about this page (Add a comment about this page)

I would dispute that the second picture from last is a view from Bread and Cheese Hill. My opinion is that this picture was taken from the top of Thundersley Park Road (Jarvis Hall vicinity) looking across Boyce Hill Golf Course to the water tower at the top of Essex Way. The house on the left belongs to my cousin which is situated in Mount Road.

By Alan Emery
On 30/05/2011

My brother Alan's comment above is correct. The house is called Crescent House and is located in Mount Crescent. The caption on the postcard is incorrect.

Our relatives have lived in this property for many years, it is situated at the top of the Devil Steps. I have an article on this site under 'areas' headed Hill Road and in the last picture shown you can see this house.

I believe this photo was taken from outside Jarvis Hall and you can actually see the same view today, albeit during the summer months the trees partly obscure the full view.

By Eileen Gamble
On 02/06/2011

Bread and cheese hill is about 1.5km in road distance - that's a long hill in Essex!. The hill got its name in the Edwardian era when motorcars on the way to Southend-on-Sea would boil over by the time they reached the brow of the hill. The chauffeurs and their passengers would eat their bread and cheese lunch while the car engines cooled. It was not long before a hostelry (which still survives) was opened to take advantage of the trade, so that is how the name came about.

By Frederick Emery
On 07/06/2011

I have been reading articles about Benfleet with great interest. I remember travelling along London Rd, Bread & Cheese hill as a child. 

We always seemed to break down there and just as one gentleman said lots of people would get out their sandwiches and eat Bread & Cheese until they got their vehicle going again. 

I am moving to South Benfleet soon after living for many years in London where I was born & raised. I want to be a part of the community and have been reading about it and visiting many parts. 

Once when I was about 5yrs old I travelled to Southend with my family in the back of my Brothers old van. Mum & Dad sat in the seats and I had a cushion and sat in the back playing with my toys. As the car began to climb the steep Bread & Cheese hill I fell against the back doors and flew out landing in the road!! In those days there wasn't much traffic and we have often laughed about it since. But imagine how I laughed when recently I saw that the road at the spot near where I fell out of the van has been named Catherine Road!! My name is Catherine. I hope that's an omen that I will be welcome in Benfleet and spend more happy years in my new home.

By C Finlayson
On 08/08/2011

Thank you for your comments, they really add life and interest to the web pages. New members are welcome to join the Archive and if you have other memories of Benfleet either add your own page or drop us an email. I hope you are happy in your new home.

By Margaret March
On 11/08/2011

Thanks, Frederick for the answer re the name of the hill, a question I asked Phil Coley at the Castle Point show. 

Catherine, the van incident reminded me of the late 50s when our family mode of transport was often an Austin A40 van with a very bouncy suspension, its normal use was bread deliveries for the family bakery firm.  

On one occasion my Dad was taking my sister and a friend to a Girls Life Brigade event, in the back of the van.  He took a sharp corner on Canvey and sister Jenny ended up seated and stuck in an empty bread basket from which she had to be extricated (plus breadcrumbs) on arrival.

By Graham Stevens
On 24/08/2011

My parents told me it was called "Bread and Cheese hill "Because by the time the driver of a horse and cart had reached the top they needed a break and pulled out their bag of bread and cheese and a bottle of cold tea.

By Brian Hurst
On 05/11/2011

I was born in a bunglalow in Bread and Cheese Hill in 1937. My dad, Frank Henry Perry, used to keep ducks, and I remember a photo of him leading them down to the pond. Alas! I cannot find the photo now. Our neighbours were my uncle Bert Card and aunty Amy.

By Pete Perry
On 26/12/2011

My mum, Pauline Tookey (was Edmondson), says she always thought Bread and Cheese Hill was so called because of the hawthorn bushes along the road. Apparently another name for the Hawthorn is the 'Bread and Cheese tree' - the leaves and buds can be eaten from the tree, and tea can also be made from the flower buds. 

When my sister and I were little (late 50s, early 60s) my parents used to whizz down Bread and Cheese Hill on their bikes with me on the cross bar of my dad's bike, and my sister in the seat on the back of my mum's. Great fun then, but wouldn't want to do it now!

By Pat Tookey
On 06/05/2012

We used to live, back in the 50's, on Manor Road. I heard then that Bread & Cheese Hill got its name in the 17th century when Huguenot refugees from France were stopped there and told to say Bread & Cheese. If they could, and said it properly, they were allowed to proceed. If not, they were turned back, on the grounds that they were taking English jobs from English workers.

By McClane
On 12/07/2012

The very harsh, snowy winter of 1947/48 coincided with my first year at Westcliff High School for Girls. I used to travel on the bus from South Benfleet and vividly remember the bus stopping at the bottom of Bread and Cheese Hill every morning. All the passengers, mostly school children but some adults too, had to get off and trudge up the hill on foot while the bus was driven up empty to wait for us at the top. The same thing happened on the homeward journey. "Health and Safety" to the fore even in those far-off days!

By Mrs Betty Turpin
On 19/02/2013
Add a comment about this page

If you're already a registered user of this site, please login using the form on the left-hand side of this page.