Memories of Tarpots in the 1960s

Barclays Bank and just to the right D C Roberts fish shop.
Ian Roberts
Garage, Corner London Rd and Lambeth Rd, looking west towards London and taken in earlier years, the petrol pumps just visible.
1960s Tarpots, showing Jones the butcher and just visible on the right is the familiar Shell sign where the garage stood
Ian Roberts
The Tarpot Public House
Newsbox, Tarpots

Tarpots Remembered

I moved to New Thundersley as it was then known in 1963.  At that time we would come to the Tarpots to shop, use the bank and visit the library as the shops local to us at Roseberry Avenue were not yet built.

I remember Barclays Bank well,  as we would go there to draw money by cheque. In those days there were no ATMs, no cheque cards and you had to go to your own bank branch to draw out cash.  Because my parents still had their account at Midland Bank in Romford,  they had an ‘arrangement’ with Barclays that would allow them to cash a cheque. The bank was a tiny little operation which later went into the purpose built branch now occupied by a firm of solicitors.

At that time the library was in a house with bookshelves in the bedrooms. It was much later when the new purpose built library was set up in what must have been a new shop unit.  Further along that same row of shops was a garage on the corner of London Road and Lambeth Road with a row of filling pumps, a showroom and workshops behind. This site is now occupied by Lambeth Court apartments which cover the entire footprint of the old garage including the forecourt.

Next to the garage, in the space now occupied by a modern shop that must have replaced the 1920s house, was Jones the Butchers. I remember the shop being full of men behind the counter busy chopping and cutting.  Meat was wrapped in paper packages and put on the counter for adding up the bill.  On a Saturday when it was extra busy Mrs Jones would take the money.  After a little while in our new house my mother was able to telephone Mr Jones on Friday and order for delivery on Saturday morning. I can still remember a box of bloodstained packages arriving in a cardboard box to be packed away in the fridge – the bill was in the box, normally with a bloody fingerprint on it.  At that time not every house had a fridge so weekly shopping was unusual.

The Tarpot pub itself I remember as a large building with many doors and hidden rooms. Around 1967 my friend and I joined a Judo club which met in one of the rooms. I can recall a large space, partly occupied by stacked tables and chairs and possibly a stage at one end. The club had a large mat which was stacked in the corner in equal sections. At the beginning and end of the session we all helped to lay the mats out forming a large square which was then bordered by a wooden frame.  A large canvas sheet then covered the mats and was laced tight to the frame creating a large smooth surface for wrestling on.  However, the mats were probably filled with some sort of fibre which had very little give so the mat was not much softer than the wooden floor.  On one evening I persuaded another school friend to come along hoping he would join with us.  His mother who came with him decided against this when she witnessed one of the adult club members, complete in judo suit with black belt leant against the stage, drinking from a pint of beer. No doubt she was concerned for our safety, imagining who knows what might happen if he joined in with the children.

Another reason for coming to Tarpots was to catch a bus – either towards Southend or later to Basildon where we would go to swim in the new pool that must have opened in the mid sixties. Buses were Eastern National green and occasionally a blue and cream Southend Corporation vehicle would pass by. There was an express bus service into London numbered with an X, which one day was suddenly replaced by a brand new, flat fronted, modern bus which was so new that it had an instrument panel divided into brightly lit rectangular boxes. For a young impressionable boy it was as if Thunderbird 2 had landed.

Around 1970 I successfully applied to become a paper boy at Newsbox,  although my time with them was very short – I think three days. Whilst I thought delivering newspapers was the thing that every boy did to earn some cash, I was not prepared for an enormous bag of papers that needed superhuman strength to lift. On Sunday the bag weighed even more with the supplements and I actually had to take it home and split it into two loads delivering one and returning for the other later that morning. Having managed two days, I then
called in sick returning on the fourth day to try once more. I was not surprised to find halfway through the round one of the customers drawing my attention to the contents of the bag from my day off, which had been abandoned by my replacement the day before on his path under a convenient bush.

In time Tarpots became simply a transition space on the route from home to Appleton School, or a bus stop on the way to shopping in Southend, or the route to London on the way back to university, and the shops were just a blur of unknown activity.

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  • The Garage on the corner of Lambeth Road & London road was owned by the Clift Family, and became a Ford dealership in the late 1950’s.
    The son of the owner was Ron Clift, and was well known in the motor trade locally during the 1960’s and 1970’s
    Ron was a keen rally driver and a sort of local celebrity. I remember when he campaigned a ‘Lotus Cortina’ in the Monte Carlo Rally,
    The family lived in the big bungalow next to the garage workshops in Lambeth Road

    The last I heard of Ron was that he had moved to the ‘Cook’ Islands

    Nice man.

    By Ian Roberts (01/12/2023)
  • Dad (Ken) worked as one of the two petrol pump attendents at the Esso Garage on the corner opposite The Tarpots pub from around 1965-71. As a 12 year old, I would get on the 151 bus from home in Basildon and bring his Sunday Lunch on a foil covered plate, and spend the rest of Sunday helping him out until closing at 10pm. Bought his first new car Hillman Minx from that showroom. It was owned by the Hall Brothers I think, who also owned the Leigh on Sea A13 Esso garage where my Brother learned to become, and work as a mechanic.
    Lots of times drivers would ‘short cut’ the traffic lights by driving across the forecourt. Ah happy days over 50 years ago now.

    That showroom was indeed owned by the Hall brothers. In the early 1970s, I remember that Chas. Hall belonged to Benfleet Blades, the fencing club I also belonged to. As you say, happy days! [Pam J Bird-Gaines, Ed.]

    By N. (28/11/2023)
  • I remember the library being in a house, I think long and narrow, on the corner of Rushbottom Lane. No one else I’ve spoken to can remember it, so thankyou for your confirmation Alistair.

    By Jan Lane (Osborne) (08/11/2023)
  • Back in the 1960’s, Jones the butchers belonged to my grandfather, Lesley Jones. One of his sons, Owen managed the shop.

    Nextdoor was a ladies hairdressers, Joyce who was the daughter-in-law of Lesley Jones.
    Cliffs had the garage next door.

    So many memories.

    [Editor – Thank you for adding your memories]

    By Barry Jones (15/10/2023)
  • I started my first paper round from the Newsbox at the beginning of January 1963. I was just 13 and the round was down to Wavertree Road off the High Road and all the roads in between. The snow was 1.5 ft deep. I didn’t finish it and got home to Lambeth Road at 9am. My mum was furious and gave the owner a right rollicking! I got the Southwold Crescent roundd after that! When we were at New Thundersley Primary, we all had to get a Post Office Savings book from that post office. I’ve still got mine!!!

    By Graham Patrick (23/01/2022)
  • My Dad, Roland Austin, was known as Jack and was depot manager of Essex Carriers for many years. We lived in the flat above, it was opposite Tarpots Pub. Lovely memories, they had a cricket club and also took part in Southend Carnival every year. The owner was Mr Britton.

    By Yvonne Easton (06/02/2021)
  • I was born at home in Louisa Ave just up from Tarpots Corner at the Wren which was given a number 26 when the road was further developed past this house. I remember Roberts fish and chips and can recall when my older brother Allan and me used to cut out shapes on a fret saw in the back room with Ian Roberts. I also went to judo (Kenki Dojo), or something like that, in the back room of the Tarpot pub. I believe Dave Williams started this club and I went along with my school friends Paul Tucker and Joe Pierce,, others who went were Graham, Gill, Rowena and Edwin as well as Martin Everett.

    By Bill wakeham (19/12/2020)
  • Hi Alistair, what a coincidence, I was just investigating the butchers myself. I worked there on Saturdays in the 1970s, out the back mainly, sorting and making the sausage meat. For some reason, must be my age, I recently had a flood of memories. Owen Jones, Cecil, and the other tall chap were always talking about when they served together on HMS Rodney in WWII. I have searched the crew manifest but no joy yet.
    Chris Marsh

    By Chris Marsh (06/11/2020)

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