"Sans Souci"

More about houseboats and their owners

If you listen to Ken Turner’s memories of houseboats, he mentions not only his parent’s craft “Smugglers”, but also those of his uncles.  “Sans Souci” was owned by Fred and Win Archer and moored at the western end of the creek, near to Win’s sister( Ken Turner’s mother). They were both ex-army landing craft, which with their twin Rolls Royce Merlin engines removed, proved a sound basis for living on the water. You can tell from the interior photos that it was well furnished.  It helped that Fred was a builder, responsible among other developments for the bungalows on the eastern side of Mill Hill.  They spent 5 years living on the boat before succumbing to life ashore and the boat was then sold to Ted Heaney, but that’s another story!

Rita  Archer’s (daughter) memories of Ted are available in a sound recording on this site, which includes some references to his pre-Benfleet days.

A further recording, which also involves her cousin Ken Turner, covers houseboats and their owners, the golf course at Bowers Gifford, walking on the sea wall, Cemetery Corner, dances at Tarpots Hall and the army camp and fetching the water.

Fred Archer's building yard behind Aggies
Mark Thres
Fred Archer's building yard behind Aggies
Fred and Win Archer aboard "Sans Souci"
Fred Archer
Relaxing with front doors in the background
Ken Turner and Rita Archer's memories of Benfleet
Ken Turner and Rita Archer are cousins - Ken built a houseboat with this father from 1947 onwards - The names of house boats were: The Jewel, Nulli Secunda, San Souci, Patsy Ann and Smugglers. - Mrs and Mrs Hudson from Forest Gate owned the "Patsy Ann" - Bill Hilton from the East End owned "Bill Busty" - George Turner (Ken's dad) from Leytonstone owned "Smugglers" - Mr Archer (Rita's dad) from Chadwell Heath owned "San Souci" - A docker from Poplar owned "The Jewel" - There was another motor torpedo boat - There was a boat with a lot of washing on it owned by Bob and Elsie Rookes, they had a dog called Pie Shop - On Sunday afternoons Benfleet people used to walk along the sea wall and talk to the houseboat owners - the sea wall has changed, you could walk all the way to Pitsea - Ken was told about Bowers Gifford Golf Course - Cemetery Corner was the police station in the police houses - there used to be dances at the Tarpots Hall and the Army Camp. - 8 mins 58 secs.

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  • My grandfather stated on his “last” marriage certificate that he was living at “Sans Souci”, Totmans Lane, South Benfleet” This would be 1936 – his name was John Cornelius Oliver – does anyone have any information regarding him – wife number 4 (or maybe 5) was Gertrude De Koningh. Any help appreciated! Thanks! Alison

    By Alison Rigby (27/09/2012)
  • Alison, hopefully someone may have some information to help you but I think that the name of the lane is more likely to be Jotmans Lane, as to my knowledge there is not nor ever has been a lane called Totmans. Good luck.

    Eileen (Editor)

    By Eileen Gamble (27/09/2012)
  • Thank you Eileen! Also, I would like to clarify that this was my great-grandfather…time zone error! The writing was hard to decipher on the marriage certificate. Thanks Again, Alison

    By Alison Rigby (27/09/2012)
  • My brother’s grandfather lived on a houseboat called Phyllis in 1933. His name was Charles Arthur Hasker, has anyone got any record of this?

    By Jeanette Armstrong (31/05/2011)
  • My grandparents lived on a houseboat called the ‘Louisa’ before WWII. Apparently it was an old life boat that my grandfather converted. He also used to run a radio shop near the Tarpots. If any one has any memory of this I would greatly appreciate being contacted.

    By Jane Briggs (04/05/2011)

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