Benfleet Military Camp

Now The 'Bird' Estate

The housing area commonly called ‘The Bird Estate’ was the site of an army camp. Built in 1939 it was used for garrisoning troops in the Second World War. Concern over the construction of the huts was such that a question was raised in Parliament in November 1939.

After the war the camp remained occupied and in 1951 the 74th Company Royal Army Service Corp. were called up for service and sent to Egypt during the Suez crisis. The second photograph below – kindly supplied by Mrs. Alice Chafer – shows the troops on Benfleet station prior to departure.

The camp was eventually demolished in the early 1960’s, and a housing Estate was built. This estate is the south-eastern corner of the Hopes Green estate, ‘The Bird Estate’, and gets its name from the street names which are mostly named after birds.  An aerial photograph is shown below – The road winding upwards from the bottom left is Woodham Park Drive, but other roads are named Dove, Linnet, Raven, Swallow, Kingfisher, Curlew and Peregrine. The green area to the bottom and right is part of the Hopes Green recreation ground.

Questions raised in Parliament - Hansard 30th November 1939
the camp remained occupied and in 1951 the 74th Company Royal Army Service Corp. were called up for service and sent to Egypt during the Suez crisis. The following photograph - kindly supplied by Mrs. Alice Chafer - shows the troops on Benfleet station prior to departure.">
Troops on Benfleet Station - Can you name any of these men and do they have a story to tell?
Mrs. Alice Chafer
“THIS IS BENFLEET MILITIA CAMP, whose future is in dispute, the Council want to acquire the land compulsorily for houses, and the former owners want it back for a private enterprise housing project. A public enquiry was held last week, and the decision of the Minister of Housing will be made known later. ”            Southend Standard 11th August 1960
Aerial view of the 'Bird' estate, Benfleet © Copyright  Edward Clack  and licensed for  reuse under this  Creative Commons Licence.
Edward Clack

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  • I and all my extended family lived on the Wiggins Estate, my older cousin Eileen Church would take me aged 6 to wave over the farm gate to the soldiers! My mother Gladys Baptist died 3.11.2012, aged 89, the last of all those who came to “the country” from London’s East End.

    By Jan Hand nee Baptist (10/03/2013)
  • My Granddad (George Bartlett) took the picture of the men on Benfleet Station, for the local newspaper (The Hadleigh Gazette). Also my Dad, William Plant, is in the picture behind Major Atterley.

    By Peter G Plant (09/02/2013)

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