22 to 28 Benfleet Road, now occupied by La Quinta, was originally the head office and stores for ‘Interiors Wallpaper (Wholesale) Ltd’, who imported and distributed luxury wallpapers under the name of ‘Harlequin Wallpapers’ from a number of European countries, including Denmark, Belgium and Germany. This successful business was established in the early 1960s and the three company directors were Ken Furner, Lou Walker and Dick Barnett.
The top photo is of the staff at their Christmas party at “The Talk Of The Town” nightclub, London in December 1963. Although many of the staff will have since sadly passed on, some people may recognise the two directors with moustaches (Lou Walker and Ken Furner) in the back row, a very young and serious me in the dark suit with pocket handkerchief in the middle of the second row and our accountant and third director Dick Barnett two places to my right. It will be interesting to see if anyone still living in Benfleet or close by also worked for Harlequin.
As the company’s accounts manager I interviewed my wife Grace for a junior accounts clerk position in October 1966, she subsequently became my wife in 1970 and we have now enjoyed nearly 52 years together in Rayleigh. We still remember the names of many of the people who worked for “Harlequin” in the 1960s and would be happy to communicate with anyone who remembers us.
And now the final proof that ‘Interiors’ (aka Harlequin Wallpapers) were based at 22-28 Benfleet Road in the early to late ’60s ; two photos I found in my writing desk this afternoon showing that our neighbours sold motor bikes on their frontage – does anyone remember who they were?