I Remember Walking Across The Stepping Stones
The Memories of Pat Harris
“I remember walking across the Stepping Stones”
There are numerous clubs and other groups in Benfleet designed to bring together elderly folk so that, among other things, their memories of former times can be activated and past experiences relived.
Having been invited to visit one of these groups I stumbled across an extraordinary 98-year old lady who remembers using the stepping stones to cross Benfleet Creek on her way to Southend to do some shopping! “They were very slippery” she says but she doesn’t remember seeing anyone lose their footing and fall into the mud.
Pat Harris is a remarkable lady whose parents bought a bungalow on Canvey Island into which Pat moved permanently in about 1936 when she was about 20 years old. She is still living there now!
Pat remembers many school holidays getting to the Ferry by rickety bus and then being rowed across when the tide was in. “If there was no bus” she says, “I would walk to Waterside Farm to get the Ferry”. The ferryman rarely took the fare. Once the bridge was built the buses turned round at the Ferry Tea Rooms adjacent to the Benfleet side of the bridge. A short walk up Ferry Road to the station followed – either across the level crossing or up and over the bridge.
Her memory of the Island and its relationship to Benfleet is remarkable but the freedom of the area is her abiding memory. “The area was so different from the South London were I was born and went to school – just a few shops, unmade roads and a few street lamps”.
Now she attends the Silver Birch group in Benfleet regularly and with others enjoys the friendship of the carers and others who attend the group.