Memories of Benfleet

Four Seasons - Iris Sugg

The book, ‘Memories of Benfleet’ was written and illustrated by Iris Sugg, a lifelong Benfleet resident and was published in 2007. In the book, Iris describes her memories of growing up in Benfleet, with particular reference to the changing seasons. 

The four audio recordings, ‘Spring’, ‘Summer’, ‘Autumn’ and ‘Winter’ are readings by Iris from her book and were made for the Link Radio Charity.

Transcribed below is the autobiographical note which appears on the back cover of Iris’s book.

Downloads of the book can be found, in pdf format at the bottom of this page.


I was born in Benfleet in ‘Knightley’s’ shop, the second daughter of Fred and Nellie Knightley.  I grew up there attending the small ‘Dame School’ run by Miss Howard, later I attended Southend High School, travelling there by train for several years.

When the war came, I left school and joined the ‘Post Office Wireless Service’ and trained to be a wireless operator and was eventually posted to a radio station near St Albans. We spied on German stations and our findings were sent to Bletchley Park to be decoded.

I was courted by the boy next door.  Eddie’s home was ‘Tuffield’s Stores’, High Street, Benfleet my home was ‘Knightley’s’ next door.  Towards the end of the war we were married at St Mary’s Church and set up home in Grosvenor Road.  We were blessed with two boys, Allan and Roger, now both married with their own families.

Eddie’s parents became ill and unable to run ‘Tuffield’s Stores’ so Eddie and I took it over and ran in until our retirement when it was leased to ‘Threshers’ and we moved to St Mary’s Road.

In 2003 after nearly 60 years of happy marriage Eddie had a heart attack and left me alone.

I wrote my memories as a record for my boys and their families.  I was then asked to produce it as a book, which I hope you will enjoy reading as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Benfleet has changed beyond belief since I was a child, enjoying the village and people that lived there.

I hope you can imagine how it was.



Original author:         Iris Sugg

Original recording:     Link Radio

Copyright holders:     Essex Sound and Video Archive.

For further information about the recording or to request a copy please contact:


Web site: Essex Record Office


Knightley's shop
Iris Sugg
Church Creek
Iris Sugg
Knightley's shop
Iris Sugg
The Waterfront
Iris Sugg
Church Creek
Iris Sugg

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  • Hello Peter.
    May I suggest you contact your brother’s Francis wife Priscilla who would have all the info that you require.

    By James Knightly (22/07/2020)
  • Iris’ father, Frederick, was the younger brother of my grandfather, Edward Knightley, (b 1883), who, sadly, died in 1913, two months after my mother, Jessie (& twin sister Ethel) were born. [They grew up in Leytonstone.] They therefore never knew their father and it seems they did not have any contact with their father’s siblings, (Aunt) Charlotte (b 1881) & (Uncle) Frederick, as my mother and Aunt Ethel never ever mentioned having any uncles, aunts or cousins. Any knowledge or information about the Knightley family who were living in Shoreditch during the 1891 Census, would be very gratefully received. My twin brother and I were born in 1949, so are contemporaneous with Iris’ sons, who are I guess second cousins or possibly ‘once removed’, but we share a great grandfather!

    By Peter Thomson (01/01/2019)

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