Morris Johnson

My Memories of Benfleet

A further interview in July 2012 yielded some additional information which is revealed here.  On the subject of scout masters Stan Fisher only became the sea scout leader after the regular one was called up and his assistant, with a germanic surname was  unfortunately interned for the duration of world war 2 . While he could not recall his name, Morris does remember that after the war he started a boatyard on the Stour, hiring out rowing boats. After the scouts, Morris’s social life revolved round the yacht club and a succession of boats, including his clinker built dinghy “Winsome” seen in the photo showing the sea cadets. Also worked on the launch Hilfranor, a Dunkirk little ship.

Church Creek was his playground, but you had to be wary of being stranded onthe mudbanks under the railway bridge.  Many of the yacht club boats were laid up there during the second world war. The first bridge across to Canvey was the Colvin bridge,an electrically operated  sliding bridge, which opened in the middle to allow boats in and out. The bridge operator would make use of a  power supply located in a shed on the Benfleet shore and the bridge first lifted, then rolled back on both sides. The bridge was far more practical than the ferry, but the right of way for boats caused some huge traffic jams. Perhaps the last words should come from Betty Johnson, who witnessed the flying fortress crash on Canvey. Early on in the last war she was evacuated from Benfleet to Ilford, ! It soon became apparent that Benfleet was a lot safer as East London suffered greatly because of the proximity of the docks. Again towards the end of the war the family luck held when they sold their Ilford house two days before it was hit by a V2…

Sea cadets from Woolwich on the S.V. Hervey, a Baltic trading ship, which became the yacht club HQ, with Morris Johnson sailing "Winsome" a 12 foot national type in the background
Courtesy of Morris Johnson
Morris Johnson on the "50/50", an ex-naval fast launch, which he and Jack Philips restored at the "Hoy"
Courtesy of Morris Johnson
Betty and Morris Johnson
Mark Thres
Morris Johnson early memories
Born at a house in St. Mary's Drive in 1926 - Went to the school in School Lane then Benfleet school - Joined Scouts then Sea Scouts both under Stan Fisher - Sea Scouts had an old barge called the Soar as their HQ, they named it the "Guard Ship" - during war the barge was used by the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry who were guarding Canvey bridge - After war the barge was scrapped - Benfleet Yacht club had several ships as HQs including a Light Ship. 6 mins 19 secs.
Morris Johnson later memories
The 1953 floods and the part the Benfleet Yacht Club played in the rescue - the Lawrence family who own Canvey Supply - boat rebuilding with Jack Philips at The Hoy - working for the Canvey oil company - barges in the creek - brickworks including that Thundersley Glen was the clay quarry for the Kiln Road brick works - being friends with Gilbert Wines - Miss Gale being the head mistress at the School Lane school. 15 mins 9 secs

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  • In the photo of the 50/50 launch, restored by Morris and Jack Philips, the young woman in the cockpit looks like my cousin Bobby Philips (Stan Fisher’s daughter). Perhaps Bobby or sister Paddy can confirm this? Great memories… Penny in the Yukon Canada…

    By penny stuart (16/07/2013)
  • My Auntie and Uncle.. miss these treasures so much!

    By Katie (03/01/2013)

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