The Clock House Café

Once Owned By The Hagon Family

A gathering at the War Memorial and in the background The Clock House Cafe c.1952
Castle Point Council
Albert Layzell and Violet as a child
Yvette Layzell
My mum and dad, Frank & Florrie Hagon c.1950
Bernard Hagon
Bernard Hagon in 1949 - aged 16
Bernard Hagon
Armistice Day 1948 as seen from The Clock House Cafe
Bernard Hagon
Bernard Hagon's father standing outside the Clock House with a customer. Taken in 1948.
Bernard Hagon
Bernard in 2015 - aged 82 (See Bernard's comment below)
Bernard Hagon


My father Frank Hagon and mother Florence Hagon, bought The Clock House Cafe after the war. I remember the inside of the shop was like something out of Dickens. There was everything on the shelves from cough medicine, sweets, cigarettes and snuff and they also served tea.

Working at the shop was a lady that had been there since she left school, her name was Vi. She was then about 40 years of age, a lovely, quiet lady who baby sat me when my parents went out. She was the daughter of the man that had the franchise to ferry people over to Canvey Island, “A special license” in those days, there was no Bridge of course.

The original Benfleet bridge spanned the Barking Creek in London so it was secondhand when it was bought.

Food and sweets were of course still on ration. I remember one day when my parents were out, sneaking into the shop, opening this lovely big brown jar, and to my surprise it was full of chocolate powder. I got the biggest spoon I could find, thrust it into the pot and then into my greedy little mouth; Only to find it was not chocolate but snuff. The sensation was awful.

I went to a small, private school on the Downs behind The Clock House,  later to a high school in Leigh on Sea, “Highfield College”.  I would spend my lunchtime down in Old Leigh in Wendy’s Cafe, where I met four of my best friends, Michael Dobbs, Ted Dutton, Bernard Willder and Alfie Page, we are still very close even today. Ted alas has passed on, his wishes were that is Ashes be thrown off Bell Wharf, we have all agreed we will go the same way so we can all be together.

Bernie Willder’s father, Sid Willder, had the biggest fishing boat in Leigh. Us boys used to go out with him occasionally, out past Cheney Spit and the West Bly boy, it was exciting for us boys, but so cold.

“Back to Benfleet” – I remember some of the notorious customers using The Clock House. Sid Cripps, he owned the farm from the station along the creek towards Hadleigh Castle. He was a character, about six foot three in height and an ex-household cavalry officer. He had a pig farm. He ran up quite a bill with my father, and then presented him with a baby pig to settle up. This was illegal in those days. We kept the pig in the back of The Clock House garden and fed it on scraps and apples which my father cooked. It grew up enormous, getting out one day and running round the War Memorial in the High Street, my father in close pursuit with the local policeman and customers from The Clock House. I remember the policeman closed his eyes to the fact it was illegal, mind you he got a leg of pork.

When I left school I got a job by Benfleet bridge, at a boat yard on the left hand side owned by Mr Latimer. A lovely man who lived on the Downs at Benfleet. I left there and went to sea.


I came home from one trip three days after the floods on Canvey Island. I volunteered with my father, we filled pillowcases with sand and mud to fill the breaches in the wall. It was cold and exhausting. I lost a good friend who was a taxi driver on Canvey.

Life in Benfleet was some of the happiest times of my life and I also remember going to dances at the Tarpots Hall.

“Good old days”

To the right is a picture of the author that he sent to the Archive in 2016, along with a comment that can be seen at the bottom of this page.

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  • I remember buying the first choc ice I ever had from the Clock House. Must have been 1947 or 8 and of course everything chocolate had been on ration before then. Can’t remember how much it was…… maybe 3d or 6d. Probably bought my first packet of cigarettes from there too, a few years later.

    By Miall James (26/05/2019)
  • I have written to you before. My name is Bernard Hagon and I lived at the Clock House South Benfleet. My father was Frank Hagon. He owned the Clock House for over 15 years after coming out of the army in Burma. You have photographs and articles from me but I found this one only yesterday and thought you might like it. It was taken in 1948 and is of my father standing outside the Clock House with a customer (see above). I remember that lady but not her name, she lived at the bottom of Essex Way.

    By Bernard Hagon (05/10/2016)
  • Betty, St. Mary’s Church Hall is now in the High Road near Cemetery Corner. I’m not sure when it changed from the location shown in the picture, maybe another reader will know.

    By Frank Gamble (23/11/2015)
  • An up-to-date photograph (above) of myself at the age of 82.
    And still working for the Marriot hotel company. I am often looking at the history that you are writing it certainly takes me back to the good old days when life was a little slower than it is today, God bless you for taking an interest in those happy days. Bernard Hagon.

    By Bernard Hagon (23/11/2015)
  • The mention of St Mary’s Church Hall reminds me again of the Women’s Institute as this is where their monthly meetings were held.  I had hoped that someone would remember and add a comment to “Betty Light remembers” but, so far, no one has done so!  Does Benfleet still have a W.I?  Also, St Mary’s Church Hall was the venue for Old Time Ballroom Dancing – I think that was monthly too.  Is the the Church Hall still there?  

    By Betty Turpin (09/02/2014)
  • In the far background of the Clock House Cafe picture just behind the memorial cross is St. Mary’s Church hall where I held my wedding reception with Margaret (nee Sparrow, daughter of Ted and Millie Sparrow, Ted was a bell ringer at St. Mary’s church).

    By David Cowan (29/01/2014)

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