A page added to this site some time ago by my brother, Fred Emery, told of his childhood days as a young lad, growing up in and around Benfleet. A picture of a street party showing locals from the area celebrating Coronation Day (see photos at the bottom of this page), was marked with some of the few names that could be remembered. We asked for help with the naming of the people, together with any information on the exact location.
As luck would have it, we have been contacted by Peter Lewis who is in the picture. Better than that, the Lewis family were friends with the Emery’s in the 1950s and 1960s.
Emails passed between myself and Peter, me asking questions and Peter trying his best to recall what he could. In an effort to find out as much detail as possible, Peter suggested he would contact his sister, Linda, who still lives in Benfleet and between them they have, to the best of their ability, filled in the names of many of the faces in the picture. Also, the location and some background history.
The following words are by Peter Lewis.
“We lived in Catherine Road almost opposite Forest House and my father often did repairs there for Miss Howard, who lived there. I was a paper boy from the age of 11 until leaving school at 16 and knew the area like the back of my hand”.
“The party was held in a field at the bottom of Mrs Beeston’s garden, which was between Downer Road (The Welcome Stores little shop was on the corner) and Felstead Road. The house in the background can still be seen, although most of the area has been redeveloped. The field that you thought it was in was my dad’s, it was where we all had big bonfires on firework night. I have still got the scars on my knee from when I crashed Fred’s trolley half way down Thundersley Park Road”.
I asked Peter about the Randall family who also lived in Catherine Road, as Ada and Bert Randall and their children Brian and Bertie had played a big part in my own family’s life at this time.
“Aunt Ada and Uncle Bert first lived with us when they were evacuated from London due to the war time bombing. They moved in next door shortly afterwards and lived in the bungalow for the rest of their lives, both much loved by all our family. As children we soon found out that aunt Ada was a soft touch for a thick slice of bread and jam, she loved all the children”.
As a young child I often trailed around after my two older brothers, they often visited the Randall’s and the Lewis’s. I remembered playing somewhere in a garden where there was an old tram. It was wonderful, you could play there for hours with no grown ups to tell you off. I asked Peter if he knew where that was.
Peter recalls … “The tram you spoke about was in our garden. It was one from Southend Pier. My dad and uncle Harry moved it into the field and cut it in half to make a summer house each. Our half was next to aunt Ada’s side of our house, the other was in uncle Harry’s garden the other side of our house. We all played and camped out in them”.
Lastly, with the help of Peter and Linda, many of the faces can now be named. The up-to-date information is listed below. Can anyone fill in the blank spaces?
The list of names are as follows:-
1. Mrs Lewis (Peter and Linda’s mum)
2. Mrs Beeston
3. Mr Beeston
4. baby Beeston
5. Mrs Cripps ?
6. Barbara Lewis or Ella Charmley
9. Pam Charmley
13. Mrs Cripps ?
20. Mrs Yvonne Barwick (from Mount Road)
21. Mr Barwick (from Mount Road)
22. baby Plant
23. Michael Plant
24. Miss Beeston or Susan Plant
26. Pat Cripps (from Felstead Road)
27. Pauline Cripps (from Felstead Road)
28. Linda Lewis (Peter’s sister)
29. Peter Charmley
30. Billy Beeston
31. Sheila Barwick (from Mount Road)
32. Maureen Barwick (from Mount Road)
38. Johnnie Driver (his father owned the garage on the hill)
39. Bertie Randall (Bert & Ada’s son) Catherine Road
40. Brian Randall (Bert & Ada’s son) Catherine Road