Downer Road - Street Party 1953

Childhood Memories

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

Downer Road Street Party 1953 with additions and corrections courtesy of Peter Lewis and Linda Lewis
Shiner & Holmes
Downer Road Street Party 1953
Shiner & Holmes
Ada Randall
Harry Emery
Bert Randall
Harry Emery
Bert & Ada Randall
Harry Emery

Comments about this page

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  • Hi,
    I am number 9 in the photo of the
    1953 Street party, at the table.
    Pamela Charmley.
    My mum and brother are also in the photo.
    My mum is number 6, Ella Charmley.
    My brother number 29, Peter Charmley.


    By Pam Perry (25/01/2018)
  • Before migrating to Australia in 1966, I was an Army Apprentice at Chepstow 63-66, a Benfleet lad was one of my mates, Ron Pooley. Has anyone heard of the Pooley family? Regards, Les Carter

    By Les Carter (01/07/2013)
  • Thanks Eileen, congratulations on your site, a lot of history here. Actually we hope to spend a few days with Yvonne and Dave, early May next year, during our travels around the world. Might look you up ! Kind Regards, Les.

    By Les Carter (29/05/2013)
  • Thanks for your comments about the site Les, its always nice to know our readers find our pages interesting. If you have time on your travels next year, it would be good to meet you! Eileen

    By Eileen Gamble (29/05/2013)
  • No.20 on the pic is my half sister Yvonne Barwick. We have been to Crescent House a couple of times (last time was May 2013) to see Yvonne and her husband Dave. They still live there. Les Carter, Batemans Bay, Australia.

    By Les CARTER (19/05/2013)
  • Les, hello to you in Australia. As the Editor of this site I was very interested to read your comments on this page. I am also related to Yvonne and David. David is my cousin, his mother was my Aunt (my Dad’s sister). I spent many happy hours visiting the Barwicks as a child as we only lived about a ten minute walk from them. This walk involved climbing the Devils Steps too. 

    Most Sunday mornings my Dad walked me to their house and I would watch Yvonne cooking the Sunday lunch. I recently visited them for the first time in many years. My brother Alan and I spent a morning sharing old family photographs. It was good to see them. 

    Glad you enjoyed looking at the site. Keep watching.

    By Eileen Gamble (19/05/2013)
  • I was pleased to see a photo of one of my brother’s friends. He often spoke of Bertie Randall and recently he recalled doing an errand for Bertie’s mum Ada. I think Bertie and John used to go over to the Glen off of Kiln road.

    By Carol Powley nee Southward (06/06/2012)

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