'Formosa', Roseberry Avenue

The last of the few! Do you have any information about this property and its original owners?

Formosa - when the Harbords moved in 3.9.2005
Paul Harbord
Formosa in the snow, 2.12.2010
Paul Harbord

[Editor’s Note:] In 1939 there were only four properties in Roseberry Avenue – ‘Alleyn’ (Glover family, who were a retired couple with a poultry keeper son);  ‘Almedia’ (Prynn family – a couple who worked making scientific instruments); ‘Nexta’ (Bishop family, but they were not in residence) and ‘Formosa’, which is the only original property still standing. The 1937 Electoral Roll marked ‘Formosa’ as being resided in by Walter Charles Jones, a Groceries Provision Assistant and his wife Florence Rose, together with Emily Patience Jones. By the time of the 1939 Register,  their  ten year old son, Oswald was added, and Emily Patience no longer resided there.

Unusually, ‘Formosa’ managed to avoid Benfleet Urban District Council’s edict of 18th September 1957, which stated that all properties were to use the number allocated to them.

Here is  the current owner’s story:

“My wife and I bought ‘Formosa’ on Roseberry Avenue in 2005 from the Panrucker family who bought the property about 1984, we think, from the original family.

The original two bedroom house was extended in 1969 with a Swiss Cottage style rear extension with a large overhanging roof to create another three bedrooms, upstairs bathroom, and a balcony.  However, we don’t know when the original front part was constructed, we suspect late 1920s, early 1930s by the materials and construction, but there was possibly something more temporary here before that, as described in some of the other plotland stories .

In the 1980s, the land south and west (rear) of the property was divided up, and a Doctors surgery and three detached houses were built with a private drive to access them.

Local people who were children in the 1970s say that the house was thought to be haunted. It was completely enclosed with trees (the stumps of which are still present in the back garden). They would run past the house, scared of it. We can confirm, however, that the house is haunted, as a number of incidents have occurred over the years. Matching descriptions of the ghost – a man standing at the top of the stairs in the old part of the house in denim dungarees – have been given to us by people who have visited, as well as from our youngest son who could see him.  Indeed, we heard the ghost calling our oldest son’s name one evening when he was just a baby. We got up and ran upstairs to find our son crying, so I guess its a good ghost.

Other incidents include things like car keys being moved around the house, or going missing for months and then re-appearing in obvious places, and the large loft hatch being pushed shut, although things have been quiet for the last few years. We also used to hear footsteps moving around our bedroom floor when we were sitting in the lounge below.

We have gradually changed the property from its stark and bare gravel drive and open access rear garden, to a well planted set of front borders, and enclosed rear garden with Rowan trees, Laurels and large shrubs and an allotment area for vegetables and herbs”.

Can anybody provide any more information about this property or its original owners?


Comments about this page

Add your own comment

  • Hi I am the daughter of Oswald, the son of the original owner, my grandmother. I can give you a lot of information if you are still interested

    By Jackie Osborne (22/07/2021)
  • Is Formosa the house next to the three bungalows, one detached and then the two semi’s?

    By Jim Campbell (01/02/2021)
  • Alistair Wilson? Jane’s brother? I remember playing in that house in around 1966/7 it belonged to the DeVere Minguard family? I played with the daughter Macey? And the older brother Carl. I remember playing in scrapped cars that were in the back garden.

    By Jim Campbell (01/02/2021)
  • I can’t unfortunately add anything useful to your story of Formosa – however there was an adjoining plot – either left or right – in the mid sixties with an abandoned house which was a common feature of the area at that time. As young boys, 8 or 9 years old, we visited that house searching for timber to loot for building go karts. On our final visit we discovered that the water main under the remains of the kitchen sink had been breached and was spraying the kitchen with a fine mist. By that time many of the walls had been broken open revealing that they were pebbledash render over chicken wire and wooden joists. Climbing to the roof we found that the asbestos tiles were not only loose but would skim through the air for a considerable distance if thrown accurately. Much fun was had. Descending through the loft we found the ideal plank of timber for a kart and struggled for some time to bring it down through the loft hatch. At that point we were surprised by a young police constable who with hindsight must have been made aware of the earlier tile bombardment of the neighbourhood. Trying to look innocent by demonstrating that we had made feeble attempts to shut off the water main were met with a good natured telling off and escorting to the pavement. He rode off on his bicycle like John Wayne.

    By Alistair Wilson (19/05/2020)

Add a comment about this page

Your email address will not be published.