"Old Benfleet" Shops

In the 1940s and 1950s

Remembering the shops

I was born and bred in South Benfleet in 1937. My home was in the High Road, just opposite the Methodist Church. My grandparents and parents spent most of their lives in Benfleet, probably going back to the early 1900s.

I attended King John School, where I was Head Boy in 1953. My now wife, Olive Milton (nee Smith), was Head Girl. The school was under the mastership of “Taffy Evans”; they don’t make them like that any more. At school I enjoyed sport and represented King John and Essex County in football, cricket and athletics, ultimately going on to play soccer with Tottenham Hotspur.

Being at King John in the year of the flood, 1953, I can recall the part that I played.

My wife left school a year later than I and went into nursing, following which she was lured into a more exotic lifestyle when she joined Laker Airways as an Air Hostess. Olive spent most of her younger life in Hadleigh and has a mass of recollections to recall. Her family, the Smith’s, go back four generations in Hadleigh.

I have drawn maps (shown below) of Benfleet High Road and High Street, showing the positions of the shops and businesses that I can recall. There are some that I have been unable to name, perhaps readers may be able to help fill in the gaps!

Where possible, some adverts relating to the shops are also printed, as proprietors names often help to jog memories.

Station Area
David Milton
Memorial and Clockhouse
David Milton
Vicarage Hill and High Road
David Milton
High Road
David Milton
Hopes Green
David Milton
No.16 - Advert for The Anchor Inn
Shop 8. - Advert for W H Attwell
37 on map - Advert for Old Barn Club
Shop 9 - Mrs Yvonne Barnes and daughter Jackie standing out side their shop. c. 1948
Jackie Barnes
Shop 18 - Advert for W.G. Bremner
Shop 17 - Advert for The Clock House Cafe
No.1 on map - Advert for the Crown Public House
Shop 38 - George Foster with his daughter Joan standing outside their shop. c.1950
Ralph & Joan Pickett
Shops 1 & 6 - Advert for Howard's Dairies
No.2 on the map - Advert for The Hoy & Helmet
Shop 9 - Advert for F C Knightley, Newsagent
Shop 40 - Advert for G R Nunn, butchers
Shop 9 - Advert for Powell's Restaurant
Shop No.14 - Advert for Shiner & Holmes, who were also Photographers
Shop 31 - Advert for A J Smith & Son, timber merchants
Shop 3 - Advert for Tomlin & Son, butcher
No.14 on the map - Celebrations of February 1952 for the Accession of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II taken at The War Memorial. In the background The Clock House Cafe and Westminster Bank
Castle Point Council

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  • Hi,
    Kevin Bowden here, lived in South Benfleet from early 60’s to early 80’s and moved to Westcliff on Sea.
    Map 2, I am sure either 11 or 12 might have been a barbers shop I remember getting my hair cut there one time before going to a hair salon at Hopes Green next to the post office I think. Always remember going in the door and turning left for the gents one or you went straight on for the ladies area.
    Always remember the barber used to put a piece of wood across the arms for me to sit on and he had a clockwork toy which he wound up so I could sit still while I had a short back and sides.

    By Kevin Bowden (24/09/2022)
  • I was glad I found this page. My maiden name is Smith. My late father Frederick George Smith a Carpenter by trade his Father Lesley Frank Smith and the rest of the family came out to Australia in 1949 and my dad in 1952. My Great Grandfather Frederick Charles Smith ran a taxi business and lived not far from Benfleet in Tarpots. At the moment I am writing up some of the family history adding to what is done. As I have not been to this area of England I am looking for a place called Kilenden have you heard of it on Couden Road, I have not been able to find it in South Benfleet and wondered if anyone might know of it. Thanks for putting this website up its great to see wHere some of my family came from. Carol Turnbull

    By Mrs Carol Turnbull Ringarooma Tasmania Australia (31/01/2021)
  • Interesting site bringing back memories of playing table tennis and football with Tony Milton. Also Vic Barnes and family, close friends of my Dad. He owned a houseboat in the creek and had a pub on his back garden. Great memories and of course I remember you David as I lived opposite you. Well done

    By keith little (11/01/2021)
  • Does anyone remember a shoe shop on the High Street? I think it was owned by a Mr Charters.

    By Daphne Day (16/08/2020)
  • I remember going into the Clock House Cafe as a small child with my mum on our shopping trip from living on the houseboat on the creek, as our Dr surgery was just up the road they had only just built it,  Dr Holloway, Dr Smith and Dr Pope. We would also go and sit on the Downs and look out over the creek towards Canvey, as my father, George Yeo, used to operate the Draw bridge over the creek.  He used to let me pull the levers, I really thought I was important doing that, I must have only been about 3 or 4 years old at the time.

    By Mrs Ann Mintram (nee Yeo) (25/03/2015)
  • Penny Stuart, Liquorice Sticks were one of my favourites too! We used to chew the sticks, which just looked like a regular stick out of the garden, until they frayed out and just a lump of fibrous yellowy brown bits remained. They had an intense liquorice flavour and were apparently pieces of dried liquorice root. I have never seen them anywhere else. They probably account for a lot of bad teeth in our age group, do you think?

    By Michael Reed (02/01/2014)
  • Colin Mac, I think the liquorice sticks you are talking about are what we used to call Liquorice Hard Sticks, though you could apparently get an inferior soft version too. Liquorice hard sticks are still available in specialist sweet shops now, as are sherbert dabs. Sweet cigarettes and liquorice cheroots are not though. You can however get sweet sticks with no painted red end.

    By Michael Reed (02/01/2014)
  • On Map 2 around 1956 onwards, wasn’t there a Barbers above somewhere between 5 and 11, I think next to the church rear steps/path?

    On Map 3 wasn’t there a bank, probably Midland on the corner around 5?

    On Map 4 The clothing factory in Brooke Road was later bought by Glanfields. Originally this shop may have been Hobsons uniform manufacturers for a very, very short time, whilst they bought/built the old factory on the corner of Kiln Road, though most clothing factories made uniforms in the war.

    The sweet shop next to the Brooke became Galloways later.

    By Michael Reed (01/01/2014)
  • The Clock House Cafe was owned by my father for 15 years at the time when this picture was taken. He bought the cafe after the war. I have many stories I could tell about Benfleet, I am now 80,  a wonderful place to live after the war.

    By Bernard Hagon (27/11/2013)
  • A memory of licorice stick. Somewhere on High Street as a child in the 40’s, cousin Paddy Fisher took me to the sweet shop for treats. Mine was Licorice Stick – a true short stick that one chewed on that was indeed Licorice! As I chewed the stick shredded. OK Paddy, hope you weren’t teasing me! Anyone else tried licorice stick? Cheers to Benfleet folk, Penny in the Yukon, Canada…

    By Penny Stuart (28/08/2013)
  • Licorice sticks, are they still available I wonder? Halfpenny each from the sweet shop on the way to junior school in Hadleigh along with sherbert dabs at a penny I think, a sort of tube of paper with a tube inserted with which you sucked up the contents. Nearest thing that tastes like it now is probably sherbert lemons, sherbert lemons are of course time travellers access to the past. Just one takes me back to that shop without fail. Colin Mac

    By Colin Mac (28/08/2013)

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