I have had very little success, trying to exactly ascertain the age of ‘Belle Vue’ 43 High Street, (which is now a dental surgery). I was thinking, perhaps, late 1880s.
There is a shield high up on the building, at the apex, and it looks like the initials ‘JWP’ on it, which could stand for John Pease. In 1886, in Kelly’s Directory, there was a John Pease, Beer Retailer, at ‘The Crown’. I wonder if he had this cottage next door but one to the Crown, built for him. There was obviously some link between the Pease and Bell families (see auction notice from the Essex Chronicle). In 1888, John Pease was the Wharf Foreman, and was reported in the Essex Newsman, after retrieving the body of a drowned boy, Francis Blakely.
The name ‘Belle Vue’ suggests 1920s/1930s, but it has obvious been here far longer than that, and could be a word play upon the ‘Bell’ family name. The 1861 Census has the whole area designated ‘The Wharf’ – no cottage names, and obviously no numbers until the Council imposed them in the late 1950s. Robert Hallmann, in his book, ‘South Benfleet, a History’ (published 2005), found, as I did, from the 1861 Census, that ‘all addresses were given as ‘The Wharf’ (page 62). On page 121, he surmises that, ‘Belle View, Ivy and Rose Cottages and Rosedale and Felicitie date from that time, more than 150 years ago’, (which would be circa 1855).
Listed in the 1891 Census at this address, are Joseph Bell, aged 66, his wife Annie, (64), daughter Emma (34), a Schoolmistress, granddaughter Sarah Gibson, aged 10, Hebert Gibson, 7, and a lodger, Charles Butcher (36) a Railway Porter.
In June 1950, the ‘names to numbers’ notice issued by Benfleet District Council, list a Crown Cottage, immediately to the left of ‘Belle Vue’, which must have subsequently been demolished, possibly in the early 1960s. In the 1939 Register, a Mr. and Mrs Saward lived at Crown Cottage; Mr. and Mrs. Hadland lived at ‘Belle Vue’.
Any further light which could be shed on this historic little cottage, or indeed any of the row of cottages beside it (Ivy Cottage, Rose Cottage, Vine Cottage etc) would be most welcome!