South Street Mid 1960's

A Memory of Braintree

We moved to Braintree with our Dad, George Harkins, in 1966. He was an American, stationed at Wethersfield air force base, married to a young British girl, Eileen. We lived at 82 South Street for about 5 or 6 years, and me and my brother John attended Manor Street Primary school. After our time there we moved back to the US and left loads of great friends behind. We lived at the end of a lane, I recall there was woodland behind us where we were always playing. Our next door neighbours were a Mr and Mrs French - his name was Alfie, and I think they were in their 80's - they were lovely old country folk who treated us like grandchildren, walking us to school, looking after my little baby brother - we adored them and their dog Kimmy! Mum and Dad loved antiques, and used to buy lots of pieces from the local dealer, Mr Gill. I loved going to the school, and remember the head teacher making me feel special, as I was so nervous about being 'different' because of my accent! I remember my Dad made friends with the local bobby, PC Ian Brotherton I think. I went back to Braintree recently, and found our old house, but the cottage the French's lived in had gone. I was pleased to see the old cinema still there, even though it's now a pub. Seeing the old school turned into a museum made me feel old! It was a real nostalgic trip and as with all things, the town has changed, but there was still enough there to bring back fond memories. It would be great to hear if anyone else has any memories of us or Mr and Mrs French.

A memory shared by Linda Gorton , on Aug 20th, 2012.

Comments & feedback

Wed Aug 13th 2014, at 11:08 pm

Colin Johnson commented:

Hi Linda, everybody who lived in Braintree during the post war era would recall your antique shop Gill opposite the police station. We always called it the second hand shop. I too visited the Embassy Cinema (Wetherspoons now) but do you recall the other cinema The. Central in the High Street. Saturday morning pictures at the "flea pit" with Hopalong Cassidy and Lassie. Happy days
Colin Johnson
Was Challis Lane.

Fri Aug 29th 2014, at 3:06 am

Robin Wilkins commented:

The Gill family originally came from Maldon, where James Gill was the last Master Blacksmith living at 6 London Road. My maternal grandmother was a Gill who went into 'service' at age 12 years. She married Albert Dickerson and they lived in Colchester. The bus fare was one shilling and three pence, return from Braintree, for a children's ticket. Happy days.

Sat Jun 20th 2015, at 8:27 pm

chrisfrenchgava commented:

Alf and Mary French were my grandparents. I remember the 'new' house being built adjacent to their cottage off South Street and an American family from the airbase moving in. My name's Chris French and I still live in Braintree.

Wed Oct 7th 2015, at 6:04 pm

fitclothing commented:

Hello...I'm from Braintree...15 Skitts Hill then 23 Victoria St then 63-67 South St.
My dad made / repaired shoes in Skitts Hill then started a small bus business. He regularly drove the servicemen from Wethersfield to Lancaster Gate in London.
I was in contact with a chap who was stationed at Wethersfield...Kirk Dyken. He lodged in a house at the far end of South Street....by the 'monkey puzzle' tree (now gone of course because of the offence it caused monkeys!)
Mr. French...I do remember them, my dad often mentioned the name.
Mr. Gill.....we were friendly with him, his son has Mitchell Electrical on the same site as his dad.
My mum is one of the few remaining oldies of the town and would probably remember most names from the 60's
Adrian Godden

Fri Apr 29th 2016, at 6:44 pm

ljgilligan commented:

My husband, Captain John Gilligan and I were at Wethersfield Air Force from end of October 1966 for 18 months. He was in Supply with Lt. Col Schmidt. When we left in 1968 John spent a year in Southeast Asia. He died 18 November 2014 with pancreatic/liver cancer. We always remember the people...both military and the English friends we met.
Elizabeth (Liz) Gilligan

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