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Happy Childhood Memories

A Memory of Abridge.

I was born in Abridge in 1964, the last of 9 kids. We lived in The Mead which is no longer there. Abridge was a great place to grow up, we would play outside in the woods or over the shallows all day and only come home when we were hungry. In the summer we would walk to Grange Farm open air swimming pool and then after walk onto Loughton to the Chariot for fish and chips. Lots of the old time Abridge families such as The Flacks, Taylors, Mays, we would make our bikes in the summer and then break them up in the winter to make sleds. The Log Cabin was a favourite haunt with Old Mary cooking in the back, we would take bets when her cigarette ash would fall off but she always managed to smoke it down to the butt without an ash falling. Holt and Day shop was down by the two trees, legend had it they were haunted by some kid that was killed and buried under the trees. Becks was in the corner before Silver Street with Maurice who watched you like a hawk trying to grab a little extra sweets. Before they widened the River Roding we would make a few pence pushing the cars out when the river flooded and when it iced over the fields we had a built in skating rink. In the summer we would pick snails and sell them to the Roding restaurant who no doubt charged more than the penny a snail we received. Colin Green was the local bobby who was much respected back in the days when you had one, no point in running away from him when you played 'knock down ginger' as he knew who you were and would just go straight to your house. Scrumping was a sport until the lady at no. 2 Alderwood Drive got smart and ended up just leaving bags of apples at her front door. Back in the old days there were 3 pubs before any of them were renovated, the Malsters Arms used to have a little hatch where you could go in and buy a bag of crisps but you had to be careful of the old girl who opened the hatch as I'm not sure she was too keen on kids and she would try and catch your hand when closing it. Winter was spent trying to keep warm and in the public loo there was underground heating, there was a resident tramp called Ron who lived there until they pulled the place down. I remember the old Brighty's cafe and also Dr Ellis whose surgery was opposite the Blue boar. My mum worked at WC French which is also now gone. If we were a little flush with money we would take the old double decker bus 167a from outside the Blue Boar just for a round trip ride to see the big outside world (Loughton), that was when Loughton had a London Transport bus garage. Some of the old village characters kept us entertained, Swisher, Old Doris from Pancroft, Jim Barr the road sweeper, Rose Farrell who had what seemed like hundreds of dogs from New Farm Drive. At Christmas London Road homeowners would decorate their outside trees and people would come from miles around to look at them. Penny for the guy was a common way for us kids to make a few pence for Bonfire Night, best pitches by far were outside all 3 of the pubs. Lots of good memories there, my sister still lives there and I visit often always feels like coming home.

With thanks to Clare Horgan for this memory of Abridge

Added 20 December 2011


Comments & Feedback

Blimey, I didn't think anyone else called him Swisher!! he was one of my Grandparents neighbours in the London Road cottages!
Was Swisher the little slightly tubby fellow, dark hair, who would wander around looking a bit lost (and you may remember why, but the less said the better). Yes, there were plenty of characters - the three Lens, Len Page, Len Flack and Len Reeves, all unique and amazing; Len Page on his motorbike well into his senior years, a fearsome bowler at the local cricket club by all accounts; Len Flack with his lion's mane of swept back shining blonde hair and a stern expression on his face like a Nordic warrior, and Len Reeves with his long hair and beard (at a time when only young men had long hair in the 1970s) and his gammy leg caused by polio in his youth he was always seen with his bike until some horrible kids chucked it in the river while he was in the White Hart pub. Like many of the locals he was an excellent horticulturalist and Len could grow record breaking Sunflowers, his secret was plenty of tomato fertilizer and a very warm sunny position. He worked as a groundsman at Chigwell Golf Club for many years, such a kind heart.

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