Living In Abridge By Carol Gook

A Memory of Abridge.

My parents, Rene and Freddie Gook moved to Abridge in the mid fifties. They were eastenders who belonged to a cycling club and used to visit Abridge at weekends - their destination was Brighty's cafe. They were captivated by the village's charm, and bought one of the new bungalows, we lived at 5 Alderwood Drive.
My Mum had a job in the city and would commute to work on the no 10a bus, my Dad was an electrician and travelled to wherever he was working on his motor bike. I was born in 1967, closely followed by my two brothers... I remember my Dad extending the tiny bungalow to fit us all in!

I remember Brighty's little sweet shop and the cafe quite clearly. The shop was old and dark and had a distinctive smell with creaky floors, I remember the older couple who ran the shop - Mr and Mrs Brighty, I guess. When they closed the shop to make way for the Roding Restaurant, I was about 10 years old, I was given an old tin toy, from the shop's old stock, a monkey which ran up a string when you pulled the string tight. It was in its original box... my Mum took it to keep it safe... I still have it today. The other buildings in the Market Place were interesting too, there was a car showroom selling Volkswagens, called Abridge Engineering, which was by the bus stop. Opposite was the doctors surgery and I remember this as a big house, old and musty smelling. Then, there was a butchers - Owen, a Hairdressers - called Susannah, the Post Office too which seemed to sell everything! Then in the late sixties a trendy boutique appeared, called Janice. Think it became an antique shop later. And also a betting shop next door!
There was a big old house, derelict, almost on the corner of Hoe Lane, before the cricket field, which had an orchard at the back. I can also remember there being a grocer's shop, maybe owned by the Bayles family near here too, sort of at the front, or maybe next door. People would sell flowers and vegetables grown in their gardens, at their gate. I guess these were still the post war years and part of a village way of life. One front garden, opposite the pub The Maltsters, would be completely covered in Marguerite daisies.
The cricket field was home to the annual village fete - I loved the fancy dress competitions - there was cricket here too, of course.
I remember new housing being built on the site of the derelict house, a little cul-de-sac called The Poplars.

I went to Lambourne Primary School, the tiny little village school, which I loved. Lots of my classmates' parents had also attended the school before them. I remember the teachers - Mrs Barr, Mr Whyte who taught some of us to play piano and guitar, and Mr Garner was headmaster at the time. There was a Mr Elliott there too who inspired me personally as an artist and I remember him reading us amazing stories. My Dad helped to build the swimming pool at the back of the school one summer. I remember the school milk freezing in the cold country winters, the warm canteen with lovely dinner ladies.  I did a paper round before school, for the local newsagent, first by car at Lambourne End with the newsagent's wife, then a village round on my bike.
I passed my 11 plus and went on to school at Loughton County High, a Grammar school. I'd take either the 250 bus, an old red single decker to Theydon Bois then catch the tube to Loughton, or the 167a, to Loughton, from the market place. Had to give up my paper round at this point!

In the summer holidays we'd play in and by the river, go on lots of walks using the local footpaths, pick blackberries in Hoe Lane then on to Lambourne End for ice cream and Hainault Forest. I used to ride my bike to Ongar and swim at Grange Farm Outdoor pool. It was a very idyllic outdoor life, loads of interesting places to go. Like the Bluebell woods and the old air raid shelters at the back of New Farm Drive, such simple adventures on your doorstep. We'd play in the fields at the back of Alderwood Drive too.
I sang in the church choir. going to Lambourne Church each Sunday, with choir practice on a Friday night at the newer church in the village. Lambourne church always felt a bit mysterious, with its ancient wall paintings, and brasses on the floor,  but I remember it being really interesting. Loved singing at the weddings!

I remember the Log Cabin cafe too, as a teenager, Sunday aftternoons meeting friends, with it's pinball machines and jukebox. The local Youth Club was great too, that was in the Village Hall on London Road. There was an old garage, Raven's on London road - we'd stop here for petrol, Mr Raven would be at the pumps. We'd go shopping in nearby Romford, to the market and developing shopping centre, on the Greenline bus, which ran every hour.

When I was sixteen my parents moved to nearby Buckhurst Hill... but have often revisited Abridge which although different, still has its own special charm and happy memories.

With thanks to carol.gook for this memory of Abridge

Added 07 March 2008


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