Our Boys Cafe Dock Road Tilbury - a Memory of Tilbury.
When I was six, I moved into 'Our Boy's Cafe' with my mother and grandfather. My uncle, aunt and cousin also lived with us in the accommodation above. It was the last cafe of many along Dock Road, Tilbury, so we had to work really hard to build up a good reputation for a varied menu of good home cooking for the dockers who deservedly needed and expected a square meal - and fast!
The first morning we opened at six a.m. for breakfast. A long queue of dockers formed immediately as far as the door and stretching outside onto the pavement. My mother promptly fainted at this sight, but did recover enough to convince them she could cook a tasty meal - and be entertaining as well!
Seeing the dockers toing and froing on their bikes past our window was quite a sight, like a swarm of bees. At that time, there were fields between Tilbury and Grays and when the men were on the roads going home, some chatting away to each other, some younger ones racing along at break neck speed, it was best to make your own journey at another time.
We had settled in. Sometimes on a Sunday we would make tea for the local cricket team. We also opened one of our rooms upstairs for office workers to have lunch, all in an attempt to compete with the many other cafes also trying to earn a living.
We opened for drinks when the Thames flooded, in the early 50s. We put upturned milk crates reaching up to the counter for people to walk on ,and amazingly I sat on the stairs catching little tiddlers with a net, so the water was not so polluted was it?
To my delight, a Go-Kart track opened in a field at the back of us, but I was not allowed to go because I was too young.
'Our Boy's Cafe', 'Smokey Joes', 'Tom's', what names! What times!
I remember our regular customers with fondness.
'Our Boy's' was opposite Tilbury Town Railway Station and from my second floor bedroom window I could see the cranes, but could only imagine the vastness of the dock area. When I was about fourteen and was helping out in the Cafe, I begged to be taken into the docks. An offer was made by three regular customers to smuggle me into the docks past security and to have a drive around - with my mother's approval. It was so exciting, I sat in the back of their car with an old tatty cap on, between two burly dockers and the dock police none the wiser.
Although I remained in the car, I had a jolly good look around.
How about New Years Eve? The sounds of the ships welcoming in the New Year, for me, cannot ever be surpassed.
Eventually, we could not continue as the competiton became unmanageable and we were made bankrupt.
We all went our different ways and I moved to London, but Tilbury will always remain a special place and an experience to remember!
A memory shared by on Jan 2nd, 2009. Send Julia Fraser a message
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