A Walk From Shotgate Baptist Church To The Nevendon Road Part 1 - a Memory of Wickford.

My name is Kevin Mears, I lived in Wickford from my birth in 1958 until I got married in 1980.
I shall describe my memories of Wickford in the 1960s and 1970s as a couple of walks around the Wickford area.
The next walk again starts at the Shotgate Baptist church and ends in the town.
Leaving the church, turn right in to Bruce Grove, then you immediately come to the junction with the Southend Road. Stopping at the junction there was a dairy depot and playing fields to the right where all the milk floats were kept. Turning left in to Southend Road, several yards on the left were a couple of shops, followed by a grassed area. On the east side of the Southend Road there were open fields with views to Rawreth Shot. Further along on the right was another shop.
Walking for another couple of hundred yard you come to the railway bridge that carries the Southminster branch line. Just before the bridge is a road on the left where a school friend, Stephen Bullock lived. The road dips under the railway line and then continues past a playing filed on the left and a row of trees on the left.
A little further along on the right you come to Hill Avenue, which leads to Beauchamps Comprehensive School, where I spent six enjoyable years before starting work. Next to this road is a row of shops. A little further on, on the right, is the church, where my sister was married.
Going down the hill from the church at the junction with Wick Lane is the old Wickford C of E Infants School, where I first went to school. The old caretaker who worked there told us that it was originally thatched, but caught fire. On of the classrooms was an old wooden weather boarded building. Up to my last year there we each had a small black board to write on.
The Southend Road goes slightly up hill again, just near the brow of the hill on the left was a plot that had never been built on and had become a small wood, but was later built on. The road now continues on down hill, with a big old house on the right, where I remember an old lady who used a bath chair and an ear trumpet used to live. Opposite this house was the original police station. A little further on, on the right, is Franklins Way where the 'new' doctors surgery was built. When I was younger this was just waste land.
Further down the hill on the left was a church which used to have a small nativity scene set in to the ground every Christmas. I also remember going to a small fire works display there one year. Opposite the church was an old bungalow which I believe belonged to or was at least lived in by a midwife. There was also some sort of memorial on the front of this bungalow.
Further along on the right, as the road levelled out was the post office. There was a row of about 5 red telephone boxes there, where my parents had to go to make a phone call, before they got one installed in the house. Opposite the Post Office was a row of dilapidated wooden shops, which included a men's hairdressers, where my mother used to take me for my hair cuts when I was young.
Between the Post Office and the bridge over the river Crouch, on the right was a row of shops which included a wallpaper shop, a sweet shop, a toy shop and a garage. Crossing over the river on the left was a butchers. I always remember the carcases, chickens, rabbits hanging up in the shop and the sawdust on the floor.
You are now at the junction with the High Street. Turning left in to the High Street, immediately on the right was a Coop, where my mother used to shop and next to it another old fashioned butchers with sawdust on the floor. Next on the left was an estate agents and opposite a hardware store (called Mayes I think).
On the left was the Castle Pub and opposite a bus stop where I used to get the 351 Bus to Southend. Behind the bus stop was a fish and chip shop, a green grocers, and behind then in a little shopping arcade was a florists, mens hair dressers and a sweet shop.
Next was the road leading up to the railway station and the railway bridge over the High Street. When I was young there were no tunnels for pedestrians, just the very narrow paths either side of the road. The paths were so narrow that one set of wheels on my sisters pram had to go in the road.
Under the bridge on the right was Martins bank, with a small track leading up to the market. The market was quite a big area, which was fenced in with corrugated iron and had big gates. There always used to be an old man selling balloons in the market, he had some form of skin problem which left him with large purple growths on his face. The market also sold livestock which I also liked to go and see as a young child. I particularly remember the pigs in their pens.


A memory shared by Kevin Mears on May 20th, 2010.
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