The General Stores, Lower Dunton Road

                                                                                                           Everest, First Avenue


photographs and text  contributed by Anne Sandwell 

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My link with the plotlands is through my maternal grandmother.  Her sister, Florence, and husband, Joseph Henderson, ran the general stores on the Lower Dunton road, also the shop at Everest, succeeded by their son, John and his wife, Edna,  and then his brother, Syd, and wife, Sylvia. My grandparents lived for time in St James, which was where the Widlife Trust building now stands.  It too was owned by Florence and Joseph. 


My mother moved from Upminster to Kent after my father was killed in the war, and I remember staying at St James and sleeping in the dugout, hearing the bombers going over. Then when my grandparents moved to Kent to look after me, we made regular visits back to Dunton, a longwinded journey of several buses and the Tilbury Gravesend ferry.


I have great memories of the shop, me standing on a box to hand items to customers, and running round the veranda avoiding the crates of pop.  It was like'''Open All Hours ' as it stocked everything.  The cycling club teas before the war were often quoted by my nan as being well patronised with Uncle Joe overseeing them and saying ' more bread and butter, Flory, please'.    The two smells that I associate with the visits are bacon in the shop and paraffin in the shelter.  Auntie Flory cooked on a free standing gravity fed paraffin stove.


The shop was such an essential centre for the area, especially with the post office and telephone box. 




1.   The General Stores, Lower Dunton Road.

This picture is a postal card that was sent to my grandmother dated 1934, but the photo could have been taken earlier than that. The post office was in the extension to the left of the picture, and I seem to remember a card table and chairs there as well so that is probably where teas were served unless it was a large group who were served in a large shed/barn adjacent.




2.   Outside Everest, probably 1946/7


This car had been left standing behind the shop throughout the war, so when John and Syd returned they found it had a tree growing up through the floor.  A wooden floor was put in place, and the car was used to take goods from the lower shop to the 'top shop'.  The gear lever had broken off so to change gear a knock with a hammer did the job. 

I'm the passenger; the driver was Mr Good, Syd's father-in-law.  He was a builder from Hackney who had done work at the plotlands before the war which is how Sylvia met Syd.  




3.  Outside the General Stores, dated May 1937


Mrs Flory Henderson who ran the shop with her husband, Joseph, is on the left with her sister, Maud, who was my grandmother.



4.   John, Syd and Flory


This was also issued as a postal card, showing John on the left and Syd, with their mother, Flory. Difficult to date this one due to the abundant flowers etc., both the 'boys' were in the R.A.F during the war so perhaps a couple of years after the previous photo.