Mary Hawkins,  née Pratt:  Malvern, Dunton Drive, Laindon

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Mary remembers:


When I was 13, I remember going to Clarke's, the cycle shop, to buy my first bike with money I had earned looking after a lady in Berry Lane, when her daughter went on holiday, also going to Churchill Johnson's many times to get paint to decorate our bungalow with Dad..  Our bungalow had 3 big rooms but in the year up to my teens 2 bedrooms, a bathroom and a kitchen was added on the back. The only water we had was a well in the back garden.  We still had to heat water for washing and baths on a gas ring.  I was in my early teens before we had running water. 


Mum and Dad had over 200 rabbits at one time and Mum had 12 angora rabbits which she plucked the fur from and the lady in the drive would spin it into wool which Mum then made into dresses and jumpers for us.  Mum also helped at our church club on a Thursday night teaching needlework and cooking and Dad ran a boxing club for 10 and over.


The Earlettes, I think, did a talent show and in the interval we had a line of dads dressed in tutus and builders boots with me in the front doing a ballet dance which they followed.  I remember it was very hard to keep a straight face and keep on my toes.  This was held at the Radion cinema, where my husband later was a projectionist under the management of Mr Heath. 


My mother and father later restarted the band with Dad on drums, Mum on the accordian and piano, Mrs Mudd on accordian and Mr.Mudd who played  the violin.


My grandad would take me to the Radion on Saturday mornings for children's films and then collect me and take me to the Laindon Hotel Gardens.  He would have a pint while I had an ice cream and a lemonade,  


Mum and Dad loved the land and had ducks, geese, rabbits, chickens, goats, cats and dogs.  Many a happy day was spent when my cousins came down from London for weekends and holidays to camp in the back garden: 1 tent for boys and 1 tent for girls.  We would go to a farm and collect hay onto a trailer with rakes and pitchforks, then the farmer would bring it home for us and we would unload it and take it to the back garden to make haystacks for the winter.  Then dinner in the garden, rounders and other games until late evening,  then sit outside with Mum's home made wine and food having a sing song with Mum on the accordian. 


We also went to my Aunt Mick's one day a week, who had a large small holding on the other side of the Arterial Road.  We would pick and wash fruit and vegetables, collect Mum's chutney and jams and pack them all into a pony trap and take to market.  I think it was Brentwood or Little Burstead.   Then we would cycle home to do our evening jobs and look after the animals.


Our local store was Rogers Post Office.and General Store with  another store two doors away.  In Lower Avenue there was also a grocery store called Drews.


My school days at Dunton Primary were happy.  We only had 3 classrooms with  Mr.Newman as our head.  The Dunton Entertainment Hall was next door and we had our dinners there. There was also a bungalow a few yards away which we went to after school as their front room was made into a sweet shop.  When I went to Laindon High Road school I remember Mr.Woodward who spent a lot of time teaching me maths.   Other teachers were Mr.Gray, Mrs.Gray, Mr.Cluff, Mr.Reece, Mrs.Jollyman, Miss.Fairburn, Mrs.Collins and Mrs.Vernon.  Mr.Radford was our head teacher.  


We also had lovely parties at Mrs.Alderton's house (known to us as Aunty Grace).  Other neighbours that I remember are Mr.Andrews, who had a shop in Durham Road, Mrs.Hallett, Mrs.Galpin, Mrs.Kiddell, Mrs.Pinnell, Mrs.Shepherd, Mrs Topping and Mrs.Bumpstead.  I wonder if any one else remembers them.


When I was a child the Dunton Colony was a home for elderly men with an orchard.  It was  later sold to Mr.Grey for a caravan site. 


Our milk was delivered by a large farm horse called Snowy who often got loose from his field and would clomp down the drive at speed with his owner running behind. 


In the war I woke up one morning frightened to find strips of silver paper floating down into our garden.  I think this was to stop the German pilots picking up our radar signals, One plane crashed down at the top of our road in what we called Piggies Field.  Lots of people ran up there.  The farmer dragged the pilot out.  My sister said he only looked about 14 and so frightened as some ladies where going after him with pitchforks, but the farmer stopped them.


When I left school I worked in a place owned by Mr and Mrs. Davis which made curtains and recovered chairs, up the road by the Winston Club.  I left after a while and went to work in London offices.


A lovely memory was of all the walks we had as children, so safe, and seeing the birds and the snakes basking in the sun on cement or logs.   Happy days! 


1.   Laindon High Road School:  last day before leaving school, 1949

 Mary, back row 3rd from right




2.    Party at Dunton Community Hall.

Situated near Dunton School, this hall was unfortunately later destroyed in a fire.


front row (kneeling), from left: unknown;  Mary Pratt;  Sheila Galpin, Alan Alderton, Jean Scott, Rosemary Pinnell;

 2nd row sitting: 3rd  left, Mrs Topping; 4th left, Mrs Rogers (post mistress);

3rd row(sitting): 5th left, Betty Topping; 

4th row(standing): 3rd left, Reg Emery; 4th left, Mrs Galpin; 6th left, Mr Rogers (postmaster)


3.  The Revellers Concert Party



4.  Wedding at St Mary's, 1954:  believed by Mrs Hawkins to be the last wedding to be solemnised at this church.   The Reverend Isbister officiated.


from the right...

Jennifer Jarrett(cousin); Eileen Meaton (sister);  Mary,  Peter,  Eric Hawkins (groom's brother); Doreen Williams (friend); Geoffrey Simmonds (nephew).