Peter Whittingham Tapes - number 1

Take a trip down memory lane with Peter Whittingham in tape number 1 of 2, as he recalls how life used to be lived in bygone Rochford. Old photos of Rochford have been added to enhance the narrative, although we couldn't find all the relevant photos for each part of it.

Press this YouTube link or read below.

Rochford Past and Present by Peter Whittingham

Rochford Market Square has seen many changes and also many spectacles over the years. 

In 1555, John Simson was burnt at the stake for his religious beliefs.

One must remember that Rochford was just a small hamlet in the great forest of Essex.

In 1750, Rochford had 180 dwelling houses and a population of 1228.  It is recorded at this time that in the town there were two public ovens, 70 private ovens, 60 oxen, 16 wagons, 22 carts, 71 heavy horses, 22 riding horses, 754 sheep and goats, 150 pigs.

Rochford Parish, at this time, was 1867 acres.  As you see, the town has grown very much over the last 400 years.

In 1700, a well was dug in the market square which had a wooden frame pump, but after many years of hard work, a new pump was cast by Joseph Whittingham and paid for by public subscription.  The pump was removed in 1900 when the mains water came to Rochford, supplied by the Southend-on-Sea Water Company. 

In 1707, Messrs Johns, Auctioneers of Great Baddow, Essex, built a wool house on the east side of the market square.  This was a wooden framed building and was used as a meeting house: it also contained sheep and pig pens, a barbers shop and a barred section for wrongdoers.  This building got into a very bad state of repair and was demolished in 1861.  The bell from the wool house is in Prittlewell Priory Museum. 

In the distance we can hear a post-horn sounding “Get ready! Get ready! We are coming! Get ready! Get ready! We are coming!”  And this is the sound of the post-horn as the coach approached Rochford and would draw up outside the Kings Head Inn, a meeting place for London bound passengers.

The horse drawn coach started from the Blue Boar at Prittlewell.  Full gallop to the Kings Head, a change of horses and off again.  Down West Street, turn right into Ashingdon Road, left into Ironwell Lane to the Bull at Hockley. A change of horses would take place every 4 to 5 miles, all the way to London, the fare eight shillings (40p) inside, outside four shillings (20p).

Connaught House on the west side of the Square was built in 1769.  Many years ago, this was covered in ivy with iron railings along the front.  The railings were cut off at the outbreak of the second world war, in aid of the munitions drive.  You can still see small pieces left in the concrete surround.

On the north side of the Square was gutted by fire in 1884 which started in the paraffin store of Ashby’s the ironmongers.  So this side has been rebuilt and altered over the last 100 years. 

Another spectacle which took place in the square, was when a large bonfire was lit to celebrate the relief of Mafeking after 235 days siege.  It got rather boisterous when some boys were sent to the gasworks to purchase several barrels of tar which were rolled into the fire.  When the wooden barrels burnt through, the tar came out as a fiery mass and ran down West Street.  A hasty dam had to be erected to stop this mass from going into the Marlborough Head Inn.  Nobody was injured or buildings damaged.

In 1901, a horse drinking trough was erected in the Square to mark Edward VII’s coronation.  The iron work which supported the gas lamp at the top was made by Whittingham’s foundry.  This was removed in 1953 to make way for a bus shelter.

Just before we leave the Square, a little history about the banking in Rochford:

The first bank was called the Rochford Hundred and Billericay Bank run by the Harvey family.  This failed in business and was taken over by Messrs Mews as Commission Bankers until 1823 when W. Jackson took over, followed by J Giles in 1853, then it became known as Sparrow, Round, Green and Tufnell Bankers.  Business was conducted by Edward Trotter Jackson.   Trotter Jackson was master to the Rochford Pack of hounds.

I mentioned the wool house in the Square as a meeting place.  Farmers also used this to sell their seeds and produce. When this was demolished, a new meeting place had to be found.  A derelict inn called the Vernon’s Head next to the bank was demolished and a new corn exchange was built in 1863, so the farmers had a new meeting house.  This was also used as a community centre for local functions and is now the Women’s Institute Hall.  Above the main door is the town clock erected to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee of 1897.  A point of interest are the bricks over the main door, they are wedged in by their own weight.  This principal was also used when they dug the well in the Market Square.

As we walk down West Street, let us face the chemist, and you can see under the top window sill some dated bricks – WG 1862, WJB1862, ATH 1862, 11/11/1862.  This is when the front was bricked up to replace the old Essex weather boards.  As far as I know, this has always been the chemist.  When you go through the names, it starts with Harrington, Shield, Gwynn, Gallop, Robertson and now the Co-op.

The Hollies is a Georgian period, red brick house, but the small bow window has not altered, only the interior. This is where you paid your rates, as Rochford District Council had no offices in Rochford. 

The meetings of the District Council were held in the Kings Head Inn and Mr. Gregson was Clerk to the Council: he also had an office in Clarence Road, Southend, which was the Council Offices of the Southend Borough Council. 

My father’s first petrol licence to store petrol dated 1906, is issued in Clarence Road, Southend, and signed by Mr Gregson.  Mr. Carter Wood and his son Stanley ran the Rates Office.

Let us look over the road, to where Mrs Dines lives.  On the left side of the building are some uneven bricks.  This is where you would have posted your letters over 100 years ago.

The first Post Office was a small thatched cottage at the rear of the Rose and Crown car park in North Street.

It then moved to West Street to where Mrs Dines lives about 1816.  Then it moved to Mr Francis printers and then it moved again to the old police station, when His Majesty’s Royal Mail bought it from the Essex Constabulary for £600.

Stamps did not come into operation until 1832.  I have a Rochford penny post letter: that is what it would cost to send a letter by coach to anywhere over 150 years ago.

I mentioned Francis the Printers who had steam operated presses, and what wonderful printing jobs they did.  As a small boy, my father would take me to see the presses working.  My father, I know, used to make parts for Mrs Francis. As the machines were very old, the parts were not easily obtainable.

Now we are at the Marlborough Head Inn, built about 1500. This has had many facelifts over the years, inside and out. One of the stories is that, at the end of harvest, local farmers would meet and a broody hen would be put on a clutch of eggs: that is 13. Drinking, feasting, dancing with the wenches until the first chick was hatched out and what a merry time they must have had.

Next door was the barrack block. At one time this was used to house the Duke of Wellington’s Volunteers.  Their main duty was to stop smuggling and prepare to stop any invaders to the Rivers Roach and Crouch.  James Banyard, founder of the Peculiar People was born in this house, at the lower end of this block. This used to get flooded. Had Bradley Way come earlier, this building may have been saved, when the brook was diverted to a new course.

On the other side of the road was a small mill house where Mr. Arthur Topsfield, the blacksmith lived: he also had the blacksmiths shop.  Both he and his son Jack were here for many years.  Mr. Topsfield took over the blacksmiths shop from my great uncles John and Walter Whittingham.  The blacksmiths shop faced west on the corner of Union Lane. 

On the left hand side of the blacksmiths shop there used to be a row of cottages called Smiths Cottages: these were pulled down many years ago.

The gates at the end of Union Lane is the entrance to the Rochford Union, this was built in 1837 to house the poor and destitute people of the Rochford Hundred.  It cost £5000 to build, but before it was completed, a further £1000 was required.

It could accommodate some 300-400 inmates, both men and women. It was taken over by the Southend Borough Council and then it became the Southend Municipal Hospital.

Where the garage and petrol station is, this used to be Whittinghams Iron Foundry, Coach and Wagon Works.  A farm wagon complete with hay rack, ropes, shafts, centre pole, whippletrees and chains, cost between £110 to £135: these would be built to the farmers requirements.

They also made three sizes of ‘brakes’: a brake was used as a bus to convey people on outings and short journeys.  Whittinghams also made dog carts, traps and also gigs. I have received a letter from a gentleman down in Dorset, who has now purchased a spindle back gig made by Whittinghams in 1895.

There are many manhole covers in Southend which were purchased by the Corporation when the drains were being laid in Southend, and these were cast in the iron foundry.

Next door to the coach works on the left hand side were Vine Cottages with grapes growing under a glass veranda.  Then came a small gap which led to Lavender Square.  There were cottages here but they have been pulled down to make way for the new houses.  Then came Lavender House, this is where the Master and Matron of the Rochford Union lived. The Doctors House still stands and is now called Walker House, this is one of the old timber framed houses of Rochford.

Whittingham’s Garage was built by my father in 1924.  My father, William Hales Whittingham started in the motor trade in 1895.  Up to this time he was working for his uncles John and Walter Whittingham: they advised him to go in for the horseless carriage business.

Whittinghams made a body for Doctor Silver Jones De Dion car which was one of the first cars in Southend. Shafts were fitted to the chassis so he could borrow a horse, should he break down, to get home.

My father used the wagon works to repair cars up to 1924.  He also had a cycle shop in Market Square but had to move out approximately 1900 when the telephone exchange was erected in his shop.  It operated here until 1928 when it moved to the new Telephone Exchange in East Street.  I will refer to this when we get into East Street.

The Almshouses were built by Lord Rich in 1566 to house people of good character and who had worked in Rochford Parish. In the old days, the tenants of these cottages had coal, food and gifts given to them by the local inhabitants. A Board of Governors still look after the well being of the tenants. 

This is West Street as we know it today.  It has had several names.  Before the Hall Road bridge was built in 1777, it was called The Causeway and when the railway came in 1888, it was called Station Road, then it changed to Church Street.  Up to a few years ago, the postman on his rounds delivered his letters in West Street as far as the Marlborough Head, and Church Street to the new house on the golf links.  The pillar box outside Whittingham’s Garage was known as the Church Street box, this was on the inside of the door and was taken away when the by-pass was planned.

Before we turn right into Ashingdon Road, we must cast our minds back to when there was no railway bridge or embankment and we could see Rochford Hall and St. Andrew’s Church in all its splendour.  The Hall has been the manor seat for many noble families going back to the 1500s.  There is also much history attached to the hall and church, far too much for me to recall on this tape.  There are many interesting books about Rochford Hall and the people who lived there.

Next to the Almshouses, is the national schoolroom and house. This was built in 1840 and was run by John and Phoebe Popplewell who taught boys and girls until 1873.  John died and his wife Phoebe carried on.  John and his wife received the sum of £46 per annum for their services.

The new school and house was built in 1887, Ansell Culling took over as Headmaster.  It was enlarged again in 1896 and again in 1900.  A new secondary school was built in 1937 at Rocheway.  Rochford School now caters for only the infants and juniors.  The school has seen quite a lot of changes since I went there.

I can recall my first days at school when I was in the National Schoolroom and my first teacher was May Topsfield, the local blacksmiths daughter.  I also remember how we had to write our names in a small tray of silver sand and a wooden meat skewer as a pencil.

As we walk on, Ironwell Lane is on our left.  If we listen carefully, we may hear the post horn from the London bound coach, sending out a warning as it joins Ashingdon Road on its way to the King’s Head.

The next road junction has altered, this was called Pots Lane.  There used to be a pair of cottages facing west, which were in the middle of the entrance to Pots Lane.  Traffic had to go round these cottages to go down the lane in an easterly direction.

These cottages were demolished in the middle thirties to make way for the hospital building programme. These cottages had kilns to make potash and charcoal – hence the name ‘Pots’ lane. This was changed to Dalys Road when building took place on the north side.

On the south side were three fields where local tradesmen turned out their horses.  These fields were sold to the Southend Corporation for the new hospital complex. 

At the end of Pots Lane, if we turn left, this unmade track would have taken you up to the Romney Marsh and the bobbing ponds.  The large bobbing pond had the remains of the ducking stool where those who practised witchcraft were put to the test.  Captain Harriott of Broomhills, Great Stambridge, magistrate in the 1750’s, put a Mr and Mrs Hart, who were suspected of carrying out witchcraft, to the test by water.  They lived in a thatched cottage in East Street.  So far, in my research, it does not say what happened to them.

As we walk on, the White Horse inn is on our left.  A little further on is the Wesleyan Chapel: this dates back to1881.  Mr J G Baxter was a great benefactor when this chapel was built.  I can remember the footpath by the side of the church that ran across the three fields I mentioned earlier and you would come out by the school in Ashingdon Road.

As we join Weirpond Road and North Street, I would like to point out the old Fire House which is just on the left hand side in North Street.  The low shed on the right of the house was where the fire cart was housed.  This was pulled by four men and many helpers. I can see Fireman Shead running behind the fire cart, ringing his hand bell shouting “Fire! Fire!”  This was followed usually by a gang of small boys.

Across the road was a blacksmith’s shop.  My father told me, Elizabeth Whittingham worked this smithy for several years and sold out to Mr Bacon Senior.  His son Hubert carried on this business until he retired.  Unfortunately, this smithy has been destroyed by fire.

Now we are in Weirpond Road.  Where the timber yard is, there was a building called the Custom’s House.  This housed the Customs Officers under the command of John Harriott.  These officers would enforce the law against smuggling on the rivers Roach and Crouch.  John Harriott was the founder member of the Essex River Police Force.  At the rear of the Customs House was the maltings yard: this was run by Luker’s Brewery of Southend. In later years, Cramphorns, seed merchants used this as a store, and another part was used by Mr Bedford as a car breakers yard.  The only store shed is on the front between Reeves and W T Nash: it stands clear of the ground so cats could go underneath to keep the vermin down.

On the other side of the road, where Does the agricultural engineers are, this used to be Smoothy’s Agricultural Engineers: they repaired steam traction engines, road rollers and portable steam engines (these were pulled by two horses).  I spent many hours watching the engineers repairing the engines.  When I think back how they were driven round Rochford, I might say everything in the house rattled when they came by, far more than the heavy lorries of today, but not so frequently.  There would be the engine, thrashing machine, living van, water cart, coal cart: all on hard iron wheels.  After leaving the yard, they would proceed along Weirpond Road. Turn right into East Street, right again at Palmer’s Corner, down West Street, stop outside the Almshouses and fill up with fresh water from the brook.  A lovely sight, and a beautiful smell of steam and burning oil.



Another 25 yards on and we will be at the edge of the weir pond.  The pond came out to the middle of the road and was surrounded by large elm trees on the north side: these were blown down in the 1928 gale.  In winter the road would be completely flooded.  There was a spring that kept the pond filled up.  When the first houses were built in 1929, the builders had a job to stop the water from coming out of the ground: many bags of cement were used to stop the flow.  Walk on and turn right into East Street,

Once again I am thinking of the past.  The loss of the Rochford Gasworks.  This was on the site where Grested Court is now situated. The gasworks were owned by Samuel Wood: later on Samuel Cutler came into partnership with him.  Gas was produced here from 1875 until 1929, when it was connected to the mains supplied by the Southend Gaslight and Coke Company at Salt Bridge, South Street.

On the other side of the road was Jackson Field which had a beautiful walnut tree in the middle.  On the first half, next to the house called Kingsmead, is the new telephone exchange, which was built in 1928.  I mentioned this before, the telephone exchange in the Square was run by Mrs Button,  then came trouble when it was mooted  that the walnut tree be cut down to make way for the British Legion Hall.  Petitions were of no avail in the 1930s, there were no preservation orders to preserve such lovely trees as this, so down it came and that was in 1932.

Now we are at Kings Hill, the site of the Lawless Court or Whispering Court.  The Earl of Warwick overheard one night, when a crowing cock woke him up, whispering voices below the window plotting how they would do him mischievous harm.  He called his bailiff to summon his tenant farmers to a given place and time to pay their allegiance to the Lord of the Manor.  This court was first started at Rayleigh then came to Kings Hill at Rochford.  All tenant farmers would be summoned to have a hearty meal and plenty of ale in the Kings Head and when the cock crowed, they would walk by torchlight across the Square, through the alley to the Old Ship Lane, turn left into East Street and assemble round the Whispering Post. The bailiff would then call out the names of the farms and the tenants would answer in a whisper “Present, Sir”. A charcoal mark would be put on the post and these would be counted up at the end, and anyone missing would be brought up before the Lord of the Manor to be fined.  The payment would be goods or cattle.

On the other side of the road is Fir Tree House: this again is one of the old wooden framed houses of Rochford, and which is in a very good state of preservation.  I can remember when Mr Henry Sparrow lived here.  He also had a herd of shorthorn cows.  At milking time, many boys and girls would be sent by their mothers to Sparrow’s dairy to get their milk cans filled up, as in those days there were no bottles.

Let us walk down to the crossroads.    The corner has always taken the name of the butcher who was in business here at the time.  It was called Webster’s Corner, then William Palmer took over and it became Palmer’s Corner and he sold out to Horner’s and it was called Horner’s Corner.  I like many old Rochfordians still refer to it as Palmer’s Corner.

On the left is Acacia House. This was built in1882 for Thomas Quy.  It was then taken over by the Rochford Union to house boys and girls of school age. The children were taken to school every day by one of the housemaids.  The boys wore what they called Derby tweed short trousers and jacket with a calico shirt and no collar.  The girls wore calico blouses, gymslips with braces.  This building has been taken over by the Rochford District Council and is now the local planning office.

Next door to the butchers was Nathaniel Carter, clock and watch maker.  In later years, he moved into the Square where the café is. 

As we walk down the High Street, as it was called 100 years ago, we come to Back Lane. On the south corner, the shop which hires out fancy dress costume was a bakery and its oven is one of those recorded in 1750.

The chemist next door was built on the site of my grandfather’s house.  My father was born in this house 8thMarch 1871 when it was sold to Mr. Golding, builder and decorator.  A manhole cover bearing his name is in the passage between the Kings Head and Barclay’s Bank, and was cast in Whittingham’s foundry.

As we face the other side of the road, great changes have taken place since the Rochford District Council acquired these properties and turned them into offices.

Let us walk down to the Old House or known as 17 South Street.  This is a wooden framed house and has, I may say, been completely restored, a credit to the Rochford District Council.

John Shaa was born in this house in 1450 and in his teens he was apprenticed to his uncle Edmond in the goldsmith’s trade, and in 1493 he was appointed Engraver to the Royal Mint.

On the other side of the road, is the Rochford Courthouse.  This was built in 1859.  Before the courthouse was built, courts were held in the King’s Head and when Southend Council built the courthouse in Alexandra Street, the Rochford Petty Sessions were transferred to Southend and then the Rochford District Council took over the courthouse and used it for offices until 1974.  Then it was sold to the Rochford Lodge of Freemasons.

As we look further down the High Street, the Police Station is on our left.  This is the new police station built in 1914.

As we re-trace our steps back into North Street, on our left, starting at the shoe shop and going as far as the post office, before these shops were built there was a row of Parish Cottages for destitute families.  It cost the Rochford Parish Council £14 per annum to keep families in these cottages.

The Post Office was the police station until 1914 when the Essex Constabulary sold it to the Royal Mail.

On the other side of the road, is the Old Ship which dates back to the 1600s.  Thomas Fairhead and Henry Gilliott were hanged in Moulsham Gaol, Chelmsford in 1820 for sheep stealing.  Fairhead had a butcher’s stall in the Old Ship yard.

Where the pet shop is, this was the Prince of Wales alehouse and butchers shop. Over 100years ago, there were 10 alehouses in Rochford, and even today there are six. 

The lane beside the post office is Bishops Lane.  Some 25yards down on the right-hand side, there used to be the old candle makers shop: this was really sooty and black building.  On the opposite side was the shed where Rochford’s first motorised fire engine was kept.  It was a 1924 Bull-nose Morris which was purchased with the help of local trades-people for about £10.  The firemen being tradesmen in their own right, built a new body and ladder-rack and the bell was from HMS Canterbury.  It was a sad day when Rochford’s cherished fire engine went for scrap in 1938 when the new fire station was built at Salt Bridge and a new engine and pump were put into commission.

Great celebration and bun-fight was held in the goods shed or as we know it today as Freight House when the Great Eastern Railway came to Rochford in 1889. A train took passengers from Rochford to Hockley and back.

Southside of the goods shed was the pumping station which used to pump water from Rochford to Hockley and Rayleigh and down to Prittlewell and Southend.  It used to draw the water from the reservoir. The reservoir was man-made, the Great Eastern Railway Authority hired water diviners to search the area which would maintain water for a reservoir to be built, and these diviners all came back to the same spot and said if you dug here, the water table being high, then you would have less loss of water than anywhere else.

The reservoir is fed by a tributary of the River Roach which runs from Eastwood across the golf links into the reservoir on the south side and this keeps the water level fairly constant.

I mentioned the well in the Market Square as the town’s water supply.  The well is still there, to stand over the well you take a line from Yeos the Jewellers, to the Kings Head front door.  The other line from the café corner to the right hand corner pier of the electrical shop and where the two lines cross, you will be over the centre of the well.

Whittinghams used to overhaul the pump, once or twice a year.  My father told me there was iron staging all the way down to water level.  When the repairs were being carried out, a water cart would go round Rochford selling water for a farthing a bucket or less than a half new pence.

Rochford on a Thursday was a hive of industry.  Starting early in the morning, the hurdles would be put up in the Square and also the railings in front of the shops.

Then the cattle carts would come in bringing livestock to be sold.  The pigs and sheep would be put into the hurdle pens and the cows and bullocks would be tied up to the railings in front of the shops. Then about 1 o’clock, the auctioneer’s bell would ring and everybody would gather round the auctioneers ring on the north-west corner of the Square.   The first bullock or cow would come in and the drovers would shout out ‘Bull calf, sir!’ or Maiden heifer!’   A nod of the head, a twitch of the finger and the auctioneer knew that these were bids.  There was the usual call out three times, then the auctioneer would slap his book and shout out the name of the buyer.  

We used to have sheep sales in the square once a year, when the whole of the Square would be nothing else but sheep.  And what a spectacle this was.  Hundreds of sheep all penned up with just a small gap between the hurdles for the auctioneer to get through so he could sell the pens of sheep.  

Let us walk through the passage between the Kings Head and Barclays Bank and we just cross over the manhole cover which I mentioned before belonging to the Goldings.  As we go into the Kings Head yard, this is where the sale of fur and feather used to take place.  That is rabbits, chickens, geese and ducks.  These used to be auctioned off: You could buy a score of eggs, that is 20, for sixpence, or in today’s money, two and a half new pence.  There would be hundreds of chickens to be sold, geese and ducks and rabbits, and sometimes there would be one or two goats in there.  So on a Thursday,  Rochford was a real hive of industry.

The blacksmiths were busy shoeing the horses, there used to be two blacksmiths shops going as hard as they could shoeing the farmers’ horses ready for them to take back after the market had finished.

Then in the autumn, the Essex Union Hunt assembled in the Square with a full pack of hounds.  There would be 15 couples, that is 30 hounds, all running round the Square, a stirrup cup would be brought out from the Kings Head, a warming drink before they set off, and they would return late afternoon, about 4pm, just before the sun went down, and they used to have a good day out. 

There was a character named ‘Frizzles’ who would go before the hunt and lay a track to where the foxes were, and this man was quite a character.  He really knew the countryside: a picture of Frizzles is in the Anchor Inn at Canewdon and was painted by the late Billy Fincher, a local Prudential Insurance Agent.

There was a race course in Rochford, this was situated on the Ashingdon Road.  This faced east from the Ashingdon Road,  where the council bungalows are.  They are the ones which are set back some 15 to 20 yards from the road.  On this site was where the grandstand used to be.  We had race meetings held here from 1928 until about 1934 and they were quite a spectacle too.  Special trains were laid on for the punters.  I looked forward to race days, when we used to go to the cattle pens and see the horses being unloaded.  Sometimes the stable boys could not stop the horses from frisking about and they used to get out of control and local boys were always ready with their bikes to follow a runaway horse and collect a copper or two for reporting its whereabouts. 

The race course was also used as an aerodrome until 1936 when it moved to the Warners Bridge site.  This was an aerodrome in the 1914 war and had to be reverted back to farmland.  At Rochford we used to have some lively flying displays.  Sir Alan Cobham used to come with his flying circus.  I can still see the old biplanes bursting balloons that were tied to a cane, with the tips of their wings.

As you look over Warners Bridge, you can still see the domed roof of the first hanger that was built in 1936.

In 1935, a flying flea club was formed.  The field they used is at the bottom of Hydewood Lane and Canewdon Lower Road.  These little planes were manufactured in kit form and others were made by their owners. Some of them used Douglas motor cycle engines as a power unit and others used Austin 7 engines.  These little planes one would say were the forerunner of the micro-lite plane of today.

The Essex Beagles used to come to Rochford and meet in the Market Square.  You had to be young and fit to run with the beagles.  The route, as far as I can remember, was leave the Square, up East Street to Meesons Chase, now Doggetts, run the field on the right, across little Stambridge Hall Lane, across the road at Stambridge School and run in a northerly direction towards the Shepherd and Dog.  Bear left and head for Lambourne Hall, where there would be a quick muster of the couples and see how many beagles were lost and wait for the strays.

Then head back in a westerly direction towards Canewdon Hall, Apton Hall, Ashingdon Hall and back across the fields in an easterly direction to Doggetts, and we would have had a good run out.

It cost you nothing, only some bread and cheese under your cap.  It was a lovely sound to hear the ‘Tally Ho! and the hounds barking and away you would go, running for miles and when you came home, you were tired and weary but had a lovely day out in the fresh air.

I forgot, when we were in North Street, the old cannon piece, which is on the right hand corner of the post office.  This was put there to protect the corner of the building from the cart hubs when they turned into Bishops Lane.  There used to be another one on the corner in the Old Ship Lane, to protect the wooden cottages that stood on the New Ship car park.

There are many things one can remember, like the organ grinder that used to come round on a Thursday with his little monkey dancing about, and on the Saturday, the muffin man used to come round ringing his hand bells shouting ‘Muffins and crumpets!’ and also on a Saturday, Mr. Gowing used to come round with his basket of cockles and winkles and shrimps on his head.

I haven’t mentioned the Congregational Church that is situated in North Street.  A new book has been written giving the complete history by Haysley McKinnell.

I hope you have enjoyed listening to this tape of ‘Rochford, Past and Present’.

It has given me great pleasure to record this and maybe, in the future, I will do another Rochford, Past and Present.

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