Cap guns and Tree swings.

Growing up in South Green & Great Burstead in the 60's & 70's

David Bally

I was born in Billericay, but I have now lived in Hampshire for 25 years, as I am now 50, that means I spent half my life in Essex , and, like all middle aged people; get nostalgic for the past, and only rarely have had the chance to re-visit the old places.

Of course I never realized it at the time, but Billericay was a great place to grow up, and I suspect it still is, despite the negative publicity and notoriety from certain TV series.

My earliest memories are of our home in The Redinge in South Green in the 1960's. It was a small semi detached bungalow, and my parents moved there from my grandmothers house in Walthamstow in about 1955. They were amongst the first residents in the road, and used to get the 251 bus from the Kings Head to Ilford everyday to work, along with many other residents as very few people had cars.

My mother had to give up full time work when my brother and I were born but had several part time jobs over the years, so money was often a bit tight. I went to nursery school at the South Green memorial hall, I remember playing in a sand pit in the garden at the back of the hall that overlooked Patricia Gardens . Other memories are of cold snowy winters and getting dressed in front of the coal fire (no central heating then), our first rented TV from Visionhire in Billericay high street, hiding from the Daleks and the Cybermen behind the sofa (at one point I had to leave the room as I was so terrified).

Then there was "Ashey" I'm afraid I don't know her full name, but she was a lady who used to look after us children, she would scoop us up, probably half a dozen or so from The Redinge and surrounding roads and we would walk while she pushed her big old bike, I think to Gatwick House on Bell Hill and them home again in the afternoon. This was all unofficial, naturally. For some reason I will always remember the rag and bone man, and Moys coal delivery lorry, and particularly, of being terrified when a Lightning jet fighter flew over, the noise was so terrifying, that I ran indoors crying, well I was only 4!

I can't speak of The Redinge without mentioning Miss Chesney, an elderly lady who lived with her twin sister. The only way to tell them apart was that her sister was a heavy smoker, and kept herself to herself, and the other was rather prim and heavily involved in the church where she was Sunday school teacher, the Sunday school was at Great Burstead, where the jovial vicar was the Revd Geoffrey Holley known to us as Jolly Holly.

In Tyrells Road was a small Co-op, even though I was only about 6 years old, I would be sent to the shop with some coins to buy groceries, and was told to remember to give the number for the "divi". It was much safer in those days, much less traffic, and no-one worried about young kids being out on their own.

I mentioned this to a colleague at work, his child is taken by car to school, collected by car from school, and never goes outside without an adult, how much more freedom we had in those days.

I still have a vivid memory of being sent to buy extra milk in those triangular cardboard cartons, and a lady showing everyone a brand new 50 pence piece (they were first introduced in October 1969) and comparing it with a 10 bob note, and asking, "how can this coin be worth the same as this banknote?".

As both my parents were working, and my older brother had moved up to the senior school, I had to get myself to school in the mornings. I was taken to school for the first few days at South Green Infants in Ganels Road , but after that I was on my own. When my mother had an early start for work, I used to walk on my own to school in all weathers at age 5, and get to school at about 7:30-8:00 which was long before anyone else. I remember a member of staff found me in the playground one cold foggy morning, sitting on a bench, all on my own. As it was so cold, I was taken inside to wait until school officially started. Apparently my parents got a letter from the school (of course we weren't on the phone) expressing their concern that I was left on my own so early in the morning, their response was to write back and say that they had no choice because of work commitments, no social workers in those days.

Later I would move up to South Green Junior school, who could forget the formidable Headmistress Mrs Scott-Farthing, even the name was designed to instil respect, I can still remember her Humber Sceptre car. My teachers were Mrs Fraser, Mrs Carter, Mr Couzens and Mrs Rushton. The school then had four houses: Schweitzer, Keller, Curie and I was in Churchill. There was a fish pond in the central courtyard, my brother went to this school when it first opened, and once fell in the pond! Health and safety have now had the pond removed.

When not at school my brother and I would play on our bikes (second hand bikes of course) near the Kings Head, where there was a small piece of woodland on the corner of Mill Road , before the pub car park was extended. Sometimes we would cross over to Coxes Farm road and play in the fields, and catch tiddlers and tadpoles in the pond.

In 1969 we moved house to Kennel Lane Great Burstead. We bought our house from Len Atkins who was a manager at Balls Plastics / H J Peters, and he arranged for a couple of men from the factory and a Ford Thames lorry to do the moving. I had the exciting treat of riding in the back of the truck to our new house.

We were lucky to live in Kennel Lane , there were open fields almost opposite, and so many places to play. On the corner of Trinity Road was a small wooded area (it was actually an overgrown garden of an apparently abandoned bungalow in Church Street ) this site did not get built on until the 1980's. Those long summer holidays were spent outside, with the Carpenter boys from Acors Farm, with our crowd of school friends playing with our cap guns, riding our bikes and our home made go-karts, climbing trees and making swings with bits of old rope. It seems so innocent now, no stealing or bad behaviour from us!

Once a year my mother would save up enough to take me and sometimes my brother to the seaside, to Southend on the 251 bus. The journey seemed to take forever, and we would then get another bus to Thorpe Bay as it was a bit "less common".

It seems strange now, but to those of us kids in South Green and Great Burstead we regarded the Town as being rather a long way away. We had all we needed as kids in South Green, sweets, toys and cardboard reels of caps from Joslins or Sinclairs newsagents and puncture repair kits from main road garage. We would however go with our parents for shopping trips to, Woolworths, Kitts the hardware shop, Groves the tailors or grudgingly for an unfashionable short back and sides in the barbers in Holly Court , for which I would be sorely teased back at school.

Also in Holly Court was the toy shop Essex Playthings. I have a warm and fuzzy memory of one birthday when I was about 6 or 7. My parents must have been given some cash from my grandparents, or maybe I had been sick or especially well behaved. Whatever the reason, I was told that I could chose anything I wanted from one part of the shop window, which was an exceptional treat indeed, as we were not at all wealthy. I chose a Tri-ang metal lorry which I always treasured.

As kids we only rarely ventured into town, preferring to stick to our own little patch, except that is when the fun fair arrived at Sun corner or as a special treat, to get the 254 bus from church street to the station then to Lake Meadows, with just enough pocket money to hire a boat or buy an ice cream. It was a much simpler time, we didn't have much compared to today, but we were happy and best of all, we were free.

If you enjoyed this article click here for more memories of South Green

This page was added by David Bally on 03/03/2013.
Comments about this page (Add a comment about this page)

Great memories David, I was round the corner in Mill Road ... Always remember going round the corner into Southend Road to get tomatoes from the house with all the greenhouses and seeing Mrs Golden in Coxes Farm Road for the eggs. Shopping with mum was quite a tour taking in the butcher, baker and greengrocer at South Green.

By Keith Harvey
On 01/04/2013

Great narration David - it brought back some great memories. I grew up on Southend Road slightly after you and my Mum and Dad still live there (now in their 80's). Mrs Scott-Farthing was still headmistress (she had moved on to a British Leyand Princess car by then) and Mrs Carter was my favourite teacher. Mrs Housden was there too although she was a bit scary. I used to often play in the fields over the back of Highfield Approach which seemed very wild and reckless at the time. Happy days

By Ian Steward
On 29/05/2013

What fantastic memories came flooding back! It was like reading a short story of my youth! I was born in Burstead Drive, just up the road from The Redinge and grew up on those very streets during the 1970’s. My mum still lives there and despite now living in the Channel Islands I still go back loads and am always saddened to see “the green” pretty much deserted. This was the very place where I played football, flew kites, learned cricket and had my first fight in the snow. Joselins on the main road is long gone – now a large garage. The small garage which existed next to it is also gone. The newsagents (it was known to me as Chas Sinclairs) is still there but the wonderfully long counter has sadly gone. I remember going there aged about ten to buy cigarettes for my neighbour on an errand. The owner asked if they were for me and I said no – and they sold them to me. Skin heads outside the off licence (remember Sid Reynolds?). The co-op has also gone. My mum used to work there. Spending the day in the fields in Barleylands and fishing in the pond in Coxes Farm Road. My grandfather used to own the nursery there. Mrs Scott-Farthing and her dog at South Green junior school. Building dens in the alley that ran from Grange Road to the main Southend Road. Ahhhhhh happy days !

By Daren Kean
On 16/06/2013

Thanks Ian and Daren for those comments. That pond in Coxes Farm Road, was also a childhood haunt, and those long summer days spent fishing for tiddlers and tadpoles, certainly seem magical now. ButI well remember Chas Sinclair, and his news agents, and how he used to scoop ice cream into a cone whilst still smoking a cigarette! I suppose thats the trouble with getting older, nothing seems as good as the past.

By David Bally
On 05/07/2013

Hi memories I also lived in Ganels Road and then Beamsway and went to South Green Infants where my mum was a dinner lady also the fish shop at South Green I was about five and couldn't see over the counter there was a post office, newsagents, my name was Caddle before married

By susan walsh
On 05/08/2013

I moved to Highfield Road, South Green with my parents and brother in 1950. Highfield Road was unmade and there was no main drains or electricity and it remained like that until 1952, the road was unmade until the mid to late 60s. A great place to grow up. Fields, trees and thickets to build dens in, a far cry from today's health and safety culture. I remember the lions roaring in Rosario's Circus at their winter quarters in Coxes Farm Road also the chap from the circus leading the annual carnival through Billericay High Street on his white horse, I think his name was Billy Foyle. The shops in South Green were: Weedons (became Joselins) tobaconnist and newsagent. Next to them was South Green Garage owned by Arthur Walden and Tom Snewing (not sure if Tom was an owner or manager) and the little shop on the corner of Highfield Road was Goodies was owned and run by Mrs Goody and her daughter Hilda. Across the 'green' was Coles, general store. Moving toward Southend Road was Outen's, owned and run by Harry Outen, bike/motor bike repairs and light engineering. Further along, very roughly where the shopping parade is, was the Plough. The building was wooden and looking back was probably a temporary arrangement, but don't quote me. The pub was run by Mr and Mrs Carver, they had two sons as I remember. The older son worked for a while as the milkman until he went in the forces (RAF?). I went to school with the younger son whose name was Robin. Going south on Grange Road there was a blacksmith owned by a Mr Keeling and a nursery owned and run by Bill Houghton and his wife Gertrude. What other snippets can I dredge up? The bus used to run along Southend Road. It was run By the Westcliff and City, I don't think it ran very often. The estate north of Hickstars Lane didn't exist until the mid 50s and Beams Way estate was all Prefabs. The Southend Road was re-aligned at the junction with Hickstars Lane to ease a sharp bend which was the site of a number of road accidents including two Eastern National buses (reg no's 1848 F and 562 CTW). Hope this triggers some memories.

By Phil Bates
On 11/11/2013

@Daren Kean.. I remember hanging out outside the off licence... I have long hair now :).. but the last time I was back in Billericay (About 7yrs) my name was still in spray paint next to the off licence in

By Sid Reynolds
On 26/12/2013

@Sid Reynolds … funny. I remember you scared the bejesus out of me as a young “Mod” strolling to the shops and coming face to face with the South Green skins. Whenever I go back home I see the next generation hanging outside chip shop.

By Daren Kean
On 14/01/2014

I lived at 100 Church Street and was the Head Choirboy at the Church for many years, and I remember the Carpenter family.

By william Barton
On 21/10/2014

My Dad grew up in South Green, he was always talking about it and how much he loved it there. I wonder if anyone that reads this might have known him or his family? He was born in 1955, but I'm not sure when he lived there. It would be great if someone did remember him and I would love to hear any stories. His name is Keith Jermey and he had sisters called Jackie, Marion and Sheila and a brother Will xxx

By Zoe jermey
On 30/01/2015

That was basically the story of my childhood too. Very happy memories. Cyndra Jones, Susan Braithwaite, Steven Jennings, Patsy Simpson, Jean Simpson, Susan MacKim, were just a few of the kids we hung out with at that time.If anyone remembers me from Mrs. Carter's class or at South Green Junior School, I would like to hear. I am now living in Boston USA, after having resided in Toronto, Canada for 7 years. I never could have imagined, being such a timid kid, that I would ever leave my home in Billericay!

By Sharmian Brealey
On 09/02/2015

Hi Sharmian. When were you in Mrs Carters class? She was my Teacher at South Green Junior, and an inspirational teacher. I will never forget how she really looked for the best in you and encoraged you to do well, sadly, when I went up to Billericay Comprehensive, there were very few like Mrs Carter.

By David Bally
On 07/03/2015

Hi I'm Sharmian's sister and also lived at South Green and went to junior school there 1968-1972. My teachers were Mrs Housden, Mrs Carter, Mr Couzens and Miss Abbey. Mrs Hallett was the head at the infant school and I remember Mrs Ingleby as a teacher. I have lots of fond memories of childhood too including long lazy days in the summer playing out on our bikes and going to the parks in Langham Crescent and the other one nearer South Green (can't remember the road name). I always remember the hoards of tortoiseshell butterflies around in the summer, it's unusual to see one now! I also remember playing out on the green near Maple Mead/Well Mead and going down to the newsagents to buy sweets by the 'quarter'. Much healthier way to grow up than living on the computer or phone as many kids do now. It is still a great place for kids to grow up, you're right in thinking that :)

By Tanya Brealey
On 28/03/2015

Sitting here with my brother, Simon, and reminiscing about Ball Plastics in Kennel Lane, where our father, David Bumpsteed, was Head Chemist and Technical Director until 1971. He used to go to the factory with Dad Saturday mornings, helping him in his lab, making compounds and touring the massive extruding machines in the big sheds. Happy days!

Dad was an amiable eccentric, lovely Dad and Monster chemist, particularly keen on elicitly making fireworks for us - some were spectacular, covering us with a fine layer of top soil in our West Ridge garden, some didn't go off, and some pursued us round the garden! Life was never boring.

Does anyone have memories to share?

Amanda Bumpsteed


By Amanda Bumpsteed
On 28/03/2015

I also went to South Green Junior school, having lived in Ganels Road from 1967 to 1984. I share many of the memories of other contributors and recognise some of the names. My teachers were Miss Roberts, Mrs Harris (in the old wooden prefab), Mrs Carter, and Mr Whitelock. I fondly remember school outings to Whipsnade Zoo, the Hellfire caves, and Windsor. Those sing songs on the bus seem like yesterday.

I remember the giant bonfire that got built on Carvers every November but didn't always get lit.

What about the Sunday School group in Outwood Common Road and the Junior Social Club that met on Wednesday evenings?

There was also a children's ballroom dancing class at the Memorial Hall. Perhaps the inspiration for Strictly.

To offset these wholesome activities a fair bit of mischief also went on. I remember when a few is us would remove a crate of empty bottles from the yard of the Burstead Plough then take them into the off licence at the front to claim the deposits. 

What I remember most of all is that kids from 8 to 15 could all safely play together while there was any trace of daylight, whether it was football on the Green, or chasing around the estates. It didn't matter if you were boy or girl or whether you lived in a posh house or a council house. There was no alcohol, no drugs, no dangerous dogs, and nobody was ever injured in a fight or dispute.

Happy days

By James Horend
On 22/04/2015

Hello David

Did you have a brother called Alan? I lived in Kingsway until 1970 when my parents, and of course me, moved to Wickford.

All your memories reminded me of my years in Kingsway remember everything you mention, also Sharmain I think I was in your class at South Green Junior School.

The Sunday school in Outwood Common Road was called ‘Jucos’ I think.

Great memories it was a great place to grow up 

By Alan Ball
On 30/06/2015

In the mid 1950s, I attended the Sunday School in Outwood Common Road. The building was a small wooden chapel and our lessons were taken by Mr Hewitt, who coincidentally was my 'O' level R.E. teacher at the senior school in 1963/64. Further along the road on the opposite side were a couple of prefabs. Tom Williams lived in the one on the corner of Beams Way. He was my form teacher in 1958/59 at Gt. Burstead Primary School in Laindon Road. I remember the houses in Ganels Road being built and on summer evenings we used to play in the foundation trenches before they were filled with concrete. The Rossi ice cream van would stop near our house in Hickstars Lane and I could buy a vanilla wafer for 3d, or if I was feeling rich, a vanilla and strawberry one for 4d! And who remembers the devastating fire on Laindon Common in 1958? The woodland remained scorched and barren for many years after. My article on this website entitled: "South Green Memories" may generate some nostalgia from current or new contributors.

By Terry Lockhart
On 10/07/2015

Reading all the above brought back some lovely memories. I lived all my childhood next-door to the Chesneys, that was in Grange Rd, South Green. I attended South Green Infants then up to Billericay Secondary. I moved there in 1959 and moved away only to get married. A few of the names on here I remember...happy days.

By pat ebdon....then
On 08/08/2015

My great aunt lived in a house called Lucerne in Grange Road. Her name was Esther Rowbottom she died in 1943 does anyone know of this family or if the house is still there.

By Patrick Palmer
On 03/09/2015

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, it brought back memories, as did the comments. I lived at 4 The Oaks, South Green in the late sixties - I think we moved away in early 1970 (I would have been 13). I remember the two boys next door - Paul and (Andy?) Stenson. We had to walk our bikes up Bell Hill to school, however the ride home took no time at all. One afternoon, I was racing my friend home, and we were zooming down the hill flat out... he passed me as a car tried to pass him, and I ended up flying into the bushes. I can't believe neither of us were injured. We went home at a more cautious pace from then on. By the way, does anyone remember the 'Hangman's Tree' in the field on Bell Hill, and the legend of the ghost horse and carriage that supposedly crashed somewhere on that road?

By Jim McHarg
On 04/03/2016
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