A Brief History of Shotgate.

By Paul Knott

Mid iron-age pottery found at Shot Farm shows that the area was inhabited in 300 BC. In Roman times, a road ran from Ilford to Latchingdon through here. In the Saxon period, common hold land was often sliced into parallel strips known as `Sceats'. This is the origin of our name, which has nothing to do with shooting or hunting. The Domesday Book of 1086 lists four farmsteads in Wickford, one of which was probably on the site of Shotgate. By 1300, this was listed as Ames or Ames Farm. By 1540, the Rede family owned the farm and one of its members, Elizabeth, emigrated to America to marry the son of the governor of Massachusetts and is an ancestor of both former US President George Bush and Presidential contender John Kerry. In 1663, Turnpike (Toll) roads appeared in England and, until 1866, one ran from Shenfield to Rayleigh along the Old Southend Road, after which it was turned over to the Rochford Highway Board. During this period (1747), the Sharpe family renamed Ames Farm as Shotgate Farm. Perhaps this indicated the existence of a tollgate at the Wickford/Rawreth boundary. During this period, an inn, the King's Head, stood near present day Oak Avenue. In 1907, houses were built in Enfield Road and Oak Avenue as part of the `Plotlands` initiative. In 1921, the Archer family bought Shotgate Farm, and in 1927, sold land for development. This led to the foundation of present-day Shotgate, consisting of Bruce Grove, First to Fifth avenues and the shopping parades. In 1989, the village was greatly expanded by the Hodgson Way Industrial Estate, so named after the W.W.2  RAF airman, Pilot Officer William Henry Hodgson, a New Zealander, who, on 31st May 1940, was engaged with hostile bombers and fighters over the River Thames in his Hawker Hurricane, which was hit and caught fire. In attempting to return to his base at RAF Debden, he resisted bailing out, which would have left the aircraft to crash on a populated area, and instead crash landed in fields just outside Shotgate, to avoid damage and injury to local people. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his bravery. There is a memorial to him located in Hodgson Way, opposite the junction with Blake Hall Drive.

This page was added by Geoff Whiter on 09/06/2013.
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A little bit more about Shotgate. Just to get the location - Shotgate is a civil parish to the east and adjacent to Wickford. Today it is mainly a housing area and separate industrial estate tucked between the railway lines to Southend and Southminster and the Southend Road. It even includes a little nature reserve called Shotgate Thickets. The meaning of the name is not certain. One explanation is that it derives from the word sceat, which is a type of an anglo-saxon coin, or, more likely in this case, an area divided into strips of farm land, while the word geat or gata, refers to an entrance through a wall or enclosure. In the seventeenth century Thomas Dallingood was found not to have cleared the ditches of the road from Wickford Church. Later that century the road leading to the western end of ‘Rawreth Shoot’ was ‘unpasabell’ and the local inhabitants were ordered to repair it. Possibly a reason why it was turned into a Turnpike Road. In 1921 the area was farmland. The Archer family kept cows, sheep, pigs, and horseson what was now known as Shot Farm. Barley, beans, oats and wheat were the main crops. What is today Fanton Chase and Fanton Walk was a cart track. The area began to develop as part of the plotland settlements common in the Wickford area with establishment of Enfield Road and Oak Avenue. The Archer family sold off some Wickford Barns Farm (which had been incorporated into Shot Farm) for development of what was called the Shotgate Estate in 1927 - Bruce Grove, First to Fifth Avenue and the shopping parades. The original plan is slightly different to what exists today. Early inhabitants were Pru and Jim Wade and her parents, Mr and Mrs Wheeler, who had bungalows, “The Nest” and “Holmleigh”, in Fifth Avenue. The Geere family moved in in 1929. This account is based on a talk Alice Geere gave to the Women’s Institute and wrote up in 1969. Other people she recalled were Mrs Theedum, (purportedly a descendent of US President Garfield) and Mr Steele, a blind man who maintained his own allotment. Shotgate was fairly typical of plotland developments in its early days. Houses varied in quality, the roads were often like dirt tracks, with no lights or mains drainage. Cesspools had to be emptied regularly. Dusty in summer, winter rains made the roads muddy. Coal was delivered in the summer because the lorry could get bogged down in winter. If the doctor called he would leave his car on the main road, put on his wellingtons, then walk to the house. London commuters would leave their wellingtons at the newsagents (Mrs Richardson) then catch a bus to the station. Milk came from Archers Farm. A man would bring an urn on his pushbike and ladle it out. There was no electricity or gas to start with. Cooking was done on a kitchen range or a primus stove. Most of the early cottages have probably gone or been redeveloped. Many of the original buildings were cleared for food production during the war if they appeared not to be used. The estate is still mainly made up of bungalows and ‘chalet’ style houses. Before the roads were made up, Bruce Grove ended in a field. Surrounding lands were farmed, including a large chicken farm owned by Chase Cross Bakeries. Later a small industrial estate was opened off Russell Gardens and Wick Lane. Early factories based there included Poulton, Selfe and Lee, Southwold Foundry, No Sag mattresses, Keilcraft, Stonecraft, Bell Cleaners and Carter and Ward. There was very little in the way of entertainment. Among groups which were formed around Shotgate were the Allotment Holders and Gardeners Association (a response to the wartime Dig for Victory campaign), a pensioners club which met in the Merley Club, located opposite Fred’s Timber Yard on the Southend Road, and the Women’s Institute, which met in the Baptist Church Hall. The Baptist Church, a corrugated tin and asbestos structure, began in Third Avenue and was later moved on rollers nearer to the main road, in Bruce Grove. A more substantial building was built in 1961. A small group of local people decided to raise money for a community hall. Whist drives, paper collections and fetes were held to raise money. Adding these funds to a grant from the Ministry of Education enabled land to be purchased from Basildon Urban District Council. The building incorporated second hand materials, including wood panelling from a pub in the East End of London. Some labour was freely given by local volunteers, which kept the construction costs down. The Hall, also in Bruce Grove, eventually opened in November 1958. It has been extended and refurbished several times since and is still very much in use. Shotgate was greatly expanded by the building of the Hodgson’s Way industrial estate in 1989. Housing was incorporated between Hodgson’s Way and Fanton Chase with industrial units infilling south to the railway line and joining up with the older Russell Gardens estate.

John Kerry, is now (2013) US Secretary of State.

By Maurice Wakeham
On 17/06/2013

My grandparents Joe and Violet Nathan moved to Shotgate about 1929 and lived at First Avenue and also had The Venture Piggeries at Bridge Road. They had three daughters Ruth, Gertrude and Sonia.

By Susan Murton
On 27/09/2013

The Venture Piggeries were sold and the site had the factory of Edward Farr Ltd built on it. Bridge Road was unmade and I often wonder what happened to the families who lived there which were mainly bungalows and a couple of houses.

By Susan Murton
On 01/10/2013

My grandmother Violet was secretary of the OAP club which met at the hall in Bruce Grove on a Wednesday. It was a job she took very seriously and she had a big ledger which she wrote the minutes in after the meeting in beautiful writing. At shows they did she always dressed in a man's suit and top hat and sang 'Burlington Bertie' with Mrs Manderson.

By Susan Murton
On 01/10/2013

I spent two periods of my life in Russell Gardens. The first time was when I was 4 years old in 1958. (I just about remember the floods in the town). My Dad, Arthur Adams (known as "Buck" to everyone), worked as a printer at Keil Kraft. Ron and Eddie Keil often came into our bungalow which was named "Chilton". (I still have pictures. Wish I could post them on here!) I also remember a Mr Hill, an old man who lived in one of the first houses in Russell Gardens. I moved away after 18 months or so, but returned to live with my dad 10 years later in 1969. My first job was at Keymarkets store in Wickford, then I managed to get a job at Poulton, Selfe and Lee in Russell Gardens, which was more or less just across the road from "Chilton". I lasted about 2 weeks there! I was useless at glass-blowing! My final job before leaving Wickford was at Cranfield Kennels in Cranfield Park Road which was a short walk across the level crossing (at the bend by Wick Lane), and across fields, which I believe is now a rather larger housing estate. I returned to the Midlands where I was originally from, but my Dad and sister are both buried in Wickford Cemetery. I've been back a couple of times over the many years since I left in 1970. It has changed so much, I hardly recognised the old place. In fact I ended up getting totally lost. I see that Keil Kraft has long since gone, along with "Chilton", my Dad's cottage/bungalow. I have written my autobiography (as I spent most of my childhood in care), and Wickford in 1959/60 features a lot.

By Baz Adams
On 22/11/2013

I have recently purchased a postcard to Mrs E Archer from her daughter Mary to SHOT FARM COTTAGE  approx  1915 -1920 .Was this before they bought SHOT FARM?

By Jim Hurse
On 16/12/2013

This message is for Jim Hurse above, I do hope he sees this!  My great grandmother was Esther Archer and my grandmother was Mary, who went on to marry Arthur Carter and they lived at Lendor for many, many years.

I would love to see the postcard you have from my nan to my little Nan so if you see this message please could you get in touch with me at sam.claussen@yahoo.com

 Indeed if anyone has any history involving my family they could share, I would love to hear from you.

By Samantha Claussen
On 04/05/2015

Please can you give me some more information on this postcard as Mary was my husband's mother. His name is Michael Carter.

By Barbara Carter
On 04/05/2015

Mrs Barbara Carter wrote to us:

I knew Mr and Mrs Nathan and their daughters very well. My aunt and uncle, Betty and Arthur Dunning, lived in the bungalow joined to Mr and Mrs Nathan.

By Bob Plimmer
On 10/12/2015

Hi I am a new member and have lived in Wickford since 1979 and in Shotgate since 2001. I believe the semi detached bungalow I now live in is possibly one of the first two buildings on the Shotgate estate mentioned in the first response by Maurice Wakeham to the above original article that belonged to Mr & Mrs Wade with her parents Mr & Mrs Wheller living next door, the homes being known as The Nest and Holmleigh. Does anyone have any further details of where these two buildings were in Fifth Avenue.

I have heard a story from an old neighbour that the old lady who lived in my bungalow until around the early/mid 1990's (?) had lived there since she was a child of around 8 and can remember the building materials being brought up from the Southend Road by horse and cart over the fields.

My bungalow and the one attached have been heavily altered since first built and there is very little visible evidence externally of their age which I believe from the deeds is somewhere between 1927 and 1930, both buildings are due to have further alteration very shortly.

Of interest is that me and my wife live in the left hand bungalow and the attached property is occupied by our daughter and husband and our grandchildren, something of a repeat of history.

By David Underwood
On 16/05/2017

I was actually born in Shot Farm Cottage in 1936. Lived there until  it was almost demolished by a rocket which landed the other side of Archers Farm during the war 194?

After a few years on Isle of Wight, we moved to Shotgate. I believe 1946

By Peter Houghton
On 22/10/2017