South Hanningfield and Wickford memories

Collection of Photos by Dennis Smith

By Paula Sloane

I was born at Poplars Farm on 28th September 1938,  my sister Margaret arriving in December 1939. Our older brother Brian was born  at White Post Farm which is on Laindon Common, just outside Billericay some four  years earlier than me, I was introduced into the world in the front, upstairs  bedroom facing Geoff when he took his picture, nurse Salvage was in  attendance. My sister was born in the same room, and I was often told by  mother that I was under a table, in the same room, and pulled a large box of  Cadburys chocolates off the table, and had spoiled them by sinking any  teeth that I had into each chocolate, and then discarding them onto the floor  all around me.I remember the the chimney stack, in the front of  the picture being Blown Down in a gale one day. It had no ties to the timberwork  in the roof, and from geofgs pictuture, it still does'nt have any. Mother asked  us children where we thought dad might be and I am told that my response was ,  'outdoors dead I suppose' fortunately I was wrong,  Anyone of my age reading this will, I'm sure  be able to remember Christmas under wartime conditions. We didn't get many  presents, and I do recall that one year, I received a model of a Tank, painted  in Army Green. This had as wheels Two of the cotton reels, which had a deep  bit where the cotton was wound on them. That had been cut into four pieces and  skillfully positioned in recesses, underneath which enabled it to be pulled  along. I also recall that I was given a metal tin of Biscuits one Christmas. It  was app in the shape of a cube measuring TWO INCHES SQUARE The 'tank' was  painted in Army Green, so there are no prizes to be had to name the  source!!Poplars farm did not have electric in those days, this was put on after  the war when the farm had been sold to a Mathew Walker. In our days, lighting  was by Paraffin lamps, Aladdin seems to come to mind. Heating was by coal fires,  with a kitchen range for heating and cooking. We had the benefit of being a  farm, where each year a load of Steam Coal was delivered to the farm, to  fuel the traction engines, to thrash the corn.The domestic water was provided by  the kitchen range. This did all of the cooking as well. In the kitchen,there was  a stone flagstone floor, which also extended along a passage, which led to the  Larder, which was huge. It was in this passageway that I, when Playing Marching  Soldiers, I tripped over, I was carted off to The Chelmsford and Essex hospital  in London Read Chelmsford in fathers car, I was seen by Mr. Harris,    A man who was wonderful at doctoring, but a little 'brusk' with words. My  parents were told by Mr Harris the "that three is nothing wrong with that child,  and my fee is Two Guineas.The radio we had was operated by Accumulators, we  had two of these as they had to go away , in rotation,to be recharged, We had to  take them to the end of Poplars chase, where they were collected form Mrs  Turpins house, and returned the next week. I can still recall the speeches made  on the radio by Winston Churchill, if we children were about at that time we had  to be as quiet as .mice, so that mother never  missed a word of what he said.. I think that I recall those days with fondness  and admiration'.In Sheila Fords bit about Tom Ford, I do remember  him, especially when he left the farm at the end of the war, I seem to remember  that it was to go and help dig the first bore of the Dart ford crossing, but I  may be wrong!! The photo shows me at about 2/3 sitting on the  tractor that was "Tom.s" How ever he was able to Steer it I don't know, as at  sometime after then I was riding on the tractor whilst it was driven by my  father, and he said that he wanted to go look at something, and that I could  drive the tractor over a meadow and he would get me at the other side--well, I  wouldn't have won any prizes, for plouging a strait furrow. I could just about  turn the front wheels. There was no Power steering in those days, and also the  front wheels were steel, and had a 'rib' round the middle which dug into the  surface of the soil. A favorite Past time of mine at harvest time was to sit oh  the back of Lion, a cart horse who was used to wallk round all day to provide  the power to the Elevator, to get the sheaves of corn up to the top of the  stack. We had a youger horse, name of Short, very strong but not good for youg  people to ride on his back The meadow I mention in the last para. was the one  which had the Famous Runwell well in it. We were not allowed as children to go  anywhere near this area--certainly by mother. Each year, in the summer the Rev  Basil Corbin used to visit the well, we guess to bless it. After his visit to  the well he used to come to the farmhouse, and ask mother if he could have a  glass of milk (pure, as from the cow) and a biscuit, she always gave this to  him, but she never invited him in, as she had a suspicion that he was involved  with 'the occult Sheila mentions that the land of Poplars, straddled  Warren Road.. Does anyone remember a fantastic crop of oats which father grew in  the field adjoining Scrub Wood. It grew so well that it became badly 'laid' and  it was a massive job to harvest it, it was stacked in the corner of the field,  beside Warren Road. Unfortunately it was damp when stacked, and it caught fire,  it took days to extinguish, and was left for sometime before it was cleared  away, during which time it had become infested with rats. Father spent hours  there shooting them with the aid of his wonderful Wirehaired Fox terrier, name  of Peter. That dog was bred by a Mr Shepard who lived just off Warren Road,  through Foxearth wood, which belonged to Jim Mallinson     The farm workers who worked for father at Poplars  were Tom Ford--Tractor driver: George Reeve who was a general hand, and lived in  the Farmhouse, which was Giffords farm at the end of The Chase. Ernie Brown was  Horseman, whilst his wife assisted mother in the house. The Browns had  three daughters, one of which, Pauline married Eric Everret  whose sister  married, I think,  a Mr Viscardini and has published in these  papers' After the farm was sold to Mr Walker, father was to  be his farm manager, but if you know about the Smiths, they mostly had to be the  boss, and It didn't work out. By that time we had been moved into No1 Poplars  farm cottages, and then from there we moved to Woodham Ferrers to live opposite  to Bell Pub, until father  bought Hanningfield post office and shop from  thr Clarence family. He stayed there until retiring to Wickford, buying a Carter  And Ward bungalow on Franklins Field. 

Photo:Wartime picture South Hanningfield School Miss Bright on right Miss Bisphan on left

Wartime picture South Hanningfield School Miss Bright on right Miss Bisphan on left

Dennis Smith

Photo:Dennis Smith riding Master his dog Poplars Farm

Dennis Smith riding Master his dog Poplars Farm

Dennis Smith

Photo:Dennis Smith and Master at Poplars Farm

Dennis Smith and Master at Poplars Farm

Dennis Smith

Photo:South Hanningfield Young Conservative dance south Hanningfield Dennis at Back with star Valerie Clough

South Hanningfield Young Conservative dance south Hanningfield Dennis at Back with star Valerie Clough

Photo by Elizabeth Wall of Beechcroft Cott. swan Lane wickford.

Photo:Wartime Identity card

Wartime Identity card

Dennis Smith

Photo:The Big Oak on Road from South Hanningfield to Harrow Farm

The Big Oak on Road from South Hanningfield to Harrow Farm

Photo:Old Windmill Pub entrance post office opposite, village pump on R.H.side in dip

Old Windmill Pub entrance post office opposite, village pump on R.H.side in dip

Photo:South Hanninfield Post Office

South Hanninfield Post Office

Dennis Smith

Photo:Potato Harves South Hanninfield 1956

Potato Harves South Hanninfield 1956

Dennis Smith

Photo:Information on Potato Harvest/Tractor/

Information on Potato Harvest/Tractor/

Dennis Smith

Photo:St. Margarets Church Downham 1956

St. Margarets Church Downham 1956

Dennis Smith

Photo:Andy Stewart with Roy Simpson in background and family South Hanningield

Andy Stewart with Roy Simpson in background and family South Hanningield

Dennis Smith

Photo:Roy Simpson fishing (Gigney Van Driver)

Roy Simpson fishing (Gigney Van Driver)

Dennis Smith

Photo:Ruwell Hospital Garde staff

Ruwell Hospital Garde staff

Dennis Smith

Photo:Runwell Hospitals Matrons dog Hamish in Matrons garden

Runwell Hospitals Matrons dog Hamish in Matrons garden

Dennis Smith

Photo:Runwell Hospital beautiful greenhouses

Runwell Hospital beautiful greenhouses

Dennis /smith

Photo:Runwell Hospital Greenhouse

Runwell Hospital Greenhouse

Dennis Smith

Photo:Runwell Hospitals St.Luke's Church

Runwell Hospitals St.Luke's Church

Dennis Smith

Photo:Locomotive Steam train that ran through Wickford from Southminster

Locomotive Steam train that ran through Wickford from Southminster

This page was added by Paula Sloane on 12/07/2014.
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