The Wick before it was built upon.

By D. J. Westgarth

This was the Wick before being built upon, it was once a beautiful natural park with lovely wild flowers and many old trees.

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'The Wick before it was built upon.' page
This page was added by D,J, Westgarth on 12/05/2012.
Comments about this page (Add a comment about this page)

I remember the Wick. It was all unmade roads and scrub, with plotland homes. There was also Yettons, a builders' yard, which sold everything, I mean everything, from sinks to sheds. It was an Aladdin's cave.

By BOBCROOT
On 24/09/2012

I certainly remember the Wick.  I think I spent most of my childhood playing there in the late 60s and early 70s.  I lived in Wick Lane and got to it across the level crossing. There were a number of houses off a gravel road, before turning right on another unmade road for a couple of hundred yards.  You then went through a field with a pond, known as the bomb hole (whether it was or not is another matter). The pond was filled with thousands of empty tin cans for some reason.  The path then rejoined another road which led to Wick Drive and out onto the Nevendon Road.  There were other unmade roads that went as far as Cranfield Park Road.  It was a wonderful place to explore as a teenager on a bike, and also a good short cut from Shotgate to Nevendon Road where I lived later on.

By Kevin Mears
On 23/01/2013

My grandparents had a farm at the end of Wick Lane (The Wick), Arthur and Ada Lewis (Ginger as she was known). My Grandad ran the farm alongside a scrap metal business. As a child my nan use to show me the remains of the red kitchen tiles. Their farm was sold privately before it was compulsorily purchased, like many others!  So sad, but Wickford was a growing village!

By Penny Anderson
On 05/08/2013

I have such wonderful and fond memories of the Wick and how it once was. My parents had rented Broughton Lodge for a while back in the late 50s. My grandmother lived in a bungalow there called Highfield and all her children, including my mother, grew up 'over the Wick'. A walk to the Wick in the early seventies was such a treat, acres of fields filled with wild meadow flowers: cuckoo flowers and huge dog daisies. I remember Nelson's farm once stood at the end of the long lane and it had a stile and a rather large keep out sign!! By the mid seventies virtually all the houses were gone and I used to go to the Wick with my parents to collect apples, pears and damsons from the various orchards. I remember my parents telling me to be wary of the many wells that were dotted around the properties, it was all so exciting as an eleven year old! Thinking back to that time is delicious!

By Teresa Simmons
On 30/08/2013

I remember going over the Wick with my parents (late 70s early 80s), there were house ruins and foundations we played in. Used to dig for old bottles and once came across a gypsy family with horse and amazing wooden caravan. I am sure we came across an old shop, a grocery store which I imagine was around the BP garage/Cranfield area - did I imagine this?

By emma fairbairn
On 27/09/2013

No Emma you're not dreaming it. The far end of the main track through the Wick joined Cranfield Park Avenue on the outside of a 90 degree bend and to the left was a single storey box shaped general store. I'm surprised the little shop survived it into the 70's! My friend Howard Rayner lived in the house the other side with his parents. We used to live in Southend Road and mostly accessed the Wick the same way as Kevin did in his post above, up Wick lane and over the railway crossing. Most of the road tracks were full of potholes, hard core and what looked like layers of tarmac material were evident in many places, but even so most of the road tracks there were virtually impassable to anything but tractors and pedestrians who could weave their way between the puddles and mud. The bulk of the housing was to be found both ends of the Wick, adjoining Wick drive and Cranfield Park Avenue where the roadtracks were slightly more substantial. One of the favourite pastimes was catching newts at the Cranfield Park Avenue end possibly on the Lewis farmland, as there were cows grazing in the area and the farmer would occasionally check us out and complain that someone had broken glass in the ponds as his cows had cut their mouths after drinking. Incidentally there were two species of newt, the common smooth variety and the great crested newt, which in the 1970s became a protected species. When they drew up plans to develop the Wick, this area could have been saved as habitat change is not permitted near to where endangered fauna has its habitat. At the time I'd moved away from the district and was quite unaware of the development plans. While I do remember meadows and flowers, particularly buttercups and daisies near the newt ponds, I also recall their being a lot of spiky blackthorn and brambles as well.

By Philip Merrin
On 11/10/2013

I used to live in Russell Gardens from 1961 to 1972. I often cycled across the Wick when I worked at Pitsea on occasions from the level crossing to Cranfield Park Road. It was a rough ride. 

From my house I could see across the open expanse of the Wick to North Benfleet church, and beyond to the North Downs in Kent and the TV tower at Blue Bell Hill beyond Chatham and Rochester. This Tower has now gone. I used to pick mushrooms as big as a dinner plate from the fields near the level crossing, and the blackberries, dewberries, apples, Victoria plums and cherries from the disused orchard just over the level crossing were absolutely beautiful.

The wildlife was amazing. Rabbits abounded and also bounded about the area. There were adders, grass snakes, foxes and numerous birds. Goldfinches, bullfinches, greenfinches, chaffinches as well as the more common sparrows, blackbirds and thrushes. Rooks lived in the many elm trees but they disappeared when the Dutch Elm disease killed off the elms. One day I saw six cuckoos in one tree, four males and two females. I also saw a nightjar in the middle of the day, sitting at the base of a magnificent lime tree. It did not move and as I walked away its camouflage merged into the background. When the blackthorn trees were out in the spring it was if there had been a snowstorm because of all the white blossom on the bushes.

There was a primrose wood near where Wick Drive joins Cranfield Park Drive and my family and I saw three fox cubs playing with and rolling over each other in it. The cubs had no fear and just looked at us before carrying on with what they were doing, their ears were still down and there was no sign of their parents.

It is a wonderful memory of how wild this area was and it was a privilege to have enjoyed it's pleasures.

By Brian Chapman
On 29/01/2014

I am researching my wife's family tree, and was wondering if anyone can help. From about 1939 to until 1960/1962,  the farm was run by the Nelson family. There was Montague, Florence and Ethel Nelson. They were my wife's great aunts and uncles. Does anyone have any information or pictures of the farm? 

By Mr Les Fitzgerald
On 01/03/2016

I was born and raised in The Wick, along with my 5 siblings. My parents Arthur (Jack) and Ada (Ginger) owned Highcroft Farm in Wick Drive, and along with the other kids from The Wick - Griffins, Buttons, Yettons, Videons, Martins and many more The Wick was our playground, from the High Street end to Cranfield Park Drive and the railway crossing in Wick Lane to Wick Cresent and up the hill past the nudist colony to join at Cranfield end. We used to go through the 14 acre paddock alongside the river Crouch and go across the lock gates to the man-made lake that supplied water to the steam engines, to fish. (This is now the car park behind the shopping centre). I also knew the Nelsons, Florrie was my godmother and we used to spend time at the farm in the summer helping to cart the hay with our lorry which my brother John would drive. I did not know a Montague, the guy I only knew as Bert.

I left the UK for Australia in 1973 and have been back a few times (1982, 2007 and 2011) and although I knew The Wick well I could not recognize it any more and the only landmark I could find was the piggy path that ran from Yettons through to Tommy Martin's nursery.

By Melvyn Lewis
On 14/04/2016

My grandparents lived in a house on The Wick from some time in the 1950s until the early 70s. They had a few fields and dog kennels called Nebula Kennels. Their children Ann (my mum), Christopher, Marilyn, and Lesley grew up there until they left home. They had a horse called Tommy which they would ride, or harness him to pull a trap. They even used to bring him in the house at times. My gran planted 2 poplar trees near the front gate, which grew to be tall enough to see from the Southend Arterial road. My mum lived in a caravan in a field across the unmade road from the house when she first got married in the 60s, and moved to Ramsden Heath in about 1966. I remember visiting when I was about 2 or 3 and playing in the orchard, and walking close to the train line and waving at people on the train. I also remember being warned about the wells.
When they moved away in the early 70s the house was left to ruin, but we would still go back every autumn to pick blackberries and apples, and collect conkers, up until about 1978, but by then the house had fallen down and was difficult to get to because the hedges were so overgrown.
I wonder if anyone remembers Nebula Kennels?

By Paul Dorrington
On 02/08/2017
Add a comment about this page

If you're already a registered user of this site, please login using the form on the left-hand side of this page.