Life in a nissan hut

I was born in 1945 at Danbury nursing home, I lived in Grays hall Orsett Hill for the first four years of my life, in a single room with my three brothers and sister. We moved to Purfleet camp and lived in a Nissan hut which was used to house German prisoners of war. We had no running water, gas or electricity. The toilet was an Elsan pan which was emptied from time to time by the council. Although they were hard times, they were good times. We used to earn money in several ways – selling kindling wood to the residents of the Uplands and Purfleet village, collecting rags and metal and taking them to Lowes or Wisbeys in the Broadway Grays.

I remember once unearthing an unexploded bomb. My mate and I tied it to our bike and took to the top of the chalk cliff and threw it over trying to get it to explode but couldn’t (thank god), otherwise I wouldn’t be telling this story. We kept it hidden for a few weeks until we got found out. The bomb squad were called in, and they blew it up with a controlled explosion. We watched from a safe distance. It was a massive blast.

We lived at the camp until 1955, when we were moved out to a four bedroom house in Lawrence Cottages Tilbury. I spent all my teenage years in Tilbury working in the docks for contractors Mowlems and Howards. I wasn’t a good boy and had lots of run-ins with the law until I grew up and realised I couldn’t win. I had a lot of fun whilst in Tilbury. Then I got married and moved back to Grays and have a family of my own, but my heart always remains in Tilbury. I’ve got friends and family still in Tilbury and love to visit them, and reminisce about the old days.

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  • I’m just wondering if you remember the Luney family. They also lived in the Nissan huts in Purfleet over this same time and then moved to Tilbury and the dad worked on the docks.

    By Karen (11/01/2019)
  • Who remembers Kits Cafe was situated in the little alley leading to the footbridge over Tilbury Town station into the docks.I used to stop for a delicious bacon sandwich on my way in to work.

    By David Seaman (25/02/2015)
  •  and not forgetting Fred Ferdys opp the Bug Percy had a little room out the back with a jukebox and a Jumbo machine, think his surname was Lenz.

    By andy reynolds (25/02/2015)
  • Fast food outlets in Tilbury Andy! Don’t you remember when the only eating out choices we had were Birds, Webbs or Peter (how’s your Mum) Mumford and then you had to eat out of newspaper. You could also get a hamburger from big Les outside the Railway Club and a sumptuous breakfast of dripping toast and tea at the Indian and Pakistani seaman’s mission. Ah happy days.

    Percy Dalton


    By Percy Dalton (24/02/2015)
  • so true Chris, Tilbury has changed so much though, I like to remember how it was, there is only one pub left in Tilbury now, the Worlds End the Tute is gone and the Railway club the Anchor is a African church the Ship was a post office for a few years, don’t know what it is now, there are at least a dozen fast food outlets around the dock and civic sq area

    By Andy Reynolds (17/02/2015)
  • Hi Andy. As that old saying goes, you can take the man out of Tilbury, but you can’t take Tilbury out of the man.

    They were good days.




    Chris Vinson

    By Chris Vinson (16/02/2015)

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