Rod's Memoirs

PAGE 5 OF 5

the floods going past us (it went through the air bricks and filled in under the floorboards) went on to flood Tilbury. None of it actually came into our house. I remember there was a house right on the river front near the moat. I often wondered what happened to that.

From the cottages we could see the bridge that took ferry traffic over the railway. My dad worked on the steam driven Ferries. They were run by Nationalised British Rail as it was then and still ought to be today. At certain times of the year i.e. Holiday times, we used to watch the very long queues for the ferry, as they snaked all along the fort road.

Our family 3 boys and a girl were brought up among the steam engines, and it being an everyday thing, meant nothing to us at the time. We used to take the Mickey out of train
spotters that had found their way over the footbridge leading to our cottages. We had engine sheds across the way, where they worked on engines, There was a turntable for turning the engines round. Also a large unit that would pickup up a whole truck load of coal and tipped the contents into waiting engines. There was a water spout for filling the tanks.

Us kids from round there often would play on the bridge, and when a train went underneath, the steam used to come up through the cracks in the timbers. The girls particularly loved this and I can remember my cousin Helen getting sooty knickers.

We also new when it was twelve o`clock new year as a crescendo of noise erupted from the steam train whistles and the booming hooters of the boats in the docks, this went on for about 20 minutes. Those times could never be repeated.

My friend Dave from the cottages and I on many occasions would go across to Gravesend as youngsters on the ferry. We would often ramble round over there, and in the summer go to the lido swimming bath. Another favourite haunt was Tilbury Fort area, round the Moat we`d fish for sticklebacks. We had lots of fun playing around the moat area.

On Sundays, Tilbury Town Silver Band would set up on the bandstand along the river front near the moat, and entertain the visitors. You could take a trip on the motor boat round the moat, or take out a rowing boat. The place would be thriving with people. Now look at it today, all fenced off and virtually derelict. Bring back them times when people could enjoy an afternoon there and listen to the band. Get that area opened up again.

At the station exit at bonfire times we would hang around and ask travellers for a penny for the guy. At Christmas times we would go carol singing all round the houses there.

My friend Dave died in 1989 and I still miss him. He was a heavy smoker, and that brought about his downfall. We used to go everywhere together, Grays on the 370 or by train. We`d go fishing in a pit somewhere in Linford.  During the Summer hols from school we`d work on the farm, we were not layabouts. We often went to youth clubs at the BOMB CRATER and had fun. The Bomb Crater was the railways men`s club.

When Mum left Dad and went to live in Chelmsford, I stayed on as a lodger with my girlfriend of the time`s family, in Melbourne Road at the end of Tilbury.

I remember there was a tragedy on the hairpin bridge as one of the mums from the cottages was killed when a lorry shed it`s load going round the top end.

After a while I left and went to live with mum in Chelmsford.  Got married to a local girl and we had two children. We now have three lovely grandchildren, two boys and a sweet little girl who is now 3. We are still going strong and this September we celebrate 48 years of marriage.

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  • I really enjoyed reading your memories Rod.  As you know, my most enjoyable times were with you lot at the Railway Cottages.  Innocent, happy times. 

     

    Love from Helen (of the sooty knickers!)

    By Helen Lawrence (29/04/2014)

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