Blankfield Furs (incl Klous) Master Furriers

I daresay this is a trade that many would nowadays like forgotten – but this is an advert from 1967, showing that the practise was still alive and well back then (unlike the fur donors).

Blankfield Furs, Westcliff-on-Sea
Blankfield Furs, Westcliff-on-Sea

I’d not heard of musquash, though it seems it is another name for the muskrat. Disgusting to think that so many animals had to die for just one coat of vanity. The summer storage aspect is intriguing nonetheless. Was this to save storage space at home, or to prevent insect infestations during the warmer weather?

Nowadays, the property is home to an accountancy firm. Judging by the 0702 phone number in the window, they have been there for some time.

276 London Road, Westcliff : Lee & Co Accounting
276 London Road, Westcliff : Lee & Co Accounting

What I also found interesting though, was mention of this being opposite Howards Dairies. My mother used to work for Howards Dairies, and her father for Unigate (and maybe Howards before that). But in all the time I’d been up in that part of the London Road, I never made the connection that Howards was there. Delving deep into the depths of memory, on my trips to the old double width Maplin Electronics store that was across the road (and the single one before that), all I can muster is advertising billboards where Howards Court stands today. If you have any memories of when the dairy itself was demolished, please leave a comment.

Howards Court - on the site of the old Howards Dairies, Westcliff-on-Sea
Howards Court – on the site of the old Howards Dairies, Westcliff-on-Sea

 

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Volvo 1800S – Born of a Saint?

When I were a lad, Volvos were boring. And that stigma still survives today in my opinion. During the 80s at least, all Volvos seemed to just be huge squared-off ‘safe’ cars that a boring mate’s dad drove. With 21st Century spectacles on though, the 1800S looks anything but boring.

It seems that the Volvo 1800S was actually a revamped version of the Volvo P1800, which had been dogged with quality control issues, prompting the move of production from Jensen Motors who since January 1960 had been producing the vehicle, to Volvo’s own production facilities in Gothenburg.

The Volvo 1800S shot to fame in 1962, when as a result of Jaguar turning down the opportunity to showcase an E-Type in the TV series The Saint, Volvo instead provided the 1800S, which was used throughout the entire show.

ROM Garage & Service Co. Ltd.
ROM Garage & Service Co. Ltd.

The car clearly was cool. Though I am surprised about the advertising above. A cool car should surely not be advertised solely as being safe, reliable and tough? Maybe with the backdrop other similarly styled cars, it did look like a boring old Volvo?

Below is what I think was the old ROM Garage and Service Company. Gallows Corner is now a horrendous road junction with flyover. It probably won’t come as any surprise to hear that Gallows Corner is close to the site of the Royal Liberty of Havering gallows in the 18th century.

ROM Garage & Service Co. Ltd.
ROM Garage & Service Co. Ltd.
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R.A. Jones & Sons Ltd, High Street, Southend-on-Sea

This jeweller needs little introduction for many residents of Southend – though I guess newer inhabitants may not realise the significance of this store, its founder, and what he gave to the town. I have to admit, I’d not previously heard of it as the ‘county jewellers’. I just about remember the Jones store I think. At the very least, I’m pretty sure I can remember the display cabinets at the front of the store – I think you could walk right round the central one. And I have vivid memories of the clock sometimes, but mostly not working.

R.A. Jones & Sons, High Street, Southend-on-Sea
R.A. Jones & Sons, High Street, Southend-on-Sea

I won’t post too much on this page, as you can read much of it on the Wikipedia page concerning him, but suffice to say, he donated many of today’s wide open spaces, including:

  • Priory Park
  • Jones Memorial Ground
  • Victory Sports Ground

R.A. Jones died in 1925, but his sons succeeded him in running the business, and a local secondary school (Cecil Jones) is named after one of them.

After being Jones’ jewellers, the premises became Lavells and then Dixons. The most recent occupant of the site is ‘Yours’, with the store looking very much less elegant than it used to. The iconic clock, however, and the R.A. Jones lettering at the top of the building do still exist, in hint to the building’s past.

R.A. Jones & Sons, High Street, Southend-on-Sea
R.A. Jones & Sons, High Street, Southend-on-Sea

THE DAY YOU BUY A DIAMOND
You buy one of the most precious things in the world. A diamond is forever, its radiant beauty undiminished. The expert guidance of an experienced jeweller will help you to choose your treasure wisely.
The value and beauty of a diamond are enhanced by its clarity and cut. A diamond is considered flawless if no flaw is discernible by the trained eye when the diamond is magnified ten times. And only fine cutting can reveal its beauty. When light enters the polished diamond it is broken into the component colours of the spectrum an reflected in those enchanting rainbow flashes.
Our spacious modern showrooms display a wide selection of diamond rings and beautifully fashioned jewellery. As well as the many lovely things you would expect to see at the leading jewellers in the County.

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Robsons – The Corset Shop, 279 London Road, Westcliff-on-Sea

Corsets? In 1967? Really??

I suppose in all honesty, you can still buy corsets today – its just that I didn’t really imagine corsets to be such a commonplace garment by 1967. For me, the word ‘corset’ mainly conjures up images of 19th century women being laced up into corsets that they could hardly breathe in. Interestingly, unlike a lot of these old adverts/stores, I have found a request online from someone wanting memories and recollections of the place.

As readers of previous posts will know, I like to convert prices where shown into their equivalent prices today. Read on…

Robsons Corset Shop, Westcliff-on-Sea
Robsons Corset Shop, Westcliff-on-Sea
  • 5004: £13.79
  • 5004/4:  £17.32
  • 5073: £19.94
  • 5123: £37.32
  • 5192 (full cup): £44.57
  • 5192 (extra full cup): £53.81
  • Postage & Packing: £1.15

I imagine that in their day, Robsons were selling garments that would cause courting gents to get hot under the collar. Funnily enough, the location now hosts another type of business that can cause raising of temperatures – The Fireplace Trade Centre! The current colour scheme of the outside would, I am sure, suit many of today’s lingerie outlets!

Robsons - The Corset Shop, 279 London Road, Westcliff-on-Sea
Robsons – The Corset Shop, 279 London Road, Westcliff-on-Sea

 

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Mrs. Ryan’s Bedroom Shop, London Road, Leigh-on-Sea

The next advert from 1967 has a somewhat odd company behind it. Well, oddly named at least… Mrs. Ryan’s Bedroom Shop. Maybe a lot of shops were named like that in those days?

Mrs Ryan's Bedroom Shop, London Road, Leigh-on-Sea
Mrs Ryan’s Bedroom Shop, London Road, Leigh-on-Sea

The first shop seems too small to be selling beds and the like, being just a single fronted premises. It is now a Coral Betting shop.

Mrs Ryan's Bedroom Shop, London Road, Leigh-on-Sea
Mrs Ryan’s Bedroom Shop, London Road, Leigh-on-Sea

The second store, at 846 London Road appears to now be occupied by Nova Car Sales – though this actually occupies 840-846 London Road. It’s difficult to say whether Mrs Ryan’s Bedroom Shop was in the corner property, as the next shop along (directly across the road) is number 850.

Mrs Ryan's Bedroom Shop, London Road, Leigh-on-Sea
Mrs Ryan’s Bedroom Shop, London Road, Leigh-on-Sea
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Smerdons of Westcliff, Hamlet Court Road

I got a bit of a shock when hunting this one down, to see what state the property was in today. It turns out that Smerdons was in the premises that I knew as 7-eleven stores.

Smerdons of Westcliff, Hamlet Court Road
Smerdons of Westcliff, Hamlet Court Road

I knew that the building had been badly damaged by fire, but I admit I wasn’t expecting to see this building site:

Smerdons, 127-129 Hamlet Court Road
Smerdons, 127-129 Hamlet Court Road

That must have been some time ago, and I do not know exactly what the site looks like now.

Of the original advert, many shops really could do with taking note of the promise “A complete absence of high-pressure methods”. There are images of the old building (in Londis guise) on Flickr – just search for Smerdons Westcliff.

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Bignells of Westcliff – Lighting & Attractive Shades

This advert from 1967 describes Bignells of Westcliff. I am not sure when that lighting store disappeared – but it does remind me of an intrepid bike ride that I made up the London Road in perhaps 1990, calling into several lighting shops on the way, trying to get hold of a glass lamp ‘shade’ for a candelabra thing my parents had, which had been broken during a party I’d held when they were on holiday. I actually did manage to get a very good replacement – but when I confessed to my sins some years later, my mum told me she hated the lamp anyway, and wouldn’t have cared if it hadn’t been replaced.

Bignells of Westcliff
Bignells of Westcliff

The shop itself is now (or at least was when Google’s Streetview car visited) First National Computers. The design of the building at the top is rather interesting. Another case of me never having noticed until having examined the photos, despite the amount of times that I’ve walked along that stretch of road.

256 London Road, Westcliff-on-Sea
256 London Road, Westcliff-on-Sea
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Southend Airport – by air ferry and by rail

This blog contains another two advertisements from the July 1967 Essex Countryside magazine. The first is an ad for British United Air Ferries flying from Southend Airport. Whilst the idea of an air ferry flying from Southend Airport is not alien to me – the company name was – I’d only ever heard people speak of “British Air Ferries” – i.e. without the word ‘United’.

As ever, the all-knowing combination of Google and Wikipedia come to the rescue, and it appears that BUAF changed its name to BAF in September 1967, as a result of a re-organisation by grandparent company B&C (British & Commonwealth). The intermediate company (i.e. the parent to BUAF) was Air Holdings.

British United Air Ferries
British United Air Ferries

The journey time of 30 minutes to Calais seems mighty impressive – I guess the plane would hardly have hit cruise altitude before it would be descending again. As ever, when old prices appear, I feel compelled to make an inflation-based conversion into today’s equivalent prices – and they really are not bad at all – especially if you compare it to the prices on the previous blog for the Whirline.

  • Calais – £60.03
  • Ostend – £71.57
  • Rotterdam – £120.05

BAF finally closed up shop in 2001, though it had not been operating car ferry services since 1977. It changed its name to BWA (British World Airlines) in 1993.

Well that’s the propeller heads fed for a while. So now lets give some food for thought to the commuters and trainspotters too. First, lets take a look at that fare from Liverpool Street to Rochford station.

  • July 1967: 10/9 = £8.27 in 2014’s money.
  • Today’s actual prices (2014): Peak: £16.30; Off-peak: £15.50

I’m stunned actually. Not necessarily by the fact that in real terms, the price of the travel has doubled – but by the paltry difference between a peak and off-peak single ticket. It may, of course, be that the difference is more pronounced for a return.

Anyway – here’s the advert…please scroll down for more of the blog!

British Rail serves Southend Airport
British Rail serves Southend Airport

There is no mention of what mode of transport the link between the station and the airport is. But 1/- equates to 77 pence in today’s money – so it would sounds like a public bus.

The Belgian Arrow service to Brussels works out at £166.23 in today’s money. Nowadays, on Eurostar, a non-flexible ticket for one adult costs between £50 & £89 for an advance booking – whereas a flexible booking costs £141.

 

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Grays Building Society

Building societies are nice fluffy, trustworthy places, aren’t they? Well, they seem to be today – with the likes of Nationwide being ‘on our side’ and preaching that they are a bank without ‘the bank’. I like Nationwide though – our mortgage is with them – and it’s hard to beat. But this blog isn’t really about the Nationwide.

Again, the advert below is from the July 1967 Essex Countryside. I was going to moan about the £7’8’11% thing again – and the ‘free of income tax’ bit – rather like I’ve done with some other building societies. I didn’t think there’d be much more of interest – especially not for boring old Grays. But as ever, before writing the blog, I’ve done some Googling – and I am impressed with the scandal I’ve uncovered. Read on…

Grays Building Society
Grays Building Society

It seems that for over 40 years, the chairman and secretary of ‘The Grays’ – a Mr Harold Percy Jaggard, had been defrauding the society of funds – which had been spent on women and racing. He’d got away with it until a routine audit in 1978 suddenly started to unravel his malpractice. On the day of the audit, he told his staff he was going out, and would return after 20 minutes. He never returned. He was found dead in his bath, having left his wife a suicide note which said “Do not go to the bathroom alone. For 40 years I have tried to put somebody else’s misdeeds right and I can take no more…”.

What Jaggard actually did was to take advantage of his staff’s general lack of understanding of financial processes. He amended books following staff reconciliation, and also banked large mortgage cheques, ensuring that although the society was not receiving the money, the mortgagee was not out of pocket, and the mortgage was marked as redeemed. You can read more about Harold here.

Although New Road, where the Grays was situated, is practically demolished and rebuilt nowadays, with mainly Thurrock council’s offices on the north side, and just two premises on the south side, it seems that the old Grays Building Society building still exists. You can see it here…along with a delightful local giving the Google camera ‘the finger’.

For reference, following the scandal, the Grays Building Society was taken over by the Woolwich Building Society. Which has since been acquired by Barclays Bank. Thus any old Grays Building Society accounts that have never been closed will reside with Barclays Bank.

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D.H. Stevens, Soft Furnishers, 91-93 Leigh Road, Leigh-on-Sea

Another advert from the July 1967 Essex Countryside.  There’s no trace of D.H. Stevens today using Google. However, the second picture below (from Google Streetview) nicely confirms that Leigh Road Supermarket occupies the premises today. The shop front, in particular the windows, looks identical to the D.H. Stevens image. Even the framed white board, to the right of the furthest door looks the same.

D.H. Stevens Furniture Store, Leigh-on-Sea
D.H. Stevens Furniture Store, Leigh-on-Sea
Google Streetview of the D.H. Stevens premises today.
Google Streetview of the D.H. Stevens premises today.

The Streetview image does give us a clue to the premises past – in that the sign above the shop fronts advertises Parker Knoll furniture. The other side of the sign answers the question of the name of the most recent furniture vendor, with the large letters “LILLY” down the centre. Whether Lilly took over from D.H. Stevens, or whether there was an intermediate store on the premises, I do not yet know. Maybe the stack of Essex Countryside magazines that I have will have the answer.

Addendum: Since posting this on Ros Southend Past Facebook site, I have received the following information from Tony Hall: Lilly’s of Leigh took over the shop direct from Mrs Stevens and only closed in 2008. The convenience store only lasted 1 year max. Mr.Lilly still owns the property.

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