|In August 1939 I moved with my family from the Barfield Road council house where I was born, to a new bungalow in Suffolk Avenue. It was a grass track which got very muddy in winter. There were 15 homes in the avenue ( interestingly the same number as in Empress Avenue which was much longer). Towards the lower end there was a large bramble bush which took up half the road and at the junction to East Road there was an elm tree. No one in the road owned a car but delivery vehicles often got stuck. We all had coal fires and with the ashes we managed to keep a footpath for our bicycles and prams.
Alf Pavey's Standard Vanguard delivery van fighting its way up Suffolk Avenue - photo from Brian Jay
After the war Alf Pavey, who had a dairy in the road, bought a van which also had difficulty getting up and down. That was the first vehicle in the road. The avenue was shorter then and finished past No.18 with a hedge and ditch. Where we now have Norfolk Avenue, Garden Farm and Windsor Road estates, there were fields which were brought into cultivation during the War.
During the Autumn of 1944 a ploughing match was held in the field now occupied by Norfolk Avenue. I remember it well as the planes were going over towing gliders on their way to Arnhem. There was a furrow drawing competition and for 2/- amateurs could plough a furrow driving a Fordson tractor pulling a plough. I was 12 years old at the time and sure I was going to win.
Driver Norman Baldwin was on the tractor and I just steered. When we finished the row I turned to see the result of my effort, it was as bent as Robin Hood's Bow. At least I can claim I once ploughed a furrow across Norfolk Avenue.
Wendy and I married in 1956 and moved straight into a new bungalow in Firs Road, another unmade road. Again we managed to keep a cinder path for Wendy to push the pram when the children arrived. While building our bungalow the road was so bad that at least one lorry load of bricks came in along the bridleway at the back. I can remember Victoria Esplanade being concreted and one of my earliest memories is of being pushed along over the yet to be done grass in my pushchair on the way visit grandma in Fairhaven Avenue.
For some unknown reason the lower part of Fairhaven up to Osborne Road was made up soon after the Esplanade was completed - that part was lined with holiday chalets owned by rich Londoners and it's possible they clubbed together to get the job done. It was long after the War that the rest of Fairhaven and Empress Avenue were made up.
Upland Road was well maintained from High Street North end by the council to get to the water tower and yard, and the Kingsland Road end was OK but the middle where there were no houses was bad. When it was made up in 1969 it was straightened a bit.
Article published in Mersea Life, October 2020.