Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

Living in Rochford

I moved house, from a flat in Southend to a bungalow in Rochford, at the beginning of the 1970s.

Although living in Warrior Square had been convenient for the shops, cinemas etc of the busy town centre, it was nice to move to the somewhat quieter little town of Rochford, where I had been born in 1942.

At the time I was still married to my first wife, Judy, and the household also included my daughters Theresa and Angela, who were both little girls at the time.

We lived in Somerset Avenue, just a few minutes walk from Rochford town centre and from the railway station.

I was still working in entertainment at the time, and moved from the West End of London to Leyton to Gravesend, but for most of the time I was living in Rochford I was General Manager of the Classic Twin Cinemas at Westcliff.

I quite often used to walk home from the cinema to Rochford, as it was often too late to catch the buses (Westcliff to Southend, then Southend to Rochford) after I had finished work. It was about four miles and took me about an hour to walk.

As well as working at the cinemas, and writing for a local newspaper, I played a full part in voluntary organisations locally.

I joined the Rochford Hundred Amenities Society, and became the Society’s Public Relations Officer. The thing that I am most proud of with this hat on is that I personally led opposition to the planned demolition of the building at Horner’s Corner in Rochford. Its demolition would have put paid to Rochford’s unique mediaeval street system, but it is now a well restored asset to the community, and closes the view up South Street superbly, as it always did.

Before I left the area, I donated a cup (“the Colin Crosby Cup”) for the Society to give annually to a person or organisation who had served the cause of conservation well. I understand that this is still in use.

I was also one of the founder members of the South End Conservation Area Society (now known as the Southend Society). The catalyst for the Society’s formation was the alleged need for demolition of the historic Royal Hotel, as it was claimed to be about to fall down. I now use the Royal Hotel as a starting point for Guided Walks in Southend.

We invited Sir John Betjeman to be the Society’s Patron. When he accepted, we were as delighted as he had been to be asked.

One of my ideas was the South East Essex Federation of Amenities Societies. The idea was that local societies in the area, such as the Rochford and Southend ones, and groups in, for example, Old Leigh, could pool information and give each other support in campaigns. This was in fact set up just after I left the area. I had been asked if I could be its Chairman, but obviously this was not going to be possible as I would be in a different part of the country.

I used to take part, with my cinema hat on, in Rochford Carnival procession, and others at Southend, Canvey Island, Burnham-on-Crouch and Maldon. One year I was one of three judges for the Queen of Queens Contest – it was held in a field at Ashingdon.

School fetes were good, too – along with the Classic Queen (yes, a Carnival Queen for the cinema) I opened fetes at my daughters’ school at Rochford and also a school at Hawkwell.

I left Rochford in 1975, and lived for a short while in North End, Portsmouth.

I like Rochford very much. As a matter of interest, I still lead Guided Walks there from time to time. The next one – yes, here’s a date for the diary – is on Sunday afternoon 10th September.

If anybody reading this has any connections with Rochford, or South East Essex generally (born, lived, worked, ancestors, relatives), I will be very pleased to hear from them.