Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

Living in Southend

I always think of Southend as my home town. After being born in Rochford, living with my parents in Westcliff, and then briefly in Hawkwell and Goodmayes, I actually came to live in Southend itself in the mid 60s.

When I moved there with my first wife Judy and small daughter Theresa, I was already Manager of a cinema. In fact I was the Manager of the Odeon Whalebone Lane, at Becontree Heath in Dagenham.

But within a short time I was appointed Deputy General Manager of Rank Cinemas Southend (Odeon, Ritz and a retail shop), which made life a lot more convenient, as home was within a stone’s throw of Southend High Street.

I lived in a first floor flat in Warrior Square, a pleasant group of streets with public gardens in the middle.

Before moving to the job in Southend, I used to get home late at night on the train. At the time, the Victoria Circus Shopping Centre was being built, so the area between station and home was a bit of a mess. Our cat, Tiger, used to often come and meet me at the station and walk home with me.

It was at Southend that my second daughter, Angela, was born.

It was also at Southend that I became “The Bearded Cinema Manager”. In my late teens, I had been amused when my cousin Michael (just a few months older than me) had caught German measles, although I was not so amused when I too caught it. Then at 26 I caught mumps – 26 is a bit long in the tooth to have such an illness.

Most men wonder what they would look like with a beard, but until the fashion for designer stubble few tried to grow one, as it looks pretty awful while it’s growing.

So when I had to stay at home for couple of weeks with my mumps, it seemed the ideal opportunity to grow a beard. The trouble was, it just wouldn’t grow! Ten days went by, with me haranguing my face in the mirror, before it actually became a beard. Then I kept it.

Days off (in the week, of course, never at the weekend) could very easily involve a stroll along the seafront (where John Betjeman said the air is like wine) or in one of Southend’s superb parks.

Pleasant and convenient as it was to live in the centre of a big town like Southend, the opportunity came after a while to acquire a bungalow in Rochford, so that’s what we did.