The article follows on from the last one which covered the eastern part of the north side, from the Cranham boundary to Garbutt Road. We therefore pick up the story at the west side of Garbutt Road, and continue westwards, towards the Bell/Cosy Corner Crossroads, a road frontage stretching some 400 yards which by the mid-1930s had been developed into houses and shops. How do a former “Public Enemy No.1” and a famous magician have links to here? Read on!
Like the area from the Cranham boundary, from the eighteenth century parts of the roadside waste here were enclosed and cottages and houses were built on these plots. Four such enclosures can be identified, and these plots and another which remained in the ownership of the Branfills of Upminster Hall, form the basis for the account below.
Branfill’s Meadow (Church Field) – 233 to 245 St Mary’s Lane
To the west of Hammond’s Frog Hall (described in the previous account) and directly opposite New Place, was originally a 70 yard road frontage, which Branfills had probably enclosed from the roadside waste and incorporated with their adjoining pasture to the north, which was known as Church Field. T L Wilson, and his father Thomas, rented this four acre plot on a year by year basis.
This was part of the land sold by the Branfills to W P Griggs who in early 1907 built two adjoining cottages, known as Fern Cottage (now 243 St Mary’s Lane), and Rose Cottage (now 245) as part of the Garden Suburb. These were the first premises built on Cranham Lane by Griggs. Joseph Howard, an engine driver, lived at Fern Cottage from its erection until his death in the late 1940s. Next door at number 245, on the corner with Garbutt Road lived Albert Parrish, whose father of the same name had succeeded T L Wilson as the occupier of America Lodge, running a cartage contractors’ business from the yard there.
To the west of these cottages Griggs built five further houses between 1912 and 1914 – these were originally known as 8 to 12 Esdaile Gardens, which now survive as 233 to 241 St Mary’s Lane.
James Esdaile’s Enclosure (1801) – Paine’s Pond – 215 to 231 St Mary’s Lane
In 1801 James Esdaile enclosed a piece of waste with a road frontage of 215 feet, which was later known as Paine’s Pond although the origins of this name are unknown. This wooded plot remained undeveloped and formed part of land and properties, including Esdaile’s New Place opposite, which were bought by James Harmer of Ingress Abbey, Kent in 1841. After Harmer’s death in 1853 these lands passed down through his family until they were bought by Griggs, who in 1911 built two houses, part of Esdaile Gardens, Number 6 (originally known as “Hamstead”) & Number 7 (“Lynton”) – these houses survive as 229 & 231 St Mary’s Lane.
To the west was a vacant plot, nominally 5 Esdaile Gardens (225-227), adjacent to which was the original police house at Number 4 (Number 223), built by Griggs in 1909, and initially occupied by the village bobby PC James Beasley, promoted to sergeant in 1912, until he transferred to Harwich in 1917. This remained the village police station until recent years.
The next door house Number 221 (3 Esdaile Gardens) was occupied from the early 1930s by John Fitzgerald Williamson (1885-1966), a Derry-born dentist, while numbers 1 & 2 Esdaile Gardens (217 & 219 St Mary’s Lane), were built early in 1908. Ernest Drury and Albert Archer established their Drury & Archer builders’ premises at 217 in 1936, before transferring their business to 224 opposite a few years later.
These properties were sold by Mrs Norah Biering in 1969 to the police service who planned to expand the adjacent police station, demolishing these houses in anticipation of the development, which never materialised and the site thereafter remained undeveloped.
Mrs Biering was the widow of Frank Biering, a former jewellery manager, who was tragically shot dead in an armed raid on a jewellers and pawnbrokers owned by Leon Weinstein at 78 Great Portland Street, London on 20th February 1969. No one was ever convicted of this murder, as the two accused George Smith and Arthur Sullivan, were acquitted at the Old Bailey in September that year, after the prosecution offered no evidence – although they were found guilty of conspiracy to commit robbery and Smith of possessing three sawn-off shotguns, a pistol and ammunition. During the initial court proceedings it was said that one of Britain’s most notorious criminals John McVicar, an armed robber who was at large having escaped from Durham Gaol, was the “triggerman” but McVicar – tagged “Public Enemy No 1” – was never charged with this offence and went on to write an autobiography, which led to the 1980 biographical film McVicar.
Initial plans to develop a care home on this site failed to win planning approval but subsequent plans to develop eight three and four bedroom houses, seven on St Mary’s Lane and one to the rear in St Lawrence Road, were approved in August 2015. Numbers 1 to 8 Constable Mews, appropriately named in view of the former police station, sold from November 2107 onwards at prices ranging from £555,000 to £725,000.
John Russell’s Enclosure Oak Cottage and Oak Lodge – 197-213 St Mary’s Lane
What is now 203 St Mary’s Lane (Yogi News) dates from the mid-1700s and was until its redevelopment in the late 1920s known as Oak Cottage. According to Wilson, by “long tradition” Oak Cottage was “purposely erected” for the Rev Jubb on the roadside manorial waste, probably around 1740. John Jubb, curate to Rev Samuel Bradshaw from 1737 until his death in 1761, married Elizabeth Harris in 1744 which therefore may be a significant date in the cottage’s erection, if Wilson’s account is correct. Elizabeth’s mother Dorothy Harris (1675-1748), who lived at High House for many years, was the daughter of Thomas Rowe, goldsmith of London.
Wilson’s account may not be correct, however. Records for neighbouring properties refer to this premises as the cottage belonging to Catherine White who is mentioned in a surviving property deed which records that on 12 June 1761 Champion Branfill of Upminster Hall granted to John Russell of Stubbers (his brother-in-law) a “parcel of lately enclosed ground …with the house and buildings lately erected”. This was for the use of Alice York and her son John for life, and afterwards to Catherine White (née York), wife of Gregory White. Alice York was a servant of the Rev Samuel Bradshaw, Upminster’s Rector whose will, written in 1762, was witnessed by Gregory White.
In the early 1820s Oak Cottage and its garden was acquired by Joseph Lee (1770-1849) publican at the Bell from 1799 to 1823, and before that he had been in charge of the Huntsman & Hounds at Corbets Tey. He was well versed in the licensed trade as his father Robert Lee was the publican of the Three Crowns, at Rainham Ferry; after retiring from the Bell he was described as a House and Land Agent and his obituary said he had been for 36 years land steward to the late Sir Thomas Neave Bt, of Dagnam Park. Lee also held land and farmed locally. Lee was active in parish affairs, serving as Overseers of the Poor from 1798 to 1800 and 1816-1820, and Churchwarden 1821-23.
Joseph Lee’s will records that he owned marshland which was part of the Ferry Marsh in Rainham Essex, and two freehold cottages with wharf, saltings & reed shore containing 9 acres at the entrance to Rainham Creek. On his death in 1849 he had no descendants but left a long series of bequests to friends and relations, some of these funded by rents on his properties; his estate was only finally wound up in 1876.
In 1910 Oak Cottage was described as having four bedrooms, a parlour, a living room, scullery and cellar which was “a deep cellar which is divided into two compartments by a fine curved brick arch, which is two feet in thickness”. (Reference: The Story of Upminster Book 2: Historic Buildings (1) (February 1958 p.23). The final residential occupier in the 1920s was Edward Hook, son of T L Wilson’s business partner William Hook.
After buying Oak Cottage Lee rented New Place opposite while on part of his land to the west he built for himself and his first wife Sophia a much grander house, which he named Oak Lodge. In 1910 when Humphrey Vellacott, farmer lived there, Oak Lodge comprised an attic, five bedrooms and dressing room, a bathroom, three sitting rooms, a kitchen and scullery, while outside were an old stable and coachhouse.
As part of the development of St Mary’s Lane, Oak Lodge and Oak Cottage were comprehensively remodelled by Holland Brothers of Goodmayes early in 1927, with the works completed in August that year. Not surprisingly given that two eighteenth and nineteenth century houses were remodelled, the resulting short parade of four shops that now forms 197 to 203 St Mary’s Lane differ completely in style from those nearby. This remodelled parade of four premises seems initially to have been described as Numbers 1 to 4 Oak Place. From the early 1930s the proprietors were United Diaries at 197 and Eastman & Sons, dyers and cleaners at 199 (these formed from the former Oak Lodge), while Samuel Nurse pastry cook at 201 and David Ramsay’s, newsagents at 203 were developed from the older Oak Cottage.
To the east between Oak Lodge and Esdaile Gardens was the three-bedroom house of William Cook, boot and shoemaker and repairer (211 St Mary’s Lane), which had a timber building at the side, used as a cobblers shop. William Cook was succeeded by his son Alfred who carried on the shoe repair business there until the late 1930s.
Between Ramsay’s and the cobblers, Cramphorn’s, corn and flour merchants, occupied the single storey Number 205 (now Upminster Carpets) from 1935 onwards, after T.A. Anglin’s fish merchants moved out.
Clement Patmore’s Enclosure – the “Old Hop Ground” (1781): 163 to 195 St Mary’s Lane
This long stretch of shops was built on what was originally known as the Old Hop Ground which Wilson said was where Sir James Esdaile cultivated hops. However this identification is clearly incorrect as this area only became part of the Esdaile family estates in 1800 when James Esdaile junior bought it, some seven years after his more famous father’s death.
This piece of ground was by Wilson’s calculation some 278 feet (92 yards and two feet) from east to west. Originally enclosed from the waste in 1781 by Clement Patmore, carpenter, it was sold in 1797 to John Cotton, a Romford shopkeeper, who in turn sold it a few years later to John Allin, an Upminster shopkeeper. James Esdaile bought it from Allin in 1800 and it remained in the Esdaile family’s ownership until it was auctioned in 1839; James Harmer, who also bought New Place, became the owner; the above Joseph Lee was then the tenant.
This plot remained undeveloped for housing into the early 20th century and by the 1920s it was ripe for development when Harry Frizzell, the Station Road baker, acquired it. Shops were progressively developed here between 1927 and 1932. Building started in 1927 working west from number 195, which was completed in August 1927, with number 193 following in April 1928 and numbers 185 to 191 finished later that year. F F Carter’s ironmongers were initially at 193 and H E Bridges, dairyman at 195. Number 195 was in 1951 Tudor Galleries and later in the 1950s it became the popular premises of Ward Sports, which remained there until 2002 when E G Hunter & Co, accountants, took over. Post-war number 193 appears to have been Burrell’s, but in later years was Marshall’s “white” electrical goods.
Numbers 185 to 191 were completed before March 1929. Pearks Diaries Ltd, a well-established large chain of premises across Essex with branches as far afield as Stratford, Colchester and Southend, opened their grocer’s shop in Number 185 in 1929. Next door at 187 was a boot & shoe dealers, initially Guy Boulton’s, but superseded in 1934 by Hand & Trickey’s run by Kitty Trickey & Bessy Hand. In 1958 it was Bone’s shoe shop, Clarks specialists. Other shops originally in this parade were Horace Dyer, butcher at 189 – later moving to 62 Station Road – and Gilbert’s gents’ outfitters at 191 and from around 1937 through into the 1950s Warnes gents outfitters.
Numbers 177 to 183 were developed later in 1929. J T Leach, electrical contractors were at number 183 from 1930 into the 1960s. Albert (Bertie) Cross was an electrician working on the wiring of the new St Mary’s Lane shops when he was approached by Mr Leach who wanted to set up in business but needed a specialist electrician to take charge as he wasn’t an electrician himself. Bertie Cross, who married in 1930 and moved to Bridge Avenue, agreed to manage the new premises. Leach’s shop closed around 1970 but continued with the contracting side of the business for about five years when Bertie Cross retired.
Horace Penrose’s tailor’s occupied number 181 (now the Marie Curie Charity Shop). The business was continued by his son John (1933-2017), who died in April this year. Outside work John Penrose held key positions as President of the London Magic Circle and the Ilford Magic Circle for many years and used his skills as a magician to provide entertainment at many fundraising functions. His son Scott Penrose, the current President of the Magic Circle, is a well-known leading magic consultant and illusion designer.
Ernie West’s watch makers & jewellers was at 179 from the 1930s through into the 1950s, while the next door premises 177 (now the Upminster Pie ‘n Mash Shop) was in the early 1930s a short-lived confectioners, KM & KW Deed and post-war became Master Cleaners.
Plans to build numbers 163-175 were submitted to the Council for approval early in 1930 with numbers 161, 159, and 157 developed in turn by 1932. A W Sibley, butchers – a series of family–owned butcher’s shops owned by Arthur William Sibley (1889-1958) – were at number 175 through the 1930s into the post-war years. Next door at 173 another branch of Green Stores, grocers was opened in 1934 and also remained throughout the 1950s. Number 171 was in the 1930s James Hawes, funeral furnishers and later A Lewis & Co’s tobacconists, while 167 was Lewis Levene’s “The Gown Shop” from 1934, until post-war. Thomas Godier’s stationers at 163 continued to trade there well into the 1940s and was later named St Mary’s Library.
James Chapple’s Enclosure (1744): 151 to 161 St Mary’s Lane
Further east was an old thatched cottage divided into two dwellings, known as Woodbine Cottages which was continuously occupied for over 65 years from before 1870 until 1935 by members of the Warren and Bone families – and 50 years earlier for the Bone family who were there by 1831. This site was in fact one of the earliest to be developed from the roadside waste, having been enclosed before 1744 by James Chapple, the parish clerk. After Chapple’s death in 1777 the property passed to his son also named James, and after his death in 1810 it was held in trust for his wife until it was sold in 1820 by his son-in-law John Sheldrick and wife Sarah nee Chapple, who continued to live there. Champion Edward Branfill of Upminster Hall then bought the cottages for £200 and the Branfills remained the owners until Harry Frizzell, acquired these before 1920.
When the houses in Cranham Road were first given numbers in the 1920s these premises became Nos 1 & 2 Cranham Road with Miss Hannah Warren at No 1 and Henry and Mrs Emily Bone living at No 2. These were numbered 151 and 153 in the early 1930s.
Harry Frizzell also owned the adjacent land to the east and had by the early 1930s developed a small parade, numbers 157 to 161. By February 1933 Ron Dobson, aged just 21, had established a hardware and domestic store coupled with the sale of hand tools, at 161 St Mary’s Lane, adding the store at 44 Station Road in 1960, where they remained until 2005. Francis Summers developed his grocers’ shop at 159 in 1932, later Grooms, and in the 1950s A W Lines. Number 157, built in 1933, was initially Mrs Florence Butler’s sports outfitter but was replaced by David Arthur Hughes’ drapers from April 1934.
Woodbine Cottages survived alongside this parade for a few years but by the summer of 1935 Hannah Warren and Emily Bone had moved out. The cottages were demolished by 30th September that year and a new parade built in their place which in 1937 and still in 1951 housed Sanders grocers at 151, Boots the Chemist at 153 and Freeman, Hardy Willis next door at 155.
George Rayment’s Enclosure: 143 to 149 St Mary’s Lane – The Grays Co-Operative Society
The area between Woodbine Cottages and the Cosy Corner which later became the Grays Co-Op, was an early enclosure on the Upminster Hall manorial waste near the cross roads.
On 25th February 1702 George Rayment, blacksmith was “given leave to” to erect a cottage “at the four want way at the lower end of Great Crouchfield”. Two years later Rayment appears to have surrendered this “messuage or blacksmith’s shop” to Nathan Wright of Cranham Hall, and this still formed part of Wright’s estate on his death in 1733. This smithy, which was part of the Hunts Farm estate bought by William Braund in 1757 is shown on an estate map that year as standing close to where Cosy Corner was later built. This refutes the idea that part of a village green could have been adjacent to the north–east of the cross roads as this smithy had been standing on there since at least 1702.
It seems probable that after acquiring this site from William Braund as part of Hunts Farm in 1771, Sir James Esdaile built a new smithy alongside the Bell Inn. It’s unclear what happened to the old smithy building, which may have survived as part of the buildings behind the Cosy Corner, but at some stage before 1842 this had passed into the Branfill’s ownership as it was then owned by Champion Edward Branfill and two cottages on this site were occupied by George Gaywood and Edward Laurence. The cottages had been cleared by the mid-1860s.
With the development of Cranham Road underway in the early 1920s, the site was acquired by the Grays & Tilbury Co-Operative Society who received approved in September 1925 to build a lock-up shop premises there.