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The North Lodge, Dagnams
The last residents of Dagnam Park.

Unbeknown to them at the time the last residents of Dagnam Park were Eva & Terry Hobbs they lived along with their two young children in the North Lodge from about 1959/60 until about 1964. They took possession as London County Council tenants or more likely sub tenants of James Quilter. This after living in a caravan for some time on Quilter’s land at the rear of Manor Farm close to the Priory Road. They took up the tenancy after the previous tenant, Arthur Viney died in 1959, aged 76. Viney was the last and only tenant of the walled garden. His demise leading to the gardens and buildings being overrun by hordes of Harold Hill kids. Subsequently the walls and stable block were demolished in the interests of safety by the LCC. The Hobbs had little interest in that drama at least they had a tenancy and bricks and mortar at that.

 

Eva was born in West Ham and Terry in Romford and in their early married days were probably happy to find independence in a caravan and then even happier to find a real home in the North Lodge.

Anyone who wandered up the track from the Wrightsbridge Road to the Priory Pond in the early 60s would have been aware of the Hobbs because they had what appeared to be a vicious, slavering dog that would leap up at the fence snarling and growling and frightening the life out of any passers-by.

Terry Hobbs was a Thames lighterman and the uncertain hours due to the tides were disruptive to their family life. Eventually Terry secured a more regular job at Ford’s in Dagenham. Later they were offered a move to Ford's in Basildon a job that went along with a Basildon council house with all mod cons. They didn’t hesitate, they upped and left. The North Lodge was left vacant.

The Harold Hill kids got in and started to dismantle the building (see below) but by then it seems probable that Quilter gave up his rights and the council (now the GLC) decided it was no longer viable and it was demolished in 1965. Terry died some years ago but Eva lives on in Basildon.

The photograph above was taken in the mid 60s by Alan Elkins after the Hobbs moved to Basildon. Alan was a friend of the family and often visited them in the Lodge. He lived in the Chudleigh Rd flats with his parents and younger brothers Roy and Derek until they moved to the prefab estate in the early 60s.

N.B. The South Lodge situated on the junction of Petersfield Avenue and the A12 was demolished in the early 1970s. Both Lodges were probably built to a similar design.

Del Smith

Below; the North Lodge in 1881

Ken Hatfield is a friend of mine who was raised in Dagnam Park Drive on the junction of Sedgefield Crescent, Harold Hill. After reading the above account he adds his own memory of the North Lodge, set out below. Nice that he has come clean over his "wayward" youth after more than fifty years.

"I think it was the winter of 1964 when a few of us kids went into the old house at the end of the gravel track leading from Settle Road to Wrightsbridge Road. I've since discovered this was called the North Lodge. I was always fascinated by old buildings and to me at the time, this was an old building. It was in a mess and clearly derelict. I think someone broke a window or two. I remember seeing from an upstairs window, a policeman turn up who was making his way round to the back of the house. I think two of the group legged it as fast as they could heading towards the woods, the rest of us, perhaps three in all, were stuck with no chance of escape. The copper probably saw these "escapees" running away but perhaps didn't fancy the foot chase. He didn't shout after them though, I'd have heard that. At the foot of the staircase was a door ... a strange place for a door but it was there for sure. I quietly made my way to the staircase and slowly went down it. I could hear sounds of this copper walking about outside and then he came into the house. I remember thinking that if he catches us in this house we'd all be for it so I decided to either hold the door knob so that it couldn't be turned (not sure about that bit) and to hold the door shut if he tried to open it .... I think it was just the latter as I remember holding this freezing cold brass door knob and pulling it hard towards me in case the copper tried to pull it open. Very shortly afterwards he tried just that. I held it tight and pulled as hard as I could bracing my leg against the enclosed staircase wall. He gave up after about twenty or so seconds and walked away probably believing that if he couldn't open it then nobody could be upstairs. I didn't see the going of him but we all just waited an age to make sure he'd gone, with me guarding the door knob in case he came back"