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A Billericay Life Remembered

I was born in 1927 in one of the redbrick cottages in Grange Road and now live in Mill Road.  When I started school I walked to Great Burstead school in Laindon Road (now the Fold). From there I went to Billericay School which had not long been built . 

A First !

The school leaving age was 14 so from school I looked for my first job. As luck would have it my friend knew a girl who worked in the office at Balls Factory in Kennel Lane.  She told us that they were looking for two girls to work in the factory as they had just started manufacturing plastic goods. So my friend and I were the first two girls to work in the factory.  As they expanded many more followed us to work there.
My main memories of Balls were the annual charabanc trip to Dreamland at Margate. It was the same trip in all the 11 years I worked there. Also there was always a Christmas do and a meal at the WI Hall in Edith Lane. 
I also enjoyed dancing and a group of us would regularly go to the Archer Memorial Hall. Before the Ritz came to Chapel Street we went on the bus to the Palace Cinema in Brentwood.

The Ritz

At the Ritz I remember a week of different Deanna Durban films each night.
When I was 25 I decided to have a change and worked for a while in Romford. It was only a 45 minute bus ride on the bus which ran from Wood Green to Southend.  I then decided to look for a job back in Billericay.

Woolworths

When they opened a Woolworths I applied for a job and worked there for the next 21 years. My sister told me that I knew everyone as they all came into Woolworths and I suppose everyone knew me as I was there for so long.
My older sister Ruby joined the WAAFs in the war and worked in signals. After the war she worked at the Telephone Exchange in Billericay. If there was a 999 call for the fire brigade she ran a bell which sounded a horn all over Billericay to call out the retained firemen.
When I was young everyone knew each other Billericay was like one big community.
Sheila Jeeves.


Editor’s note
I had a wonderful conversation with Sheila in the summer. During her lifetime she had seen Billericay grow from a small tight knit mainly rural community of 5000 to a town of over 30,000 and growing
Sadly Sheila died after a short illness this autumn. Her family are happy for me to share her voice with you as she reminisced about her Billericay and South Green.  Her memories will connect with so many of you who have been Billericay residents for a number of years.