WELCOME TO THE BAYLISS LINE. This blog has been created for my family. By "my family" I mean all those who are related to the Bayliss family either by blood, marriage or even relationship. There are, of course, other Bayliss families not related to us but this blog has at its heart a very specific family who had their origins in Gloucestershire. I am connected to that family because my mother was a Bayliss and it was her curiosity that started my research back in the early 1990's. So, what are you likely to see on this blog? Well, as it is a blog, I want it to be as entertaining as possible rather that a dry listing of facts (that is for Ancestry.com). I will, hopefully, be posting entries on our ancestors and relatives, on the places where they lived, and the historical times they lived through. I have an extensive collection of photographs of people and places which I will, of course, be sharing.

I'd like to ask anybody who reads this blog to give me some feedback. I'd really like this to be a two way thing. It sometimes unearths new information and, to be honest, it gives me encouragement. There will be two ways of providing feedback - either through the comment button (you will need a Google account for this) or via the e-mail address which appears on this page - alternatively, ring me. Now scroll down to read the latest entries.....and, of course, via Facebook.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012


An old postcard showing the Oyster Fishermen's cottages on the north side
of Pleasant Row. Esther's house faced these buildings and would stand on
the far left of the picture. What look like allotments vanished with the
building of new houses in Pleasant Road (marked by the railings on the
I suspect that Esther and Joe Slater's house in Pleasant Row, Southend, has a very special place in the memories of many people - especially those of my generation. I doubt if there are any of my first cousins and certainly none of  our parents who did not visit it on many occasions. The only place that is any comparable is Bert Bayliss's bungalow on Canvey Island and for very similar reasons - to have relatives who lived at the seaside was very special and added an extra dimension to a visit to the beach.  Pleasant Row itself has an interesting history. It was originally a row of small cottages built in 1767 to house Southend's Oyster fishermen - making it one of the oldest streets in Southend. These cottages, although uninhabited as far as I know, survived well into the Sixties and were a familiar sight on my visits to "Auntie Esther and Uncle Joe" in the 1950's.

The Oyster Fishermen's Cottages built by John Remnant in 1767
just before they were demolished in the 1960's.

Unlike Bert's wooden bungalow at Leigh Beck, Canvey, Pleasant Row and the Slater home survives to this day - the house itself virtually unchanged. You won't find it, however, on any modern map of Southend. If you walk along the seafront you will come to Pleasant Road on the left.  Up Pleasant Road you can still see the factory on the right that used to produce so many of the famous and familiar Southend "rocks" - pink on the outside, white inside with the town name running through it.  On the left The Black Cat Cafe fondly remembered by many of the family is gone although the shell of the building lingered until only a few years ago.  When you get to the top of the hill on the left there is a small road called "Ash Walk" - Ash Walk was the new name given to Pleasant Row during the redevelopment of the area.

No.9 Pleasant Row, Pleasant Road, Southend.

Of course, as reported in the previous article, originally Esther and Joe only rented the upstairs flat (9a), the downstairs being the home of Thomas Douglas and his family. It wasn't until the late Fifties, probably nearer 1960 that the Douglas family left and the Slaters bought the whole house.

Esther and Joe's first child was born in 1948. He was named Brian Robin, although he has always been known as Robin in the family. I certainly did not know his name was Brian until I began my research. A second son, Ian Joseph Roger, followed in 1955.

After the war Joe gave up the seafaring life, although a love of boats and the sea has certainly continued in the family through his sons

. Esther had a series of jobs throughout her life, certainly working as a barmaid at one period. One job that I know she particularly enjoyed was working as an usherette at the Odeon Cinema in Southend High Street. The manager at the time was Arthur Levenson.. Many years later while talking to my partner Terry's son I discovered that as a teenager he had begun his career in cinema management as an assistant at the Odeon and had known Esther.  In her last job she worked at Southend's Alexandra Yacht Club. While staying with Robin and his wife in nearby Prittlewell Square in the early Eighties a girlfriend and I visited Esther at the Yacht Club and were treated to a slap up English breakfast.  Perhaps because of the times I had breakfast at the house in Pleasant Row, the smell of crispy bacon cooking is one I always associate with Southend.

This picture taken in the garden at Pleasant Row shows Left to Right :
Ethel, Esther, Joe, Ivy Seamons. Ian and Robin in front.
(sorry about the quality)

 After Robin and Ian grew up and left home Esther and Joe sold the house in Pleasant Row and moved to a flat in Ditton Court Road, Westcliff. Joe passed away in 1974 but Esther became a regular sight around Westcliff - she was a regular in The Melrose pub in Hamlet Court Road and she would often pass the time of   day on her favorite bench outside the Kosher grocery/bakers (now Zen City Chinese restaurant) in Hamlet Court Road where she chatted to her friends. In 1986, Esther's sister Ethel came to live close by in Westcliff and the two were often seen around together. I remember an incident once when I found a note from my mother saying that she and Esther had gone to sit on the cliffs. When I found them they were just setting their deck chairs up. I began to help my mother as Esther sat down. The ground was uneven and Esther's chair toppled over depositing her into the bushes. Luckily she was unhurt and was able to laugh about it. To this day I can't pass the spot without imagining I can see Esther's legs sticking out of the bushes.  Esther's health began to deteriorate and this wasn't helped by another fall - this time more serious - in Hamlet Court Road.
I saw Esther often at weekends although, obviously, she spent more and more time with her sons. I last saw Esther in 1990 in Southend Hospital (although she did not die there) shortly before her death. She was a lovely lady, generous in all ways and always ready to give wise advice. I am sure that she is lovingly remembered by all members of my generation. I believe it was Esther's death that was the trigger for the rapid decline in my own mother's mental condition. I know she missed her greatly.

Esther and Joe's sons still live in the Southend area with their families, Robin in the Pagelsham area and Ian in Leigh on Sea.

But the story isn't quite finished. I have deliberately not said to much about Esther's husband Joe. His story is a fascinating one that his sons and I have been trying to piece together for years - a real detective story with lots of clues and no real answers...yet.  My next big article will be about Joe.

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