Station Row Cottages - A Potted History
We live in a row of 16 cottages which were built over 150 years ago before the railway track. Originally there were 16 cottages with two bungalows at the end. These cottages were built for farm workers or brickfield workers at Conyer. They had no running water and no electricity, lighting was by gas (gas mantle). Water had to be obtained from a well; the water coming from an underground spring.
Each cottage contained a front room, a small living room, a scullery and an outside toilet. In the front room was a gas mantle and a fireplace; in the living room a gas mantle and a kitchener (cooking range). Under the stairs which went up the middle of the front room and living room there were two cupboards. The large cupboard was used for food and the other was small and used for coal. Leading off was the scullery. This had only a china sink and a brick copper for washing. The water was heated by a fire underneath; there was no gas mantle. Upstairs there were two bedrooms with gas mantles. Outside was the toilet with a 6ft. brick wall which ran the length of the cottages. There was a pathway at the back between the toilet and the wall. At the back of the wall were allotments. A rough road was at the front of the cottages and there were garden sheds and 100ft. of garden.
The bungalows had two bedrooms, a front room, a living room, a scullery, an outside toilet and 100ft. garden. A Mr Coulter lived at one time in one of the bungalows and his son in the other.
In some of the cottages there were families ranging from 9 to 14 people in one cottage. In No. 14 there were 14 children in one bedroom. They had to sleep four in one bed; head to feet. My father lived in one of the cottages with his family, he was one of 12.
In No. 16’s garden was a chapel which was used for Sunday School by the children and in the evening for evening prayer. The front room of No. 4 was turned into a shop that was used by workmen, on the way to the brickfields at Conyer, to buy cigarettes and tobacco At the back of the cottages was a footpath leading to Conyer along which were 'wash backs'. These were full of clay to make bricks for the brickfields which were used for local houses.
In 1893 an Oast House, used for hop drying, was built on the same side as the cottages. This Oast belonged to Mr Honeyball who lived in a beautiful old sixteenth century house at Newgardens (now Station Road). At one time he also owned the cottages. The Honeyball House was demolished to make way for a housing estate at the end of the 1960s.