When the house in London Road was first built it stood alone in a field.
The London Road carves a scimitar-shaped curve out of the east end of London, running south from Poplar and Silvertown where my grandparents had spent their childhoods, down through Barking, Dagenham and the Rainham Marshes, and on up into the ragged Essex countryside skirting Basildon, Benfleet and Thundersley until the road reaches the Leigh cliffs.
In 1920 the road had not yet become the A13, or ‘The Arterial’ as it was known to us. By the time it reached Hadleigh Park it was an unmetalled track, and the Leigh cliffs were a belt of undeveloped land and fields with horses. It was here that my grandparents bought a small plot – although they could easily have bought a large one – and commissioned a villa that would look down the cliffs towards the Thames estuary.