|Canvey Island Monster
||[Dec. 6th, 2007|06:26 am]
Alan (+A) to the Starry Eyed list 15th. April 2006....
The only monster I ever saw was our junior school headmaster, but then
I left Canvey for Rainham in 1948/9.
We were told in school that Canvey was originally marshland, or
wetlands. Like where sea grass grows and sea birds make nests. There
were, it seems, some paths across the island, known to the favoured
few, but not always available according to local tides. I used to
walk one of them, which went around the mainland side of the island,
and had clearly been built up above the ground.mud level. This took
me to "The Old Village," which was so old it wasn't there any more,
but a more modern housing estate (small - everything on Canvey is
small) was nearby. From there it was about 3/4 mile to the bridge to
Benfleet. From there one could turn east and follow an earthen path
through the woods (sometimes with female companion, which took longer)
until one could see the remains of Hadleigh Castle higher up on the
ridge. Only a small part of a tower remained.
As for the Dutch, stories vary, but local legend (and some history
books) spoke of Dutch marauders sailing up the Thames in the 1600s
pillaging and stuff. Canevey was easy to steal, so they did, and
built small round cottages here and there, of which two remained. One
of these was maintained in good repair in my time, and the other need
it. Whether they had time to build many more, or what became of them
is not known, but they stayed long enough to reclaim the marshland for
First they built a retaining sea wall at low tide using rocks from
somewhere (none growing on Canvey) so that a bigger and better wall
could be built nearer the shore proper. This is still there, but its
original charm has been ruined by the need for flood defences after
the floods of 1953. My auntie Gert (true) and here daughters were
stuck on the roof of their chalet home for hours, as a result of which
cousin Coral developed nephritis, and died of kidney failure not long
after her marriage.
Before the war (II) Canvey was scheduled for development as a
holiday resort, and we lived for a time in a road which ended in a
grass field. I've been back twice, and it is now nearly impossible to
move owing to cramped holiday lets, though the field at the back or
our bungalow is still there, as they built a new school to go with it.
The main road from Benfleet used to go in a straight line past the
"Old Village," passing one of the round Dutch house on the way until
it turned left into The Village (also old, but simply called "The
Village" to avoid confusion).
All different now. Take the road from Benfleet and try to go home
and you get lost, as they have built more road, and changed the
layout, so you have to go wandering about to see that cottage now.
I expect Bob will want to keep this bit of trivia, but he DOES have
a picture of Mum, Dad, Auntie Jessie and his pram (Bob enclosed) on
the sea wall circa 1944 ...
Bob Bain <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
>On Tue, 11 Apr 2006 02:58:33 -0700 (PDT), bro' Alan wrote:
>> I grew up on (not by) Canvey Island, in the Thames estuary, where nearly all the kids could swim, including me.
> Me too ! Well I started life's journey on Canvey Island and always
>described myself as Canveyislandish until I discovered stairs at
For the curious...
Canvey Island (area 18.45 sq km; pop. 37,000) is an island in the
River Thames estuary off the coast of Essex, England. It is also the
name of the town on that island, though this is sometimes shortened to
The island's name is Anglo Saxon in origin, and means "Cana's island".
It was first recorded in manorial records of 1255 as Caneveye. The
island is not mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086, but sheep
grazing marshland lying to the south of the county is mentioned
extensively. Geologically, Canvey Island was originally part of the
mainland, then the coastline broke up into smaller pieces, and the
modern island is made up of five of those pieces. There are historical
maps held at the Essex Record Office that show where the five separate
islands originally lay and it is thought that these are the marshes
referred to in earlier records. Sheep farming was a mainstay industry
of the island until very recently.
Because of the geological history of the island subsidence was a
common problem and sea defences have been built to protect the island
from the Thames since the 14th century. In the early 17th century
Dutch builders were employed to reclaim land from the Thames and to
strengthen the sea defences. Because of this a strong Dutch community
formed in Canvey Island, evidence of which can still be found in local
street names, place names and architecture. This Island is also home
to the Canvey Island Monster.
The discovery of the Canvey Island monster remains one of
cryptozoology's most bizarre unsolved mysteries.
In November, 1954, several residents on Canvey Island in the UK found
the most unusual corpse they had ever seen washed up on the shore.
They dragged the body up onto the shore and ran to tell the
authorities who brought in two zoologists to study the body. The
corpse was described as follows: in bad condition, had hind legs which
appeared to be adapted to walking bipedaly, the creature was about
76cm (30in) tall, had five toes which were arranged in a curious horse
shoe shape, the foot also had a concave arch, the eyes were bulging,
its head was soft and mushy (most likely due to decay or lack of
skull), and it was also mentioned to have thick brownish red skin.
After examination the zoologists cremated the body and assured the
public that there was nothing out of the ordinary. The authorities
made no more mention of it.
That was until August 1955, when Reverend Joseph Overs found another
dead creature floating in a tide pool. This body was described to be
in much better condition, this specimen was much larger being about
1.2m (4ft), weighed about 11.3kg (25lb). The better condition of the
body allowed for details of the face to be studied such as the eyes,
nostrils and teeth, and it also possessed very prominent gills.
However, there is no mention anywhere of what happened to this body,
and no more specimen have been officially examined.
To this date, researchers have no idea as to what the Canvey Island
monsters are; crazy theories abound, but no reasonable conclusions can
be reached. These creatures have, however, been connected with the
rash of U-shaped footprints found in the snow in nearby English
counties during the 1850's.
Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canvey_Island_Monster
( Loch Ness Monster ? - an insignificant creature designed with American tourists in mind )
Regarding the move from Canvey Island to Rainham in 1948 Alan got to travel on the back of the truck with dad and I took the train with mum and on arrival discovered stairs (wooden and not covered with carpet) and spent hours on the stairs, delighted at an entirely new experience. I'd never seen a house with stairs. Rainham had a large back yard overgrown with weeds and mum kept chooks for several years (for the eggs) but gave up after the chooks were continually ravaged by neighbour's dogs. The dogs managed to get under the wire fencing. I refused to eat eggs from the chooks in the backyard and insisted that any boiled or fried egg served to me was a "shop" egg. "Shop" eggs in my mind didn't come from live animals and could be trusted. I believe mum cheated and told fibs about the origin of the eggs she served.
(posted after Trevor asked me to send Alan's posting about the Canvey Island Monster)