Lt. Cpl. Fielder’s 1930s Developments

Lt. Col. Horace Percy Fielder could be considered the man to whom established Canvey as a residential area. A few decades before, at the turn of the century, Frederick Hester established Canvey as a tourist plotland area (read more here). However, Fielder could be considered the first to put Canvey on the map as a day to day residential ground – before, it’s population consisted mainly of retired individuals, tourists, or farmers. Now, it would become a place where the everyman could live.

Fielder’s Bunglows

The Canvey pioneer began his work by arranging the construction of similarly designed bungalows all over the Island, during the 1930s.  Although cheap in construction, they were considered of modern design at the time. Many remain to this day, either in original state – abandoned or still lived in, or heavily refurbished to the point where they are difficult to recognize. A giveaway feature is the slanted roofs which sometimes subtly change angle at the front, sometimes with original square roof tiles. The reason for the front side of the roof’s angle becoming more obtuse about half way down is because they were originally built with the roof slanting over a porch, with an air of American ranch house. Many of these porches were converted not long after into extensions of the house, being small as they are, but some remain intact. About half of the bungalows had such porches, the rest had straight sloping roofs which were longer on their right side as the building extended a extra room. Both examples can be seen in the 1933 photo below. Please note there were other variants, and were not an ‘exact science’.

Rainbow Avenue, a small road off Rainbow Road on Canvey, is a complete 1930s Fielder street. Many of the bungalows have been heavily modernised, others barely. It consists of ten Fielder bungalows.

Fielder's Canvey from a 1933 Guide

Fielder’s Canvey from a 1933 Guide

 Thorney Bay Holiday Camp

During the early Second World War, Fielder was posted at Canvey Fort – the sea defence battery and army camp at Thorney Bay. In May 1940, he lead Canvey troops to engage the Germans in Norway. At the time, he was Colonel of Canvey’s Territorial Army. After returning he furthered his pioneering prestige by established Thorney Bay Beach Camp amongst the wartime buildings remaining from the war, in the early 1950s. For example, the barrack huts were reused as accommodation, or halls. It drew many East End holiday-makers to Canvey up until the 1990s, many of which settled here. It still stands as the dubiously named ‘Thorney Bay Holiday Camp caravan site, whilst nearly all of the military buildings are long-since gone.

Whilst he also planned a promenade pier, to rival Southend as a seaside resort, these never came to fruition.

Fielder did however decide to crate a dam across part of Thorney Bay itself, allowing thirty acres of inland water to remain when the tide was out. This was successfully created, but has since been filled in as land, now home to a children’s park.

Fielder’s Hand-Made Hunting Map

I was fortunate enough to be able to have a look a map of Joe’s aunts, with the name  ‘H.P. Fielder’, one of Canvey’s most well known World War 2 characters (who owned Thorney Bay including the army camp, and many other placed on the Island, plus he was a member of Canvey’s governance – read more here ‘http://canveyisland.org/page_id__625_path__0p22p.aspx‘), written on it in ink. We took it to the Bay Museum and came to the conclusion it was a hunting map (hence the ‘Essex union’ cover, and that it displayed numbered hunt spots, and the boundaries of their hunting license. We then took it to Janet Penn, who runs and contributes to Canvey’s archive (www.canveyisland.org). She came to further conclusion that someone, probably Fielder, had got the map on printed paper, and divided/segmented it up into pieces, and glued it on canvas, which then was placed in the Cover, and the coordinates were manually added by and in ink. It also has someone else’s writing on it, which appears just to be calligraphy practice.

Fielder’s Imitation Dutch Cottages

Built as a nod to Canvey’s Dutch heritage and the two remaining cottages from the 17th Century, Fielder built three houses shaped like them yet taller on the ‘Zeeland Estate’. The two survivors, off Long Road down Beechcroft Road, had thatched roofs. More info here: http://www.canveyisland.org/page_id__1188.aspx

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