Commemorative Plaques for Thurrock

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On a wall near the café on Grays Beach is a ‘Thurrock Heritage’ oval green plaque. This was unveiled on Sunday 5th September 2004 in the presence of members of the Training Ship Exmouth Association. Also present was Brett Goodyear who took the pictures. His maternal Grandfather Charles Cole was Chief Shipwright and retired in July 1939, two months before the outbreak of the second world war.

Charles Cole was apprenticed as a shipwright in Kent and he married Annie Hubbard in Sittingbourne in 1900. They moved to Grays before the 1901 census in which, coincidentally, they are shown as lodging in Exmouth Road. Charles joined the TS Exmouth staff about 1906. They moved often between rented lodgings, having 8 children born at 5 different Grays addresses. Finally, in the mid-1930’s, thanks to a win (as part of a syndicate) on an Irish Lottery, Charles Cole was able to put a deposit down on a new house. Thereafter, he lived in Grange Road Grays until he died in 1967 (at age 90). Here is Charles Cole in uniform standing outside the original café on Grays beach (i.e. within a few yards of the position where the plaque has been placed, some 60 or 70 years later).

Among those at the plaque unveiling ceremony was 90 year old Maurice Jackson, who, as a young man, worked in the Paymaster’s Office on the Exmouth. He remembers that Charles Cole had 2 shipwright colleagues, a Mr Wheal and Mr Edward Needham. Here he is (on the right) with Patrick Jones (left) who is the Secretary and Archivist of the T S Exmouth Association (and the main driving force) andJonathan Catton (centre) of the Thurrock Museum.

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