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Barling & Wakering Villages Plus
Esler Family

Photograph and identifications supplied by Tony Alps.

Footnote by Peter Griffiths

Tony Alps sent the splendid attached photo and we have been trying to find out more about one of the people on it: Leslie ESLER.

Does anyone remember the ESLER family and what happened to them? Parents were Samuel ESLER and Amy, nee AUSTIN, who married in the Epping area in 1926, but were definitely in Barling by 1932.

As far as I can make out, there were at least five children:

There may also have been an Eileen, born 1926.

Here is Dorothy in Miss Morgan’s class of 1939-40:


And here she is in Miss Riley’s class of 1943:


I am hoping that we can tell Tony more about his childhood friends and what happened to them after he left the village, which was around 1950. So, if you have any information at all about anyone in the family, please let us know.

Tony Alps is looking forward to seeing lots of old friends when he comes over from Australia in the summer of 2015.

Comment by Laurence Street

[2nd April 2105]

I remember the Esler family fairly well, there were several in the family, some about the same age as me, we all went to our school during and after the war. I believe Dad (Sam) was a farm worker. Obviously they all fragmented and went their own ways.

The one I remember most was Les who was called Sam after his dad. I know he became a brick field worker and lived not too long ago in Little Wakering Road not too far from the Bowling Green. I haven't seen him for sometime.

Like many of us I believe the Esler's were one of the poorer families and were often helped by the wonderful Mrs "Auntie" Salmons, who seemed to be known as auntie to every one in need. She and Will used to live in a farm cottage at Barling Hall. They were very strong Christians and practiced what they preached.

Auntie Salmons used to collect my brothers and sisters and the Eslers and others from our respective homes and take us to their tiny cottage and feed us, bath us, give us used clothing and make sure we were OK.

Of course my family hailed from The Back Road, more properly called Mucking Hall Road, before I was born in Victory Cottages in 1935 we lived at both Ropers and Trumpions farms where my father was a farm horseman. They moved to Victory Cottages about 1930. So it all ties in.

Comment by Peter Griffiths

[5th April 2105]

Here is a little more public information about the ESLER family, when they were at our school.

Six children are mentioned in the public record that is the Register of Admission, Progress and Withdrawal of Barling School:


Started 22 June 1931

Left ?


Started 3 October 1932

Left 19 December 1941 (when she had reached school-leaving age of 14 years)


Started 13 May 1935

Left 5 April 1944 (at school-leaving age of 14)


Started 31 May 1937

Left 17 April 1946 (at school-leaving age of 14)


Started 27 May 1940

Left 23 July 1948 (transferred to Great Wakering School, as were many of his classmates, owing to the raising of the school-leaving age to 15)


Started 7 January 1946

Left 29 July 1949 (when family moved out of Barling to Great Wakering)

I’m sure that there are many former classmates and friends who, like Tony Alps, remember them from way back then.

Further Comment by Laurence Street

[6th April 2105]

I have spoken to my big sister Olive (Street) who went to our school whenever when we lived round the Back Road and lived at Ropers and Trumpions. She is now 88 and was born I think in 1926 so started school about 1931. Eileen was in the same class when Mr Shepherd was head. Apparently Tonk Shepherd as he was known was a tyrant and seemed to pick on Eileen and often caned her it is said without cause.

Olive also remembers the others but not in great detail. We are going back a longtime now so memories are somewhat dimmed.

Also in the same class was Pat Merchant and Victor Tharpe.

Tonk liked the bright kids, he taught these girls well and against many odds they made it to Southend High School for girls and done well in life. Olive worked at Keddies and during the 2nd world war used to do fire watch at night from the roof top of the building.

I think it was in 1947 when she was about 21 at Saint Mary's Church at Little Wakering she married David, a British Army member of the Parachute Regiment who was stationed on Foulness.

David came from near Southampton. She went down there and is still there although David died a few years ago aged 90 so he had a good innings.

I speak to Olive every Sunday evening by phone and despite her 88 years her mind is as sharp as ever. I now confess she is often behind my knowledge (If I ever had any) of life at Barling all those years ago although she speaks as if every thing is the same as it was in the 1930s.

Incidentally Mr Shepherd is buried at Saint Mary's.

Comment by Tony Alps

[7th April 2105]

Would like to thank you and all the others who have contributed to solving the mystery of the Estlers. Never thought that old photo I sent to Peter would stir up so much interest. I think it is just great how, after so many years, there are so many people still able to turn back the clock and bring our collective childhood experiences into the present. I have spent many hours on the website and it has made me realise what a profound influence those days have had on my entire life. Although it is now 65 years since my brother, John, and I moved from the village we have never forgotten those early years so many of us shared.

I don't want to start another mystery to solve but your last comment, Laurence, has got me interested in the nickname "Tonk" for a headmaster named Mr Shepherd. I started school in 1945 and the headmaster then was a Mr Leamond. He used to smell a bit and his nickname was, as I remember, "Tonk." He lived in the cottage next to the school with his elderly parents. Sometimes we would have to take school dinners into them and I always remember that the house used to have a very unpleasant smell.

He, too, was very fond of the cane. In fact I can still remember the first time he caned me. I must have been about seven at the time. I also recall the reason for this. A boy in the desk in front of me (have long forgotten his name; you can own up now!) flicked some ink from his pen down the back of Tonk's old suit as he walked between the desks peering at our work. I found this highly amusing and burst into laughter. Tonk swung around and demanded what I found so amusing. What could I say??? Even at that young age I realised that if I had told the truth we would have both been in trouble so I said: "I don't know.'' His reaction was to grab me by the ear and haul me in front of the class. He pulled a cane from his desk and made me bend over and touch my toes upon which I received four of the best across the backside!!!

Once again, thanks to all and am really looking forward to catching up in July.

Tony Alps, Leslie (‘Sammy’) Esler, Alan Sutton (Tony’s cousin), John Alps, David Murrell.

Photo was taken in 1947 or 1948 on Mucking Hall Road, where the Alps family lived,

as also did the Esler family - at 1 Olive Cottages.