Driving along the A1013, (originally the main London to Southend Road) opposite Hangman's Woods, you may have noticed a small concrete memorial set within the lush planted garden border on the King George's Playing Field side.
"Mr Richard Tait Wilson of Nutberry Avenue, North Stifford, the Park Superintendent of Thurrock Council died suddenly at his home on Wednesday evening. He was 49 and leaves a widow. Formally an Assistant in the Municipal Parks Department at Blackpool, Mr Wilson came to Thurrock in March 1938 and was appointed Park and cemeteries Superintendent. During the war he also acted as Cleansing Superintendent whilst that Officer was in the Services. This memorial has only recently been moved to this site having been discovered in the Council Parks yard at Blackshots but originates back to the death of Mr. Wilson on the 6th May 1953 as reported in the 8th May edition of The Grays & Tilbury Gazette.
Man who loved his work
"Mr Richard Tait Wilson of Nutberry Avenue, North Stifford, the Park Superintendent of Thurrock Council died suddenly at his home on Wednesday evening. He was 49 and leaves a widow. Formally an Assistant in the Municipal Parks Department at Blackpool, Mr Wilson came to Thurrock in March 1938 and was appointed Park and cemeteries Superintendent. During the war he also acted as Cleansing Superintendent whilst that Officer was in the Services.
He was responsible for the recreational grounds and playing fields and took a great interest in their condition. Mr Wilson was the instigator of the idea of making gardens and flower beds in the district and loved his work.
A popular officer of the Council, he will be greatly missed. The funeral will take place at North Stifford Church on Tuesday at 2.30 p.m."
On the 10th July, the local newspaper reported:
Council Garden as Memorial
"Thurrock Council agreed in principle to a suggestion that one of their gardens should be selected as a memorial to the late Mr. R.T. Wilson (Parks Superintendent) and for a plaque to be fixed there.
It was decided at the Council meeting on Tuesday that the Chairman Cllr J Dunn and Cllr TAL Hutson should meet the appropriate officer with a view to selecting a suitable site for erecting a memorial to Mr Wilson. Mrs Wilson's views on the matter are also to be sought. "
However the original idea took a while to be processed and on March 12th 1954, the Thurrock Gazzette reports that:
"Plans and an estimate of the proposed memorial rest garden in Grays Parish Church Yard ........etc"
However the Parks Superintendent reported that failing negotiations with the church Authority, garden improvements could be considered at Blackshot's:
"In order to improve the main entrance to Blackshot's Lane to the recreation grounds.... could be developed as a memorial to the late Mr. Wilson"
No further records can be found as to where this memorial was to placed.
Mr J. Webb, who worked for the Council at this time and now the Thurrock Local History Society Chairman, recollects the gentleman in question;
"'Tug' Wilson was the Parks Superintendent and died in 1953 while working for the Council. He was specially remembered for the work of landscaping and planting the the roadside site immediately north of Deneholes Roundabout which was then the main London to Southend Road. Soil was brought in from the pre-fab sites of Blackshots and Chadwell ? to complete the landscaping."
I also spoke to Mr John Austin, previous Lands Officer; "There was a memorial park bench to this man but I am not sure where it was placed".
The concrete memorial with a brass dedication plaque was set up in 1998 by the Cleaning & greening department amongst the planting scheme originated by 'Tug' Wilson.
- Grays & Tilbury Gazette.