Ricky Murray became famous for his Youtube guides to Hornchurch and Romford.

In this guide he walks us through Hornchurch, starting from Hornchurch Road

As I reach the top of the hill that is Hornchurch Road, where numerous red traffic lights urge cars to stop so the drivers and their passengers can mock me and others walking up this hill, I know now that I am in money losing territory. At the top there is a patch of grass with a silver bench on the pavement in front of it – the pavement I am walking on.

A round blue sign says, All plants and trees are indigenous to Europe. 2012 Legacy. This is designed to reassure me that all is well here despite the chorus of shops that are about to pester me with their offers, slogans, images, and ‘come-to-the-boiling-pot eyes’ etc… etc…. If the shops had faces they would look like ghouls speaking their words in croaky voices (or like Gollum from ’Lord of the Rings’). It’s the equivalent of a homeless person being escorted to a house for somewhere to stay before being ruthlessly mugged for his or her green hooded jacket and two cans of Skol Super Strong Beer. Mind you, before experiencing this, I must first avoid death for it is here where one of the gravest dangers lies.

Six foot or so on from the aforementioned bench is where the high street PROPER begins. The pavement stretches out so the businesses to my left are 10-12 yards away to form space where vehicles can come and go unallocated in order to create their own version of destruction derby. Try strolling past the upcoming KFC when you have hungry carnivores behind the wheel of a white van salivating and sweating profusely having just purchased a Family Bucket from the place, inpatient to tuck into their prize. They’ll be reversing, turning and screeching to get to the edge of the pavement to wait for traffic to subside, so he or she can get on the road nearer to home where they can stuff their face with ‘pigeon’ meat.[28] After this you will know what I mean by avoiding death.

[28] More on takeaway ‘chicken’ coming up.

No, 1-3 – houses.

No, 5, RJ Pollard & Co – accountants.

No, 7, Hornchurch Fine Art – sells pictures. Blue sign with white letters.

No, 9, Chop Sticks – Chinese restaurant. Always has what look like Christmas lights in their front window.

No, 11, KFC – Rolf Harris is still the face of this takeaway monster. Whether this will continue after the recent allegations against him I don’t know. People should not be named if they have not yet been found guilty, but paedophilia is the last thing someone wants to think about when eating ‘chicken’ and chips.  

No, 13-15, Lodge Court – flats.

No, 17, Uraswamy’s – Indian restaurant. Like many Indian and Southeast Asian establishments, its windows are very dark.

Just past Uraswamy’s is a pathway for vehicles to go down should anyone want to park then have their brain rinsed and scrubbed of logical reasoning at the Methodist church next door. Despite hardly ever seeing a vehicle go down there I still look right, left and right again (as that’s where one will come from). I was obviously taught the Green Cross Code many times as a kid, but I must thank a lady with the surname of Aldham (think that’s how you spell it – can’t remember her first name) for it was her advice I most remember as a kid as she escorted me across a mini zebra crossing at the nearby SPORTCENTRE.

The church has three grey pebble dashed steps then a path leading to it with a patch of grass to its front left and what look like classrooms connected to it. With A4 paper exhibiting creative work on the windows it looks more like a nursery or church hall than an actual church. The pavements are still stretched out here as I approach the next batch of residences.

No, 19, Hornchurch Methodist Church – Jesus: Harder than Nails (what is this, ‘Danny Dyer’s Hardest Prophets’?) – Our Saviour I am the Resurrection and I am the blah blah… JESUS WELCOMES ALL. I take it that includes homosexuals too. The real Jesus may well have done, but not the Pope, whoever that is now. I’ve heard that it’s former ‘Bullseye’ presenter, Jim Bowen.

No, 21-27, The Harrow Dental Practice – apparently, the address is 23-27, but the space this now occupies that consisted of a row of shops that had been left untouched from around 2000 until January 2012 was 21-27. There was A. Ellis (No. 21, an old off licence), Hair Design, (a hairdressers that was recognised as being the ‘bitch’ of many pigeons), Hornchurch Supplies (who dealt in car spares and DIY equipment), and some carpentry shop. The latter is now Porters Beautique, which, as you can tell, is something to do with beauty. When it comes to the latter kind of establishments, Hornchurch and many other towns’ idea of ‘beauty’ is looking like a goldfish with opposable thumbs. A dental surgery has come in and taken up the other three residences here. It’s painted all white – get it? Not much change from before when all those pigeons were hanging about.

No, 29, Porters Beautique – the puns just keep on coming. Looks like a place where you’d get your palms read.

No, 31, Mecca Bingo – still says TOWERS at the top of the building, which is a reminder of its cinematic roots.

Next to the bingo hall is a reasonably sized car park that not many people use. Mainly because why pay when you can park in the Sainsbury’s one for free less than a minute’s drive away? If you turn left from the bingo hall, the first junction is the entrance point of the car park with a stretch of pavement 10 yards long separating it from the exit. On this pavement there are three trees, a few concrete sculptures designed to stop nut cases mounting it with their vehicle, along with a phone box more or less on top of the exit junction.

The top half of the phone box window is completely gone, and has been for some time. It was always getting smashed presumably by late-night revellers. I say ‘‘late’’; the latest a club ‘SLASH’ bar stays open in Hornchurch is one or two in the morning. The glass would always be replaced, but it has been empty for a few years now. I assume that the people who ordered for it to be replaced time and time again have just given up on it.

 Part 2 of the Ricky Murray’s guide coming soon

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