Mr Walter Peirce was born in 1908. He was interviewed on 24 April 1984, when he lived at Airlings, Ulting Road, Hatfield Peverel.
For more information about him, see Peirce, Walter and family, in the People category.
The original recording of this interview is held at the Essex Sound and Video Archive. To listen to the recording, please contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org or 033301 32500.
[???] shows words that are not clear enough to interpret and so have had to be omitted.
[?] after a word shows that its interpretation is not certain.
Later explanatory additions by JG or the transcriber are in square brackets [e.g. explaining locations etc.]
[looking at papers Mr P had brought]
Mr P: ……and that ain’t what I’m looking for. The interesting part about, the interesting part about the, um, Catholic Church, which was opened in [pause] eighteen, eighteen fifty, [pause] no, not eighteen fifty-one, was how much that cost [i.e. the first Catholic church in Newland Street at the corner of Avenue Road].
Q: Oh really, [laughs].
Mr P: Yes, well you tell me how much that cost.
Q: Not a lot, I shouldn’t think.
Mr P: This is what I brought it for. Um [pause] [Reads] ‘[???] church’. It was nineteen fifty-one when I had this book. (Q: I see) Eighteen forty-seven. Now that is the church you see when that was first built in eighteen fifty-one and you see what that cost?
Q: [Reads] ‘Six hundred and sixty five pounds.’
Mr P: [Laughs] You know how much this house cost you’re in, do you? [Blanfred, Chalks Road]
Q: This one?
Mr P: Yeah.
Q: How much was that, then?
Mr P: They were five hundred and fifty pound when they were built with thirty-five pound deposit (Q: Yeah?) and Walter hadn’t got thirty-five pound at the time else I’d a had one!
Q: [Laughs]. Quite; what a shame.
Mr P And that’s what these were. Six hundred (Q: Yeah) Five hundred and fifty something and thirty five pound. And I thought that was interesting. Only six hundred and sixty five. You see, that was before the road and all that was made up. Yeah. I don’t know whether …. Wait a minute …. No, he got killed. He got killed …. Not much point in this but …. I thought it was interesting to tell you the, the, that’s a list of the pastors, they’re all there. But, um, the building of it and all the rest of it I tell you, just eighteen, just that little bit of money. [Laughs].
Q: Is that all? Oh goodness. You’ve done well to keep, you keep a lot of things, then, do you?
Mr P. Eh?
Q: You keep a lot of things?
Mr P: Oh, you‘d be surprised! Now, ….
Q: What else have you….? These are really old things.
Mr P: Now, then, now this one here, if you want to know much about Witham, is eighteen eighty-six [Kelly’s directory].
Q: Oh, you mentioned that, yes.
Mr P: Now, let me see if I can find Witham. [Pause]
Q: Where did you find this, then?
Mr P: Oh, I have ‘em, kept them for years. I’ve got a Bible, I got a Bible, my Bible, is sixteen thirty. I put it in the British and Foreign Bible Society Exhibition at Charlwood[?] at Chelmsford, that was the second oldest one there. Now, what am I looking for? Witham.
Q: Let’s see. It’d be Essex. That’s ….
Mr P: I’m still in Essex. Essex. Wait a minute. I don’t know if you want ….
Q: Oh look, there.
Mr P: No, it’s alphabetical order. [Pause]
Q: Oh look, it’ll be here, because they have a list. But this is just all the people; so it comes before that ….
Mr P: Oh yes, I know, dear. But I want Witham. It’s alphabetical order. Here we are, um, Witham, here, W I R, look hang on dear, here, somewhere …. [Pause].
Q: Look, here we are, look.
Mr P: Witham and Chipping Hill, now then.
Q: That’s the one, yes.
Mr P: Now. Here, you see. This is eighteen, what did I say?
Q: Eighty-six, I think.
Mr P: Eighteen eighty-six. It gives you, there’s all of it, the Post Office, all established and everything else, but, um, and also about the charities, and I used to take, and, but, these have gone now, aren’t they? That’s where the Methodist Church is built in Guithavon Street, Thomas Greene endowment and all the rest of it [actually the ones there were Harvey’s almshouses, not Greene’s, which are in Church Street]. I did see ….
Q: Oh, I see.
Mr P: See, the River Guith [Mr P pronounced it ‘Guth’] or Pod, Podsbrook – we call it the River Brain, don’t you.
Q: That’s right, yes.
Mr P The original name, you see, was Podsbrook.
Q: That’s funny, isn’t it?
Mr P: And that’s where the Guithavon Road must get its name from. The River Guith. [said as Guth].
Q: I suppose so, yes. I suppose that’s a bit, a bit like ‘Wit’, isn’t it? If you say ‘Guith’ or whatever then maybe that’s ….
Mr P: Guithavon Road is spelt ‘GITH’ isn’t it?
Q: That’s right, yes.
Mr P: You see, well all Podsworth with the Blackwater …. Chipping Hill, the church, Great Eastern Railway was there. Um [Reads] ‘Six miles from Maldon, fourteen miles from Colchester’, yes, that’s right, that’s still the same, ain’t it, ‘and eight miles from Braintree.’ That ain’t moved [Reads] ‘The town is lit with gas and the Board of Health’ …. That‘s when they had the gasworks, you remember that, don’t you? In eighteen fifty-two, that’s gone now, ain’t it?
Q: I didn’t see the gas works. I never saw the gasworks.
Mr P: Didn’t ya?
Q: No, I don’t think so. Oh, maybe there was just the holder there?
Mr P: Oh no, well, the gas, ‘cos I used to go there for tar and all that, you used to get, and everything, sixpence a gallon.
Q: What did you have the tar for?
Mr P: Well, you used to tar fences and posts and all them things years ago, see.
Q: Oh yes, of course, yes.
Mr P: And then the, um, ammonia, the ammonia water, what was given off from the gas and the filter and all the rest of it, a man by the name of Mr …. [Telephone rings] lives in Guithavon Road ….
Q: Excuse me, I won’t be a second …. [Takes telephone call].
[Tape running but long pause in conversation]
Q: Sorry about that, friend of mine on the phone.
Mr P: Eh?
Q: Friend of mine on the phone, sorry about that.
Mr P: Oh, er, you, you belong to the Church, do you? The Church, here, do you? How do you meet ….?
Q: Not really, no.
Mr P: I wonder how you met Angela [Angela Dersley, his niece] ?
Q: At school really, ‘cos, you know she works at the little school ….
Mr P: Oh yeah, oh yeah. You see, we know all about the Church in [???] and lofty thingamy. ‘Its wall was partly built of Roman brick’, I know that, ‘cos I always used to …. I’ve always been interested in architecture and everything all my life, from school. That’s got six bells, and although I was in the choir for years I never did go up to the belfry and I never had me photograph taken in a cassock and surplice. I wish I had a done. Mrs Ottley in Church Street used to wash them. [Reads] ‘There’s several stained windows dating from the twelfth century. The church was erected about thirteen twenty-seven. The church was repaired in the year seven, eighteen seventy seven under the direction of Mr Joseph Clark, architect, when the upper part of the tower was rebuilt and two bells recast.’ Have you read this, have you seen this before? You haven’t have you?
Q: Not that, no.
Mr P: [Reads] ‘The cost of the whole was two thousand.’
Q: That’s a lot, actually, isn’t it?
Mr P: [Reads] ‘The church contains a fine tomb’ well, we know that, don’t we, [reads] ‘of’, um, ‘the Southcotts, of the Queen’s Bench. He was Justice of the Queen’s Bench in fifteen sixty one to fifteen eighty-five. He died in, he died in that year. With his wife. There are others, Sir Neville’. They’re all tombs and all that in there.
Q: There are some round the walls, isn’t there?
Mr P: [Reads] ‘The registry of baptisms and marriages’, mine’s there, in nineteen twenty-eight.
Q: Oh, is it? What, your marriage?
Mr P: Yeah, marriage, in nineteen twenty eight, we was married there [Reads] ‘and about the, marriages dates from sixteen sixty-nine and the burials from sixteen seventy-eight. The living is a vic-’ this is interesting [Reads] ‘The living is a vicarage here with a value of the tithe and rental charge of two eighty five with a house and a hundred and twenty seven acres of glebe, was the gift of Saint Albans and held since eighteen eighty six by the Reverend Canon Ingles’. Now he was the Canon Ingles when I was there as a boy.
Q: Was he really?
Mr P: Yes, he‘s buried, he’s buried in Saint Al, down All Saints Church, at the back of the church, I could take you right to his grave. I know very well, see.
Q: What, In the church itself?
Mr P: No, no, no, no, outside in the churchyard there’s a special, they’ve all got a special little tombstone with a cross with a sort of a seal thing on the top.
Q: ’Cos I was down there, they were planning to move some of the stones.
Mr P: Yes.
Q: I was down there last week helping copy out some of the names ….
Mr P. Yes, well, I’ve got ….
Q: So I shall have to look next time ….
Mr P: I’ve got a, I’ve got a sister laying there but she got no tombstone, and of course, er, interesting too about the church, of All Saints Church you see, Lord Rayleigh had a lot to do with the building of that, didn’t he?
Mr P: Well, every All Saints Day, we children at the school used to take a flower and go to church and have a service, and then we used to put a flower on every grave on All Saints Day. (Q: Really?) Every …. yes, chrysanths and things [???] but all like, that down, you see. Well, then, when Canon Ingles, died, Canon Galpin took over.
Mr P: Now, Canon Galpin was there, mostly during the War [First World War], and he run a soup kitchen, which was a penny a pint, for soup; we used to go there and get soup.
Q: That was in the War you ….
Mr P: That was in the First War, I’m talking about. He took after Canon Ingles died. Canon Galpin took over. Well then, when Canon Galpin retired, he went to live at Faulkbourne, didn’t he, he was vicar of Faulkbourne.
Q: Oh, was he, I see. Yes, yes.
Mr P: He went to Faulkbourne, and the Reverend Campbell took over and he‘s the one who married us. Um, but when All Saints Church was built, it was not called All Saints at all, it was called the Chapel of Ease.
Q: Oh, I see.
Mr P: It was built to ease the congregation from St Nicolas’s.
Q: Oh, of course, yes.
Mr P: Now it’s fell away to nothing, ain’t it? ‘Cos it makes me cry when I go by there and think that should ever be turned into what it is. And um, then there’s the grave there, that’s dressed in black, [???] and white. That was [Reads?] ‘erected in eighteen forty-two at a cost of five thousand. It was raised by subscription, the land was given by the late Pattissons’. They used to live in Collingwood Road, didn’t they? In Pelican House [16 Collingwood Road].
Q: Do you remember them at all?
Mr P: Oh yes, very well. Then they, they, she was the Scoutmistress when I was in the Scouts. The last, the descendant of them, and, she had a house built at, um, on the way up to Wickham Bishops, Chantry Wood. I believe it’s called Pelican House, ’cos she, they lived in the Collingwood Road, next to the Peculiar, next to the Constitutional Chapel.
Q: Oh, I know, yes.
Mr P: There were sev- ….
Q: What was she like, then?
Mr P: Who, Mrs Pattisson? They were Misses. There was two sisters, one was a cripple, in a chai-, one lived in a bath-, lived in a wheelchair. There was the two of them. But she was our Scoutmaster. She took over after, did she take over after Mr Groves, or Keeble? No, the Keebles took the, Alf Keeble, Mrs Kee-, now there is a Miss Keeble lives down here or did do – I don’t know what name, May, no, no not May Keeble, she had a, no, she may have …. lives just down the road near Miss …. next door to Miss Griggs, does Miss Griggs still live there does she? [at Beverley, Chalks Road]
Q: Yes, she does, yes, I know, Gladys [at Michaeldene, Chalks Road]
Mr P: Gladys Keeble.
Mr P: She was Gladys Keeble. It’s Smith now.
Q: Her husband died a few months back.
Mr P: Oh, did he?
Mr P: Well, does Mrs Griggs still live there? Freda?
Mr P: Well, she used to teach my daughter to play the piano. And her father, did she ever tell you about her father having the shop [48 Church Street]? Opposite the Woolpack?
Q: Oh, I think somebody mentioned that. Was that her family, was it?
Mr P: That was her father.
Q: I see, yes
Mr P: What had that shop. Well, then, when, he died, Mr Griggs died, next, then then the house next door we used to, boys had a club, a gramophone club, used to pay a ha’penny and go in there, and in the house next door to the shop. ’Cos Mrs Lowe used to live in the end one next to the school; there’s two houses there. And we had one room there and we had a boys’ club we used to pay a ha’penny a week and play records, you know, the old winding up ones. Well, then when Mr ….
Q: How old would you have been then, about?
Mr P: I dunno, ten, ten or twelve, I suppose. And then ….
Q: Did somebody- who looked after that? The club thing ….
Mr P: Then when Mr Griggs died, Mr Hasler that lived on the corner, the shop was on the corner [54a Church Street], he bought it and Mrs Griggs come and lived next door to the shop next to Richards the builder [Griggs at 54 Church Street, Richards at 56 Church Street].
Q: Oh, I see.
Mr P: That’s where Mrs Griggs died, no she didn’t die ….
Q: On the corner.
Mr P: She bought the …. no, next house, not the corner, Hasler had the corner ….
Q: Oh, I’m with you
Mr P: He let that as a private house to Saltmarshes, people by the name of Saltmarsh. He moved, I can see, he moved his greenhouse and everything, Mr Hasler did, right across the road on tanks and rollers. He lifted the thing up off the brickwork, ‘cos you see, his yard run next to Richards, the builder, didn’t it?
Q: Yes, of course, yes.
Mr P: And the bottom of his yard was all stacked coffin boards, all the coffin boards used to be stacked up there, agin a little bit of a brick wall, or used to be, I dunno if it’s still there now, in Church Street. Well, then you see, you went to the back of Richards and that was the end of Mr Hasler’s shop. Well, I can see him now, he had all these drums and all this timbers and rollers, and he had to lift the greenhouse up and he rolled it right across the road, over, where them almshouses were …. [50 Church Street and 52 Church Street]
Mr P: Because there were only four almshouses, there, then. They’ve built two more on haven’t they?
Q: Yes [actually two before and three new ones].
Mr P: I think little Rosie Burch lives in one ….
Q: The new one, yes, she does.
Mr P: See, she come to school with me. Rosie come [???], she come with me. And he rolled it right across the garden into that house, where Wadleys, now, Wadleys used to live in, in this big, Dean House, is it Dean House? [21 Chalks Road]
Mr P: Well, Wadleys lived in there. They had the bakehouse [at 48 Church Street], they used to come round with the bread. And the interesting thing on a Sunday morning was you used to see the women go up the road with their bits of meat and their cakes and their puddings and he used to bake them for a ha’penny or a penny.
Mr P: Mr Wadley did, Sunday mornings. I’ve taken Mother’s up and all, before, when we lived in Church Street, and he used to charge a ha’penny or a penny. And he used to take the meat. See, ’cos he used to have these read ovens and he used to keep them hot and he used to cook them all in there. Well, that, um girl Ireland, her mother’s name was Ross [actually Goss], she worked for Wadley, and she used to come and collect our rent, and then she married Ted Ireland. I’ve got a photograph of, I’ve got a photograph of her as a little baby two or three days old or weeks old in a pram. Yes, I was at Witham at the time when she was born. Well, she would now be about fifty, twen-, sixty wouldn’t she? Mrs Ireland?
Q: I think you must be thinking of her daughter then, because Mrs Ireland herself is about eighty-nine [Dorothy Ireland of 12 Chalks Road].
Mr P: Ah, yes, Mrs Ireland, I’m talking about, well, her name, that’s her daughter I’m talking about.
Q: Right, yes, yes.
Mr P: ‘Cos, you see, she was getting well on before she married Mr Ireland and he worked for, he worked for um, Cromptons, her husband did, they lived in the end one. Well, before they moved in that end one, Mr [pause] …. Ard-, not Ardley, wait a minute, anyhow, he was the gardener for Canon Galpin, and his boy started a greengrocery business and he married the girl Clements, Ivy, I don’t know where they are now. I forget now what his name was [probably Bradley of 14 Chalks Road]. Um, that all came up, and then you see …. Now this is what I like it for. There’s three different blocks of almshouses in the parish. One was the Nonconformists [Reads?] ‘and the total income of this is about one pound eighteen a year, the most ancient is the Thomas Greene’. Well, they’re gone, they were up, um, near Guithavon Street, near the, um, where the thingy is [actually the ones there were Harvey’s almshouses, not Greene’s, which are in Church Street].
Q: Yes, I know [???]
Mr P: They were for eighteen people. [Reads] ‘And then the market held on Sunday, afterwards on Wednesdays, now on Tuesdays, (Q: Oh yes) on Chipping Hill. Where the parish church is situated’. That’s where the market used to be. Well, there used to be three houses on that bit of ground [32 Chipping Hill and 34 Chipping Hill, on the green].
Mr P: Mrs Clark, Mrs Green and Mr Rudkin the chimney sweeper. They all lived there. They’ve gone, ain’t they?
Mr P: But I’ll tell you where there is a picture of them. In the Council Offices at Witham, ain’t there?
Q: Oh, yes.
Mr P: They‘ve got a picture of that green with them houses on, ain’t they? I tried to get that but I couldn’t. Um, [Reads] ‘There is a bank and savings bank. Fairs are held on Fridays and Saturdays and Whitsun Monday and on June 4th on Chipping Hill’. There’s nothing there now is there?
Mr P: Well, when the War finished, we had, in nineteen eighteen, when the War finished [First World War], we had the most gorgeous, great big bonfire on that green. We went up, I didn’t go up to, people went all up the Vicarage, pinched all his faggots, ’cos you could go up the back, you see, up ….
Mr P: Up, where, River Walk, they call it? Would do …. Pinched all his faggots and burnt that. They took the fence all round them three houses and burnt that, ’cos there was, you used to go in between the house and the house what’s there now up to the church, there used to be a slipway …. [between 32 Chipping Hill and 26 Chipping Hill]
Q: Oh, yes, I see.
Mr P: And that was the back way to them, you see. And then the soldiers got barrels of tar from off the road, oh, we had a great big fire. I remember Sergeant Haggar, he set his trousers all on fire trying to roll the barrels of tar off the fire. [Q laughs]. We had a gorgeous fire there. And we used to have a fire there every Guy Fawkes night.
Q: On Chipping Hill?
Mr P: On Chipping Hill, on that bit of green, while them houses were still there. And, um, we used to have squibs and things, used to buy them for about fifty for ninepence. See [reads] ‘Lord Rayleigh is a landowner and he’s lord of the manor of Blunts Hall’. Now I can tell you about Blunts Hall, I’ve got some photos of Blunts Hall, ‘cos I worked at Blunts Hall, when all there was unem-, all that unemployment was in nineteen thirty, I got a job there, I was getting twenty-six shillings on the dole and I went and worked there for thirty bob a week. [Q laughs]. ‘Cos I got fed up. [Reads] ‘and many manors, there’s the Newlands, there’s the Newlands, Chipping Manor and the Vicarage Manor.’ Now what’s the Newlands Manor, I don’t understand that. Whitehall, ’cos I remember that being a college and the pupils there used to have long blue frocks with a little yellow bib, ‘bout the size of my tie [Whitehall, 18 Newland Street].
Q: Really? What, when you say ‘frocks’ you mean like long things?
Mr P: Long smocks right down to the, over the feet, you know, like monks or whatever you like to wear it, right over the feet, head …. And um, you see, well, then on Sundays, when they came to church, they would come up the Grove, [Q: Yes] see, although that was, that was a public footpath, but it was private, that belonged to Laurence at the Grove, didn’t it. Laurence, the JP [Percy Laurence].
Q: Yes I know, Yes.
Mr P: And he built, he built the nurses’ bungalow [46 Collingwood Road] next to where Heddles’ the clothiers’ shop [48 Collingwood Road] was in Collingwood Road. But that’s a private house now, ain‘t it?
Q: It is now, yes.
Mr P: See, well, that used to be a nurses’ bungalow with a maternity ward, ’cos my mother used to work there, she was a midwife.
Q: Did she?
Mr P: Well, she was an unofficial midwife, she never had training, she never wore uniform or nothing but she used to go around delivering babies.
Q: What was her name, your mother?
Mr P: Peirce, the same as mine, wasn‘t it?
Q: I see. Before she married, I mean.
Mr P: No, oh, Day, we come from, we come from, we come from Wymondham[?] in Suffolk.
Q: I see, So, um, but this was when she was married, she was a midwife?
Mr P: When she was married to my fa-, father, when, when, Mother, see, Mother used to go round and all that. Well, she used to work at this bungalow with Nurse French, and when Nurse French retired, she had a Sister there as well, but Nurse French, Nurse French was the nurse. When she retired the mothers of Witham, see, collected, and Nurse French went to Bury St Edmunds. And the mothers of Witham collected and they bought her a Queen Anne silver tea service; you know, the silver tray and tea pot and milk jug and my mother was asked to take it down to Bury St Edmunds and present it with it. [Q: I see] Mind you that’s a long while ago. And that’s what happened. Course that’s a private house now, ain’t it?
Mr P: Manors, [reads] ‘Charles, Charles Du Cane is the lord’, I don’t know Charles Du Cane.
Q: I don’t think he lived here, did he? I think in those days they used to just buy them, like they do now.
Mr P: No, no, yes, yes, he didn’t live here, no, he lived, Charles Du Cane, he lived at Wickham Bishops.
Q: That’s right, yes.
Mr P: Near the Green Man. They all lived there, the Du Canes, didn’t they? they’re all buried in Great Braxted Church.
Q: Are they?
Mr P: That’s where all their thingamy is. Yes, [???] yes. Now, then [reads] ‘the vicar was lord, the vicar was lord of the Vicarage Manor’, oh, never knew the Vicarage was called a manor before. It was just called the Vicarage, weren’t it? [Reads] ‘The land is, the land is [???] arable and level, subsoil gravel. The area’, look, ‘is three thousand six hundred and ninety acres in Witham’. That’s interesting, ain’t it?
Q: Big parish, isn’t it, yes.
Mr P: [Reads] ‘And sixteen acres of water’. And the rateable value then was only fourteen thousand. [Reads] ‘The population in eighteen eighty one’, (that’s interesting ain’t it) two thousand nine hundred and sixty six.’ This is all sort of thingamy. Then we get your bus service and so on, and the letter box and railway sta-, [reads] ‘The letter box is at Witham railway station’; I dunno if there is one the now is there?
Q: Yes there is, yes.
Mr P: [Reads] ‘Is cleared at half past, oh, twenty past seven, and quarter to four and then there is a wall letter near Chipping Hill’. Well, of course, that used to be the Chipping Hill Post Office, you see, and I …. I still got a banking account there but the Post Office ain’t there now, is it? (Q laughs). When I got married I drawed me money all out and there was an odd thruppence. Miss Doole was the postmistress [at 45 Chipping Hill]. She said to leave it there, so it’s been in there now for about nearly sixty years or more. (Q laughs). They sent for it a year or two back. I sent it up it still come back with thruppence in it. (Q laughs). Now as the magistrates, look, for the Witham division, there was the Honourable Strutt, Charles Strutt, [reads] ‘now of Wickham Hall’, but there was also a Charles Strutt at Blunts Hall. He was MP for Maldon (Q: Yes) constituency.
Q: Was he there when you were there?
Mr P: Yes, he was there at Blunts Hall when I was there, and um, when I was at school, beg your pardon, (Q: I see) not when I worked there, no, he let it out.
Q: I see.
Mr: P Well, there there’s Lord Rayleigh, er, Dawnay, Dawnay lived at The Grove then, well of course then Laurence.
Mr P: Then de Crespignys, look, they lived at Champion Lodge at Heybridge, didn’t they, Sir Claude de Crespigny. He was a big balloonist, wasn’t he?
Q: Was he?
Mr P: Yes, he was, then there’s, oh, Braxted Park, look was where Du Canes lived.
Q: Oh yes. That’s right.
Mr P: Plessey’s there now, ain’t it?
Q: Yes, that’s the one, there, yes.
Mr P: And Howard-Vyse, Lieutenant General, well, he’s buried in All Saints churchyard, he lived at The Lawn, that’s in, um, middle of Witham High Street, ain’t it? (Q: Yes). And I think they, they’ve pulled some of the places down and rebuilt all there now, ain’t they? [in Lawn Chase]
M: Well then they turned it into a little private school.
Q: Oh, yes, I see.
Mr P: Luard, Vice Admiral Luard, now they lived at Ivy Chimneys. (Q: I see) On the way to Witham, near the Jack and Jenny Donkey pub [Hatfield Road].
Q: I know where you mean
Mr P: They’re buried, their big tombs was in the All Saints.
Q: I’ve seen that one, yes, ‘cos there’s a tomb with the anchor on it.
Mr P: Yes, that’s, opposite, towards the school, yes, that’s right, they’re there. Er, Lucas, that used to live at The Wilderness, now that’s where, um, Fosters and um ….
Q: Oh, in the precinct is it, yes.
Mr P: Fosters and, Fosters and er, not, between Fosters and Dowsett, not Dowsett’s, the boot shop, what’s the name ….?
Q: I know where you mean, yes, it’s Hiltons, isn’t it, now [56 Newland Street]?
Mr P: Well, that used to be the Wilderness there [52 Newland Street and 54 Newland Street], and Ruggles Brise, he lived at Durwards Hall, didn’t he?
Q: Oh, did he? I didn’t know that.
Mr P: Yes, well, he um, he was MP for Maldon, wasn’t he?
Q: Yes, …. yes.
Mr P: He followed. and then the Reverend Townsend, he lived at Berwick Place, Hatfield Peverel. See, these are all magistrates, of course. (Q: Yes) And Tufnell, he, he put the church clock on, (Q: Did he?) Hatfield Peverel. The clock on the church. And then we have all the rest are here. (Q: Yes) And then there’s all public establishments, public offices, place of worship, St Nicolas’s Church, the Reverend Ingles, All Saints, Chapel of Ease, you see, that’s what that was called (Q: Yes) when that was first made, Guithavon Street. I mean, there used to be a curate and all that there, because I worked, I’ll show you on this atlas, I used to work for Blyth when they lived there [at the Mill House, Guithavon Valley]. And um, …. have you got the recorder on? Only, er, you just switch that off a minute, and I’ll tell you something (Q laughs). Well, I worked for Blyth, just a moment, [glitch in tape] When I worked for Blyth, used to go down and clean his car and all that for him and we cut a tree down in the drive, you see. Well, when I was down there one day, so um, a little old boy came round there, was playing with the girl, unfortunately he done a wee (Q laughs) this little old boy done his wee. All right, I never took notice of ’em or nothing else. So when we was cutting this tree up, Miss Blyth helped with the bow saw, you know, so the little girl said ‘I wish I was a little boy like John’, this was the curate’s son. (Q: I see). Well, I thought I know what’s coming, so, um she said ‘What you want to be a little -’, I forget the girl’s name now, she said ‘What you want to be a little boy, be like a little boy, like John for?’. She said ‘So I could wear a cap!’.
Q: [Laughs], Really?
Mr P: [Laughs] Yeah.
Q: I don’t know.
Mr P: And then you see, um, All Saints ….
Q: An anticlimax that ….
Mr P: Then there’s the Catholic Church, you see, the Reverend Barnes was the priest there. And then the Maldon Baptist Church, that ain’t there now, is it? [now Chapel House, Maldon Road]. That’s a carpet ….
Q: No. Did many go there?
Mr P: Eh?
Q: Did many people go there when ….
Mr P: Oh yes, yes, yes. yes, yes, yes. The Maldon Baptist Church. Baptist and Strict they called it Strict Baptist didn’t they? (Q: Yes) That’s now a carpet shop or something ennit?
Q: Something like that, yes.
Mr P: No, people used to go there. And the Congregational Church and the Wesleyan Methodist in Guithavon Street, that’s now an um, oh, what do they use that for now ….?
Q: Well, it’s some sort of office isn’t it.
Mr P: Next to the church. (Q: Yes, I know where you mean) And you see Peculiar People in Maldon Road, now are the, um …. the Evangelic aren’t they. They had, the Peculiar People at Mald- people from Maldon, they moved out of Maldon Road [now Mason’s lodge, Maldon Road], bought the mill and had that built, didn’t they? [i.e. Evangelical church, Guithavon Valley]. And then you got all the names of the private residents, look, all down there.
Q: That’s good isn’t it?
Mr P: Yes, this is worth keeping, it’s worth looking for.
Mr P: All the private residents and all there, you see, a lot of them. And all the butchers and the bakers and the, and um, I dare say there should be Wadley the baker there somewhere. [Pause]
Q: Maybe it’s a bit early for him?
Mr P: Wait a, yes, wait a minute, Wad-, Wadley
Q: Ah, yes, there.
Mr P: Here we are, look, [reads] ‘John Wadley, Chipping Hill’ (Q: Yes) That’s right. ‘Baker and grocer’. Well, he lived in that shop right opposite the Woolpack [48 Church Street].
Q: Oh, I see. So you can, did you say he used to live in this big house as well?
Mr P: Who? Wadleys lived in that big house, yes (Q: Yes, I see) That was their private house] Dean House, Chalks Road] (Q: Oh I see, yes). See, and the shop was their business.
Q: Yes. Yes and Mrs Ireland worked for them, sort of (Mr P: Yeah) or lived there or what?
Mr P: And Mrs Ireland, yes, her name was Doll Ro-, Goss, Dolly Goss, her mother’s, was either her mother or her grandmother. (Q Yes). I should say it was her grandmother, probably, because if you say Mrs Ireland would be eighty odd (Q: Eighty-nine I think). she would do, dear, ’cos she used to come and collect our rent, see ’cos me mother, my mother and father would be over a hundred now if they were alive. (Q: Yes) But they’re buried up the cemetery, my Mum and Dad are. And, um. So she would be, well then, she’s Mrs Ireland but I don’t know what her daughters’ names are, they’re not Ireland are they?
Q: I can’t remember, no, no. So she, so she was on her own? Did you know her mother or her grandmother or anything?
Mr P: Who?
Q: Or she just lived with Wadleys herself, did she, Mrs Ireland?
Mr P: She lived with herself, she was a Miss, we didn’t know her, she was just Dolly Goss, and she married Mr Ireland, and they come and lived in this end house [12 Chalks Road], when, when, um, oh, dear dear, he was the gardener for the, Canon Galpin [probably Mr Bradley of 14 Chalks Road]
Q: Did she have a lot of trouble getting the rent sometimes, from people?
Mr P: Yes. Oh, used to get in debt.
Q: It was a bit of a job, wasn’t it?
Mr P: Oh, yes, two and ninepence, used to give them a shilling and say ‘I’ll pay the rest next week’.
Q: Really? Was that O.K., was it [laugh]?
Mr P: Well, that’s how it had to go on in them days, didn’t it. You see, and then ….
Q: Did anybody ever get turned out?
Mr P: No. No no, never done things like that. Well then, you see, if you had the doctor, you had to pay, there was no National Health, only for men, see. And the unemployment, no, National Health was, ten shillings a week, wasn’t it, Lloyd George started it in 1909.
Q: I see, yes, yes.
Mr P: That was ten shillings a week. Well anyhow, see, you had the doctor for the, for your wife, or any-, you had to pay. Well, what the people used to do, Doctor Gimson, I ain’t got the bill, no, Doctor Gimson was the doctor, used to ride round with a horse and cart. And nurse Tren-, Trenfield [actually Kentfield, probably], she was the District Nurse, she wore one of them little old flat hats that used to just stick on top of the head (Q: Yes. [laugh]). Top of the [???]. Well, as my mother, well I told you, was interested in it, I, I carr-, I’ve carried scores of babies in Witham, delivered scores I have.
Mr P: Yes, tell you why. I, if anybody was, you got a family? (Q: Yes). If anybody was in labour, come and send up for my mum, I’d go round to Nurse Kentfield in Easton Road, and tell her, pick up her Gladstone bag, ever so careful, ‘cos I’d got the baby in it, hadn’t I, as far as I knew.
Q: I see.
Mr P: And I used to carry the Gladstone bag, for poor old nurse …., and walk all up Church Street, most of them were in Church Street, ‘cos there weren’t no houses up here [Chalks Road], carrying this bag, you see. (Q: [laugh]). Didn’t know any different, ‘cos I’d got this baby in the bag, and I used to carry it for her, she used to give me a penny.
Q: Goodness. So you thought that was what, how it came, did you?
Mr P: So I, yes, you see, I didn’t know any different. Gladstone bag, and I used to carry it for her, you know [???]. (Q: [laugh]). And, um, she lived in Easton Road, well her daughter married, her daughter married a chap at Hatfield, but they’re both dead now. She only had this one girl, and they never had no family, she’s died.
Q: How did your mother get interested in it?
Mr P: In what, dear?
Q: In, in being a midwife and all that?
Mr P: Well, I don’t know, unless that was bred in her to, unless it was bred …. There was a big family, there was eight of us, eight or nine of us, you see, and, I think she used to, start off by, you see, you used to have to stop in bed ten days, didn’t you.
Q: That’s right, yes.
Mr P: That’s ten hours now, isn’t it. Or, twenty, I know, at St. John’s, you’re in one day and out the next.
Q: That’s right, yes.
Mr P: Well, she used to go round and look after the women, see.
Q: Did she, yes, when they were, afterwards, you mean?
Mr P: After the baby was born. And I suppose from that …. Do you know, do you know Mrs Claydon that lives in, Mrs Claydon lives in Cressing Road Council houses, she was a girl [pause], well perhaps that might come to me. Anyhow, she was twins, mother brought them into the world. She came over to Hatfield, she brought two boys into the world there. See, if she was there, like before the mid-. Course you see the midwife then had to either walk or bicycle. Never had cars or nothing like that, so sometimes the baby was born before she come.
Q: So your mother would do it if she wasn’t there?
Mr P: So my mother would do it, you see.
Q: Did she get paid anything for it?
Mr P: I suppose they give her a little, yes. A little, oh yes. That was about seven and sixpence or something like that. Seven and …. She used to be paid seven and six a week to look after the mothers and do the washing and all that. I remember that seven and six.
Q: Would they pay her for that?
Mr P: The mothers used to, the women, or the man, or the husband used to pay it.
Q: Oh I see, yes.
Mr P: And we boys, used to, according to where Mother was, at night, we used to go and meet Mum and come home with her, see. And that’s how we knew about, that’s how we knew about the seven and six.
Q: Yes, quite.
Mr P: Ten days’ work. And doing all the washing.
Q: And she would live there, all that ….?
Mr P: No no, she wouldn’t live, she’d come home every night, my mum would, she’d only be daily.
Q: The daytime, yes, of course, still, a lot of work, though.
Mr P: And make up the porridge or gruel, what you mothers used to have in them days, didn’t they. Gruel, was it gruel, yes, gruel. That was gruel.
Q: So it was a bit of extra money. What did your father used to do for work?
Mr P: Oh. Oh, my father was in er, he was in the maltings, with Harrison Gray. And then of course he was in the War all through the War, he was out in Salonika all during the War, so we never see him for four years [First World War].
Q: Mm. Where was he ….?
Mr P: He was before. My father was a skipper, my father was a skipper, he used to sail a barge, and mother used to be on the barge with him. And then, when I come along, he come off the water, and come onto the land at Stow Maries where I was born. (Q: I see, yes) And then from there he moved to Blyth’s mill, in 1910, or something like that [now Old Mill House, Guithavon Valley]. Well, anyhow that’s ver-, I thought, that’s very interesting.
Q: Distracting you ….
Mr P: That’s very, that’s very interesting. Now, this one here, that’s the ‘People’s History of Essex’ [book]. Now, erm, now, you know where Nitrovit Maltings is, do you, down the Malting Lane? [now Denholm Court etc.] (Q: Yes). Well, that used to belong to Charlie Brown. (Q: I see). Now, he used to make his malt there, and brew his beer at Hatfield Peverel. (Q: I see). Now you see, when he, now he had lots and lots of pubs, and that was one of his pubs, that was the Victoria, in the First War, with the soldiers of the Royal, the soldiers of the Royal Wiltshire [actually Warwickshire] regiment [showing old photo of Victoria public house, Powershall End, from newspaper]. Now, that’s Mr and Mrs Lowe, and their thingamy, they all went out to Canada or Australia, after the War was finished. But they are the soldiers that was billeted about here. Terling Park was one great big army camp.
Q: Was it, yes?
Mr P: And then the rifle range was just along this road, I’d like to take, now, I’d like to go up there with a metal ‘detective’, too. But, and then he ….
Q: That’s up the Terling Road?
Mr P: Along, towards Faulkbourne.
Q: I’m with you, yes.
Mr P: They were set off up the road in there. Well, that was the rifle range what I just said, and they had that and all in there. And these are all the soldiers that were billeted in Terling Park. They used to train at, learn at Terling, come across to the rifle range here, in Faulkbourne Road, and do the training and all that. And then they used to go to France. And they, never come back, a lot of them.
Q: Yes, I see. This was for training, yes?
Mr P: But they always used to stop on the green in front of the Church [Chipping Hill], and the Reverend, and the, Canon Galpin used to come, and they used to have a drum-head service there. You use the drum as an altar, don’t you.
Q: What, when they were going, you mean?
Mr P: When they were going to France.
Q: I see.
Mr P: And then they would get on the train at Witham and go off to Dover or wherever they wanted, of course a lot of them didn’t come back. I don’t know who they are. But that’s Mr and Mrs Lowe, the landlord of …. This is, see, well, he had, he had the brewery at Hatfield Peverel, but the maltings at, that was the maltings, that’s got a preservation order on it, isn’t it. They’re not allowed to touch it down. Well, that was where they made the barley and the malt [Maltings Lane, Witham]
Q: I see.
Mr P: And then it came to Hatfield Peverel and it was made in the brewery. Well, this is more or less to do with Hatfield Peverel. But, this Charlie Brown, and, they used to have his brother, they used to have a big shop in Witham, right opposite Maldon Road, where the paper shop is. Had a big corn shop there [46 Newland Street]. And then, when he used to unload the wagons, there was a crane attached to the wall that used to swing over the path.
Mr P: So, while they were unloading the wagons with corn and all, such as that, and they’d pick the bags up with this crane, well that used to all walk underneath it. As long as, as long as one never fall ….
Q: Was that the sort of shop you went in to for things?
Mr P: You went into there to buy chicken food, or flour, or …. They were corn merchants, what they call they call a corn merchant, see. But, this is the, see, well when Mr Brown took over this business he had to go to court, and this is the whole evidence of the court, in eighteen, ninety-eight. See, that’s all pulled down and gone now. But erm …. [actually evidence to Beer Materials Committee; copy is filed with JG’s extracts from books under ‘B’, and another copy in Essex Record Office].
Q: Where did you find this, then?
Mr P: Oh, gathered it, on [???] round, gather it round as I go. And, everybody knew I was interested, you see, about [???]. And then that tells you how much it was built for. But, you see, ‘You find ….’, this is the jud-, this is the, judge and jury or committee and all the rest of it, you see. ‘You find no difficulty in producing good keeping beer at eightpence to one and six a gallon’. (Q: [laugh]). No difficulty whatever. Tells you how much he paid for it, how much it was, how many barrels he done, how many pubs, he owned no end of pubs, he used to own several pubs in Witham, you see.
Q: Oh, did he, yes?
Mr P: And, erm, how much he paid for his barley and all the rest of it, see. That was before they would grant him the licence he had to go before all this ….
Q: I didn’t know they had to do all that, no?
Mr P: Before this court. When was this court?
Q: 1898, it says on the front.
Mr P: Yes, 1898. See, ‘Mr Charles Brown was called in and examined’. ‘You are connected with the Hatfield Peverel brewery near Witham’, see. But, that was his maltings all down there. And, erm, he’s ‘got a very good family trade for the country place, which, with a few houses I’ve bought’, and he’s doing about two thousand barrels a year, and ‘trade increases every day’, at one and six a gallon. And all the gravity of what it was, and everything else, I thought, seeing this, I kept that one aside. And that was one of his pubs [laugh]. That was one of his pubs.
Q: This is about ….
Mr P: Eh?
Q: About the workers getting the beer at harvest time, it says.
Mr P: Oh yes, yes, oh yes, well you see, Mr Bickmore, he would be 120, 140 if he was alive. They were old men when I went to work at Blunts Hall. Well, they used to tell me about this, see. Well, they used to have the barrels of beer come, in the, whatsername. And, Charles Strutt, what lived at Blunts Hall, Mr Bickmore was sort of the farm bailiff. Well, he suggested, that he built Mr Bick-, instead of Mr Bickmore living in Mill Lane, where the tanyard was, you don’t remember the tanyard, do you? [on west side of Mill Lane, north of no. 21 Mill Lane]
Q: Just, not really,, I know where you mean, though, yes.
Mr P: Well, they used to, opposite there, they used to get the water out a ditch, tan the skins and all that there. And then Mr Whybrew’s, father, that used to be manager of the Co-op, the Whybrews and all that, he used to take the loads of wool to Witham goods station, five bags a load, great big old bags as big as this room, they were.
Q: Bags of ….?
Mr P: Wool.
Q: Wool? Really?
Mr P: See, they cut, they used to take the wool all off, sear the wool of the skins, and then they used to dress all the skins, you see, that was the tan yard. And, I remember that quite well, you see.
Q: What did the wool go for, then?
Mr P: Oh, the wool went away up to London, something, for making into yarn.
Q: I see. And Mr Bickmore was the, bailiff, you say?
Mr P: And then, then, oh yes, oh I went wrong. Now this Mr Bick-, Bick-, Mr Bickmore was the farm bailiff at Blunts Hall, and, Mr Strutt decided, and, it’s got noth-, Mr Bickmore lived right opposite the tanyard, that’s how I got mixed. Decided to build him a house.
Mr P: Well, he marked the house out, down near the, horse, the, stackyard, and anyhow Bill got drunk and had a row with Mr Charles Strutt, so the footings were filled in, and then the house was never built. But he told me all about the beer that used to be in the shed. Now, erm, the farm caught fire, and the shed where the barrels of beer and all that sort was all burnt, and two or three rifles. Now I had an old muzzle loader and I kept that for years. But I don’t, I pulled it to pieces, I ought to have kept it, didn’t I, a muzzle loader, you know, flint-lock muzzle loader. Well, now. We can look in here for Witham, I’ve got quite, where is it, Witham [pause]. Witham Hundred. Now, you see, now this is the Witham Hundred, and this is what, Witham, this, Cressing, Hatfield Peverel, Terling, all these, come into the Witham Hundred, look. So all those lot had to come to Witham court, didn’t they. And the Rectory’s held on lease, at eight, is it 820, yes, 820 a year. And there’s the vicarage is valued. It’s similar to the other bit, although there was, this is 1851, ain’t it? That’s a map of Essex, that is. 1851. Yes, 1851. Yes, 1851. See, well that’s over a hundred years old, ain’t it.
Q: Nice collection.
Mr P: And that’s kept very well, really. Seeing as I’ve been interested in history. And then we get, erm, now wait a minute, all about Witham spa or something or other. Wait a minute. [Reads] ‘In the summer, betwixt Ascension and Midsummer King Edward came with some of his force into Essex, to Maldon’, that’s supposed to be, ‘and abode there while men worked and built the town at Witham. A good deal of the folk submitted to him and …. before the Danes. This however, had little to do with the popular[?] known as the modern town of Witham. That was a younger offspring of the tree planted by the Saxon side[?] of King Edward’s army. The works referred to were undoubted Chipping Hill’. See. Well, that’s where that spa was, up Chipping Hill, wasn’t it. There’s about the spa, the waters and all the rest of it.
Q: Yes, ‘cos there’s the name ‘Spa’, isn’t there, sometimes.
Mr P: Yes, Spa Road.
Q: In fact, actually, I think it was Mrs Ireland said that she used to go and get the water to drink sometimes.
Mr P: Ah, yes, I know where she ….
Q: Did you ever do that?
Mr P: Yes, yes, I’ll tell you, lovely. Now that wasn’t the spa, that was the running pump [Mrs Ireland did go to the spa, north of Powershall End. The running pump was in Highfields Road on the west side, just north of the railway line, near 81 Highfields Road].
Q: Oh I see.
Mr P: Right opposite, you know where the Co-op creamery [now Co-op shop, Highfields Road], well before you get to there. Course there, there’s, you see I, it’s a job for me to describe, because that all used to be all fields, and footpaths, all across everything else, you see. You went down the Chase, what we call the Chase [Moat Farm Chase] down by the White Horse [2 Church Street].
Q: Yes, yes.
Mr P: You see, and then, and then you could go, then you could go, turn left and go under the viaduct and come out by Blyth’s mill, well you don’t do that now, do they, you come out ….
Q: Further on, yes.
Mr P: Further on. Used to come out over the bridge, you see [through grounds of the Old Mill House, Guithavon Valley, just north of house; path diverted and bridge to present position, south of Evangelical church, in c.1970]. And then, when you got down the Chase you went over the bridge, a little bridge, didn’t you, still there now, I suppose [Moat Farm Bridge]. It goes straight up, do they call it Armond Road, I don’t know, comes out by Highfields Road.
Q: Oh yes, yes.
Mr P: Well Highfields farm used to be there, that come in with Blunts Hall. Well, then, when you got just over there, you could turn left and go under the viaducts, or you could turn right and go across the field into the allotment [now site of Saxon Drive] and come out near the Spring, Community Centre [Powershall End]. Or you could go straight up and come out opposite Highfields farm. When you got half way up there towards Highfields farm, you’d turn left again, and that would bring you out to Blyth’s mill, un-, through another viaduct under the railway bridge, or, you come, you come straight out to where, where that, is it the Rugby club, or Football club? [these paths are mostly still there, but now in the Moat farm housing estate]
Q: I know, yes.
Mr P: There. Well, that used to be what we called, there’s a little spring there, that used to run out and run there, a spring that used to supply the ramp that supplied Blunts Hall with water, a ramp. You don’t hear nothing about that now, do you. But there used to be a running pipe come out into the road, and that was always running that pipe, it was gorgeous water [near 81 Highfields Road]. And then that run under the road, through the little stream where the creamery is. Oh we used to spend Saturdays after Saturday, some of us used to go up there, and paddle in this little stream, and get watercress. Then it went under the railway bridge where the footpath is, and down to Blyth’s mill, and then along, and down into the river. Oh that, that was beautiful there.
Q: That was a spring, was it?
Mr P: Oh, that was, oh, it was, was, where you get Highfields, Highfields Road along of there. Well, when you come down by the White Horse, you know where the White Horse pub is, you came down there, and then you went over this hump bridge, that’s still there, is it? And then this is the river Brain, isn’t it. Well, you went over this ….
Q: Would you like a piece of paper so you don’t have to spoil that ….?
Mr P: No, doesn’t matter dear, doesn’t matter about it. You went over, went over this hump bridge, you see, and then, then, and that was the river, and er, and in this meadow here, there was a bill, ‘Carter’s Little Liver Pills’, so many miles to London [in the River walk near Moat farm bridge]. Stood there for years. Well then, when you went over there, you went along of this footpath here, and then, erm, there’s two or three viaducts there, where you go through. And then you went through that viaduct, and went along there, and then across there to the mill.
Q: Yes, I see.
Mr P: Well, when you went down, then when you went down this footpath, you see, here, er, this is the river, you could go right across to there, and this was the allotment, the allotment into, where, Spring ….
Mr P: …. road. Well, this was where the running pump, the running pump was, and back there was the dam, was the ramp that used to supply Blunts Hall and Highfields farm, up here. Well, they’re all gone now, ain’t they? (Q: Yes) See, well, that was all fields when I was a boy. This was the allotment. That’s all built upon [Saxon Drive]. (Q: That’s right) And then, um. there’s some houses, up here, Mr Richards the builder bought that one, and then there was, and then, then there was a couple of small little houses, and then you come into, um, well, Spa, Highfields Road, ’cos Spa Road has been built alongside, ain‘t it? (Q: Yeah). You still got the old Highfields Road, but that was always there but then um, when I um ….
Q: And Blyths’ Mill, you say your father worked there, did he?
Mr P: Yes, I’ve showed you that, you see. Now that’s all about Witham there and the Hundreds and all the rest of it, which I thought was very interesting [one of his books]. It’s all this about Witham. Er, [long pause]. [Mr P is obviously reading but could make little sense of it. Have typed the odd words I could make out] [Reads] ‘[??….] the third reign of Henry the Third’. There’s various court cases and ‘Lord Rayleigh’s commission and the Great Seal under Congress ’[??] and Howbridge Hall. Howbridge Hall is still there and (Q: That’s a good book isn’t it?) bounds of [????] and Chipping Hill. All round here. And the arms of Edward the First, all the rest and um, for ages, ‘for ages the population of Witham remained clustered round Chipping Hill.’
This is really Witham, Chipping Hill, you see. (Q: Yes, right, yes) The other old road was the coach road to Colchester, wasn’t it? And, you know where the White Hart is, don’t you. (Q: Yes) Well that’s now blocked up. Well, we used to go there and watch, they used to have all the fox hunt, you used to have the fox hunt, meet in that yard at the back, and they always used to come out through the middle of the White Hart, but that’s been closed in now, and made a dining room or something, hasn’t it? (Q: Yes). It’s still the archway, but that’s been closed all in and made a dining room or something of the White Hart. Well, the, all the horses and the dogs, you know, all used to go through there, then they used to go all off round Blunts Hall and everywhere else, all thingamy. Yeah. The Reverend Bramston, you know, he’s all there, don’t you (Q: Yes) and he’s in there.
Um, I was hunting out a [noises on tape – unable to distinguish words] charities here somewhere. [noises]…[undistinguishable] [Reads] ‘One is a large tomb with a figure of a man and woman’- that’s still in the church ain’t it? That’s the Head, Heathcotes [actually Southcotts], and they were of Witham Place? See, we’re back in fifteen ninety three. [Pause] [Reads]..‘A handsome new church in the English style was built in Guithavon Street, then newly formed, near the centre of the town in eighteen forty two at a cost of five thousand’. We read that in there didn’t we? (Q: Yes) ‘The site was given by Pattisons. A large, a large National School has since risen up near it.’ No Lord Rayleigh didn’t do the school, I’m sorry. That’s the school I went to. (Q: Was it? Yes). ‘And the rent of the house at Chipping Hill left by Lady Barnardiston sixty one. There is also a British school in Maldon Road’ We used to call that the Council School. That was built at eight hundred, oh, eight hundred and fifty. Didn’t cost them as much as the other one. (Q: laughs).
[Reads] ‘Witham is provided with almshouses, there’s five in Bridge Street….’ They’re gone ain’t they? They were right on the corner of thingamy [50-58 Bridge Street]. ‘…. endowed by an unknown man ….’ And this is where they got endowments from. Ah, wait a minute, [pause] ‘…. an allowance of wood and coal, besides this two of the occupants have the dividends of two hundred pounds bank annuities left by John Poole in eighteen twenty four. Greene’s Almshouses at Chipping Hill…. ’
Oh, that’s them on the corner [50-52 Church Street]. (Q: That’s those ones isn’t it?) Yeah, they were founded in fourteen ninety one. (Q: Goodness). ‘…The donor leaving Brown’s Farm and thirty acres at Springfield.’ Um, ’cos I used to get the bread for them, (Q: Did you?) poor people. And they received two and six a week. [Reads?]‘ Two and six a quarter and an allowance of coal’
Q: Where did you have to get the bread from?
Mr P: Vestry. I used to get the bread, yes, marvellous, a charity left and they used to leave widows’ loaves.
Q: What, every week? Sort of ….
Mr P: Every week, used to go into the vestry and get the bread out the basket. Seven loaves, they were, little round, little round loaves with all dot holes in ’em. Ardley the baker used to do ‘em, what lived in that house, they turned into a chemist shop a little while, opposite the surgery. (Q: Oh yes) Well, that’s where Ardley’s the Bakers, used to be [probably 137 Newland Street]. And they used to bring ’em up from there and um, yeah, yes. [Reads?] ‘And Armond, Armonds Almshouses in Blunts Hall Lane,’ they called that. Well, that‘s called Guithavon Street, now. That‘s called Brain ….
Q: No, do you think that was Spinks Lane, perhaps? (Mr P: No) That would be the one what was….
Mr P: Almshouses lived in Blunts Hall Lane. ‘..founded by George Armond ’. Well, his name is on the church – ain’t it his name carved on the church door? It is, ‘in sixteen twenty seven.’ Yes. ‘They consist of three rooms of [???] ….
Harvey’s Almshouses on the north of town consist of six dwellings. [these began in Lawn Chase and were then moved to Guithavon Street, where their site was later used for new Methodist church] They were given in eighteen ten’ Now which ones are they? [Q: A lot, wasn’t there? Yeah) Um, ‘.… the only endowment is the rent of a house at Chipping Hill left by Thomas Isaac in eighteen twelve.’ Oh here we are, look. ‘The sum of a hundred pounds left by Lady Barnardiston in sixteen thirty two caused the distribution of twenty, of twelve penny loaves, [???] at the church, has been increased with twenty pound of the town stock and laid out in the purchase of six acres of land and a house at Chipping Hill, formerly used as the Workhouse.’ Well, that’s Charity Row, in Chipping Hill [28-40 Church Street]. (Q: Oh, might be, yes) That was the Workhouse. ‘…. that the proceeds of five pounds four is given in bread and the remainder goes to the Poorhouse’. Well, that was the bread that I used to take round.
Q: Oh, of course, yes, yes.
Mr P: Oh, dear, can’t, look at this, look at all this, still goes a bit, oh no, that comes to Hatfield Peverel Priory now. (Q: laughs). Yeah. ‘And the Reverend Warley[?] seventeen nine to eleven left fifty pound for bread for six poor widows as well (Q: Oh I see) but this money was expended in rebuilding the steeple ….’ They pinched it, didn’t they? ‘.… and the two pound twelve for the bread is now paid out to the Parish rate.’
Q: Oh yes, I see, yes, well, oh well. It goes back a way then your….
Mr P: And then, you see, well, what have I got here.
Q: Would you like a cup of coffee or anything? (Mr P: Yes, all right dear) Shall I go and put the kettle on? Or do you want to look at these first, have you got a lot in here? (Mr P: No, not as I know, not too many) Q: Still, we don’t want to spill the coffee on the pictures, do we.
Mr P: Now this may be interesting or may not [looking at JG’s photo M74]. That was when Crittall’s was built [Crittall’s window factory, Braintree Road]. (Q: Really). They were the workmen for Crittalls when that was built. ’Cos that used to be an allotment belonged to the Co-op. (Q: Oh did it? I see). Yes, if it hadn’t have been for the Co-op Crittall’s wouldn’t have been in Witham. (Q: Really, why’s that?) The Co-op sold the, well, Mrs Susannah Vaux, Bawtrees, and one or two of the …. noble, general, gentry people of Witham, they tried to keep Crittall’s out. They didn’t want no fact– didn’t want no factory in Witham at all. There was Pinkham’s factory. You know, the glove making factory. But they didn’t want no factory. But unfortunately, or fortunately, the Co-op sold the allotment to Crittall’s and that’s how Crittall’s started ….
Q: Nobody else, you don’t think, would have ….?
Mr P: Wouldn’t have been no industry in Witham. Miss, this, Susannah Vaux she lived where, um, Dorothy Sayers did, you know where Dorothy … um. [Miss Vaux at 22 Newland Street]
Q: Yes, yes.
Mr P: I’ve got a ….
Q: What did she do then? Did she… um …. ?
Mr P: She opposed it. She was on the Council and all the rest of it. She opposed it and everything else for several years she opposed it – didn’t want no industry in Witham at all. (Q: Ahhh) And after – have you ever read that book of Dorothy Sayers, ‘Born to be King’?
Q: No I haven’t heard about it.
Mr P: Oh, I’ve got that. I’ve just finished reading it again. It’s in twelve – made in twelve plays wasn’t it by the BBC. (Q: I remember hearing about that, yes) That’s very good, yeah. Well, anyhow, so, well, that was ….
Q: Why the, was the Co-op very active – did it have a lot of land then, the Co-op?
Mr P: No, it only had that (Q: Oh, I see) that, all that allotment what run right up the back where the Co-op, that little Co-op, there was a little Co-op shop, wasn’t there [62 Braintree Road]? (Q: Yes). Well, all that land, right down to, to um, Albert Road. Matter of fact some of them houses in Albert, them houses in Albert Road belonged to the Co-op till the people bought them.
Q: So they wanted the factory, did they, you reckon? Well ….
Mr P: Well, of course, look at the difference it made to Witham, didn’t it? It was the same at Maldon, you see. Bentall’s at Maldon started building cars. They built three cars, had he’d have kept on building them cars it’d have been a place like Dagenham and all that, wouldn’t it, but he only built three. I’ve got a whole history of that (Q: Have you?) Well, that’s the …..
Q: So that’s all the people that worked there ….?
Mr P: That’s the people that worked when we built it. (Q: Goodness). Yes.
Q: Did you ever work there or anything?
Mr P: Yes, I’ll show you ….
Q: Oh, I’m sorry, interrupting you .… it’s so interesting, that’s all.
Mr P: Now, this was the staff, this was the staff, when, um [pause] (Q: I’ll put the kettle on [???] ’cos I don’t want you to get thirsty – do you like tea or coffee ?). Coffee if you like, dear.
Q: Do you have sugar, and milk?
MrP: Yes please, dear.
Mr P: I never showed you, now this, you said I could have this book, did you [probably ‘Memories of Witham: Shops’]
Q: You keep that, yes
Mr P: Right, now, where did you get that map from [on the cover]?
Q: Oh, it was an Ordnance Survey …
Mr P: Yes, well, I got Ordnance Survey maps, see I bought them all round Hatfield Peverel and um, seventeen seventy is me last one. (Q: Oh, well that’s quite a recent one) Yeah, well, here’s the map in eighteen sixty one.
Q: Well, that’s quite – I mean, that would be about nineteen twenty I should think. (Mr P: Oh so that’s LNE) Not very old.
Mr P: Well, I don’t know, what railway have you got there,? LNER or Great Eastern? (Q: Ah, that’s a point). You ain’t marked any. Yes you have (Q: Just off the end) What have you put on there? Great (Q: Eastern it looks, doesn’t it? I think it looks like Eastern) Yeah, well you see, (Q: Nineteen twenty four, I reckoned that was) Oh, well, that would be, round about when the Great Eastern finished then, yes. That would be about – that’s lovely of you, when it finished you see well, there’s the map there .…
Q: That’s an older one then, isn’t it?
Mr P: That’s Eastern Counties see, well that’s, that railway then is the um, Colchester line, that’s called the Eastern, um, Great Eastern Railway, then that become the LNER didn’t it? (Q: Yes) you see. Well, that’s the, um, [pause] number eight is Witham, here, look, you see .(Q: Yes).And, er, that’s a very old map but I’ve got Ordnance Survey maps all round – see ‘cos when I went to Hatfield Peverel, I went in, I left Witham (Q: Yes) Never forgot about Witham, never will. And um, and um, never will forget about Witham will I? (Q: laughs). You gonna, you gonna have a cup of coffee as well?
Q: Just fetching it, hang on.
Mr P: See, Witham’s not your home, is it?
Q: No, no, [indistinguishable – serving coffee]
Mr P: Well, when I … I just read in there about getting up early in the morning. When, when me father worked at the Maltings, Harrison Gray’s [station maltings], it was all done by hand and um, five …. five …. five, six and seven o’clock he used to start. (Q: Yes). When he started at five o’clock in the morning was when they used to unload the kiln[?] [pronounced ‘kell’]. Well, you know how they make malt, don’t you? (Q: No, [laughs]), You get barley, well, you get barley (Q: You tell me). You soak it in a tank for three days then you take it out the tank and it’s laid out on the big floors (Q: Oh, I see) and it grows. It throws out roots. (Q: Yes, yes). See. It throws out roots. Well, every day, sometimes if it’s hot, twice a day, the men go with great big shovels and you turn it all. See, great, great big, rooms, they are. And you turn it all over. But, but you don’t let the barley spear. You keep it on the move. Well, when it gets to this certain age, it’s then gathered all off the floor, they used great big wooden spades and when I was a boy I used to go for me Dad, ‘cos I, we used to eat the malt, I’ll tell you (Q: Did you?) And, er, if you wanted a drink, great big large wooden spades like that. So if I said to my father I’d like a drink, he’d give me this spade and he’d put it under the tap and he’d just put some on it [slurping sounds] (Q: Oh, I see) And that’s the way you get a drink. (Q: laughs) Well, five o’clock in the morning, when that was five o’clock unloading the kiln[?] [Mr P says ‘kell’], Harrison Gray, that’s Hugh Bairds [Mr P pronounces it Beards] now ain’t it (Q: Yes, yes). Yes but Harrison Gray’s, that’s an old family died out. Well, that was Harrison Gray. Well, then, after the barley’s been on the floor three days and that’s been turned and all that, that’s got all the roots growing at the bottom of the barley, it’s then put on a kiln[?], what they call a kiln, kiln[?], with the big fires all underneath, and they roast it, but before you do that, see there’s three floors. Well, the men fill up, they have a, abou, a um, a wheel-less barrow, fill it up, and then they carry it with, um, the big baskets, then they used to pull it by rope up to the top, the man up the top used to take it, shoot it on to this kiln[?]. Well then you turned it over so many days, ever so hot on the kiln[?], but, you could, you wore canvas shoes, all canvas shoes they were. But, and then you turned it all over and that roasted it you see. Well, then, when it was all roasted, and the fire, was down below, was dampened, it was then, took it all off of the floor, roasted, and that went through a machine and that separated the roots all the way and that was how malt was made. (Q: Oh, I see) Yeah. Well, now .…
Q: So, so the roots, you take the roots off [??? talking over each other about coffee]
Mr P: Some of the, a lot of, of course they’re nearly, they’re all Witham phot- oh, that man, Mr Bickmore, what I told you, (Q: Yeah) he’s on there. (Q: Is he?) ’Cos he left the farm at the finish and all that on there. And Mr Adams used to live up the top. [talking over each other about coffee] Mr Adams that lived there, I’ll show you some of the men on there.
Q: Oh, yeah. That’s good, isn’t it. Where was that then? Whereabouts was it, inside?
Mr P: No, no, no outside, facing um, [pause], is it Crittall’s car park, no, have they got a car park? Where the car park is, opposite the road. Facing this way, you see (Q: Yes, I see). Because, um, Mac, then as they kept, and gradually adding and adding and adding on, then MacDonald come and opened the road didn’t he. When he was Prime Minister. That road what goes off of Braintree Road is called the MacDonald Road (Q: Oh, is it?) Where The Lodge and all that is. What runs aside the canteen. (Q: Didn’t know that). Yes, it’s MacDonald Road, Ramsey McDonald opened that. And he planted – in nineteen twenty six. And he planted a tree at Silver End.
Now I’ve got another book that would be very interesting anyhow. It’s called ‘Fifty years of work and play’. It’s the whole history of the Crittall’s. Well illustrated, and all the building at Silver End. Now, Sir Valen-, Sir Francis Crittall, the founder. Do you know where he used to live? In Witham? (Q: In Witham?)Yeah.
Q: I thought he lived in Silver End (Mr P: No) Didn’t he? Oh, no, I don’t then.
Mr P: I’m talking about his, his father. (Q: I see, yes). Francis. Francis Henry, the founder. Well, when he was a boy, he went to school in Witham (Q: Did he?) And his father used to live in that big house right opposite the White Horse. Where you go down that slipway what we was talking about to, um (Q: Oh, yes, I know) to Spa Road [meaning Barnardiston House, 35 Chipping Hill; Francis Crittall went to a private school there called Chipping Hill school]
Q: Did he, really?
Mr P: Yes, well, its all in this book and all that, it’s called ‘Fifty years of work and play’ – you can’t get it now, but when I was at Crittalls, we was allowed to buy one. (Q: I see) That’ll be out of print now. And then there’s all the travels where they went abroad with, er, Sir Henry and, um, and um, she died while she was abroad, ’cos she wrote several chapters at the end of this book. It’s called ‘Fifty years of work and play’. It’s probably in the library .…
Q: Yes, I’ve heard the name of it. I think someone might have even shown me one. So, as you say, it would most probably be from the library, wouldn’t it? (Mr P: Oh yeah, well, I think ….) It’s nice that you’ve got that.
Mr P: I think it was about ten, ten and sixpence but you were allowed to buy them for two and six.
Q: That was nice, yes [laughs]
Mr P: [Pause] Well, if ….
Q: Fancy that.
Mr P: You see, what astonishes me and really annoys me sometimes is the people that live in, not only in Witham, in Hatfield Peverel and all, don’t know a thing about the parish (Q: Funny, isn’t it?). I mean the history of Hatfield Peverel is wonderful. You see.
Mr P: Well, so is Witham, but, er, [pause] You see, ‘os I got the book, too, of all the East Anglia heritage and all about the old coach houses and all that. I dunno, the family been buying me books, they always knew I was interested in history and all the rest of it and, uh, [pause]. You remember the U -, you don’t remember the Union, the Workhouse being at Witham, do you? (Q: Not really, no). No, well that’s where the Bridge Home was. And, um [pause] opposite the Crotchet there was a pub called the Warwick Arms, but the Sorrells family, the butchers took it, that’s before [???] . Well, if you wanted to get to the Workhouse, you went there for a ticket. But I’ve got a piece of the bottle with the Witham Union embossed on it. (Q: Yes) Yeah.
Q: What, you went to get a ticket – why did you have to get a ticket I wonder?
Mr P: Oh, you had to get a ticket, you see. Well, then you went into, to get into, to go to the Workhouse. And the, um, the landlord, evidently, was on the Board of Guardians [Mr Peirce says it as Gardeans] or something of that, them days….
Q: Oh, I see. but that wasn’t Mr Sorrell ?
Mr P: No, well now …. I want to show you – no, I want me other glasses there, but Bill Bick-, me father’s …. oh, there’s Bill Bickmore, that man on the end there, look. (Q: Right at the end) [see JG’s photo M74]. That’s the one that Mr Strutt was going to build the house for and he got drunk and all that there. (Q: laughs) He lived in Mill Lane right opposite. That’s what made begin the tan yard. (Q: That’s right). Now that was, um, in nineteen forty nine, when I was a member of the Witham Horticultural Society (Q: Oh, yes). Now you might know some on there [see JG’s photo M76].
Q: Probably, I wonder.
Mr P: Excuse me, dear, let me see if I can show you. Now, that’s Howard Brown. He was the Man- he was the Secretary of the Transport & Workers Union, that’s Mr Pounds, he used to live along Cressing Road. (Q: Ah yes) That‘s Fred Gaymer. He used to live in Richardsons’ [actually Richards’] House, married the girl Cook, Fred Gaymer. [Pause] That’s Mr Adams, he used to work at the mill. [pause]. That’s Mr Wade, his father was the School Board man. And that’s your humble ….
Q: A fine collection.
Mr P: And I showed (Q: Yes) And that was the, that was the staff, that was the staff when I worked at Crittall’s, when we had the new office built, um [see pJG’s photo M73] [pause]. Now you didn’t know Mr Walker, did you? No. And Mr Hubbard, they lived at the, in Mr, that, that, that one, that one, they lived in Crittalls’ houses, there. (Q: Did they? Yeah) That’s Nellie Haggar [? spelling], and that’s Nurse Mooney, (Q: noise of agreement)
Um, Dick Chapman, did you know Dick Chapman? No? He married the girl Slythe the stonemason. (Q: Oh yes). And that was Mr Smith, he was in charge of the building of Silver End. (Q: Oh was he?) And this was in nineteen thirteen [i.e. school photo discussed later]. [Pause]
Q: This was in… When would this one have been, about? When they built the offices?
Mr P: When they built the new offices, that would be. Didn’t I put the date on?
Q: So that was um ….
Mr P: No I didn’t, did I, no. I ought to have put the date on.
Q: Would that be before the War? Still? That was quite early on, wasn’t it?
Mr P: In between the [pause] just after the War, after, after this was built. (Q: I see) When this was built they had a little army hut so that would be after the First War (Q: Yes) and then they had an army hut and then they had these offices built opposite the army hut (Q: I see) so this would be round about, let me see, nineteen, when they found that, nineteen twenty, be about nineteen twenty four or five, I think. About nineteen twenty four or twenty five [1924 was written on the office]. And then this one here, I’ll show you, this one on here, I don’t know if you know anybody on there, this was nineteen thirteen, look. That’s Guithavon Road School [see JG’s photo M75]
Q: Isn’t that lovely, which is you?
Mr P: I’m on there, yeah (Q: Which one is you?) With the hole in me stocking
Q: [Laughs]. With the hole in your stocking, you sure? You can’t see the hole.
Mr P: No, it’s there, look (Q: In the front, there?) Yeah.
Q: Is that why you’ve got your legs crossed?
Mr P: No, well, maybe, you see. (Q: laughs). The boy Fryatt and that’s the girl Baldwin[?] and that’s Charlie Fryatt. I know most all of them, that’s Iris Shelley, that’s Nellie, no, that’s Nellie Haggar (Q: Is it?) Her father, her father was Sergeant Haggar, I said to you that caught his trousers on fire getting the tar off (Q: That’s right). That’s Geoff Brown that used to be the landlord of the Morning Star (Q: Oh yes) and he was the manager of Slythe’s the stonemasons for years. (Q: Was he, right) Do you remember that?
Q: Oh, no, I don’t remember that, with the big collar on, yes.
Mr P: That’s, that’s and that’s er. No, that’s Albert Poulter, I beg your pardon! That’s Geoff Brown. You know Albert Poulter in Cressing Road?
Q: I do, yes.
Mr P: Well, that’s Albert Poulter. (Q: Is it really? Wow) In Cressing Road. That’s Geoff Brown, that’s Frank Dunlop. And that’s I- Iris Fri- Hilda Fryatt (Q: Goodness) That’s Whisky Newman, [???] Newman we called her, that’s the girl Srawling. And now, I don’t know if I’ve got any more here, to show you. Now this is the thing that, well, maybe there’s some more in there. Now then you see.
Q: Oh Goodness, isn‘t that beautiful
Mr P: Nineteen ten. Now this is my father on the wagon [see JG’s photo M77]. Now this (Q: Is it really?) Well I, I worked there for a little while in nineteen twenty six, or sev- yes, in nineteen sev, in nineteen twenty seven. I used to go round there with the horse and cart and I used to work at Bulford mill and all that. You see, well now, that’s the water mill and that’s the power mill, steam mill. (Q: Oh, I see). You see, now, that’s where the Evangelic church is, isn’t it? Now this here, was the allotment belonged to them, er, beehives and all that. Er, That’s where all the flats or something are built down there, ain’t they? [Podsbrook] Maisonettes. Ain’t they? (Q: I think, yes) Where you come ….
Q: Yes, I’m trying to work out which way we’re looking.
Mr P: Well, I, I’m looking (Q: Is there a lane along here?) This is, this is Guithavon Valley.
Q: Oh of course, yes, I see, yes. In front of you, yes.
Mr P: See, this is Guithavon Valley. There’s Mrs, one of the Miss Blyths. Now that room, now that room she had as a mission hall. She used to hold services there every Sunday. Well, then, they built that chapel up Rickstone Road, didn’t they,(Q: Yes), called Ebenezer. Well, I dunno what, what is it called now? [Pause]
Q: I don’t know, but it’s still there isn’t it?
Mr P: Rickstone Hall? Or something is it?
Q: It’s, it’s something like that, yes.
Mr P: Well, you see, now, this is the river there (Q: Of course, yes) that runs under there, right at the back. Well, that’s the horse there, you see, well, you, you, you loaded up there and took your empty bags and all that back. Well, then, just on the corner, there, was an old gas engine. That used to go [(Mr P makes chirping sounds] Well, we kids used to watch it. That used to be driven by a turbine from the river (Q: Oh I see) Stone ground that was. But this was the steam mill with all the rollers, you see.
Q: What drove that one, then? That was ….
Mr P Steam. You had a steam engine.
Q: So you had a steam engine in there, did you ?
Mr P: The steam engine there. Now that’s, where the footpath is now to the River Walk, that’s down there, ennit?
Q: Of course, yes, yes, I’m with you now. yes.
Mr P: Miss Blyth give this to me when she went to Canada . (Q: Really?) You see, and there’s me father there with the wagon and the horses and then there was some posts along there with chains, you see, there’s a road there. A gateway in there. (Q: Of course yes) and, er…
Q: Isn’t that lovely.
Mr P: That was nineteen ten. [Pause] When me father came to Witham. From Stow St Maries [Stow Maries].
Q: And that’s him on there.
Mr P: Eh? That’s him on the wagon. [Pause] They’re all buried in Saint- in the church, ain’t they. Up towards the end gate. You’ll see they got a big tombstone there. Edward Mark Blyth. And their trademark was a clipper, the boat..(Q: Was it?). And that was their clip – was always on their sacks and everything. That was their trademark, the clipper. If there’s any of them bags about now, they’re antique. Well, then, in nineteen ….
Q: And so this was in, was there actually a water wheel?
Mr P: Where? No, no no ,turbine. (Q: There was a sort of ….)
Mr P: Turbine,[pause] in the grou (Q: Yes, I know what you mean) turbine and no, no whatsit . Turbine we called it didn’t we? (Q: That’s right) As the water went down, turned it round, (Q: Yes). yes, turbine’s the proper name, ain’t it?
Q: Yes, I think so, yes.
Mr P: That was steam and that was water.
Q: So the water came down sort of ….
Mr P: Just over. And then you see, and then if there wasn’t enough water, on the end there, there was a gas engine (Q: That was in case of ….) In case (Q: I’m with you) with the belt, the belt that went through the wall and drove the stones ’cos that was all wholemeal stones and all that. (Q: Was it really?) And Dr Knights, that used to be the doctor at Witham, with Dr Gimson, he used to have wholemeal ground, and we used to turn it out on the floor and put two stone of bran in, and mix it all up like that and that was the bread he used to eat.
Q: How long did you work there for?
Mr P: Where?
Q: You say you worked here.
Mr P: I worked there till [pause] till I got mar- no, I didn’t. I [pause] yes, I was there when I got married in nineteen twenty eight, that’s right. That’s right.
Q: And what sort of, what did you do? Were you driving this lorry?
Mr P: No, no, with the horse and cart. (Q: I see) And er, I used to do the horse and cart. I worked in the mill and then they had a new mill, didn’t they? Built up near the Witham Goods Yard. didn’t they? Q: (Oh I see, yes.) That’s the mill, I dunno whether the mill’s still there, they had a new mill there. (Q: Oh I see) And then that one was closed down and sold. And that was made into that ….[pause]. [???] the people made it into the church. But the house is still there, ain’t it?
Q: Yes, that’s right. I don’t know whether that bit is, though (Mr P: Eh?) I’m not sure about this piece. (Mr P: Yes, that’s still there) is this further on?
Mr P: Yes, that little room is still there. Where the old piano was. And where we used to go for, for meetings, Sundays. Used to have Sunday services over there.
Q: So she was, um, You went there, as well as going to the Church, St Nicolas, did you?
Mr P: Oh, yes, yes, yes, used to go there Sunday afternoons, ‘cos there weren’t no services at .. (Q: I see) not the Church Sunday afternoon. Any, anybody could go there, that was an open thing, she used to come out, Miss Blyth used to come out into the road here, and ask everybody to go in, (Q: I see) see, and that was his office and all that there. Then you went in the house and up the stairs to that room.
Q: And then the footpath just came past the ….
Mr P: The footpath, the original river walk was there, was there, over that bridge.
Q: I see, so you could just come past .…
Mr P: But they’ve closed that now, that’s a private residence, haven’t they? And the little bit of garden that runs up the side of the river, used to be kept lovely and all that but that’s a disgrace now, it’s boarded up and everything else, ain’t it?
Q: Isn’t that beautiful. That’s a good photograph isn’t it? I wonder who took it?
Mr P: Oh, erm, I don’t know. Oh, erm, Bull, I should think. (Q: Bull?) Bull. You know where Bull’s used to be? [34 Newland Street] Right next to the George Hotel. (Q: Oh I see, yes) That’s now a, a motor car shop now, ain’t it? That was Bull took that, I should imagine, ’cos they was Bull there all my life. Yes.
Q: Would that be Miss Blyth in the window, do you think?
Mr P: Yes (Q: I see. Yes. Good). She had two daughters, Hilda and, um, Elsie and Hilda. One was, Hilda, [pause] was a very, high up in the Church of All Saints and St Nicolas, but the other one, she run this mission hall on her own. (Q: I see). And then, when she was left on her own, and brothers and all that, she went …. Her brother married Markham the mineral water people, don’t know if you’ve ever heard about that? (Q: No). There used to be a Francis and Peter but Francis lived at Bulford Mill, do you know where Bulford Mill is? (Q: Yes, yes) Well, Francis used to live there. (Q: Oh did he?) And I used to work, go over there, work in the mill over there sometimes. That was a, that was a turbine. (Q: Was it?) The same there that drove, that was all stone ground but that, see, that was all stones in there but that was steel rollers in there. They were took up to the new mill. (Q: I see) Now .…
Q: So, did Mr and Mrs Blyth, did they go to the All Saints and that as well?
Mr P: No, no, no, no ,no no, she run her own mission, the old lady used to play the piano at the mission. (Q: Oh, she did, I see) Only her daughter, Hilda, that went to the Church.
Q: I see, so the others had their own, the mission was separate ?
Mr P: [looking at photos, JG’s photos M78, 79 and 80] Now in nineteen twenty nine, when I was at Blunts Hall. [Pause] (Q: Yes) We had a fire. They had an engine in there that used to pump, [pause], pump the water for Blunts Hall Farm. And to the cowsheds. Well, there’s a big old engine, I can see it now. Matter of fact I know where the exhaust of the engine is, we put that in the middle of a gateway up towards Wheelers Farm or Dancing Dick’s, I don’t know if you know where that is? (Q: Really, yes, yes). Or heard about? Well, anyhow, we buried up there. Well, this was in nineteen [pause] twenty nine. And, um, now this is the road that goes past Blunts Hall, see, that’s where you kept the dairy horse. Now that was the whole fire and that’s the thingamy there, look, see. And then, this is the coach- this is the, um, granary and this is the coach house where the groom lived, belonged to Blunts Hall. See, there’s all the firemen there, then. The fire station then was in Guithavon Road, round by the Crown, wasn’t it? (Q: Oh yes, I see, yes) Round the corner, with the brass helmet and all that on. And then, that’s inside of the cowsheds. We got the cows all out, that’s all the chaff food. We got the cows out but, um, [pause]. I kept them. That was, [???] That was the cowshed. (Q: Oh I see). Where the cows all would be tied up. We got the cows all out.
Q: Yes. So this the road. Where is the road on that one?
Mr P: Um, well the road, the road is back there, you see. Because, that’s, that’s, I don’t know whether that mount is still there, that hill? There’s a bit of a mountain there, mount there, where the nightingales used to all be, a lovely lot of nightingales in there, and that was the granary, you see. But this barn, this great big barn here was half owned by an inventor on the railway. And here, you see, and that was turned, cut off, that was a great big barn, that was. No, that’s the granary. A great barn over, back in there, you can’t see- behind there. Well he, um, this man lived at Blunts Hall after the Strutts died. Moved or died. This, he was an inventor on the railway and he had a half a barn all laid out with model railway, about (Q: Really) about this height and you could just lift up the engines and tenders. You know,. And, er, they used to run all round and he was inventing on the railway. They all got burned up and everything else, yes, the whole fire. I used to, when I supposed to be working in the barn, I very often used to look through the knots in the barn, like in the woodwork, the weather board, and watch him at work on these things there. I took ….
Q: That was just a hobby of his, was it? Or was he ….?
Mr P: No, no, no, he ….
Q: Or part of the designing ….
Mr P: He was a designer on the railway, for the Great Eastern Railway, and, er, that was his ….
Q: What was his name, then? (Mr P: I don’t know, dear, I forget.) I suppose you’ve forgotten, no. no.
Mr P: I forget now. So, anyhow, took these photographs and I kept them, Mr whatsname took them of us. Um, Butcher. He used to have his studio right next to the fire station in Mill Lane [George Butcher; main studio at 4 Guithavon Street, other premises at 74 Mill Lane]. And er ….
Q: My goodness, you’ve got a nice, fine collection of things, haven‘t you?
Mr P: So, anyhow, I hope I ain’t boring of you. (Q: No, it’s lovely) But, now, now, now then. (Q: Goodness, some more). Now, oh this is the map that this girl Blyth give me – did she put her name? I thought she had her name in there somewhere. I don’t know, I just kept …. [showing atlas?} [pause]
Q: Oh, she give it you did she?
Mr P: This, this was, this was the grand, granddaughter of the founder, her name was – I thought she wrote [pause]. Oh, that was when I was a good boy at school that was [Q: Yes]. Now, I thought she – yes there you are, just Blyth. (Q: Oh yes). That’s right. That was a map in eighteen ninety – that was in eighteen ninety one. (Q: Yes) But that ain’t what, I had that just to keep me in, like, you see. (Q: Well that’s a good idea, yes) Now that was in nineteen sixteen. I’m going to show you something else in nineteen sixteen, that …. [showing certificate; I didn’t take a copy] [pause].
Q: Goodness me.
Mr P: Yes, now I got a photograph of him on a school photo I’ll show you in a moment. Never late, never late, never absent for a year. That’s signed by Thomps -oh there y’are, look, there’s Galpin the vicar, Reverend, er Canon Galpin the vicar. But Thompson was the headmaster. That was taken in nineteen sixteen, I – yes, nineteen sixteen.
Q: So, that was at the ….?
Mr P: That was at the school in Guithavon Road [Street].
Q: Dare I, dare I ask you how old you are, then. (Mr P: Eh) You go back a good way, then, don’t you? When were you born?
Mr P: Eight. Nineteen forty. I can remember before you (Q: Nineteen oh eight, was it?) My memories, I’m not boasting, don’t think about that, but my memories are from nineteen twelve. Nineteen twelve up till today, so I don’t think I do bad. I’m seventy seven, (Q: Are you really, I think you do all right) Yes.
Q: So when, you moved to Witham when you was ….?
Mr P: Came to Witham in nineteen ten. (Q: Quite little, then, weren’t you, yes) And stayed in Witham till nineteen thirty. Married in nineteen twenty eight and I moved to Hatfield Peverel in nineteen thirty. And since that, you see, I been interested in Hatfield Peverel.
Q: Yes. That’s beautiful, isn’t it.
Mr P: Yeah, well then, (Q: Yes, oh, look at this). Ah, now, you’ve got one of, you’ve got them, haven’t you? Witham Parish magazine?
Q: I’ve seen some of them, I don’t – not many, though. (Mr P: Eh?) ‘Cos that’s a fairly old one isn’t it?
Mr P: That’s nineteen seventy, and then another little one there, called [???] squire[?], um,
Q: I’ve not seen that.
Mr P: Yes, this is all about the buttress of the Lady Chapel. (Q: Yes) And the decayed windows in the north west and all that, you see. And, of course, the vestry used to have a floor in it, didn’t it, you see? ’Cos the priest used to live up above the vestry. And um, I was in the Church choir. I started one penny a quarter, I got two and tuppence. I never got no more. Three and thruppence was the highest. For singing in the church choir. We used to get ten pence if we went to somebody’s wedding. If you wanted a choir at a wedding, well, I think we got ten pence. But, I’m very very sorry I never had me photograph taken in me cassock and surplice, really. (Q: That’s sad, yes). and, um, Miss Eldred was the organist and thingamy and all the rest of it. Canon Galpin and all that. But, um, Mr Bright, no, Mr[?] [or Miss] Chalk was the bell ringer. Mr Bright was, he died not so long ago, didn’t he? (Q: That‘s right, yes). Yes, well, of course, I went to school with him and all that (Q: Did you?) Well, there’s that one of Witham, St Nicolas‘s, and then there’s this one in nineteen in nineteen seventy[?] [probably parish magazine], my sister, Mabel, that’s Ethel, this is Mrs um, [pause] Angela’s mother, sent this to me. Because she knew I was interested in it. She bought it and sent this to me [parish magazine]. [pause] And, um, I think it’s a photo of the Witham [pause] of the Co-op Treat. You heard about the Co-op Treat?
Q: Oh, a bit, yes, Did you used to go that?
Mr P: Nineteen hundred and nine. Yes, I used to go to that. We used to parade in The Avenue [pause] and, er, we all paraded in The Avenue and you walked right down the High Street, up the King’s Chase, aside of the Co-op, into that meadow where, [pause] Dr Gimson had a house built, who lives there now? Denholm ?
Q: Oh, that’s right, yes.
Mr P: Well, anyhow, in that meadow, and, this is a photograph of it- we used to have the ‘Treat’ in there and cups of teas and currant buns, and, and races and running and all that and earn a penny. And then the Witham Town Band used to come and they used to have a [pause] got his photo for you, they used to have a race and the man on the bass drum was Mr Russell. They used to give him a few yards start. And, er, there used to be a prize for them. But, this is a photo (Q: Oh yes) of, not a very good one, that’s a photo in nineteen nine[?], no that’s the Witham, no, [???], yes. What’s in here, then? Ah, now that is a photo of the church when that was gas lit. (Q: Goodness). When that was lit all up with gas. When I was in the choir [parish magazine again].
Q: That’s a good one isn’t it? [Pause] So you just had, this was the only light there was, was it?
Mr P: That was all gas lamps. I was sat at the back in the choir, of course.
Mr P: That’s all electric light, now, ain’t it? (Q: Yes, that’s right). That was when it was all gas lamps, see. Well, the verger, had to go round, when it got dark, and pull the ring, and light all them lights up. (Q: Of course. Yes, yes). [Both laugh]
Mr P: I kept that, I dunno why, about it, still, I kept that. Of course. Now that’s the black, that’s the blacksmith’s shop. Um, somewhere, I can’t, if I find them, I’ve got a photograph of Mr Quy outside with two horses, I don’t know if I can find it. But, now when was this published, then?
Q: I think I’ve seen one of them, that wasn’t, [???] picture there.
Mr P: Yes, this ain’t too, this ain’t too, I got, no date on. That’s all adverts. Wait a bit. Introducing, there are, you see, now (Q: Of course, yes) I’ve seen that picture painted dozens of times and Dr Gim- and, um, Dr Gimson had a gorgeous one of it, you see, well [view of Chipping Hill and green]. As a boy I come down here. You would do to school, wouldn’t you? (Q: Yes) And there’s a cellar down there, we used to watch the old man mix up his spirits. Well, when Mr Cook – there’s the houses, look, what I’m talking about.
Q: Oh, yes, right, yes.
Mr P: There’s the houses where Mr Clark lived and you went up behind them houses, see. There’s some more houses behind them that back on to the, where the, now called the, um, church room, or parish room, isn’t it? [houses in front were 32 Chipping Hill and 34 Chipping Hill, now demolished; houses behind are 26 Chipping Hill, 28 Chipping Hill, 30 Chipping Hill]
Q: Oh, yes, yes.
Mr P: Well, that, the other houses that side back on to it. Well, that used to be the cart lodge for Canon Ingles and Canon [i.e. present Church hall] (Q: Was it) And then where the, opposite the Spring Community Centre (Q: Yes) was allotments [now Saxon Drive]. Five shillings a year, my father used to have it. Twenty rod. Well, you paid the five shillings, and a potato. And you had a little bit of supper, all the, um, holders of the allotment. (Q: Oh I see,) You know, I told you (Q: Yes, yes,) where the footpath went through that allotment, and you went and paid it, Mr Hodges was the man, that took the money . He lived right, the other side of the railway line, near the Witham Creamery is, but a bomb dropped on it during the War, didn’t it? Blew it all to pieces. But they’ve rebuilt a new house, didn’t they [probably 20 Highfields Road]. Well, that was the man who used to take the money. And, um, used to go up there, you see. Well, this is where the soldiers all used to get on this thingamy and have the service before they went abroad [i.e. on Chipping Hill green, in First World War]. Well, when I was a boy we used to have iron hoops to go to school with, and the girls had wooden ones. We used to have iron ones. Well, if you broke it, Mr Quy used to weld them for thruppence [at the forge, 18 Chipping Hill]. Well, I tell you what he used to like to, this ain’t been so long, ’cos the electricity, look. (Q: That’s right, yes). Um, weren’t there. Well, um, he used to like – we used to stand there where that man is, I’ve stood there hours watching him make shoes and everything else. They used to shoe the horses outside. And um, he used, I used to, like us boys to git in there and um, on the forge, the handle of the forge, it had a horn on the end. [pause] (Q: Really?). And we used to pump away, see, so he’d be, he’d have the iron in the fire getting hot, (Q: Yes) we used to pump away like that. It used to please us boys. Well, of course, we was helping him weren’t we? (Q: Yes, yes, [laughs]). You see. (Q: Bit of free labour). And then he’d get the iron, I’ve seen thousands of ’em made today. Um, that’s a very nice picture of it, you see. (Q: Isn’t it?) But, it hasn’t been so marked[?] because – now this is the gardens at Silver End, I remember all these being built (Q: Oh) This is where Sir Francis Crittall lived but that was his father that lived at Witham, see [probably just at school in Witham] (Q: Yes, yes) I don’t know what happened to him now. But I don’t know nothing about the River Walk, I’ve never been along there, so I can’t, I don’t know where that is or nothing ….
Q: Well, it’s really more, where you used to walk, it’s just been made into a path and that now ….
Mr P: Yes, but you go along now in Mill Lane, you never used to. (Q: No, right). You only used to have to go over by the mill. (Q: Yes, that’s it, yes). Yes, ‘cos there’s Powers Hall End School, so this ain’t so old, is it?
Q: It’s not that old, no. A nice picture isn’t it, though, on the front, there, yes.
Mr P: That one? Of the church and thingamy, yes, but that ain’t so many thing . And then, um, ….
Q: I think I’ve seen one of them, I think I’ve got one of those, yes.
Mr P: Yes, this was …. It’s got a picture in there as well [Both talking over each other]
Mr P: That’s Dedham. Where we went, the restaurant was and all that, Dedham. This was nineteen sixty eight, you see [WEA booklet about Witham in the 18th century]. Written by somebody by the name of Brown. And, um, there about the trade. That says about this, Brett, the Secretary, I don’t know what of, or was. Brown, Brown was. But, I don’t think there’s no pictures or nothing in there, is there? (Q: No, no).That’s just …. Now what is this picture? Ah, Ah, now then you see, this is Mr Quy. Look(Q: Oh yes). There’s Mr Quy in eighteen …. His father come to the smithy in eighteen eighty one but this was taken during the First War and, that’s er …..That’s all been done up again, now, ain’t it?
Q: That‘s right. I’ve never seen a picture of him. ( Mr P: Eh?). I’ve not seen a picture of him. That’s good isn’t it?
Mr P: That’s Mr Quy what used to have the blacksmiths. Yes. He left it to Mr Dorking when he died. ‘Cos he – he never had no family, unfortunately, his wife had no end of miscarriages I remember but he never had no family. And he left it to Mr Dorking, didn’t he? (Q: Yes, that’s right). And, er, (Q: That’s a nice one). This was taken, this was taken over sixty years ago [school photo from newspaper]. Why I’ve kept that one is, is my sister, now, she lives at Terling, she’s a widow at Terling. And, um, Miss Murrell, I think it’s Miss Murrells or Miss Compton. Miss Murrells. Now she lived right where Hemsleys or Kemsleys the optic- the estate agents is. [53 Newland Street] (Q : Um, I see). You know, in the High Street, that’s where she lived, Miss Murrells you see. I know some of the girls. But that’s my sister at Terling. She, she’s a widow, she’s over seventy now, of course. Now, um, that’s the blacksmiths, now. [Pause]. There’s Mr Godfrey. (Q: Oh, so it is, yes).That’s Mr Cotter[?], Mr Baxter, Mr Albert Poulter, (Q: Yes),. there’s your humble servant. This is nineteen sixteen, you see. The teacher was Mr Thompson.
Q: Oh, that‘s him there, is it? It was on there.
Mr P: [????] the time, that there,. you see. I don’t know whether you, no, no, that’s all in Witham that I got accounted for. This was in nineteen twen – twelve, no, wait a minute. No it ain’t. [Pause]. Oh, this is when I first went to school. This is in the Infants. That’s Mrs erm, Mrs erm, oh, Miss Aldred (Q: Oh yes). Eldred. She lived down in Maldon Road, in a house and you went through an archway to Peculiar People’s Chapel, see. that’s taken at, in the Infants school, that is. That’s all gone down, now, ain’t it? (Q: Yes). That’s the girl Fryatt, she’s not in Witham ….
Q: So you didn’t go to the Chipping Hill Infants ….?
Mr P: No, no, no, we went, no, then we went to straight to that one. Now, I’ll tell you. See. I got a little sailor suit on there, don’t you. (Q: Yes). Well, now there’s a history to that. My mother, when I bought that. In the pocket was a little cane whistle. A little bit of cane, inside the thing was a little whistle . [Pause]. Used to got to church with me Mum [Pause]. Well, somehow (laughs), somehow or other, one Sunday morning, you see, we’d been to church one Sunday morning, and then, er, we’d stopped the service, but before the collection was taken we used to come out. But this particular time, Mother was with us ….
Continued on tape 93