Mr Cecil Newton was born in 1908. He was interviewed on 11 November 1991, when he lived at 81a Church Street, Witham.
He also appears on tape 150.
For more information about him, see Newton, Cecil, 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.]
Continued from tape 150
Mr N: There were a lot of people on these hunger marches these days.
Q: Did that affect Witham much?
Mr N: Well there was a fair amount of it yes. And then as I say I went to Adams and Mortimers and then I was working at Richards when I actually married. As I was saying, this copper kettle and a rug.
Q: Did Richards offer you more than Adams and Mortimer then or how did you come to move?
Mr N: I think I’m right in saying they got slack there again at Adams and Mortimer and I come away again and I went to Richards.
Q: Cause I know people do say that, even though there was a slump, the building kept on going a certain amount.
Mr N: Yes it did a certain amount yes. Silver End, I mean I was there when that village was built, I had nearly done four years there.
Q: Of course that was a big job. (Mr N: Yes,) Was that on your own or with someone?
Mr N: No, Silver End with Burton and company. (Q: What they employed …?) Yes, I was working at Lewis’s and we went and done a job on Dan Crittall’s house with Lou Sheldrick. I was only a lad, sixteen or seventeen, and working there, the old foreman, Haynes his name, Crittall’s foreman. He come round looking at the work and seeing what was being done. He come in the room and said ‘Hello’ he said ‘How are you?’ and that to Mr Sheldrick, so he said ‘Oh not too bad’. He said ‘You’ve got a good lad there,’ he said ‘working, he keeps on’. He said ‘That’s what I’d like, a few good lads’, he said ‘to learn them’. So he said ‘What’s he getting there?’ forget what I was being paid and any rate he was going to give me more money. So I said to Lou ‘What would you do?’ He said ‘You’re a bloody fool if you don’t move boy’, you’ve been here a long while, you’ll never get anywhere here’, he said. ‘You might as well branch out and get more experience’, he said ‘I’d take the job’. And that’s what I done. I always remember Mr Manning saying ‘Oh he said, I think you’ve done the wrong move there, Cecil, you ‘ve jumped out of the frying pan into the fire’. I always remember that when I told him I was leaving.
Q: So who was right?
Mr N: Well, I got by. Yes. It’s a job to know what would have happened. I got by, put it that way. I think I had twelve weeks out of work in my whole lifetime. That was that ‘31 time. Because I seemed to get from one job to another. Then when I was made redundant at Crittall’s here when I was sixty. I got a job at Nitrovit’s [Maltings Lane] that’s where I finished up, Nitrovit’s, printing the bags with the chicken feed on, how much to give them and what that contained etc. Then we cleaned the canteen till I was seventy (Q: What at Crittall’s) No at Nitrovit. Cleaned that, she used to come and help me. And the money I got there, that was Council labour they classed it as. And I was doing all right. But then they had the auditors in and they wanted to know where every penny, so I had to go on the clock and that stopped it as they had to pay tax and everything. I had two years casual, so made a little bit there, not a lot..
Q: Its quite a way to Bramston Green from …?
Mr N: Yes, but we had several buses then, two or three in the morning and in the afternoon. And I’d got a bicycle and used to bicycle everywhere.
Q: When did you move up to Bramston Green? Have you been here a long time?
Mr N: Seventeen years back. That’s it. I’ve been married seventeen years this Christmas.
Q: And before that were you still in Mill Lane or …?
Mr N: I was in Maltings Lane. That’s where my wife got taken away. You see what started her troubles was her thyroid gland. Active one. Then Doctor Foster told me it had switched the other way, going slow. And she couldn’t do nothing. She used to sit about all day. I left her one morning, I haven’t told many people this, I left her one morning to go to work and she was upstairs looking at the doors. I said ‘Now you be careful when you come down, won’t you’. ‘Leave me alone’, she said. ‘I’m all right’. And she was up there when I come home at night. So I presume she had stayed there all day. And then course she got so she wouldn’t do nothing and everything and Doctor Foster said to have her put away, he said ‘You can’t carry on like that’. It was impossible. So that’s what they done. They took her down to Severalls and she was down there about two years and they give her this shock treatment. She was like a young girl when she come home. I opened my eyes and thought ‘How has it happened’ Wanted to do this and do that. I remember getting on the phone and thanking Colchester for what they’d done, what a transformation the treatment had done. Then two or three weeks after that she fell back again, and worse really. And they give her another dose, two doses of it she had, never done no good in the long run. Doesn’t last.
Q: Nowadays they have different treatments don’t they? It’s improving all the time.
Mr N: This was supposed to be a marvellous thing. (Q: You’ve had a hard time worrying about her didn’t you.) You see she was down there all the time, I’d go and see her Sundays and sometimes I’d go during the week. I was working with a chap called Jim White, no not Jim White, and he’d got a daughter down there. He’d adopted this daughter too. He had a lot of trouble with her. Sometimes he’d go on a Wednesday and he’d let me know and I’d go down with him. No messing about no buses no trains.
Q: Have you got children?
Mr N: No, she was one of four girls but none of them had a baby.
Q: Are any of her sisters still about?
Mr N: No, they all died, the whole lot. I think one of the brothers in law I think he’s still alive.
Q: What was her name before she married?
Mr N: My wife? (Q: Mmm.) Scarlett, (Q: What was her first name?) Grace. She worked in Luckin Smiths with Miss Stoneham, worked with her, and Mrs Coker. You know her? (Q: I don’t think I do, I met Miss Stoneham once.) Bartlett was manager there then. Then Newton, my namesake come and took it over and he packed up through ill heath. But Bartlett was a real tubby old boy with a white apron. Stand in the shop. They used to stand in the shop door in those days didn’t they? You don’t see that nowadays. Dear dear, what a transformation isn’t it. I always think of one like myself, being on the final line, with these windows at Crittall’s. They just moved slowly along till they get to the stage where they were packed up and sent away. I always think of myself as one of them when I go through Tesco’s.
Q: Did she like working there ?
Mr N: Yes, I think so. I was in the forces then at the time. And she had her mother come down and one of her sisters stayed here. Her husband kept up there, he’d got digs, the other sister, her husband. He worked on the railway.
Q: You were in Maltings Lane then?
Mr N: No, we were in Mill Lane then I went to Maltings Lane after the War. Because they condemned them houses. They built those flats didn’t they, Council Flats in Mill Lane, just by that pub, at the back of the pub. There was eight cottages up there, parted by a passage [Pattisson or Poplar Terrace, replaced by Bramston View].
Q: They had a name, something terrace, I can’t remember the name..
Mr N: Poplar Terrace, yes.
Q: So you paid rent to somebody for that did you?
Mr N: Yes, a chap in Kent had them. I forget the name. Tommy Johnstone was one. His grandmother lived there, he was an insurance agent. Then old Fred Brown the gravedigger (Q: Mmm.) lived next door to us. And then two sisters were next to the gravedigger were two sisters. The end one was a single, little one, fill-in place. Just one bedroom and one room, very small. Like a little shed affair it was. Then there was the four cottages. Then you had your passage, to go this ways or that ways. Then of course there was four this side. Then there was a big house, there, I forget who lived in that now. Of course now that gap where those houses were, is built up with other property today, all new property. But it was a damned big house I can’t think of the name of it. (Q: Was it Hollybank?) Ah Hollybank. Yes.
Q: As I say there are a lot of houses.
Mr N: Hollybank it was. Can’t think of her name. She was a case she was (W: Was she?) Funny hats she used to wear, but she was a jovial woman. You’d see her out [calls] ‘Hello, and how are you?’, high pitched voice. I remember, before I got called up, the incendiary bombs dropped through there one night. That caused a lot of panic. I remember my wife, I had to calm her, she said ‘That’ll be here next’. We used to get under table, we had a wooden table, we’d put a cloth all over it and draped it, and lift it up and get under. It gave you that sense of security. But I’ve often thought well, if there had been one, we should have been gone wouldn’t we? We used to swear when we heard a train go up the line. You see the fire box, when they used to, every train used to coal up going up there, there’s a bit of an incline isn’t it to Hatfield. Well you see, we reckon that they would see them coaling up with the box, a job to conceal that light isn’t it, when you’ve got your fire box in and you’ve got to shovel up your coal, and push it there, you can’t shut it in between, and another thing as I was telling you Tommy Johnstone insurance used to live with his grandmother. She was getting on. We had those toilets up the yard there. And she used to take her candle up, when perhaps there was a raid on. We used to go out many time both me and the wife to say to her ‘Granny, mind that light, look they’re over there’. She used to mumble something and then go trotting on up the toilet. I mean it was all they wanted wasn’t it. But we were lucky. All bar those incendiary bombs that come down that time in Hollybank.
Q: They actually set fire to it did they?
Mr N: Yes, they did I think, there was a bit of a fire there but they got it under control pretty quick. Of course that was the Warden’s place would near the police station in them days wasn’t it [Guithavon Street]. Air raid wardens they called them. Used to go out and help when there was a fire or anything. Because that was the old police station when I come to Witham. (Q: Oh right.) Gurton, P.C Gurton, or Inspector Gurton. Yes.
Q: Yes, there’s been some changes.