William Duncombe

William Duncombe of Witham, Water engineer.

His career as the Waterworks Engineer, as told by the records of the Witham Urban District Council, i.e.

Witham UDC minutes 1911-1945. (Essex Record Office reference D/UWi 1 etc)

The troops referred to were billeted in Witham for training during the First World War.

These are notes by me, Janet Gyford, not the original words. If the original words are quoted, they are in punctuation marks.

Council, 29 May 1916
page 323. Letter from Mr J Goodey re long hours ‘he and Duncombe’ were working because of summer approaching and the number of troops. Suggest Duncombe made full time, or otherwise additional pay. To Water Works Committee.

Waterworks Committee, 2 June 1916, page 178
Mr Goodey to have extra help during the War ‘by Mr Duncombe going to the water Works at 2 p.m. each day instead of 4 p.m. as heretofore’.

26 June 1916   Council
page 327. Water works Committee, re extra help by Duncombe going in at 2 p.m. instead of 4 p.m., adopted.
pages 329-30. Letter from eight employees of council for further increase in wages. Refuse.

Waterworks Committee, 30 September 1919, page 10
Applications for post of engineer received. Names given. Only one from Witham, William Duncombe. 3 others. Proposed to have interview and pay 3rd class rail fares.

Waterworks Committee, 8 October 1919, page 13
William Duncombe appointed at £2 10 0 with house, coal and lighting. Also to undertake the Inspection of Taps at £10 a year.

Deputy clerk to arrange to compensate Mr Goodey for fruit trees left by him in the garden at the Waterworks.

Public Health Committee, 19 September 1932
page 39. Re-arrangement of outside staff in view of a bulk supply of water being shortly taken from the Silver End Development Co Ltd’.

W Duncombe now Waterworks Engineer. Offer him Working Foreman and free occupation of present house, also Tap inspector. £2 10s a week.

Public Health Committee, 15 February 1933
page 88. Remove W Duncombe foreman from his house at the Waterworks Braintree Road to the foreman’s house at the Old Waterworks Newland Street now occ by Mr Hume, nearer to duties.

30 October 1944.   Council
Page 705. William Duncombe, one of Council’s workmen for 45 years, had to retire through ill health. Letter to be sent.

Finance and General Purposes Committee, 12 December 1944
page 465. William Duncombe, foreman, retired because of illness and doctor’s advice. Enquiries re his position afterwards. Not a good time to replace him.
page 491 Re William Duncombe [mentioned before as retiring through illness]. Recommend making him Council’s Water Inspector at 7s 6d per week. 

29 January 1945   Council
Page 720. Finance and General Purposes Committee OK, though Councillor Cuthbe didn’t agree with paragraph re. William Duncombe.


The Brush Factory and the Thomasin family

The Brush Factory was one of Witham’s most important industries in the mid 19th century. It had developed from Matthew Thomasin’s wooden patten-making business of the early 1700s (Pattens were rather like clogs, worn outside the shoe).

The Works and the Yard were just off Newland Street (behind what are now numbers 67 and 83). In the Yard there were a number of buildings, including a mop manufactory and 15 or 16 houses, some of which were used for both living and working in.

The most essential raw material for brushes, bristle from wild boars, was imported from Russia. The completed brushes were despatched far and wide.

There were about twenty brushworkers in 1829, and fifty by 1841. It was skilled work. The Witham branch of the Brushmakers Society was particularly active. Like other similar groups, it was run by the members, whose contributions entitled them to receive sick pay and other benefits. They met first at the White Hart and later at the Swan.

The national Society was a pioneer of trade unionism, which was then illegal. Its members followed a 1,200 mile tramping route round the country, looking for work. If they did not find any on the whole route, they were paid ten shillings unemployment benefit. In the list, Witham was the first stop out of London, and the local branch here would help travellers and newcomers following the route.

William Kiddier, in his book The Old Trade Unions (pp.30-31), described an occasion when “the eyes of the Trade were on Witham.” In 1826 “The Society at Witham, with its 17 men, had for Secretary James Mount: one of the INTELLECTUALS. A name adopted by the Brushmakers for their best expounders of Trade Principles. The Witham Society sent James Mount as Delegate to London, where Witham was proposing new arrangements about sick pay and benefits. He slept 4 nights at the Clubhouse, April 11-14, 1826. A keen observer was Mount, and things he saw were dealt with in the Witham Society’s Circular. A lengthy document addressed to the Trade. Done in literary style. The collaboration of 17 Men – the Witham Society, all had their say, and James Mount put it together … The eyes of the Trade were on Witham.” In due course, the Society paid for some members to emigrate to America to find work, and Witham’s James Mount was probably one of them.

The tramping system meant that Witham’s brushworkers mostly came from other parts of the country. In 1841 four out of every five of them had been born outside Essex (compared with only one in every seventy of the farmworkers). The strange accents, tarry smells, and self-sufficient welfare system must have made the brush yard a mysterious place to local residents. Much of the work entailed dipping the separate sections of the brush into a tub full of hot tar. But by 1851 the tramping system was waning and half the workers were Essex men, with a third born in Witham.

The Thomasins themselves seemed destined not to fit in very well in Witham. This was quite common with factory owners – one of the several problems being that they usually paid more than the tradesmen, and especially more than the farmers. Also the factory owners were often nonconformists in religion (usually Congregationalists). The adherents of the Church of England considered themselves to be much superior to nonconformists.

A more particular difficulty for the Thomasins was their alleged association with the Witham Fires of 1828-29. There is a fuller account in my booklet “Men of Bad Character” in the books category. Jane Eleanor, the wife of brushmaker James Thomasin, was the aunt of Edmund Potto. Edmund was accused of starting the fires with which some of the farmers and tradesmen had been suffering. James Thomasin paid for defence witnesses, including James Mount, a brushworker. They all said that Edmund was not guilty but insane. Edmund was found guilty by the jury of sending a threatening letter, but not of fire raising. The judge scolded James Thomasin and said that he should have looked after Edmund better. Edmund was transported to Australia.

In the town, feeling was running high because the young boy James Cooke had earlier been hanged for arson when it seemed he was innocent. So for Edmund Potto not to be found guilty caused a lot of resentment, against the jury and against the Pottos and the Thomasins.

The arrival of the railway in 1843 probably increased the profits of local businesses. After James Thomasin died in 1845, his son George took over, buying more properties and also helping the nonconformist cause in local debates.

In 1850 Edward Cresy, a public health official, was sent by the government to make a survey of Witham. Thomasins’ yard was found to be in a similar state to the rest of the town. Mr Cresy wrote “The narrow yard, called Thomason’s is encumbered with several nuisances, dung-pits, &c., &c. There are 15 or 16 cottages, in some of which manufactories of mops and brushes are carried on; both drainage and ventilation are exceedingly defective, and every inch of space is encumbered with the rubbish belonging to the trades.”

George wasn’t deterred by this. Appointing Samuel Spooner as manager and ‘commercial traveller’ at the Works, he moved his own family away from the yard into the imposing Roslyn House, at the best end of the street (now 16 Newland Street). He described himself as a ‘gentleman’ when he completed the 1861 census forms. However his neighbour, Joseph Howell Blood, was the registrar, and wrote him down as ‘brush manufacturer’ instead. George has posthumously had the last laugh – his great-great-grandson, Mark Thomasin Foster, was High Sheriff of Essex from 2003-2004.

George died in his fifties in 1868, after trying to ‘doctor himself upon the homeopathic system’. Shops closed for his funeral and over fifty men and boys from the brush yard joined the procession. One of them, Thomas Farrow, had worked there for 55 years.

George’s assets were worth nearly £45,000 (about £2 million at today’s values) in addition to land and buildings. His young son James was set to be a stockbroker and not a brushmaker. So his widow, Mary Elizabeth, persuaded some of her sister’s family, the Adnams, to come from Berkshire and run the brush factory with Samuel Spooner, the manager.

So in 1869 it was “Messrs Adnams and Spooner’s brush manufactory”, who put forward a cricket team to play on the newly free Saturday afternoons under the Workshops Act. Not all of their opponents arrived and the Adnams won.
The directory of 1870 still gives them as “Adnams & Spooner, brush manufacturers”. However, they closed after three years, in 1871.

The two young men George and Ernest Adnams then left their father in Witham, and went to Southwold, on the Suffolk coast, to take over a brewery.

George was restless and moved to South Africa, where is said to have drowned (or, in some versions, was eaten by a crocodile). Another possibility is that he came back to England, and was the George Adnams who was recorded blind in the 1881 census, when he was living with his uncle’s family in London. I have not investigated this further.

To return to Ernest, at the Southwold brewery, it appears that in 1895 he received a handsome loan or gift from his aunt Mary Elizabeth Thomasin. In 1895 she and her son John George took out a mortgage for £2,000 on the Thomasin family’s considerable Witham estate. In the same year, John George acquired the Southwold brewery and transferred it to his cousin Ernest whose business was by then “Adnams and Co Ltd .”

The father of George and Ernest was another George Adnams. He stayed in Witham with his wife and daughters, and set up a fruit growing business. He was described in the 1881 census as “Farmer Of 120 Acres [with] 8 Men & 4 Women”.

He was also on the Committee of Witham’s Co-operative Society. He sold one of the family properties to the Co-op for their first Witham shop (at 85 Newland Street). To many of the townspeople that was a particularly unwelcome body, undercutting the regular shops.

George Adnams died in 1902, aged 84, and is buried at All Saints church (Holy Family).



Essex Weekly News, 24 September 1869

‘One result of the suspension of business on Saturdays at two-oclock, at Messrs Adnams and Spooner’s brush manufactory, under the Workshops Act, was a match at cricket between eleven of the firm and what was to have been eleven of the firm of Messrs. Johns and Co., fellmongers, Witham and Chelmsford’. The Chelmsford people didn’t turn up so the latter team consisted of two from the Witham firm and others from Witham. The brushmakers won with 98 runs to 61. G Adnams got 0 and E Adnams got 6.

Wally Slugocki

From Poland to Essex.   Wally Slugocki and the Second World War.

Written by Pat Slugocki,  from notes taken in December 1999

My husband, Wladyslaw (Wally) was born in 1925, in Szwejkow, a small village in what was then Poland, but is now in the Ukraine. His father, Marion, appears to have done a bit of everything. Basically, they were what we would today call peasants. They had strips of land at the rear of their smallholding where they grew all their own vegetables as well as tobacco which they sold to the nearest small town, Monazteryska (not sure about the spelling) which was about 3-4 miles away. They also sold butter in the market of this town. They had a horse and carriage of some sort, some chickens, geese, and a cow.

Wally’s family & his paternal grandparents all lived in the same house. There was no electricity, gas or sewerage. His grandfather’s brother lived next door. Wally’s mother’s parents were by then dead, but she had siblings living in the same village. Wally’s aunt, the much younger sister of his father, lived with her husband & small son only about 100 yards away. Wally remembers at the beginning of each November there would be snow about 6 foot high and it would not melt until early April. Water was obtained from a few pumps.

There were Ukrainians living in Szwejkow at the time, and there were tensions between the two nationalities. Szwejkow had previously been in the Ukraine. Wally’s father had some sort of authority and had to sort out any problems which arose.

In the village there were both an Orthodox church & a Catholic church. There was one school, & the two priests would come in and teach the children of their respective religions. There were also a couple of shops.

When the war came, the Germans invaded Poland from the West & the Russians from the East. On 10 February 1940, the Russians came in the middle of the night and took the Slugockis to the nearest railway station in their own horse & carriage. The family had to leave just as they were, they were not allowed to take anything with them. Their dog was left behind.

The Russians picked the Slugockis because Wally’s father was the Polish equivalent of the Town Clerk.  Wally was fourteen, & his sister, Bronia, was seven. This trauma affected her whole life and she suffered terrible depression for a couple of years before she died.

Wally’s aunt was not taken to Russia, she knew nothing about it until the next morning. It must have been a terrible shock to find that all her family had been taken. She believed that the Ukrainians had betrayed the family, and indeed, they removed everything they wanted from the Slugocki home. Aniela, the aunt, was still alive when we visited Szwejkow in about 2005, and the emotion, when she saw Wally, was something I shall never forget.

The family were taken by train to Siberia, the Ural mountains near Sverdlovsk (in 2000, known as Yekatarinburg, home of Yeltsin). Wally remembers the conditions on the train as standing room only, there was just about enough space to sit on the floor. There was a hole in the corner of the carriage, which people had to use as a toilet, two men held a blanket across the corner of the carriage to afford a little privacy. The train journey lasted for 27 days.

They stayed in Sverdlovsk, Siberia for one year. Wally’s paternal grandparents both died in Beresovsk, Siberia. The Camp was called Pervomayskoye- Oblast. Maria, Wally’s mother, had to work on a building site, and Marion (his father) worked in a gold mine, they all lived in one room. Wally remembers that they were paid for their work, and they had sufficient money to buy food. After some time, owing to an agreement between Russia & the Polish authorities, they were given documents enabling them to travel.

In order to get to a warmer place, the family went by train to Uzbekistan, the journey took a week. There was a typhoid epidemic in Uzbekistan, Marion (Wally’s father) and Wally both caught it, and were taken to hospital in Tashkent. There, Marion died, next to Wally. Wally was still in hospital when his father was buried, he was not buried in a proper coffin, just a plank, then a piece of board on top of the body. There was no food in Uzbekistan, so Maria, Wally and Bronia (Wally’s sister) went to Kermine. Here Wally joined the Polish cadets, and was separated from Maria and Bronia. He was trained for the Polish army, under the command of Britain’s General Montgomery, and went to a port called Krasnovodsk, Asia.

The civilians stayed behind. Wally got on a boat on the way to Teheran in Persia, and embarked at the port of Pahalev. Here Wally became very ill with dysentery, was in the sick bay in a field, and nearly died. From Pahalev he travelled by lorry to Teheran, over enormous mountains, the journey took a day. In Teheran there was a large disused factory, and the Army made a camp of it. Maria and Bronia were taken to Teheran as well, and when Maria made enquiries about Wally, she was told that he was dead. There was another Wladyslaw Slugocki who had recently died, and Maria found the grave in the nearby cemetery. However, a little later, she saw Wally in the town, but not to speak to, and she went back to the camp and found him. At that stage he was still convalescing. Maria and Bronia (Wally’s mother and sister) were staying in a civilian camp. They stayed there for three months, and came to see Wally every day during that period.

Then Wally and the army were moved to Baghdad, Persia, and the civilians were later moved to Lebanon. They lost contact again. From Lebanon, the civilians moved to Kol Harpur, Valvade, near Karachi, India. Wally stayed in Baghdad for six months, then he was picked to join the Parachute Brigade in England. He went to Bombay by boat, stayed there 3 days, then went to Cape Town, South Africa. From there he went by train to Durban, where they stayed for 8 months. Here he fell in love with bananas, and ate so many he nearly turned into one!

From Durban he went by boat to Achtertui, near Kirkcaldy, Scotland. By now, the UK did not need any more recruits for the Parachute Regiment, so Wally joined the Army, and was in the 1st Panza Division, 10th Dragoons Brigade. By now it was 1942. He trained in Scotland for 18 months. They prepared for D Day by having huge manoeuvres for two weeks, which was exactly like the real war. He travelled by lorry to Aldershot, got on a large boat at night in London Docks, and went to Normandy. He was part of the second phase. They landed on a beach in Normandy, he remembers most the dust and the thirst. He was in a light reconnaissance tank to spy out the land. He went to the first shooting line in Caen.

The Germans were pushed out of Normandy. At Ypres, Wally was shooting Germans with a machine gun to stop them getting to a huge main gun, and for this he was awarded the Belgian Croix de Guerre. They pushed on to Holland, and the Germans retreated, leaving very many mines behind. When Wally was on patrol, his tank blew up. Wally was thrown into a ditch with heavy gear on top of him. His uniform caught fire, the tank driver’s legs were blown off and the other man in the tank suffocated. Wally scrambled out of the ditch, and managed to remove his burning uniform. An Army ambulance picked him up, but he was only grazed, and carried on fighting.

Wally in uniform

They fought through Holland and stayed there for two months, over the worst of the winter, and had a bit of a rest. The place was Osterhuit, near Breda. Wally became very friendly with a Dutch family, and he went back to see them from Wilhelmshaven after the war had ended. They then pushed on to Germany up to Wilhelmshaven, where they stayed for a year in occupation.

The whole army returned to England in 1947, after the severe winter. Wally went first to Hull, then to a big camp on Salisbury Plain, near Devizes. He was asked to go to Newton Abbott to clear fields of mines for the farmers. Here he met a girl-friend called Jean! After this, he went to Slingford Camp at Horsham, Sussex. He was later demobbed at Horsham. He was sent to Ashford, Kent, where, owing to severe dyslexia, and therefore unable to take the opportunity of further education, he worked on a building site. He lodged at 81 Essala Road, Ashford.

The surname of his landlady was Glibbery. She was a war widow with two children, Shirley, 4, and Tony, 6. She had a boy-friend, and Wally used to babysit for them. He had to pay her 35/- a week, this included all meals, and washing his laundry. He remembers seeing the Golden Arrow engine pulling trains to Dover. By this time, Maria and Bronia (Wally’s mother and sister) were in Pulborough, Sussex, in a refugee camp. Wally heard that they were there, and went to see them. He went to stay with them for a week, he told his landlady, but not the Police. As he was classed as an alien, they had to keep tabs on him! After this, he lost the lighter building job he had had, and was given a heavier job, moving cement in a wheelbarrow. When he tried to tip the wheelbarrow, it went over and smashed some pipes!

Then Maria and Bronia were moved to Rivenhall, Essex, to a camp on the now disused airfield. So Wally moved to Braintree, staying in a hostel. He worked on a building site in Panfield Lane for about three months, and then got a job at Felsted sugar beet factory, where he stayed about two years. He used to go by bus, it took about 20 minutes. Then he worked in a furniture factory in Sible Hedingham, which was a 6 mile bus trip. He then he went back to the sugar beet factory.

He met a man in Braintree who was working at W J Bush & Co, at Witham. This man was moving to the Midlands, so Wally got his job. When he got there, a man was sweeping the yard. Wally asked him where the manager was, and it turned out to be George W Pole, who was the manager! By this time, Bronia had got a job and a flat in London, so Maria was on her own. Therefore Wally moved to Rivenhall. He started working at Bush’s on 21 May 1951. He went to see the Festival of Britain with Erwin Schulz and his wife. Wally and Maria stayed in the camp until 1959, when they were moved to a council house, 14 The Fortunes, Harlow, Essex. While there, he worked in Key Glass Factory.

Wally at Holland on Sea in 1960

Then they moved to London, to live with Bronia at 66 Loftus Road, Shepherds Bush, where Wally worked at a factory in North Acton, making instruments for clocks.

He had met me in 1959, as I was working at Bush’s as George Pole’s secretary. When Wally lived in London, he used to come down by train every Saturday, and we used to spend the whole day together in Chelmsford. When we married, we bought 254 Broomfield Rd, Chelmsford, and Wally and I both got jobs in Hoffman’s. Andrew was born while we were at 254 Broomfield Rd. Chelmsford. In November 1961, we moved to 34 Highfields Rd, Witham, where Louise was born.

Wally and Pat in 2016


The Picton family

The Picton family, of whom the Revd David was killed by a hand grenade in 1916

Notes by Janet Gyford, updated September 2013 

Essex County Chronicle, 8 October 1915
page 8 (see xerox). ‘Soldiers’ concert’ Congregational Schoolroom. Lieut Col Seymour Williams presided. Singers ‘included Mrs Seabrook, Lance Corporal Webber and Pt Brooks. Miss Picton played the violin’. (Essex Weekly News, 15 October 1915 )
page 8. ‘Maldon Division Liberal Council. Presentation to Mr W Pinkham. Yesterday the annual meetings of the Maldon Division Liberal Council were held at Witham … afternoon meeting … Mr Sydney Velden, the new agent, was introduced to the members. After tea a general meeting … they were met in a social way and not to discuss party questions. The Government were doing their best, and he thought they were unanimous in according them hearty support … appreciation of Mr Tweedy Smith’s services in continuing his connection with the party in that Division … Resolution … supported by the Rev D M Picton and Mr D B Smith. 

Essex County Chronicle, 26 November 1915
page 8. ‘Congregational School, Mrs Picton presented a dressing case to Mr J W Jones, treasurer of the clothing club, and a set of brushes to Mr A Rudkin, librarian of the school, on the departure of each for the Army. The Rev D M Picton gave the men a pocket testament each’.

 Essex County Chronicle, 18 February 1916, page 8
‘Congregational Church’. Second anniversary of settlement of Rev Picton. Preaching.

 Essex County Chronicle, 16 June 1916
Including a full-length photo of the three Pictons). ‘Witham Bomb Tragedy. Inquest and funerals’. Deaths of Revd D M Picton Congregational minister, and Lieut James McLagan, R E, and serious injury to Mrs and Miss Picton’. Lieut billeted at the Manse with them. Showing a hand grenade at ten on night. The two of them killed outright. Mrs Picton injury to foot and Miss Picton to eye and arm. 17 panes of glass blown out of window.

Rev Picton 52, Lieut 22, of 3/1st Highland Field Co., attached to the 1/3rd Lowland Field Co. RE. Walter Coker chair of jury. Inspected scene etc. and viewed bodies. Jacob Marsden Picton, draper of Westminster Bridge Road, his brother. Lots of detail. The Lieut an expert.

‘Remarkable demonstration of sympathy’. Cortege from Manse, ministers etc. Down High Street to church. Flags half mast and blinds closed. Interment in All Saints. ‘It is long since such a general scene of mourning was witnessed in the town’. Rev E M Edmunds of Hadleigh, formerly of Witham, there. Address. Miss Winifred Drake at organ. Relatives from all over.

Sunday services described. Also ‘Capt Yuille, CF, at his open-air service, made an impressive allusion … also loss … McLagan’.

Letter of appreciation by WCW of Witham. Tragic. Loveable, happy knack of making friends.

 Essex Weekly News, 21 July 1916
page 6, col 6. The Picton Fund. The Picton Memorial Fund, the appeal for which was generously responded to by all classes, has now been closed, the sum contributed being £320. Mrs and Miss Picton are both making steady progress towards recovery from their injuries and shock.

Info from emails from the late Alan Smith. His mother was Gwyneth, nee Picton, Reverend David Picton’s daughter, and his father was Leslie Smith.

 11 December 2002.

Just a few words on them to amplify what you have about the bomb accident and their part in the family.

Grandpa David Picton was Welsh and, I think, was born in Cynwyl Elfed, a small village near Carmarthen. He was, again I think, a grand -son or -nephew of a brother of the General Picton who commanded the 3rd Division for Wellington in the Peninsular War and was killed at Waterloo and has a statue in Carmarthen. (Certainly his purported general’s sword came down to me but that is another story.)

Rev. David was pastor at Halesworth in Suffolk where he married Elizabeth Rignall and where my mother was born before they came to Witham. As a result of the accident my grandmother had various metal plates and tubes in her legs and my mother lost an eye and had bits of shrapnel in her legs. After the accident they both went to live with the Misses Butler who lived at Hollybank in Guithavon Valley.

Having been head girl at Milton Mount College (for the daughters of Congregational Ministers) then at Gravesend, she went on after the accident to the Royal Academy of Music where she won the medals for her years in piano and violin. Having married my father after WW1, her music as a farmer’s wife was limited, but much enjoyed, to running the Women’s Institute Choir and playing the piano at home.

Granny Picton moved to a new house, Conwyl (?English version of Cynwyl) at 7, The Avenue at Witham in the 30’s where I stayed frequently as a boy. In the 50’s my first wife, Susie, and I lived in Conwyl and where my eldest daughter and son were born and where Susie sadly died. (My present wife, Jo, was a great friend of Susie’s and was good enough to take on me and two small children – we have had 5 ever since!)

8 Jan 2003

‘What I do know is that when my father, Leslie, came out of the army and decided to be a farmer, grandpa Ernest sent him to the Writtle Agricultural College to learn the business and then bought Mounts Farm at Rayne for him to run. My father and mother [Miss Picton] were married (1921) and lived at Mounts Farm where I spent most of my first two years. (Mounts Farm is miles from anywhere so I was born (1923) at the Misses Butler’s house, Hollybank, Guithavon Valley, Witham where granny Picton was then living)’.

Summary of various info about Leslie Ernest Walter Smith who in 1921 married Gwyneth Picton, dau of Rev Picton

Born c. 1895 Witham. In army 1919. Farmer afterwards; his father sent him to Writtle Ag Coll and then bought Mounts Farm, Rayne, for him

In 1921 married Gwyneth Picton, dau of Cong min who had been killed in accident with hand grenade at the Manse in 1917.

In 1925 went to father’s farm at Moulsham Hall (though also contin to run the Rayne farm). Joseph Ernest’s four farms put into partnership of Leslie and Esmond, probably in 1920s. In 1937 was of Moat farm and Whiteheads farm

Obit says till not long before 1954 farmed Moulsham Hall Gt Leighs with his brother and also at Rayne and at Whiteheads farm Witham Sold the first two not long before 1954 and moved to Littlestones, Avenue Road, Witham, and cont to farm Whiteheads,

Died August 1954 aged 59 when of Littlestones, Avenue Road

1930 electoral register
Elizabeth Mary Picton at Conwyl, The Avenue.


 Mrs Ena MacPherson, nee Beard, born 1915

“But the Manse, oh, did you hear about the Reverend Picton that lived there? (Q: Oh yes, with the hand, the hand grenade, yes. [killed 1916]. And I was the last one he held. My mother went there to tea that day, and he nursed me, I was one. And I’d just gone home, mother had taken me home, and that happened. (Q: Oh dear.) Dreadful. Mrs Picton used to sit behind us in the chapel.”

Gerald Palmer CBE, born 1910

“That same minister, a Reverend Picton, had officers billeted on him in the Manse, now 2 Newland Street. One evening, I think in June 1916, one of the officers took a grenade in to show them. He evidently mistakenly thought it was a dummy, and as he was explaining how it worked, he took out the pin. The officer and the minister were killed outright, his wife and daughter seriously injured. My parents somewhat foolishly took me next day to see the shattered windows of the house, and I remember being terribly upset by the affair.”

Mrs Annie Ralling, nee Baldwin, born 1900

“Then we had the Reverend Picton and he was killed during the First World War. A bomb went off near the War Memorial, you know. That first house there was the Manse at one time and there was a young officer and I think he was engaged to Mr Picton’s daughter and he was there describing the workings of a hand grenade and it exploded and blew the dining room. Miss Picton lost the sight of one eye and I think Mrs Picton was hurt in the foot and this young officer was killed and so was Mr Picton. Oh it was dreadful for the town. It was indoors in the dining room. The whole of the front of that house was blown out. [2 Newland Street]. Shelley’s, yes that’s right. He was ever such a nice man Mr Picton. He taught Connie Wright that I spoke about, and me, taught us to sing Aberystwyth, you know, Jesu, Lover of my Soul. We had to sing that to the Welsh tune because he was Welsh you see. He taught us how to sing it. Oh he was a wonderful man for singing. A very nice family. Miss Picton she married one of the Smiths, Leslie Smith. They used to live at Earlsmead.”

Pinkham’s Glove Factory. Names of people in photo M480 and M502

This information about people at the Glove Factory was collected and set out by the late Mrs Pat Vojak of Chalks Road. Her mother was the late Mrs Annie Hollick who had worked at the factory.

For the photos which are large and complicated, it seems wisest to use Pat’s own layouts and explanations, as below. They should make it possible to identify people where they are known.

Photo M480, a large group dating from 1947 or 1948.
M502 is a copy of the same photograph.

Here are:
(1) The photo itself
(2) A drawing of the heads, numbered
(3) A chart with names, where known.
(4) A typed list of names, which will show up in a search if needed.

Doreen Hooker (later Mrs Smith), Shirley Brannen, Gladys Claydon (later Mrs Murton), Miss or Mrs Jiggins, Rosie Burch, Pat Driver (later Mrs Wright), Gladys Rushen, Ethel Ellis, Agnes Ellis, Doris Brown, Miss Hawkes (later Mrs Keeble), Blanche Parmenter (later Mrs Keeble), Barbara Brown (later Mrs Brown), Miss Cole (later Mrs Hammond), Miss Ewers (later Mrs Ladham), Miss ??? (later Mrs Emmens), Ada Smith, Nellie Edwards (later Mrs Barber), Miss Houson, Miss Jackson, Minnie Ottley, Freda Wade (later Mrs Ross and later Mrs Sach), Mary Hood, Herbert Keeble (manager), John Pinkham (son of owner), Leslie (Bert) Pinkham (owner), Mrs Pinkham (Leslie’s second wife), Richard Pinkham (owner’s son), John Scott, Cynthia Bickers (later Mrs Herbert), Miss ??? (canteen cook, later Mrs Driver), May King, Glynis Wright (later Mrs Owers), Edith Butcher, Joan Shelley, Edith Hawkes (later Mrs Keeble), Miss ??? (later Mrs Richmond), Marion Ottley, Gladys Clements, Cathy Barber, Bill King, Geoff Ellis, Jackie Ladkin, Jamie Andrews, Frank Taylor, Tommy Rushen, Billie Willsher, Mr Webb, Michael Smith, Fred Bell, John Albone, Vic Keeble, Reuben ???, Dolly King (later Mrs Meakins), Nell Howe, Edie Richards, Betty Rushen, Kit Shelley (later Mrs Burmby), Miss Balls, Violet Burch (later Mrs Clark), Ciss Newman (later Mrs Digby), Gladys Hayes (later Mrs Revett), Doris Parmenter, Eileen Jennings, Marlene Hayley, Eva Rushen, Glynis Claydon, Betty Hawkes, Pam Bright (later Mrs Boylan), Jean Horsnell, Kathy Andrews (later Mrs Larke), Amy Aylott.


Dr Henry Dixon of Witham and Rivenhall, 1787 to 1876. Notes about work on the text of his diaries.

Dr Henry Dixon of Witham and Rivenhall, 1787 to 1876

Notes made in July 2018 by Janet Gyford about the work done so far on the text of Dr Dixon’s diaries.

One copy of these notes will be posted on https://www.janetgyford.com and another will be given to the Essex Record Office.

Further enquiries should be directed to Brian Simpson, of whom details are given below.

Dr Dixon wrote a very remarkable and opinionated diary, covering the dates 1834-1840 and 1842-1876. It combines his own life as a Dissenter and a Doctor and a farmer, with the social life of Mid Essex (and elsewhere) and the politics of Westminster and Europe. At the beginning and end of each annual volume, he wrote further notes, copies of letters, etc.

The work would have been given far more attention by historians, were it not for its great length. Also, the handwriting is sometimes unclear. These problems have so far prevented a complete typed version from having been prepared, although a number of people have worked towards it over the years.

The original volumes are deposited in the Essex Record Office at Chelmsford. The Record Office catalogue entry is below.

A8826 Diaries of Dr Henry Dixon of Witham, 1834-1840, 1842-1876; continuation probably by James Taber of Little Braxted, 1879, 1882-3; extracts and notes (2 vols.) by Maurice Smith, 1987.


The following people are the most relevant to the enterprise.

The late Dr Jim Denholm of Witham was given the volumes, I think by Mr James Taber. Dr Denholm cared for them and wrote occasional articles, particularly about the medical aspects. He eventually deposited them in the Essex Record Office

The late Maurice Smith of Witham produced a typescript of extracts while the volumes were in the possession of Dr Denholm. This was an enormous task to carry out on his own, and at one time it was wrongly thought to be a complete copy of the diaries. In fact it is an abbreviated version. Because it was done some time ago, it was made on an ordinary typewriter. I believe that Maurice’s original typescript is the one in the Record Office, deposited at the same time as the diaries themselves. Any other versions are carbon copies or photocopies.

Mrs Seona Ford of Witham (chair@sayers.org.uk) is the daughter of the late Dr Jim Denholm, mentioned above. So she is now the depositor of the volumes in the Record Office, and is their owner. She keeps a concerned and helpful eye over progress.

Mrs Janet Gyford of Witham (janet@gyford.com) bought photocopies of the volumes (including the notes at the beginning and end) and paid or persuaded various people to make draft typescripts of some of the years in Microsoft Word, as well as typing some herself. These eventually covered the years 1834 to 1840 and 1842 to 1849 (there was no original for 1841). There are two main defects at the moment – they have not been checked for accuracy, and they still do not include the notes at the beginning and end of the volumes. On the other hand, they are at least in digital form, and could be passed to other people to make amendments and additions.

Brian Simpson of Witham (ipa.drinker@gmail.com) began by continuing the typing (after a discussion in the Witham Café with Janet Gyford). He now also has all the paperwork and digital material accumulated by her. This includes the photocopies of the original diaries, the transcripts made so far, and a copy of Maurice Smith’s extracts. Brian is continuing to make transcripts of the years that have not been typed hitherto. Enquiries may be addressed to him.

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­There are also seven relevant articles in the Essex Review, as follows

They were taken by H N Dixon (no relation) from Dr Dixon’s writings begun in 1873. The articles are headed “Reminiscences of an Essex Country Practitioner a Century Ago”. Mainly they cover an earlier time in Dr Dixon’s life than his diary,

Essex Review, vol.xxiii, 1914, pages 189 to 202
Includes intro by H N Dixon. Also Dr D’s childhood, schooling, then medical training and qualification, and posts held before coming to Witham in 1809. Also poor economic condition of England.
Essex Review, vol.xxiv, 1915, pages 5 to 19
Includes people and politics. Beginning of time at Witham, as assistant. Thwarted romance with Miss Kemble, his master’s daughter. Time back home.
Essex Review, vol.xxiv, 1915, pages 92 to 97
He says Witham society tended to be divided between Church and Dissent, but he was acceptable to both (though see next article). Set up own practice which gradually grew. Treated landlady. Bought practice from a doctor who was leaving.
Essex Review, vol.xxiv, 1915, pages 119 to 126
Success. Good at shooting. Some restriction from his being a Dissenter. 1814 very very cold spell. Development of steam and gas. Fate of quill pens. Severe criminal laws. Visit of young Edwin Landseer – bad shot. Sale of EL pics later.
Essex Review, vol.xxv, 1916, pages 16 to 22
Mostly a discussion of European events late 18th and early 19th centuries, and oppression in Britain under George III. 19th century, Dixon’s success at his profession and as a radical. Farmers had good life after 1815 e.g. cock-fighting and prize-fighting.
Essex Review, vol.xxv, 1916, pages 70 to 78
Fighting and duelling. Fear during Napoleonic Wars. Long essay about ‘Misers and Hoarders’, especially Essex farmers etc.
Essex Review, vol.xxv, 1916, pages 108 to 116
Hardships of past compared to when he is writing (1870s). E.g. old taxes. Discussion of Prime Minister Pitt and his opponent Fox. Description of arson at Witham in 1828 and hanging of James Cook. Also Dixon’s suggestion that Edmund Potto, another suspect, was suffering from Monomania, and a description of the rest of Potto’s trial. Discussion of beer and drinking.



Mott, Ted

Notes on Ted Mott

See interview tapes 102, 103, 104, 105 and 106

Grandad Mott ?

Grandma Mott died c 1923
Grandparents William Wager === Agnes Hannah i.e. Granny Wager, midwife

Brought Ted up part of time.

Trafalgar Square
father, Mott, later in Maltings Lanemarried,

Ted born 1913 Guithavon Vall.

Split up c 1919

two of young sons died c 1920, ie Ted’s brothers)
Ted’s mother, Edith Emily Mott nee Wager

(was first marr to Smith)

Went as nanny in London after split

When Granny W died, her dau (Ted’s mother Edith) came back to look after William (Ted’s grandfather)

Then c 1933 she and Ted to Guithavon St where Ted married

1913 at 11 Guithavon Valley.

Parents. Split up when he was about five, six or seven. On Mott side he only knew his grandmother who died when he was about ten.
His mother was a Wager (Edith Emily) and her parents were William Wager (on the railway, big in the National Union of Railwaymen) and Agnes Hannah Wager (second marriage, previous one to Smith, known as Granny Wager, midwife).
After the split his mother went as a nanny in London and his father stayed in Witham, eventually in Maltings Lane.

School. Maldon Road school when went to Trafalgar Square.

Moved from Valley to farm near Kelvedon briefly, after brothers had died c 1920. Back to Witham (Trafalgar Square) soon after to grandmother Wager because parents split up and his mother went to London. Elsewhere says remembers Square in First World War so perhaps there by 1918 in fact.
Then when Ted’s grandma Wager died, mother came back to look after the grandfather, William Wager.
About 1933, he and his mother to 9 Guithavon Street. Lived there at first after married in 1941.
In 1947, into prefab at 12 Bramston Green.
When prefabs rebuilt in 1983, into 22 Bramston Green.

Ted was middle one of three boys, the others died of flu about 1920 (or maybe a bit earlier in fact)

Married Doris Eley in March 1941 at St Nicholas church. She was born at Bradwell and came to Chess Lane in about 1930 in her late teens with parents

Errand boy at Palmer’s saddlers when about 11 i.e.1924
1927 started at Lewis’s builders to go into the painting and decorating trade. [at 62 Newland Street] Stayed there 51 years (except for army 1940), till retired in 1980. Got taken over by Tanner and Wicks 1978

Son Keith

Died 23 June 2001.

Extracts from documents

1920 electoral register
Trafalgar Square: William Wager, Agnes Hannah Wager.
(not possible to tell whether there were others in the same house)

1930 electoral register
73 Maldon Road: William John Wager, Agnes Hannah Wager, Arthur Kemp, Thomas Samuel Smith.

1938 electoral register
9 Guithavon Street: Edith Emily Mott, Edgar George Mott.

1947 electoral register
12 Bramston Green: Edgar G Mott, Doris M Mott.

Springett, Irene

Notes on Irene Springett

See interview tape 207

Oddments, esp derived from her saying she lived in Cressing Road with her parents:

GRO Marriage index
1894 Oct/Nov/Dec
Wandsworth 1d 1123
Charles Robert Springett

GRO Marriage Index
1913 Oct/Nov/Dec
Braintree 4a 1680
Charles R Springett to Raven

GRO Birth index
1915 Jan Feb March
Braintree District 4a 1642
Irene S Springett
Mother’s maiden name was Raven

1938 electoral register
10 Cressing Road
Charles Robert Springett
Emily Alice Springett
Irene Sylvia Springett

Info from Brian Simpson of the Witham Springett family, Feb 2015.

Re Irene she is not a relative (that I have found so far) but I have done some research for you : She was still alive in 2012/3 as she was on the electoral register then as “Witham”

Her father was born in Stebbing (grandmother [Elizabeth Byford]) and was in Witham as per 1911 census. In fact I previously traced some of parents family back but as  yet non linked to my family. I believe they are linked but can not prove – a number of Springetts all moved to Rivenhall in the 1860’s from somewhere (I think brothers but have not found link as yet) a bit of a coincidence.  If I find anything / find a distant relative of Irene on Ancestry I’ll let you know.

Joslin, Cecil

Notes on Cecil Joslin, Cerine, 105 Braintree Road

He died 12 December 2005 aged 91. His brother Herbert died about a fortnight before.

Various conversations 2004. Tape made of one (interview tapes 197 and 198)

Born 1914 Braintree. Family came to Witham for Crittall job when Cecil about 10?, lived first in Manor Road.

Parents William (Bill) Joslin and Jessie Frances Kent

Sister older, Daisy Doris (Dot)
Daisy’s twin brother died of meningitis at 17, his friend also died.
Brother Herbert born 21 August 1919[?or 18], now lives 21 Highfields Road
Brought up as Baptists at Braintree.

26 July 1952 to Kath. Daughter Celia (tel 502565)
Mother died a few years after.

See photos M2092-M2114, M2145-M2152
Crittall ones are as follows:
5 millionth window 1978
M2109. Invitation to Cecil Joslin for celebration for Crittall’s 5 millionth window.
M2110. Celebration for Crittall’s 5 millionth window. Group of four touring exhibition. Left to right, lady from Witham office, Towrie Horne from Silver End, unknown, Cecil Joslin. Doesn’t include Sir Charles Villiers (according to email 18 Aug 2004 from Churchill Archives centre where his papers are)
M2111. Celebration for Crittall’s 5 millionth window. Socialising with drinks. Left foreground in striped tie is Towrie Horne from Silver End. Right foreground, Cecil Joslin. Doesn’t include Sir Charles Villiers (according to email 18 Aug 2004 from Churchill Archives centre where his papers are)
M2112. Group of three at presentation for Crittall’s 5 millionth window. In front of exhibition. Left to right, Cecil Joslin, Towrie Horne from Silver End, and unknown. Doesn’t include Sir Charles Villiers (according to email 18 Aug 2004 from Churchill Archives centre where his papers are)
M2113. Group of three at presentation for Crittall’s 5 millionth window. In front of exhibition. Left to right, Cecil Joslin, unknown, Towrie Horne from Silver End. Doesn’t include Sir Charles Villiers (according to email 18 Aug 2004 from Churchill Archives centre where his papers are)
M2114. Group of three and crowd at presentation for Crittall’s 5 millionth window. In front of exhibition. Foreground, left to right, unknown, Cecil Joslin, Towrie Horne from Silver End. Doesn’t include Sir Charles Villiers (according to email 18 Aug 2004 from Churchill Archives centre where his papers are)
Cecil’s retirement 1979:
M2145. Retirement presentation to Cecil Joslin at Crittall’s (no. 2 on film). Cecil Joslin on left and foreman Michael Moore on right (Cecil said he was a lovely fellow). Pile of windows also.
M2146. Retirement presentation to Cecil Joslin at Crittall’s (no. 3 on film). Cecil Joslin on left and foreman Michael Moore on right (Cecil said he was a lovely fellow). Pile of windows also.
M2147. Retirement presentation to Cecil Joslin at Crittall’s (large group, no. 5 on film).
M2148. Retirement presentation to Cecil Joslin at Crittall’s (no. 6 on film). Cecil Joslin on his own with others in background. Windows in pile.
M2149. Retirement presentation to Cecil Joslin at Crittall’s (no. 7 on film). Left to right, (1) ‘Basky’ (in charge of getting window together, later went to Colchester), (2) — Bickers from Silver End, (3) ???, (4) Bill Bowers (of Witham, went to Silver End, brother of Horticultural Society man), (5) Bill King (now in home in Kelvedon). (6) ??? (man who was a bit slow).
M2150. Retirement presentation to Cecil Joslin at Crittall’s (no. 8 on film). On left is Fred Bretton, previously foreman, then under-manager. On right is Cecil. Others in background.
M2151. Retirement presentation to Cecil Joslin at Crittall’s (no. 9 on film). Left to right, Bill King (went to school with Cecil at Witham), Cecil, (??? from Coggeshall).
M2152. Bill Joslin (father of Cecil) in Rectory Lane with Dobbin the horse. There was a smallholding there near Rivenhall Rectory with chickens etc, also grew vegetables and took them to London.

Spall, especially Fred, father of Peter

Conversation with Peter Spall and his wife Betty, May 2004

Also see interview tape 196.

Copies of some of his photos etc. are M2036-M2049

Fred Spall was Peter’s father.

Cutting from EADT
Aug 18 1935[?], ‘Mr Fredk Spall, proprietor of a small garage beside the main London Road at Rivenhall near Witham has completed the construction of a cycle combination which he believes will, if taken up, form a valuable contribution to air raid precautions. The entire cost of construction was less than £7’

This was his motorcycle ambulance, which he patented. Did take it to a Heinkel crash at Langford and took the bodies to Maldon. Had various mementoes from there including pilot’s goggles, boot, etc.
He was a Special Constable in 1939 and in Observer Corps. Was injured in the bomb explosion in Cressing Road in October 1940 which killed Mr Burmby, and spent some time in Black Notley hospital. He had been phoned to go and stand there and keep the crowd away. Mr Bull was up a pole. When the bomb exploded Mr Bull’s hat blew off and Mr Spall was injured and taken to Black Notley Hospital. So out of action for a while and didn’t pursue the motorcycle ambulance idea as much as might.

Fred was from Colchester and his wife Olive came from Brightlingsea.
Peter’s mother Olive was a Primitive Methodist and they married in the P.M. church at Brightlingsea in 1928. It closed soon after. When they came to Witham they joined the ordinary Methodists.
At first Fred was chauffeur at Langham Hall and lived at Cosgrove House there. Then went to Wickham Bishops.
Their sons: Stanley born 1919, John born 1930 (both at Langham) Peter born 1932 (at Wickham Bishops).
While at WB he founded the Corner garage at Rivenhall, kept it till after World War 2. Next to the Prince of Wales.
Came to Witham in 1935 and called their house at 59 Rickstones Road Cosgrove, after the Langham House.
Then moved further down Rickstones Road in 1948, to 24, the bungalow next to the evangelical church. Afterwards sold it to the church for the minister.
Peter went to the Church School as infant, 1953-1957, Miss Welland was head.
Betty went to teach there later, 1953-1957/8, and Miss Welland still there at first, then left and Maurice Smith came. Miss W very fierce.