Tape 001. Mrs Dorothy Ireland (nee Goss), sides 1 and 2

Tape 1

Mrs Ireland was born in 1894, and was interviewed on 25 November 1976. when she lived at 12 Chalks Road, Witham.

She also appears on tapes 2, 3, 7, 33, 86, 90 and 97.

For more information about her, see the the notes in the people category headed Ireland, Mrs Dorothy (Dolly), nee Goss.

The original recording of this interview is held at the Essex Sound and Video Archive. To listen to the recording, please contact them at ero.enquiry@essex.gov.uk 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.]

Note that these early tapes, being the first interviews I ever did, are examples of how not to do it – all my interruptions and mutterings and unclear questions! JG


Side 1

Q:    You were born? Sorry, start again, you were born in 1890, 1892, wasn’t it?

Mrs I:    Oh yes, ‘94.

Q:    ’94, that’s right. And you were married in 1923.

Mrs I:    Yes.

Q:    Where was it you actually born? Which house were you born in?

Mrs I:    High Street.

Q:    In the High Street, is that the one at Coopers that you told me about, where the Post Office was? [now 82 Newland Street and 84 Newland Street]

Mrs I:    Yes, that’s right.

Q:    So do you remember how long you were at Post Office?

Mrs I:    No, only ….

Q:    Was it just a little while?

Mrs I:    Yes.

Q:    For a short while when you, where do you go after?

Mrs I:    Not long. Well I stayed with my grandma [i.e. Mrs Rushen, see notes at end], because I was young. I think it was in the March after I was born.

Q:    Did she live in Witham as well?

Mrs I:    No, no, they were Witham people and then they removed to White Notley. Retired at White Notley [this was her great-grandparents Goss, see notes at end].

Q:    So you went there with them, did you?

Mrs I:    Yes, well the Boer War came and that upset my life.

Q:    Yes, I see, yes. So you stayed at Notley most of your …. ?

Mrs I:    No, I stayed and lived in Witham all my life, with grandma [i.e. Mrs Rushen].

Q:    Oh, I see, your grandma was in Witham, and your parents were in Notley, I see. So your grandma lived, what part of Witham did she live in?

Mrs I:    In the High Street [this was her mother and real grandparents, Goss].

Q:    At the Post Office as well?

Mrs I:    Yes, that’s right, then they went to Devon, no, [??? sounds like Cone], and then Devon, and then on to Acton, so they were surveyors, you see.

Q:    Did you stay with them then? Others, this is where your parents, I’m with you. Your parents went to Devon?

Mrs I:    Yes, and [??? sounds like Cone].

Q:    And you stayed with your grandparents in Witham all that time, did you?

Mrs I:    Yes. All the time.

Q:    While you were at school and everything?

Mrs I:    Yes, all the time. Through the Boer War, of course. They went to Africa.

Q:    Did your parents ever come back to Witham?

Mrs I:    No, I never saw them after.

Q:    Really? Goodness. I suppose this happened to a lot of kiddies, did it?

Mrs I:    Yes, well I think there was a little bother, I think they wanted me to go, and, you know, they didn’t take me away, no, after they got me settled.

Q:    I suppose you got used to your grandma then?

Mrs I:    Oh, I did, yes, ‘cos you see, yes.

Q:    Was she a Witham person?

Mrs I:    Yes. 0h yes, they were all Witham.

Q:    So what is your maiden name, actually?

Mrs I:    Goss. And now, there’s another Goss in Witham, I’m very interested. In Forest Road. I mean, ‘cos it’s an uncommon name isn’t it?

Q:    Yes, it is really, isn’t it, yes? G O double S?

Mrs I:    Yes, they used to call me Goss china, I remember, ‘cos the china, you remember, do you? The Goss china. And I had an uncle an author, Ernest Goss.

Q:    Of course, yes, I think I’ve heard of him. So was your grandfather alive then as well, or was it just your grandma?

Mrs I:    No, just grandma.

Q:    You were the youngest, you say?

Mrs I:    No brother or sisters.

Q:    You didn’t have any brothers or sisters, no?

Mrs I:    No, the Boer War upset everything. So, you see, I’ve been in three wars, haven’t I.

Q:    So, your father was a Witham person as well, was he?

Mrs I:    Oh yes.

Q:    So, you don’t remember when he was born, or how old he was when you were born or anything? I suppose you didn’t know a lot about him?

Mrs I:    No, nothing, no nothing, no, only grandma, no.

Q:    Did he run the Post Office for a bit, you say, before you were born?

Mrs I:    Oh yes, yes.

Q:    But again, if he left more or less straight away, you wouldn’t remember anything.

Mrs I:    No, no.

Q:    So when your grandma left there, who did the Post Office? Did somebody else take over?

Mrs I:    Oh yes, I know who, Gallop, and that’s why I’ve always been friendly with Mrs Gallop, Mrs Wallace[?], she’s just recently died. They lived in Collingwood Road, and so she always, you know, we kept friendly. And then we were friendly of course with the Chipping Hill people, Mrs Grapes, they were at Chipping Hill Post Office [41 Chipping Hill].

Q:    So I suppose everybody knew everybody then, didn’t they?

Mrs I:    Oh gracious, oh definitely, and that’s why people don’t, some people don’t like to, because you remember, you see, you know, they don’t just like it, you to be remembered, so we never go into the, their history. But of course, what did Witham consist of? I mean it was people, railway people, or agricultural workers, wasn’t it, until 1914 came? The first, I wasn’t prejudiced, but a good many were, course it was the glove factory that spoilt Witham first. And then of course it was good in 1914 [actually a bit later] when Crittall opened it for the workers [Braintree Road]. That was great, wasn’t it , that spoilt ….

Q:    That was that soon was it?

Mrs I:    That spoilt. Well I don’t say it did, but you know, these people that want things just their own way. But it created work, didn’t it?

Q:    Yes, it made a big change, I suppose, didn’t it? Where did the people all live that came to work there, or were they already Witham people mostly?

Mrs I:    People, well of course, this Witham [???] wasn’t it, you see, and then the Council built Cressing Road, all those Council houses, immediately Crittall opened his place.

Q:    But I suppose the glove factory they were mostly Witham people, were they?

Mrs I:    Yes, that spoilt it. Well they had a big, yes, they had a big house first of all opposite the railway station [13 Albert Road and 14 Albert Road], and then they built – Pinkham [factory, 1 Chipping Hill, since demolished to build Templemeads flats]. Course Pinkham was a big man, course there was no Labour, it was Liberals, and he was the Liberal agent, oh, he was a big man, oh he was. I always remember they had, when the elections were, the big loaf and the small loaf, on the scale, and the ladder, and we used to go to see the man[?] climb, in the town, to see how they were climbing. And we always had the polls declared at the Public Hall in Collingwood Road. I remember being late for school once when Bethell got in [Thomas Robert Bethell, elected Member of Parliament for Maldon, 1906, when he defeated Charlie Strutt of Blunts Hall, Member of Parliament for Maldon 1895-1906]. Course the Honorable Strutt, we had a nice little poem about the Honourable Strutt.

Q:    Yes, I think I remember reading about, did you get, he lost, didn’t he, one time, and they were all upset?

Mrs I:    Yes, well, yes when Bethel, we used to say ‘Goodbye Charlie Strutt’ [laugh].

Q:    Do you think, were a lot of people upset by it, or didn’t they think about it much?

Mrs I:    Yes well Liberals of course, there were no, no Conservatives then, you didn’t say Tory was there? I mean it was Liberal. You see that’s why we can’t understand, we say, ‘Oh, we’re Liberals’. You see you were either one thing or the other. And I don’t remember first of all Labour coming in. I remember with Driberg, there was a Janis and he was abroad, and that’s why Driberg stepped in [Tom Driberg, Member of Parliament for Maldon 1942-55]. But the Labour people wouldn’t vote for Driberg, you know, he was Independent, was the Tories who got Driberg in, yes. Well, you see, they were loyal, weren’t they, to Mr Janis, being abroad, fighting for the War. Oh no, the Tories, and they thought they were winning him, didn’t they?

Q:    Can you remember the one when Mr Strutt, was that, would that be about 1906, was it?

Mrs I:    Yes.

Q:    Before that I suppose it was mostly Conservative, was it, that was why you had such a shock?

Mrs I:    Yes, we had Fortescue Flannery, ‘flannelfoot’, we called him, as children [Fortescue Flannery, Member of Parliament for Maldon, 1918-22].

Q:    Did you? I suppose it was quite a big do when there was an election?

Mrs I:    Oh, good, when Strutt, of course we were[?] pleased, because we knew our people were all Liberals, we used to have the big, at Notley we had all the big placards out, oh there was the dunkers[?] and the torchlight procession, from Witham station to Blunts Hall, yes, you don’t now do you?

Q:    That was all his people going then, were they?

Mrs I:    Yes. Well, there weren’t many Tories, were there? I mean, working class.

Q:    What, Witham, was it mostly?

Mrs I:    Definitely. Yes ….

Q:    He was an MP for a while, wasn’t he, so you must have had some Tories?

Mrs I:    Well, you know, the agricultural people, that’s why, isn’t it. It’s the moneyed people that vote them in. But Mr Pinkham was a big man.

Q:    Did he live in Witham?

Mrs I:    Yes, in Collingwood Road, got his children here still. Oh yes, we were always interested in this, the children are not today, are they?

Q:    No, I suppose it was more exciting then, wasn’t it?

Mrs I:    Well, there was nothing else, was there, to interest yourself?

Q:    Can you remember what other sorts of things you did, that made a bit of a change, like celebrations and things like that?

Mrs I:    Oh yes. Oh yes, we had, we used to have the trips, schoolchildren, in my children’s time, that’s fifty years, here was a steam engine, you always had a steam engine for the tea parties, and at the Vicarage [now the Old Vicarage, Chipping Hill]. There was just the Co-op parties, and the school trips, Sunday school, and the day schools.

Q:    So that was when you were school? Did they have them at the Vicarage?

Mrs I:    Yes. There were swings, the steam engine to make your tea, and just the swings, and then we came out the back way, you know where the bridge is, the water bridge, the mill [Chipping Hill bridge, and 1 Powershall End], we came out there, and we’d have the bun, as we came, not an orange just a big bun. I always remember that.

Q:    So who used to run that?

Mrs I:    The vicar, the school, the Sunday school. That was good.

Q:    Did you go to Sunday school as well, then?

Mrs I:    Oh yes, there was nothing else to do, Church four times.

Q:    Really! I remember you saying to went to school when you were two and a half.

Mrs I:    Yes, I did.

Q:    Can you remember, I suppose everybody did that, did they?

Mrs I:    Yes, you see, January came, and you see, my birthday came, and we went in the summer, the summer time, and I wasn’t three until the December. I’ll always remember the first day.

Q:    Tell me about that then?

Mrs I:    I think I cried.

Q:    I’m not surprised when you were two and a half.

Mrs I:    I think I did, but I think I wanted to go, you know with friends, you know, the others go, ‘cos there were no schools, we had a school by the, well that now is the Lodge, you know the Conservatives have got it for little, at the Grove, well there was a school there, and that was twopence a week you paid, Mrs Blackie kept that [Avenue Lodge, Collingwood Road].

Q:    That was actually at the Lodge, was it?

Mrs I:    Yes.

Q:    Which one did you go to?

Mrs I:    I went to Guithavon Street.  I liked that, it was nice [National Schools, since demolished, and used for car park]

Q:    What did you do there?

Mrs I:    Well, we had slates and pencils first, and oh, we thought it was marvellous to use a pencil, and then when it came to ink, we had to get into standard 4 for ink. But the slates, you know, they had the alphabet round, the children don’t learn the alphabet now, do they?

Q:    Not quite the same, no, they don’t. So you had it written on already, did you?

Mrs I:    Yes, it was round your slates. And then another thing was the timetables, we used to go early to school, and then while you were waiting for nine o’clock for it all to happen, well you did your tables. But they don’t, I know by my children, they don’t do the tables.

Q:    So that was before the teacher came even, was it?

Mrs I:    Yes. And you’d do this, there was no gym, we used to do hands up, forward, backward, touch your knees, and clap, but, I mean, there was no gym.

Q:    Were there quite a lot of children, there wouldn’t be a lot of room, probably, was there?

Mrs I:    No. No, of course, we used to love the walk, and, you know, we used to love, Chipping Hill was the nicest part.

Q:    When went you to school, you still lived in the High Street, did you?

Mrs I:    Yes, yes [probably Chipping Hill, in fact]

Q:    What did you do for your dinner, then?

Mrs I:    Oh, oh, never school dinners. Yes, and the school was from 12 until 2, wasn’t it.

Q:    Oh, I see, what, the dinner, you mean?

Mrs I:    The dinner hour was two hours. ‘Cos I remember running home fast to see the railway accident, you know, the express, Cromer express. That was in 1901 [actually 1905].

Q:    So, that was when you were school, was it? So what did you do, all come out of school?

Mrs I:    Yes, and ran, cos it was interesting, it was history, wasn’t it, everyone was interested, didn’t know who was killed or, oh I can remember seeing the pails, and you know, the spades, and the dear children, I remember seeing it all.

Q:    Did that happen during the daytime, did it?

Mrs I:    Yes. About 11.

Q:    Did they let you out of the school, or did you have to wait till school had finished?

Mrs I:    No, we came out.

Q:    At dinner time?

Mrs I:    Yes, yes, 12, you see. And then we didn’t go back to school in the afternoon, we were naughty.

Q:    Did you often do that?

Mrs I:    Very.

Q:    Did you?

Mrs I:    We would be late[?] No, they weren’t severe, no, it was happy, I think you were, oh, it was so different.

Q:    What sort of things did you learn apart from the alphabet and tables?

Mrs I:    We didn’t get to algebra until I was in ex-seventh, because I stayed till I was sixteen.

Q:    Did you really?

Mrs I:    Ex-seventh. But you see, you lose your friends, because when they got to standard 4 at twelve they took a Labour exam, and then they could go to work, they could leave, but you had to be in standard 4 before you took the exam. But I stayed on, I was very small.

Q:    Perhaps you were clever too, were you?

Mrs I:    I don’t know, I think I was a chatterbox. And always the one with the long hair, I always got into trouble.

Q:    Did you?

Mrs I:    Yes, because I had this long hair. They used to say ‘The one with that long hair’.

Q:    Can you remember the teachers at all?

Mrs I:    Oh yes.

Q:    Who were they?

Mrs I:    Miss Peake, Miss Goodman, and Miss Murrells, and she kept a school after, didn’t she?

Q:    I think so, I’ve heard of her.

Mrs I:    Yes, she taught, that’s why she was interested in my children, cos she taught me.

Q:    What were they like, Miss Peake, for instance?

Mrs I:    Oh, she, they lived at the school house, there were three sisters, strangely enough. Miss Peake, the elder one, was the governess, and then there was the pupil teacher, she came to live in Church Street, and the other one was the infant teacher. ‘Cos the big classroom was there, and just a doorway for the infants.

Q:    I see, yes. So you stayed, the infants were separate?

Mrs I:    Yes, just a doorway.

Q:    And then the girls separate, were they?

Mrs I:    Yes. And I always remember when I was in the infants, I don’t know what it was I recited, but I couldn’t say the words properly, so they took me into the big girls, and I always remember standing on the desk, ‘Sweeping through the gates of the great Jeruseljum’, I couldn’t say Jerus. I always remember that.

Q:    Really?

Mrs I:    And you see I wasn’t seven. There’s lots of ….

Q:    You did a lot of learning things like that, did you, rhymes and that?

Mrs I:    Yes. Well now they don’t do it, do they? My children did. They never have a book and a pencil, do they?

Q:    Not quite the same, do they, no.

Mrs I:    And what did you do in the evenings?

Q:    What did you do?

Mrs I:    I mean, you had the slate and a pencil.

Q:    You took it home with you, did you?

Mrs I:    Yes, you all went together.

Q:    What did you do when you got home? What time did school finish, about?

Mrs I:    Now, quarter to four in the winter time, for the children that lived a long distance. They walked to school, didn’t they? Right from Dancing Dicks, from Blunts Hall. Then they stayed to dinner, they brought their own sandwiches.

Q:    They just sat in the school did they?

Mrs I:    Yes.

Q:    I suppose they had to really, didn’t they?

Mrs I:    So then, you see, you had that two hours, from twelve until two, well you’d go back early, wouldn’t you, to be with your children.

Q:    To play, yes. Your grandma would be at home, then, I suppose, when you went back?

Mrs I:    Yes, oh yes, oh yes.

Q:    What sort of meal would you have then?

Mrs I:    Oh yes, you’d have a cooked. Big rice puddings, and apples, you know, did it in syrup and cut the tops out. That was altogether different. And there was liver and, but, you never hear of a bullock’s heart, sheep’s head and pluck, do you?

Q:    Was there anybody else in the house with your grandma, and you?

Mrs I:    Yes, the children would come in.

Q:    Was there anybody else living there?

Mrs I:    Friends. No.

Q:    So she was mainly cooking for you?

Mrs I:    Yes, that’s right.

Q:    But she still did all these things, did she?

Mrs I:    Yes, oh yes.

Q:    Did she do all the work herself?

Mrs I:    Yes.

Q:    Did she have any help or anything?

Mrs I:    No, because she used to go out to do nursing.

Q:    Did she, and she still managed to cook your dinner?

Mrs I:    Oh yes, of course it was so different. It was more in the night to help the doctors, childbirth.

Q:    I see, she was a sort of midwife?

Mrs I:    Because I used to go, I remember, once or twice, if there were children, then you’d meet them.

Q:    So what, she went all over Witham, did she?

Mrs I:    Yes.

Q:    Just when she was called?

Mrs I:    Yes, yes. The doctors used to say, that’s why they fussed. Of course I miss the doctors, I miss the three Gimson doctors, ‘cos I knew Doctor Ted, and Doctor Karl, and then I …. Someone, who was it the other day, said to me, ‘Surely you don’t remember their father?’, oh, it was Dr Denholm’s daughter, she said ‘Oh, of course’, she said ‘you remember Doctor Ted’. I said ‘Oh yes, and your father’, he was Doctor Ted’s best friend, through the war, they were friends, he came to Witham, and I said ‘Yes, and Doctor Karl’. Now, they used to say ‘Doctor Karl goes to the tradespeople, and Doctor Ted goes to the poor people’. So if you had Doctor Ted, you were poor. Oh, it was a snobbish place.

Q:    Was it?

Mrs I:    And then I said to her ‘Yes, and Doctor Carwardine Gimson’. She said ‘You certainly don’t?’. ‘Yes’, I said.

Q:    That was their father, wasn’t it [Doctor William Gimson Gimson]?

Mrs I:    The father of the doctors. And I said ‘Yes’. Well, as children, he was in a chair, a bath chair, and I always remember he had a big cloak, with a huge hood, and a pipe, and that was Doctor Carwardine Gimson. And she, oh, she was very interested in that.

Q:    ‘Cos he must have been quite old then?

Mrs I:    Yes, well, you’d got nothing else to interest yourself in. And Captain Abrey, did you see that, when they were talking about Dorothy Sayers?

Q:    Yes, he lived there didn’t he? [Shafto Abrey, 26 Newland Street]

Mrs I:    Gracious, that all came back to me with the election. You never saw Captain Abrey at the election time! He bowed, he’d take off his hat and he’d bow, and he’d say ‘Now, you won’t forget me, will you?’, that was Captain Abrey.

Q:    Really? At election time, was it? What did he stand for?

Mrs I:    Oh, in the County , Urban, District Urban.

Q:    The Urban District?

Mrs I:    Of course it was very small, just had that little place where the electric light, that was our, you remember the electric light shop in Collingwood Road? Well, that was our Urban District Council’s office [small building since demolished to form part of the site of the Health Authority building].

Q:    It’s pulled down now, you mean, yes?

Mrs I:    Oh yes. And we don’t remember, it was, I remember it was Perkins, lived opposite, the house is still there, he was the surveyor. I remember Maisie. Now, when Maisie comes she’ll pop to see me. You see our old, there’s not many.

Q:    When I suppose if you’re, well there can’t be many left your age?

Mrs I:    The Croxalls, the Croxalls are here, aren’t they, at the gas managers in Mill Lane [since demolished to form part of the Mill Lane car park, corner of Newland Street]. I mean it was an interesting. I know when you meet the Miss Croxalls and the different ones I know they keep saying ‘Oh, it’s not Witham, our poor old Witham’. Well, I said ‘We are fortunate to still be living in it, aren’t we?’.

Q:    I suppose you’ve got the best of both really, ‘cos you’ve got your friends?

Mrs I:    Yes. I haven’t got many.

Q:    So, when you say it was a snobbish place, how did you notice that?

Mrs I:    Oh, it was.

Q:    How did that affect you when you were little?

Mrs I:    Oh at school, at school, they used to say ‘Oh, she’s a lady’s daughter’.

Q:    Really? They did have ladies’ daughters at Guithavon Street, did they?

Mrs I:    ‘Oh, she’s a lady’s daughter!’ [laughing]

Q:    What sort of people were ladies’ daughters?

Mrs I:    Just tradespeople.

Q:    Really? That’s interesting.

Mrs I:    Yes. That’s all it consisted of, didn’t it?

Q:    Can you remember any of them? Who were the ladies and gentlemen then, can you remember?

Mrs I:    Oh, well, Laurence, Percy Laurence, wasn’t he, at the Grove. Well then there was the Honourable Strutt, and then there were the solicitors, Derek Bright, we’ve still got some left, and then the Bawtrees have gone, they were solicitors again, they were a nice family, and the Rounds, they were more the army people, they were Major. And then there were three doctors, you know separate, not in just one group of doctors. That’s all Witham consisted of.

Q:    The shopkeepers and things, would you regard them as ladies?

Mrs I:    No, tradespeople.

Q:    So they were different again? So, would they get treated differently at school, do you think?

Mrs I:    Oh no, no, no, it’s only the children’d be a bit jealous. ‘Cos of course, they were poor. Oh, truthfully they were poor.

Q:    The other children, yes?

Mrs I:    Oh they were, oh it was poor, very. Oh, when I think, when I used to collect the rents and they used to say ‘Can’t give you the rent this week, because we’ve had to buy the children, the shoes.’

Q:    That was when you were grown-up?

Mrs I:    Yes. And the old gentleman that worked for the Honourable Strutt, the harvest time, his rent was two pounds twelve in a year, a shilling a week, and he asked for the two shillings back. Oh it was. Those houses in Church Street were only, some were only a shilling.

Q:    What sort of jobs did the poor people do?

Mrs I:    Well, they all left Witham and went to service, you see.

Q:    I see, yes, their children.

Mrs I:    There was nothing. And then the glove factory opened, and I’m afraid I’ve said, I haven’t meant it intentionally, but I know I said next door something about ‘Oh well, they’re only factory girls’. You know I didn’t mean it. And of course I didn’t realise they were, you don’t, do you?

Q:    So that was people that lived near you?

Mrs I:    Yes, next door, when she came [Mrs Elsie Hammond, 11 Chalks Road], I said, she said something, and I said ‘Well, they were factory girls, weren’t they’, and I should have said ‘Worked at the glove factory’. I didn’t think, did I?

Q:    Did she work there? [Mrs I nodded]. I see, yes.

Mrs I:    Oh, the Keebles, they were the head of the factory. Well, there was nothing else until, that was the first factory that spoilt, well, they say spoilt Witham, ‘cos I have to say what the old timers say.

Q:    Did you think so at the time, then, at the time?

Mrs I:    No, I didn’t. No, I didn’t, I thought it was nice, I thought I liked the company. The only thing is, I, oh, we had the Tuppenny, that was the only thing, you know there was nowhere to go. Whitehall cinema was the college, that was the Whitehall college for boys, just boys, that was a nice college [18 Newland Street].

Q:    So what sort of people went there?

Mrs I:    Oh, people, strangers, not Witham people, oh yes. Oh they, we used to watch them at Church, you know, when they came, it was interesting.

Q:    So you remember you told me about the little school at the Lodge. Were there any other schools like that when you were little?

Mrs I:    Yes, one in Braintree Road, a Miss Chapman had that, where the little fruit shop is, do you remember Braintree Road? [probably 10 Braintree Road or possibly 13 Braintree Road], well Annie Chapman had that, and yes, there was that little private school. Of course Miss Murrells was, well just my children’s time, she opened one didn’t she? Yes, in the High Street. I don’t remember that. I remember in my young time it was twopence a week to go to Miss Blackie’s school, that was where I told you at Avenue Lodge.

Q:    What sort of kids went to those?

Mrs I:    Well, I think there was something, you know, where they didn’t mix, where you didn’t quite mix, weren’t quite bright, and I think you know parents, just put them.

Q:    Did you have to pay for Guithavon Street?

Mrs I:    Oh no, no, no. No, that was nice. We liked Guithavon Street, I think it was very nice. And Miss Gentry was there for years, donkeys’ years, she taught me and taught, that’s when you know, when you go, they’re pupil teachers, you see, and then they come up to be heads, don’t they.

Q:    So they were children at the school first?

Mrs I:    Yes.

Q:    So how many teachers would there be at the school altogether at any one time? [Mrs I: Well, there would be ….] They were mostly pupil teachers were they?

Mrs I:    No, from, the head would take from 4, so she’d have 4,5,6, 7 and ex-seven. And then there would be a teacher for standard 3 and standard 4, and then in the classroom that would be class 1 and class 2.

Q:    I see, and that was with the teacher, the headteacher?

Mrs I:    Yes, yes, they didn’t have one for each class. The head took from 4, from the 4 always up.

Q:    Did many people come in from outside sometimes to see you at school?

Mrs I:    Oh, yes, the governors, they all came in, and the Vicar, we always used to have to stand up and bow and scrape.

Q:    [Laughs] Did they come a lot, did they?

Mrs I:    Well, about once a week, I should imagine, to get you to Church. And all the holy weeks we used to go to Church at nine o’clock.

Q:    In school time?

Mrs I:    Yes.

Q:    Who was the Vicar then?

Mrs I:    Canon Ingles.

Q:    Can you remember much about him?

Mrs I:    Oh yes, oh he was great, and their daughters, seven daughters, and they all taught, oh yes, they were nice.

Q:    You liked them, did you?

Mrs I:    I did. I don’t remember Dean Bramston, that was just before Canon Ingles, but I remember elderly people speaking of, specially the dear old lady next door, she was 98, and we used to love to go for her to tell us.

Q:    That was next to you, in the High Street?

Mrs I:    Yes, yes. [actually probably in Chalks Road, Miss Kidd]. And she used to, and you knew that there was a castle, did you? Down at Spring Lodge.

Q:    Oh, was there?

Mrs I:    Beautiful, yes, and she told us it was burnt down, and the lady came out, you know in her lovely robes and ran to the stream at the bottom, so of course as children, we used to want to see, and she said she appeared at night, and we wanted to see this ghost. And she told Mr Pendle, do you remember, no, you wouldn’t remember Pendle keeping the little shop in Church Street [48 Church Street], but I suppose you’ve heard of Pendle, and then he took the Post Office. Well, of course there were no houses there at Powershall End and Miss Kidd, she told Mr
[After end of tape:
Mr Pendle planned to build house at Powershall End and Miss Kidd told him he shouldn’t because of the ghost and that he would hear rustling. He built it and as a joke he called it Rustingtons [21 Powershall End].
Would get water from the spring at Powershall End if not well].

Side 2

Mrs I:    …. no trouble.

Q:    What sort of things did they do for you?

Mrs I:    Oh, can I tell you all the, we had that over last Christmas. Can I tell you all the strange little things they did? The old nurses I’m speaking about, not the professional nurses but the old nurses. [Q: Like your grandma?]. I don’t think now, I can’t, I don’t there’s any left. Mrs Kentfield, well they used to, you know to doctor yourself, the doctors didn’t tell you to do it, they always said your stocking, as you’d had it on your foot, your stocking you put round your neck. Now wouldn’t, what ever would they say today? Now ask your question, with all this hygiene, what would they think, but that was supposed to be a cure. Wadding in your ear, I always remember having wadding, and a little, no cotton wool, we called it wadding, the cotton wool, and we used to put a little oil, just in the ear. But I always remember the throat, they used to say yes, pop it round at night, and it’ll be better in the morning.

Q:    Was it? [laughs]

Mrs I:    [Laughs] I think so. But we had a flannel, a red flannel, I remember, used to have a little red flannel band round. Oh, and when the fevers were on, we used to have a little bag round our neck, and it would have camphor in it, and that was typhoid fever, there was a lot in Witham, typhoid, yes, right into the meadows far away, Pondholton, that where the camps were.

Q:    Oh I see, what they took, where the isolation ….?

Mrs I:    Yes, yes. And I always remember this camphor. And I always remember with a cough we had the chemist’s shop, now what’s there now, right on the corner of the High Street, steps to go to it [64 Newland Street].

Q:    The television, near Farthings?

Mrs I:    Yes, yes, that’s the one, the steps. And we used to have Spanish liquorice, it used to be very hard, and we used to have a wee piece of that.

Q:    What, at the chemist?

Mrs I:    Yes.

Q:    What was that to do?

Mrs I:    That was for the cough. Spanish liquorice, I remember that.

Q:    Did you ever have to have the doctor to you with your throat or did you always ….?

Mrs I:    Oh yes, oh I went to, I went into the hospital for, tonsils, and adenoids, oh I think I was eleven, eleven or, I don’t, I think it was eleven for tonsils, I went to Chelmsford hospital.

Q:    That would be quite a big thing in those days?

Mrs I:    Oh yes, I loved it in there.

Q:    Did you [laughs]?

Mrs I:    They made a fuss. I don’t know why I went in the big ward, and, and there was an elderly lady in there, and I was writing her letters, that was the time I was at school, ‘cos I remember Miss Peake telling the children how, you know, helpful I was, to write Mrs Chalk’s letters.

Q:    That’s Mrs Chalk, was she, where did Mrs Chalk come from?

Mrs I:    Church Street, to do with Mrs Chalk in my road.

Q:    Of course there were a lot of Chalks weren’t there?

Mrs I:    Well, Jimmy Chalk is now coming, and we must go to this bellringing, ‘cos Jimmy Chalk is coming, that was his mother [Q: Oh is he?]. He’s been staying here a fortnight, and he said yes I always remember when I visited my mother, seeing you in the bed. Because I think I was in that ward because I think there was something after the operation was clipped at the back.

Q:    I see. Were you all with, in, with all the older people as well in the same ward?

Mrs I:    Yes, yes. And I was just at that end, I think that was why, oh, the doctors came, they used to make a fuss. They used to say ‘Oh, we’ve got Dolly here, would you believe it!’. And they did, and when I had my babies in the Bungalow they always came [46 Collingwood Road].

Q:    I suppose they knew you with your grandma?

Mrs I:    Oh yes, oh they used to say.

Q:    So which doctor did you see, any of them, I suppose?

Mrs I:    I was fortunate, I didn’t have the doctor for either of my babies.

Q:    Didn’t you?

Mrs I:    No, I was very fortunate.

Q:    Just the nurses?

Mrs I:    I just walked, yes, went in. I was very fortunate.

Q:    How many children have you’ve got then, is it three? [Mrs I: Three] I thought so.

Mrs I:    Yes. Got the boy. I think, I only wish, I only wish that I’d had another boy, because, you see, there was seven years, and ‘You mustn’t come in our bedroom’, and ‘You can’t come into the lavatory’, and he used to say ‘Oh Mum, I wish I’d got a brother’. I often thought, you know, and I do now. They need, I think a boy needs a brother more than the girls need a mother. Yes, because you see you can’t talk to the boy like you do the girls, do you, and the fathers haven’t got patience have they. Well unfortunately, my husband was always away travelling, you see, that’s why they had a good time.

Q:    What did he used to do?

Mrs I:    In the power houses, he was an engineer, that’s why Clive, Clive didn’t want this, he wanted to be a schoolmaster. Oh, he was disappointed, but at school everyone said, the practical side, you see. The children were more maths, the girls were more maths than science, you see, but the boy was practical, and that was a pity, and when the eleven-plus exam came, I went to see Miss Welland, and she said to me ‘I think you’re a sensible mother’, she said, ‘because we’ve noticed it, his hands’. He, he never liked it, so he went to Technical, he didn’t go to the High School at Braintree with the girls, went to Technical. And then they told him when he went to, it was Crompton’s then, Colonel Crompton, and they told him then, they said ‘We’ll give you no privileges just because of your father, but you must work hard’, and he did, oh he did. And he, you know, so, I don’t think he regrets it now, ‘cos I think industry is the chief thing. But I think he thought about the holidays, and before, and it’s awkward, you know, because he’ll come home, that’s why we’re not on the phone. Don’t think it’s because we’re unprivate[?], you know, cheating. But, you see he’d go to Loughborough, you see, ‘cos Chelmsford office has closed, it’s Hawker Syddeley’s, well it’s Loughborough, but he was fortunate, being the switch-gear department, he was kept on in London Road, Hawker Syddeley’s offices. Well then, he’ll go, if he goes in the morning he knows he’s going to Loughborough, or he knows he’s going to London, but on that road it’s been terrible, I mean, he’d just come home from Loughborough, late at night, you know, the trains, there’d be this phone call, and off he’d have to go to Scotland. Couldn’t have that, could you? That’s why we’re not on the phone.

Q:    When did you move into those houses over there, yourself, in Chalks Road?

Mrs I:    Fifty-three years. Because we couldn’t get, you couldn’t get a house, could you?

Q:    That was when you were first married?

Mrs I:    And the house was vacant you see, so we were lucky, and we went, and we’ve stayed. I like it, it’s roomy, and, sometimes I feel I’d like a different one, and I say to the boy ‘You haven’t got your garage’, and he says ‘Well, I like it, I’m happy’, but, no, I’ve never wanted to move. Sometimes I feel I’d like a bungalow and move, but I don’t think I should. I know all the people and used to go into all the houses. You see, and you get used to the people, don’t you? But I never, I’m a bad visit, I never visit, and I never run in and out houses, I don’t do that. But I like to meet my people. If I didn’t go out, you see. I like to meet them.

Q:    So then your husband used to travel around a lot, so you ….?

Mrs I:    Oh yes, oh yes.

Q:    You said he was a stranger when you met him, did you.

Mrs I:    Yes through, during the War, he was at Shotley in Ipswich, searchlights, you see, he was Royal Engineers, through Colonel Crompton, you see, when they worked at Crompton’s you joined his regiment, didn’t you, and he was called up first day of the War, on the searchlights [First World War]. Now, he was allowed into Witham, but he wasn’t allowed into Chelmsford, just that nine-mile limit. So of course he’d come, he was on the searchlights.

Q:    He’d come just on leave?

Mrs I:    Yes, and that’s when I met him at his auntie’s, you see.

Q:    So who was his auntie? She was a Witham person, was she?

Mrs I:    Yes, Mrs Thompson, they’re not here now, not the coalman Thompson. They were Irelands, you see, and that’s when I met my husband, and we couldn’t marry early ‘cos the War, you see, could you? He stayed all through the war. And the house, I was collecting the rents, and the house was vacant, and I had it, and I’ve never, well I think why he travelled so much, of course another reason like Clive, we should have gone to Chelmsford, that’s where we should have gone, and that’s where we spent our time mostly. But with Marie, with the elder one, well, I used to go to Scotland with him, six weeks, you see, because they’d have the hotel and the room, and you could put up one child, but unfortunately when we’d number two, that didn’t. So we really had good times, you see, we used to share, you see, the firm were paying for the hotel, so we really had good times. And they could pop a baby in a cot. Yes, we had good times, we’ve been, and in London at East End, that’s why I know Silvertown, when the power station was built there we were there six weeks, and all the dock land.

Q:    That’s interesting, yes. So he always did that job, did he?

Mrs I:    Always did it, yes. And I enjoyed it.

Q:    Was he always at Crompton’s?

Mrs I:    Yes, now you see Crompton’s, it’s Hawker Syddeley now, isn’t it? But it’s not at Chelmsford, it’s at Loughborough, but there is a Crompton at the Witham office here. That’s called Cromptons, but it’s Hawker Syddeley really.

Q:    Would you like a cup of tea now?

Mrs I:    Oh no, thank you.

Q:    Are you sure?

Mrs I:    Yes, thank you.

Q:    Are you quite sure?

Mrs I:    Yes. No, no I keep to my usual, yes, that’s right.

Q:    You want to be getting on a bit now?

Mrs I:    No. Is there are any other little ….?

Q:    Well ….

Mrs I:    …field.

Q:    Was that on the Bell Field [site of Chipping Hill infants school, Church Street, and field now behind it]?

Mrs I:    Yes, we just had the flag staff, and just the shed, for the sports, and just a see-saw at the top of the hill, so why all the fuss, why don’t they pop it out into the school and let it be a playing field.

Q:    How did you get into it then?

Mrs I:    The gateway.

Q:    From White Horse Lane?

Mrs I:    No, Braintree Road. There was a little gate, iron gate at Cullen’s [corner of White Horse Lane and Braintree Road], and the iron gates where they are now, permanent for the school [Church Street].

Q:    The ones down there, yes.

Mrs I:    Yes.

Q:    What was there when, you know you said the school wasn’t there then? [Mrs I: No]. What was there then? Just the field?

Mrs I:    Yes, just the meadows, you see. Yes, well that was the playing field, and the Spring Lodge, the castle I’ve told you that, haven’t I, and the grass and the trees. And the cattle market, course that was interesting [Collingwood Road, later site of Labour Hall].

Q:    Yes, that must have been, yes.

Mrs I:    Yes, and the corn exchange, course we used to love to take the children round, they wouldn’t see a cow otherwise.

Q:    No, that’s true.

Mrs I:    Oh I did miss, I was annoyed over the building of this road [Chalks Road, i.e. houses on north side], because I popped the children to the bedroom window, I’ve had my frame, wood frame. Well they spent hours watching the pigs and the cows and the sheep in this, didn’t they? And when they’d gone home to milk, I’d pop them through the hedge and they’d pick the daisies and make the daisy chains.

Q:    [Laughs] That’s Cocks farm, was it?

Mrs I:    Oh, beautiful up there, on that corner [north-west corner of Braintree Road and Chalks Road]. We used to go there to get the milk and the little pat of butter.

Q:    Really? What, every day I suppose?

Mrs I:    Yes. Now we went to Abbotts to the, you know, on the hill, by the bottom of Chipping Hill [55 Chipping Hill].  [Q: Yes] That’s where we went to get the milk, but this was at the first in my young time, then Brown, farmer Brown came, and the boy used to come round with the pail. The man stopped me the other day and said ‘Do you recognise me?’. And I said ‘Oh, you’re a Witham man, aren’t you?’ He said ‘Do you remember me coming round with the milk?’. He said ‘We used to pop a hand in’, ‘cos they used to have a, you know, a little scoop for a half a pint or a pint of milk, never a bottle, and if the scoop dropped in, in would go their hand [laughs]. What would the hygiene people think? Oh I said ‘Now well you’ve come back to Witham then’. He said ‘Yes, I’m staying here.’ And he said farmer Brown. Well that was beautiful. Oh, and on the Chipping Hill, we had Chipping Hill fair, there was a fair there on the hill, fifth of June, I always remember, that’s what I put down.

Q:    What did they used to then?

Mrs I:    Little roundabouts, yes, swings, I remember that, and I remember the barrel of tar, Guy Fawkes night, we always had a barrel of tar on Chipping Hill.

Q:    On Chipping Hill, did you?

Mrs I:    Yes, so I mean it’s ever so nice. The old, old pump, then I told you about the old pump, didn’t I? And Blyth’s mill, that was another interesting part [the Old Mill House, Guithavon Valley]

Q:    Oh, I know, yes, down in Mill Lane.

Mrs I:    Well, they used to grind the flour there, grind the corn, the flour, we used to see the water mill.

Q:    The actual water mill was still working, was it?

Mrs I:    Yes, we played hours in those meadows, to pick the grass and then get it round and make cows’ feet. You had to do that sort of thing, there was nothing else to do.

Q:    I remember you telling me about hop-scotch, did you play other games?

Mrs I:    Oh, yes, yes, that was very nice. Well we had little hoops, didn’t we, little wooden hoops, at the basket makers in Guithavon Street, we used to have a little penny wooden hoop, and a wooden stick, and the boys had a iron hoop with a glider. And then the skipping, there’s no skipping ropes, is there?

Q:    Not many, no.

Mrs I:    And we used to have the rope across from one side the road to the other and skip along, well there was no traffic.

Q:    I suppose not. That was in the High Street, even. Lovely.

Mrs I:    Yes, and come round the back roads. And then the tops, you never see a spinning top, do you? Unfortunately we used to smash the windows if we had the flying tops.

Q:    So where did you used to get those from, some from the basket makers, you said, the hoops?

Mrs I:    Yes, yes.

Q:    Can you remember his name?

Mrs I:    Yes, Smith, the basket maker.

Q:    That was just on the corner, near the High Street, I remember reading about …. [behind 70 Newland Street?]

Mrs I:    Yes, near the school, yes, yes.

Q:    ‘Cos I remember Mr Godfrey next door telling me they had to go and get the canes from there, can you remember that?

Mrs I:    Yes, he’d remember. Oh, Mr Godfrey, course he’d remember, oh he’d remember old Cranfield, wouldn’t he. Do you know what the boys did, they used to soap their hand if they knew they were going to have the cane, or an onion, and it didn’t hurt.

Q:    Oh really?

Mrs I:    Our teacher had a ruler, she always tapped you with the ruler.

Q:    ‘Cos they didn’t hit the girls quite the same, perhaps, no?

Mrs I:    No. Oh no, they used to cane the boys. Course the boys was next to our school, we used to pop over.

Q:    I was going to say, did you have much to do with the boys school, did you go there a lot?

Mrs I:    Yes, there was only the wall to divide?

Q:    Were the playgrounds separate?

Mrs I:    Yes, oh yes, the lavatories divided, you see, and then there was a big high wall.

Q:    So would you go, you’d still see, when you say you’d pop over, was that at play time, or dinner time?

Mrs I:    Yes, yes, oh play time.

Q:    Were you allowed to go into there?

Mrs I:    Oh no, [Q: You were not supposed to?} no, no. But we used to love that. And then we used to have apple race, the apples used to be on the pavement because Green, the greengrocers, all their beautiful orchards were at the back of our school.

Q:    Oh, I know, yes.

Mrs I:    Yes, beautiful, and Cranfield was very good, he used to put the apples on the path, and then we used to be the opposite side and scramble.

Q:    I see, what, the opposite side of the road?

Mrs I:    Yes, the road, the school.

Q:    Was that very often, or just when there was apples?

Mrs I:    Oh, when the apples were around, yes.

Q:    Did Mrs Cranfield teach as well?

Mrs I:    No, [Q: It was just him?] no, Cranfield. And we used to go through if we had a graze, or if we did anything, we’d go through, because you didn’t come into the road to go to the boys, there was two doors, doorways for the girls to pop through.

Q:    Yes, I see.

Mrs I:    But the boys weren’t allowed, you know the pupils weren’t allowed, only the teachers, and also the Infants school, you know they were all joined. Well, there wasn’t any people, were they?

Q:    I suppose not really, no. Was the Council school going then as well?

Mrs I:    Oh we didn’t go, yes that was Maldon Road. [hushed] Terrible place. Down Maldon Road. Trafalgar Square, oh.

Q:    What sort of people were there there, then?

Mrs I:    Oh, horrible.

Q:    Did you, so you didn’t have much to ….?

Mrs I:    Well with fighting and bad language. Oh you mustn’t go there.

Q:    Really, you weren’t allowed to go down there, you mean?

Mrs I:    No, no, after, after this little corner, this was ‘Little Hell’, Church Street, ‘Little Hell’ [Church Street, above corner with Chalks Road].

Q:    Was it, so you weren’t allowed up here either?

Mrs I:    No. Miss Blyth opened a mission, to convert the people, did no good. Drinking, I mean, it was, beer was only penny a pint, was it?

Q:    I see. So really that was sort of down Maldon Road and up here? Were there any other parts like that?

Mrs I:    No, Maldon Road and this part.

Q:    And what, you just kept away, didn’t have much to do with them? [Mrs I shook head]. So what, they went to the Maldon Road school did they, mostly?

Mrs I:    Well, it was chiefly, I think, the Chapel people, more or less, we called it the Board School, not Council, the Board School, and ours was Church of England.

Q:    Was that Maldon Road one at the same place as it is now, or was there another one then, another school?

Mrs I:    It’s still there, what are they using it for?

Q:    Was it in the same place?

Mrs I:    Yes.

Q:    It’s the Community Centre now, I think [later Parkside Youth Centre, corner of roundabout]

Mrs I:    That’s right. That’s why the Chapel people came into the road, Braintree Road, to Annie Chapman’s, Miss Chapman’s school, because, you see, they wouldn’t bring them to the Church school, or the Catholic, it was very awkward, Catholic children, their faith is different isn’t it?

Q:    So if they didn’t want, so if the chapel people didn’t want to go to the ….?

Mrs I:    Catholic, that didn’t go to the Board School, they went to these little schools.

Q:    So those were the people that didn’t want to mix with the others?

Mrs I:    Yes, that’s right, yes. Because it was, it was terrible.

Q:    So what sort of jobs did the people down Trafalgar Square do, do you remember? Did you know any of them at all? [Mrs I shaking head]. Or would you have to go there? [Mrs I shaking head] You didn’t even have to go there with your grandma or anything? [Mrs I shaking head]

Mrs I:    Well I’m afraid that was why I was very against the Witham Council.

Q:    Why was that?

Mrs I:    Well, because that’s where those people came from. But of course you don’t like to be snobbish. Course, that is the trouble, but of course, the husbands can’t help it can they? They marry these girls, don’t they? They leave Trafalgar Square and go away, you see, that come back, these fellows, where they meet them, I don’t know, I suppose they meet them in the War time like I met my husband. Oh yes, you know the …. Oh I suppose it was all right, it was just that we, just said these things [probably referring to girls from Trafalgar Square, such as the Woods, marrying men from elsewhere who came back and got on the Council].

Q:    You didn’t have anything to do with them, anyway?.

Mrs I:    No, no. You just kept by yourself.

Q:    So your friends were mostly, where did your friends mostly come from, in Witham, which part of town?

Mrs I:    Well, Chipping Hill was really the beautiful place, you liked your walk, you came right through the meadows, and you came, and you chose your friends, and their friends, didn’t you, and then you all play, don’t you, together.

Q:    So they came down to school, Church School as well mostly, did they?

Mrs I:    Oh yes, most of the time, ‘cos you weren’t there after seven [i.e. at the Infants’ school in Church Street], well they came down into Witham. Now Miss, she usually comes to me once a week, Taylor, Miss Taylor, now she’s my age, now her father worked for the Honourable Strutt, he was, bailiff at the farm. And yet they were very Liberal, we often laugh about it now.

Q:    [Laughs] What, the Taylors were?

Mrs I:    Yes.

Q:    Where does she live now?

Mrs I:    In Cressing Road, dress maker. And then we have the old times, you know, when anything is happening or when anything, then we have those times over. And then we say ‘You remember them, don’t you?’. [Laughs] But you don’t like to.

Q:    The other people, you mean?

Mrs I:    Yes. Because I know there’s one boy, I admire him, he’s a firemen in Crittall’s, and he always speaks, and he’s so polite, and I saw his first baby, and I thought ‘Oh, Johnny, when I think of you as a little baby in that little pram, with sacks, covered with sacks’. Oh, and I think, and I think ‘Oh to think, you know, how the world has changed’. There’s no poverty now. There’s no poor in Witham, is there?

Q:    Not the same, no.

Mrs I:    You couldn’t tell me a poor person in Witham.

Q:    No, not like that.

Mrs I:    There’s not. There’s not a poor person, in Witham, ‘cos if they’re in need, they get it, don’t they?

Q:    I wonder how they used to manage, then, those people?

Mrs I:    Charity, wasn’t it. People, You see people were good. I mean there was the soup kitchens and the different things.

Q:    You had them in Witham?

Mrs I:    Yes. The Vicarage. Yes.

Q:    What, mostly from the Church, you reckon?

Mrs I:    Oh yes, definitely. Oh there were the people what we’d called the moneyed people, they were good, because I noticed that they’re criticising Dorothy Sayers. I know she didn’t help Witham, I agree with what the press said, but she helped seamen. Wool. She did more for the seamen, because I know there was all wool and knitted garments, but she didn’t help in Witham. Therefore people that are not interested in the art and that part I suppose don’t agree. But she was a very manly woman.

Q:    You remember her, do you?

Mrs I:    Oh, very. Oh, yes. I mean, you couldn’t miss her. She’d always dress in tweeds and socks, you know, not stockings, and a hat, and Major Fleming, yes, they were, they were real nice people.

Q:    Did you speak to them and so on? Did you know them personally or did you just see them about?

Mrs I:    Oh no, no, no, because you see that would be long before, ‘cos that was the college there then. But going into Cook’s, that’s where you’d see her, in the town, or going to the station to catch a train.

Q:    I see, Which was Cook’s?

Mrs I:    The pork butchers, where Stoffer’s is now, isn’t it [part of 5 Newland Street, since demolished, east of High House]. Course that was opposite wasn’t it, we’d watch her come out [of her house, 24 Newland Street]. And there was a monkey-puzzle tree there, course we were interested in that.

Q:    Can you remember any of the other shops and things when you were a child, any other shops and the people that used to run them?

Mrs I:    Yes, there was the chemist, I told you about that. And Smith’s the basket makers.

Q:    What was there next door to where you lived, for instance ?

Mrs I:    Oh, pawnbrokers. Oh yes, and then the Chapel. And the Constitutional Club was there, burnt down, a huge fire [west of 88 Newland Street, in front of what is now the United Reformed Church].

Q:    Who was there at the pawnbrokers [86 Newland Street]?

Mrs I:    Oh poor old Sammy Page.

Q:    Why do you say poor?

Mrs I:    Well we used to say ‘Here comes poor old Sammy Page’ [laugh]. We’d see the three balls over. You see, ‘cos he was always going into people’s houses if they’d died to get the antiques. Yes, we used to say ‘Here comes old Sammy Page’. I suppose we played up.

Q:    Did quite a lot of people use the pawnbroking?

Mrs I:    Oh yes. Only for that reason, to take them in, yes. But chiefly that’s where they bought, you know, odd things.

Q:    So you reckon there wasn’t a lot of actual pawning?

Mrs I:    Oh no, no. You called it the pawn shop, but it wasn’t. And then you see there was the big, lovely china shop there [Beard, 88 Newland Street], and then of course there was this bothering Constitutional place. I remember that fire well.

Q:    Do you? Were you at home then? Did you come and watch, did you?

Mrs I:    Rushed down, yes, you always do.

Q:    What did they have then for putting it out with?

Mrs I:    Oh, the steam, that was a steam fire engine, steam. And the water carts, you never get the watering carts do you. For the roads, because of course they were just rough and ready, weren’t they? And in the summer the water carts used to come along to sprinkle the water.

Q:    What sort of top was there on the roads then?

Mrs I:    Just road.

Q:    Just ordinary earth, just dirt, you mean?

Mrs I:    Earth, yes. They’ve only just recently done these roads [Chalks Road]. Well then we used to get under the water cart, didn’t we, to get to wet. That was fun. You had to make your fun, didn’t you? You had to be naughty.

Q:    Speaking of water, where did the water come from for the house? Was there water in the houses?

Mrs I:    No, you know the mill, what I call down the mill, Powershall End [1 Powershall End], well that’s where they filled the, they filled it there, I was sorry they’ve taken that, it used to be a little round thing, and we used to love to stand on that, they’ve taken that down, and put some wooden fence, haven’t they.

Q:    What was the round ….?

Mrs I:    Well that was where this water cart, where they’d fill the water, from that well.

Q:    I see, that was down by the water, was it?.

Mrs I:    And there was a waggon, we used to paddle right through there, walk right through the water.

Q:    What, in the mill pond?

Mrs I:    Yes. Loved it. Course we did.

Q:    Who lived there then, did they not mind?

Mrs I:    No, Dodd.

Q:    They didn’t mind?

Mrs I:    No. And they used to sit on the wall there and fish. ‘Cos of course the mill, the water used to rush there, didn’t it?

Q:    Was there a mill there then, at Chipping Hill?

Mrs I:    No. Yes, but that was never used. Oh, we’d always say ‘We’re going down the mill’, to the mill house, the bridge is still there.

Q:    And the house is there, but there isn’t much of the mill, is there?

Mrs I:    No.

Q:    There was when you lived there, was there?

Mrs I:    Oh yes.

Q:    What, a wheel or something, was there?

Mrs I:    Yes. But the Blyth’s mill was our chief one, lovely down there.

Q:    And that was still working with the water?

Mrs I:    Yes. Through the arches.

Q:    Would the, going back to the fire, I suppose the fire engine would have to get water from the river as well?

Mrs I:    Yes, yes. And the old fire station was in Guithavon Road, well right on the corner, wasn’t it, yes [corner of Guithavon Street and Mill Lane].

Q:    So what sort of people were on the fire engine, they were all just in their own time, was it?

Mrs I:    Yes, oh yes, no uniform, no.

Q:    So were they all people that you knew?

Mrs I:    Oh, every one. Oh, you knew everyone.

Q:    I suppose you did, yes. How did they call the fire engine, did the word go round, or did they have a sort of ….?

Mrs I:    Oh no, there was a, there was a hooter, a hooter, yes, just a hooter.

Q:    What, on the engine house or something?

Mrs I:    Yes. Yes.

Q:    And then it was a steam engine.

Mrs I:    Steam, yes. It took ages.

Q:    I was going to say, how did they get it started?

Mrs I:    There was no fire extinguishers or anything like that.

Q:    ‘Cos if they’d got to get the engine going before they could get going, and get the water [Mrs I: Yes, imagine], no wonder the place burnt down.

Mrs I:    With all the pumps, yes.

Q:    I mean, what, if they ran out of water, they had to go ….?

Mrs I:    Pails of water, you usually did that first. I remember the bake house in Church Street [had a fire] [48 Church Street].


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