Tape 100. Mr Horace Brooks and Mrs Gladys Brooks (nee Smith), sides 1 and 2

Tape 100

Mr Horace Brooks and his wife Mrs Gladys Brooks (nee Smith), were born in 1904 and 1909 respectively. They were interviewed on 8 November 1985, when they lived at 9 Pattisson Close, Witham.

They also appear on tape 101.

For more information about them, see Brooks, Horace and Gladys in the People category.

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

Side 1

Q:    Because you said you came to Witham when you were a boy? [Bad crackling on tape]

Mr B:    1910, not to Witham, I went right up Faulkbourne way. Up into the village and up into the farm. (Q: You moved to Faulkbourne?). Little Troyes Farm I went. [???] [???]. My dad, they run the farm and the boys, and I went to school in Faulkbourne the school at the top as you enter Faulkbourne, they’ve made it into a cottage now. That’s where we went. About thirty children there, that’s all. Of course you get to a certain age you’ve got to get out. There were three boys there, about eleven or twelve we had to get out. Then we offered to come to Witham, or go down to White Notley, so two of us went down to White Notley and the other boy come down Witham. There was only about five boys in the village.

Q:    So what age were you when you changed schools then?

Mr B:    That was the only school I really finished up with was White Notley and I finished there when I was thirteen. Glad to get away, ‘cos I started work at twelve and I was down at Faulkbourne Hall on the estate. (Q: Oh were you?) Used to go Saturday evenings, summertime after tea till about eight o’clock at night. Then Saturday mornings.

Q:    That was when you were at school was it? (Mr B: Yes.) What did you do there?

Mr B:    When I left school I went back in there, in the gardens.

Q:    What hours did you work then?

Mr B:    Oh that was restricted hours then. That was about nine till about four. They were the hours then. Then of course the war was on, 1914 war was still on. All the other gardeners were gone, joined the Army you see, so they had some lady gardeners there. One come from White Notley. The head gardener had a daughter, they worked with us to keep the place going. And one old gentleman who lived in Church Street, Mr Chalk. It was quite amusing.

Q:    So that was a lot of you just doing the gardens was it?

Mr B:    Yes, it was very interesting the gardens, but of course, the old head gardener, he hoped he was going to train me right up to go in other gardens, probably go further afield but at that time then you’d be not earning enough money. Thirty shillings a week I reckon, that’s the highest I got was thirty shillings a week. Then when I asked for another, they offered whatever, no it wasn’t that, but I was crazy going into Crittall’s because my older brother, my brother what was [???], he was showing me paper money and I was showing him the shillings. [laugh] It made all that difference.

Q:    He was at Crittall’s?

Mr B:    Then in about 1924 I said I was leaving. That upset the poor old head gardener and all the staff there, to think I was leaving. (Q: Mmm.) He offered me, they offered me another five shillings a week but I turned it down. (Q: That was bold, wasn’t it?) the old stagers, head ones you know, they’re pretty tight. And that’s the time when I went to Crittall’s and that’s where I stayed. Forty-four years.

Q:    So what money did you get when you started at Crittall’s?

Mr B:    Oh about two pounds fifteen, something like that. It got two more bits of paper in there doesn’t it.

Q:    Were you still living up at Faulkbourne then?

Mr B:    At that time then we would be coming from Powershall End. Come down from Faulkbourne Village to Powershall End, living in some old cottages there used to be on the green opposite the Victoria, where they’ve built them Council houses on that half moon bit. (Q: I see.) There was cottages all up there. (Q: Were there really?) And we moved from there and took, Mum and Dad took one of the first Council houses in Cressing Road. They were built in abut the twenties. Mum and Dad paid about seven and sixpence a week. That was the first Council houses. There was one row right the way down.

Q:    Did you have any other brothers and sisters?

Mr B:    Oh yes, there was ten in our family. (Q: Really?) I was the ninth one of the family. There was only one boy, brother, younger than me. He’s down in Sevenoaks in Kent. That’s all there is left in the family. Eight brothers and two sisters.

Q:    I suppose they wouldn’t all be living at home at once would they?  (Mr B: Oh no, no.) I mean how many would you have when you were at home?

Mr B:    Oh no. The girls as soon as they left school they was in service, they’d be put into service. The boys, you see they’d be working down on the farm. And half the time, well they went in the Army. About five went in the Army, First World War. We lost one. Then we lost one at sea.

Q:    Was that in the War as well?

Mr B:    No that one was lost on the barging days. He was lost up the Channel, about 1910.

Q:    Can you remember them going?

Mr B:    Yes, I remember them going. Yes I remember them going.

Q:    Did they all go together, did they all go at once, to the War?

Mr B:    Yes, the five did. Yes they all went together. All eager to go, volunteered to go.

Q:    Did they have people coming round recruiting? Where did they have to go to join up? Did they have people coming round recruiting?

Mr B:    They went recruiting in Witham. Yes they was all eager to go. That was a busy time then. Faulkbourne all right down to Witham, soldiers, soldiers, marching, thousands and thousands. All up Powershall End there you know they had a big rifle range there. There was thousands of soldiers come there in the War for shooting parties. Of course they was all on their way down to Colchester you see, then Harwich and Parkeston. That’s where they shipped them. They even come right down there from Scotland. Moved away down all the time. They had a lot of Scottish troops at Terling Park. Mum and Dad used to take us there Sunday afternoons. There used to be quite an entertainment there with bands and that playing. Sunday afternoons.

Q:    What, that was specially for people to visit ?

Mr B:    Oh yes, there used to be thousands of people go there, from Hatfield, Terling, Fairstead, all go to Terling Park. All belonged to Lord Rayleigh you see.

Q:    They were just camping there were they?

Mr B:    Oh yes they were camping there.

Q:    Where were the shooting, where were the ranges then?

Mr B:    On the Faulkbourne Road. That’s that big field there where they cut that piece off. Have you been on the Faulkbourne Road. Where they cut that piece off. (Q: Yes.) Well that was the rifle range. Where that big field went right up top. The firing range used to run right over Fairstead Lane. So when the firing was done Fairstead Lane was marked up with red flags and a guard there to see nobody went through.

Q:    So if you go up the old Faulkbourne Road that’s on your …?

Mr B:    You pass the Victoria don’t you, the old road, go right up there. There’s a bit cut off there where the Council has got a dump now ain’t they? (Q: Oh I see.) You’ll see that all there? (Q: Yes.) Well that was a beautiful road right way through there. That was Faulkbourne Road.

Q:    And the field is what, on your left there?

Mr B:    On the left. That big field, that long field. Like the one what comes in Terling Road [???] that’s the next one. Where that started to end, cut that road off. (Q: Oh I see, yes.) That field  went straight up there, that was the rifle range.

Q:    Did they stay with you as well, did you say?

Mr B:    Oh they were billeted. Yes, soldiers were billeted. They’d force anything up to five and six on you know, doesn’t matter if had got families. They’d force the soldiers in. ‘Oh mum, you’ll take so many, you’ll take so many’.

Q:    How many did your mum have? How many did your mother have?

Mr B:    Oh she always had five. When we lived in the village at Faulkbourne she always had five.

Q:    So how many of you were at home then?

Mr B:    Two of us. Just the two what’s alive now. All the others were in the army you see . (Q: Yes of course, yes.) Yes, just us two. Number nine and number ten.

Q:    Still, you can’t have had much space can you? How many rooms did you have?

Mr B:    Oh, no, just slept around corner to corner. Where there was a corner you slept in it. If you’d got a bed you were sleeping top and bottom. When the family was all packed all together, we slept top and bottom.

Q:    So how many rooms were there altogether?

Mr B:    Only two bedrooms.

Q:    Just two bedrooms. So, just before they went off to the War, you’d have, they’d all be at home then would they? (Mr B: Yea.) So you’d have seven of them? (Mr B: Yea.)

Mr B:    You were just the same at Braintree wasn’t you Mum?

Mrs B:    Yes, three in a bed.

Q:    I suppose everybody was the same?

Mrs B:    We had three. We was sitting there one day and all of a sudden one of the soldiers said ‘Let’s see how thick this wall is.’ And he went through the wall with the bayonet. And my neighbour was sitting next door. She came rushing round and said. Of course they’d put a knife sharpener and plastered a bit of paper in it quick. Put a knife sharpener in the hole. When they come round ‘Who’s been stabbing through our wall?’ We said ‘it was only this knife sharpener’. It wasn’t, it was a bayonet.

Mr B:    Well, these old houses, the walls were just lath and plaster and horsehair to keep it all together. But our lives really were better than what hers was. Because we was always on the farm (Q: Oh I see.) We had the luxury of pheasants, hares, rabbits, pigeons, hens laying eggs, and cows for milk.

Q:    And you could have all that could you?

Mr B:    Yes, all that.

Q:    What was your father’s job on the farm? What was your father’s job, was he …?

Mr B:    Oh, he worked the farm. He was the horseman. He worked the farm.

Q:    So he did the whole lot did he?

Mr B:    Yea, and the boys worked in with him you see. He had two boys with him. There was brother Harry and brother Bert before they went in the Army, they was working. Then there was us, the last two was going to school.

Q:    Did that belong to Lord Rayleigh as well?

Mr B:    No, that didn’t. That was a private affair. But it was on Strutt and Parker’s estate.

Q:    Oh I see. Oh so it was more to do with the Parkers then?

Mr B:    Oh yes to do with the Parkers. Very near come into Witham did their property. (Q: Did it?) Their property come right down to the Victoria. And that ended up at Chipping Hill there. There’s a path goes through, (Q: I know.) goes right through. They owned all that along there, they owned the terraced houses, where the old prefabs used to be years ago, they had a row of terraced houses there then, ends up with the pillar box [probably Church Street, Witham]. They owned all them there, Parker did. And it went from there on to the Cherry Tree and he shot in there right over to Silver End. That property went right up to Silver End. (Q: Goodness.) Then it went right on to Cullen’s properties. (Q; Good heavens.) Where Karl Richardson’s got property [???]. He died didn’t he? (Q: Yes.) What married a Crittall. (Q: Temples.) Well that was Cullens on Temple estate [Cressing Temple]. That’s where Parkers ended. And that went right from there that went right through to Fairstead. Half White Notley, then on to Fairstead and round again and down there to the Victoria. And they still own it. They still take rent for it.

Q:    That was all run in little bits, separate farms?

Mr B:    Oh yes, of course that property belonged to the Parkers. He could ride on it and come on free as he liked.

Q:    I see, but you were allowed to get pheasants – that was legal was it?

Mr B:    No it wasn’t. We helped ourselves. (Q: You helped yourselves.) [laugh] Used to know the gamekeepers and all. Because they used to come round to the door and have home brewed beer and wine. And that put them right. He used to come up and say to Dad ‘Your boys are down there hunting about up there’ he said ‘Do you know it?’ ‘Oh they’ll be all right’, come in and square it with a  glass of beer or glass of wine, and nothing more was said.

Q:    And the same with the milk and things like that, your dad, milk and things like that, that was all part of his …?

Mr B:    Part of his job. He done everything on the farm you see.

Q:    So he was really the farmer, except he …?

Mr B:    The owner was a bachelor, he was a bachelor, and he didn’t know a lot about farming and Dad knew farming you see and they worked it together.

Q:    He lived there, this other, he lived near, this other bloke did he? (Mr B: Yes.) He actually lived at the farm?

Mr B:    Yes, we lived in the farmhouse Faulkbourne. Mum looked after the bachelor farmer. He run the farm with Dad you see, but he was really the owner but Mum looked after him and looked after us. So she had the big house. That was Little Troyes.

Q:    So there was a lot of people working, was there other people working for your Dad as well as …?

Mr B:    Oh yes, there was another cottage lower down, there was a family there. They worked on the land as well.

Q:    I mean nowadays it’s all corn and that, isn’t it. Did they have more different things?

Mr B:    Oh yes, they had a lot of different things that time of day. He had big kohl rabbis, there’d be mangels, you don’t see them do you, kohl rabbis? Us kids used to, coming home from school if we was hungry, we’d go in a field, pick up a kohl rabbi and share it out with our knives what we always used to carry, and eat that on the way home. And mangels you see a lot of people used to make wine with mangels. Of course that was all cattle food. You see the farmers produced stuff for the cattle at that time of day. Now that’s all come from the factories.

Q:    Yes, did you buy any feed, did they buy any feed at all?

Mr B:    Oh yes, what they call a cake, some sort of cattle cake, that’s about all they bought and probably meal to mix in with other things for pigs and that. But the cattle cake was mixed in for the cows and cattle because they used to eat hay. The farmers grew hay. They grew clover, that was all cattle feed through the winter. The mangels that was growed, that was food, that was ground up and mixed up with the straw they burn today, they didn’t burn that time of day. That was always collected and they used to cut that up. And the chaff cutters worked by hand. And that was always mixed up with their food, cake and mangel.

Q:    Because the straw they burn is just what’s left after its been cut presumably. But they used to cut that did they? (Mr B: Oh yes.) And how did you collect it?

Mr B:    What, the straw?

Q:    Or did you just cut the straw lower?

Mr B:    That was cut right down to the close stubble, like it is now, but that straw was always raked in by the horse rakes. (Q: I see.) But it wasn’t baled at that time of day. Probably did later as machinery come along it was baled but it always went on the stacks loose. Used to be chucked on the wagons by forks and taken to the stack.

Q:    That was all with horses presumably?

Mr B:    Yes, all horse work.

Q:    And the threshing and that, that would be?

Mr B:    That used to be by thresher. They hired it, the threshing tackle and all that were hired.

Q:     That came round all the farms did it?

Mr B:    Yes, there’d be several people run these threshing tackles. There was one in Church Street you know. (Q: Was there really?) Bill Randall. Of course they’ve built property on there now. You know where that little chapel is in Church Street? [Bethel] You know where that little chapel is in Church Street. (Q: Yes.) Well opposite there used to be a little meadow there and a house, they knocked that down. Stood on its own. That’s where he used to keep his threshing tackles in there. (Q: Oh I see.) Used to go round to the farm when they wanted and have a day threshing the stack of corn. Then there was the ploughing tackles. Steam tackles. There used to be a steam engine one end of the field and another. And there used to be this cultivator used to go up and down like that. When it got down there they’d blow the whistle and that one pulled it back again. That’s how they went up and every time they went they’d move over a bit for the next one come back. They’d blow a whistle and the other one’d start up there with big rollers there pulling it up on cable and the man would be sitting on there steering it.

Q:    Did somebody sit on the thing while it was moved, did they?

Mr B:    Oh yes, that moved along. There was a threshing tackled belonged to Joey Mens in Collingwood Road. Is that house still there now? No it ain’t.

Q:    Its all the Health place, it was wasn’t it, not long since? The Health Authority is it?

Mr B:    Yes, built that place there that was his property there and he had the threshing tackles.

Q:     Where did he keep them?

Mr B:    I dunno where he kept them, but that’s where he lived old Joey Mens. He had also cartage things, you know, horses and tumbrels and other vehicles. At that time of day any contract that was going round, building and factories and all that, there’s be a job for them to go with a man and his horse to clean up dirt and take it away. Now its all bulldozed. And Thompson the coalman, you know where his property is, near the station? [1A Braintree Road] (Q: Oh yes.) The stables all down there used to be down to the carpet people.[Ramsden Mills] He had horses all down there. He run the coal business and he also run one or two horses and carts to go on contracts moving dirt, or doing jobs for the Council.

Q:    I suppose if you had a cart you’d get as much use as you could for it.

Mr B:    Oh yes, there was always jobs for them. Because when they built Crittall’s look at the dirt there was to be shifted there. There was Mens coming in there with manned[?] horses. Thompson was the same. They was going in there. That all had to be shifted. Goodness knows where they took it to. They took the dirt somewhere.

Q:    Was it higher up then or do you just mean for the foundations?

Mr B:    For the foundations you see to get that level. Because if you take that level from the front of Crittall’s right to the Braintree line it’s quite a slope, there’s a lot of dirt to take away to get that factory set in there. If you look at that factory that is lower than what the road is. You walk along that front. They had dugouts all along the front there at Crittall’s. That’s where we had to pop in there when the air raids were on. They were all dugouts built on there. Where they’ve got a little bit of a lawn now, little old shelters there, they were dugouts. [along Braintree Road].

Q:    So did your brother stop at Crittall’s as well as you?

Mr B:    Oh yes, but he finished up in Ford’s at Dagenham. He finished up in Ford’s at Dagenham. The younger brother he finished up, in, when he left school he went to Marshall’s, in Bridge Street. Marshall had a shop in Bridge Street where the antique place is now. Marshall started up in there when he come out the Army running bicycles. You could hire cycles for the weekend. Sixpence, shilling. Used do cycle repairs in the houses there. All where that old property is now. You know where that old antique house there, well there was cottages all there and he had that shop built in there right beside the old George and Dragon pub. And then he run the shop there and that’s where my brother worked when he left school. Cycle repairing and scraping down cycle frames and painting them. Then there was Ashby he had Ashby’s Garage what’s up the London Road (Q: Yes.) Well, when he started with motor cycles, when he came out the Army, he started with motorcycles, he started with Marshall in that shop where the antiques place is. [27A Bridge Street] Then that got rather big and Marshall left that and he took the big shop where Rumbelow’s is, Marshall [74-76 Newland Street]. They went on to wireless, television, that’s where all that started, records, cycles. And Ashby went up higher up beyond Bridge Street Hospital. (Q: So he went more in for cars?) Cars, he finished up with cars,  but he still had a few motorcycles.

Q:    I suppose before people had cars there was more call for bikes and things? (Mr B: Oh yes.) Do you remember the cars coming in?

Mr B:    Yes, I do, was trying to run behind it. [laugh] I don’t know what age I was, must have been about seven or eight when I first seen a car. I wasn’t in Essex then. I was down in Suffolk then, come home from school there, we seen somebody from the big estate there had got a car and we wondered what the heck was the sound. [laugh] We had been so used to, when you went to school that time of day, you’d run behind a horse and cart to get there quick, hang on the back if the old man didn’t hit you with a whip. [laugh] My older brothers’d say ‘I’ll give you a hiding if you leave go’. You see. The old bloke used to make the horse go harder and you’re feet were going up there nearly dragging on the ground. My older brothers used to say ‘Come on, hold on, hang on, I’ll give you a hiding if you leave go’. They’d got to see us to school you see. The older ones’d see the younger ones to school, that time of day.

Q:    How old were you when you came to Faulkbourne?

Mr B:    Nine or ten right up the village.

Q:    Why did your people move, do you know? Any special reason?

Mr B:    Oh yes, they was doing air raids, Zeppelin raids in London and this Vasler[?] had relations in London and they wanted to get down in the country away from the London raids. That’s how it all started. So they moved us down into Faullkbourne village. That was in them cottages t’other side of the Post Office there. It was a little general shop wasn’t it? (Q: Yes.) [???] we called ‘em. Big old chimneys they were. They were estate houses. Parker. We moved in there. We were there till very nearly up end of the War [First War]. That’s where we used to see all the soldiers come along through there. Used to wake in the night and find soldiers outside in the road. On manoevres. Moving them around at night times. Hollering, shooting. Soldiers everywhere. They was all moving down towards the coast. Used to think there was no end to them. Yes, they was moving through all the time.

Q:    That was as well as the one that were billeted?

Mr B:    Yes, when they were billeted, probably there was a regiment of them in Witham somewhere and they wouldn’t take them all and they brought a few to you in the villages, round you see. But in their day’s work they brought them away from the villages and they took them down to the rifle ranges you see, down into Witham to do all the drilling and that sort of thing. There was only small batches come into Witham.

Q:    Did you watch them drilling?

Mr B:    Oh yes, used to join in with them! (Q: Did you?) As kids, with a stick and that, they used to laugh. Quite amusing it was.

Q:    So you were allowed to see what was going on?

Mr B:    Oh yes, we were allowed to see what was going on. And we was allowed to go and get their rations and all. Mum had five soldiers, oh what rations there was. They used to take a bath, one of them old fashioned iron metal baths, or linen basket and we used to go with them. They used to go over to the farm. They used to run the farm in the village where they used to have their food and that issued out. And the food was issued out, so many per family. That was all brought back to Mum. Of course she put it in all together and we all lived on it.

Q:    So what sort of things did they have?

Mr B:    The old  [???]  they used to call it, the old [???] tins, tinned jam.

Mrs B:    Horsemeat some of it they said.

Mr B:    Well that’s what they used to say.

Mrs B:    [???] we had them at Braintree.

Mr B:    Big lumps of meat, bread. I’ve seen the soldiers coming along there kicking the bread up the village, playing football with it.

Q:    You say they went to a farm for it?

Mr B:    Yes, went to the farm for it. They was at. The ones what I knew was Speakmans Farm in Faulkbourne, (Q: What farm, sorry?) Speakmans Farm.

Q:    The Army had that for themselves?

Mr B:    That was like their headquarters for issuing out things. Probably the officers lived in with the farmers you see. They’d got their special places to go. And the school teacher take the sergeant. [laugh] You see that’s how they used to go. And the workmen had the ordinary private soldier. That’s how that used to run all through the village. And the Witham police sergeant was Sergeant Haggar. He always came up with the troops because he marched in front of the troops up here. So many troops come up there, to Faulkbourne. As they come along they’d call at every house, knock on the door, ‘[???] madam, how many can you take today?’. See. ‘Oh I only want one.’ ‘No, you’d better have two or three’. (Q: That was his job was it?) ‘Three, there, in there.’ March on to the next house, that’s how they used to go. And it was the police sergeant would be with the officer all the time, while they billetted. That’s how they used to go on.

Mrs B:    That Tommy Haggar’s

Mr B:    That was Sergeant Haggar.

Mrs B:    Was it his father?

Mr B:    Yes, old Thomas Haggar.

Mrs B:    The one with all the burnt face.

Q:    So, all the food. That wasn’t produced on the farm or anything was it? Was that brought to the farm from somewhere else?

Mr B:    That was Army transport would bring all the food for the soldiers.

Q:    But stuff like bread and that they’d have to have that fresh wouldn’t they?

Mr B:    I don’t know where the heck the bread come from. I suppose the bread was baked by the Army somewhere, probably in Witham because they used to have their field bakery, didn’t they. They made up their own bakery places. They dug holes, and brickwork and all that. They wouldn’t use no other place. They’d do it all themselves.

Q:    So there wasn’t really any extra work in it for anybody? I suppose there weren’t the people about to do it anyway?

Mr B:    No, there wasn’t. No, the troops used to do it all theirselves. They was just the same as when they were on the march. The whole battalion would take quite an hour to pass through, if not longer. They had bands, the soup kitchens [???] on wheels, drawn by horses and the cooks would walk behind them, stewing up the stew in these big old drums there. Oh you’d see ‘em putting the vegetables in as they all moved along. (Q: Really?) That was bubbling away there. Feed the troops. Then course they’d all fall out along the side of the road and be fed by the kitchens. And there was times when the troops used to come through there and they’d all fall out, probably coming somewhere in the village where us kids were, we used to go and see if they wanted any water. Well the old officers used to run up and down there on their horses ‘No, no water, clear off. Leave them alone.’ We used to go and fill their water bottles. They wasn’t allowed, they was on hard rations you see, to see how long they could go without water and food, and all that sort of thing. But there was always somebody there to give them food, say there happened to someone near your front gate. You’d give something to them wouldn’t you. Fill their water bottle up, give them a bit of food. ‘Ta, ma, OK ma’. [laugh]

Q:    So you ate the same food did you?

Mr B:    Oh yes, when they were billeted in we had the same meals. They were all in with our rations. ‘Cos we was on rations that time of day weren’t we? (Q: I suppose so.) Had the stamp piece cut out.

Mrs B:    Didn’t get much.

Q:    You’d get better food then did you, with the soldiers?

Mr B:    Oh yes, yes.

Mrs B:    That’s how we had calcium deficiency, a lot of us, people had bad teeth. [???]

Mr B:    The soldiers had, their milk was all tinned milk. They done better with us, they done better in the villages, the soldiers did, because they used to go to places on the farms, used to get our own milk. We used to take our cans as soon as we come out of school and go and get the milk. Could get a pint there for a ha’penny. And sometimes we’d go back and get some more. They made all that fuss with milk, didn’t they, they do today don’t they? We survived on almost pouring it in our mouths from the cow’s teat. Plenty times we used to go back to old Jim Russell the foreman, ‘We had an accident, Mr Russell, we dropped the milk’, ‘You devils, he said, I’ll tell our father’, we’d go back he’d say ‘Hold you can then’, the cow was there and he’d go ‘Wsh. wsh’ and we’d clear off home.

Q:    No pasteurising then?

Mr B:    No, they never troubled about it. When we had it only went through a cooler. That’s all they done. That went through the cooler and into churns.  (Mrs B: They had more TB them days.) Then it went off to Hatfield Dairies then, Rayleighs.

Q:    That was later on? (Mr B: Mmmm.) So when you moved to by the Victoria there, had your dad stopped work?

Mr B:    Stopped all milk then. Stopped all milk, we had to go to the milk people.

Q:    Was he not working then?

Mr B:    No. Well, my father I think he went and done jobs and that to old Philip Hutley’s. That’s Powershall. He ran horses there for some time till things went wrong and he sacked hisself there and we got a Council house because we had to get out we were under the farmer all the time you see. Anything went wrong you had to get out the house.

Q:    It was their house was it?

Mr B:    Yes, you had to get out. If you couldn’t work you had to get out. So I know Dad had trouble several times, had accidents, fell off his bike and he was laid up a long while and several things happened and he couldn’t go to work. But [???] Hatton[?] come along and we got a house from Witham Council. There was a very good Council that time of day. You could get anything from them. Wonderful Council. And we shared one of the first Council houses in Cressing Road.

Q:    Because if you hadn’t had the Council houses you’d have been a bit, what would you have done do you think?

Mr B:    I don’t know what we should have done really, in a way, but would have had to get in anywhere we could I suppose. Dad’ve had to find a job somewhere. Probably moved out the county, you never know.

Mrs B:    He was getting on, in his seventies?

Mr B:    Yes, I know he was getting on but he was still working. That time of day they still kept working didn’t they, long they could. [???] living on the state.

Mrs B:    Didn’t get much pension neither.

Mr B:    Dad still went to work when we went up Cressing Road in the Council houses. He was still working then. He went working for old Joe Mens I think, doing a bit of cartage as I was talking about, getting dirt and that about, moving …

Q:    I suppose like you say, there weren’t the diggers and so on then, so you always needed more people for jobs like the roads and that. There wasn’t the machinery.

Mrs B:    No, no that’s where the jobs come from.

Q:    Did the steam things, the steam ploughing tackle, was that hired as well? (Mr B: What?) Whether the steam engines, that you said did the ploughing, was that hired?

Mr B:    Oh yes, all hired, yes. I think Lord Rayleigh’s had their own tackles. And they had a big yard just before you get to Terling Park. I always remember them as a boy. Had a huge park and they were full of steam engines and all farm implements. And I think that was the end of the road where you turn off to Hatfield or Terling. Have you ever been through there? (Q: Yes.) I think there’s a big place, a meadow, on the right hand side as you turn the corner. I remember it as a boy. So I think Lord Rayleigh had their own but Strutt and Parkers I think they sort of hired, probably hired Lord Rayleigh’s you see. Same as Philip Hutley you see he was at Powershall End at the farm. Well all his ground all went through there where the Humber Road and all that is, where Powershall End school. They were all under farmland there, that all come under Powershall farm. (Q: Really?) Well they’d hire.
At that time of day he had horse ploughs. But they only had these tackle when they wanted a big bit of ground rooted up specially, you see. They’d plough for so long and then they’d get these tackles in to go a bit deeper. (Q: So it wasn’t every year then?) No. He’d have eight pairs in the fields. You imagine eight pairs going down the field together. A pretty scene to see. Eight pairs of horses doing their acre. Used do to an acre a day they would, they’d plough an acre a day. They’d do half an acre before breakfast and the other half afterwards and then go back to the stables about four o’clock time, see to their horses, bed them up, then knock off about half past five. And the horses used to be out by six o’clock in the morning. And they all used to go out to their fields and plough their acre.

Q:    Did your dad do ploughing (Mr B: Oh yes.) He had to organise all the rest as well?

Mr B:    There used to be a headman and all amongst them.

Q:    Because I spoke one time to, Mrs Raven she was in the end. Used to be Turner. Her father worked …

Mr B:    Oh yes. Her father was head horseman. Jack Turner. I remember him.

Q:    I think she lived up Powershall End.

Mr B:    I’ve got a picture what she put in the paper a long while ago. The old Victoria and the old cottage up there where I lived. Ever seen it have you? (Q: I think so. I can picture one of the Victoria.) She had it put in the paper years ago and I tore it out. I remember Jack Turner.

Q:    You must be older than you look then. You must be older than you look, mustn’t you?

Mr B:    Eighty-one. 1904. I was born on the banks of the River Orwell in an estate cottage, overlooking Harwich [Shotley]. …

Side 2

[about Mrs B’s family in London before they married]

Mr B:    Well I suppose things didn’t go right in London. [Her] Dad worked for the London General. They were horse days you see, horse buses weren’t there? Dad used to tell us about the horse buses. He used to look after the horses you see. He was what they called a clipper and trimmer. He used to tell me horses went upstairs but I never believed him, but they did go upstairs. (Q: Really?) They were on all different floors, he said. (Q: Goodness.) He said ‘The big depot there where the horses were, that’s where I worked’. We wouldn’t believe Dad, when he used tell us about horses. He was looking after horses. (Q: I see.) He learnt a lot about veterinary work, [???] how to treat them.

Q:    A specialised job.

Mr B:    He’d bring out horses for the change you see. They’d do a round and then he had to go out with a pair of horses for the change. Just like they did in the old coaching days. They used to change at the Punch[?] didn’t they. The hotels an’ that as they come through.

Q:    So he’d stay back in the stables all the time, taking them in and out and looking after them?

Mr B:    In and out. He told me then that the horses went upstairs but I wouldn’t believe him. He used to say they walked upstairs and different things. But I found it out by looking at television, see horses going into big castles, up the stairs and that. Used to see them all in action, don’t you, on the films.

Q:    Yes, yes, so it was true after all. [laugh]

Mr B:    I thought ‘Oh no, it must be right, look at that horse going up there as quick as anything, up the stairs.

Q:    I was just thinking about those ones down here. They’ve gone now haven’t they? (Mr B: [???]’ It’s nice isn’t it. You like it here – how long since you moved now?

Mr B:    We’ve been here five years [Pattisson Close]

Mrs B:    Yes, five years October.

Mr B:    We had the same sort of bungalow at Powershall End.

Q:    Similar aren’t they. There are some down Howbridge aren’t there, rather like this.

Mr B:    We did live in Dengie, er Cressing Road when we got married, 1933. Mum moved out and took a cottage in Church Street, when Dad packed up, and I got married, took the house in Cressing Road that my mum had. When they started building through the line at the crossing gates, made Glebe Crescent, we moved there in about ’47/‘48 was it Mum? (Mrs B: Yes.) When Mum and Dad died. (Q: I see.) We moved from there through the crossing gates into another new house in Glebe Crescent. I don’t know how long we stayed up there, seventeen years maybe didn’t we? Her illness started then you see. Her trouble started and so we got a bungalow.

Q:    You went back home, down to the Victoria again.

Mr B:    No, we didn’t, nowhere near, went to Dengie Close up here. Stayed there a year. I was still at work, I hadn’t retired. They couldn’t make it out, me getting a bungalow and still at work.

[serving tea etc.,  not noted]

Q:    How did you get involved in the Labour Party then? Her was it? [laugh]

Mrs B:    I worked ….

Mr B:    She worked hours for the Labour Party. When they had that new place up there. She done some work, I think, making things.

Mrs B:    They was always sewing[?] for them.

Mr B:    Giving little lectures how to sew. (Q: Really?) With the ladies all getting together in the afternoons.

[tea, not noted]

Q:    So how did that all start then with them. How did you first get into the Labour Party?

Mrs B:    Oh we’ve been in there when we were in Cressing Road, [???] was there. He put me in as Secretary, what was it, you do all the money, Treasurer, for a little while. They kept falling out, some come and some didn’t. Used to have it in the houses, then, and then we had a little hall at the back of the Public Hall there. We went down there then. [???] Then Mrs Ball, she’s a good old soul you know.

Mr B:    When we was young chaps you see, we’d get about Witham and that. Burrows, he was a Labour man, Mr Burrows. We used to go in his house in the High Street. [???] the boys there, we used to go there and play cards, all games. I think that house was somewhere, if I’m right, back of the old Cooper’s there [84 Newland Street]. [Q: Those big high …] Builders there, we went up an alleyway, but up steps. As far as I can remember we used to go there. Then of course we used to get round to different community places wasn’t there. There was the old YMCA, that’s where Jodrells[?] had that house built, opposite the Labour Hall [Collingwood Road]. We had a big old YMCA was left there by the 1940 troops you see, had a big hut there [probably First World War in fact]. There was all manner of functions going on there. The other hut was another YMCA was where the old antique bloke has got in Mill Lane now. [near corner with Newland Street] That old long hut, used to go to functions there, didn’t you, dances and one thing and another there. That’s along back of Crotchet.

Mrs B:    That’s where we started old-time dancing in there.

Q:    That’s the one, not Shelleys, but the one that’s on its own? (Mrs B: yes) The one opposite the Labour Hall, which War was that left from? (Mr B: The old YMCA.) That was put up in the First World War? (Mr B: Yes.) Did they leave very much behind them in the way of buildings and that, after the War?

Mr B:    No, no, I don’t think so, not … And then of course that turned into a Labour, what do they call it, you know the dole, where they deal with Government affairs. (Q: I know.) Still Government property. (Mrs B: Labour Exchange.) Yes, Labour Exchange. Do you know the queues used to be there right down to the old Jubilee tree, we called it. There’d be a queue right down to there, you’d go and sign in. When you went there they wouldn’t let you sign in. ‘Oh, I’ve got a green card for you, there’s a job going so and so, pea picking. Somebody wants someone on a farm, take that’. Didn’t ask  whether you ‘d do it or not, ‘Take it.’ Wouldn’t let you sign on, So you had to go tearing off and when you got there there was no job at all. It was finished. Somebody else had done it. Tear back and you’d lost your signing on. That’s the capers they used to give us. Many times Monday morning we’ve gone there. Oh pea picking, they want pea picking down at White Notley. Imagine going from Witham right down to White Notley pea picking, gone there, field was cleared. The locals had done it for the weekend. But the cards still went in for pea picking.

Q:    What sort of time would that be? That was when you were married, do you mean?

Mr B:    No, I wasn’t married then. (Q: Before you went to Crittall’s?) It was when I was waiting to get into Crittall’s. (Q: After …) When did I leave Crittall’s, left Faulkbourne Hall? 1921?

Q:    So there was a lot with no work was there?

Mr B:    No, there wasn’t no work. But it didn’t happen wrong with me because I was active to go and get any job, matter of fact the old head gardener asked me to go back up there and do some work at Faulkbourne Hall. Cause he told me when I left ‘Don’t go on the dole, don’t get out of work, come back to us’. So I was always free, but I did try the Labour Exchange, trying to get into Crittall’s.
But I found out I couldn’t get into Crittall’s that way. I started reporting to the gate at Crittall’s. They used to be gangs, getting round the back gate and the old lodge keeper got a notice there for so many workmen. Well he’d look at you and he’d say ‘You, you, you.’ About six, open the gate and let you in. That went on plenty of times. I used to haul myself up there and my brother said to me, he said ‘You know,’ he said, ‘I’ve seen the manager’, he said, ‘There’ll be work for you if you kept going round the gate’, you see. So I said to my brother, I said I don’t know, they keep saying ‘You, you and you’, I didn’t get called. And old Haggar knew me. Used say ‘All right Brooky, nothing for you this morning’, see. Well, one morning I had him. I went round there and he said ‘Not this morning Brooky’. I said ‘There is.’ I said ‘You’ve got to let me in the gate, you’ve got to take me to the manager’. ‘Oh’ he says, ‘I’ll take you’ he says, ‘Boy’ he says, ‘That’s good’ he said ‘How did that happen?’ I said ‘I’ve got a brother inside here you know.’ ‘Oh yes, of course you have.’ That’s how I got into Crittall’s.

Q:    What, you went to see the manager. Who was the manager then? (Mr B: Curdlin[?] Tony Curdlin[?], Braintree man.) So he let you in then?

Mr B:    Yes, had me in the office, had the foremens in there and I went working for Johnny Wilkins. D’you remember old Johnny Wilkins, lives up Rickstones Road, big old fat boy? (Q: No, I don’t think so.)

Mrs B:    He was a Labour man wasn’t he?

Mr B:    He was a Labour man. Well, they all was at Crittall’s. Strong Labour there.

Mrs B:    They seemed happy doing a lot for the Party then. Join in everything but [???]. Of course I can’t get down there now. But we used to enjoy ourselves there. I feel so sorry for Mrs Whittaker. Oh I do feel sorry for her. You know about  her. She lived down Mill Lane.

Q:    Worked at the shop? [Gilberts]

[chat about Mrs Whittaker, not noted.]

Mr B:    Church Street never run no further that what the butchers did, you know. You know Sawyers’ the butchers at that old pillar box at the end of the last terrace. As far as the road run. If you carried on there it was a gipsy lane, a cart lane through the fields. There was farms each side and one farm was farmed by Brown on where you live. [Chalks Road] (Q: Oh yes.) You’re living on a nice little meadow, what we used to call the farm pikle, we used to call them years ago. That’s a little meadow, near the farm you see. Then the farm was stuck right on that corner, where the garage is. (Q: Oh I see.) Brown’s Farm. I think Alderton were there last. [Chalks Road and Braintree Road corner]

Q:    There’s a picture of it in that book isn’t there?

Mr B:    Browns you see farmed all them fields up Church Street right down to the river. Never went beyond the Cherry Tree. They took that field on the front of where the present school is, you know the school up there (Q: Yes.) and had a field there where they built on Homefields, the old bungalows there, there was a field there you see. They had that and all. Then of course he had that field what went up where the first Council houses was [Cressing Road]. That was another field from Brown. And then there was another field the other side going up where you live. (Q: Chalks Road.)

Mrs B:    You’re in Chalks Road? (Q: Yes.)

Mr B:    Cyril Joslin had a piece of it then. He’s down there by the bridge isn’t he, Cyril Joslin [Braintree Road railway bridge). (Q: Oh yes.) In a bungalow there. [Cerine] Well his garden goes into a field that goes up towards the Cherry Tree. That was farmed by Brown. I remember that all being open. Of course it’s all filled up with houses now.

Q:    I know, they keep complaining opposite us that we’re taking up their field that they used to look at. The Hayes and them that lived there

[chat about present and recent residents of Chalks Road, etc. not noted.]

Q:    I mean really, Dolly [Hayes] often says that when they were building our houses [1938, Chalks Road] some people risked all their money to buy one and the others were more careful. But the ones that bought one did better in the end but it was a bit of a risk at the time.

Mrs B:    Yes, it was because I was going to have one. We [???] Who was that man come to see us. As I said we didn’t know when he was coming out of work and that worried you so. And I know Harry Rudkin[?] bought one in St Nicholas Road and what they were paying was eighteen shillings.

Mr B:    Reg Lee, he was Secretary for Mortimer’s, White Horse Lane.

Mrs B:    Harry bought one that was ….

Mr B:    Now Reg was there, Lee, he was in with the company but he did all the secretarial work. I know he came to see us several times to buy one.
Mrs. B:    As I say that was eighteen, paying eighteen [shillings] and something a week, buying it, and we were paying eight and fourpence for a Council House. And that other ten shillings, other pound, ten shillings, was a lot of money you see and you did know if we could afford it or not. About four hundred and fifty to five hundred pounds, weren’t they?

Mr B:    I can see the old notices up there now, they stuck them on that garage.

Mrs B:    We were going to have one like the one you are in with the bow, the nice bay window, and then they’d got one in Hatfield Road and Lee come and asked if we’d like that one. Same sort of thing there. Because I said I’d like to live up Hatfield Road. But you know he was rather worried, cause he come out of work for ten months afterwards, didn’t you?

Mr B:    Yes, well there was, there was trouble at Silver End. Lord Braintree got in trouble at Silver End, he got let down [???] Silver End the builders and that, they got robbed there thick and thin. Trouble. Then the houses were getting emptied. Then they had the Welsh miners ’33, trouble and they marched down from there and they swarmed into Silver End (Q: Really?) and they took up a lot of the houses. They had the pick of the shop. There were debts at the shop and they were getting furniture, some of them furnished their house and then done a moonlight, couldn’t pay rent. There was all manner of things went on at Silver End. So there was times when things got bad and we were single fellows, several of us in Crittall’s and we had the offer where we got married to go and live at Silver End. That was the policy really. To have all these workers live at Silver End, you see, but a lot of them didn’t approve of that. They’d rather stick to old Witham, they didn’t want to go to Silver End. (Q: Mmm.) And we were stood off for a time to make room for men coming in to take houses at Silver End. But we weren’t out long. About ten months. I got jobs. I got a job with my brother at the waterworks at Tiptree, [???] one at Southend, on to at Danbury.

Mrs B:    That was the risk with buying a house then. We didn’t know how long he was going to be out.

Mr B:    Was that before you were married?

Mr B:    Yes, before we was married. (Mrs B: 1933 we married.) I got a few weeks with old Lewis’s, painter and decorators and builders in the High Street.

Mrs B:    The trouble is, being on the gardening, he only saved seventy pounds and that was a lot of money them days because we could have bought a house for sixty. That house in Church Street near the butcher’s was only sixty pounds. [???] Well any rate seventy pounds he’d got. Then he had to go on the means test. When you go on the means test they take your money or else you’ve got to spend it. So with that, I had all [???] and put in my book or we couldn’t have got married. Oh it was terrible. Still we got on with it.

Mr B: All I had, she didn’t run away with it. (Q: That was a risk, wasn’t it, yes.) Still, we done all right since. But it was terrible, that means test was terrible you know. They just come and say if you’ve got any luxuries in the house they had to go. (Mrs B: They had to go.) Have you ever heard about it? The means test?

Q:    Oh I think so yes. That’s why, when things get hard now, they keep talking about increasing the amount of means test. And people like you that can remember it …

Mrs B:    That was terrible. When I got married my dad was out of work. Mother couldn’t afford a new dress.

Mr B:    At that time of day you could move around and get a job. But there weren’t a lot about really. I was very fortunate. (Mrs B: Wasn’t a lot, but still we managed.) When we married I was lucky, worked forty-four years, had good money.

Mrs B:    Well it wasn’t what you’d call ‘good’ money but that was regular. You knew it was coming in every week.

Q:     Did you have a special job at Crittall’s or … ? Did you have a particular job while you were at Crittall’s, in the works? What did you do?

Mr B:    Yes, I was in the Order department, stock, [???] looking after the stock. I used to do one shift and another fellow used to do another and I had five men with me. Seeing the stock went in the proper piles you see. At the warehouse. It come at the finish they’d got so much stock, they wanted to extend the factory, they made the stock outside. They said [???] [???]. We was out there. I spent fifteen years, or anything up to seventeen years on nights. And part of my time was out there. The sky was my roof.

Q:    And that was the stuff after it had been made was it?

Mr B:    Yes, after it had been made. You see it come off the assembly line and come into my hands to be put away until it was used.

Q:    And what about the stuff coming in? That was different was it, or did you have that as well? The metal and that coming in?

Mr B:    Oh yes, that was on another department as the steel come in on the trucks you see that was dealt with in another place. It used to go on stock piles and the cranes and they used to have all that in.

Q:    So did you go right onto, so you were on, did that count as staff? (Mr B: Yes I was on the staff.), and were you on the staff right from the beginning when you first went there? (Mr B: Yes.) How did they decide which to put you in, or did you …? How did they decide whether to put you on staff or …?

Mr B:    No, I weren’t right on staff, I was just had that authority with the extra money you see. I never went right on staff. Used to have that extra money you see.

Q:    But when you went in as a lad you were on the stock then were you?

Mr B:    No, no. We was doing any jobs then. I had to learn things then. But I was always with the windows. Always with the windows. I didn’t have to do with the making. (Q: I see.)

Q:    Was that better you think?

Mr B:    Oh yes, I had more freedom. I had more freedom. I could pick up a bit of paper and go anywhere with that. [laugh]

Mrs B:    He was had fifteen years on night work, weren’t you. Fifteen years. And you know the first time he went on night work he went on for one night and that’s the night they dropped the bomb on Cressing Road. Opposite my house. And I wrote to his sister ‘Can I come over here to stay. I can’t stay here’. She said ‘No, you’re too near London this way’. His mother said ‘Well I’ll come and stay with you’, from Church Street, she come round to Cressing Road. She said ‘I’ll come and stay with you.’ I’d got a joint of mutton, you know, a leg, and that stayed on my table. She said ‘Dear’ she said ‘I’d rather die in my own little house’, she said. So she said ‘I will come.’ ‘So’ I said ‘I can’t stay in this house alone’, I’d got the children and [???] was at Faulkbourne. My sister had the other one to look after. And I just had this one. And I went to Braintree that night to my mother’s and there we were with the baby under the table and wandering about, we could hear this blessed plane round and round and all that, and we got under the table. And then we heard the bang. Next morning I come on the bus home to Witham and they wouldn’t let me get off at the Cross Road, so I had to go right down the bottom of Cressing Road and I got down there, ‘You can’t go up there Mrs Brooks, your house has been bombed.’ (Q: Oh no.). If I’d looked across the Cross Road I would have seen all the roof in you see, but I didn’t look. [???] went up there with Mr Beardwell the policeman. Just then the other one went up and I seen the man go up with it. They were looking over the hole. Mr Burmby. And I’d got me baby on me arm and that just went up. There was soldiers and all looking over the hole.

Mr B:    There was one went off bang in the middle of the road, right outside the gate. All windows in, doors. The other one dropped behind in the hedge, that was a time bomb.

Mrs B:    And that was the only night he went on nights. Never went on no more after that, not till a long while afterwards, did you.

Mr B:    See the firm didn’t do much windows, only for Government huts and that and then they had to go on war work – shells, pickets, posts, fence stakes and all that. Well they said, the foreman and that said ‘Well there’s these men on, going on nights, they’re getting fed up, can’t some of the day shift come on to take turns, that was during the weekend you see. So we got picked, I got ready to go on a machine and cut off pickets, and I was putting the apron and gloves on and up went the hooter. Down the dugout we went and that’s where we stayed all night. Never done nothing.

Mrs B:    I had to go round Church Street, little old cottage you know, we was living in, we stayed there five weeks.

Mr B:    Blew the roof off, put the doors all up the stairs. (Mrs B: But I should have got hurt if I’d have been in the bathroom where I was going… ‘ The front windows all come in and were all laid on the bed just like a pat. Bricks and mortar had come in the house. Me shed got busted from front to back. All the tools off the shelves blew down.

Mrs B:    You were in the passage when the other one went off, weren’t you?

Mr B:    Back door was [???] (Mrs B: You were in the passage when the other one went off, weren’t you?) I sneaked in that morning, the warden stopped me and ‘Oh’ he said ‘You can’t go up there’s a time bomb’. ‘Oh I said, I’ll go round and see mum’. I went round Church Street to see her. She said ‘Oh, what a night, dear’, she said. ‘Yes’, I said, ‘I hear we’ve got trouble up at the house’. So I never worried her much. So I sat and had breakfast with her. Then it started to drizzle with rain. So I said to mum, I said ‘I don’t know, if there’s trouble up there my furniture’s getting wet’. See. [laugh] So ‘I don’t know, I’ll go up the railway’, see, cause our back ways ran down the line, see. So I said ‘I’ll tootle up the back way’. Dodge the police what was on the road. So with that I tootled up. When I got towards my allotment I heard a voice out the window ‘Come on Horry’, and it was Henry Dorking, who lived next door. ‘Come on Horry.’ he said, ‘Plenty of work up here’ he said, ‘The water’s starting to come through’. I said ‘What the heck are you doing up there,’ I said, ‘Time bomb isn’t there?’ ‘I ain’t taking no notice of that’ he said ‘I’ve been and had a look at it’ he said ‘It looks all right.’ Said ‘I’ve been to look at it, you can see the fins.’ I said ‘I ain’t going to look at it.’ So with that I got in my house and oh what a mess.

What a mess. I didn’t know what to do. Oh dear. I looked in the pantry I seen my leg of mutton was still on the shelf, it had gone by that [laugh]. It looked as if somebody had been busy with loads of clay and muck, and part of the road, all up the stairs, glass. I was treading over there, trying to shovel that out, right up the stairs, I went up there, and of course the roof was all off. Water was dripping through on me furniture. There was me pushing and pulling about, shoving it up there where that hadn’t blown through, and bringing all the stuff from upstairs. I got sacks what I could find that hadn’t been blown out of the shed, and went up there and covered it up. I’d done that and I was downstairs trying to some of that clay out of the door, I was working on that when the people were all around there, there was the ARP blokes, soldiers from right by Cressing, because they were sent from the Cressing searchlight and the Wickham Bishops searchlight and the Faulkbourne one. There was three of them got this plane right in our area see, and he wouldn’t want to take that lot back so he unloaded them to get back. So he dropped some at Rivenhall Rectory, part of it, and two of them come over our way and dropped in the hedge, and the other one spank right in the middle. The one that hit the road, that went off, that one done the damage. When I was clearing up, of course they’d got all the fences down, old Theobald, they’d had the message down there, ‘They’re out of control up there, they’re all round up there where that time bomb [???]. ‘Go up, Theobald, and see what you can do.’ He came up on his bicycle. He dropped his bicycle and he seen me working and he came across to me. ‘Do you know.’ That’s all he got out and then bang. He lay down on the road beside me he had been going to say ‘What are you, you ain’t supposed to be here’, you see. Of course there was trouble with the holes you see. There was mess everywhere. (Mrs B: Poor old Burmby’s head was blown off, wasn’t it? We see that, didn’t we.) Poor old Burmby. He was roadman, he kept going taking people to see it. He was fascinated with it, he was showing the hole, with the fins. And there was people down there when it went up. The soldiers had just set about it with an axe, but poor old Ben[?] he come up there. I was up over there helping them with things, helping him. Oh dear. I didn’t want no Sunday dinner that day. No. We found poor old Burmby up the field. He was in a heck of a state, just like a lump of dirt he was, awful.

Mrs B:    That’s the man who used to keep the roads clean. He used to sweep the road [???] And he wouldn’t leave nothing in the road, you know. [???] (Mr B: A broom and a barrow. The only thing to do, they swept didn’t they.) But they found money for that them days, (Q: Yes.) sweep the roads you know.

Mr B:    Same as on the country road or Faulkbourne Road. There was the Notley pair. There was two from there. The Douggie[?] Greaves we called him when we was boys. They’d go from White Notley right down to, their boundary came down to Devil’s Pit we called it. You know where they cut off, you go down a dip don’t you? [old Faulkbourne Road north from Victoria] (Q: Yes.) We used to call that the Devil’s Pit. Then you turn round three times when you come down there, cause that time of day, you could see, dark, turn round three times you’ll see it’s the devil. [laugh] Any rate their length was as far as there. They used to do that every day, get the water off, sweep the road, trim the side of the hedges. Nowadays they don’t. They found money for that didn’t they?

Mrs B:    [???] the grass is right up high in the gutters, it’s not right.

Mr B:    What do they do now. Just a broom sweeping the town picking up a bit of paper.

Mrs B:    They come over here picking them up.

Q:    Yes, I can remember a chap sweeping the road out in the country when I was there.

[chat about neighbours of Mr and Mrs B and of Q, not noted]

Mr B:    You know where the Hurrell and Beardwell started don’t you?

Q:    I don’t know that I do. Where was that?

Mr B:    What do they call that house opposite blacksmith’s. Some house they call them, made it into flats or, used to be a boarding house years ago. A school, or college or something.

Q:    In Chipping Hill you mean?

Mr B:    Mmm, opposite the blacksmith.

Q:    Let’s think. There is a newish place called Cobblers. Its not been there long.

Mr B:    I’m on the big house opposite the White Horse?

Q:    Barnardiston House. [35 Chipping Hill] Used to be a college at one time.

Mr B:    Yes that’s right. Well you know coming that way there’s some sheds and a gap there. Well that’s where Hurrell and Beardwell started.

Q:    What, down the Chase you mean?

Mr B:    No, not down the Chase as you approach from Witham. They’ve got a garden there, a doorway you go in there and a big old shed isn’t there. Going that way. That’s where Hurrell and Beardwell started, they started there with two Ford taxis, old Henry Ford taxis and they run a taxi service there. Now they went from there when they started to increase, they started a garage in White Horse Lane. They’re building houses up there now ain’t they? I haven’t been up there lately but (Q: Yes.) building houses on there where Adams and Mortimer had their offices and that. That was Hurrell and Beardwell’s property. But Adams and Mortimer was down the yards.

Continued on tape 101

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