Mr Ted Mott was born in 1913. He was interviewed on 9 and 16 December 1985, when he lived at 22 Bramston Green.
For more about him see Mott, Ted, 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 email@example.com or 033301 32500.
[???] shows words that are not clear enough to interpret and so have had to be omitted.
[?] after a word shows that its interpretation is not certain.
Later explanatory additions by JG or the transcriber are in square brackets [e.g. explaining locations etc.]
Continued from tape 102
[about Doris having baby]
Q: A bit worried I should think, were you?
Mr M: Well, the Doctor said it was another fortnight. Well I was working at Langford, Langford Cross, for, what’s the name of the people. His son used to live at Powers Hall …
Q: What, the Hall itself you mean? Because Trittons lived there.
Mr M: Yes, Trittons. Yes I was working for his father at Langford Hall and we finished at lunchtime and I came home and I couldn’t make my wife, well I opened the door and called and she said I’d have to go and get the nurse. I went up the road and there was an old lady up there, Mrs Everett, she used to do a bit of this nursing you see. So I went up and got her and she come down and she told me we’d have to get her down the Bungalow, as she was already booked in the Bungalow. By the time I came home at night he was born.
Q: And that was a fortnight sooner than you expected was it? (Mr M: Yes.) But you were in the … (Mr M: We were in. Yes.) Where were you first of all then?
Mr M: We was living at home with mother. We went all over Witham to get places. Rooms, houses.
Q: Was it hard then? Everyone coming home and that.
Mr M: Oh yes, everyone was the same you see. Everybody was trying. Mr Burrows, W W Burrows, do you know Burrows? (Q: I know the name but …). He was a real Labour man. I went down to see him. He was chairman of the Council. And it was on a points system. I went down to see him and ask him why some people were getting, chaps were getting bungalows in front of me whereas I had so many points. That was about, that was in the wintertime just after Christmas. He said ‘That seems funny’. Because we used to work for him. He used to say ‘Ted’, you see, ‘it’s funny Ted’ he said, ‘I’ll get on to Mr Crook’, who was then the Chairman, not the Chairman, the Clerk of the Council. So he got on the phone and asked how he was dishing these out and what number of points is up, he said ‘Well I’ve got a chap here’, he said. told him, he said ‘I’d like to know why he’s not being accommodated’. He come back, he said ‘You’ll hear within a fortnight’. That was on the Monday night and on the Saturday 29 January I had a letter to say we could move in [prefab at 12 Bramston Green, date 1947].
Q: Brand new was it then?
Mr M: Yes, brand new and I went up and scrubbed it out and went to Southend because Barling it was, near Southend, and got the stuff that we’d already got there, because I was hoping to work in Southend but I’d got a better choice of getting a house here, and coming back to Lewis’s. So I went down there, got me stuff, moved it up here, got some more bits and pieces and moved in. And as I say he was born the 19th as we moved in there about the 30th . [laugh] Well we started to move in on the 30th.
Q: Presumably you’re in one of the new places now are you ?
Mr M: Yes, a nice little place. Haven’t you been down there [the new Bramston Green bungalow]?
[chat about new bungalows, not noted]
Q: Cause when your mother lived in Guithavon Street, did they have Council houses then, did she think of …?
Mr M: She wanted to stay in the town. She was then going out at six in the morning, half past six in the morning sometimes to the Council offices you see. The new Council offices were being built then. They were built about 1936, ‘35. She used to keep them clean. (Q: I see.) Before that she used to work for a Mr Crook. He lived above Kemsley Whiteleys. (Q: I see.) Up there. He used to live there, above the top. It was always auctioneers at the bottom and he lived in the flat above them. Then he moved up to Highfields Road. Yes she went there, oh his children were quite young when she went there. Just used to go round, looking after the children and babysitting and whatnot. Then she went when the Council offered her a new job you see, she thought, well that’s clean.
Q: But she had to go early in the morning I suppose?
Mr M: Yes, early morning, yes. She did F H Bright’s for a little while, his offices as well and Mrs Clarke, used to do ‘em you see. I used to go down there before I went to work, get the coal up from the cellar for her.
Q: Is that where the office is now?
Mr M: Yes, that’s the place, you used to go down the steps to it. They used to have a key to the bottom. Go down the steps.
Q: I think that’s where Albert said, was it Albert when he was a boy he’d sweep the steps or something.
Mr M: Oh he was always looking for a penny. I mean I was.
Q: Did you do anything like that at school?
Mr M: Oh I used to run the paper round on a Saturday night in Witham, for the football papers. Used to get more for doing that than I did working for Davies, it was then, what is now Martin’s. [70 Newland Street]
Q: What Davies was the …?
Mr M: He was the printer’s, that was Clarke’s. Was it Clarke’s when you come here? Or was it Martin’s?
Q: Might just have been. Did you work there as well?
Mr M: Used to go paper boy in the mornings, yes.
Q: They were the ones who did the papers ?
Mr M: That’s right, Davies[?]. I used to do from the clock to Bixby’s two sides of the road; The Maldon Road, two sides of the road; down as far as The Lounds, which is where the glasshouses. are. (Q: Oh, that’s some way isn’t it?) But I never used to go because Captain Evitt, he was another good man for Witham Council. He used to say, leave it at the first, then there wasn’t all those houses just the other side Maltings Lane. There was just one long bungalow there. Leave it at the bungalow he says, no need to go round there. And you collected the money. Mr Godfrey [2 St Nicholas Road] or Bert will tell you. I know Bert. Bert used to be in charge of me. [laugh] I was talking to him the other day. Anyhow, and we used to have to collect the money and all. And, if we were short, we lost it. You know, with a slip in and the amount that they owed Davies would be there and you’d put the name to it.
Q: And was this every day or just a Saturday job?
Mr M: Every day. Then I used to do the one on the Saturday night. I used to collect the money. Take it in on the Monday morning.
Q: That was when you were at school still was it?
Mr M: Oh yes, see, you weren’t allowed to work until you were thirteen. Because I started at Palmer’s the saddlers, who dad worked for. I worked there before him, but I was only eleven, running errands, cleaning the windows and sweeping the front. Taking out the tennis racquets. They used to string tennis racquets. (Q: Oh, did they?) Take them down to The Lawns, Motions. They used to have big parties there. I knew what the toffs were up to. [laugh]
Q: They played a lot of tennis there did they?
Mr M: Oh they used to have tennis parties didn’t they, cucumber sandwiches.
Q: You never got to them did you?
Mr M: I never got to that no. [laugh]
[chat about cup of tea, not noted]
Q: Did you ever do any fruit picking or anything like that?
Mr M: I did. I did pea picking, yes, fruit picking. Wadley’s at Hatfield Peverel, apple scrumping at the Lounds [laugh], which we were talking about, where the glass house is. [Maldon Road] Used to through there to Wickham Bishops station when I was a boy and Captain what was his name, it wouldn’t be Captain Evitt then. He had all these apples and we used to get the bottom up and crawl under the fence and get an apple and carry on. I mean we didn’t damage it, sometime would just pick one up off the ground. We didn’t take no more than we wanted.
Q: Nobody got into trouble, did you ever get into trouble?
Mr M: No, I only got caught once, nicking a poor old boy’s plums. Down the Maldon Road. There was about six of us, I got the belt. That was it. I didn’t do it no more. I was about eleven I suppose. (Q: Really?) You see this poor old boy’d go to church. There was about four of us and if course, thinking he’d gone to church, we went up the back and there used to be a sandpit where Sauls Bridge Sports Ground is now, of course we waited cause thought we’d go in and get a few plums, didn’t we. I was the only one to get caught. I was up the tree. (Q: Oh dear.)
Q: Had he not gone then, or did somebody else catch you?
Mr M: No, he hadn’t gone. I don’t know whether he’d got second sight, or had second thoughts on what was going to happen. (Q: That made an impression on you then.) That was it, and I had to go and apologise because I was taking the papers round to him you see in the morning.
Q: Did you get the cane at school at all, or get the strap at home or anything like that?
Mr M: As I say I only got this belt once from me grandad. I mean his word was law and that was it. If he told you to do something you’d got to do it. But that was the only time I got it. I can hear that strap coming down now as I run up the stairs. ‘Get up the stairs’ he said. Oh dear.
Q: That was after he’d strapped you was it?
Mr M: He just missed it you know. ‘Pshhh’. Down the back of me, that was enough, the wind was enough. (Q: Oh I see, he didn’t even catch you.) Oh no. Yes I started earning money I suppose ever so young. Me grandma used to do washing as well. For some old ladies who ran a private school where Mace’s is now down in the town. [101 Newland Street] I used to go through the Rec in the morning to fetch this wicker basket of stuff for her to wash and take it back Friday nights, ironed and cleaned and starched and what have you. I used to get tuppence for that. She also, Mrs Clarke will tell you this, she also did the, er, no it’s before you time, you see there used to be Dowsett’s which is now the shoe shop [56 Newland Street]. (Q: Yes.) Then there used to be Turner’s, which was a gentlemen’s outfitters, the only one we had really in Witham. Then there was two little shops. Then there was the Wilderness. One little shop was a hat shop the other one a chiropodist. Then you had the Wilderness big door, then you had Home and Colonial, then Luckin Smith’s which is now Budgen’s. Then there was an alley way through and the other side of the alleyway was a tea planters and Rippon’s, people who did the cigarettes. The corn chandlers, we used to call it the corn chandlers, which was Richardson and Preece in those days. Then you had Redman’s the double-fronted shop which was a furniture shop and you had a pair of big doors that went round the back to this warehouse. Then over the top, you’re now to Maria Lisa [Lisa Marie, 40 Newland Street]. There used to be a doorway in there to the flats at the top. (Q: I see.) You see it used to be a three-storey house, not where she is but the next one. Used to go in this alleyway and up to that. Lisa Marie. First thing I can remember where she is was a fish shop, you know where they used to push the windows up and fish and poultry and then the other side he had apples, pears, whatever fruit.
Q: What was the tea planters?
Mr M: The tea planters, they used to, the coffee, you could go in for coffee. You know to buy the coffee beans and things like that. But before that it was a hairdresser’s, belonged to Clark, Harrison and Clark and they moved down to Maldon Road.
Q: Was he another one who liked dressing up, did he, Albert?
Mr M: Oh he used to help, I don’t remember if he dressed up, but he used to be about. You see this album, there’s Peace celebrations 1919. They’re gone down by Stoffer and Hunters with the extra bit on the top. (Q: Oh really?) You see that used to have a big overhang on that, oh was wider than that. We used to have to reach back to paint it. [5 Newland Street]
Q: That was, the old Stoffer and Hunters? (Mr M: That’s right. We painted that.) Thay was funny, and yet she didn’t even mean to buy these pictures? She was after something else, was she? When you got these album, that was an accident?
Mr M: She wanted this, four eggcups on the stand and four spoons, not real silver, just ENP, she thought they’d make a nice present, you see for the wife. Of course that looks nice now it’s polished up. She went and got it and there was all this junk in with this. [???] And there’s cards, I wouldn’t say from all over the world, but near enough, that the old lady had collected. I wouldn’t say, 1900? From the time she was probably a young lady. (Q: Quite, yes.) And they were from people that I knew and had worked for, because they’ve signed their name, you see, Hawkins, or what’s another one at Wickham Bishops that we used to do, Fowler.
Q: And they’d sort of go on holiday and send them?
[chat about son Keith in Cromwell Way, not noted]
Q: Are you a keen gardener?
Mr M: I do garden, yes, I go out four hours down at Chipping Dell just to get out of the wife’s way. Once a week.
Q: Well, if you’re used to being out in the open it’s nice for you to have that and its not too far.
Mr M: I used to have a piece of an allotment down Maldon Road when they had allotments down there, from up here. Because it was a family piece of allotment. A good piece you see. I used to trundle off down there with Keith on the front on a Saturday morning, stay down there till dinner time and come home. Just have an early breakfast and go down. He used to do a Sunday paper round, go up the shop here. I used to help him down as far as where the allotments were and then do the allotment. He used to come back up there.
Q: You prefer not to have quite so much now?
Mr M: Oh yes, I had a big piece up on the prefabs.
[Long chat about turfing new gardens at new houses, also about local Council and councillors etc.]
Mr M: I’ve know him [Bill Carey] as long as I’ve known Mill Lane more or less because he used to live in some houses that have been pulled down there. What used to run up to what I think was a laundry yard, where Shelley’s got all them sheds and that, that used to be the laundry. (Q: Oh did it?)
Q: What, people actually took things there to be …?
Mr M: Mrs Cade used to run the laundry. And they used to dry them up the back there somewhere.
Q: That was quite a big establishment was it?
Mr M: Well it was the only laundry I know, there wasn’t no more laundries about here.
Q: So did she have people there?
Mr M: Oh she had people there to work.
Q: From what you say a lot of people used just to take their washing to somebody at home like at yours, but some people went to the laundry?
Mr M: That’s right. Laundry. Well, my grandma, you see she used to do this Miss Algars, they were the Misses Algars, two old maids. They had this private school. I used to have to go down every week, as I say, Monday morning to pick ‘em up and Friday night to take ‘em back. And Clark’s, it was Gage’s then, where she used to do the gentlemen’s towels for them, they used to put them round their neck [barbers?]. Only little things, no bigger than a handkerchief really. And of course in them days, every time you went in, there was a new customer, got a new towel. No end of these little towels hanging on the line and every one was ironed, the old Chelmsford Bell fireplace with the irons on the top, had four irons. They used to smell lovely. I don’t think there’s anything to beat the smell of ironing.
Q: Then the irons were just heated up on that?
Mr M: Used to stand them round to keep them hot, like a little bit of soap so they slip.
[More chat about Bill Carey being ill, and about new bungalows being smaller than the prefabs etc.]
Mr M: Its space you see, I mean the kitchen, every kitchen is built the same, it don’t make no difference. Would you pay £20,000, £30,000 you got a little space that you can reach for things this side and that side. Not like having to walk round the table like we used to up the prefab. Because up there it was all along one side. And cupboard space was my bugbear there. You see we had so many cupboards up in the prefab. You needed no wardrobes, although we always had a wardrobe, but there were two built in wardrobes and in the back bedroom there was a cupboard with three shelves and one you pull out like to put your cases in. Then you’d got a man sized wardrobe, and another little cupboard with three shelves in, then the door. In the hall you had cupboard for brooms and oddments. In the front room you had another wardrobe for shoes, and whatever you want to put in.
Q: It’s good isn’t it? You wouldn’t think you could get so much in would you?
Mr M: And in the bathroom you’d got a cupboard in the bathroom under the sink, under the basin, shelves where the hot rail came, there was a hot rail in there you could put your towel on, three little shelves in there, stood back. In the big room you’d got a cupboard in the corner with shelves and three drawers in the bottom. In the kitchen you’d this whole work table covered this end, a two sided cupboard and then you’d go along and you’d got your fridge at the other end. Then you’d got your pantry which was another one I suppose, bigger that a wardrobe. Then backing on to the cupboard with the three drawers you’d got another cupboard. It was all cupboards you see.
Q: And they were put in right at the beginning?
Mr M: They were put in right at the beginning. See.
[chat about furniture, shed etc. in new bungalow, not noted]
16 December 1985
[chat about Ted’s postcard album, formerly Miss Blood’s, album and distant places that the cards came from etc., value of cards, not noted – Witham ones are JG’s photos M141-M205, with information about them in the data base of M photos.]
Q: Did you used to go to the beach then?
Mr M: Oh yes, used to be a Sunday School treat Walton or Maldon. If you went to Walton you went foreign you see, as it was so far out. [laugh]
Q: Was it your grandad on the railway? Did you go with him?
Mr M: No, me grandma, but these outings were Sunday School treats. We either went to Maldon or Walton. On the train.
[more general chat about cards etc.]
Mr M: That’s definitely The Grove, because that’s where we used to play football years ago at the back.
Q: Did they have trees there as well?
Mr M: Oh yes, the football pitch was more or less right in the middle. All the copse and everything went round it. There was these type of trees like that, where you used to go in. You go up the wall now, there’s a gate which is at the end of the Police Station boundary, Chess Lane, and we used to go in there and our football field was just beyond the copse. There was a copse there you see.
Q: So it was actually in The Grove and not the field?
Mr M: That’s right, in The Grove it was a field. The Co-op bought it at the finish I think, before the War.
Q: Because the Grove, they actually used the rest as a sort of garden did they, the people?
Mr M: Well, when we had it behind there it belonged to a Mr Horner who was the Veterinary surgeon there.
[more general chat about cards etc.]
Q: Going back to Howbridge Hall, who lived there when you were …?
Mr M: Mr Robertson? (Q: Was it a farm?) Yes that was the farm then because, then after they moved out there was a well-to-do bloke come there because we went down and done some work for him, do stars on the ceiling and all that sort of thing. Ionides. That’s a real English name. He had all the trees and that planted about there (Q: Yes.) because Mrs Woods husband, Harry, he used to go down there and help at nights planting them. There was quite a lot. You see they’ve built on the actual gardens at the back.
Q: Oh, I see, that was all part of it, there’s little bungalows there now.
Mr M: I think Mrs Peters’ mother lives in them somewhere. There’s not many … Witham church. All Saints?
Q: I didn’t realise it was painted [probably All Saints church].
Mr M: Oh yes, I don’t know whether they took it down but they used to have a little window up there and when the sun shone in it, sort of Resurrection.
Q: I’ve been in since it was emptied but I’ve not seen it like that with all the painting. Quite a lot of people could get in there then couldn’t they?
Mr M: Oh yes, I’ve seen it full. I’m saying I’ve seen it full because all this piece here used to be the Bridge Home lads, they used to march them up (Q: In the middle? Oh I see.) All the well-to-do people would have their names inside the pews. So woe betide you if you got in, you’d got to get out.
Q: So where did you sit then?
Mr M: Me, I was up here wasn’t I, in the choir stalls.
Q: Oh you were all right then. You had your own …
Mr M: That’s right I had mine booked!
Q: So these were just ordinary pews?
Mr M: Just ordinary pews you see they’ve got no ends.
Q: So did you have to more or less have a pew, you had to either be in the Bridge Home or have a pew did you, or were there some at the back?
Mr M: There was one or two at the back of these you see, where the older type people who’d got plenty of money they used to go up the front there. But, if you’d good hearing you could sit at the back and didn’t worry.
Q: So you didn’t really go to St Nicholas much then?
Mr M: Oh no, never used to come up this way only as I say, when I got a bit older. Come up here to woodwork. Perhaps come up here to play football but …
Q: So it really was two towns then?
[more general chat, about cards, neighbours etc., interrupted by visitor, and old books that Ted has, not noted]
Continued on tape 104