Mr Ted Mott was born in 1913, and Mr Albert Poulter in 1907. They were interviewed on 17 March 1986, when Ted lived at 22 Bramston Green, and Albert at 19 Cressing Road.
For more information about Albert and the Poulter family, see the notes in the People category headed Poulter family,
For more information about Ted Mott, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 033301 32500.
[???] shows words that are not clear enough to interpret and so have had to be omitted.
[?] after a word shows that its interpretation is not certain.
Later explanatory additions by JG or the transcriber are in square brackets [e.g. explaining locations etc.]
This interview is a commentary on the photos belonging to Ted Mott, copied as JG’s photos M140 to M205. They are catalogued in the database of M series photos, and the information that is in the catalogue is not repeated here, e.g. re names. But quite a lot of other assorted information appears in this interview so has been extracted below. Where speech has been omitted I have inserted […]
Mr P: [photo M140, Whitehall, 18 Newland Street] Rickstones Road. You know Hasler that used to live on the corner, Tommy Hasler. Well he [???} a bungalow in Rickstones Road, and he took these bollards and put them in front of this. They’re still there as a matter of fact. [probably 60 Rickstones Road]
Mr P: With regard to that, mother was cook there [Whitehall] when that was a college, of Dr Coombes was it. You see how you can get into a dispute. There was a college there believing to be where the Blue coats, with the yellow stockings. (Mr M: Mrs Clarke was on about that] Well you see it followed on with a boarding school. Now Mr Evitt, Percy Evitt, was a dayboy there, at that school, under the headmaster. [???] Some will say ‘Oh it was a college’, others say ‘It was a school’. Well it was both, you see. What I mean, one follows the other.
Mr M: [M149] Bawtree.
Mr P: Jack Bawtree. Lived at Batsford [100 Newland Street]
Mr M: I think you’ll find in some of them he’s the leading light.
Q: The one with the tights on.
Mr P: [Recreation ground] If you go in the Maldon Road it’s on the right.
Mr M: Where all the roughs went.
Mr P: Where we used to play cricket on there.
Mr M: The ball used to go in the ditch. [ha ha ditch along north side of Recreation ground]
Mr P: [M149 again] The King is Mr Bawtree. (Q: Which Bawtree was that?) That would be John or Jack, they used to call him Jack Bawtree. He was scoutmaster.
Q: There aren’t many men in it are there, I wonder how they got him to do it?
Mr M: Well he was a well-known man. For anything like that.
Mr P: He liked anything … He allowed the scouts to keep the barrow, the scouts’ barrow up is yard [at 100 Newland Street] unfortunately, well not unfortunately of it being there but unfortunate of it’s being taken away. There used to be a sundial, remember on the wall up that yard, Batsford yard, unfortunately when they wrecked the place to turn it into a hotel, they removed this sundial. (Q: There was a nice little building at the back there wasn’t there.) That’s the one, a stable. (Q: And they’ve put this funny well instead, haven’t they)
Q: You didn’t go in for any of this sort of thing, you two, then.
Mr M: I’m a bit early. That’s too early for me. (Q: You come later on, you were in the Public Hall one weren’t you?) Oh yes there’s one in there somewhere. [???] Singing in the choir.
Mr M: [M151-M153, Howbridge Hall fire]. Actually you’re only looking across the river into the Rec. Sorrells’ meadows we used to call it. That was a grove of walnuts in there, and all the lads used to get there early on. (Mr P: And pinch the walnuts.) [laugh]
Mr P: [M154] This is All Saints church, it’s still got those lovely murals. They’re still there. (Mr M: Little light on the top, used to shine on, when the light was out.) It was like a cross. (Mr M: And I used to sit here, just there, near Mr Howlett.) Not a reserved seat. (Mr M: No I had a proper seat, I was in the ‘Cantoris’ side). You was not amongst the nobility of Witham, was you. (Mr M: Oh no, who was I with, Ellises used to live down Bridge Street.)
Mr M: Not uncle Ellis, (Mr P: Who lived next door to me.) oh no, uncle Ellis used to do hot drinks, a halfpenny on a Sunday afternoon, sitting in there.
[M155, discussion about it not being Witham, but actually it is, in Collingwood Road
Mr P: I was drummed out of the scouts, by the way, not drummed out but (Mr M: I was drummed out of the cubs.) [Laugh] Because George Keeble hit me and I wasn’t going to have anybody hit me so I sort of finished, left. Maybe I didn’t make a good scout in any case.
Mr M: [M158-M160] I think that’s Howard Vyse’s funeral [actually Auriol Round’s, detected by JG from location].
Mr P: We had several Sergeants [Mr M Sergeant Haggar]. He was a terror over the boys. I used to have a Boer War gun, and it wouldn’t fire, you couldn’t shoot it, but he always made me take it indoors, and as it was one of my treasured toys, imagining that I was a soldier, although I haven’t got soldiering in my blood, I imagined in those days I was a soldier, and I didn’t like Sergeant Haggar because he always went ‘Take that home’. And it wouldn’t blinking well fire a bullet at all or anything, it had expired. Sergeant Haggar, yes.
Mr P: You see Miss Blood [who collected the cards]. You see by the house that they lived in that they were wealthy people in those days. Therefore they were wealthy people to even go to Clacton. I can remember if we went to Kelvedon to see our aunt, it was great outing, isn’t it.
Mr M: I remember the cubs going to Champion Lodge to [???] once for a whole day in old [???}’s wagonette. Used to go in this wagonette, or brake, all sit along the sides. square more or less wasn’t it. George Ottley.
Mr P: George Ottley’s brake. They used to have this brake to take footballers out. Summer Bickmore, remembers taking the team in the brake to Springfield, and it was driven by a man named Happy[?] and he wouldn’t go, only under the condition that he had his pint en route. And the horse used to automatically stop at the pub. It knew where the pub was.
[more by Mr P about taxis and football teams, not very clear, not noted…]
Mr M: When I started really playing football, at about 15, I went to Wickham Bishops, played for Beacon Hill. The youngest member of the team had the hardest job, playing in goal, so they used to pile all these blokes in, Ginger Rawlings and Len Hammond, and all that lot, they used to pile them all in one cab, it was then Stroud’s (Mr P: Stroud, Wickham Bishops. Yes) And being the last one and the lightest one I was always the one that got on top, you see, sort of pushed in. And he used to take eleven to twelve blokes every time we went to play at Faulkbourne. Well if it was a long journey he got two, somebody else’s cab.
[Re photos M161 onwards, Warwickshire regiment in Witham]
Mr P: I’ve got a picture of the whole lot of the Warwickshire regiment, and Charlie told me they went out to France and were practically wiped out. Yes.
Mr P: [M164, talking about boys] And these collars which I used to hate. They were three inch starched ones and I used to, anything that was hard to get on, and I had everything hard, the collars were hard, and we had a Norfolk jacket that was tight, and a button at the knee trousers, and I’d walk about uncomfortable, that’s why I like to be free and easy now.
Mr P: Mr Dibben [90 Newland Street] used to dash out to watch all troops going by, didn’t he, if he was shaving somebody, he’d leave them just to go out and watch. [???] But he’d dash out about anything, for instance, he was an apiarist, beekeeper, and if he heard that there was a swarm he’d leave the customer to go out and get the swarm. Mr Dibben.
Mr M: It’s funny about these barbers, now where the bag shop is down the Maldon Road, used to be North’s the barbers there. Now his son, Toddy, he had a piece of garden down the Maldon Road which now is adjacent to the Masonic Hall. And he kept pigs, this was after the War. I mean I used to go there for a haircut and he’d leave it half done and [???] ‘I’ve got to feed me pigs at four o’clock. I used to go. He’d cut half of you. (Mr P: That was the barbarous barbers.) That’s right. And him and his dad they used to row something cruel.
Mr P: Yes. I think somehow, his name was Toddy North, and I think he got the name Todd North, after Sweeny Todd you know. But they’d row like anything. ‘I’ll break your bloody neck’ he used to say. And I was shivering in there wondering whether to have a haircut. They used to row like anything. And it was over land I think.
Mr M: There was this piece, they took over Hasler’s land I think and he used to grow his vegetables down there. [???] But you see you had to make an allowance for him cause he went through a lot during the First World War. (Mr P: He won …) He won the War. (Mr P: He won a medal, a VC, not a VC, a Military Cross or something.) He got a medal all right.
Mr P: Did that land belong to Toddy?
Mr M: Yes that belonged to Toddy. Because how I know, we, living in the Square, and all the windows used to open out in the back, you know the small bedroom. It was a push out, not a – ordinary casement. And of course I could reach out and pick his plums [laugh]. [???] get out and go in the garden. He used to know because when I used to go in there for a haircut he used to tap you on the head and say ‘You’ve been over.’ I mean I couldn’t deny it. I mean we had a right crowd of lads down there in those days, I mean the Barbers, the Hawkes.
Mr P: You could write about the Square whereas I don’t know much about it.
Mr M: Running along the top there [of the toilets]. [laugh] (Mr P: I remember that.) Well that’s true that is. Soon as I got to work I made a lid for the top of this toilet.
Q: Is that what that is, then, there, a ten mile an hour sign? [photos M170 and M172, ring on post]
Mr M: Yes, used to go ten miles an hour.
Mr P: Ten miles an hour, in the town. And you notice too the protection around the telegraph post, for horses, against horses. There’s some other reason.
Mr M: They were like laths weren’t they, they used to paint them.
Mr P: That was some protection for those posts I think.
Mr M: Well I mean these cars racing round here at ten miles an hour.
Mr P: Well whatsaname, Luard, met his end by an accident, his horse ran into one of them.
Mr P: That’s how he met end, didn’t live long after the accident.
Mr P: You see Percy Laurence was a benefactor for Witham. Joe Clements, I asked Joe, I said ‘What did Percy Laurence do?’. Joe said ‘To be honest with you’, cause Joe lived down the Grove, lived in the Grove in the back part there, being on the staff, his father being on the staff, he said ‘To be honest with you I don’t know.’ But I found a book one day about the Strutts and in this it said that he was in partnership with the Strutts at one time. Then he left them and took on [???]. Something in the Far East, he’d got a business, and that’s why Joe said that he was away months on end, that’s where he was, you see. But there’s no doubt about it that Percy Laurence, he was a good fellow in so far as he let his ground out for football, you know, the Witham Town Football, he gave the Rec., [Maldon Road recreation ground, or Park] although it was divided off. Us herberts had the rough part, and the gentry had the lower part. And there was a what-do-you-call-it, dividing, the railings dividing it, and us yobbos, right, you’ll excuse me, won’t you, we used to sit on the iron railings and there was [???] [probably boys’ names] and a man, poor chap, couldn’t help it, he had trouble with his heart, his name was Bertie Wakelin, and he couldn’t run. So they used to give the chap, they didn’t like to deprive him of his game of cricket so they put a man in, to run for him, right? And so he used to, the chap the other end used to say ‘Can you?’, and poor old Bert Wakelin with his ticker, a-going, you know, all, all, wallop, ‘No I can’t’. And the lads, when the other chap, him at the other end used to say ‘Can you?’, the lads used to say ‘No I can’t’ [laugh]. Then he’d follow on, wouldn’t he. Like Charlie Gray in Hyde Park, he used to have a speech. Regular speech. Used to have regular thing every Sunday, the same old speech, he was against Lloyd George, and the lads used to gather round there for a bit of fun, now you did the same thing, they recited his speech off by heart, and they’d say the next sentence, and then he’d follow on afterwards.
Q: So when you say, was the actual Rec part divided up?
Mr P: Oh yes.
Q: As well as between the cricket ground and the Rec?
Mr M: You know where the library, well, what was the old library, the scouts’ hut, there’s some big trees stand just by that, further into the Rec. Well, there used to be an iron railing come through there, right up, to divide it off.
Mr P: Divide it off.
Mr M: The new Rec and the old Rec, you see. And that, the new Rec was for people to go and sit in, you see. We used to have a game of football there, thirty a side I should think, sometimes [laugh].
Mr P: [???]
Q: In the old Rec?
Mr P: In the old Rec. yes.
Mr M: No, in the new, in the old Rec, yes.
Mr P: You see, you know where the ha ha wall we’ve described to you is, [north side of Rec.] where the fairground stands on when they come to Witham. That used to be our part, and it was anything but flat.
Q: There’s that big hole in it, isn’t there?
Mr M: That’s right.
Mr P: No, no, no, you’ve got the other, you’ve got the where, near the kids, kids used to roll down. It was done like that deliberately wasn’t it?
Mr M: I reckon it was, because there used to be ….
Mr P: [???], it wasn’t a bomb.
Mr M: No, there used to be a big walnut tree there. And on the other side.
Mr P: Remember Sneezum?
Mr M: Sneezum, yes, Arthur Sneezum.
Mr P: Arthur Sneezum.
Mr M: Wonder he didn’t die before he did.
Mr P: [laugh]
Mr M: Used to come in one end and we used to go out the other.
Mr P: That’s right, we used to lead him a dance, poor old Arthur Sneezum.
Q: So the new, the new Rec was, which was the one that was up next to the library?
Mr M: The new Rec.
Q: The new Rec, yes. And that was the one that …. ?
Mr M: Well, they used to call it the new Rec.
Mr P: Well actually ….
Mr M: You used to come from across there, Doctor Payne’s place, didn’t they?
Mr P: Going back years and years, according to an old paper called, ‘The Land’ or something like that, cricket was played in the grounds of Witham House, you see. So that would be the Rec. and the Park, belonged to Witham House one time. And Percy Laurence evidently took it over, after a time, and he gave it to the town, divided it up. Course the part, well, the roughs versus the smooths, in other words, the smooths had the nice part, and, woe betide you, I mean, people walk across it now, people take dogs across it, and Doug Shelley, you know Doug?
Mr M: Yes.
Mr P: The saddler. He told a chap off once, not long ago, for taking four or five dogs across the Park. People play cricket on it and, you know, and daren’t, you didn’t dare ….
Mr M: Oh no, no, no. That was holy of holy, it was.
Mr P: In those days.
Mr M: There used to, old Dick Shelley used to stand on the gate, remember?
Mr P: Dick Shelley, one leg.
Mr M: With one leg.
Q: To actually stop you?
Mr P: A wooden leg.
Mr M: To stop us lads going in.
Mr P: Now we used to go up to a Miss Luard’s, cause her, she used to have, the Luards ran the Tuppeny’s and when they ceased they’d got in these big baskets where they keep their dresses in. Wardrobe, she had these big baskets, and I good reason, you remember, the Co-op treat, going in the Co-op treat, you remember, [???] (Mr M: George Warner] two Union Jacks, one on his back, they called him the man in the Jack, with a Union Jack on his back and he had one on his front as well, but he led these processions, you see, he was in charge, sort of an M.C. those days. And I went in the procession the Co-op so I told my brother that I was going as an Indian, I borrowed some clothes, and my brother said ‘Come here’ he said ‘I’ll brown you’ he said. I had ideas of burnt cork but he had different ideas. Nugget polish. [laugh] It was a sweltering hot day and there was all this black, all this brown, coming down my face, and blisters were coming out. I had blisters for several days on my face through this Nugget polish. You remember Tom do you? (Mr M: No I don’t …) He was like that.
Q: I remember you pointing out this chap, is it Mr Turner, he was called, he was on a lot of them [photo M186, back of small group on far right, with cap] Tall fellow.
Mr M: Yes, I reckon that’s him there.
Q: He seems to crop up on several photographs, he obviously liked …
Mr P: You know on television you see some of these kids sometimes, doing this, waving, ‘I’m on TV mum’. Well I think that people in those days liked to get in, when they saw a camera, which in those days was more or less an unusual, you had either an event like that, or a sitting, you know a special sitting.
Mr M: Well I’ll tell you where he used to live and I’ll tell you is, Vera Turner. They used to live near where Doug Shelley used to live.
Mr P: That’s right. Now this chap, and it’s 1916, it ties up, because we had soldiers lodging in Witham, and you remember the old baths down at (Mr M: Behind the Swan.) behind the Swan, and you could, I think for sixpence on certain nights, I think it was a Friday night, it was open to civilians, and this man Turner [???] Not Mott’s yard but Nott’s yard. Now he was in charge of the baths, right. And the water came from the cooling towers of the, the cooling [???]. And for sixpence you could on the Friday night, the civilians were allowed to go in there and have a bath, right, I don’t know if it was an enamel bath, could possibly have been enamel baths, but for one and six or maybe threepence extra, ninepence, you could go over to the Crotchet and for that threepence extra you could have an enamel bath, right, a posh bath, for [???] extra. But otherwise it was a stand up job.
Q: So these ones behind the Swan, they were usually used by the army were they.
Mr P: They were for the swimming pool [this was actually later, JG] It’s a tip now isn’t it.
Q: But these baths were actually in, there was a building with the baths in was there.
Mr P: Oh yes, you see, it was corrugated, corrugated tin.
Mr P: [Re photos M187-M190 re Mr Brandt and Miss Mary Gimson’s wedding]. She was matron or commandant at the VAD Bridge Hospital, and these are soldiers, wounded soldiers you see, with their walking sticks, probably cripples.
Mr P: But all the, there was sort of the upper bracket, were … (Mr M: Now we’re back to cowboys and Indians.) […] The Indian little boy said to the chief, why is it we always lose, Dad. (Q: I see, they were the nurses were they, people like that?) They were the select. Now you had another one. You see Miriam Payne, you know the High House. [5 Newland Street] Well Dr Payne lived there and Miriam Payne was his daughter, and she was one of the sisters I believe at the VAD hospital in Bridge Hospital. And it was still a section of the Mental Hospital but a section was taken over for the Voluntary Aid Detachment hospital [???] Hence these people would be prominent on this occasion.
Mr P: She was liked you see this Miss Brandt, who married a Gimson. [other way round, JG] (Mr M: Well the Gimson family were well liked.) Were well liked you see, they were they called or termed then, irrespective, gentry, they commandeered everything, and [???] the car. I don’t know whether the engine would start, so they towed it. (Mr M: No it was to be towed, wasn’t it. So, down, because she was somebody).
Mr P: You know this building where the Scarletts’, and the other three or four little cottages were taken down [32-34 Chipping Hill]. Old Joe Clements worked for, somebody in Braintree Road. (Mr M: Gosling.) Gosling. Well he worked for them then, and they’d got this, a wedding, I think it was a Luard or somebody else, you know one of the big names of Witham, and they’d got to demolish and get this all down on a certain day, and they’ve got to you know, so cleared away, and they didn’t know how all the rubbish and that will it come away, and they put it along that path, and they got a bonus, a special bonus for doing it. Gosling and Wright were surprised that they got that job done, so they gave them an extra bonus and they were amazed to know …
Continued on tape 106