Mrs Annie May Hollick (nee Stock), and her husband Mr Jack Hollick, were born in 1906 and 1905 respectively. They were interviewed on 22 September 1986 when they lived at Elm Cottage, Maldon Road, Witham.
They also appear on tape 107.
For more about them, see Hollick, Jack and Annie May, nee Stock, 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.]
[chat looking at pictures of Moat Farm including JG’s M704. Most not noted because hard to locate comments. Side with their front door in middle, in was at right angles to the Moat Farm Chase]
Q: It looks on that as if this is a sort of ford where you could in fact go across the river.
Mrs H: Yes, you could, the children used to go down there and paddle and when Smith was farming at the back, the horses used to go down there to drink. (Mr H: Drink out of the river.)
Mr H: Well, that’s the wash house.
Mrs H: That’s where I had to go Jack, to share it and this is where Mrs Miller …
Mr H: That’s blocking our door because our door was here.
Q: Next to the lean-to and this is the wash house on the end was it? (Mrs H: Yes.)
Mr H: And that’s Snowdons, Saunders there …
Mrs H: And that big old chimney.
Q: So you were in the middle?
Mrs H: Yes, we were in the middle.
[more chat about photo, not noted]
Q: It must have been a big place originally then?
Mrs H: It was, it was quite a big property, yes. And the rooms were lovely. The size of the front room, what was it?
Mr H: About twenty foot square.
Mrs H: And while we were living there they put a new floor in didn’t they Jack?
Mr H: Yes, because that floor was laid on the dirt. So they dug out and put some timbers in and threw the dirt out the window.
Mrs H: Oh, what a mess. They threw the dirt out of the window.
Mr H: And they retiled it. (Mrs H: Retiled it.) And then they pulled it down.
Q: Seems a shame. (Mrs H: Doesn’t it.) Was it, it was quite low down there, was it damp at all.
Mrs H: Not particularly was it Jack?
Mr H: The front room was but that was all right after they took the dirt out and put the new floor in.
Mrs H: Because we had air bricks then you see dear.
Q: And what happened to the garden when it was in …?
Mr H: We never had any.
Q: Between there and the river did anybody use that?
Mrs H: That was a little paddock. Not facing that way, facing the other way. It was a lovely little paddock and the children used to play in that, didn’t they.
Mr H: Yes, I think that went for six hundred, Mr Hillier.
Q: Was there a pond?
Mrs H: Yes there was. Yes there was. Mind you that was six happy years because we were young. It was a very funny thing though. I mean I know, people were poorer then, but we always had a water lav. But when I married and went down there we didn’t. (Q: Oh dear, a come down!) Oh that was a come down really.
Mr H: And you had to pump. (Mrs H: And I had to, ooh)
Q: Where was the pump then?
Mr H: That was there. (Q: Near the wash house). Because Snowdons lived there. That’s Snowdon’s bit, that’ like that shape. (Q: It came out.) They never had much did they.
Mrs H: We had to put a pail of water down it didn’t we. But it was lovely water.
Mr H: We could stand in Pat’s bedroom and hear them talking as plain as plain. You could walk in the pantry or cupboard affair.
Q: Were all the walls thin then, or just some of them?
Mrs H: No, I think dear they just parted them to make that into three didn’t they, Jack.
Mr H: No, because the Snowdons we could hear them as plain as plain.
Q: What were the outside walls made of?
Mrs H: Oh they were mortar, brick and mortar.
Mr H: More plaster. When we went.
Mrs H: The plaster kept coming off. [laugh]
Q: So it wasn’t brick, (Mrs H: No dear.) then it must have been pretty old then.
Mrs H: Oh it was, well with those baize doors, I mean you don’t … mind you I would think though it was a beautiful house when it was built really..
Mr H: When we went into it that was the son, not the father.
Mrs H: Yes that was the son, Ernie Smith and his son was Esmond Smith.
Q: Had he lived in it himself?
Mrs H: No, I don’t think so. I don’t think they ever did.
Q: They didn’t live in it. Perhaps they lived in Earlsmead.
Mr H: They could have done but I think they lived in Earlsmead, they had that built.
Q: So I suppose it was a farmer?
Mr H: That was the farm house, oh yes.
[looking at photo of opening swimming pool in 1932 that has Esmond Smith on, JG’s photo M232]]
Mr H: He [Esmond] went in hospital to have an operation on his heel and he never come round. (Q: Really?) Quite a young man, (Q: Esmond Smith?.) Esmond Smith. I think he had a verruca, went into Chelmsford Hospital and died like that.
Mrs H: Do you think that looks like old Mrs Poulter, Jack?
Mr H: Looks like it. I can’t see very special.
Mrs H: No. I’m not. But that’s Esmond sitting there.
Q: That’s a start, good. I’ve a feeling, probably is one of them, would it be one of the Crittall’s at this end somewhere.
Mrs H: Aah, yes that is, its Valentine Crittall.
Mr H: Which one?
Mrs H: There he is look. That’s Valentine. You see that one lovey, he’s dead now, he was an MP. Oh yes that is, Jack, well, of course he was on the Council wasn’t he? [probably just an MP, JG] He got in.
Mr H: That’s right, he was an MP.
Q: I think he was probably opening. There’s another picture of him standing up as if he was making a speech, but you couldn’t really see anything else.
Mrs H: He wasn’t very much of a speaker, Mrs Gyford.
Mr H: He always had his head down.
Mrs H: He did rather. He’s got it down a bit there.
Q: Yes, he does look a bit sheepish doesn’t he. [laugh]
Mrs H: Yes, yes you could say that about him.
[more chat about who whether one on photo is Mrs Hollick etc, decided not, also other councillors not there, not noted]
Mrs H: I’m sure that’s Mrs Poulter though. (Q: Really?) Old lady Poulter, that one.
Mr H: Their house lived, was in front of where the swimming pool was. Because they them houses were pulled down now, there’s an empty space. [about 147 Newland Street]
Q: I know. Well is that the one that was Albert’s mother?
Mrs H: He’ll know.
Mr H: And Charlie’s mother. Because Charlie he had a repair shop in the front room window.
Mrs H: That’s a nice little picture though, yes, but I can’t recognise any of the women. Yet she seems to … Do you think that could be Esmond’s mother? Because he wasn’t married then. Because he married, you look love, but that’s Crittall.
Q: It’s a long time ago wasn’t it. I think it was 1932 it said on the picture..
Mrs H: Yes, well, that could well be. We were married in 1930.
Q: Did many people use that pool?
Mrs H: Yes, ever so many, ever so many people used it, but my children were a bit young for it then. Then down there where the pool was, there used to be baths. (Q: Really?) Working men, who had, yes dear, and you could go there and have a lovely bath. Working men used to go there because there was very few people in Witham who had bathrooms, no, nobody had a bathroom, only the gentry. I dare say Esmond Smith did and Valentine Crittall, they had baths of course. But dear old lady Poulter she didn’t, because I used to be friendly with Ethel, her daughter. Didn’t I Jack. I’m sure that’s old lady Poulter. But I bet Albert would know because he’s very very interested in …
[chat about table etc, not noted]
Mr H: Cause you see I mean I only used to come to Witham at weekends. I used to come after dinner and go home at night.
Mrs H: In the time that photo was taken, dear.
Mr H: I once missed the train and had to get back into barracks. I used to come out at the weekend. I started walking to Colchester after twelve o’clock at night. I got through Kelvedon and do you know, a car pulled up and he give me a ride and he took me right to the top of Butt Road. There wasn’t many cars then.
Q: It would have taken you a long time to get there. I’ll show you some of these others.
Mr H: I should think Albert would know some of these. (Mrs H: I’m sure he would.)
Q: I’ll have a word with him.
Mrs H: Tell him May Stock said it was mum, that’s my maiden name, well Anne, I’ve got two names, Anne May.
Mr H: I don’t think, that swimming pool, it ain’t there now is it?
Mrs H: Oh, no, no dear.
Q: I’ve been and I went and had a look once and you can see some of the stones at the sides but its all overgrown with grass. I suppose they probably stopped in the War.
Mr H: Esmond Smith’s father they had over here where the car park was, the houses were called Trafalgar Square.
Q: Oh yes, that was his was it?
Mr H: Well he got all the sand from that field at Moat farm at the back of the farm, to build them. They never had no backs. (Q: No.) the houses were like, and that side come across and that side come across there.
Q: The sand was actually on the …
Mr H: Where the car park was, where the big heap of dirt is, just here [next to Elm Cottage]
Q: Where did he actually get the sand? When you said he got the sand from Moat Farm, which bit of Moat Farm?
Mr H: The field where you go down and what’s the road you go up, come into Highfields? (Q: Armond Road.) Armond road is it. (Q: Oh I see.) Wasn’t quite half way up there on the left. There’s a long bungalow built there now. Of course they’ve filled it in. And then he got a lot from down the Valley [Guithavon Valley], where Burrows coalman lived I think. Trowles the television man see, they dug all sand come out there, that’s the Smiths.
[more photos, of Avenue and pageants etc., she doesn’t recognise anyone, not noted]
[general chat about other photos of groups etc. not noted]
[Re photo of All Saints church]
Mrs H: Is that our church or is it. Its All Saint’s church. (Q: Yes I think so.) It’s in terrible condition now isn’t it. Yes we used to go there to school, from the school. Yes, that’s when the school was next door, Church school was next door. We used to go there, yes, All Saints church, look Jack. They were lovely, they used to fascinate me when I was young, all the angels painted lovely there. (Q: They were bright colours were they?) Yes they were, they were. We could sit anywhere, we used to be able to sit anywhere in the church. That was a lovely old church but I think its been vandalised.
Q: Did you used to go there? When you were young which church did you go to?
Mrs H: Church of England, lovey. Well we used to go here, well we used to go here, because St Nicholas was quite a long way. But then when we lived up Moat Farm you see we automatically went to St Nicholas. The organ was just there, that was where old Mr Howlett, Howlett was the organist (Mr H: He lived opposite didn’t he.) Yes.
[more general chat, not noted]
Q: Do you remember anything about the ‘14 War here?
Mrs H: No, not a lot, not about the 14.
Q: Because they had a lot of soldiers in Witham?
Mrs H: Yes, they had the Warwickshire Regiment.
Mr H: They were two billeted with your mother.
Mrs H: Yes, we had two billeted with us.
Q: Do you remember that at all, do you remember anything about them?
Mrs H: Not too much, because, now, how old was I, I was born in 1906 I was only eight or nine. (Mr H: It went till ’18). It went to ’18, yes. But I really, I know we had an awful old house and there was an old garret and Mum let them sleep up there.
Mr H: She had to I suppose.
Q: Is this down?
Mrs H: Down Bridge Street.
Q: Is it there now?
Mrs H: No, dear, its pulled down now. You know where Hunt’s cycle shop is, that’s where we lived, right on the road, right on the road. And then you see there was a butcher’s, old Brown’s the butchers and we had, there was a little alleyway that went up. We were next door but one to the butchers. And the old bullocks would come up the side there, that little path. Mum would shout out ‘Shut the back door or they’ll be in’. It was awful, awful, awful!
Q: Did they ever get in? (Mrs H: No, dear they never got in.) Not a very nice thought though is it. Did they kill them there.
Mrs H: Yes, there was a slaughterhouse right at the back. Fancy even now. What would they think now of living just a little yard and a slaughterhouse. We could hear them killing the old pigs. You know how they (Mr H: Squeal.) squeal. Oh, how I used to hate it.
Mr H: You see the Morning Star even when I come to Witham, that was on the road [Bridge Street] Then they pulled that down and built the one behind it.
Q: You weren’t born in Bridge Street though, were you?
Mrs H: No, I was born in the Valley. [Guithavon Valley] (Q: That’s right and you moved up there.) And we moved up there. Cos I’m the eldest of us five. It’s funny, mum, we were nearly all born in different houses. Dad moved eight times from one little old house to another. (Q: Really, eight times, gosh.)
Q: Did you live in the different yourself then, so after you were born they lived in different places?
Mrs H: Yes, you see, Dad kept moving. He thought that would be better for us. But they really weren’t very much better. No, the accommodation was not very good then. No. That’s one thing that is good now.
Mr H: Your kitchen, had a brick floor.
Mrs H: Oh, awful old place, [probably 42 Maldon Road] and we had a little old dormer window, ‘cos there was five girls, five girls you see, and Mum had one bed we had that way and one bed that way and there was a dormer window and you see they wouldn’t do anything for the old houses. You see they never used to maintain them. They kept coming and taking rent but they didn’t maintain them did they Jack.
Mr H: Where Wiseman lived they had two doors, one at the bottom and one at the top.
Mrs H: Yes, that was a little house further up the road and this dormer window, well, I lived there until I went to work, didn’t I at fourteen. I lived there when I met you. That was our last house.
Mr H: 42 Maldon Road.
Mrs H: And that little old dormer window used to blow and Dad would tie a bit of string to keep it done, oh, I used to yearn for a nice house.
Q: I was going to say were you fed up. You realised then that it wasn’t very nice?
Mrs H: Oh I did. I hated it. And my next sister next to me, we hated it. Kate went in service but oh. You’ve got a lot of soldiers.
Mr H: When I used to come to Witham, you see, there was no electricity. 1925. Well at Colchester in the barracks we had electric light, we’d got hot and cold water and we had wirelesses. But that’s when I was at Colchester, Gujerat Barracks, up the top of Butt Road.
[more chat not noted]
[Looking at photographs of pageants etc.]
Q: I suppose if you’d got the Grove and places like that …
Mrs H: Yes, it was lovely up there.
Q: There must have been a lot of organising of all the children they’ve got.
Mrs H: Yes, yes that was. Well, you see, the gentry of Witham they did use to do a lot of this. (Q: I see.)
Q: Were they in the shows themselves you mean?
Mrs H: They used to organise quite a lot. The Miss Luards, they used to organise quite a lot. Especially Miss Edith.
Q: So, it wasn’t done through school or anything?
Mrs H: No, not really.
[more general chat, not noted]
Mrs H: Do you know, this reminds me, on Empire Day, ‘What can I do for England?’ Our old governors, we used to have to do this.
Q: Did you? What did you do?
Mrs H: Well, we used to have to go to church and we all had a flag and we had to have recitations in front of the others, ‘What can I do for England? That does so much for me, I’m one of her faithful children, I am and I always will be’.
Mr H: [???]?
Q: You’ve got a good memory, that was at school was it?
Mrs H: Yes, at school. Do you know I met a girl the other day, she’s eighty, I’m eighty now. And she come in and bought some slippers because I only go up the shop one day a week to help my son now. And she said ‘I thought about you the other day,’ she said. I said ‘Whatever did you think about me for’. She said ‘I remember when we was at school,’ she said, ‘and old Louisa’, that was our Governess, We had Governess. (Mr H: Louisa Compton.) Louisa Compton, she said she showed ‘Look what Annie Stock has made!’ It was a jumper. A jumper. [laugh] I said ‘Doris, little did she know that I used to do errands for an old lady for fourpence a week, and with twopence of that I bought an ounce of wool’. Oh dear that was a laugh. And then another thing Doris said, used to say, that Miss Louisa would say, especially on Empire Day, that just made me think of it she said. ‘Now Annie Stock will recite a poem’. ‘Oh, what can I do for England …’.
Q: You were the star were you. (Mrs H: No not really.) Sounds like it. So you had to recite the poem yourself did you?
Mrs H: ‘One of her faithful children’.
[more general chat, not noted]
Q: It must have taken a lot to get the costumes all done?
Mrs H: Yes, you know I don’t know. I would rather think they had to make them or hire them. When I was in one or two of these dos we made them in crepe paper. (Q: Goodness.) Now I wonder who that is.
[More general chat, not noted]
Mrs H: That was when, in them days, though, we were brought up very patriotic. My father and mother weren’t, but we were at school you know, brought up very patriotic.
Q: Your parents weren’t?
Mrs H: Not particularly, no not particularly, and I don’t think your parents were either were they Jack? (Mr H: What?) They weren’t very patriotic really.
Mr H: I don’t think so.
Mrs H: Not really. Your mum had all her work cut out to look after all the children.
Mr H: Well, she had a dozen!
Q: Did they go to church regularly or …?
Mr H: No, my Mum and Dad, not regularly.
Mr H: I used to have to go to church when I was …
Mrs H: But as we sort of got older, we sort of took it on ourselves to go to church. I brought my children up to go to church.
[more general chat, not noted]
Mrs H: Old folks coronation 1937.
Q: Would your parents be alive then?
Mrs H: 1937, yes. Oh yes dear. (Mr H: Your father, your mother …) My Mum lived till she was eighty. She was born in Witham. Dad was born in Witham.
Mr H: She lived here with us, your mother. She slept up in John’s room.
Mrs H: She was here a little while didn’t she.
Q: So were your grandparents in Witham when you were young?
Mrs H: On my side. Yes, on my side. (Mr H: They were Baxters) My Grandparents, I’d got two, I’d got the Stocks, hadn’t I and the Baxters. Well my grandfather Stock and grandma, lived over there in the entrance to the Park. There was a little thatched house there. (Q: Really.) Before that house was built and that’s where my grandma and grandad Stock lived.
Mr H: And your cousin in River View remembers him. (Mrs H: Remembers him. Yes I have a cousin in River View.) She’s about eighty-seven. She remembered the thatched cottage didn’t she? (Mrs H: yes, she did.) I think she remembered when they used to shoe the horses to pull the roller, put wooden shoes on the horses, for the cricket. (Q: Goodness.) Put wooden shoes on so they didn’t cut into the wicket. But as I say I don’t know a lot really. What I know is from the old ones I met when I was perhaps in the pubs see. There was a Turner, was a scissors grinder was very old, old when I come to Witham. But they’re very nice. (Mrs H: I should think they are.)
Q: So your cousin in River View she was …?
Mrs H: On the Stock, she’s Miss Stock. She’s a spinster. (Q: Does she keep well?) Well she’s not too bad really. (Mr H: She can’t get about much though.) No she can’t get about much now. (Mr H: Since she fell down.)
Q: So is it flats in River View?
Mrs H: Yes, they look after themselves. Little flats.
Mr H: She’d been in service all her life hadn’t she.
Q: What, round here?
Mrs H: No dear, she went away.
[more chat, not noted]
Q: Did you ever go to anything like that? [Mothers’ meetings]
Mrs H: No, dear, no, I was more musical. I was. When I was quite young I used to sing a lot and then Mr Howlett he used to have Community Singing in the Public Hall. Well ,when I was from fourteen onwards I used to go, but when I had my children I never went to Mothers’ meetings. No, no. As they grew up John was in the choir when he was ten, nine or ten, stayed in that till he was thirteen or fourteen. I think they did do that more in those days.
Q: So your mother went out even when she had got you as children did she?
Mrs H: Not a terrific lot, because dad died at forty-eight you see and my dear mum had to turn round and go out to work. She cleaned the Banks, get up at six in the morning to go out charring. You see they only allowed the wife ten shillings a week didn’t they Jack, (Mr H: Old age pension.) Old age pension, only ten shillings (Mr H: Widows’) Widows’ pension. But then you see I’d started work and then you see you had to help keep your other sisters didn’t you really. You see I was the eldest. I had Lily they used to say that she ought to go to High School but my mum and dad couldn’t afford it. Perhaps I ought to have gone but like Jack’s people. Well Jack went to work at eleven didn’t you?
Q: Did you ever take any exams or anything for entrance?
Mrs H: No, not really. I didn’t do too bad. My report wasn’t too bad when I left school at fourteen.
Mr H: Well, you see when I went, they used to get three months off at a time and when that was up my father used to ask for another three months and I just never went back.
Mrs H: Yes, well that was at the end of the First War.
Mr H: I never went to school no more.
Mrs H: No he never went to school any more. No, well, I suppose it was a question of money really. You see our parents wanted money to help keep the others. (Q: Yes, quite.)
Mr H: At that time you were paid in gold. (Mrs H: Jack was at the end of the War, I never was, I never was.) That went off the gold standard in 1916.
Q: So that was the glove factory, you went straight away there?
Mrs H: Yes, at fourteen dear. My father you see, there was four younger than me and you see my father went up to see Mr Pinkham who owned the glove factory to try and get me to start work at thirteen but they wouldn’t allow it in them days. So I had to run errands for Mrs Woodwards every morning before I went to school for fourpence a week and then tuppence of that I bought an ounce of wool. It took me a long time to make that jumper. [laugh] But I always remember she gave me a lovely piece of homemade cake for my lunch! Oh dear oh dear. Still of course, when you have that kind of upbringing of course you … But I must say we all got so that we helped ourselves such a lot you see. I used to knit and sew an awful lot. So did my other sisters.
Mr H: How long tapes keep, do you, but we’ve got some tapes of Clare singing when she was six and she’s twenty-two.
Mrs H: He loves them, so do I. I love to hear her sing, because she joined the Operatic when she was quite young. She was crazy to get in it, so Mr Collins took her on really under age didn’t he.
Mr H: You ain’t got a bad voice yourself.
Q: When you used to do things with Mr Howlett, did you sing solos?
Mrs H: Yes, sometimes, sometimes. Yes
Q: Did you have any lessons in singing?
Mrs H: No, I would have loved them, I would have loved to have been able to do that. Oh I would have loved it. I had a dear auntie who bought a piano especially for me to learn but you see mum couldn’t afford to send me to lessons. Anyway.
Q: Was that an auntie in Witham?
Mrs H: No, I’ve only got one aunt left and that’s our dear Aunt Nell and she’s 94, she lives up Totham, she’s gone up Totham to live with her daughter. And when I used to visit her, and she’d say ‘You know Anne, I’m your only auntie you’ve got left now’. And so she was. But then she’s not a blood auntie, because she married an uncle, my mother’s brother, so she’s an aunt through marriage, not what we call a blood aunt.
Q: Was she local?
Mrs H: No, she was a Tiptree woman. She married a local man, Harry Baxter, he was a Witham born man. He had his foot shot off during the War, but he lived until he was eighty.
Q: You were a long lived family on the whole weren’t you?
Mrs H: Yes not too bad, and so is Jack’s
Mr H: That’s when you begin to feel the pinch
Mrs H: When you get eighty. [laughs], I knew he’d say that. We’re very very lucky really I think.