Mr Walter Peirce was born in 1908. He was interviewed on 31 October and 29 November 1986, when he lived at Airlings, Ulting Road, Hatfield Peverel.
For more information about him, see Peirce, Walter and family, 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.]
[Re JG’s photos M158, M159 and M160, funeral of Auriol Round, identity not known at time of this interview]
Mr P: Now see, this is where Miss Murrells lived, the schoolteacher, what’s Kemsley’s [53 Newland Street], see, well here, where Barclay’s bank is, was a children’s home, wasn’t it [59 Newland Street]. Children’s home, you see. Well here’s the chemists’ shop [64 Newland Street], you used to have to go up steps to it, well we used to rattle that thingummy and run like the devil and just hide round there, ‘cause there’s a garden here, there’s a garden here with a water hydrant, so when they used to wash the sewers out, when they used to wash the sewers out, they used to come with the tank, you know horse-drawn tank, and then fit this big stand pipe on there and turn the tap on and fill it up. Then they’d open the big man hole in the road and wash the sewers all down. You don’t know whose funeral it is, I expect in the First War, like.
Q: See there’s a bit more of the same one, and then that’s the grave.
Mr P: This is the old hand bier, that was kept at All Saints churchyard, toolshed, that’s a hand bier they’re pulling, yes I know what it is, I can see it. I should think that was one of the Richards on [funeral directors]. I would say that is the Richards doing that, you know, Miss Richards’ father and uncle. And there’s Sergeant Haggar standing there, look, yes, Sergeant Haggar, what’s on the Crittall’s lot.
Q: Just by the lamppost, is it really?
[chat about identifying person buried, not noted]
Mr P: I would say that’s either the Rounds’ funeral, I reckon that is, that’s the Round’s funeral I reckon, what was up there near the War Memorial, they come that way.
Q: They died during the War you reckon.
Mr P: During the War, that’s Rounds, I reckon. My eyes ain’t so good as they used to be. You can see by the clothes that’s the early part of the War. Yes that’s Sergeant Haggar standing there, when he retired he come to Crittall’s as a watchman.
[chat about magnifying glasses etc., not noted]
Mr P: I would say that’s Rounds, one of the Rounds, and Ottley’s cab, there’s Ottley’s cab, what used to be at the Albert yard.
Q: At the back there with the horse.
Mr P: Yes that’s Ottley’s cab. I would say that’s Rounds, I would, I would say that’s Rounds’ funeral.
[more chat repeating previous, not noted.]
[looking at JG’s photo M161 re First World War ambulances]
Mr P: That’s taken where Dorothy Sayers lives, you see. Well they’re the Red Cross ones. You said where did they get the stuff from for the soup kitchens all up your way. Well that’s a pontoon waggon.
Q: Oh is it, at the back there.
Mr P: See this is all the army. Well, they’re going up to the camp up the Avenue. You see, well then the Bridge Home was used as a hospital, and a seat was put down there, and the other seat for the wounded soldiers was just over the Catholic bridge, where you go down Crittall Road. That stood there for years and years and years. The seat was, and then the seat all fell to bits, there was still the bits of iron at the side. You see. So they may, 1915, that’s about right, they may be coming away from the Bridge Home, or been to the Bridge Home or something or other you see. They’re marching that way. This ivy has all gone now [22-26 Newland Street]. Here was where, Miss Vaux lived there, Abrey and Gardner lived there, the auctioneer, well there’s a gateway through there, well there was big board run across there, ‘Abrey and Gardner, auctioneer and value’ or something. And Hugh Page sold all their stuff when they died. The old gas lamps at the Red Lion. I forget how many of them cups there used to be on those wires, we used to count them sometimes. You see and that’s Tiptree Villa back there [20 Newland Street] and there’s the Whitehall [18 Newland Street]. And that’s up there where the bloke exploded that bomb, showing that bomb off, and blew the arm off and blinded one of them or something [2 Newland Street]. There’s the waggons with the food and all that on, look, you see, and they were the horse drawn ambulances, look.
Q: So you’d ride on those would you sometimes? You’d ride on these things would you, when you got the chance.
Mr P: Oh, we’d get on, we would, we’d get on the back and have a ride, and on this, give me that one of that funeral again, would you [M158]. Now, on this, (Q: Ottley’s.) On this cab, see, on the back there used to be the iron axle with the wheels. Well the driver sat there with his candle lamps, candle lamps each side, and then a socket with his big whip in, see, well he could whip across. Well, one bloke there, the driver, we called him Happy Rednose, cause he used to sleep in the stables, and he spent his money over the Albert and he red old nose, he worked for George Ottley. Well, going to school or anywhere like that, we’d, you could see the wheel, well we boys used to sit on that axle. Well if he saw us he’d get the whip and thwap us over. So what we used to do when old Happy weren’t about there, we used to tie his whip to the bracket that held the candle lamp, see, [???] old boy up there, he’d swear at us like anything else and tell us to get off, and he’d tug away at his whip, he couldn’t get it because we used to tie it on there.
Q: Was the axle underneath the …?
Mr P: No at the back, the wheels stuck out the back, and that was the cab, the cab was in between the two wheels, look, like the old fashioned [???] thing, at the back, well you could sit on that back axle and lay back on the cab. See? Had many a ride to school like that. Oh yes. And then when that was election time, the Conservative candidate used to be, they’d hire two or three of them if he could you see, and then we boys used to just keep riding up and down to the polling station, which was our school.
Q: I see yes, so what, he’d have that to go and fetch people?
Mr P: To fetch people to vote. Oh yes, yes. Oh yes. It was an honourable to be an M P then, it ain’t now, it’s just the money now, isn’t it? Charlie Strutt and all them put up, Ruggles Brise and all those. Now I would say that funeral was one of the, was the Rounds, up that way. It was a big pot’s funeral you see, and everybody walked, everybody walked behind the bier. Hand bier, B E I R?, how do you spell it? B E I R? (Q: B I E R, isn’t it, B I E R) B I E R. I know I’ve pulled it several times, and these handles used to be at the front and back, and the handles used to drop down. Brass hubs, and, wooden handle but it used to be brass what held it. Belonged to the church I suppose.
[chat about leaving, about photos M142, M143, gun carriages, not noted]
Mr P: [re photos M167 and M168, last church parade] They’re taken where, what we called Blyth’s gravel pit, where you go up towards the back of All Saints Churchyard,, that’s all built with houses and that now isn’t it? [Lockram Lane at Guithavon Valley end] that’s where that was taken. [???] used to have it. [???] houses, church is here. I’d call that Blyth’s gravel pit we used to call it.
Q: That was flat like that was it?
Mr P: Yes, oh yes, course it was, it was all meadow land. It was only the gravel pit in the front, where they had the revolver shooting.
[repeated discussion about location, and about coming back again, not noted.]
Mr P: British Oxygen, you know where I mean don’t you. That factory at the top of your road, whose got it. Back of Co-op houses. You know where Mrs, oh she lost her husband a little while ago. (Q: Goody?) Goody, no not …
[silence for few moments]
Q: I always thought that was part of Crittall’s now, but I don’t know.
[silence for few moments]
Mr P: Yes they all worked at Crittall’s. I don’t know whether that was Crittall’s or the Silver End Development Company, but they were all Crittall’s. ‘Cos Mr Smith is on there, and he was the boss of there and Silver End, so it’s back 1926. Was it 1926 when Silver End was built? (Q: Yes, there was a picture in the paper). That was all built at the same time see. Then, come down the road towards where Cullen’s factory like was, there’s the lodge ain’t there before you go into Crittall’s. Well that was a road what Macdonald, Ramsay Macdonald opened that road, and that was called Macdonald Road. And then of course they’ve now extended on it, and blocked it. You can’t see that building now, that’s behind the canteen cause that’s all the social club and that at the front. Well before the social club that was built, that was, actually that bay where the men are building was what Hoffmann’s had during the war. Bearings or bullets, I don’t know. But Hoffmann’s hired that off Crittall’s cause I was there then. They hired that bay. Well now you see, and then they built a loading bay, and then they built this social club on top of the loading bay [Braintree Road frontage of Crittall’s]
[Chat about history book he is reading, not noted.]
Q: How did you get interested in history?
Mr P: Oh, schoolmaster, Mr Rowles, BA, do you remember him. That was during the, he used to take us boys round for walks, and I say we used to walk to Faulkbourne, used to walk to Little Braxted and Great Braxted, and I got so interested see, there ain’t many churches in Essex I haven’t been into. I can read now, I mustn’t boast must I, but I can read the history of the building and all that without going inside it more or less, when I look outside and see the structure and the building and the windows, it gives me all the information, my wife would sit out in the car.
[General chat, including about Hatfield Peverel, and photos, not noted.]