Tape 117. Mr Walter Peirce, sides 14 and 15

Tape 117

Mr Walter Peirce was born in 1908. He was interviewed on 31 March 1987, when he lived at Airlings, Ulting Road, Hatfield Peverel.

He also appears on tapes 92, 93, 110, 111, 112, 113, 114, 125, 126.

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 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 14

Mr P:    This was the Co-op allotment, all this was. Crittall’s bought it in 1919. The factory was opened in 1920, I remember all this. Now this is where that photograph was taken, when the first new bay was added. Well then, we moved on to Silver End in 1926, and then in 1922 Crittall’s built the Maldon factory. (Q: Oh I didn’t know about that.) Didn’t you? Oh yes, when they finished, used to make all these iron door frames and everything. And when we finished we sold it to Ever Ready, battery people. Do you remember Ever Ready, up [???] Street.

[talking about chocolate, not noted]

Description of layout of Crittall’s when first built, not noted because I seem to have lost the plan he drew. Also of photos M81 and M82 taken from the roof of Crittall’s towards Church Street, details noted on m photos data base.

Q:    That was just used as a meadow then was it [field across Braintree Road from Crittall’s]

Mr P:    Yes. Mr Alderton, lived next to the White Horse, he had it for cattle. He used to put his cattle and all in it. And then Crittall’s got it a bit now they’ve made a bit of a car park for it didn’t they. But during the War [Second World War] we used to put timber and stuff in there, and I’ve buried barrels, I got Italian prisoners of war, and the Germans I was looking after, barrels and barrels of paint are all buried in there. Near Doll Goss, [of 12 Chalks Road] I used to her at the back of the garden.

Q:    Why did you bury the paint and stuff?

Mr P:    Well when they changed the colour you see.

Q:    Oh I see, when you didn’t want it any more, yes.

Mr P:    They changed the colours. [???] and all these old barrels of tar were buried in there. Course they had the barrels to Dockers[?] of Birmingham, you had to have, there was a deposit on each barrel see.

Q:    So you just poured the paint away?

Mr P:    Just poured – the prisoners of war dug big pits, we poured the paint in there. It’s in there, it’s under that grass. It’s still there. So I came across that.

[chat about photo, not noted.

Mr P:    When we built this factory, when we built the factory, you got the Braintree line come round here, arm to Braintree. Well then Crittall’s off of there had points, and we had our own line come down here. See on there. And we had a turntable there, and then we went there with this, and we made a turntable there and we had the lines in there what we used to put the trucks in with an overhead crane and unload the steel, and put into them bays. They Crittall’s , they then covered this in didn’t they, covered it all into the loading bay. Well as I said they built this new place where the men are on there, and that come in with the factory, then the built the social club next to it with the loading bay underneath, so the lorries used to stand along here and road up and we used to come out to there. [Braintree Road]

[more chat about photos etc., including M81, not noted]

Q:    You only stayed here till they started Silver End, did you?

Mr P:    No, no I went to Silver End and then I come back.

Q:    I thought you must have yes.

Mr P:    Oh yes I came back, and when did I leave, I don’t know, I came back, end of the War? When the War finished I think, cause I was on the surgery. I left Crittall’s when the War finished, ’40? [Second World War]

Q:    Oh yes because you were talking about the prisoners of war and that.

Mr P:    With the prisoners of war all in there.

Q:    And they were helping you do all that.

Mr P:    They had to do what I told them.

[chat about borrowing photos, etc., not noted]

Mr P:    Chipping Hill Church, there’s a French currant growing in there, in that churchyard. Well I should estimate that that bush is a hundred years old. I’ll tell you why. Canon Galpin – In the First War I was in the choir, well in, in where, it’s Church Street up here see and the church is there, then a footpath goes down to the green, doesn’t it, to that green in front of the church where you go to Chipping Hill. Well from there, there’s a footpath, it ain’t there now, they’ve closed it up, to a gate [bottom of churchyard into Church Street]. It’s been closed up the gate has, hasn’t it. This is Church Street. Well this currant tree growed here. Well when we was in the choir we used to go and pick the currants off there and eat them. Because, and then you’ve got some old houses there, there’s a brick wall run across there, there’s some houses there, I don’t know, you go off of Church Street to them, they stand back don’t they, to the green. Because in the churchyard is where the public lavatory is, down there in a hole, you used to go down steps. (Q: Did you, I didn’t know that). It was only just for gentlemen, you went down steps. As a matter of fact I went with Angela and the hole was still there. (Q: There’s still a few old gravestones and things.) Yes, stones or something up there. You just went down some steps there to it on a Sunday, the men did, you see. Because, and then they would come out and up here was the Woolpack wasn’t it. The Woolpack’s just there. Well this currant tree was there in the First War when I was in the choir, well that’s been sixty, seventy more years ago and that was a big bush then. I said to Angela, they’ve done away with that path now. That bush is still there but that path is done away with.

[about own garden, not noted etc.]

And then, when you come by the churchyard and come into, and come through here into Church Street, into Church Street here, there’s the Woolpack there, there’s a brick wall along there, ain’t there, alongside this road. Well down here there used to be that grave where there’s a woman and a horse buried. There’s an iron one, well we’ve been, I went with Angela, but that’s all been done away with and level. She’s buried there with the horse. It was all on the tombstone, it was a cast iron tombstone, great big cast iron tombstone, oh as big as your settee, quite as big as that.

Q:    That was sort of up near the Woolpack?

Mr P:    That stood just, you go by the Woolpack and then there’s a gateway through there goes to the church ain’t it, a footpath across.

Q:    Well well, I wonder what they did with that then. Was that the one where she had an accident or something? (Mr P: Who?) The woman with the horse?

Mr P:    Yes. Yes that was all in it. She went and approached the horse without speaking to it and it kicked her to death. And she’s buried there with it and it was all on the casting, so on the great big, great big thingummy, tombstone, and then all the description was all on top here. But this end got broke off, and Mr Quy the blacksmith repaired it once or twice, and we boys if we was playing hide and seek we’d hide in there sometimes. But that was all on there about, and the warning not to approach a horse without talking to it.

Q:    Was that in the, in the stables there, did someone tell me, was that in the stables by the church that that happened?

Mr P:    No no, this end, Church Street. (Q: Yes, but where it happened.) I don’t know dear, I don’t know, privately at home somewhere. She owned this horse somewhere at home you see.

[chat about photo of Crittall’s men, M74, not noted]

Mr P:    My job was, if a part of the factory broke down, I don’t know whether Bert {???] ever come with me, anyhow instead of sending the men home, they’d send them with me, and I would take them and clean all these windows. All them windows you see. Cause I used to have a whatsername, ladded, scaling ladder that you laid, with bars on, and that went right over the top and then over the top of that one you see. They were all put there in case a sentry[?] bomb dropped I could get from here to there all over the roof which I did. You see the church showing up there plain.

Q:    Did they have any bombs on there in the War?

Mr P:    Yes, and the roof of my, well what happened was you see, when the Heinkel German bomber come over, that bombed Hoffmanns, then it followed the railway lane and it bombed all Crittall’s. Well he machine gunned, he machine gunned, as he come across Crittall’s he machine gunned it, and all this tin and the glass, he put the bullet through, see, we was down in the shelter. Well then he dropped the bombs, and this is the most important, that is interesting. There’s the Braintree railway line, see, well, and that was Crittall’s railway line, well here we had the power station [railway side of factory]. Well, we had dugouts built out right in this bank we had dugouts built. So when the spotters was on top. It’s on here. At the back of me here, up where the old canteen and all that used to be near the railway line. We used to have the spotters up there, they had a watch tower. Well directly they give the alarm with the hooter, you all located, another one was round the front, and you all went into these shelters. Well he dropped the bomb, old Mr Webb, do you remember Mr Webb lived up Rickstones Road? No he’s been dead about two years, [???] Joyce Webb. (Q: Oh yes I think I do.) Mr Webb. Well anyhow they lived up Rickstones Road. And he had an allotment, right where the Braintree line is there, he had an allotment running along there like that here.

Well. Directly the hooter or anything went, you come along of Braintree Road here don’t you and then you went over a bridge don’t you, and the train went underneath there. He used to run away from his allotment up to there. Well when Crittall’s, when they dropped the bombs, they dropped one bomb right on the power house, and I was in this dugout, and another bomb dropped onto the railway line, and then over here in this field what belonged to thingummy there, over there they had an electric, it belonged to the East Anglian Electric Light, a sub station [Cut Throat Lane]. And the bomb went off there, so it blew a crater in there, it blew the railway line up. Well when this bomb dropped, you know what a steel joist is don’t you, they call that an H girder don’t they. That’s them girders what you can see. Well when they dropped that bomb, down there, that went right through the roof of Crittall’s, and whether you believe it or not, that hit this girder and bent that girder round like that, and dropped right down into the roof, and we had one, we had three great big oil engines, and that dropped right through down there, and the bomb went right down in there and exploded in there and damaged them two big engines. Never hurt nobody, cause they killed a lot in Hoffmanns, didn’t they. (Q: That’s right.] If I could take you, today, I’m sure if I could take you today, that girder is up there, and that’s got the imprint where the bomb hit it, and that turned the bomb down, and the bomb, turned the bomb down and that come down and exploded right in between them two engines. (Q: So nobody was hurt at all then.) Nobody was hurt at all. I should have went, you see, on, well then, if it had been over my way, at the back of my shed I’ve got a coal[?] box see, and you lift the lid up, see, well that lid is made of galvanise, and that’s got the bullet holes in where the Germans bombed it. It’s still got the bullet holes in it. So of course what we done, what I done, well the firm done it but I done it, up there where the British Oxygen was where [Braintree Road]

[Trying to remember woman’s name, not noted]

Well that’s still got the impression in that girder where the bomb hit it. And I tell you, and I’ve got the shed with my bullet holes, with my bullet holes still in it. Tracer bullets [???]. (Q: That came off ?) One of these here, so what we done then, in the War what we done then, was took all that glass out and repaired the tin, and where we took the glass out we put all tin in, so that was all artificial light and all the while then, and course when the War was all finished and the government paid for it, all this glass was put back. That’s six foot two, the glass is, with whatsername in it. (Q: Reinforcement?) Reinforcement. Yes. And the men used to bring it up and carry it with a special carrier. I forget what firm that done it. But anyhow the government paid for it.

[chat about photos etc not noted.]

Mr P:    Cause when Crittall’s first started, right in that corner, where you go, they call it, I didn’t know till the other day they call that Bell field Road don’t they, I didn’t know, I saw it on the paper and I looked in the map, in Thompson’s map and found it. Well right in the corner of that field was a great pond, always used to fill up. So when they first built Crittall’s they put a lot of dirt in there and levelled that all off, that’s all level, you won’t know. Nobody now knows that pond was there, only my age.

[chat about photos etc people living in Chalks Road etc., not noted]

Mr P:    [re Hurrell and Beardwell motor mechanics] Hurrell and Beardwell they were the two started the firm. There was Ralph Beardwell and Vic Beardwell and Mr Hurrell. You see. Then during the war, Vic had to come into Crittall’s, cause they come, originally Mrs Beardwell was the schoolmistress at Faulkbourne. They were born in Faulkbourne school house, the Beardwells were. I don’t know where the Hurrells come from. But that was her that lived there and he opened this garage in thingummy [White Horse Lane], and then, he opened up as a Morris agent and then the next, they bought that garage down by the police station didn’t they. But they’ve sold that now, somebody else’s got that now haven’t they. And then they opened this one up here, is that still Hurrell and Beardwell? [Braintree Road] (Q: I don’t think this one is now, no, Mobil Oil) Oh Mobil Oil people. Yes they stepped in did they.

[asking him about Ken Cuthbe, not known to Mr P, not noted.]

Mr P:    This Mr Smith on that photograph [M74], in the front, he was, he, I put him down as foreman but he was actually the agent, you know, he done Silver End, and Witham. See. Got the two jobs all on the go at once. Most of them, I would say, a lot of them men come from Braintree, and they used to take us to Silver End in a couple of lorries, Overland, don’t see them now do you. Well all we had was the lorry, with the sides, and then we had scaffold boards across. Well we was going to work one day, and we used to go Cressing Temple way, you know, and turn up there, we was going to work one day and got near the Cherry Tree and the blooming front wheel come off the lorry, shot us all out in the road, never hurt nobody, a few scratches. There were two lorries they were called Overland, they were sort of the first lot, you know, Silver End was built, Mr Smith and Mr Dorking and all them, they all come over there as brickies and all that.

Q:    Was that for building the factory or the houses as well?

Mr P:    Houses as well. They built the factory, we built the factory first, and in 1926 we built the factory, and Sir Francis Crittall the founder, that’s in that book ‘Fifty Years of Work and Play’, there’s a photograph of him, my brother’s in there twice, what got killed at Burma. My young brother, 28, got killed at Burma, never did know what happened to him, he got killed in Burma in the Second War. He’s on there as a little old boy, two photos, one where he’s standing where Sir Francis Crittall’s planting a tree and another one where Macdonald’s planting a tree, cause Ramsay Macdonald was Prime Minister then, wasn’t he, he came over. Well we called that road now, we called that road from this road here that runs through Crittall’s, that was called the Macdonald Road, cause he opened it, he opened that road. Course that weren’t, there was a hedge there then, and then he went to Silver End and planted, I think that’s all broke down, up near the garage he planted this oak tree.

[chat about photos M81 and M82, not noted

Mr P:    That’s the gate into the field [between Braintree Road and Church Street] because when I was a boy in Church Street in 1914, we had seesaw and swings in there. (Q: Really? Whereabouts were they? Where would that be on the picture? (Mr P: Just here, just about in there. That was called Bell field, see, that does belong to the bellringers doesn’t it that field, the rent or revenue or something goes towards the bells, you see. Well, what I used to do, I know I was a naughty boy, come down the side of the Charity Ros [28-40 Church Street], into this field, see, and then come across to here, that’s Wadley’s orchard just down there. See, that’s Wadley’s orchard, there’s the Woolpack and the school, and then here, you come to the houses opposite the Woolpack, Mrs Ludd and Mrs Hoy and Hasler’s, Jock[?] Pendle had it. But anyhow [???] used to get through that hedge into Wadley’s orchard, cause he had an orchard at the back didn’t he, don’t know whether that’s still there now [Wadley of 48 Church Street and Dean House Chalks Road]. There’s probably cattle there, I dare say they are, cause you see Mr Alderton, he was a superintendent of [???] Insurance, he lived next to the White Horse. Tell you what, his boy’s often putting bits into the Braintree and Witham Times, isn’t he. Well I’m talking about his father. Well that boy was born there, what’s his name? (Q: Winston.) Winston. Well he was born in that house next to the pub and his father, they used to hire that meadow and have it for cattle or something like that. Cause I don’t know whether Greatrex the butcher in Church Street used to buy the cattle, but I know he had it because I used to go into this meadow and get mushrooms.

Q:    So what did Aldertons do otherwise?

Mr P:    They were all at school. He was superintendent of the, I don’t know whether it was the Pearl Insurance or, some insurance, he was superintendent, their father, they were all at school.

Q:    But he kept the field as well?

Mr P:    He hired that field off of the church authorities. Yes. And then, who took it after, he had to give up. Cause Hurrell and Beardwell, built their first garage in a bit of that, in the corner of that field [in White Horse Lane]. (Q: I didn’t know that.) They reckon they were old army huts or something they were. And he [???] in there.  And then, cause you see you used to come up that lane, up the White Horse Lane, there used to be the back, where the slaughterhouse was to Greatrex the butchers, I told you the blood bit didn’t I, and then there was Dean’s the builder, no Rust first, then Dean took it but he was interned during the War [First War, actually Mr Dean’s brother in law, Mr Dean was in the army] because he was a German or something. And then after the War Adams and Mortimer took it over. I think it’s Croft’s or something now isn’t it, I don’t know, somebody else’s name now. (Q: Hey and Croft.) Well that used to be Adams and Mortimer.

Q:    Isn’t in the back there where Mrs Ireland was brought up, in the back there wasn’t she, was it Rushens?

Mr P:    Mrs Ireland was in that Dean House.

Q:    Oh the Wadleys, I think before that she was with the Rushens or something.

Mr P:    Oh she might have done. Yes, before she went to service. She had all the service in, is it called Dean House. (Q: Dean House [Chalks Road]) That’s right, well she was in there, and well she was there till the Wadleys died out. Yes, cause Sunday mornings we used to take the meat and the cakes down to Wadleys, and they used to bake them and charge about a halfpenny [shop at 48 Church Street]. And we used to take the meat, see, cause they kept the ovens hot, and you used to see the women Sunday mornings coming away from there with the meat or a cake, Mr Wadley used to bake in the ovens. Well then when Wadleys died out and give up, Hasler, what lived on the right hand corner of Church Street [54 Church Street], he bought it, yes. Of course there was only four almshouse there then [actually two] they’ve now built in the gardens ain’t they [50-52 Church Street]. Cause little old Rosie, girl name of Rosie Burch used to live there, I don’t know whether she’s still alive is she. (Q: I was thinking the other day I haven’t seen her for a bit, but I think she’s still there somewhere.) She must be well over eighty.

Q:    In the middle one she is. I haven’t seen her for a long while, so I was wondering whether she was all right.

Mr P:    She had a sister married George[?] Clarke from Hatfield Peverel, used to be the blacksmith at Hatfield Peverel. What was her, Violet. She had a sister Violet, she married young[?] Clarke, they used to run the pictures in the Public Hall, that was a picture palace, used to charge three halfpence to go in there, Pinkham had it first, then when Pinkham give it up, Clarkes took it over. It’d be half, well, silent pictures and all that then, get half way through and the film would break, and everybody’d holler and stamp their feet, or else they had a little old petrol engine round the back that used to make the electricity, perhaps the belt would come off the engine or something like that, or the engine conk out, we used to bang and stamp our feet and wait for the films, used to come on again.

Q:    That was at the Public Hall, was it, before they had the Whitehall?

Mr P:    Yes. The projector room was built outside, over where the ornamental stonework was. The doorway is still there what used to come into the projector room, then you put the film over the top of the gallery. Is the gallery still in there? (Q: It is yes). That’s right. (Q: You had a good time didn’t you.) Cause you see, here this, where you are all here, see I lived in Church Street, oh we used to have gorgeous, mushrooms used to grow here by the bushel. Then all up that road you see during the war [First]. The army used to have all their soup kitchens and cookery kitchens and guns, and pontoons, all the way up there, all the way up there. (Q: On the road or on the field?) On the road [Chalks Road] In the road, never in the field. In the road. Course this belonged to John Brown at the farm [Cocks farm]. We used to come over there and get skimmed milk, a halfpenny a pint. Used to get over the fence at the back, I don’t know whether there’s any of them fir trees and still there? [???] We used to climb up on, St Nicholas Road or something like that. (Q: You could get in from up where you lived could you?) We used to come out of Church Street into all this, all this was one big field wasn’t it, this was all one big field up to the farm. Yes. You’d go up the farm and get eggs, I think thirteen for a shilling. If you bought a shillingsworth they’d give you one extra, I don’t know what for. I say, we used to come up, skimmed milk was a halfpenny a pint.; (Q: You had to come and collect the milk did you?) Had to collect it oh yes. Then during the war [First] Canon Galpin …

Side 15

[chat about copying photos etc. not noted]

Q:    Where did they actually stay, the prisoners of war, when they …

Mr P:    Halstead, no, yes Halstead. They used to be brought to and fro from Braintree – High Garrett, Braintree, High Garrett. See used to come night and morning, at High Garrett. Course I, well, I learnt Italian quite a lot but I’ve forgot most of it now. I’ve got lots of photographs of them, I’ve got a whole pile, when they all got back to Italy they all sent me photographs of them. One from Canada sent me, he married, lived out in Canada, Defigo[?] his name was, I reckon he’d got four or five children, he sent me a photograph one Christmas. But I’ve got a pile of all of them. And a lot of them, cause I used to take them to the Catholic church, for Mass. I don’t know anything about Mass, I don’t. But whatsername was a Catholic, nurse O’Reilly that lived with Godfreys, she used to go to Mass in the mornings before she come to the surgery. I used to take the prisoners down there, but I’ve got several photographs, the same size as that, of the prisoners. I’ll show it to you one day [Sadly I never saw them, JG] They’re all back in Italy now, of course.

Q:    You took them to Mass on a Sunday? Did they come over on a Sunday to work then? How did you get to be taking them to Mass? Was that on a Sunday?

Mr P:    No, no, during the week, I marched, many a day during the week I marched them down, see. That was up to me to keep them in order, well, I thought … that’s the Geneva Act of all prisoners of war, you see, you don’t interfere with their religious belief. You see. Well, so of course, they all wanted to go to Mass and all that and they used to go there quite a lot. Some of them used to go to the confessional box, whatever it is. And that, I kept my eyes on them one day, course the old Father Burns, he used to give them cigarettes. And see they were not allowed to go on a bus or nothing, unless I was with them or anything, but I used to walk them all down to the Catholic church, you see, and back again, and I used to have my meals and all that with them and everything, you know. And I used to take them for meals in the canteen, an hour before the works canteen opened.

Q:    Did you have anybody to help you, looking after them, or was that just you? It’s quite a job.

Mr P:    No, no, no.

Q:    Did you have any trouble with them?

Mr P:    And you see well then I’d have a truck, we’d have a truck load of aluminium plates come in, or, they were stored at Crittall’s, big as that floor, what they made aeroplanes and all that with, see. Well, I used to get them to unload the trucks, or perhaps unload a load of timber’d come in, or a load of zinc or anything like that. We used to get them all on labour jobs, see, they weren’t paid nothing, we’d give them their dinner. And then at the end of the War I got the permit for them, so that they could go up to the club with me before the club was open to the Crittall’s employees, they could buy some beer, they could buy some beer, they were given a little money. Come from High Garrett.

Q:    How long were you doing that for? How long were you looking after them for?

Mr P:    Oh, three or four years. (Q: Oh really?) See, cause, in Italy there was two armies, wasn’t there. There was Mussolini’s and King Emmanuel’s, weren’t it. Well King Emmanuel’s capitulated to the Allies didn’t they, but Mussolini he didn’t did he. So the Italian prisoners, so they come over here you see the Italians. And that’s what we used to do. I used to get them digging them holes out in the meadow, I never done it. Used to get them digging them holes all out there and carting old rubbish about, sweeping up the roads, or all them sort of jobs I used to put them on, on labouring jobs, you see. As far as I know Crittall never paid them but they used to get some allowance, I don’t know whether it was for P o W or something or other, but that’s where they come from, yes. Chance times the adjutant from the camp, from the camp, the army adjutant, sometimes he’d come and see them like and have a talk to them, like that here. And then I’d get them loading up the trucks for Driver[?] and Ling, they were scrap merchants at Chelmsford, get them loading up scrap and all that sort of stuff, see.

Q:    Who was in charge of you? Was anybody in charge of you?

Mr P:    Oh, Cyril English, Mr English really, what lived down Maldon Road. He was my foreman, yes. (Q: What was your job, what was your job called?) I was on security more or less. (Q: I was going to say, what was your job called?) Well I’d more or less, security as well you see. I had, as I say I looked after them, but I had permission, I had to go all over the works night and day and anything else like that here, you see. Yes, because Miss Jane Crittall, I don’t know where she is now, course her sister, Sir Valentine had two daughters didn’t he, Jane and the other one married Richardson, lived at Hungary Hall. But Jane was a little bit of a tartar, yes. I don’t know who she married, she wasn’t married when I left Crittall’s.

Q:    How did you come across her then, how did you meet her then?

Mr P:    How did I meet her, she had to come in the, into the works during the War and help in the surgery, otherwise she’d got to go into munitions. So she came, she volunteered as a nurse, you see. Yes. Well then, then back, back here where the old canteen used to be, well they covered in the railway line you see, well then, this side between the railway line and the Braintree line they built the power station and the engines on one end, and then the other was three storey building, see, that’s where I come out the window, of that building, three storey building. Used to make the lead lights up on the top window, cause they moved from the Maltings where the Jack and Jenny is, along Witham Road [London Road]. What used to be Nitrovit or something. Well they moved from there when they built this and they took, they went up onto the top floor and made all the lead lights there, and the second floor was the canteen, and then the bottom floor was the carpenter’s shop where they used to do the wood surrounds. Well then they packed up and went to Sidcup didn’t they, in Kent. (Q: What, the lead?) The wood surrounds. And then they built this new canteen out towards there now, cause the building there was right up beside that road. (Q: I see, so that was about the last bit then?) That was the last bit put on that was, that canteen there, and the loading bay underneath, that was the last bit there. [along Braintree Road]

Q:    Why did you give that up then, why did you give up being at Crittall’s, did you get a better job somewhere else?

Mr P:    Me, I had a row with the manager. (Q: Oh. Seems a pity after all that time.) Yes, I had a row with the manager. Well, I’ll tell you how it all happened. I used to drive the tractors and various things like that, here, well they went and bought some RAF trailers, see, and I thought, we had a weighbridge on that railway line. Well, one day there, this trailer stood on the weighbridge, and Sir Valentine Crittall, he’d ordered a load of coal or something to go up to Crockies[?] at Wickham Bishops.

Well I went and put my tractor on this trailer, and of course that wasn’t finished loading, and that’d only got a quarter lock on it, so of course the windows slipped over one side, well somebody went and told the manager when he come back from dinner, that I’d overtipped[?] the trailer, see. So he said ‘Oh I think you’d better take Peirce off of the tractor’. I was [???] the tractor. See I used to drive the tractor, and used to do the shunting and all that sort of business with the prisoners of war, and that’s the whistle I used to use, look. By jove it don’t half holler. (Q: ‘The Acme Thunderer’.) Eh (Q: It’s got written on it ‘The Acme Thunderer, made in England’.) Yes well that’s what I had. [blows whistle]. You can hear that when you’re shunting can’t you. That’s a proper thunderer isn’t it. I have it my pocket so that anybody stopped me with the car, I could blow my whistle couldn’t I. That’s why it’s in my motor[?] pocket for. You could hear that, couldn’t you. So, Mr English come for me, he said ‘Oh, we’re going to put Mr[?] Challis on Mr Small, he said he wants me to put Ron Challis on the tractor. Oh I said, when’s this. He said ‘Well he’s going to take over this afternoon’. I said ‘Oh all right, you know what’s going to happen, don’t you Cyril’. He said ‘No’. I said ‘Well I’m giving a week’s notice’. He says ‘Oh are you?’. I said ‘Yes, you can take my week’s notice if you like’. He was the foreman, Mr English. And so anyhow the very next day Mr Andrews what lived in the house Albert Road where you turn to go up to the station. Coming by Crittall’s, right on that corner, he lived [???] house there. He said ‘You’ve given your notice in ain’t you Walter?’ I said ‘Yes.’ He said ‘Well you’re not leaving’, he said, ‘You’re coming down to Maldon with me’. Cause he was a manager at Maldon. He said ‘You’re coming down to Maldon with me.’ I said ‘I’m not’. I said ‘I’ve given my week’s notice and I meant it’. So I give my week’s notice in and went to Hoffmanns, and in six months I’d doubled my wages.

Q:    Did they get better pay at Hoffmanns anyway?

Mr P:    Oh yes. Piece work. All on a bonus scheme well it is now isn’t it. Yes I’d doubled my wages within six months. I used to go to Silver End with loads of oxygen when the built Silver End and all the rest of it. [presumably for Crittall’s] And I had a brand new tractor they got me. New Fordson. And I was taking a load of oxygen, that was eight cylinders, that’s eight ton[?], you know, from [???] do you remember British Oxygen being up here do you? (Q: I think so yes.) You’ve heard of it don’t you. Well we used to have eight of these cylinders on a trailer. Got no brake on the trailer. You know where the water tower used to be on the Cressing Road. Well anyhow, I went down the hill, and went up the hill, and went to change gear, and I couldn’t get my gears. Well I’ve got this eight ton on the back of me, I’ve got no brakes, I couldn’t use the tractor cause that was in neutral. Couldn’t get no gears. I had to steer that right back. And when I steered that back, I’d got all them marks in my hand where I’d gripped it. So I shot down there and Mr, er, never mind, his name’ll come to me, he had a three-wheeler Scot[?] do you remember them Scots[?] those three wheeler cars with the engine in the front. Were they called Scots, no, no that ain’t the name. They were three wheeler and the engine was stuck out the front, wasn’t it. (Q: Yes, I think I know.) And anyhow they come and they take the trailer, and that had to go back to Does, and they had to split this thingummy all in half, there was something wrong with the clutch business. So that after that, when I used to go, I used to change, when I got down to the bottom of the water tower hill I used to change gear before it was time to go up. [???] catch me like that. Good job there weren’t no traffic coming, I had to back all the way down that hill, you know. Oh dear oh dear. That didn’t half print right in my hand where I’d gripped, where I’d tried to grip the brake and all that, but that wouldn’t hold it with eight ton pulling at the back of me, that was [???] the weight of the trailer.

[farewells, not noted]

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