Tape 144. Miss Florence (Flo) Pavelin, tapes 5 and 6

Tape 144

Miss Florence (Flo) Pavelin was born in 1904. She was interviewed on 3 August 1991 when she lived at 127 Church Street.

She also appears on tapes 134 and 135.

For more information about her, see Pavelin family, including Florence (Flo) 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.]

Note from the transcriber: “Miss Pavelin says ‘Of course’ and ‘well’ very often, and I have omitted this on occasion”.

Side 5

[General discussion regarding home help, not noted]

[Looking at map of ‘Nicky Nocks.]

Q:    You remember you talked about the ‘Knicky Knocks’. A lot of people talk about the I’ve not been sure where they were. [describing map, not noted]

Miss P:    We used to go in there, just past the water bridge, Sauls Bridge – opposite the – I don’t know if that’s there now, the farmhouse?

Q:    Shelley’s?

Miss P:    Shelley’s, that’s it! The entrance to the Nicky Nocks was there, under the railway line. And then you used to go through and come out by Benton Hall, and come out by Blue Mills. [i.e. c 50 yards south of Sauls Bridge]

[Q explains where the track is; that there are houses there now and the track comes out at the side of Benton Hall, not noted]

Q:    It was opposite the farmhouse?

Miss P:    Yes, that’s where we used to go.

Q:     So the whole path was called Knicky Knocks, was it?

Miss P:    Yes we all used to go because that was all meadows and that, you see. You weren’t anybody if you didn’t go down the Knicky Knocks! [Laughs] I think it’s built up now, because my brother took me round that way some time ago and I was surprised. They used to have – in one – because there was Kings Garden Centre down there somewhere.

Q:    Yes.

Miss P:     And they used to have a circus down there. We used to go into the Knicky Knocks and go to the circus. They used to have a great big circus down there.

Q:    What, on the field? You went through the railway and it was –

Miss P:    Yes, under the railway and there was just the meadows. And people went – that was a popular place, everybody used to go down there, picnics, and the children used to spend … And part of it, when you went into the first meadow, you’d got a bit of the river, by the bridge. A lot of the children used to go and catch tiddlers, all that in the river, there.

Q:    Was that a farmer’s field or anything, did you know?

Miss P:    Actually, I think it used to belong to Freebournes Farm. Because they used to take their cows out from the farm and take them down Maldon Road and put in those meadows down there. But, actually I don’t know who – because it was all meadowland. But, I suppose it belonged to Benton Hall. Benton Hall did belong to Freebournes Farm, [3 Newland St] it belonged to Wakelins, it was sort of a farmhouse. Because he wants to make a golf course or something out there now, doesn’t he?

Q:    Yes. It was quite a big area then?

Miss P:    Yes, we used to go down there blackberrying, summer holidays with the schools. I expect the children spent practically all the summer holidays down there, down Knicky Knocks. It was always where – you’d always been down Knicky Knocks. People laugh these days when we talk about it, but that was a well-known place in Witham.

Q:    Of course, the by-pass goes down now.

Miss P:    The by-pass goes all over it now, doesn’t it?

Q:     Yes. Between – before you get to Benton Hall, between Witham and Benton Hall. But I think you can get under that by the sewage works but it’s not the same any more.

Miss P:    Of course, the sewage works – we used to go to Blackthorn Lane or Blackwater Lane, that’s further up by the houses, yes, over this side of the bridge. Now you’ve got to go over the bridge. Then about a field – oh yes, now that was the next field further down where Kings’ what-you-call-it was. There was a little footpath went in there, right opposite Maltings Lane and you went over the railway line there and through into the Knicky Knocks the same.

Q:    I’m with you, that’d be this one. You could get through in the lane. There are some cottages on the corner, just opposite. And you get to Benton Hall the same, don’t you?

Miss P:    That’s it, that takes you through just the same.

Q:    So it was quite a big area of meadowland, wasn’t it?

Miss P:    Oh, yes, quite big there.

Q:    Did people swim in the river at all?

Miss P:    Oh yes! In the river [Blackwater]– not – now where does it divide? It divides down there somewhere. Or the Witham river goes down in to it [Brain]. Now, there used to be a part down there, they used to call it the ‘Pea Hole’ where they all used to go – everybody used to go and swim. And that was in the big bit further off between Blue Mills and Little Braxted. By Braxted Mill, that comes through, doesn’t it?

Q:    That’s Braxted Mill up there and the river comes down and then the Witham one joins it along the middle there.

Miss P:    The Witham one joins it along there. In that bit – well, they used to get to it down Stepfield. [now Stepfield on Industrial Estate] The Pea Hole, that’s the same river, they used to go down Stepfield. And there used to be a lot of swimming going on in there. I don’t know whether they go down there now.

Q:    Is that near to Little Braxted then?

Miss P:    Between Little Braxted and …

Q:    And the sewage works.

Miss P:    Yes. I don’t know if the sewage works went into that. But I know that to go down to the Pea Hole, they used to go down there.

Q:    Through Stepfield?

Miss P:    Yes.

Q:    Did you swim at all?

Miss P:    Not down there. I used to swim at the seaside. I can swim – a bit. I think I could save myself! [laughs] I mean, I can swim if I go to the seaside. I did have a job at Frinton once. A ten weeks holiday job at Frinton. I’d been ill and had an operation and the doctor said take a temporary job somewhere, so I did. Well, of course, that was right on the front at Frinton. It rained the day I went and it rained the day I come home and we had ten weeks. That was a great big house, it was Armstrong Jones. What was he? A writer or a composer or something of that. And he’d got two sons. No, I’m wrong there. The two sons were Gibbs, Armstrong Gibbs his name was. Yes, because the two sons were Donald and William Gibbs of B and W Gibbs toothpaste, and they took that big house down there. And the William Gibbs lived out at Bishops Stortford. And they’d got two children, one was about a year old. And they came and there was their nursemaid, a nanny and the old nurse. There were three nurses with those two children. And then the other Gibbs lived in Paris and he came. They’d got one child. And there was a nursemaid and the old nanny with them. So the cooking that I had to do was mostly nursery cooking. For all these children and nurses. [laughs] And of course, I used to do – Armstrong Gibbs, of course it was, that was the name.

They came – they lived at Danbury, they’d got a house at Danbury. And they took this house for the grandchildren. And their parents used to come weekends. Well, of course, that used to be busy. They were all temporary maids, there was other maids in there as well. Parlour maids, housemaids and all. And still, it was a big job, I had a hell of a lot to cook for. [laughs]

Q:    Not much of a rest, was it?

Miss P:    No. But, you see by the time I’d got the nursery lunches over, there wasn’t much to do only the maids’ lunch and that. In the mornings I had busy mornings. Well, I had the afternoon clear and the nurses used to do the children’s meals at six o’clock before they went to bed and there was just the nursery staff to have their food and the dinner at night for the older ones. So I used to get the afternoons free. But then it was August time so it was lovely weather. So we used to go out after dinner. After we’d cleared up and go down on the front and have a swim and walk along to Walton and – the house next door was another big family. Edna Best, the actress, and her family were all in there. And they’d got lots of maids. We all used to meet at six o’clock in the morning and go down on the beach .[both laugh] We all used to go down there and it was a lovely time. So that was where I really learnt and got on swimming.

Q:    Did you ever go to the seaside when you were little.

Miss P:    It was Maldon we always used to always go to. Always used to go to Maldon. Catch the train and go to Maldon and go along there.

Q:    Would you all go together or just the children?

Miss P:    No, my father and mother and us. We used to have day out. I had an aunt live at Langford. We used to walk to there sometimes. And then after dinner, catch the train at Langford, with her children. The aunt was my mother’s sister and we all used to go to Maldon by train after that. It used to cost about sixpence. [laughs].

Q:    You went to the actual waterside there, did you?

Miss P:    Yes, we used to go down, spend all the time at Maldon, and that was our outings. Or we used to go – a little place, the Little Baddow Paper Mills, a nice little place there. You could get teas and refreshments and things there. And there was a wide sweep of water. We used to walk there! (Q: Did you really?) Yes. We used to walk through Hatfield – from Witham we used to go through Hatfield and just got to Little Baddow Paper Mills and go and spend a day there. Take a – we – my father used to carry the baskets with all the grub and stuff in. We used to spend the days in the water. A lot of people used to do that. We used to go there quite a bit in the summer time.

Q:    Did you walk along the main road to Hatfield?

Miss P:    Yes. Go down by the Duke. Sometimes we used to go further along and go down by Hatfield Crix (Q: I know.) and straight down that road, it wasn’t very far down there.

Q:    But to actually get to Hatfield, you’d walk along the main road? (Miss P: Yes) You wouldn’t do that now would you? [laughs] (Miss P: No!) Was there any traffic on it, any cars?

Miss P:    No, it used to be horses and carts mostly. Wasn’t much in the way of cars, not when we were young. Great excitement if there was a car coming! When the first open-top double-decker buses come along, it was great excitement. But still …

Q:    Motor buses then?

Miss P:    The motor buses from Chelmsford. They used to run from Chelmsford to Witham, the open top buses. And then of course they got the charabancs and all that sort of business. So that was all great excitement. But when they came along we used to go – I forget what they were called now, that was a Romford[?] coach. We used to go to Clacton on them. Pick them up in Witham and go straight down to Clacton. Or we used to go to Frinton a lot. We always liked Frinton. And on a Sunday you could go to Frinton for about one and six return on the train. There used to be cheap trains. So we used to go there. Have lovely times at Frinton when we were kids. Of course, till the War and that come along. [First War probably]

Q:    You couldn’t go while the War was on?

Miss P:    No! When the Second World War come on, I’d got a nephew of mine staying down here with me and I was going to take him to Frinton for a week. We had a ten shilling – you could get a ten shilling railway ticket. I got the ten shilling one for myself and a five shilling one for him. And I was going to take him to Frinton every day – well, of course the War started. And then there was a rail strike and we couldn’t get on. So we went – I phoned – I’d got an address of some people at Clacton but some of our people that had been to the Co-op and stayed. I phoned to them to see if – I phoned to the station at first to see if there was any train going to Clacton and they said, yes there was one going at twelve o’clock. So I phoned to these people at Clacton and asked them because they said they’d had so many cancellations, they could take us in! [laughs]. So we went off with our gas masks and when we got to Clacton there was only me and my nephew got out the train! [laughs] But we had a nice week at Clacton, we stayed there and we had quite a nice week. So we had a job to get home again. We had to go to the station – we sat at Clacton station for ages before there was a train come this way again.

Q:    So people weren’t going there? (Miss P: No.) Were they frightened to go there, were they?

Miss P:    They were frightened to go there. It was getting towards the end of the War, you see. But, still …

Q:    But you were allowed to go on the beach?

Miss P:    Yes, Only parts! Some parts of it we weren’t allowed to go on. Yes, that was all right.

Q:    In the First World War, when you stopped. Was that because your father was away mainly?

Miss P:    Oh when the First World War was on, I was only about ten then. Yes, I was ten when that started. We didn’t do much then, there wasn’t much life going on then. People were hard up. There wasn’t much money about, there wasn’t much food about. People were a lot worse off in the First World War than they were in the Second. World War. A lot worse off.

Q:     You don’t hear so much about that, I mean people are always going on about the rationing in the Second World War but in the First War you reckon you –

Miss P:    We were a lot worse off, yes, oh yes. A lot worse off. I know when I come out of school one day, and there was a queue at the International. Somebody said they’d got some Pheasant margarine there. And I went and queued up and I hadn’t got any money. And when I got in, I’d got up to the counter and the woman handed it me and I said ‘Would you keep that for me while I run home and get some money?’ [laughs] Because I hadn’t got any money! That was a half-pound.  And she did! And I ran home and got the money. I’d only got to go down town and got that. But where we lived, [Ardleys’ Yard – no 131 Newland St] you see, we were behind the butter shop, they used to call it the Maypole Butter Shop. [137 or 139 Newland St] what’s the wine shop or something now, by the surgery there, isn’t it? My father was in the army and Mrs Parker, her husband was in the army. And she’d got two young children, the same as my mother had. And she used to get margarine in and stuff in. She still kept the shop going. And my mother used to get up at six o’clock in the morning and go and help her. Oh dear! They used to fight and quarrel over the stuff! They used to go – she used to go and help her, weighing up margarine, half-pound packs and they’d be queuing up for it. She used to go and help her till they got sold out, in the mornings. There used to be quite a do there then. There wasn’t the stuff about. Not like – I mean, there were rations, I know people were rationed in the Second World War but there was everlasting stuff about really. And I mean there was a lot of people – they never used to go short. We used to have – because I was in the Co-op.

[in Second World War:] And there used to be people come out – one particular lot that lived in Cressing Road, they’d come out and they’d start up at Cooks’ and they’d go to the International, they’d go to the Home & Colonial. They’d come down to the Co-op every morning and they’d get something from every shop. Stuff that was off ration and that, their old bags used to be full by the time they’d finished. They didn’t miss much.

Q:    What sort of things – everywhere there was something, was there?

Miss P:    Yes, yes, if any people got extra – perhaps they’d get wind that there was extra – there was tinned fruit in or there’d be suet in or different sort of thing. But in the Co-op, what we used to do, if we got extra stuff in, or cakes, they used to get to know. We used to have Fullers’ cakes come in and they used to get to know the days they were coming in and they’d queue up for them. Well, you’d find the same people having them over and over again. Well, we used to keep a list of old people, out in the country, that we used to have their order books from. And never come into the town, never come into the shop. One – well, she’s died now – an old lady used to be there, she always used to say that I saved her life in the War, she’d have starved to death if it hadn’t have been for me. Because I always used to see that she got the extras. Not only her but it was my job to pick out these old people and we used to add them on their book, you see. Perhaps a piece of fruitcake or a sponge cake or a tin of fruit or packet of suet or some dried fruit, stuff that was off ration. You see, people coming in the shop would get it every time! And them poor old girls lived miles out in the wilds, never come into Witham – only time they used to come into to Witham was Dividend Day, collect the ‘divi’ money. We used to put – write it on, on the ends of the books and they used to say, they’d got the money.

Q:    They didn’t mind then?

Miss P:     No! No, they were pleased to have it. Because the roundsman used to call on them and take them. Because a lot of them, used to get – being farm labourers, a lot of them worked for Lord Rayleighs, at Terling and Fairsted, all out that way, Wickham Bishops. But of course, they were agricultural workers, they used to get extra cheese rations. So, sometimes they’d say they didn’t want all the cheese this week, we could have half a pound of cheese, so I used to take that to them, if I’d got the books that’d had it on. I generally used to see to that sort of thing. I’d take it to Mr Whybrew and say ‘Would you check that we can have the half-pound of cheese?’ Well, we used to save it up and one of the staff perhaps would like an extra half-pound of cheese. Because, although we worked there and had the handling of all the stuff, it was all rationed to us, we were rationed just the same.

Q:    What was your job, exactly? What were you called? Were you in the ‘Grocery’?

Miss P:     Yes, I was in the ‘Grocery’, yes I was on the Provisions counter. And all the books, all the order books and that all came to the Provisions counter first.

Q:    And then they had groceries on …?

Miss P:    We used to do all the sorting out and they used to start off with the bacon man up the top, he put the bacon on, them that wanted bacon, bacon rations. Sometimes we’d have some extra bacon, non-smoked bacon come in, non-rationed. Well, according to who these people were, out of the way, we used to just put them in extra half a pound of bacon or something like that, sort them on. Then we’d do them, and do them all our side or on the Provisions and then go over there, that had to go over the other side to the Grocery. Soaps and sugars and teas and of course they were all rationed. One poor old girl used to come in every month and give us her tea ration because she never used to drink tea. But she used to bring that in and give that to the Co-op for the dinner staff so we could have a cup of tea with our dinner! [laughs]. Although we were allowed because Mr Whybrow claimed from the food – we were allowed so much for the dinner staff, for people, like tea, extra tea and sugar. But it never went out far enough, really. So we could always get a cup of tea dinner times.

Q:    So you had your dinner at work?

Miss P:    Yes. Used to take – when the War first started, they had a community kitchen. I think that’s an estate agents now [British Restaurant, 67 Newland Street]. Between Mondy’s and the bread shop, cake shop. There’s a big shop there. And we could go there, we used to go there and get a dinner. I suppose it was run by the WVS or something like that. But we used to go – I think we used to go there and get a dinner for about one and six. And there was so many of us from the Co-op used to go – they used to start these dinners about twelve o’clock. They used to do stews and – I know one dinner used to always be nice. I used to enjoy that! I never knew how they did make it, that used to made it with potatoes and cheese and sort of a white sauce, but that was always a very tasty dinner. But they always used to go on with that. And then for the Co-op staff, they always used to cook extra vegetables so they were ready for us when we went at quarter past one. So we didn’t get the greens that had been cooked at twelve o’clock! [laughs] and they started at twelve o’clock. So we went there for quite a long time. They used to do fish pies and sometimes there was meat and salad and stews, all sort of stews. We went there and then at the latter part of the time we used to take our dinner. But in the – we had the mess room there and there was a gas stove. I used to – of course, after things got off ration, it was easier. I could cook bacon and eggs or I used to cook myself a dinner overnight and I’d got a little dish I used to put enough for my dinner in, and then about one o’clock I used to round and put it in the bakers’ oven. So by the time we went out at quarter past one I’d got a hot dinner. Same as Sunday dinners, I always used to dish up two Sunday dinners – [laughs] they used to envy me! Every Sunday, well I used to say ‘You can do the same! You’ve only got to put  it in the bakers’ oven, they’ve finished with the ovens at twelve o’clock, the ovens are still hot!’ But in the wintertime we always used to have baked potatoes. We used to – all of us used to collect the potatoes and put them in about twelve. We all used to sit round the table eating hot baked potatoes! [laughs].

Q:    And that was in the bakers’ oven was it?

Miss P:    We used to put them in the bakers’ oven, yes.

Q:    That was at Ardleys’, was it? Was it the Co-op bakers, you mean?

Miss P:    Yes, Co-op bakers, used to be up the back of the shop. I used to go round, they used to come in the mornings, the girls from the office and all that come in, used to bring me their potatoes. And I used to go round about twelve and put them in. Used to take a box and sort them all out. Dinnertime, we used to all have these baked potatoes. All used to bring our little pats of butter or margarine, whatever. Some used to have jars of pickled onions! [both laugh] I used always have butter with mine. Or sometime a bit of cold meat, because we could get cold ham. And I used to cook bacon and eggs sometimes or open a tin of soup and have some soup.

Q:    And when you say you cooked your Sunday dinners, what did you …?

Miss P:    Well, I used to dish up two Sunday – I used to dish up one my plate and the other one in my dish. And the one in the dish, take that to work with me, Monday morning. I’d got my Yorkshire pudding and my meat and potatoes and greens and that was all hot, steaming hot. So that – then I didn’t have to cook Monday nights when I come home, because I always used to cook myself a meal when I was here alone. But it was good – good fun, good days.

Q:    So the Co-op you started there just before the War did you? [Second War]

Miss P:    1941, just as the – when the war had started. I was working up at Chelmsford then, and my father died and the war was on and my mother wasn’t well. Because – there was no good me being up there because I couldn’t cook with what rations for about four people were allowed.

And not only that, the people that I worked for, they – of course all houses are built on that estate now. They – I left and come home and got a job. I did try to go in munitions but – I tried at Hoffmans’ at Chelmsford but I didn’t get a job there. They said my legs were too bad, I’d got too many varicose veins. And I tried at Crittall’s, so I didn’t get into munitions. But I went down the town one day and went to the Co-op and went in there and somebody said they were looking for staff. I went upstairs and see Mr Whybrew and he give me a chit to go into the Drapery and get two white overalls and I started the next morning [laughs] and I was there for twenty-five years!

Q:    Until you retired?

Miss P:    Yes I retired on my sixtieth birthday. Yes, that was a day that was!

Q:    When you retired?

Miss P:    Yes, they had a collection for me from the staff and Mr Norman said that was the biggest collection they had ever had! They had the staff and, oh, and the customers! Do you know I had to have the bakers’ van – when I come home this place looked like the warehouse at the shop! Pot plants! Bunches of flowers! Packets of chocolates, biscuits, sweets! Oh God! All sorts of things. Well, that was really terrible. One customer in particular, we’d served her for years. Poor little lady, she lived down Bridge Street and every – didn’t matter what you did for her, how you served her, you were never right! You’d always charged her a ha’penny too much or you’d put the things in her basket wrong and you were always wrong! And she always wanted me to serve her and I used to have to bite my tongue sometimes to be civil to her. Well, anyhow, the day I was retiring, my last day there, she come in the door and she’d got a marvellous fuschia in her arms, all full of bloom. And the bacon man says ‘Coo! Look at her! Fancy got a flower like that! Fancy her liking flowers!’ And she come up the counter and she stood there and she stood that in front of me. She said ‘You’ve been so nice to me over all these years. They told me you’re retiring today and I’d like you to have …’ [laughing] Do you know I felt dreadful! And I thought all the thoughts I’d had about that poor old girl! Oh, she – and I kept that fuschia for years, beautiful fuschia. Oh dear, yes. All sorts of pots and one coloured pot over there, a woman bought me. Different coloured flowerpots, plants. And when it was time for me to pack up, the manager come down ‘Come on’ he said ‘I think you’ve done enough, I’ll take you home’. And I said ‘ Well, I’ve got all this stuff’. I’d got boxes of stuff, all what people had given me. And I’d got a great big eiderdown that the staff had bought me. And they’d bought me eiderdown and slippers and a dressing gown and that. And plates and dishes, all for one, from the Hardware. And I’d got all these things and he brought them all in, and we laid them all out, oh dear. But they didn’t like it because I’d packed up. I said ‘No! I’ve worked for forty-six years.’ I started work on my fourteenth birthday and I retired on my sixtieth birthday. Nearly forty-six years. If that wasn’t good enough for old England, well, I didn’t know what was. I wasn’t doing no more! But they still came coming after me and that, but I never did go back or do more. I packed right up. No.

Q:    Was you in Provisions all the time?

Miss P:    Yes. Just before I left, they went over to self-service and I was on the checkout.

Q:    Before the war, didn’t they usually have men on Provisions. (Miss P: Yes) That was really because the men were away?

Miss P:    Yes. There was one man, used to do the bacon, he was on the bacon. And there was three – myself and another girl on Provisions. There was three of us on Provisions.

Q:    You were able to stay there after the War, when the men came back?

Miss P:    Oh yes. Well, I still stayed on there. They had one man back, one other man back that was at the War. He came back on the provisions. And I still stayed on the provisions. They got rid of several of the part-timers. I wasn’t a part-timer. A lot of them who were there had got husbands coming back from the War. There was fourteen of us in the shop altogether. And they’d got husbands coming back so they got rid of some of them. They were paid off, but that still left a good lot of us there. And we used to work hard, too. We had no end of orders and they reckon we had seventy-five per cent of the rationing during the War. There was all of the other shops in Witham, so they didn’t get much, did they? We used to have work hard. We used to work there overtime at nights till the sirens used to go and Mr Whybrew used to come down and send us home. And .. .

Q:     The sirens for the air raids?

Miss P:    Yes, the air raids, because if we were working there overtime, as soon as the sirens – we used to go down in the cellar during the daytime if the sirens and that went and the doodle-bugs used to come over. But then they had firewatchers, some of them down there used to sleep in the next building, the firewatchers. But I got out of that because my mother was here alone. And she was old and wasn’t well and I went to a tribunal at Colchester, so I got out of the fire watching and that. But I used to do as much fire watching because I always got up, I used to have to get up with her because she was terrified. And so we used – [laughing] I came out of there one night and there used to be – the man on the bacon counter used to come from Braintree. And I used to come up to the Cherry Tree on the Braintree bus with him and then come down through the road, walk down. And the old sirens had gone, it was pitch black and that was dark. And we came out – this was about eight o’clock. We came out from the mess room, came down the yard and he’s saying ‘Come on lass!’ Well, we got down there and somebody was walking, and I walked up the road beside of a man. When we got up to Lloyd’s Bank I said ‘My goodness! There ain’t half a puddle there! Cor dear! I ain’t half wet! I’m wet right up to my backside!’ [laughs] I’d stepped in this puddle. Well, when we got up to Mondys’, and I said ‘Oh! The bus is in, going to cross?’ Well, I crossed the road and when I’d got across the road the man I was supposed to have been walking with, that worked at the Co-op, was sat on the bus! He said ‘Where the devil have you been?’ I said’ Well, I’ve walked up the road with somebody, and told them my backside was wet in the puddle!’ And I never did find out who it was! [laughs] Because the old sirens and the old air raid and the old planes were going over and banging and that.

Q:    So if they sent you home from the Co-op when the sirens went, does that mean you were going out during an air raid to get home? (Miss P: Mmm (affirmative) So shouldn’t you have been going to the shelter?

Miss P:    Well, if we were there working overtime, you see, if they went during the day time and there was any – there used to be a man used to go outside with one of these football rattles. And if there was any sound of any plane coming this way, he used to rattle that and we used to go down in the cellar. But otherwise we used to keep going. But night-time, Mr Whybrew – we used to always go home and if the sirens went in the evenings.

Q:    Did that mean you were out in the town in an air raid?

Miss P:    We were out, yes.

Q:    You should have stayed there, really.

Miss P:    We should have stayed there, yes. But then I wanted to get home because if the sirens have gone, I’d want to get home to my mother because I knew she’d be having forty fits on her own!

Q:    There were a few bombs dropped in Witham weren’t there?

Miss P:    Oh yes! There still is a bomb in that meadow down the back there, because there was two dropped one night. There was two went down. And it was funny because the two were chained together.
Because the old boy next door, he always used to get up and I always used to get up. And we used to go out and we saw them come down. Well, neither of them went off. Because there was no houses down the bottom there, then. And about three or four days after that, the Army came up and they exploded one but they said the other one had gone so deep in down by the river, that they couldn’t get at it! So that’s still there! There’s still a German bomb in that field down there!

Q:    What, down below, behind Glebe Crescent?

Miss P:    Yes, behind those houses, down by the river. Because there was a great big crater where they exploded the first bomb but there was definitely two bombs went down there. And there was the hole where the second one had gone in. But of course that’s all filled in now, but there is a German bomb down there! And there’s no telling how far that’s gone down now, but there was only one exploded. Because I was at home when they – I think it must have been a Wednesday afternoon. Because the soldiers come along and they told us first of all to open all the windows. Then they told us to shut all the windows and get out in the yard and get out in the front of the houses and that. But anyhow we saw them going along and we saw – actually watched them and heard the bang as they exploded that bomb. And of course, there was a whole string went along Cressing Road one dinnertime. Another dinnertime, there was a great old plane come over here. My mother went outside the back door and she said ‘Oh! That’s a funny looking old plane!’ She said. ‘That’s gone right straight up our garden’. Went right up and turned round. ‘Oh, she said’ It’s chucking out black things!’ I said; ‘Come in for God’s sake! That’s chucking out bombs!’ Well that chucked them bombs all out by the church and all across. They were trying for Crittall’s, you see. That’s how we used to get them round here. But when there was air raids there was always the flares hung over here where the old Germans used to drop the flares for the bombing and that. That was – that was always daylight here.

Q:    So they did that they could see …?

Miss P:    So they could see the places and that. Because they were looking out for Crittall’s and they used to look out for Chelmsford for Hoffmans’ the munition works. Oh yes, that was quite – and I know we went along the road for a walk one day along out towards the water tower. Well, that’s down now. And there was a German plane come along machine-gunning us! And there was a car pulled up right by the side of us and their people jumped out the car and got into the ditch and so did we with them! But that machine-gun – that was a German plane machine-gunned us along as we walked along the road. Another morning they come machine-gunning right down here [Church Street] and a milk lorry stood outside. The fellow next door but one worked at the creamery and he’d come home with all the milk churns and they come up and down Church Street and the bullets were banging on those milk churns. So I mean it wasn’t all plain sailing in Witham! We had a few little bits.

Q:    It’s amazing more people weren’t hurt, really.

Miss P:    No, nobody was hurt, no.

Q:    And you were going out to work every day?

Miss P:    Yes, yes. I used to pack up and walk to work. We used to go off across – and that used to be pitch dark! We used to have to start at eight! Eight till six. Now they don’t start till about nine do they? And leave off at five and do so many days.

Q:    When you say most people shopped at the Co-op, was it cheaper at the Co-op than the other shops, do you think?

Miss P:    No, I don’t think it was. I think it was all more or less all the same price, but of course people at the Co-op all got ‘divi’ you see.

Q:    When you said there was a Dividend day, how often was that?

Miss P:    That used to be twice a year, March and November, we used to pay out dividend. People used to come in – some of the old people used to come in from round the country, come in and spend their dividend money and buy little bits extras and that. We used to see them then.

Q:    You would actually get the money, they were given cash for the dividend, would they?

Miss P:    They used to get money, they’d get the money. I think most of them used to come in, the older people, people that lived out. I know two old people used to come in from Terling, they used to come in, they’d got about fourteen in the family. They used to have great big orders every week. And they’d have quite a bit of dividend. They used to have a taxi in from Terling to come in and draw the dividend and they’d come in and buy sweets and buy tinned fruit and stuff and go through the Drapery and buy things. I think probably they’d spend – I suppose they’d get four or five pounds, well, that was a lot of money then. They could do a lot with that and that was a highlight of their life for a lot of them.

Q:    It would make quite a difference then.

Miss P:    Yes. Because those old people – there was three families, old people. They lived at Toppinghoe Hall. That was up a long lane. You went – I did go there once, went along the main Hatfield Road and it was about a mile up the lane, right in the middle of a wood. It was a farm where these three people – the baker used to go there twice a week. He used to pick up their grocery orders on the Tuesday and he probably used to take the grocery orders on the Saturday. Well, they never came into Witham. We never used to see them but we used to have their orders and they used to have to take their bread to last them. I suppose there used to be a butcher go round so they’d got butchers, they never came into Witham. At dividend time they used to … No, one poor old girl she used to send me a goose’s egg. Always used to send a goose egg, that used to be ‘for the lady on the provision counter’. A goose egg [laughs].

Q:    That was right out in the country, was it? She was one of the ones out …

Miss P:     Yes, yes. Never did see her! Didn’t know her, no, I never did see her. I didn’t know her.

Q:     They brought it on the cart, did they?

Miss P:    Yes. The baker used to take the things out because he used to see them twice a week. And he used to talk about them and that. One of the women used to come in, I used to see her. We used to see her, she used to come in the shop and have a chat all round. She did come – I invited her up here …

Side 6

Miss P:    …And I went over, it was the back of Hatfield, I went to see her over there. And she did come up here one day. Well, then, funny, when I had the first heart attack and was in Broomfield Hospital, it was her granddaughter that was my nurse! And then I’ve seen the nurse. She’s left the hospital and she’s been the District Nurse. I’ve seen her in Church Street, coming to different people in Church Street. So I did see her and I know she used to say they’d have starved during the war [Second World War] if it hadn’t been for us in the Co-op. Because they wouldn’t never have got anything, they wouldn’t have got out especially in the wintertime when the weather was bad.

Q:    That’s nice to know.

Miss P:    Poor old girl, she had a bad stroke and she died in St Peter’s Hospital about two years ago, she died.

Q:    So were these mainly farm workers’ families?

Miss P:    Yes, yes. We had a lot out Terling, all Lord Rayleigh’s. Because Lord Rayleigh’s got all those farms, all hidden away everywhere, miles away from anybody or anything. They were all big families, large families. Most of them, some up Wickham Bishops used to be – they weren’t so bad. But the Terling and Fairsted people, they had a rough time, they really did have a rough time of it during the War. Because they couldn’t get out and about and there was no transport for them to get, people hadn’t got cars then. And they couldn’t get into the towns to get things. They had a raw deal, really. Still they survived it, they got over it, poor old devils.

Q:    Because people didn’t have much money anyway.

Miss P:    No, farm wages, I suppose weren’t an awful lot, no.

Q:    Because in Terling, you’d think if they worked for Lord Rayleigh, they’d be looked after, wouldn’t you?

Miss P:    Yes, yes, Well, I suppose, well they used to get logs and they could get potatoes and that, but they wanted something more than that, didn’t they? Still, we had two little girls out from out there, they – one of them, her father was farm manager at Porridgepot Hall in Terling. Well, whoever had heard of Porridgepot Hall? Nobody had! Wouldn’t have known if that little girl hadn’t have come in and worked there! Lived there and come and worked in the Co-op. And that was rather strange because, all those years ago she worked in the Co-op and just before Christmas this year I went out for a ride with John and Peg and we went into a self-service farm shop at Hatfield, Upson’s place. I walked in there and when I walked in there, she come up to me and said’ I know you don’t I? You used to work in the Co-op when I did!’[laughing] I said ‘It’s over thirty years since I saw you’. That was a bit strange. Of course she’s married and lives in Hatfield now. But that was rather funny. She was one of the little Terling ones.

Q:    You must have been pretty well known, mustn’t you, you must have known pretty well everybody!

Miss P:    I reckoned – I used to reckon I knew everybody in Witham, and I knew all the Co-op numbers! But I don’t, now. I go down town – I ain’t been down town lately but I can go down town now and I don’t know a soul! Don’t see a soul I know. No. And there ain’t many of the old – last time I went down, I saw a woman who that used to work during the War, me in the Co-op. And I used to go to school with her. I was sitting talking to her and Mr Norman come up. Well, of course, he was secretary at the Co-op. When I worked there. So we had a chat there. Otherwise I can go down town and don’t see a soul.

Q:    Who was she then? Who was she, the one you met?

Miss P:    Mrs King, she lived down Sauls Avenue, Maldon Road. I used to know her from schooldays. And worked in the …

Q:    So Mr Norman was the secretary and Mr Whybrew was the manager?

Miss P:    General Manager, yes. Of course that all altered when – well, I didn’t work there long not after the Co-op – the Colchester Co-op took it over. That was all …

Q:    Was a reasonably well-paid job, shop work, do you think?

Miss P:    Well – I used to get two pound five a week. [both laugh] I know, when my father died, my mother had ten shillings a week pension. She got nothing else. And I mean they hadn’t got anything, and the War and that was on. The rent of this house was seven and six a week but the week he died it went up to eleven shillings. Even her pension didn’t cover that. So somebody suggested that she applied for help. Well, she did, she applied to them up at Braintree. Somebody came to see her, some man and he said who was living here with her. And she said her daughter, she worked at the Co-op. He said ‘How much does your daughter earn at the Co-op?’ She said ‘ well, I don’t know, I don’t know what her wages are, but I know what she gives me every week, but what her wages are, I don’t know’. Do you know, he went down to the Co-op and went to see Mr Norman, asked Mr Norman how much I earned. And he came back and see my mother and he said ‘Your daughter’s in a good position, earning good money and she can afford to keep you!’ Poor old girl never got no more than her ten shillings a week pension. When you think what people get and what people have these times, these days …

Q:    If you hadn’t been here, what would she have done?

Miss P:    Goodness knows what she would have done. I don’t know what. I kept her on the go till she died, would again today if she was still alive. But still …

Q:    How old was she when she died?

Miss P:    Seventy-three. So I’ve had a good lot to have had fourteen years longer than she had.

Q:    You said she wasn’t very well after …

Miss P:    No, she wasn’t very special, but still …

Q:    So when you were in service what sort of wages did you get?

Miss P:    A pound a week. I was big – pound a week I got then.

Q:    That was the most was it, even when you were cook and everything?

Miss P:    Yes, forty-eight pound a month. Oh yes, forty-eight pound I used to have, a month. And when I worked up Chelmsford, they paid my insurance. But when I worked at Gerald Bright’s, I had to pay my insurance out of that. But when I first started I used to have about two pound three and fourpence a month. But I always got money.

Q:    So how long was that for? (Miss P: A month) But then it was a pound a week, I see, yes. Because you were living in sometimes, weren’t you?

Miss P:    Oh yes, of course it was all sort of pocket money.

Q:    Still, it wasn’t a lot was it?

Miss P:    No, because when I worked up Chelmsford you see, no, it was more than a pound, wasn’t it, at forty-eight pounds a month. I was well off there. I’d always got plenty of money.

Q:    Were you living in at Gerald Bright’s? (Miss P: Yes) How old were you when you were at Bright’s, roughly?

Miss P:    In my thirties, about thirtyish I should think. I don’t really remember.

Q:    Because you went to these people at the bank.

Miss P:    Yes I went there from the doctors when I was at the bank. I went there when I was about twenty. I was there seven years.

Q:    What was their name? How do you spell it?

Miss P:    Allshorn, he was the bank manager [61 Newland St] Then I went round to – I went up to London, because he retired and they went up to London to live at Ealing. And I went up there with them for a little while. But I didn’t like it up there, I came back to Witham. And I’d got loads of jobs, and I went to Bentalls’, in Bygrove [Collingwood Road], the house where Dr Foster lives now. But I don’t know, I think they went broke or they had to pack up, he left her and there was a bit of a mix-up there. So that must have been when I was getting on about thirty. I can’t remember.

Q:    Your parents lived in Bridge Street then. How old were you when they went to Bridge Street?

Miss P:    Well I never moved into Bridge Street, but my parents were in there.

Q:    You were out at work then?

Miss P:    Oh yes, because I started – I was out to work when I was fourteen.

Q:    So when they moved to Bridge Street, that was when you were …?

Miss P:    I was working up Chelmsford, when they moved to Bridge Street. I was just trying to think who it was … I went to Chelmsford, because I was up there seven years. That must have been 1933 so it must have been about 1930 – so I must have been about thirty when I went to Gerald Bright’s. I must have been about thirty-three when I went to Chelmsford.

Q:    You were at Wickham Bishops in between, were you?

Miss P:    That was before I went to – that was only a temporary job that I did there.

Q:    That was after Gerald Bright’s was it?

Miss P:    No, that was before Gerald Bright’s – no that was after Gerald Bright’s. Yes, then I went – because I went to Chelmsford from Wickham Bishops.

Q:     And they were at Bridge Street. When you went Ardleys’ Yard, that was when the First War started, was it?

Miss P:    My parents lived in Ardleys’ Yard [131 Newland St] when they first married. They lived there when they first married then they moved into the Grove house, because he still worked at The Grove. And then of course the War and that came and he had to go to the War, and we moved back into the same house in Ardleys’ Yard again.

Q:    So you couldn’t keep – the Laurences put you out because he wasn’t working there?

Miss P:    Well, he wasn’t working there, you see, and they had to take on more staff and put the – they wanted the houses. So of course my mother and us kids had to go …

Q:    And Jim was the brother nearest to you, was he in age? You were the oldest?

Miss P:    I was the oldest, then Jim and Dick and John. John didn’t come till 1917.

Q:    How much younger than you was Jim?

Miss P:    Two years.

Q:    And then Dick was younger again?

Miss P:    And Dick was two years younger.

Q:     You were quite close to them, so you played quite a lot together. I think you’ve more or less told me these things, I was just making sure when it all happened. You’ve had quite an exciting life, haven’t you? [both laugh] You spoke about an aunt in Langford, did you have many aunts and uncles? Were there any other aunts and uncles and cousins around?

Miss P:    There was my aunt – my mother had got – she was Aunt Mary at Langford. There was Aunt Emma at Chelmsford, another sister of hers. Aunt Lil lived in Cressing – Braintree Road. And what’s the other one? I think there was four boys and four girls, her parents had. Who was the other one then? Of course, Ada was my mother, she was the fourth one wasn’t she?

Q:    Did you see them from time to time?

Miss P:    Oh yes. We used to see Aunt Lil often and Aunt Emma up Chelmsford and we used to go up there. She’s still got two daughters alive – we still write to each other now and again. One of them, the one at Chelmsford, she’s about my age. She writes me long letters all moans and groans.[both laugh]. Poor old girl!

Q:    So she married and moved away?

Miss P:    They all lived in Chelmsford. Yes. Two of them still – they were a big family. There was two girls, I think there was about four boys. There were six cousins there. My aunt round Cressing Road, she had six children. They all had big families.

Q:    On your father’s side, did your father have any brothers and sisters?

Miss P:    On my father’s side there was just four of them, two boys and two girls. He’d got one brother and he’d got two sisters.

Q:    Did they live round this area at all?

Miss P:    One went to live in London, we didn’t hear a lot about her. We used to see her now and again when she felt like coming down to Witham. His other sister she lived at Havering, up near Romford and they were rose-growers. And funnily enough, her son’s just died. He kept – he retired from the rose-growing business and sold up. He’s just died so there isn’t any of that side left now. He’s left some of his family, I suppose. He had one boy and one girl. They’re about but I never did know them. You can’t keep track with all the relations.

Q:     No, you’ve got a lot of younger ones as well.

Miss P:    Yes, a lot of young ones all round, you can’t keep track of them. Especially when you can’t get out and about. I have letters and cards from different nieces. I’ve got one of my brother Jim’s girls, she lives out at Rettendon. I get cards and letters from her. Another one at Terling, another one at Baddow. Every now and again I get letters and cards from them. But I can’t keep up with them. [laughs]

Q:    Have they all got children have they?

Miss P:    Yes, they’ve all got children.

Q:    Did you ever think about getting married yourself?

Miss P:    No! No.

Q:    You had enough to get on with. You’ve got plenty of relations. (Miss P: Yes) People- if they did get married they tended to stop work, didn’t they? You wouldn’t have had such an interesting time.

Miss P:    Yes, never went out to work did they? That’s why there’s so much unemployed now, because all the husbands and wives are all working now. More or less everybody’s got two jobs, ain’t they, these days. Because as soon as the women part got married they’d got homes to go to and there was the jobs and that. Somebody took on the jobs but that’s why it’s all so different these days.   And of course they’ve all got cars and posh houses and homes and that, they all want the money.

Q:    You had an interesting time, did you actually enjoy working at the Co-op would you say?

Miss P:    Oh yes. Yes.

Q:    Or you would have been sitting at home, cooking your husband’s dinner or whatever have you, you wouldn’t have had all that, would you?

Miss P:    Oh no! No, I’ve had a good life. I’ve had a good life and I’ve been out and about and I’ve had good holidays. My friends over the road, they are on their way home from Penzance now. They came and told me last week they were going to Penzance on holiday. I said I’ve had three good holidays at Penzance, I know all about – I’ve had some good holidays down there. There ain’t many places around the English coast that I haven’t had holidays. Always had good holidays.

Q:    That was when you were at the Co-op? Did you have paid holidays?

Miss P:    Yes, I had paid holidays there.  I always had good holidays.

Q:    How much time did they give you off?

Miss P:    I used to have a fortnight.

Q:    Did you have to take it at a set time?

Miss P:    During the War we used to take it – I used to be friendly with one of the girls there and go away with one of the girls. We used to take it at the last week of ‘points’ because they weren’t so busy. And they could spare two of us out of the shop, one off each counter [laughs] at a time. My sister and that – she always had good holidays, she used to go abroad, she always wanted me to go abroad with her, but I never did. I went the once – I went to Penzance with them once and I went to Llandudno, Cromer I went with them, twice. And John and Peg, my brother down the road, I’ve been on holidays with them. I’ve had good holidays – I’ve had some lovely holidays in Bournemouth. We went to Bournemouth eight years in a row! [laughs] I went to Eastbourne about eight years in a row, too! There’s plenty of places to go to and plenty to do and good shows to go to in the evenings. So I’ve had good holidays.

Q:    Did your mother used to come on holiday with you?

Miss P:    No. No, no.

Q:    I suppose when she was alive, that was just after the War, you didn’t really go – people didn’t go so far.

Miss P:    No, well, I used to go – I know I was booked up to go away for a holiday and she was ill. Because I said to Dr Little ‘I was supposed to be going on holiday but I think I shall have to cancel it’ because she was ill. He said ‘Don’t cancel it, go for your holiday, you want your holiday’ he said. ‘And I’ll see that your mother is all right, I’ll come and see your mother every day, I promise you that, so long as you go on holiday.’ ‘So’ he said ‘Promise me you’ll go!’ So anyhow I went, I did go. I think that was an Eastbourne holiday. I went on holiday and he came and see her every day [laughs] so I had my holiday. Otherwise I used to – used to go on my holiday.

Q:    We talked about this picture of The Grove that you sent to the paper, of the servants. This is a cutting out of the newspaper. [JG’s photo M3019]
[Discussion about the photo, Grove servants, published 13  July 1973 in Braintree and Witham Times, not noted]

Miss P:    That’s my father [Q: Second from right, back row] Mr Bell, head gardener [Q: Right on left-hand side] Mr Clements [Q: Right-hand side] now then, Amy’s father – yes, I’m sure that was Amy’s father, that one [Q: Right on the left at the back]

Q:    Do you remember any of the others?

Miss P:    That was definitely Mr Clements, but most of these women was the household staff. One of these, I don’t know which one of these, was the horse man. [Q: One in the front, sitting down]
[Discussion of quality of cutting  and whereabouts of photo lent to the newspaper, not noted]

Q:    So some of those would live in The Grove, would they? Or would they all have houses?

Miss P:    Clements, he lived over the stables at the back, because he was the coachman. My father lived in the first house. [Grove Cottages, town end] He was Bell, the head gardener, he lived in the middle house and Burton lived in the little lodge up the top. But I just don’t know who that one was. And of course, all these women were all maids in the house, housemaids, parlour maids, ladies maids. I think that one was the lady’s maid. Housemaid [Q: One in the middle]

Miss P:    [counting one to seven] Seven female staff.

[Discussion about Dr Foster having the photo, and how first Q came to contact Miss P, not noted]

[Then discussion of photos of Grove etc., which way they were facing, filed under the Grove in Place files, not all noted)

Q:    Is that the front or the back?  [photo 3]

Miss P:    That’s the side, there was slopes – there were flowerbeds and that here. That’s the front porch and this was sloping down towards Freebournes, right down the bottom there.

Miss P:    That’s [photo 4] from round the side, that’s the sloping lawn. And they used to have bands playing there Sunday afternoons and that. We used to go down to the band.

Q:    And that’s between The Grove and Freebournes?

Miss P:    Yes it used to slope down and these flowerbeds were there. That’s the same door there. That used to slope down, that was all lovely green grass.

Q:    This wing sort of stuck out towards Freebournes?

Miss P:    Yes. That was grass that went down, right behind a wall, right down.
[more about locations, not noted}

Miss P:    …That’s the lawn, that’s the sloping lawn where we used to go down. When we were kids we used to roll over and over down it.

Q:    You could actually go and play there?

Miss P:    No, they used to have sort of fetes and church fetes and I think we went there. I think there was a Sunday school treat there once. Oh no, we weren’t allowed there, not normally.

Q:    You had to behave yourself. You talked about the Agricultural Show.

Miss P:    That was in 1910.

Q:    [showing  photos M633 and M635, not noted]

Miss P:     Oh yes … that’s down the corner of Collingwood Road…. Those were the days. [laughing] They hadn’t got the cars and all that in the streets like they have now, when you try to get across the road.

[Discussion of health; discussion of Miss Pavelin’s photos, JG’s M294 to M297, not noted, then pause, then she brings photos and shows them, see m photos database]

Miss P:    And that’s my father and mother when they got engaged. That was Hall [photographer?] then, 1900 [M296].

Q:    How did they meet?

Miss P:    She was a cook in the town. I think they met through church, going to church.

Q:    They went to the Church of England?

Miss P:    Yes, down in Guithavon Street. He was in the Boys Brigade. Because Bindon Blood, he had Whitehall where the library is now. And he had the church – the Boys Brigade. And my father played the flute. And they used to march to the church every Sunday morning.  And they used to play ‘Through the Night of Doubt and Sorrow’ on the way to church and on the way home they used to play ‘Ring the Bells of Heaven’. And she, of course, was churchy and that’s how they met. Because they went to church.

Miss P:    That’s my mother. I don’t know where that was taken. I don’t know what door that is or what photo that is or what door. It must have been out somewhere or somebody took it.

Q:    Did they go to church when you were little, as well?

Miss P:    Yes, oh yes.

Q:    You all went together did you? To All Saints?

Miss P:    Yes, always to All Saints, yes. Sometimes, now and again we’d go up Chipping Hill, but not often. Or if we went over to Cressing, we went to Cressing Church. With Granny or my grandfather there.

[Discussion on copying photos, not noted]

Q:    Your grandmother looks nice, doesn’t she [photo M297] You got on well with her didn’t you?

Miss P:    Yes. And I’ve still got her sewing machine! She died in 1910 and I’ve still got her sewing machine! And I’ve still got the brooch that she’s wearing there.

Q:    Because he was a gardener as well?

Miss P:    Yes, he was gardener at The Lodge.

Q:    So it went in the family, really?

Miss P:    Yes. The Luards, Sir William and Lady Luard, he was gardener for up at The Lodge.

Q:    Did she used to work I wonder before she married?

Miss P:    I don’t know where she worked before she married. Probably in service somewhere. [???] Because Cressing Granny was over at Cressing – their little house still stands beside the Cressing church, where they used to live for years and years.

Q:    That was another thing I meant to ask you, the christian name of your grandfather Cressing?

Miss P:    James Fryatt.

Q:    He was the one who was the church clerk?

Miss P:    Yes. He was church clerk there for fifty years.

Q:    You went to see them a lot. Presumably they would have quite a big staff at The Lodge as well would they?

Miss P:    Yes. But of course we don’t know as much about them because they weren’t …

Q:    Everyone speaks very kindly of Admiral Luard.

Miss P:    Yes, yes. He was ever such a lovely man, he was a lovely man. I used to see him walking about when I used to go up to my granny’s. If he see me he always used to come and talk – and generally used to pick me up and put me on his shoulder. He was a great big six-foot man. But of course all the Luards, all their family, we knew all them. Of course everybody in Witham knew all the Luards. There was a large family of them.

Q:    Was his wife alive?

Miss P:    Yes, Lady Luard, yes. Proper prim little lady, real little lady she was. You didn’t see much of them, she used always to ride out in a carriage. [???] But he was always about, walking about.  He’d drive himself in a pony and trap, he used to, you see.

Q:    Did they go in the shops and that? Or they’d have someone to do it for them, wouldn’t they? (Miss P: Yes) Would they go in the shops themselves?

Miss P:    Well, I don’t know whether – I suppose he’d pull up at the shops and the shop people would come out to them and see what they wanted and take their orders and bring out stuff to them and that. Spurges’ shop and the fishmongers’ shop and the butchers’ shop if they went to them. They probably wouldn’t go in the shops, they didn’t go in.

Q:    I’ve got these photographs of a wedding from 1917. That’s the Brandts and Gimsons. I expect you’d know them, would you? [JG’s photos M187-M191]

Miss P:     That’s Mrs Brandt.

Q:    Yes, that’s right, when she married in 1917.

Miss P:    Oh yes. I knew Mrs Brandt well. Of course, she was the leader of the Red Cross.

Q:    There’s all the ladies in their Red Cross uniforms.

Miss P:    Yes, all in their Red Cross uniforms. She’s like Dr Ted. Well, Dr Ted and Dr Karl.

Q:    That’s a bit more of the wedding.

Miss P:    …[???] to the wedding. Of course he was a great cricketer (Q: Oh was he?) Oh, the Red Cross! They’re all the Red Cross soldiers there, from Bridge Home. They would all have been in their blue uniforms.

Q:    …[???].

Miss P:    …[???] …Everybody was there. That’s Pachent the chauffeur. That’s Harry Pachent [M189 extreme right] That’s possibly Bill Hawkes, another gardener next to him.

Q:    You spoke about the Bridge, …Bridge Home. You talked about it and the Metropolitan School. (Miss P: Yes) What sort of school was that then?

Miss P:    That was – I think it was sort of a London – something to do with London or orphans or something like that.

Q:    I suppose if they had a wedding or anything special like that it was something to remember, wasn’t it?

Miss P:    Oh yes. We’d all turn out – all the town would be out for that … [muffled].

Q:    That was the swimming pool, do you remember that?  You talked about swimming. [photo of swimming pool]

Miss P:    Yes, down the back of the Swan, down town. My sister learnt to swim there.

Q:    I think that was when they opened it – there’s important people sitting along the side there.

Miss P:    One of the greengrocers’ wives – I forget her name – she took swimming lessons. She taught her how to swim.

Q:    Did you have to pay to go?

Miss P:    Yes, yes, as far as I know. I think they paid about sixpence a time. I know she used to take her down and there and chuck her in [both laugh]

Q:    Was this after school?

Miss P:    Yes.

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