Mrs. Adelaide (Addie) Pullinger (nee Bickmore), was born in 1892 (so aged 99). She was interviewed on 30 December 1991, when she lived at Wickham Bishops Nursing Home, near Hatfield Peverel.
For more about her, see Pullinger, Adelaide (Addie), nee Bickmore, 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 email@example.com 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.]
Mrs P: I can’t always remember.
Q: I thought you remembered very well.
Mrs P: Well, for my age I suppose I do, yes, but apart from that mean I really feel very tired. Do you think you would feel tired at nearly a hundred?
Q: I think I would, yes [laugh] It is a long time isn’t it? I remember you telling me it was Kelvedon you started, you were born. [???]
Mrs P: I’m not quite sure about that. I wanted to see my son first because I don’t quite know when I was born.
Q: I think I spoke to his wife on the phone and she said she thought, was it September?
Mrs P: No, October, I’m sure.
Q: So, this coming October you’ll be a hundred. So it would be 1892 that you were born. That sounds about right doesn’t it?
Mrs P: Yes, I was born the third of October, I’m sure about that one, but I’m not quite sure what year it was you see.
Q: It’s such a long time isn’t it. But that was in Kelvedon you said?
Mrs P: Kelvedon. Yes, I was born in Kelvedon, and my mother has told me that she brought me to Witham after that because Dad had got a job at Blyth’s baking bread for twenty-six shillings a week. So they came to Witham and got a little house at what they called Buffalo Row [Bridge Street, somewhere opposite Faragon Terrace] that’s that little row, where they live now some of them
Q: Was that the one in Bridge Street?
Mrs P: Bridge Street. Oh yes, Bridge Street and there I think Mum and Dad lived there until he died and he was fifty-seven when he died, poor old thing.
Q: That’s not very old is it.
Mrs P: Oh no. He was a good father, but of course they put on them in those days. Yes. And he didn’t like Good Friday because of baking the buns. He didn’t like it, had to be there all day Good Friday but he was a good father to us. Well there isn’t much more to say, is there?
Q: Was your mother still alive then?
Mrs P: Yes, mother outlived dad by several years. I can’t tell you. I think she died n 1945. But I’m not quite sure about that one. But I know she was really strong to him. He was a small man and his mother lived in the little almshouse round the lane. (Q: In Kelvedon you mean?) No, in Witham, after they came to Witham.
Q: Was that the ones in Bridge Street you mean, the almshouses in Bridge Street, is that where she lived?
Mrs P: Yes, that’s where I seemed to put all me strength and everything else.
Q: I’ve forgotten what you said, what were their names, your mum and dad?
Mrs P: Bickmore. Yes, his name was Bickmore. And he was an only son and they didn’t have any children I don’t think, no they didn’t, well they didn’t marry. (Q: Who was that that didn’t have any children?) My son. No, let me see.
Q: Your father?
Mrs P: My father, they had five children, I was one of them, and the others, there were four boys and one girl. So the poor girl come in for all the odd jobs. And that was that family. Well then of course they got on and their children they had two children each and they were my grandchildren, wouldn’t they be.
Q: And your brothers, were they older than you?
Mrs P: No, I was the second eldest. My eldest brother’s name was Harry and he’s dead now. (Q: Your other brothers? And what about your other brothers?) The first one was Harry, then there was Addy, that’s me, then Stanley, then Jack and I can’t remember the others just now but that doesn’t matter about that does it.
Q: No of course not. Did they not do any jobs in the house?
Mrs P: No. No fear, not even pick up a dishcloth. (Q: Really?) No, I remember my mother saying to my brother, my eldest brother, she said ‘Pass me the dishcloth please, will you’ He said ‘Oh, I shouldn’t like to put that on my hands.’ And she thought that was dreadful, well I did too. And we lived up at that house all those years.
Q: That was Faragon?
Mrs P: Faragon Gardens. We called it. Sounded quite a posh place, but it was only a little, they were little houses. But we liked them.
Q: How many rooms did you have?
Mrs P: How many rooms? Two up and two down. Yes, there wasn’t much room.
Q: So you didn’t have a room for yourself then.
Mrs P: Oh no. And after I married I had to sleep in their room Yes, I had to sleep in my mother’s room because we hadn’t got the convenience.
Q: No. So before that the children were all together?
Mrs P: Yes. Yes, oh yes I wouldn’t want it again. No. And I had to do all what I called the chores. I didn’t have much time to meself. I used to do a lot of crochet. I used to sit and do that when I was indoors because I wasn’t allowed to run the street. (Q: Were you not?) No they didn’t like me running the street, so I used to go to school, come home from school, help wash up, if there was anything dirty, and then you see the time passed and I was busy.
Q: Then it was bedtime I suppose. Did you have to go to bed early?
Mrs P: Not too early, well about eight o’clock. Yes. And I had to get up in the morning, get meself ready for school.
But I didn’t mind that although I hadn’t got a lot of nice things to put on, but what I did put on they were always clean. Mum always kept them clean. But of course I didn’t have many, and being the only girl you see, everything came to me to do, but I loved my brothers and I do till this day. My brother Stan he’s still alive, he’s 91, Stan, and then there was me, and hubby, he died of cancer, Herbert his name was and then Jack Waraker, was[?] mother’s maiden name and Cyril George, that was his Dad’s brother’s name.
Q: What was your dad’s first name? Christian name?
Mrs P: Dad’s first name was Henry Wilfred Cecil. He had three names my father did
Q: That’s a lot isn’t it? And what was your mother’s Christian name? Did she have three names as well?
Mrs P: No, only one. Isabella. She used to say, you know how to spell my name, I said of course I do. So she said ‘Well spell it then’, and used to be I-s-a-b-e-l-l-a. Isabella. So I said ‘Well that’s all right, what about my name’ and she said ‘I think your name is pretty’. So I said, ‘What, Adelaide?’ So she said ‘Yes, well I had a sister that went out to America and as her name was Adelaide May, we named you that, you see. So your name was Adelaide May’ Bickmore. Not Pullinger. Pullinger is me married name. But of course my husband, oh, you’re not taking my husband’s are you, not yet [laugh].
Q: Did your husband come from Witham?
Mrs P: Yes, I don’t really know who he belonged to. His people were Coggeshall people. That’s not far from here is it? Well when they decided to come to Witham he had to come with them you see, and he lived with them all his life. His uncle and aunt. (Q: What did he do for a job?) He was a welder at Crittall’s. He worked there thirty-seven years and my brother Stan he was a Civil Servant. He worked for 37 years and Herbert, hubby, I always called him hubby, he worked for 37 years. So really and truly they put in a lot of time, you see, but they were no better off. They didn’t get much money. I didn’t. (Q: Did you not, what did you get?) I used to try to save on a shilling. Do you remember those, just about a sheet of paper like that and they’d got twelve penny, little portions on. And I want so badly to save on that little sheet of paper, but I never had the money. No I didn’t have the money. So I couldn’t do it.
Q: Was that when you were at work?
Mrs P: Oh I worked, let’s see. I worked at, where did I work, I was two years baby sitting, minding the baby at Mr Cutts’s fish shop and then when I left there.
Q: Did you go and live there, did you live at Mr Cutts’?
Mrs P: No, they just gave me one and sixpence.
Q: What did you have to do?
Mrs P: Oh, help, wipe up all the things, and on Sunday they used to keep all the dirty crocks on Sunday for me to wash up on Monday. That wasn’t very nice. Well then I used to …
Q: Sorry, this was actually at the fish shop was it? Did he live there.
Mrs P: Yes. I didn’t (Q: But you went there, sorry, you were going to say something else.) I used to get there at nine o’clock and do all the chores, all the dirty jobs and then wash up, leave everything tidy and then that was my job every day and all I got was one and six.
Q: You had to look after the baby as well?
Mrs P: The little boy. He was about four I should think. (Q: Was that hard?) Cyril. He wasn’t a bad little boy, a dear little chap. And then his sister Bertha, she died of cancer. Yes. I didn’t like the girl like I did the boy because she was a little bit spoilt and she used to worry the little boy you see and then that wasn’t quite so nice, but I put up with it. I was there two years and when I left there I went to the, where did I go to after? (Q: Was that when you went to the glove factory?) Oh ah, that’s better, I went to the glove factory. I was there five years. I got so I was a head one (Q: Really?). Well what did they call me, well I was in charge, I’ll say that. Yes I got on very well there. Although I will say this. The glove factory people were very hasty, very sharp really. But I stayed there five years. Then my husband that was after that, he wrote and said we’d get married. And we got married in 1915 and we were married for forty-five years we were married, and I’ve still got the little ring. I put it in the [???], they’re all nice girls here.
Q: So when you went to the glove factory was it in the big factory or was it in a house?
Mrs P: No, no, it was in the same place as it was I say, where they used to do the gloves. Well when they expanded, they had the big one in 1912 so they had a very nice big factory made. But then we didn’t get much paid. (Q: Didn’t you?) Very little money. And there was no good to grumble about it. There wasn’t much work about so we put up with it. And I used to go there and then go home and do my crochet. I used to do anchors because I courted a sailor. But anyway, that was that.
Q: So when it went into the big factory you moved? (Mrs P: Oh yes.) What was it like when you went to the new place?
Mrs P: I didn’t mind. In fact I thought I was everybody, yes I thought I was somebody when I went there that first morning and all the place was new, it looked lovely. And I thought, oh, I’d come to the big mountain after all [laugh]. And so I did, and I stayed there five years.
Q: I think, where it was before was like a house near the station wasn’t it? (Mrs P: Yes.) A friend of mine lives there now in the house so she’s interested in the gloves.
Mrs P: They’re nice rooms, nice big rooms.
Q: Was it two houses. There are two houses together? Did they make the gloves in both? (Mrs P: Oh yes.) Do you remember when you first went to work to make gloves and they were in the house, were there two houses together? (Mrs P: Yes.) Did you work in both? (Mrs P: No.) I see. Was it the right hand or the left hand side one?
Mrs P: The right hand I should think but it’s a long time ago.
Q: Its lovely to find someone who remembers. Did Mr Pinkham live there then? Did he live there as well?
Mrs P: Yes, but I was all right there, you know I got used to it.
Q: When you said he was sharp, what did you mean? When you said they were a bit sharp, what did you mean by that really?
Mrs P: Oh, well, I used to say to the girls, take no notice, but you know if we waved to the engine driver, because he used to wave to us, and as I was dark skinned, I wasn’t a black or anything, I went there, and he used to say ‘Hello darkie’ and then Mr Pinkham used to make us go upstairs, stand in a room until we behaved. (Q: really?) So that’s what I had to do. And then when we were quiet we had to go downstairs and get on with the work. But I had to buy a tuppenny book, tuppenny book, exercise, to put the work down and when I give it to them and when they give it to me I had to write all that down in a tuppenny book. And when I left they really owed me twelve shillings for books but they never paid. So I didn’t bother. And my mother said at the time, ‘Don’t bother about it’ she said ‘That’s wicked, that’s working for twopence an hour’. So she said ‘We’ll have no more to do with it. And of course I got married and I wasn’t much better off at that. I used to draw a pound a week, that’s all I had, and I got that every Thursday.
Q: Were you still working then you mean? Were you still working when you got married? In 1915 it was the war time wasn’t it?
Mrs P: No, I never went to work after I married.
Q: Was your husband away then?
Mrs P: Yes, I married on the Tuesday, and he went away on the Wednesday and I never saw him till three months after that. Yes. He used to come home say every three months
Q: So you still lived with your mother?
Mrs P: Oh yes, couldn’t afford a house. And then after that we got the little cottage at the bottom of our garden because there were six little cottages belonged to Miss Chalk. I dare say you will know Miss Chalk (Q: I did meet her, yes.) Well I got one of those because you see I went to work at Pinkham’s and going up to work I spoke to one of the girls and I said I should like to get one of these cottages and then I’d get married and she spoke for me and I got it, but that was five shillings a week.
Q: You spoke to one of the girls at Pinkhams did you? You spoke to one of the girls at Pinkham’s, you mean, about getting the house? That’s the only fault up here, they do make such a noise. Do you remember Miss Chalk? You must have been quite young then.
Mrs P: Oh, yes, Miss Chalk and two grand-daughters she’d got, but she was very. very mean. Mind you she didn’t have all that money from us. So we had to put up with it. Cause five shillings doesn’t pay for a house, does it, oh no.
Q: Did she come and collect it?
Mrs P: Yes, we used to pay one pound fifteen and nine every quarter I think it was?
Q: So she came to get it herself did she?
Mrs P: Yes, she always collected it. Sometimes the old fellow used to come. That was her father. They use to live together and he used to come sometimes, but if ever he came he always found fault with something, so we had to have it done and then we got grumbled at for having it done. He was bullying.
Q: What sort of things did he find?
Mrs P: Well, we had a big dustbin, I don’t suppose I can think, a big dustbin, right outside number six and that smelt awful with apple peelings, and Doctor Ted came to see my brother because he had croup, he said ‘You’re to get rid of the dustbin’. I said ‘Doctor, I can’t’, I said ‘That belongs to Miss Chalk’. He said ‘Well tell Miss Chalk when she comes next time that that’s not healthy and you’re to get another one’. Well of course that was like asking for gold! So I told Miss Chalk and she said ‘Oh well, I shall get one when I can afford it.’ So I had to wait. And then we had a big old shed, it’s there now, and she used to grumble about that because sometimes that would go all loose and if I asked to have a couple of tiles put on, she used to be very nasty. She was a funny little old lady. So I said ‘Oh well, I can’t help what the doctor said, that’s what he told me to tell you’. So she said ‘Oh well I shall get it when I think I will.’
Q: Did you ever get it? Did you ever get your dustbin? Do you remember if you ever got your new dustbin?
Mrs P: Oh yes, we did. Yes, they took the old one away. You see you used to lift up the front and then all the rubbish fell out.
Q: Did they used to come round, like they do now and empty them, dustbins?
Mrs P: No, they never used to trouble about that.
Q: So you just kept filling it up.
Mrs P: Get on with it sort of thing.
Q: So what did you do if it got full?
Mrs P: Well, it went over, but we used to try not to get it too full because there were six of us see and that didn’t take long to get full, not really.
Q: So if it did get full did you have to take it away somewhere?
Mrs P: Oh yes, well, I don’t know where they took it to but that was all nasty apple peelings and rubbish like that. The smell was dreadful.
Q: I suppose it rotted away and made more room.
Mrs P: And that was down the bottom where out houses divided. You see we had six up there and then a division and then no house, you see. So as soon as it got down to that pathway[? or halfway] you see we had to stop until it was emptied. But my people used to say we’d get fever before we finished but we never did get a fever but we did get ill. And one of my brothers always had bronchitis and an awful cold on his chest. And I always think it was that. That, you see. But of course me, I’d got no money to pay and therefore I couldn’t complain, I had to put up with it.
Q: What, you had no money to pay what, for the doctor you mean?
Mrs P: We used to pay the doctor then. The last time was five shillings we owed the doctor, and I don’t think ever that was paid, I really don’t, and I couldn’t pay it, I hadn’t got the money, and mother hadn’t, so I think that went, I think he crossed it off.
Q: Which doctor was that?
Mrs P: Ted. [Gimson]
Q: That was Ted. How did you get on with him?
Mrs P: Dr Ted, Dr Karl. They were two. Now that dear man comes in, feed his wife. Very nice.
Q: Do you remember the old Dr Gimson? The father.
Mrs P: Oh he died/
Q: Do you remember anything about him.
Mrs P: Well, they all had heart trouble, yes so as their age came along they just simply died off. Yes, that was very sad.
Q: Did you ever see the father?
Mrs P: Oh yes, we did, we used to see the father, and his father used to come as well, poor old Dr Gimson, yes.
Q: When you needed the doctor, did they come to see you, or did you go to see them?
Mrs P: Oh they had to come to see to us.
Q: Did they?
Mrs P: Yes, oh yes, we didn’t go to them. We never thought about it, I don’t think, no, we always used to send a little note over, please would the doctor call at number so and so, and that’s how we went on in those days.
Q: So were you poorly yourself much?
Mrs P: No.
Q: You were quite well, were you?
Mrs P: Yes, I really kept well, and since I’ve been older, I’ve kept better than I did when I was young. (Q: Did you?) Cause I was anaemic. I think it was the food really, was poor. But I get plenty of food now, and I’m quite all right, if I just, you know, go on as I’ve been going.;
Q: What sort of food did you used to have when you were a little girl?
Mrs P: Well all different sorts you see, we used to have, I used to have a lot of Quaker oats and that sort of thing, you see. Yes.
Q: Oh, and I remember you talking about the puddings? That your mother made.
Mrs P: Puddings. Oh we used to have lovely puddings. We used to have the, well, currant puddings, that kind of thing, and sultana puddings, and light puddings, we always had a nice Sunday dinner, yes.
Q: What did you have for that?
Mrs P: Oh, used to have a little joint. (Q: Oh did you?) Yes, and when we were on rations, you see with [???] we put all our books together and then we had a piece of meat the size we could afford. Yes.
Q: Did you have meat on any other days?
Mrs P: Oh yes, we had, no, when the whatsername would allow it, when the books would allow it. We always shared everything we had, that was one good thing about it. And mum used to get dad a quarter a sausages, quarter, and he’d come home, and if my young brother was in the bath, cause we used to have those little baths, you know, if he was in the bath, he’d cut a little piece of sausage off, ‘There you are, son’.
Q: Was the bath in the kitchen, was it?
Mrs P: Yes. Oh yes, we had that in the kitchen. We hadn’t got a bathroom.
Q: No, you got the bath out specially if you wanted a bath, did you?
Mrs P: Yes.
Q: How did you fill it up, how did you heat the water?
Mrs P: Well, we’d got to go across the yard. Yes, we went across the yard to get that. And then bring it back and pour it in a bath, and then turn the tap on for the cold water, but you know that was really hard work.
Q: It must have been, the hot water was in your copper was it? Where was the hot water?
Mrs P: Yes, well, we didn’t heat it like they do now, we just used to get it warm and …
Q: So what did you warm it with, what did you warm it in, cause we don’t have that sort of thing now, do we, what was it like?
Mrs P: Well, jolly hot sometimes.
Q: Was it a tank, or was it a copper? Was it a copper that you heated it in?
Mrs P: Yes, that’s what we, we had, the copper was in the shed, and if it was a very hot day we used to bath in the shed. (Q: Did you?) Yes, yes I’ve been in there many times.
Q: Did you heat it up with a fire, or was there a sort of gas heater?
Mrs P: Oh no gas, we never had gas then at all. No, a fire. Yes.
Q: It must have been hard work. You did have a cold tap, did you, you had a tap for the cold water?
Mrs P: Yes. Only.
Q: So I expect the toilet was in the garden?
Mrs P: Oh yes. And then you see, if that was a wet day, that was really awkward to get the water, cause we used to all, because Miss Chalk made such a fuss, we all had to have a tap, and she said it was going to cost them a lot of money, so Dad said ‘Well’, he said ‘We can’t help that, we shall have to pay a little more rent’. And of course, I suppose we did pay a little more rent. And we had this extra water, so I was actually able to get a bath.
Q: How old were you then about, was that when you were little?
Mrs P: When I was growing, a growing girl. But I didn’t bath like I’d like to. Because I mean I, you couldn’t have the bath out every day cause you couldn’t get round it. You see I’d got to get round it and near the fire, and I was afraid that the fire at that time, so it was really a harassing time.
Q: Was that the same, when you went to your own house, that was after you were married?
Mrs P: Then they built the houses, they built, I don’t know how many, quite a few up Church Street, and they’re still up there.
Q: I see, and that was your first house that you had on your own?
Mrs P: Yes. And they took all our names, where we were worried with the taps like.
Q: Was that Miss Chalk’s house as well?
Mrs P: They were, but not now. No. She, I think she gave £76 for about three or four of them, so they were very poor.
Q: Was that up at the top of Church Street, right up at the top of Church Street?
Mrs P: No. The new ones that they built, some of them are in Church Street, and some further up, where they’d got room, you see.
Q: So your one, was yours near to Chalks Road.
Mrs P: Yes. Poor old girl. But still, she was afraid to spend the money. Well, I suppose it cost her a good bit even for about six houses. But I had four brothers and no sisters, and I mean they wanted bathing, they were filthy, and Dad used to say ‘Well, they must be bathed, mum, because their skin’ll get so hard’. ‘Well’, she said ‘I’ll bath them as often as I can’. But she said ‘I can’t keep heating the water, you see, because I can’t afford it’. So at the finish we just managed, that’s all.
Q: And did they go out to work?
Mrs P: Yes, then they all got jobs. Then we were better off. Yes well Jack went with the builders, and Cyril, he started with the builders. Yes. And Harry there, was one, he was a cabinet maker. And then he went away. Yes, he got a job away and he was getting on there. So that was three out of the four. I can’t think what the other one was doing. I suppose he was with the four of them.
Q: When they started work they were still living at home, were they?
Mrs P: Yes, oh yes, they lived at home until they married.
Q: Cause I remember you, was it, you were telling me about somebody who gave you a pudding, and you [???] it, was that when you were at Bridge Street, you went to fetch …
Mrs P: No, when I was in Bridge Street, nothing was right really, but after we got out of Bridge Street we seemed to get on a little bit better, yes.
Q: When you were first married you stayed in Bridge Street, then? Was it when your husband came back from the War that you got the other house?
Mrs P: Yes, well, when I left Bridge Street, you see, that was better for us, because I could do things a little better, and I kept the place nice and tidy.
Q: Did you still have to go outside for your hot water?
Mrs P: Across the yard.
Q: In Church Street as well?
Mrs P: Yes. Had to go, draw the water, go right across that road and go in the back door and put it in the bath. Yes, so that was hard work really.
Q: When your husband came home after the War?
Mrs P: 1920.
Q: Did he go straight to Crittall’s?
Mrs P: No, but he went to see if he could get on, and they said yes but he couldn’t start till till 1940 [sic], so 1940 came and he went, and he worked there 37 years. All three of my people …
Q: So what did he do while he was waiting to work there?
Mrs P: Helped me. He was a good chap in the house. Yes, he’d clean anything up beautifully
Q: Did your own, did your father help in the house much?
Mrs P: Not a lot, because he was a baker, you see, and he had a lot to do, he had to go to work in the morning early, then he had to go out with the bread and sell that, and then when he come home at night he had to make the dough for the next day, so his was a hard job.
Q: Did he stay at Blyth’s all the time?
Mrs P: Yes, E M Blyth.
Q: Was that in the High Street.
Mrs P: Yes, it was then. But the, the mill part was down Mill Lane. Yes.
Q: But he worked in the shop.
Mrs P: Yes. Yes he worked there twenty years, yes he was there twenty years, so, well we did the best we could with the money, but that was only twenty-six shillings altogether. Oh no, poor old thing, because the boys’ suits, they cost him quite a lot.
Q: Did you used to make clothes at home at all?
Mrs P: Do you know Heddles? [48 Collingwood Road]
Q: I remember people telling me about them.
Mrs P: Yes, well we used to have them at Heddles and pay a few shillings a week up there.
Q: That was near the station, opposite the cattle market.
Mrs P: Yes, right next door to Heddle..
Q: Did they come round to the house sometimes? Did Heddles come round to the house?
Mrs P: Oh yes, they had, well it was a house and a, well it was a house, really.
Q: But for paying the money?
Mrs P: But you couldn’t have the things you want. (Q: Couldn’t you?) Now for instance I like me mouthwash but you can’t have it, you’ve got to have just what the money allows. But how I come here I shall never know. I think they wanted somebody to see the girls were all right. I think so.
Q: Can you remember anything about the Miss Luards, Gertie?
Mrs P: Lewis, (Q: Luard, there was Admiral). Luard, oh yes, he had to pass the bottom of our yard to get home. We saw him every day, yes every day, and then he had a dreadful accident.
Q: When he passed the road what was he in, was he in a carriage or what?
Mrs P: Yes, funny little carriage, rather that shape, yes, but at one time they used to wait for him to come to church and when he got to church they would start the service, but not before [laugh]. That was Admiral Sir William Luard. Oh yes we knew him and his daughters. He had two or three daughters and one of them said to my mother ‘What are you going to do with that great girl of yours?’ That was me. She said ‘Oh, I’m going to keep her like your father keeps you miss!’ (Q: Did she?) [laugh] So that upset her. She didn’t like mother. Well, she shouldn’t interfere.
Q: So you don’t think she liked your mother after that? She didn’t like your mother after that. (Mrs P: No. To feel like that is worth something.) I shouldn’t think many people spoke to her like that did they? (Mrs P: No. It wasn’t nice.) Your mother was outspoken was she?
Mrs P: No she wasn’t upset, she was pleased, she was pleased to tell her off. She said, ‘Good gracious alive I’ve never, I don’t ask her for anything and I’m not going to bow and scrape to her’. So I said ‘No, that’s right mother, don’t’ [laugh]
Q: Was that when you were a girl?
Mrs P: When I was young.
Q: Did they used to bring things. Did they ever used to give you anything? The people with lots of money like them?
Mrs P: Oh, not money? No. But Miss Fowler was friendly with them and she used to live in the town, and sometimes she’d bake a little custard or a little bread and butter pudding and she’d send word down to my mother. Tell Addie, I went in the name of Addie then, tell Addy to call and she could bring it home. So I did. And one day I dropped it! (Q: Oh dear) [laugh] It was nothing to laugh about. But I couldn’t help it. There was a hole in the basket and out went this pudding. I couldn’t help it. Mother didn’t mind. She said ‘Well never mind, you couldn’t help it’.
Q: Were you upset?
Mrs P: It upset me because we really could have done with it.
Q: So do you think, were there some people who had less money than you in the town? Were there some people who had even less money than you did?
Mrs P: No. They didn’t have much money. Nobody did. No. But we had a little yard where I lived. If you went up the yard there I’d got my friends what’d been to school and we used to just talk about different things going to school and I thought to myself ‘Oh dear, oh dear how dreadful to live like this’, but I had to.
Q: So you did realise, you did know that you could be better off? Did it upset you that you didn’t have much money?
Mrs P: No, I didn’t bother, I didn’t worry. Mother said ‘Well, she said, we can’t have the same as them because we haven’t got the money’, you see, so I took it, I didn’t make a noise about it.
Q: You mean, these other girls, did they have more than you?
Mrs P: Just a little. Their father was a coalman and you see if he took two or three hundredweight of coal, sometimes they’d give him sixpence and then of course he’d think he was a lord!
Q: What did they have that you didn’t have?
Mrs P: Well, the eldest girl there worked at a little needlewoman’s who made pinafores and she made a nice little pinafore for two of the girls and I couldn’t afford them. I couldn’t have them. So I didn’t have a, and of course I did feel it a bit then and my mother said ‘Well, you mustn’t covet other people’s things, dear’, she said ‘You’ll get something I dare say’ but I didn’t have any. It was ever so nice. I can almost see the pattern now.
Q: Did they wear it all the time, did they wear the pinafore at school? (Mrs P: Yes, they were nice, they were nice.) So what did you wear, what did you wear to go to school?
Mrs P: Oh just a little dress, just a little ordinary dress.
Q: What about shoes, because they were expensive weren’t they?
Mrs P: Yes, well, we, Mrs Thomasin, we used to be the pence lady. Well she used to live at Roslyn House [16 Newland Street]. She used to live at Roslyn House. Well then every Monday we used to take threepence or fourpence, which ever Mum could afford and have it put on that little card and then when we’d got enough, say one and six, that’d buy a little pair of shoes. That’s how we took turns. But they had to be very very careful with the money. Because we hadn’t got it.
Q: So you went to Mrs Thomasin’s house did you? (Mrs P: Yes.) Did you go inside at all?
Mrs P: Yes, every Wednesday. She used to have us up there and give us our tea. (Q: Really?) Yes, she was a lovely lady. Well then she broke, they broke, so she didn’t have the money to do it with and I think last year she died.
Q: Was her husband alive? (Mrs P: Yes.) What did he do?
Mrs P: Just helped her. Well they had servants. You see they had a servant as well.
Q: Was it their family that ran the brush factory? Was it the Thomasins that had run the brush factory? [actually same family but factory had closed c 1971]
Mrs P: No dear, they didn’t have a factory, no. Oh no, there was no factory to them. All they did was just live.
Q: So when you say they broke? What happened do you think?
Mrs P: Yes, well they couldn’t carry on to make the brushes, to make the whole thing like they’d been doing.
Q: So you don’t remember anything about the brushes being made at all? That must have been before your time even?
Mrs P: Yes, I think so.
Q: Because that was probably his father before him, I’ve read in the books, he used to have the brushes, next to where Palmers’ was, there was the brush yard. That was before even you were born then [laugh]?
Mrs P: Yes, I think so. Now, I know same as a horse, where they were little brushes for horses but I don’t remember anything to do with a brush factory.
Q: No, what they made the brushes for the horses did they? (Mrs P: No, I don’t remember that.) You don’t remember anything, even a little workshop or anything, that was before you. Because I think it was probably Mr Thomasin’s father. So it was nice to hear about him. I’ve read about his father so its lovely to hear about him, that you remember him as well.
Mrs P: But still it’s nice to know a little bit. I don’t like to talk about them too much but on the other hand I like to know what they were up to.
Q: So when you went to tea with Mrs Thomasin, where did you go? How many?
Mrs P: Oh it was a lovely room (Q: Was it?) Yes it was lovely, and we had a paper and that had got on it the work we’d done. I made a little chemise for the little black children and some of them made other things but this, I’ve still got the paper at home where it said ‘Made – one chemise’
Q: And where did you make it?
Mrs P: In her house, on the night we went to have our tea. Yes, they were very kind those people, and every year we always had a little present. I had two hat pins and another time we got something. Whatever she’d got to give. But she was lovely, but of course she was elderly you know.
Q: Did she have tea with you?
Mrs P: Yes, and a great big long table and we had nice bread and butter. It was really lovely. And then that had to finish. Yes, it had to finish. Now we are on to this.
Q: When that finished was that when you were quite little, when you were still at school when it finished?
Mrs P: Oh, no it was after I left school. Yes, that was nice though. I used to look forward to it. Oh, I don’t think so, I think that was when I went to school, because when I used to be having me lessons I used to think about it, think ‘Oh, I wonder what we’ve got to have tonight’ Ever so nice, it really was.
Q: What did you have for your tea when you were there?
Mrs P: Oh, I don’t know, it only just seemed like bread and butter, but you know whatever it was it always seemed lovely. And then we had a nice piece of cake. And another thing she used to take the money for our little shoes and when we’d got enough she’d write a cheque or paper, I didn’t know there was a cheque then, and then you had to give that to the man and he’d bring you a pair of shoes. Oh it was lovely.
Q: Who did you give the paper to? Which man was it?
Mrs P: Mr Dowsett, yes, Mr Dowsett was his name [had a shoe shop]. Do you know there’s a young woman here got one leg and sometimes I think that is Mr Dowsett’s daughter. I don’t know. That looks like her. And I just wonder. But he was a nice man and he wouldn’t give you anything that wasn’t any good. And he looked at it and turned it upside down and had a look and then he said ‘Yes I think that’ll be all right ma’am’. I said ‘Thank you very much’. I said ‘Do you think they’ll wear all right?’ ‘Yes, yes I think so.’
Q: And they were shoes, not boots?
Mrs P: Sometimes they were boots, because the boys liked the boots and I liked the, well I liked the boots, yes.
Q: So, did you always have some shoes to wear. You always had shoes did you? Some people …
Mrs P: Yes, we always had shoes. Yes. If we hadn’t got shoes we couldn’t go to school.
Q: Did that ever happen to you?
Mrs P: Yes, my Dad used to say, well, or rather me Mother used to do it on Sunday. She used to take the hob iron, put it there like that and, you know what they’re like, put that there and mend them. She had to, oh we don’t know do we, no. Poor old Mum.
Q: Did you ever stay at home, did you ever stay away from school?
Mrs P: Not very often. No. Not very often. I did stay away one half day, that’s all, but I didn’t as a rule. I wanted to go and make a full, a full, what shall I say, make a full number and then I could leave. Because you’d had to make a number. And when it came to the end I was three half-days short. (Q: Oh.) Yes. So I had to go to school three months for that. (Q: Did you?) So that’s how I was punished.
Q: Did that upset you?
Mrs P: Yes, yes because Mum wanted me at home. You see at that time we had the soldiers billeted with us [First World War] and that was too much for her to do and too much for me but I had to put up with it. But there, that’s all over now and I’m jolly glad.
Q: So she always managed to mend your shoes for you to go to school. (Mrs P: Yes.) You didn’t have to stay home?
Mrs P: Yes. Never took them to the [???], we never took them to him. Want too much for them. Oh no.
Q: Who would you have taken them to? Who would you have had to take them to?
Mrs P: Mr, what did I tell you his name was? (Q: Dowsett.) Yes, Mr Dowsett first. Then another shoe man come and lived at the bottom of my yard. And I used to talk to his boy and then we used to pop down just down the bottom of the yard and get them done down there.
[comment on visitors, not noted]
Q: Did you have any little jobs to do when you were still at school that you could earn some money? (Mrs P: No.) You were too busy helping.
Mrs P: Children didn’t do it, they didn’t do it then. No. You never saw anybody come home and do that.
Q: But then as you say you had to help your mother a lot didn’t you? You had to help your mother instead, didn’t you.
Mrs P: Help mother. Yes, I used to like washing up. Oh I loved washing up.
Q: Was your mother very strict? If you were naughty? Did your mother get cross?
Mrs P: No, she’d give us her hand. [laugh]
Q: Did she? What about your father?
[comment about visitors, not noted]
Mrs P: I’ve got some good children. I’ve got four boys and one girl. But the girl of course I can’t have her because she lives down at Suffolk and she’s been a nurse thirty-seven years and you see she’s got arthritis. So she can’t see me and I can’t see her. So I feel very cut off.
Q: Were they born when you were living in Church Street?
Mrs P: Yes, let me see, yes, I think most of them were?
Q: How many children did you say you had?
Mrs P: Yes, they were born there because you see I lived up there a long long time and then of course they come along and one of them is a, what do you call it, well he does all sorts of things, Stan, but he is a very good boy to his mother. He always writes and sends a little money to help her along.[? this Mrs P’s brother]
Q: Because I was thinking back again to when you were little. Did you mention a Miss Pattisson? Did you know a Miss Pattisson?
Mrs P: Oh yes, poor Miss Pattisson. You know the one what used to be in the chair. She fell out one day. (Q: No, really?) Mm, poor thing. Oh they were very very good to us. To all the people. They give all the people whatever they could but then they finished up poor, very poor. Yes, I was very sorry to hear that. I liked Miss Pattisson.
Q: What did they give you? What sort of things did they give you?
Mrs P: Well little presents, little brooch or two little hat pins . All things like that, what I liked, but they were very very kind to the people. And my brother, my eldest brother, they started him off in work. (Q: Did they?) Yes. But of course he couldn’t stop there because there was a dog to lead out and he’s not fond of a dog, not my brother
Q: Where was that?
Mrs P: That was at Writtle, that’s a long way?
Q: He worked with the Pattissons? Is that where Miss Pattisson?
Mrs P: No, she’s dead now.
Q: I wondered if she lived at Writtle?
Mrs P: No, dear, she lived at Collingwood Road. She lived at that nice little bungalow in Collingwood Road.
Q: So when she gave you things did she come to your house? (Mrs P: Yes. Oh yes.) You had quite a lot of visitors.
Mrs P: Yes, she was very very kind and very good. Yes, she used to come down and see if we were ill she would come down and see us, and that was so nice then.
Q: So if you saw her when you were out in the street did she speak to you? (Mrs P: Oh yes. Always. Yes, always.) But if you saw Miss Luard when you were out in the street did she speak?
Mrs P: Not much. No, Miss Luard was different. Well, she wants to know all and she can’t.
Q: What a shame, yes. So if you saw Admiral Luard did he speak to you?
Mrs P: No, no, no, but still I was sorry to hear about him. I know very well he was nothing to me but I felt sorry to hear that he’d had an accident, yes, because of course, he shouldn’t have been there. (Q: Shouldn’t he? Why’s that?) He went to church and then his cart, funny little cart it was, caught on one of those pipes that are on the edge of the path.
Q: So why do you say he shouldn’t have been there?
Mrs P: Well he needn’t have been there. He could have gone home. Yes, he should have gone home from church shouldn’t he?
Q: So where was he going?
Mrs P: Over near the Swan, well near the bridge to be correct.
Q: So was he not going home?
Mrs P: He should have been going home. Instead of that he was going slow you see and his cart caught on the, I don’t know what you call those things. You know what I mean don’t you?
Q: Mmmm yes. So I suppose when people started having motor cars you were quite old then? (Mrs P: Yes, yes.) Do you remember the motor cars coming?
Mrs P: Yes, I remember the first one coming down the town. (Mrs P: Do you?) Yes I do, Mr Glover, do you know Mr Glover? (Q: Mmm.) Mr Glover he was in it and Mr Croxall. I saw those two come down the town in a motor car. I loved, I liked the motor car. Of course.
Q: What did you think when you saw them? Were you surprised?
Mrs P: Yes, I didn’t think we should have many of them because they are expensive aren’t they? (Q: Yes.) My daughter’s got one.
Q: Yes. But when you saw the first one, had you heard about them? Had you heard about them already? When you saw it did you know what it was?
Mrs P: Oh no, I looked at and thought to myself ‘How wonderful, I should like to ride in it’. And I didn’t have one.
[Comment on visitor, not noted]
Q: So when did you first get to ride in a motor car?
Mrs P: Oh I don’t know, I don ‘t really know, but I loved it. Yes, that was lovely. I think I went to Southend in my brother’s car if I remember rightly.
Q: So did it go very quickly the first one that you saw?
Mrs P: No, no, it went just nice and I was so pleased with myself but of course, you see that was the first lot, they did go a bit slow didn’t they? (Q: Mmm.)
Q: Did they have many accidents?
Mrs P: No, not that I know of. No, I don’t think so. If they do they don’t tell you.
Q: Who else, I mean in the old days, who else?
Mrs P: Oh I’m sure they did. They must have done.
Q: But you weren’t frightened of it? (Mrs P: No. No.) I wonder what you thought it was then if you didn’t know what it was.
Mrs P: I thought to myself if they are enjoying it so am I. But when I look round now and see the poor people with not much to eat that’s when I feel sad.
[comment about people in the home, not noted]
Q: Because we were talking about the cars and things, it reminded me to ask you whether you remembered there was a big train crash, do you remember anything about that? 
Mrs P: Oh yes. Yes, I was at school then and when I came out school I got to the top of the road and I heard about it, but that’s when I did hear. So that would be when about when I was eleven. Oh that was a dreadful thing.
Q: What did you hear about it?
Mrs P: The poor things were laid on the path. They didn’t know what to do with them. You see one run into the other I think. I don’t know what happened about it I’m sure.
Q: Did you know anybody that went to help?
Mrs P: No, well you see being young they wouldn’t let me.
Q: I was thinking about anybody from the school.
Mrs P: My people told me not to go down there any more.
Q: Down where?
Mrs P: Down the road. You see it was down near the school and my Mother said ‘Don’t you go down there any more, there’s a good girl, because they’ll look after the people and you mustn’t interfere’, so of course I didn’t. It was terrible.
Q: Did you go to the Church School, the National school in Guithavon Street?
Mrs P: Yes, I go to the Church school.
Q: Did you like it?
Mrs P: Don’t like school at all. [laugh] that’s because they make me mind.
Q: Were they very strict at school?
Mrs P: No, not really, not really, no, but still we like our freedom and I had to go because I like writing (Q: Do you?) Yes, if I can write I’m happy.
[Comment on visitors, not noted]
Q: But you didn’t like school much?
[Comment on other people nearby, not noted]
Q: Are you getting tired of talking?
Mrs P: No dear, that’s all, I shall have tea presently. I’m not very hungry because I have good dinners, and I want you, you’ve been before and I don’t want you to have to come again.
Q: Well I might. I like seeing you. [laugh] So I might come again if that’s all right.
Mrs P: Yes, I like to see you.
[Comment on other people nearby, and nurses etc, not noted]
Q: Did your mother live quite an old age or not?
Mrs P: No, my mother lives in a little cottage down Bridge Street. My mother does. And you see she’s got nobody much with her because the boys have married and me father died poor old thing. He was a baker I’ve told you.
Q: Did your mother used to do any work to make any money?
Mrs P: No, not so long as we can live we don’t want her to go to work. No she doesn’t go anywhere. Only just stop at home to greet us when we come home.
Q: She has plenty to do doesn’t she?
Mrs P: Yes, she’s lovely. I missed her the other night when she wasn’t here. I forget what we were doing but anyway I know very well I went indoors thinking I was going to talk to her and she wasn’t there.
Q: What a pity. You got on well with her? You were good friends with her?
Mrs P: Yes, yes and there are some nice people in the same yard. Yes, they were all nice to me.
Q: When you had your children, when you were in Church Street, and you had your children, did she come and help you?
Mrs P: Oh yes, first thing in the morning till the last thing at night. She always helped every little thing what she could. She always helped me.
[comment about other people nearby, not noted]
Q: It’s nice isn’t it, quite comfortable.
Mrs P: Yes well that’s better than the Union, what they used to have, oh yes.
Q: Did you ever have to go there?
Mrs P: No, oh, don’t want to go there.
Q: Did you know anybody that went there?
Mrs P: Yes, one man. He lived about three doors away from me. He didn’t think much to it. Poor man. I don’t know how he got on. You see time flies so. And then I don’t know, I forget all about it.
Q: Why did he have to go do you think?
Mrs P: Well, he’d got nobody to look after him you see.
Q: But you saw him afterwards. Did he tell you anything about it?
Mrs P: No, no, he never mentioned it. I didn’t see him afterwards.
Q: But you saw him before he was going and what did he say?
Mrs P: Well Mother told me he had gone (Q: I see.) because she was very friendly with the family you see. If we got the toeache we used to say, ‘Send for Mrs Haygreen, she’ll put it right’. And all the time you see, that’s how you do, and then you don’t get the proper name.
Q: What did Mrs Haygreen do?
Mrs P: Well she used to comfort us (Q: Did she?) yes, she used to say ‘Never mind dear, that’ll soon be all right’. And oh dear.
Q: Was it Mr Haygreen that went in the Union was it?
Mrs P: Yes.
Q: I see. It was nice for you to have her there wasn’t it?
[comment about the home etc. not noted]