Mr Hayes was born in 1904, and Mrs Hayes in 1903. They were interviewed on 22 July 1977, when they lived at 8 Chalks Road, Witham.
For more about them, see the post in the People category entitled Hayes, George, and Hayes, Mrs Doll (nee Bright); and Hayes, Miss Ada (Sis)
The original recording of this interview is held at the Essex Sound and Video Archive. To listen to the recording, please contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org or 033301 32500.
[???] shows words that are not clear enough to interpret and so have had to be omitted.
[?] after a word shows that its interpretation is not certain.
Later explanatory additions by JG or the transcriber are in square brackets [e.g. explaining locations etc.]
[Discussion about reading books, not noted]
Q: [looking at names extracted from old directory, 1910] John Douglas Dean builder. (Mr H: Dean, builder.) Where were they at ?
Mr H: What’s there now. They used to be Greatrex the butchers. The passageway just before you get to Greatrex where Rushens lived and Dean’s was on the right hand side of that. Well it was a cottage and that was the office. And then you went up there to what was Hurrell and Beardwells garage. The builders and after the First World War they went out of it and Hurrells and Beardwells took it on as a garage. [about 6 Church Street and back land in White Horse Lane]
Q: The garage down town you mean.
Mr H: Down, on the left hand side of Church Street there’s, let’s see, was what used to be our Sunday School and with the big bay windows, you know biggish windows [probably 22 Church Street.] There’s a cottage coming down to it and then there’s the big one with bay windows. Then there’s some white ones and this used to be the passageway , go up there and the office was the first house.
Q: That’s where they were to start with, that’s where Hurrell and Beardwell was, was it ?
Mr H: That’s where the office was and the yard was over here you know where Hurrell and Beardwells – they took it on after Dean had it as a builder’s yard. Wimpey’s have got that, is it Wimpeys, builders over here. The other builder that built Little Elms. [probably Hey and Croft] [Mrs H tries to remember name, not noted]
Q: Greatrex was?
Mr H: The butcher’s shop.
Mrs H: You know where the precinct area is [6-20 Church Street].
Mr H: That’s where that were that’s the precinct.
Mrs H: They pulled all them down you know.
Mr H: I was trying to think what’s there now and that was the butcher’s shop and this was just before you got to the butcher’s shop where this passageway was and the little cottage or house that was there that was Dean’s office there.
Q: So there was quite a few there where there’s the precinct?
Mr H: That was just the butcher’s shop and Dean’s, Course they pulled that down you see that went back. That’s where the house where Rushens lived was at the back where the fish shop is now. The cottage there. That’s where Mrs Ireland was brought up. They brought her up the Rushens. That’s where I had to go to receive my reward for pulling the boy out the river.
Q: You mentioned that, yes. And that was sort of behind, well nearly at the White Horse?
Both: That’s right.
Mrs H: You know there’s Oaklands there, I’ve just seen it here. [4 Church Street].
Mr H: Oaklands was next to the butchers.
Mrs H: That’s still there isn’t it Oaklands. Then that used to be, next to that used to be Greatrex’s, the butcher’s shop, and then there was other houses wasn’t there there. Well there was Deans. Inigo Bibolino, Bramston House, look [actually Barnardiston House, 35 Chipping Hill].
Mr H: Bibolini, yes, I remember the [???] he was an interpreter. And he went bankrupt and I remember going in there when they sold the household effects, and I remember him saying ‘The stuff isn’t fetching near what it cost’. And he kept on, you know. I suppose it wasn’t …Bibolini, yes.
Mrs H: I know all those. Doctor Karl Gimson [???] and Collingwood Hope, I remember, his daughter married Gerry Strutt, Arkwright, Butler, Cooper, [???] Philip Hutley. I laid his old woman out. She was 92. I sat up with her three nights. Mrs Hutley, she was 92. I sat up with Mrs Parker too.[???] Mmm, knew all them. And Francis Round, George. Not that one. Charles Hedley Strutt, Blunts Hall. Gerald Strutt, the Honorable Edward Gerald Strutt, that’s Gerry Strutts. Old Edward Strutt used to ride round in his car and stand up (Mr H: Stand up in the front seat.] Stand up in the front seat. Yes I knew all those. And he’s been in my house at home, and I’ve gave him cups of coffee. And I can remember the Earl of Linlithgow came in when I was at home at Westocks Farm and oh yes, I gave him coffee. And Gerry Strutt, yes. He says to dad, you ain’t half got a fierce daughter. Yes well, Dad was on the farm and Dad was in charge of all the cows and that I[?] used to look after the chickens, well dad used to, ‘cause he said once ‘They don’t seem to be laying very well.’ and I said ‘No, no wonder, you don’t give them enough maize’. [???] [???]
Mr H: What’s the next one ?
Q: Walter Gosling is it, painter ?
Mr H: Gosling, yes. Well they had. You know where that boat stands up Braintree Road. That was Goslings place there. Just that little shed there was where he used to keep his stuff [next to 2 Braintree Road].
Q: And Herbert Ketley ?
Mr H: Ketley. Well that was his shop you know on the left hand side of the first one Roberts. That was Ketley’s shop.[Braintree Road]
Q: All these you see, they called it all Chipping Hill then, so all it’s got down here is Chipping Hill and I don’t know where half of them are. Albert Love beer retailer.
Both: At the Victoria Inn.
Q: Sounds very grand in here doesn’t it, beer retailer, oh that was the Victoria was it? And George Ottley, livery stables ?
Mr H: Yes well that was at the Albert. He used to keep his horses at the Albert and cabs. They used to stand outside the station. There used to be George Ottley and one of his drivers was Happy Hambone. They called him Happy. And the other one up there used to be Hines[?]. He used to keep his behind the Temperance Hotel, what was the Temperance Hotel, right opposite the station, a big tall place it was in Albert Road [9 Albert Road]. That’s where Hines used to keep his.
Q: ‘Cause there’s a sort of shed at the back of …, there’s sort of a shed in Braintree Road.
Mr H: There’s a motor garage there isn’t there.
Q: That was before they had many. Did they had horse cabs as well.
Mr H: Yes, cabs, yes. What’s his name from. Parker used to come. He used to have a driver with a cockade on his hat, used to drive him up in a trap and Laurence he used to have somebody to drive him up, used to have their own. I don’t know whether Clarence[?] Ridley [?]
Mrs H: It’s got the carriers here look, George Ottley to Maldon and back, Witham. Tuesdays Thursdays and Saturdays, return same day. Braintree Wednesdays and Fridays. George Ottley.
Q: Oh, so that would just go regular … So what sort of people would take the cabs then, if some people had their own …?
Mr H: Well they had people coming off the, to visit Witham, would take a cab, I suppose, people coming, down the other end of town, would have a cab to take them there and that sort of thing. I don’t suppose they charged much. But I know there used to be an axle on the back of them. You know the cab come down like that and the wheels to the back and coming home from school we used to run behind and get on there and sit on there and ride up Collingwood Road.
Q: Oh dear. So Temperance Hotel, that was the one you mentioned. [???] Alfred Phillips
Mr H: You know we was talking about where we used to have our Sunday School down – with big windows down Church Street. [22 Church Street]
Mrs H: Its all boarded up now George isn’t it ?
Mr H: I don’t know I haven’t been down there for ages. (Mrs H: Where there’s the precinct). (Q: Oh there was somebody in there the other day with the door open, bashing it about. [???] Apparently they’ve bought it to live in. (Mrs H: Have they really?) That’s where Phillips was. He was an antique dealer, well more of a scrap dealer I would say. And his yard used to be round the blacksmiths where they had a cottage down the back there or used to be in there that’s where he used to have his yard. [Blacksmiths is 18 Chipping Hill]
Q: So what, would he go round collecting stuff and things.
Mr H: Well he’d go round more or less. Well I kept it a secret but now I suppose its too late for anybody to take it up but the old boys working that sort of thing they used to pick up a piece of brass here and a brass there and I think the law was that he shouldn’t only buy it in half hundredweights or so much at a time but Alf would he’d give them a few shillings you know, for whatever they’d picked up, lead or … He’d get rid of it. More or less a scrap dealer. Alfred Phillips.
Q: William Randall
Mr H: He lived up there. You know Randall’s. He was thrashing tackle. (Q: Up Church Street?) Yes. A house stands on its own. I haven’t been up there for a long while but you know where the barn was that side of the road [probably now entrance to Chipping Dell]. Randall’s was opposite. You know that little bit of meadow there. And us boys that’s the only place where we could play, we used to play cricket on that. Where the barn come down away from the road. Every, what shall I say, once in five minutes we used to hit the ball over Randall’s meadow and it used to be a toss up whether we’d get over the gate and get it before the old girl came out after us. [Laughter]
Q: Joseph Smith.
Mr H: He was a farmer. What do you call it down the Chase, Moat Farm. He farmed Moat Farm. He lived towards the station where the houses go down [probably Earlsmead]. There used to be Maclaren’s and Joseph Smith, there were two houses there years ago.
Mrs H: Esmond’s father you mean don’t you ?
Mr H: Yes. He farmed down there and old Joe Braybrooke he used to do the wheels, you know, a wheelwright I suppose. I can remember when going to school he’d have a wheel laying out there and he’d be, well carpenter I suppose, and he was mending the wheels.
Q: That was down. (Mr H: Down the track). He did the work down the Chase there ?
Mr H: Yes down the Chase where there used to be the farmyard down the bottom there. There just used to be the end of Bibolini’s house and the rest was Smith’s, down the bottom there.
Q: It says steam joinery works.
Mrs H: Yes Joe Braybrooke used to be his carpenter. He was a farmer really you know. He used to have the fields down the bottom of t’Chase [???] that fields and one up top.
Mrs H: Joseph Smith and sons, builders. Contractors, steam joinery works [???] Chipping Hill, Witham. He was a farmer.
Mr H: He was a farmer and I remember Joey Braybrooke doing the wheels, mending the wheels down there.
Q: What’s this Clara Tyrell ?
Mr H: She had a little shop (Mrs H: Miss Tyrell?) Yes they had a little shop that side of the road you know as you go up Powershall End, there, just opposite the church. Tyrell used to drive the mail van from Braintree to Witham. Used to come over along there ten o’clock every night. He used to drive that. And they did mending, shoe mending during the day time they had this little shop. When I was a little boy we used to go there and I don’t remember whether it was a ha’penny or a penny to buy a fishing line that had a small float and one hook and a little piece of line. I don’t know whether it was a halfpenny or a penny. Used to sit for hours at Half Hides catching fish with that. [Laughter]
Q: Yes, it says Clara Tyrell shopkeeper and Marion Tyrell bootmaker.
Mr H: That’s right. It was brothers and sisters or two brothers there I believe.
Q: Ethel Wiffen, dressmaker.
Mrs H: Miss, one of them’s still alive up Chipping Hill. (Mr H: No up Powershall End). Yes right up Powershall End, one of them’s still alive [probably 88 Powershall End]. Oh she must be eighty odd.
Mr H: There was a railway van up there.
Mrs H: In front of the house and she used to do the dressmaking in there. And one of them, oh she must be eighty odd. Lived near, oh dear, that used to do my Hoovermatic, Johnsons. (Q: Is that where they were before?) Yes they’ve always been up there. I can remember that. Well she’s a very old lady. There was two. Misses Wiffen.
Q: That was a long way for people to go. Were there a fair number of dressmakers I suppose.
Mrs H: Here they are, Chipping Hill and they were right up near Powershall End near the Vic. (Q: What else have you found, these are the ones I jotted down) Miss Smith the dressmakers and basketmakers, Guithavon Street, you know what they call Jubilee Oak, they used to live in those houses where.
Mr H: The basketmakers and that. You know where Claytons is, the fruit people. (Mrs H: Not Claytons, Q: Farthings [68 Newland Street]) Farthings was this side Guithavon Street and the little shop was just down further on the other side.
Mrs H: Well I’ll tell you who had that, it was Margaret[?] the wool shop that used be the basketmakers didn’t it. Miss Smith there used to be, she used to be a dressmaker lived opposite the Jubilee Oak and I can remember when I first married[?]. tall and upright old girl. Oh dear, more like Queen Mary.
Mr H: We’re going back eighty years. (Mrs H: No, well you wouldn’t remember that no more than I would).
Mrs H: [reads] Witham Town Band. Percy E Laurence president. W G Naylor secretary and bandmaster. ‘Cause you were in that weren’t you when he was fourteen, the first one he played in Witham Town Band didn’t you say ?
Mr H: When they opened the maternity place [46 Collingwood Road].
Mrs H: That bungalow used to be the maternity home. That was the 1914-18 War Memorial for Witham. Naylor used to live opposite All Saints Church. (Mrs H: Who did, dear?) Naylor. I think he was something to do with Income Tax, ‘cause there wasn’t very much Income Tax that time of day but he was. But if you had a letter from the Income Tax it was signed by him.
Mrs H: This is how it was, the Lawn, yes I can remember all those, all these old names. They were all about when I first married. Years ago. Oh yes.
Q: Would you see a lot of people like that as you walked around? You know, when you were going to school and that?
Mr H: Yes.
Mrs H: They would curtsey to them, the girls. (Q: Did you)
Mr H: Yes. Oh what’s his name the parson here then, Canon Ingles. Used to have to touch your hat to Miss Ingles. They used to. Well times were very hard and a certain number of widows used to get a stale, a little stale loaf at the end of the week and they used to go across there and get soup. You know, I suppose the money was left for that purpose.
Mrs H: I can remember your mum saying, I don’t know, it wasn’t Ingles there then, but when she was a little girl they used to give soup out and she was supposed to curtsey to the Miss Somebodys and she come by one day without curtseying and they went up and told her mother. Well nan would have been ninety odd last year wouldn’t she ?.
Mr H: Yes. Oh they used to, that time of day. (Mrs H: Used to have to curtsey to them.) Times have altered since then. When my mother was very ill the Doctor, you had to have a letter to the hospital. These people well they give a grant to the hospital and they used to give the parson the letter to give out to the poor. The Doctor told my father you know and he said ‘Who’s that’. He didn’t know that was the parson. [Laughter].
Mrs H: Was that when you Mum was ill ?
Q: You had to see the parson to get …?
Mr H: Yes [???] if you give a grant to the hospital they’d give you a letter that was worth a guinea or something of that to pay for the doctor’s fee or something at the hospital. You got all that because if you had to go to hospital you had to go, and people hadn’t got enough money to pay so they didn’t pay, that’s what it amounted to.
Q: So what happened when your mother was ill ? Did she go to hospital ?
Mr H: Yes, yes.
Mrs H: Mm that was after we were married, George. Well no, before we was married, when she had appendix, when she had appendix.
Mr H: I couldn’t tell you now. That would be, I should say, before the National Health was brought in.
Mrs H: Oh, National Health didn’t come out till 1948
Mr H: 1911. Wasn’t it? (Mrs H: No, no. 1948. Good gracious me. National Health.) Lloyd George brought that out. (Mrs H: No, you mean the pension scheme.) National Health, Lloyd George brought that out. I know it was a long time ago because I remember people used to pay into the Oddfellows or the Foresters and of course they got something when they was ill. It wasn’t much. They didn’t pay into that because they’d got the other. People more careful[?] they paid both, you know what I mean.
Mrs H: Ten shillings a week. Well [???] used to work on the farm for us. You know. He was eighty. That was the pension you’re thinking about. They used to get ten shillings a week.
Mr H: No it wasn’t – National Health I’m thinking about. I know what I’m thinking about.
Mrs H: Well, you’re not thinking of the right thing.
Q: Perhaps they called it something different then.
Mrs H: They called it something different then.
Mr H: A pension is a pension, National Health is for sickness.
Mrs H: The National Health started, this came out in 1948 George. (Mr H: Lloyd George was in parliament). NHS came out in 1948. Well that was in 1914 when the pension scheme come out. It wasn’t called National Health. It was the pension scheme and they were paid ten shillings a week.
Mr H: We’re talking about different things. You’re talking about the old age pension. I’m talking about the National Health.
Mrs H: Well National Health came out in 1948. Because they took over the maternity home then. All came underneath. Because that was run by Witham then and you used to pay so much to go in there and have a baby at the maternity home. You can’t remember this but I can because I was there. Glad and I went round and got blood donors in 1939. Through Notley hospital where we were working. And we used to run it ourselves. I used to run it. They used to phone me up and we used to go from door to door and they used to take us over to Notley or bring round the ambulance and we collect ‘em and then when the National Health come over they took it over through the National Blood Transfusion Service.
Mr H: You point out when Lloyd George was Prime Minister. That’s when the National Health started.
Mrs H: 1914. We’re not talking about the same thing. That was the pension you’re talking about.
Mr H: No I’m not I’m talking about National Health.
Mrs H: It wasn’t the National Health George. Excuse me but I know what I’m talking about.
Q: So if you were ill say in 1930 or if you had to go to the hospital what happened ?
Mrs H: Well, you had to get a letter like George is talking about.
Mr H: You see somebody had given something to the hospital, and that was worth a guinea or something. (Q: Somebody else had given …)
Mrs H: Before we were married George, in 1926, your Uncle Bert was taken ill when you come home one night from mine. Well Doctor Ryder Richardson came up and he marked where he’d got the perforated ulcer, didn’t he. He whipped him off and Hurrell and Beardwell, Vic Beardwell, took him down in the ambulance and your Mum went with him didn’t she ? (Mr H: And I went round…) Well, you go in and you had to pay if you could afford it. If you couldn’t you went to Colchester Hospital. If you couldn’t afford to pay you didn’t pay but if you could afford anything you had to pay you see. He’d got three children then hadn’t he and he had to get a letter then, that was to help pay for the surgeon or something and I think Kit got a letter from the Doctor and the parson then (that was his wife). Well, that’s how that was done. And your Mum did the same when she had to before we were married.
Mr H: And that was when ?
Mrs H: We was married in 1926 and this happened before then.
Mr H: National Health covered it then.
Mrs H: It didn’t. There was no National Health then. You will have your way, but you’re wrong.
Mr H: I’m not wrong.
Mrs H: You are wrong George.
Mr H: I remember as a small boy Dad talking about people paying in. As I said, there was clubs and as soon as that come out they dropped the clubs because they was going to get so much a week when they were ill out of the National Health.
Mrs H: Yes, well National Health came out then. You didn’t have National Health you went on.
Q: Would it be the dole perhaps ?
Mrs H: Oh no there was no dole then.
Mr H: In 1921 there was dole. But it was very little. You didn’t get no public assistance to see you out, you know. I forget what the dole was now, ‘cause actually speaking I only had one week on. I was on piece work over the works and we had to knock the bars up, force them into the frame and hand rivet each one round. I was only a boy and got ha’penny a bar and the men got five eighths. Because I was only allowed to earn boy’s money you see and I earned about twenty eight bob a day. My hands were like all swollen and I couldn’t open them or close them. You know the vibration and I’d been on three days a week and three days on the dole. And then they stood us all off over there and I went on the dole for about a week and they offered me a job pushing a bicycle with a big basket in front of it up Wickham hills for the International for thirteen shillings a week. I’d been earning twenty-eight shillings a day and I wouldn’t take it so I got thrown off the dole. That’s the only time I’ve been on. You had, if they offered you a job you’d got to take it.
Q: Do you remember how long there was piece work at Crittalls ? Was it quite a long while ?
Mr H: 1921 I should say in 1922 they started piece work. I think I made the first window made over there.
Mrs H: That’s right, I’ve got your book upstairs.
Mr H: I went there February the 2nd 1921. There was one little building built with concrete blocks and after they got on a bit you know they built each side of it. It came out right across the field then.
Mrs H: I’ve got a good memory, especially for dates.
Mr H: And they built the main offices over there in 1924, the main office was built.
Mrs H: And they opened that Social Club in 1926 the year we got married and we had a Whist Drive and I sat on a lucky chair and got a silver match box and I’ve still got it. Remember that Whist Drive ?
Q: I’m sure I remember somebody told me once that her husband worked at Crittall’s and one year they put the wages down ?
Mr H: Yes. Things were getting bad, you know, and I don’t know whether it was the old man or VG came there just inside the North doors and we all got round him you know and he said ‘I’m afraid if we carry on we’ll have to reduce the wages’ and I don’t know what it meant, a poound or so, ten bob or a pound a week and of course we agreed and everybody clapped him [laughter].
Q: Well at least you carried on.
Q: I suppose times were hard.
Mr H: Well actually speaking, you see there … Building was a summer time trade. I mean years ago a builder, bricklayer and that wouldn’t work if it rained or there if was a frost. So actually they only worked about five, six or seven months a year. Well in the winter time you see there was no orders. Well they had orders coming in from Iraq, Iran, where it was hot and South Africa. Well that used to mean perhaps one day or two day’s work for each place in the winter time and we used to go on three days a week. One year I know we had ten days holidays at Whitsun. No money coming in, we had nothing coming in. There was no dole, or scarcely any I don’t think. Anyway I don’t think I signed on and after that they found out that they got so much trade in the summer time they couldn’t cope with it so I suppose they got on their feet a little bit more and they’d got their money so they built up the stock in the winter time. That was there available in the summer. So they’d save a lot of overtime and that sort of thing.
Q: And this business of when the put the wages down did anybody complain ?
Mr H: No, no. Well they had to, you see, you take the money I said I was earning, over a pound a day. Well the average wage I don’t think was above fifteen or eighteen bob a week you know outside. So you know the money was very good and you could easily afford to have the money taken down. Then you’d be better off than other people. You know what I mean.
Mrs H: He made Witham, didn’t he, Crittall.
Q: I think you said before you went to Crittall’s you were apprenticed at Hoffmans ? (Mr H: Hoffmans. Tinsmith.) Why did you give that up ? Was it better ? Because presumably it would be quite good being an apprentice was it?
Mr H: I think my money up there was about twenty-five shillings a week. At Chelmsford and that. My sister worked up there a while in the grinding and her money was oh four or five shillings more than mine and that didn’t go down very well. [Laughter]
Q: So nobody complained at Crittall’s they were all very pleased to be there, you reckon ?
Mr H: Yes, well there was nothing else and all the way through I think we had wages at Crittall’s that was higher than outside. I know it was piecework. Even now its piecework you see and I think they go in bands now. You reach a certain number and that’s the highest you can get. If you go over that you haven’t been timed right.
Mrs H: You was on piecework for years and then they put you on inspecting and then you was on the staff weren’t you ? And you got staff wages and didn’t have to clock in or do anything like that.
Q: What were you doing when you were on the staff ?
Mr H: Inspector.
Q: Did many people get moved up like that ?
Mr H: No. (Mrs H: You had to know what you were doing.) [???] Well I’d have been a foreman, if they’d have put me a foreman up the final line where the windows finished. My job. But they put me on the bar line. All those bars are different and I didn’t know one bar from another. They’d got a different numbers you see. Well I didn’t know nothing about that. No, if they had taken the examiner off the bar line he couldn’t be foreman in the final. He wouldn’t know anything about it. He couldn’t show anybody how to do it. I think they have suffered. By having inexperienced people in charge.
Mrs H: The man who’s manager there now George was working with him. He was timer. [???] look at a window and George stood there and kept watching him.
Mr H: And they used to rivet, put rivets on, you know where they come out like that when they open. They used to rivet them on by hand and then they got this welding machine out to put them in by welding. Of course they’ve got to be set at a certain angle you know and he was over there oh four or five weeks trying to do it and I didn’t say a lot to him, I was more or less busy. And I said to him one day ‘How are you getting on. Is it working ?’ He said ‘I’ve got everything perfect. The rebate (what they call the rebate – the space between the outer and the inner) is perfect, the height is perfect. But it’s too tight. I can’t open it.’ ‘Oh’ I said ‘That’s easy’. I’d got a hammer in my hand and I just clouted it twice, [???] [taps twice]. ‘Oh’, he said ‘Can you do that?’. I said ‘Yes’. He said I believe you’ve been watching me these last four or five days.
Mrs H: He’s manager now isn’t he.
Mr H: He spoke to me the other day very friendly.
Mrs H: Yes when he goes across there an evening, the lodgekeepers, when they have their day off[?]. He said to me ‘Do you mind him coming over here ?’ I said ‘Not much use if I do I don’t reckon’. [laughter] [i.e. George working in the lodge at Crittall’s]
Mr H: If it cold he stops me going outside and says don’t you go out for anything.
Mrs H: You see they’re supposed to direct the traffic in and out if there’s a lot there, aren’t they.
Mr H: They should do. If anyone told me not to go out and it was very bad I wouldn’t go out. I (Mrs H: He’s over there when the money’s there, not supposed to open the door, have them locked. [???] sometimes there’s lots and lots and lots of money.) They don’t let me do it now, well sometimes they get caught and they have to let me do it. He’s afraid that something’s going to happen. [???] a man of my age on there, you see. With the money. I think the last twice or three times it happened its always been at holiday times ‘cos everybody got double the amount of money.
Q: When you started did they used to watch over you pretty closely ?
Mr H: No, no they voted for who’d be in charge of the job. There was five or six of us on what we called [???] bars, and we’d got to have a chargehand or someone responsible I suppose to the foreman and we voted, I forget who it was now we voted for, it didn’t make much difference.
Q: Who would be the managers in those days?
Mr H: Rogers was there when I first went there (Mrs H: Small, wasn’t it?), Rodgers was first then we had Inns, oh there’s been no end there, Waite – he went from there, he was a parson, you know, went from there. Then there was Mitchell. Oh, I can’t think of the names of all of them, there’s been so many there you know. Small was there during the War. I think Small’s brother was Labour MP when Labour first got in. Of course they lost the next time and he was out of work. Crittall was Labour MP. He got a job with Crittall’s and brought his family down and times were very bad then they’d got to pay and I know you had to belong to a Union. Went on strike once and I remember Cloughton[?] coming on to us because we went on strike you know. Well I suppose in a sense he was right.[???] There wasn’t that amount of money about and you wouldn’t get no more and to go on strike was silly you know. That’s when Small was there. It was really terrible and you was watched all the time then. Somebody standing over you.
Mrs H: [???] system.
Mr H: It wasn’t supposed to be so with that system but on final adjusts we wouldn’t take the offer they give us because say the three of us was setting the window in before you got it. And every one was different. You couldn’t say that every window you got would take you a minute. One might take you two and a half minutes and one a minute, one less than a minute. We wouldn’t accept it on the final line so the only way they got over it was to put your name and what you’d done every day whether you’d done 72 or not we stuck with 72 booked whether you’d done them or not, so they couldn’t get at us. Then they’d got one bloke he done about 84, 85 of course that [???] on or two of them going up to the office, they moved that bloke off, off that job onto the racks, you know, going over the windows before they was sent out. They gradually broke that down.
Q: When did that start, that system ?
Mr H: [Noise] Just after the War. Or it might have been just before.
Mrs H: It was supposed to come from America wasn’t it ? The [???] system?
Mr H: France I think wasn’t it?
Mrs H: America dear, well from broad somewhere.
Q: And when did this business of having to be in a Union start ? You said you had to be in a Union, when did that start?
Mr H: I think it was a Union firm – or did they do that after I got there ? I forget now.
Mrs H: After we was married, George, you had to be in the Union. That was a rule then.
Mr H: It was before then I think. I wouldn’t be too sure. Anyhow staff didn’t belong to the Union. The staff weren’t forced to belong. You had to belong to a Union when I joined but the old hands what was there before 1921, before I started, could do as they liked. They wouldn’t force any old hand to join the Union if they didn’t want to. As you started work there you had to belong to the Union. ‘Cos I was down, Harry Stubbings, he was an old hand he come over from Braintree round round about 1922 and he didn’t belong to the Union because he was an old hand and had been working at Braintree.
Mrs H: Yes, because they started up at Braintree long before Witham.
Mr H: They wouldn’t have a factory here. Courtauld’s wanted to build a factory here years before but they wouldn’t let them you know the agricultural village, if they had a factory up went the wages, you see, so they wouldn’t let the factory start up. How Crittall got in I don’t know but he started up all right. Well Pinkham’s had a little place up there but their wages were very low.
Q: Did the Union people complain at all when you were put on short time or when the wages were down ?
Mr H: You just accepted it. It was all you could do.
Mrs H: You were on three days a week for a long time when we were married.
Mr H: I’ve been over there, I shouldn’t have been on nights, before I was old enough. When we was on [???] I worked there until half past three [???] we decided to come in at eight instead of half-past seven, we’ve gone in there and had nothing to do at ten o’clock. Yet we worked all day and all through the night to get the job done and then we had nothing to do. We done that several times. Oh it would be nothing to finish the job and get sent home you know in the afternoon.
Q: [???] if you went to meetings ?
Mr H: There wasn’t many meetings. Only one meeting I remember when Small was there and conditions were bad and they had a meeting up the Co-op hall and all those that got up and spoke all got the sack.
Mrs H: Yes they did, all those that voiced their opinion. You daren’t open your mouth. You couldn’t do nothing about it.
Q: So Small was there when ?
Mr H: During the War, just before the War I think it was. He came there after the first Labour government got in. ‘Cos they weren’t returned and his brother was a Labour MP for somewhere in Scotland I suppose because they were Scotch and they gave him a job there and he got his brother Andrew, he was a skilled man. I forget now what he was but he’d got a trade you know.
Mrs H: Who was that man that got [???] when they bombed Crittall’s, he was a manager then. ‘Cause did his dressing up.
Mr H: That was Andrews, assistant manager.
Q: Did the managers often come from outside then ?
Both: Oh yes.
Mrs H: They don’t now. They work their way up more or less now don’t they ?
Mr H: Yes, now they do. You can work your way up more or less from the shop floor to management and that sort of thing.
Q: Did Crittall bring people in that he knew, do you think, or advertise?
Mr H: Well there was so many of the old school tie sort of thing you know and where we had factories abroad the foreigners come in and more or less goes through it and get an idea and they go out ‘cause one of the directors, Neil Martin, used to live over the back there (Mrs H: in Templars Close.) he went out to South Africa (Mrs H: South Africa, Rhodesia.), No Nigeria and course he’d got his house up here, he sold that, [???] I think was that the living was far better over there with his allowances he could afford to put money in. Well he come back from Nigeria as a director. He was a time clerk before he went out.
Mrs H: He let his house to the Yanks for a start. [???] Then he sold it. They were paying the mortgage for him. They didn’t mind what they paid.
Q: Do you remember any of the elections or anything – like when Crittall was …?
Mrs H: Oh yes, remember that.
Mr H: When Valentine Crittall got in, as soon as we heard, that would be round about lunch time, we all had to all come to welcome him back you know.
Mrs H: [???] He come through the town, didn’t he, through here ? That was VG.
Q: People didn’t think it strange the boss standing for Labour or anything?
Mrs H: Oh no. He was a real Labour man. Yes, when old Tom Driberg got in, that was a popular one, that was, that was 1945, when Tom Driberg got in.
Mr H: Yes well I think you see with Crittall, he was working with the men but I think they started with more or less with a forge and making windows with the forge and that sort of thing, well it had gradually built up you know from there and he was working with the men and so he was one of the men. They understood, you know, both sides of it I think. Of course when they’ve got a company you’ve got to make a profit for the people that’s got money there and its different then isn’t it ?
Mrs H: But he was very nice wasn’t he, VG ? So’s his daughter.
Mr H: The sort of man he was, he come through and never say anything to you but if things weren’t right he’d have got down the office so the manager heard about it. I seen somebody’s feet come beside me one day when I was working and I looked up right into his face, that was him, he just winked and walked off.
Mrs H: Was it the old man or VG. (Mr H: The old man.) Oh they were ugly men. Oh they were ugly men, weren’t they George and old Dan really, VG’s younger brother he was really ugly. He couldn’t help it I know.
Mr H: Dick, I believe he died in South Africa. He worked here in the office when I first started. You didn’t want to look up, you knew when he was passing. He used to use violet scent, strong violet scent.
Mrs H: I reckon that’s what you call it, his after-shave I reckon.
Mr H: I believe he died out in South Africa. He went out to manage, you see they got overseas orders, same as Nigeria, well they made them here and they’d got to send them over there and I suppose they got to pay a tariff to get it into the country so the cheapest way was, when they got the trade there, to start a factory there. They had one there and they had one in South Africa. That meant two or three days work a week for us in the wintertime you see because the stuff was made here. They used to cut the bars off. They was allowed to send the bars into the country without paying any tariff but not the finished window.
Mrs H: There was some talk of you going to Hong Kong wasn’t there ? He was, they wanted him to go out there and teach them in Hong Kong. But that didn’t come off. Oh no.
Mr H: Well, the [???] took a chance I wouldn’t have minded going but (Mrs H: I didn’t want to.)
Mrs H: You see it was hot. Oh yes he could have gone if he wanted to.
Mr H: Might have had a nice row of chop sticks now mightn’t we? [laughter]
Mrs H: You might have done. Oh it was risky. We were married and got Ian and they did approach him about it.
Mr H: He didn’t know. You’d got to really look after yourself and save what you got ‘cause – we’d have loved a house across there where you are [north side of Chalks Road]. (Mrs H: We afraid to put our money down because they were sacking them every Tuesday and Friday night.) Come Tuesday or Friday five or six got sacked every time [???]
Mrs H: They didn’t give you a week’s notice. They would just bring you an envelope with your cards.
Mr H: Well I suppose there wasn’t so much doing, you’d got to get rid of so many you know what I mean, each week and that’s how it happened.
Mrs H: Then Mr Keeble got his. It was costing him as much money to come from Silver End, ‘cause they lived at Silver End in one of Crittalls’ houses, as it was to pay the mortgage on this house. And she told me herself her mother lent her the money to put down for a deposit. [Mrs Keeble, previously lived at Blanfred, Chalks Road.]
[chat about Keebles’ houses etc. after they left, not noted]
Mr H: Because when I was a boy at school water used to run where that house was [Armond Road next to viaduct]. All under those arches and that all used to be flooded and the noise of the trains and that.
Mrs H: They weren’t old stick in the muds like we are. [Laughter]. Fifty-one years here. We would have went over there but Dad said, when I said to him would you like one, he said ‘You needn’t have risked your money, I’d let you have it’. I said ‘No’. We’d got a bit behind us but we didn’t want to fork that out and then next day get the sack. You never know whether it would have been worth it really. You can see it with hindsight afterwards, can’t you.
Q: Was there the Dole by then ?
Mr H: I think there was.
Q: But it wouldn’t have been the same as now ?
Mrs H: Oh no.
Mr H: I’ve got a slight idea, ‘cause I know I was unemployed when I went on the Dole and I think that was seven and six a week. Of course money was different then to what it is today and you got no Public Assistance to see you through or anything like that.
[Chat about unemployed people now being well off, not noted.]
Q: Was your father ever off ?
Mr H: No, he had a regular job. He was a signal fitter on the railway, a regular job, you know. (Q: Was he ever off sick or anything?) He had two mates killed down there.
Q: What used to happen when he was off sick ?
Mrs H: Oh you mean with the money ? Oh he went on what they call oh, what is it?
Mr H: He was in the Foresters. We went on National Health, in the Foresters we [???] into the Albert twelve shillings and the Labour Club twelve shillings a week. He [???] the twelve shillings [???] there. Twelve shillings out of the two big ones that’s thirty-six shillings and National Health. I don’t know that was, no couldn’t tell you what that was. [probably the twelve shillings was paid out, not in, see below]
Q: The Foresters, where did you pay the Foresters ?
Mrs H: You had to pay about seven and six a quarter. That was the Albert the headquarters. Now you have to, there’s Mr Snow somebody, up Rickstones Road, I’ve got the card in there. We’ve still got the card because George paid in a bigger club so we got more when you were ill.
Q: Which was the Labour Club ?
Mr H: We used to pay that up the Co-op and then when they had a place up here we had to go up there and pay it.
Mrs H: They don’t run that now.
Q: When did that start ?
Both: Oh years ago. Yes it was years.
Mrs H: Bill Wade took it.
Mr H: Yes Bill Wade, he was interested in the Labour Party, he run it for a long while then his brother ran it and after that you know …
Mrs H: Sixpence a week it was and if you were ill, what did you draw out ?
Mr H: Twelve shillings.
Mrs H: Was it twelve shillings in the Labour Club? (Mr H: Yes.). (Q: When your father was …?) Oh yes, it was going years and years and then they used to run, I don’t know if they still do, pay a shilling a week isn’t it, a number or what was it, a football number and that was up to £100 a week. Can’t you remember covered Braintree and Witham and that. We used to pay into that didn’t we. Oh whatever was it called. I tell you who used to bring it round, Bentley.
Q: The tote.
Mrs H: That’s right the tote. Do they still run it ?
Q: Yes, it’s not like a savings thing, it’s just a private draw. (Mrs H: That’s right.) Did the doctor used to have to come by when your father was ill ?
Mr H: You used to have a doctor’s certificate, show that to the Club.
Mrs H: He had a stone in his kidney and …
Q: Is that when you were young ?
Mr H: My father died when he was 81. He used to have I think it was the same thing, lumbago used to hit him every now and I think even then that was when one of those stones moved. They got worse you know when he got older and …
Mrs H: Had a stone out. And then of course he lost his leg.
Q: You said you had bronchitis even when you were little. Did you have to have the doctor for that ?
Mrs H: Oh yes, Doctor Ted, Doctor Gimson, Doctor Edward Gimson he was my Doctor. I was his first baby and he said I was only like a little rabbit. I weighed three and a half pounds. I was a premature baby only seven months. I was his first baby, when he came out of the hospital. He told me that. He called me Curly.
Mr H: I played in the band when his brother Karl was buried. The Town Band.
Mrs H: He was nice. Knew all the Gimsons, ‘cause you see we used to live at Fairsted but they used to have a surgery at Terling didn’t they. (Mr H: Come over with a horse and trap.) Horse and trap.
Continued on tape 25