Mr Doughton was born perhaps c 1920. He was interviewed on 30 March 1981, at his office in Kelvedon.
Note: Someone told me afterwards that this Mr Doughton was called Jack, but I suspect possibly this might be wrong and that Jack Doughton was another person! His secretary was also there and joined in; I have referred to her in the transcript as ‘Secretary’.
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.]
Q: You used to go into Witham did you ?
Mr D: As a boy I’ve been on the carrier’s cart, little carriers lorry that was. An ambulance, an old Witham ambulance that was, with a wooden body as they turned into a little truck. Used to go from here [Kelvedon] to Colchester picking up bits and pieces to take into Colchester. We stayed in Colchester Horse and Groom public house at Balkerne Lane. Used to park in the back there in the yard. Then the shopkeepers used to bring their parcels to the van to be delivered on the way home. People who’d been to Colchester and couldn’t carry the parcels home (Q: Oh I see.) Then the shopkeeper would take it to this van and we used to bring them home, deliver them on the way home.
Q: Did they bring them all to you ?
Mr D: That’s right. yup.
Q: You’d just come along the main road (Mr D: Yes.) and suppose somebody wanted something off at Coggeshall way or something ?
Mr D: No, just along the main road. We used to go, yes, from Colchester to here was on the main road. From here to Chelmsford was the main road of course as well but we didn’t, we used to divert and go towards Terling from here to Chelmsford. The same thing used to happen there. We used to go and stop at The Two Brewers which was at Springfield, same thing, in the yard pub yard there. And the same thing happened there. And also the driver used to go round the town picking up bits and pieces for people (Q: Round Chelmsford you mean?) Chelmsford and Colchester you know, picking up parcels here and there, that sort of thing.
Q: How many, they only had the one …?
Mr D: That was Moore. (Q: You used to go with?) I used to go with the, as a kid, you know.
Q: What just for the ride or did you help ?
Mr D: Oh I used to help but just for the ride as well I suppose you know.
Q: Was that just you or did other people do the same ?
Mr D: No, only me for I was a relation. That was my uncle you see. [Moores]
Q: That’s how they got connected then.
Mr D: Yes, but I think they started together. My father and my uncle probably started together. My father was a blacksmith originally and after the 14-18 War he stopped and went into this business.
Q: Was the blacksmithing not doing very well or did he … ?
Mr D: I dunno, I’ve no idea really. He was a blacksmith during the war, 14-18 war and then when that was over, he started this. Why I don’t know.
Q: That was quite early on then. You don’t look that old for that. (Mr D: Thank you – [laughter] no, not that far back). Did Moores grow bigger ?
Mr D: No, just had the one. You see there was Moores buses which was another branch of the family. This one, Basil Moore, kept on this little carriers’ business and then he became ill and died and that was finished but the other branch of Moores branched out [???] into coaches and buses had a service up and down the main road as you probably know.
Q: Yes. So, as far back as you know, the Moores were always in the business. You don’t know where they originated ? They were always in ..? (Mr D: Yes as far as I know.) So when your father set up, how many vehicles did he have ?
Mr D: Well the started up with horses of course. (Q: Yes.) We could deliver from Kelvedon railway station to Coggeshall and Kelvedon, parcels, fish and sides of bacon and that sort of thing from Kelvedon station to all the Coggeshall shops and Kelvedon shops. Used to do Tiptree as well. From Tiptree station, same thing, with horse and cart. I used to go on that as well. What else.
Q: That was taking to shops ?
Mr D: That’s right. Well the parcels and sides of bacon and boxes of fish and that sort of thing used to come down by train to the stations and used to unload them in the goods shed of the station and used to deliver them from there.
Q: The railways didn’t have their own …?
Mr D: Not then they didn’t. No, they didn’t have their own delivery service on the station. Not that particular time. That came later.
Q: The shops were mostly the small shops that you went to ?
Mr D: Yes, that’s right. Well there weren’t all them supermarkets and big Sainsburys and all these things those days. No, they were all sort of local family businesses.
Q: How did it work ? Did you go over and pick up whatever was there or did they have to order it in advance ?
Mr D: No, there used to be, now was there a daily service?. It probably was and probably used to Coggeshall one day, Kelvedon another day and probably Tiptree another day.
Q: But you didn’t go any further ?
Mr D: No, that was all we could do. Coggeshall, Kelvedon and Tiptree with horses from the railway station, that’s right.
Q: So Moores was with horses when you started ?
Mr D: No, Moores was a, I dunno, I’m probably bit vague on this but it was a long while ago. No Moores [???] was an old ambulance, brought from Witham. Even when Ii was young yes. It was an old thing, you used to start with a handle you know (Q: Yes.) Like a wooden box on four wheels and no windows in the sides or doors or anything like that.[laughter] It had a windscreen but that’s about it. But we used these horses.
Q: So where did you ? Where were the ….
Mr D: We were here. Where that brick store[?] the side of the road used to be a row of stables along there and used to be a barn here that all got burned down and rebuilt. What else would you like to know ?
Q: Was Moores based in Kelvedon too ?
Mr D: Yes, Moores was, I think he used to use a garage just over the road there, where the old National bus depot used to be.
Q: Did they have anyone working for them or was it just …?
Mr D: Yes, Mr Moore and a driver that’s all.
Q: And your firm it was just your father and you was it ?
Mr D: No, not that far back, you see my father had some employees of course. There were four or five I suppose.
Q: And so you had a good many vehicles as well then?
Mr D: Well, that time of day with the horses, we used to empty dustbins and the little shed down the bottom of the garden you know.
Q: That can’t have been a very nice job ?
Mr D: At night time, that used to be what was called the night cart. [laughter] And the coal from the station we used to cart to the gas works that used to be down the road there. All done by horse and cart.
Q: Because these days more shops have their own vehicles don’t they really, but they didn’t so much then ?
Mr D: No, they didn’t, no. Milk used to come round with a horse and cart of course and it was loose milk in the churn. Used to put the can in. [Laughter].
Q: It wasn’t just, it was a pretty wide range of services ?
Mr D: Oh, yes, yes. And also used to pull the fire engines with the horses. (Q: Really?). My father was captain of the fire brigade and used to keep the horses here down the meadow and if there was a fire then hitch the horses up and away they used to go [laughter]
Q: Did they have pumps on their …?
Mr D: They had a pump on it. Well the whole machine was a pump. There used to be a big handle. Used to be four men each side with a big handle. [???] I do just remember that.
Q: That was really sort of voluntary? For you provided the horses …?
Mr D: Oh he did get a few coppers for it, or a few shillings or whatever it was in those days.
Q: Was it a good business to be in do you think ?
Mr D: In those days it was. Because things were very much more static. You knew from day to day or year to year what you were going to get more or less which you can’t at the present time of course.
Q: So you didn’t really have to drum up trade particularly.
Mr D: No, not really. Then of course we graduated from horses to lorries .
Q: When would that be [phone rings] So you’ve got a lot of paperwork to do ?
Mr D: Oh, yes. Got plenty of that to do, yes.
Q: What about in the old days ? Did you have lots of forms to fill in, cheques to deal with or …?
Mr D: There were cheques, but nothing like the legislation there is at the moment.
Q: So the shops paid for each package or what ?
Mr D: No, it was station that … the railway people. There was a firm called Suttons – a lot of parcels came through them and they used to pay us for delivery, and the other, the railway used to pay for, the shopkeepers didn’t pay for delivery, No. It was all part of the carriage from wherever they came from to the station to be delivered to the shop or house.
Q: The people who sent it paid ?
Mr D: Probably, they probably paid the railway and the railway would pay us.
Q: Was there a warehouse ?
Mr D: I should imagine so, yes, there must have to have been. I suppose there would have to be a warehouse, yes, probably but I don’t really know.
Q: Suttons, where were they based ?
Mr D: Em, London I think if I remember rightly.
Q: So was it reckoned to be a good, well-paid job being a driver as well, or was it? Did they have to dress up smart? I remember someone telling me they took the bread round – they took their floury clothes off and dressed up.
Mr D: Yes, yes.
Q: [???] the drivers ?
Mr D: Our drivers had … are we talking about horses now or ?
Q: Either really.
Mr D: Horses, well they used to wear breeches and leggings, you know what I mean, leggings and boots in those days. Was a peaked cap of course..
Q: Sounds quite a good job really ?
Mr D: Yes, you hadn’t got the people around and there wasn’t the influx of people like you got at the moment. I mean most villages were self contained more or less.
Q: What about other jobs ?
Mr D: There were quite a few businesses in Kelvedon. There was a harness maker, jewellers, tailors, oh a brewery up the road there and a bus company. Of course they started with horses as well. Quite a lot of businesses in Kelvedon actually, builders and farming of course.
Q: So like your own shopping, you could get most of the things …. People that lived in Kelvedon could do quite a lot in Kelvedon?.
Mr D: Yes, oh yes. The things that they’d go out for I suppose would be small pieces of furniture, or bedding, linen and that sort of stuff. That’s what we used to bring home. And also on this van Chelmsford to Colchester they used to have big laundry baskets. At the big houses we used to pick up these laundry baskets and take them to Chelmsford to be laundered and returned again. Yes, the big houses at Hatfield Peverel.
Q: Really big ones you mean ? That was not the general sort of person ?
Mr D: No, these were the big houses had the servants in those days.
Q: What about the other stuff you brought ? Was that mostly for places like that or …?
Mr D: No, not all, all sorts. A lot of it was big houses, but not all the time. I can’t remember an awful lot about it, it’s a long while ago.
Q: You seem to have done very well. I can’t remember that far back. But it’s the only way to find out, to ask people.
Mr D: That’s right. There’s nobody you could contact, not in that particular area, only me [laugh]
Q: Quite a lot of these firms in Witham, as far as I can see, they only dealt with passenger transport, like taxis ? Did you do any ? (Mr D: No.). You sort of specialised. (Mr D: Yes that’s right) .So it was mostly just single parcels and things ? You didn’t have bulk orders, a whole load of something for someone.
Mr D: No no, that was all, as you say mostly separate … (Q: You wouldn’t go out specially to any particular place, you’d just have this regular …) That’s right, regular service, yes. Of course people knew more or less what time you were coming by anyway and you stuck to your timetable.
Q: I’m sure somebody in Witham said she used to run up to the High Street with tuppence for something. Give it to the driver on his way to Chelmsford, and he would bring back a packet of marge or something from the Maypole?
Mr D: That’s right, I said to you a little while ago. The driver used to go round the shops himself and gather a few bits and pieces. Well, both of them, Mr Moore and the driver they both used to disappear, I can’t think of the time, I know it used to be lunch time thereabouts, between twelve and two or something like this. We used to stop in this pub yard. They used to disappear round the shops and gather up or buy a few things for people and the others was delivered into the van, the bigger stuff.
Q: So you could in fact have people running up to you when you were on the road saying ‘Can you get me this that and the other.’
Mr D: They did have a set stops I would make ? Mmm, that’s right. I remember there were one or two grocery shops and bakers shops on the way too. So it must have been a fine thing for them. They probably wanted some stuff from Chelmsford, box of carrots or something, and we would bring it back for them.
Q: I suppose transport was an expense[?] ?
Mr D: It was limited. There wasn’t the cars about of course, not so many commercial vehicles either.
Q: Did you take messages as well or letters or anything?
Mr D: I can’t remember that really. Probably did.
Q: I suppose the post was just as quick for that, you could send a postcard in the morning and [???] So have your family been in Kelvedon a long while ?
Mr D: Yes, my father, I’ve been here all my life, my father was here all his life, and his father before him actually. Well, I’ve got a Kelly’s here – I don’t know what date yours was (Q: This one’s 1922 I think.) this is 1895. [laughs]
Q: So what did your grandfather do ?
Mr D: What’s it got in there, I’ve forgotten. Manufacturer of cattle oils I believe. Mm
Q: [???] [looking at directory?].
Mr D: That’s right because Wednesdays and Saturdays we did both in the same day. Big deal.
Q: [???] You were sort of in competition with Moores really in a way? There was plenty trade to go round?
Mr D: No, we didn’t interfere with Moores and they didn’t interfere with us. (Q: Each had your own.) That’s right yes. Manufacturer of cattle oil, that’s right.
Q: Cattle oil. I suppose that’s feed of some sort is it ? That’s James that’s …?
Mr D: That’s my grandfather, that’s right.
Q: You do go back a long way don’t you ?
Mr D: A fair way, that’s right yes.
Q: Did you have much spare time to be sociable [???]?
Mr D: My father did (Q: what did he do?) Well he was captain of the fire brigade of course and they had practice and that sort of thing.
Q: There was quite a lot going on in Kelvedon ? There was always something ?
[phone conversation going on, Q and Mr D not audible, then looking through directories, not noted]
Q: Did your mother work at all ?
Mr D: No, [???] my grandmother rather, she was a what do you call it, a seamstress or whatever you call it in those days, dressmaker that’s right, and I suppose my mother must have worked there until the time she married. She had one or two working for her. [???]
Q: [???] What was their name ?
Mr D: Crow – it’s a builders now. same family still.
Q: And your sisters ? Are they around now ?
Mr D: Well one of them is. One of them married a Ward, which was the wholesale grocer at the top of the hill. The other one lives down in Sussex, she’s not here.
Q: As you say your father and mother were both from Kelvedon, I suppose people didn’t move about so much did they ? Was there any other family ?
Mr D: My uncle was the blacksmith but there was nobody else, no. One went to Australia, which I never saw and one went to Ipswich.
Q: Oh yes, we were saying did they have any spare time, for social life or ?
Mr D: Well father was tied up with the fire brigade quite a bit. Because they’d go down and meet there and polish the old thing up and one thing and another, and they went to practice which they used to have, after the horses there was the motors. In the motor days, he was still captain when they had the motors as well. He used to grow beans in that field over there ande and have a practice day and water all his beans [laughter]. Used to pump out of the river and water all his beans. He was also on the Parish Council in his time and the committee of the Conservative Club for a bit. That’s about all I think.
Q: Quite a busy person. What other sort of other people would be on the Parish Council?
Mr D: Well in those days I suppose they were mostly all business people I think. Shopkeepers and farmers, that sort of thing. Its not quite the same now. Its more a cross section these days of course. But at that particular time there was nearly all business people. Yes.
Q: I suppose they dealt with each other as well, in business. It was just a small group really I suppose. (Mr D: It was, it was too.) I suppose that was a good way to keep the business.
Mr D: Oh yes, that’s right, Kelvedon was self contained fairly well, it was.
Q: Going back to Moores say, you served pretty well every kind of shop, food, clothing … ?
Mr D: Yes, parcels from everybody, that’s right.
Q: You said you brought fish on the horse and cart ?
Mr D: From the railway station, yes, It’d be boxes, this I can remember, boxes of fish, they used to wheel them down the road [???]. And even sides of bacon we used to cart. Oh yes. Oh nearly everything used to come by rail in those days.
Q: I suppose the cart, if it used to be an ambulance, it wasn’t so big, the original one ?
Mr D: That wasn’t very big, oh no. The horse and cart wasn’t very big either. Of course they didn’t have great quantities of stuff you know. They’d have little parcels that went regularly each week with more or less the same things, you know, each week.
Q: So you wouldn’t have great boxes ?
Mr D: No, not great boxes of stuff just a few bits each week and there was no delivery I mean like jam factories and all those things. Stuff wasn’t delivered to the shops like it is today. It all used to come by rail and we used to deliver from the railway to the shops. Nearly everything I suppose.
Q: You mention the jam factory. Was there a jam factory at …?
Mr D: Tiptree, I don’t know how that was delivered. I can’t tell you about that.
Q: There was a railway ?
Mr D: Yes, the railway used to come right through to Tiptree, Tollesbury rather. [??? ???] So that’s why I say Tollesbury was a great little fishing port. [???] They used to get a load of sprats at Tollesbury and they used to come down to Kelvedon by truck load and then take them with the horse and cart to the farm and spread them on the ground as manure, yes. I can remember that ! (Secretary: And a [???] fish smell I suppose.) –[laughter]. Having just come from Tollesbury, they were still quite fresh actually.
Q: [???] once they spread them out – there’s nothing like that in the present day is there ? I suppose Tollesbury is quite cut off now, but …
Mr D: Oh, there was quite a thriving fishing place there and the railway used to run straight through to Tollesbury.
[chat about closure of local lines etc., and purpose of interview etc., talk to visitor, not noted]]
Q: Did your family go to Witham for anything ?
Mr D: Not that I remember. Used to go to Colchester on the motorbike.
Q: Just for the ride or ?
Mr D: No, we must have gone shopping I think. With two sisters on the pillion. Father used to drive the bike, two sisters on the pillion and I was in the sidecar with my mother. [laughter] I remember that bit. Used to have tea there I know, used to have a treat, poached egg on toast
[chat about shops today, Secretary’s family, etc., not noted.