Tape 045. Mrs Annie Ralling (nee Baldwin), sides 5 and 6.

Tape 45.

Mrs Annie Ralling (nee Baldwin) was born in 1900. She was interviewed on 29 April 1981, when she lived at 3 Homefield Road, Witham.

She also appears on tapes 22 and 36.

For more about her, see the People category for Baldwin family, which also includes her sister Elsie Baxter, and her sister’s husband Alf Baxter.

The original recording of this interview is held at the Essex Sound and Video Archive. To listen to the recording, please contact them at ero.enquiry@essex.gov.uk or 033301 32500.

[???] shows words that are not clear enough to interpret and so have had to be omitted.
[?] after a word shows that its interpretation is not certain.
Later explanatory additions by JG or the transcriber are in square brackets [e.g. explaining locations etc.]


Side 5

Q:     I’ll try and remember now. He [her husband] was at Dowsett’s, I remember you saying ?

Mrs R:    That’s right he was apprenticed there. He went for his training at Mr Dowsett’s, where -where Hiltons shoe shop is now.[56 Newland Street]

Q:      Was he there when you married ?

Mrs R:    No, he moved up to the Bridge Home and he was teaching the boys up there.

Q:     He was up there a long time then ?

Mrs R:    Yes, he taught the Bridge Home boys to make boots and shoes. ‘Cause they used to do all that sort of thing up there in those days you see they had that their brush shop and basket shop and things like that.

Q:     What, they used to sell them did they ?

Mrs R:    Oh yes. You could go up there and buy them. As a matter of fact I’ve got two or three nice baskets now what were made up at the Bridge Home.

Q:     So he taught there ?

Mrs R:    Yes he taught the boys to make boots and repair you see.

Q:     Do you know how long was the apprenticeship ?

Mrs R:    At Mr Dowsett’s ? I don’t know. Well after his apprenticeship he used to sell behind the counter you see and then he went up to the Bridge Home. Then we married. Oh before we married he was up at Chipping Hill. There were some people up there [???] Two ladies lived up there and he had the shop up there. Then he gave it up and then he moved to the Bridge Home, that’s right, because trade wasn’t very good and …

Q:     So did he have that shop himself, the ladies rented it to him? (Mrs R: Yes, that’s right). Did someone else take it over then afterwards.

Mrs R:    No it just closed down. [???] I think someone had it, [???] he used to make suits, that sort of thing, if I can remember rightly. Tailor’s shop sort of thing.

Q:     That was the same shop that you went back to later [55 Chipping Hill].

Mrs R:    That’s right.

Q:      So how did that come about ?

Mrs R:    Well. We married and then we had a little upset sort of thing, and got a bit behind and we had a funny little shop down … Well I went to Clacton down to my – used to work for Prices, I told you, and I went down to their shop in Jaywick two summers, 1935 and 1936 and managed the shop, fruiterers down there. I came back and then we had this little shop in Maldon Road and when we were married we went over to, lived at Heybridge and had a little daughter who only lived three weeks. And that was a bit of an upset, but there you are. And I went down there and worked two summers down there. And we went back and lived with his mother and he was determined to get a little place of his own, so we got the little shop and then from there, that had to be demolished you see, and Mr Dowsett his wife owned the Manor House [55 Chipping Hill] and through him we got that house you see. On the condition that their Aunt, I think it was, lived, got a room there. So we had it on condition that she kept that room.

Q:     You lived there as well ?

Mrs R:    Oh yes, I didn’t have to do anything for her. She was an elderly lady, in her eighties I suppose, and she lived there until she passed on.

Q:     Mr Dowsett still had his own place down …?

Mrs R:    Yes I think they still had the shop because he had Cyril Dowsett, his son and his daughter and then they must have sold it. Who did they sell it to. People at Colchester I think. And they’ve got that bungalow in Collingwood Road. You know where you turn in to go down the bowling green, there’s a bungalow. They had that built and they retired there you see.

Q:     So, the shop in Maldon Road was that already a shoemakers ?

Mrs R:    No, no I don’t remember what sort of shop it was. I think it was empty at the time then and we started up there and …

Q:     I suppose it must have been quite difficult starting up a new business ?

Mrs R:    Well it was really. (Q: To get customers and so on.) It was really. Things were not very brisk. I don’t know what I’d have done without me Mum and Dad. They were very good and then we hadn’t been down there long and my sister died and left a little girl of three months and we took her on, because I’d lost my own baby you see, and we had her until she was eight and then, as I say, we had to move from Maldon Road and then we moved to Chipping Hill.

Q:     So you went up there, before the War ?

Mrs R:    I think that was 1938 we went up there, I’m sure we did, and then the War came along and my husband had to go into the forces and so we had to close down. He was away about five years, wasn’t it. So we had to start all fresh again.

Q:     How did you go about, I can’t imagine how you’d go about getting fresh people, because most people would already have had the shops, places that they went to ?

Mrs R:    Well, there weren’t many, you see Mr Hollick wasn’t there, ‘cause he was in the forces. We could have had that shop [2 Maldon Road] but it hadn’t got living accommodation and that’s what we wanted, living accommodation. Well we had quite a lot of friends and they were very kind, good to us and what with family, and people got to know his work you see and they came in from all sorts of places they used to come. I took his lunch in one morning and there was a lady in the shop there, she’d got a headscarf on. I didn’t think much about it you know just said ‘Good morning’, thought no more about. So when he brought his lunch things through he said ‘Do know who that was?’ I said ‘I haven’t the faintest idea’. And that was the Marchioness Lady Rayleigh. [laughter] Mr Parker from Faulkbourne Hall they used to come in . We used to do all their repairs you know. The chauffeurs used to come in and bring their work that sort of thing, and people from Hatfield Peverel, Danbury, Terling, all over the place.

Q:     That was in quite recent times ?

Mrs R:    Yes. I didn’t know half the people.

Q:     Did you help at all ?

Mrs R:    No, I used to sweep and dust before he opened the shop you see and there wasn’t much I could do.

Q:     I remember you saying how good you were at keeping the accounts ?

Mrs R:    Oh I don’t know that I was [laugh] but there wasn’t sufficient really not for me to do. Unless somebody came in the shop and they got talking about the garden and he’d say ‘Just listen, will you’ and then I would go in. Not to make a habit of it. Well, I’d got enough to do indoors. (Q: Quite a big house.) Yes, it was.

Q:     I was trying to think what stuff, I suppose it was leather mostly when you started off? Where did you used to get that from ?

Mrs R:    Oh different wholesalers used to come from Ipswich and Colchester, Braintree, Mr Osborne from Braintree he used to come and get the orders you see and then he used to come. And then the carriers what used to bring the things they used to come by van. Or by rail, maybe brought from the station you see.

Q:     Did you have set hours of work ?

Mrs R:    Oh yes, yes, he always opened at half past eight in the morning and closed at six at night. One o’clock till two, you see. Oh yes he was a stickler for time. A stickler for time.

Q:     What did he used to do in his spare time ?

Mrs R:    Garden, that was

Q:    When you first went up there that was his main outside interest ?

Mrs R:    Well he used to go footballing with the boys you know and there was quite a few young fellows like him they and then of course we had what Home & Colonial and various shops like that, London Central Meat and all that sort of thing in the town you see. They’d all got men his age and I think they got a football team up [laugh]. (Q: Shop people?) Yes they were, that was Wednesday afternoons, you see..

Q:    Yes of course. There obviously were a lot more men shop assistants. I’ve never met anybody that was an assistant in a shop – a man who is still alive now who was an assistant in a shop. There must be some somewhere mustn’t there ? Because there must be people still around that used to be like, the grocers and provisions and butchers and that sort of thing.

Mrs R:    Well, I can’t think of anybody at the moment. It’s a long time ago. (Q: That’s true, yes.) A lot of them died in their seventies you see.

Q:    Because, I met one or two people down at Rex Mott Court [???].

Mrs R:    Oh yes, Miss Stoneham and Mr Turner.

Q:    He ran his own business. (Mrs R: Yes he did.) Miss Stoneham when I talked to her, she said ‘Well, I was the only woman in the shop’.

Mrs R:    Yes she was, Luckin Smith’s. I don’t know whether she worked in the International I believe she did didn’t she, and come over to Luckin Smith’s. Oh yes, we were all school together you see. (Q: Yes, she’s about your age isn’t she, and like you she’s kept very fit.) Yes, she has, I met her not so long ago in the town one day and said ‘Oh nice to see you’ [laugh]. ‘Cause she lived up past us you see, didn’t she. (Q: Powershall, that’s right.) She used to come in the shop of course.

Q:    So when you left school you were looking round for jobs and so on?

Mrs R:    Oh, my mother bunged me out to service. (Q: Did your mother and father live at that place behind the Co-op  all the time?).Well when we first came to Witham we lived in Braintree Road, in Grosvenor Villa up there and then we moved down into Kings Chase where the hardware and that is you see, all along there, was our house. (Q: But after your father stopped ?) Oh they still lived there, till my father died.

Q:    Before you were married you were living down there ?

Mrs R:    Well no, I was away from home a long time. But my people were. Right up till about, my father died when King George VI died, what, 1952.

Q:    So it wasn’t just part of the job at the Co-op then, that he lived there?

Mrs R:    Oh no he’d retired but they still lived there.

Q:    There wasn’t anybody living over Price’s shop, was there? [51 Newland Street]

Mrs R:    There was a flat there.

Q:     But it wouldn’t – it was a separate thing from the shop ?

Mrs R:    Oh yes, totally, because really that’s a bit of the Spread Eagle isn’t it ? (Q: Oh I see, yes.) No, all we had at the shop was just a room at the back and shed place down the yard. (Q: There was a lot of stuff to store?) The shop boy had a trade bike you see. They all had trade bikes in those days.

Q:     I remember you saying when the flowers came to the shop sometimes?

Mrs R:    Oh yes, from the rail, from Covent Garden.

Q:     It must have been difficult, to cart about.

Mrs R:    They came in large boxes.

Q:     If somebody ordered some would he take them on the bike or … If somebody ordered some from the shop would he take those as well?

Mrs R:    Oh yes.

Q:     I didn’t realise people would buy flowers in that way.

Mrs R:    Oh they used to. Like those narcissus there, they used to be sixpence a bunch. We used to sell no end, you’d have to buy a couple or three dozen you see and you’d get through those on a Saturday, (Q: Would you?) yes with luck. And like the new potatoes used to come in a big skip, a big basket and we used to have one stand. I’ve got pictures I think somewhere, I’ll have to try and see if I can find them for you.

Q:     It wasn’t just the wealthy who bought the flowers then ?

Mrs R:    Oh no. [???] Oh yes.

Q:     [???] How did you get the job at the fruiterers ?

Mrs R:    Well, when I came back from, ‘cause I was in service a long time, in the nursery, and the children they went away to boarding school you see. Well then I came home, it was about seven years and I thought it was about time I came home you see and then I got to know Charles and he was working at Dowsett’s and got me the job, well that’s the china shop now, that was the cake shop and they used to do lunches and things you see. Well I worked there with Mrs Kuhn for a little while then Mrs Price came along and said will you come over and, much to Mrs Kuhn’s disgust, oh she was furious, she was furious but there you are. That’s us when we married.

Q:     How many people did Mrs Kuhn have working ?

Mrs R:    There was another girl besides me and her husband used to do all the fruit cakes and make the bread and all. He was a marvellous pastry cook.

Q:     Did they live above the shop ?

Mrs R:    No they had a house in the Avenue.

Q:     Of course you had the restaurant upstairs.

Mrs R:    Yes, that’s right. That was Mr & Mrs Price who I worked for [shows photo].

Q:     You were quite friendly with them ?

Mrs R:    Oh yes, they was very kind to me.

Q:     But I suppose Mrs Kuhn, you were quite a lot younger than ..?

Mrs R:    Oh yes, she was a shocker to work for. Oh yes she was a shocker.

Q:    In what way ?

Mrs R:    Well, we had this restaurant you know, they had the restaurant, and she, em, oh I think abut her hundreds of times. I’d say ‘Well, you’re not giving a very good helping of ham today.’ ‘You can’t live on sentiment Miss Baldwin’ she said. But she lost a lot of custom ‘cause she was … So in the end of course she was mad when I left.

Q:     What happened to their business in the end ?

Mrs R:    Well they sold out to em, what’s the name of the people ? They sold out to another party and you know where Holt’s shop is. [88 Newland Street] (Q: Mmmm.) Well they moved, they made a restaurant down there. Those people did. And done very well for the time being. All the ladies of the town used to go and have their morning coffee and all the rest of it there you know. (Q: I see. So they didn’t mind paying a lot for a little bit?) I don’t suppose they spent very much.

Q:    [???] When you say all the ladies of the town you mean …?

Mrs R:    Well, like Dr Foster’s wife and those sort of things. There’s a bit of our garden what we had [photo]. Apple tree. (Q: Lovely.) Friends there what we had to stay.

Q:     So the Kuhn’s were there for quite some time after …?

Mrs R:    Yes, I wasn’t very good in their books but I decided that’s what I wanted. [searching] Oh dear, can’t find just what I want. You never can find them can you when you want them?

Q:     Did you used to make bread and deliver round about ?

Mrs R:    No, he only just used to do like Allison’s bread and that sort of thing. Let’s see if I can find it. I thought they were all here.

Q:     Did people use to bake bread much themselves then ?

Mrs R:    No, we had Brand the baker and there was Palmer’s the baker where Gilberts is now. [83 Newland Street] [???] I’ll sort them all out sometime. No, we had the Co-op. There was a very big bakery at the Co-op, very big bakery.

Q:     So people bought bread mostly ?

Mrs R:    Oh yes, they had the horses and carts and used to go round with them you see till the vans came along and, there was quite a lot of competition.

Q:     How did you manage to capture customers – were the prices much the same, would you reckon, or did some places have cheaper bread than others ?

Mrs R:    Well, I don’t know whether there had to be a standard price like there has to be today.

Q:     I was thinking again about the Kuhns. It was obviously quite a smallish place?

Mrs R:    Well they only did the Allison’s bread and that was more or less to order. Some ladies you see from Wickham Bishops and that would come down because there was some wealthy people floating around in those days.

Q:     So you didn’t tend to get the poorer people at that shop ?

Mrs R:    Oh well you know not too bad. ‘Cause they used to make like the Chelsea buns and all those, currant buns and things.

Q:     Did she pay you badly as well ?

Mrs R:    Oh, I forget now, I got about a pound a week I suppose. When we were married I only had like one pound fifty. Had to get married on that. [Laughter] Fantastic isn’t it ? [???] So different in those days.

Q:     But your husband was already in Witham when you came back from service ?

Mrs R:    Yes, his mother lived in Mill Lane.

Q:     Was he at school in Witham as well, then?

Mrs R:    I suppose he did.  Went to Guithavon Street, Church School as far as I know.

Q:     Did you meet him through working ?

Mrs R:    I expect it was through the Church or something. It could be because we had a wonderful fellowship there. Wonderful fellowship we had with all us youngsters and had mid-week meetings you see and that to get together. We used to play a lot up in the Rec. (Q: Did you?) Yes us girls and boys used to go up there in evening and have a game of cricket and rounders and all that. Well kids don’t do that today do they? (Q: No, no.)

Q:     And so the, well the Prices didn’t live in Witham, did they, but people like the Kuhns and so on what would they do with their spare time ?

Mrs R:    He used to do a lot of fishing, I think. He used to go down to Flatford Mill and down that way, fishing. I think he took us down there once. I don’t know what she did I’m sure. Wasn’t interested [laughter]

Q:     You didn’t get any perks or anything like that ?

Mrs R:     Oh my goodness no! Well my friend, I know one Christmas my friend she got married and, well, she was a housemaid where I was in the nursery you see, and she said, she always made me promise I’d be a bridesmaid you see when she got married and this was in December, December the 16th, just at Christmas you see and oh Mrs Kuhn was furious. Well I said I wanted a day off you see to go to Stansted. Had to catch the Braintree train at half past six in the morning to go to Stortford and then from Stortford to Stansted you see. ‘I don’t think’, she said, ‘I don’t think I can let you have the time off. It’s too near Christmas’. I said ‘Oh well if I can’t have the time off I’ll leave’. She wasn’t very happy about that but she was nasty. The other girl who worked there I think she gave a beautiful Christmas cake to and a box of chocolates [???].

Q:     The other girl got on with her all right ?

Mrs R:    Yes, well.

Q:     Why was that I wonder? You were more outspoken ?

Mrs R:     Yes, probably. Well, bless my soul, she couldn’t run you life could she ?

Q:     No, no. So you didn’t have much holiday from that shop ?

Mrs R:    Well, we had half day closing on Wednesdays you see.

Q:     What about a Summer holiday or anything ?

Mrs R:    Er, well, I don’t remember having any holiday, not from Mrs Kuhn’s. I used to have a week’s holiday, Mrs Price used to come back, for they have a shop in Clacton you see, and she used to come down for the week after the season finished. I used to have it about September.

Q:     I suppose if the Kuhns were that careful they perhaps did well out of it. You reckon they didn’t …

Mrs R:    I think he must have had money. (Q: To start with you mean?) Yes. He came from Switzerland. They had a son and he was a perisher. [Laughter]. Mr Kuhn used to make lovely almond whirls you know, they looked so tempting so I think Cecily and I had one. ‘I’ll tell mother’ so we said ‘Go on you tell her’. Oh he was a perisher.

Q:     Did she actually serve proper meals and things at that …?

Mrs R:    They did yes, lunches and that and I think we done teas as well, can’t remember. Awful stairs to climb up they were.

Q:     I would have assumed most people went home for lunch.

Mrs R:    We used to have various bank clerks come from Barclays Bank and that you see (Q: What, they’d come every day?) Yes, they used to come for their lunch every day and, well, before Mr Kuhn took over there were people by the name of West and they had a very big restaurant at Swanage I think they came and of course they done very well. You know, they used to give them good portions and that sort of thing. Oh there used to be what a couple of dozen I suppose into lunch you see and people coming in for afternoon teas and that.

Q:     Did you help with the cooking or anything ?

Mrs R:    No, (Q: She’d do all that would she?) Yes and Mr Kuhn would do in the bakehouse you see. (Q: So you’d do serving?) That’s all. I had nothing to do with that. No washing up no nothing. I didn’t do nothing out in the kitchen. (Q: So, you’d be taking delivery of the food or whatever?) Yes. That was already put out on the plates you see. They used to put them on the plates and have individual vegetable dishes and that sort.

Q:     And where did she, perhaps you don’t know where she used to get the stuff from to make them ? Just from the local shops ?

Mrs R:    I expect so.

Q:     And flour and stuff ?

Mrs R:    Well no, he would buy that all wholesale wouldn’t he from the millers.

Q:     So Holt’s shop. They were at Holt’s before … ?

Mrs R:     No not the Kuhns. People called, I can’t think what they were called. I think they done very well. I didn’t know much about ‘em really because I’d finished down the town.

Q:     So when you were up in Chipping Hill you didn’t know what was going on in Witham?

Mrs R:    Not really. [Laughter]

Q:     Strange that isn’t it. So your shopping when you married, where would you buy your shopping ?

Mrs R:    Oh, Home & Colonial or somewhere like that you see. Or Co-op I suppose I had to go to. I dunnow. I expect we did patronise the Co-op. There was nowhere up Chipping Hill you see, well, only that little shop in Church Street but I didn’t use to go there very often. Not until the very nice people , Mr Wood and his wife [48 Church Street]. They were very nice people. When they took over I used to go there quite a bit. ‘Cause they were very nice and very reasonable weren’t they ?

Q:     Mmm. You didn’t like it before that? It had been going for quite some time before that.

Mrs R:    Oh years and years and years. People by the name of Hasler had that shop. I think if I remember rightly.

Q:     Still I suppose there were quite a lot of people living up that way then ?

Mrs R:    No, there wasn’t much up there, up Church Street. No. Only those little cottages and they hadn’t got no money had they you see.

Q:     I believe they had a bakery at that shop up Church Street at one time somebody told me.

Mrs R:    That corner house on Church Street you know, Chalks Road and that, that used to be Hasler’s pork butchers [54 Church Street]. Used to sell beautiful sausages and things. Then I think they moved from there and went into where the shop is now [48 Church Street]. As far as I can remember.

Q:     Quite well off for shops really, wasn’t it. I suppose you had more choice in one of the big places. The International’s been around for quite a long time.(Mrs R: Quite a while, quite a while, yes.) And I suppose there were more …

Mrs R:    Well, we had more private shops you know, where you could get, you know, nice things. There was Spurge’s you see, there and there was Mr Pearce who used to have a very nice shop and where Stanwood’s, not Stanwood’s, Rumbelow’s is [74-76 Newland Street]. He had a grocer’s shop there and he used to sell some nice, like a delicatessen as they call them now.

Q:     I suppose living round about Witham people would come in ?

Mrs R:    They used to come in with their horse and cart you see and the ladies used to come in. Of course there weren’t many cars floating around were there ?

Q:     At the fruit shop did you get people coming in from quite a way?

Mrs R:    Oh yes, from Wickham Bishops and all round. Some nice people we used to have in.

Q:     Because Witham itself used to have some people that were …?

Mrs R:    Oh, they very refined, very refined people, oh yes.  They expected you to say ‘Yes Miss.’ and all the rest of it you know. Well, you know it was a …gentry. There were a lot of gentry in Witham at one time and well they expected you to be respectful to them I suppose.

Q:     Yes, I suppose it was what everybody was used to, wasn’t it.

Mrs R:    Yes. There were the Canon Luard and Canon Ingles and their daughters, ladies as they used to call them, the Rounds, Miss Pattissons, Luards you know. It really a wealthy, a little wealthy town it was and of course the Doctor Gimsons and their family. The father, I can’t remember him but I think he was alive when we came to Witham.

Q:     Did people like the Miss Luards and so on actually walk about the town and do their own shopping sometimes.

Mrs R:    Oh yes, they done that and had their own [???] and they used to come round, you see, and called on the so called ‘poor’ people and run clubs where you could pay a shilling a week for coal and that sort of thing. Oh I think they done a lot of good.

Q:     You would actually meet them in the street sometimes ? They wouldn’t just be sitting in their carriages and send in their servants?

Mrs R:    Oh no, come on their bikes some of them. Oh yes they’d cycle. You’ve heard of the plays they put on haven’t you, the Miss Luards ? What we used to call the tuppenies ? (Q: You went to those, did you?) Oh yes I was a fairy in one of them [laughter] yes, yes and my sister was in Scrooge’s Christmas Carol she was Belinda Cratchit was it ?

Q:     So they weren’t just Church people then that they were involved with ?

Mrs R:    Well, they used to go to the church you see but somehow or other, whether it was through the school I don’t know because both my sister and I had very pretty hair when we were young. Had natural curls and my mother used to look after it you know. We really did used to look nice. Proper fairies’ hair sort of thing. Oh dear oh dear [laughter]. Yes.

Q:     Who would your mother’s friends be ?

Mrs R:    Oh, church people. They used to have a very big, what they call Mothers’ Meeting you know. Oh yes. Miss Springett’s mother, you know Miss Springett don’t you, she lives up Cressing Road ? (Q: Don’t know.) She used to be a schoolteacher, retired schoolteacher. Her mother used to be in our church and Mrs Goody and Mrs Hubbard and the Rices and Cokers and oh we had some wealthy people. And Earlsmead, the old house of Earlsmead and the other big place, the Dixons, Mr Dixon, his mother and father and Joseph Smith and Ernest Smith. We had a lot of Congregational people in those days. Our church used to be full.

Q:     [???] Were they mostly trades people of one sort of another ?

Mrs R:    Yes, more or less, or bankers I suppose they were some of them and that sort of thing. Yes, when we were young you know.

Q:     So for your mother that would be the main social thing.

Mrs R:    Well, funnily enough, I was only talking about this the other day like when the elections used to come along she used to go along and write the envelopes, you know, oh yes, and her buddies. Then, I think she was one of the first members of the Women’s Institute if I can remember rightly. Oh yes, Mum liked to go out. I think I must take after her. [Laughter]. All the Baldwin family were very popular. I think the choir at the church nearly consisted of us lot.

Q:     It’s a nice church though isn’t it ? (Mrs R: Yes.) I go to the Choral, we’ve just moved our practices  to there..

Mrs R:    Yes, you come down there don’t you. The acoustics are lovely there aren’t they ? [Q: [???]) It comes back to you. It’s a lovely church to sing in. ‘Cos I was in the choir for many years when I came back you see and my father was in the choir and my sister and brothers but in latter years, like when Mr [???] was there we had some good choirs there because we used to do The Messiah and all that. Olivet to Calvary and The Crucifixion and all that. We used to join with Henry and Cecil Dudley, no, not Cecil Dudley because he wasn’t very well but Henry used to come and [???]. Oh we had a lovely choir, about twenty-five of us at one time and now we haven’t got one. No.

Q:     That was Henry Dorking, he was quite a singer wasn’t he?

Mrs R:    Oh lovely, beautiful baritone. Then, there was years ago, down where Coates’ shop is there used to be a china shop you know, belonged to people by the name of Garretts. [126-128 Newland Street] And they were staunch Congregational people. Mr Garrett he was a tenor, often flat but still you couldn’t say much about it [laughter].

Q:     I remember you saying you thought that the Congregational church was set back and different but there was some quite …?

Mrs R:    Well, you know where Byford’s is now [90 to 92 Newland Street], well there was just a little iron gate sort of thing, not much wider than that, what we used to have to go up the side there you see and go into the church that way, because there was the Constitutional Club, you see, right next to it and Beard’s shop and that.

Q:     But you still had some quite well known people in your church, didn’t you ? They weren’t sort of looked down on.

Mrs R:    Oh no. Well they were builders like the Smiths, they were all builders and that. There was a lot of building going on in Witham, so they were quite wealthy people.

[Chat about present minister Mr Flint and his wife, and present-day Operatic Society, Choral Society, and Congregational Church choir, not noted]

 Side 6

Mrs R:    …………Bits of wood like that and we used to go up Baddow Rodney you know up Danbury way. That was our Sunday School treat. Oh it was beautiful. We had abut sixpence to spend you know. There used to be swings and we used to play cricket and rounders. Oh it was beautiful. I don’t ever remember having a wet day. There used to be one of the Smiths, Mr Joseph Smith he was a big person in our church and we all went to Maldon, I think, for our Sunday School treat and he gave us all a penny each. We thought that was marvellous. [Laughter]. Well in those times we could go to Clacton. From Walton to Clacton by steamer for sixpence you see. I remember going to Clacton for the Sunday School treat and my sister was supposed to look after me and I’d gone off with my friends and their mother and we’d been from Clacton to Walton. We were at Walton and she didn’t know where we were. Frightened to death I reckon she was. We made our own pleasure. I had some ever such happy times.

Q:     I suppose you were nearer to the countryside as well really weren’t you ?

Mrs R:    Yes we were really. Well there wasn’t the traffic was there ? (Q: No, mm.). Yes, we used to love to go on these tumbrils. We thought it was marvellous.

Q:     Go by coach now wouldn’t they. Not the same is it ?

Mrs R:    Oh yes, they want every comfort don’t they. They wouldn’t go and play up there would they ? They don’t even really like going to Maldon do they. We used to go there. Our mothers used to take us to Maldon. (Q: Did they?) Well we could go by train, get there for sixpence. (Q: Yes of course. It was a pity the train stopped really, it’s a bit of an awkward journey otherwise.) Yes.

Q:     It’s quite nice down there really ? The recreation ground.

Mrs R:    Yes, very nice down there. Oh, that used to be a lovely treat.

[Farewells]

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