Miss Ada (Sis) Hayes was born in about 1905. She was interviewed on 4 June 1982 when she lived at 11 Chalks Road, Witham.
For more about her, see the notes 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 email@example.com or 033301 32500.
[???] shows words that are not clear enough to interpret and so have had to be omitted.
[?] after a word shows that its interpretation is not certain.
Later explanatory additions by JG or the transcriber are in square brackets [e.g. explaining locations etc.]
Q: Was it in Witham the shop where you worked ? [29 Newland Street]
Miss H: Yes I worked at the butchers at the bottom of Collingwood Road
Q: Really, I don’t know, was there a butchers there in my time, I don’t remember?
Miss H: Well, it was opened I would think in about 1938 or something. Mr Fuller opened it and I went there when he opened it and then he went in the army and sold it to Mr Edwards and a Mr Mahoney. And they were there when I left. (Q: How long were you there altogether then? Oh about thirty odd years. (Q: When did you [???]) 1968.
Q: So did you work before, did you have other jobs before that ?
Miss H: No, I was ill for sometime and that was my first effort. [but see George Hayes]
Q: You liked it there did you ?
Miss H: Oh yes I was quite happy.
Q: Did you consider different jobs ?
Miss H: No, no, I was quite happy there and it was quite near at hand. If the weather was bad the boys used to fetch me and [???].
Q: Was it very different when you started ?
Miss H: Well we started from scratch actually and had hardly any customers at all. He just sort of worked it up. (Q: and that was Mr ?) Fuller. And then he had this shop down Church Street, there was a butcher’s shop in Church Street, wasn’t there ? You possibly would remember that ? (Q: I think so, somebody told me.) Yes, he had that and then he opened this other one in the town and after a bit he closed the one in Church Street and just kept on in town.
Q: It must have been difficult starting up ?
Miss H: Yes, although it was a good position wasn’t it in the middle of the main street.
Q: There were lots of other butchers ?
Miss H: Yes, but not as many as there are now, Goodchild’s, which is now Kingston’s; and then at the bottom of town there was Sorrell’s, which is now Roberts. I think that’s all. Now you see you’ve got all the supermarkets do butchering. You’ve got Ross’s down Maldon Road. Mr Holt he opened up didn’t he ? (Q: That’s true.) [???] I think it was when he came out of the army he worked for us for a time, he took on Sorrell’s and then from Sorrell’s moved across the road.
Q: Yes, all the supermarkets do meat now don’t they ?
Miss H: Yes, all have butchers. I mean there’s Budgen’s, Lipton’s, Tesco’s.
Q: You didn’t ever work at the one that was up here?
Miss H: No.
Q: Was he up here for a long while ?
Miss H: Well, when I was a child that was Greatrex’s. They had it for years and years. Then I think Mr Fuller came after them [???] closed that and transferred the business and went down the town.
Q: Did they have a slaughterhouse of their own ?
Miss H: Yes, when he had his shop up here the slaughterhouse was behind the shop. (Q: Oh I see.) So he used to kill his own meat. (Q: Mmm.) But when he shut shop then I suppose he bought it in.
Q: I suppose to start with when you were first there he was killing his own for both?
Miss H: Oh yes, Then when the War started he just had a general, one slaughterhouse, the one in town behind what is now Kingston’s. (Q: Oh I see.) Had a slaughterhouse there. But now I think the majority of butchers they’d buy the stuff in from the big slaughterhouses.
Q: Yes, its different now isn’t it ? [???] Did he make sausages ?
Miss H: [???] Oh yes, he did everything. I mean they used to be sausages then. I don’t know what they are now. I mean he used to cook the meat and they were really nice. But I mean you can’t call them nice today can you ? (Q: Mmm.) At least I don’t.
Q: They don’t taste so nice, no. So did they make them down in the shop ? (Miss H: Yes.) In the back somewhere ? (Miss H: I should imagine so.) I was never up here when they did that, we used to have it delivered to us) They’d do all that side of it here as well?
Miss H: Yes, but we did make sausages down there eventually. I have helped do them when they were shorthanded sometimes I got to help them tie them. Not very often.
Q: Were there a lot of boys working in ?
Miss H: No, there was only sort of me and the manager and then a couple. Of course then they used to do rounds. One of them would be on the rounds, practically all day. Eventually it got so that there were no deliveries. Which made it easier, actually. Because there was all the booking out and booking in on the rounds and when you got them coming into the shop it was just cash over the counter.
Q: So when you took the meat out they sort of took the money on the round?
Miss H: Yes, at one time we used to leave them and sort of collect all what they had at the end of the week.
Q: Make a special trip ? (Miss H: Yes.) Oh that’s complicated. Did they go outside of Witham?
Miss H: Wickham Bishops was the furthest I think, then just all round the town. Oh Terling we used to go to.
Q: What did they used to have, a bike or a cart ?
Miss H: Oh van. Used to use a bike for some little areas but the majority of the time it was a van.
Q: So would these people order ?
Miss H: Possibly one day for the next or sometimes they used to go out in the morning and bring the orders back and go back with them. Used to do that twice a day, but now they don’t care whether you buy or not do they ? (Q: No [???].) [???] We used to work late. Sometime they were cutting orders and wouldn’t be finished till about eight o’clock.
Q: Was the shop open till then ?
Miss H: No. (Q: And did the people come into the shop as well?) Yes, lots of them. There were certain regular deliveries for certain people.
Q: [???] Do you think people had more meat then ?
Miss H: Well, I wouldn’t say they had more, money then was more limited then than it is now, they could only live according to their. But people [???] now obviously had more.
Q: People talk about the different types of stuff that you can’t get nowadays that was cheap, cheap cuts and things, offal and those things that people wouldn’t bother with now.
Miss H: Not today. They used to do sheep’s heads and you don’t see anything like that in the shops today. Well I suppose labour is expensive it doesn’t pay them to sort of fiddle about. I’ve never seen one in the shops for quite a long time but we always had them. I mean you killed the sheep and you had the head. And the same with the ox. They always sold. I mean you never see ox head in the shops now do you ?
Q: Mmm, goodness. What someone would buy a whole head ?
Miss H: Not very often, perhaps a half or a cheek.
Q: Did they have refrigerators in the shop ?
Miss H: Yes, when I was there.
Q: I suppose people wouldn’t have, did people shop more often do you think ?
Miss H: Yes, I think so. I mean we used to get deliveries every day and I think that people used to come and shop every day. I don’t think there were so many refrigerators in the homes then. So it was better to shop daily and have it fresh but now with household refrigerators they could hold on for perhaps twice a week, can’t they.
Q: Did people in come from outside Witham as well, or was it mainly Witham people ?
Miss H: Yes, people used to come from Kelvedon and around.
Q: Did Mr Fuller work in the shop with them ?
Miss H: Oh yes, he managed the shop. He went in the Army I think he was in the army previous[?] and at the outbreak he was recalled. Then he sold out. Well I think he went in for farming after that. (Q: [???] Well he had no one to leave it to had he.
Q: Did he have any family ?
Miss H: He had one son and I think he was interested in agriculture. (Q: Yes – he didn’t work in the shop? ) No. (Q: Nor his wife?) No, no.
Q: Apart from tying up the sausages, you did the money ? (Miss H: I was cashier, yes.) Were you good at arithmetic?
Miss H: Yes, [???] I suppose I was fairly good at arithmetic. (Q: Did they have a till?) No. only a drawer that you pulled out. No they didn’t have a proper till at all. But I’ve been away since ‘68. We used to do all the accounting then. Nowadays they have machines to do the job don’t they? (Q: Yes.). We had to do it all. I don’t know whether the youngsters do use their brains today.
Q: [???] So there were all men working in …
Miss H: Yes, but now they have quite a lot of women don’t they, sort of serving and wrapping up. [???] But then we stayed in the background.
Q: Did the meat come down all cut up or did they have to do some butchering?
Miss H: Oh, no. It used to come in sides. They had to get it to pieces. [???] they have that abattoir at Billericay and they fetched it down to us.
Q: Did they have apprenticeships or anything ?
Miss H: Well, the boys left school and they’d come and pick it up you know as they went along. Surprising how quickly they got into the way of the [???]a joints and cutting it to bits.
Q: Was it very complicated ?
Miss H: Well I used to think so when I watched them. I used to think well, I wouldn’t know where to put the knife. But they seemed to do it quite easily.
Q: [???] Did they make pies or anything ?
Miss H: No, no, they’d got no means of cooking down there. (Q: I see.) Now it’s a fish shop, fried fish. Not open very .often (Q: No, it isn’t.)
Q: Was there anybody living up above or ?
Miss H: No, they used to have that as a workroom, for sausages and things.
Q: Where did Mr Fuller he live ?
Miss H: He lived in a house down White Horse Lane. (Q: Oh.) As you go up White Horse Lane there’s a redbrick house standing on the left. That’s where he lived. [i.e. Stefre, White Horse Lane, behind Church Street shop]
Q: So that was in the back of the other shop really then.
Miss H: Well, the front of the other shop runs into White Horse Lane so that was handy when he had that shop.
Q: Did he do a lot of things round the town or was he …?
Miss H: No, he didn’t do a lot in the town, not really, not as far as I remember. I suppose when you are in business, got a couple of businesses, that’s a full time job isn’t it? (Q: Yes. [???].) Buying the cattle, getting it slaughtered and into the shops and out to the public.
Q: As you say, people weren’t so well of then, it made it that much harder to make a go of a shop really? (Miss H: Yes.). Still by that time there was Crittall’s here wasn’t there, do you think that made … ?
Miss H: Well, I suppose yes, it did make a difference. But there weren’t that many people came in to it, they were more or less locals that worked there. Mr Cook, he was a pork butcher I can remember him being there, can you? Which is now Stoffer’s shop. It was a nice shop too, It’s a shame to think they pulled it down [part of 5 Newland Street].
Q: Yes, it wasn’t that old a place was it ?
Miss H: No, no, hadn’t been up all that time. It was a lovely shop.
Q: Where did you used to do your shopping when you were down town?
Miss H: Yes, I’d pop out or my brother’s wife used to fetch whatever mother wanted.
Q: I suppose the grocers would be different when you started work ?
Miss H: Well yes, there were [???] grocers. There used to be Luckin Smith’s, which is now Budgen’s isn’t it ? (Q: Mmm.) Then we had Spurge’s, some long years back they used to sell groceries. Then there was the Co-operative and International.
Q: Did the Co-op have a butchers at the time?
Miss H: I don’t think they did, no I don’t think they’ve been in butchery all that long.
Q: I suppose clothes and things were …?
Miss H: There always did drapery there. There used to be a, of course Spurge’s was a drapers. Do you remember Spurge’s? (Q: I think I’ve heard people speak of it.) They pulled that down to build Lipton’s. There used to be Spurge’s and then farther down there was a little shop called Hunwick’s. And next to them there used to be the old Post Office before they built this one up here. So I then there was the Co-op. I think they were the only drapers we had. (Q: Mmm.) Things have expanded quite a bit. (Q: People say there’s not much.) Oh there is. There’s lots more grocery shops, and I mean they all do most everything don’t they (Q: That’s right, like fruit and vegetables.) And Tesco’s they do certain amount of clothes, hardware. I think if some of the elderly people came back to Witham and see what there is now they just wouldn’t know it at all [laugh]
Q: You’ve always lived up this end of …?
Miss H: We came up in 1916 [to Chalks Road] So we’ve lived up here a nice long time. When we came up here there was only Mrs Grape’s house [Dean House] and there were our four and those where my brother lives up to the top where Mrs Jones lives [1 Chalks Road] and that was a beautiful meadow over there, John Brown used to graze his cows and run chickens [north side of Chalks Road]. We were the only people up here. All up here was sort of agricultural land where they’ve built all those bungalows. All along Braintree Road. All along the roads here, Cressing Road that was all agricultural land.
Q: So you were really out in the wilds weren’t you ?
Miss H: Absolutely yes.
Q: They still had a few shops at Chipping Hill, weren’t there?
Miss H: Down here? (Q: Mmm.) Well there’s the place at the end of Chalks Road. Used to be Mr Hasler’s [54 Church Street] and then, what is now, can’t remember the name of the people there, it was Wood’s [48 Church Street]. Mrs Wadley’s relatives had that as a bakehouse and grocery shop? And then the butcher’s shop. That’s the only shops we had up here. (Q: I see.) Because the branch[?] type shop that hasn’t been all that time, that was still a [???]
Q: Yes, because is it Wadley’s that got …
Miss H: Yes, these were built for John Wadley, And they used to live in Mrs Grape’s house.[Dean House] (Q: Oh I see.) Her nephews had the shop. (Q: Were they called Wadley?) They were Wadleys. There used to be a bake house and then a grocery shop.
Q: Yes, I remember somebody told me, that’s been there a good long while.
Miss H: Oh yes, as long as I can remember. I remember Mr Wadley when he was there used to make us cottage loaves. Little bottoms and then little tops. They were lovely. [Laugh] (Q: So they’d bake their own?} Oh yes. Drove to the country and deliver. (Q: What , from there they went out into the country?) Mmm all round Terling and all round the country.
Q: So that was quite a big establishment there ?
Miss H: Quite a nice little shop. Nice and handy if you didn’t want to go down town.
Q: Your father was in the railway you said ? I suppose there quite was quite a big junction, when they had the Maldon line as well ?
Miss H: Oh yes, but they’ve closed that now haven’t they. Yes, he used to have to go to, to do Notley, Braintree, Felsted, Rayne, Hatfield Peverel and Witham. Quite an area.
Q: And you say you went to school in Witham.
Miss H: Yes, down Guithavon. That’s closed now isn’t it ? (Q: I can just about remember that.) Quite a lot of schools now, haven’t they. One up Powershall End and another one beyond the Bridge Home what do they call that ? (Q: Howbridge.) then Templars.
Q: Yes, quite different.
Miss H: When we were kids there was only the Maldon Road School, the Church school and this little one down here. There used to be a Catholic School. (Q: Oh yes.) At the Catholic church.
Q: So Guithavon Street was more the Church …
Miss H: Was the Church School. The Maldon Road would be the Board school.
Q: Did you have to go to the Church on Sunday?
Miss H: Oh yes, used to go to Sunday School.
Q: Did you, that’s good. And was Maldon Road …?
Miss H: For chapel. Yes, chapel people.
Q: So did people still sort of stick to that for schools ?
Miss H: I don’t think they do so much now do they. As far as I know they don’t.
Q: I don’t think the one round the corner there has changed all that much ?
Miss H: No, it was just like that when I went to school [laugh] I went when I was about three down here and my cousin she came with me, she was only about two and a half when we went to school. (Q: Goodness.) Well we didn’t have far to go but … I think kids are interested to go when they’re young, mix with the other children. Now you’re lucky if they get them in when they’re about five years old.
Q: [???] Was George older than you ?
Miss H: Yes, just over a year older than me. (Q: Did you go together?) I suppose he went with the boys. I used to go with my cousin. We went there till we were seven.
Q: So were your friends mostly from up this Church Street part , was it sort of separate from the … ?
Miss H: Well till we were seven and then we went down the town, sort of met the other kids. When we were at school there was no free meals or free milk or anything like that. If you wanted your lunch you had to take your sandwiches. Nothing like they get today. If you wanted a drink there was water! Still we survived. We used to walk down the town and walk back. We wouldn’t stay mid-day unless the weather was very bad, then mother would pack us up sandwiches but otherwise we used to walk home at mid-day and back again. (Q: Right.)
Q: Even when you were down at Guithavon Street ?
Miss H: Oh yes, we used to come home from school.
Q: And you did a lot of music didn’t you ? (Miss H: Oh we were sent to music.) But that was extra was it ?
Miss H: Yes, we went to the schoolmaster there, the schoolmaster who took the boys, Mr Thompson, lived at the school house, Guithavon.
Q: Oh I see and you…?
Miss H: Yes, that was in my spare time. It wasn’t anything to do with the school.
Q: Were your father and mother interested in music as well ? How did that come about that you did that?
Miss H: Yes, they liked music but they couldn’t play any instruments.
Q: Did you have a piano at home ?
Miss H: Yes, to practise.
Q: Did you have to practise often ?
Miss H: Well, you know what children are [laugh] So much and no more.
Q: Did you do singing as well ?
Miss H: No, I didn’t take singing.
Q: Because the Operatic was another…
Miss H: Yes, but you know I really don’t remember much about when we were kids. I remember Mr Hasler who kept the shop. I remember them doing the Messiah because I went there. But they didn’t do it in church. They all sat and did it as a choir. (Q: Mmm.)
Q: So Mr Hasler …?
Miss H: Yes, he was very musical. (Q: That, was that a butcher’s as well, Hasler’s?) No, that was the grocers. Although he used to sell pork and sausages after a time, he used to buy it in and do it, but he didn’t do beef or anything else. No, used to be very nice too. Used to meat in them. I think they put more rusk today than they do meat.
Q: You saw what went into them?
Miss H: I don’t think I’ve tasted a really nice sausage since we left the shop down there. (Q: Oh.) No.
Q: So, someone else took it on the War-time you said ?
Miss H: Yes, Mr Edwards and Mahoney. They took it off of, well Mr Ryland had it after Fuller for some long time and then they he sold out and then it was Edwards and Mahoney. (Q: But you stayed all the time?) Yes. (Q: You were the expert.) During the War. All the blessed coupons and (Q: Of yes, of course.) Ghastly job they were. We were dealing with little bits and pieces. It was horrible. When you look back sometimes you wonder how you managed on these little bits. Two ounces of butter and two ounces of marge and two ounces of sugar. Little bits of meat you know. There was nothing else you could sort of fall back on. I often wonder how we managed but we survived.
Q: [???] It must have been a worry. (Miss H: Can you remember?) I can just about remember ration books and hearing the siren, but I didn’t have to worry about who was going to feed me.
Miss H: So much tea, and a little bit of this and a little bit of that.
Q: [???] I suppose the shops were very restricted in what they could sell presumably?
Miss H: They only got so much according to how many customers they’d got. It was all sort of worked out on [???] (Q: That was all issued from the central …) From the Food Office, you see. They worked out how many customers you’d got and how much you …
Q: It must have been difficult making a living out of the shop?
Miss H: Yes it wasn’t a happy experience, not really.
Q: I suppose even beforehand as you said there’d be some people weren’t that well off?
Miss H: Well money wasn’t all that plentiful really. Only had a limited amount.
Q: Were the shop boys, were they married or were they only just boys.
Miss H: Well the younger ones were single. (Q: Mmm.) The manager was married, but the boys you know were straight from school, say seventeen.
Q: [???].So did they start up in it?
Miss H: Yes, yes if they were interested in butchering. Its not as if its everybody’s thing, their idea of heaven.
Q: As long as you didn’t have to do it yourself.
Miss H: No, no, I didn’t mind as long as I didn’t have to cut it up. [laughter]
Q: Did you have to bank the money ? (Q: Yes, yes.) and deal with the accounts and that ?
Miss H: Yes, yes. The bills and the tax and do all the clerical jobs.
Q: Quite a responsible job wasn’t it really. Mr Fuller left that all to you to sort out ?
Miss H: All the tax at the end of year to balance it up.
Q: You said they had weekly bills ?
Miss H: Yes, a sort of shop during the week and pay at the end of the week.(Q: So how did you …?) That was the grand finale on Saturday (Q: ???) Pretty good, some people would be awkward, you know. You’d get these … You know how you do often, you can’t sort of just get the money.
Q: Did you get involved in that side of it?
Miss H: Not too badly, you know. I don’t think credit is worth doing if you’re in business. what with the cost of raking the money in and sending out the bills.
Q: What did, did they send someone to collect. What would happen if someone…?
Miss H: When they were really bad they’d send a debt collector round and they’d have to sort of pay what they could.
Q: [???] If someone came into the shop and wanted credit for the week or whatever, how would it work, you …?
Miss H: We used to have monthly customers, at the end of the month, and the weekly ones, the majority paid regularly, some would come in the shop. (Q: Mmm. When he went out in the van it was all ordered? [???]) They would go out and get the orders you see, and then come back, and it’d be booked against[???] who had paid and who hadn’t.
Q: [???] Still, I expect you saw, it was a good place for meeting people wasn’t it.
Miss H: Yes, I liked it because you saw a lot of people and could have a chat. I missed it when I left.
Q: Yes, I should think so.
Miss H: But my mother was over eighty and you know, and needed somebody with her.
Q: Still it’s a big change. Did you work regular hours at the shop?
Miss H: Yes, used to work quite late on Fridays you know getting the orders all ready for Saturday. (Q: Mmm.) But now they have quite good hours don’t they?
Q: The shop you say didn’t stay open longer?
Miss H: What when I first went there? Well not till we’d worked up the trade you know, we wouldn’t have all that much to do. (Q: Mmm.) And when he shut this one up here and we got the bulk of their business. (Q: Mmm.)
Q: So people came down that lived up here then?
Miss H: There was no shops up there. There’s that butcher’s up [St Nicholas Close], but that wasn’t there then. (Q: No.) So they’d got to come down town if wanted meat.
Q: Why did he move the business I wonder.
Miss H: I don’t know unless, being in the town you got more trade. He’d already got the trade from up here [???] Of course he picked up quite a lot in the town. As I say, when we opened that shop there wasn’t all those butchers about. (Q: Mmm.)
Q: Was he a Witham person, Mr Fuller?
Miss H: Well, I don’t really know, no, I think he came from Coggeshall. Mrs Fuller was a Witham person, but I have a feeling Mr Fuller was a Coggeshall man.
Q: Mrs Fuller didn’t work ?
Miss H: Not in the shop, no.
Q: Her people were Witham ?
Miss H: Yes, she was a Miss North from Witham, from Maldon Road, before she married of course [laugh]
Q: People didn’t move around quite so much ?
Miss H: Not so much then, no.
Q: Still I suppose when you go down town you still see quite a few …
Miss H: When I was first here I went quite a lot but you know they are sort of fading away a bit now. Don’t know so many people. (Q: Of course a lot of people don’t get out……………………….. I only go down about twice a week now. [???]
Q: Well the traffic is a bit …
Miss H: A bit terrible isn’t it. The prices are worse. (Q: Yes quite.)
Q: You can’t go out without spending anything.
Miss H: Its surprising what you do spend. Pick up this and pick up the other. It’s a pity they shut this Co-op up here, ‘cause that was quite handy for us. (Q: Mmm.) At one time they used to sell sort of meat and chops and things. It saved going into town. [Braintree Road]
Q: Actually there’s more people live that way now.
Miss H: Yes, I don’t understand why they closed that place.
Q: I suppose it was all in with Colchester wasn’t it.
Miss H: Yes, I suppose so. That was the Post Office in Church Street wasn’t it.(Q: ..) When you’re getting old. It’s a pretty bad crossing up there. Its surprising how long you can stand there and wait to cross the road. (Q: Mmm.)
Q: Was the Post Office still there when you were …?
Miss H: No, Pendle had the Post Office first didn’t he, in the shop? (Q: I see.) Then when he retired from the grocery business he opened up as the Post Office didn’t he. More or less carried on there.
Q: So was that building … ?
Miss H: That was a little bungalow. [9 Church Street] Then we used to have a Chipping Hill Post Office down near opposite the Church. Mr Doole kept that as a Post Office and a little general shop for years. So we’ve always been used to a Post Office up this end. (Q: Mmm, yes.)
Q: There’s one of the houses there called The Old Post Office.
Miss H: On the hill, yes that’s where it used to be. Mrs Grape’s father kept it for years.
Q: I see yes, that was Mr Doole.
Miss H: Yes, then he bought Dean House when Mrs Wadley died, lived there till he died and his daughter Vera took it.
Q: Did the Grapes ever have the shop?
Miss H: Grapes never had it. Their father used to, his wife and his sister Gertie. Kept it for as long as I remember until they died. Then they closed.
[Chat about present shops, not noted]
Q: It’s amazing how quickly things change isn’t it really but everything seems to be different. I don’t suppose you remember what your wages were when you started do you ?
Miss H: Oh no, They weren’t much, about two pounds. [???] Now they want about sixty pounds to think about it (Q: Mmm.)
Q: Still I suppose at that time there wasn’t too much else in Witham?
Miss H: No there wasn’t much to do in Witham really. There was only the glove factory wasn’t there. If you wanted anything else you had to go to Chelmsford or out of town.
Q: Was the glove factory still going in the thirties. How long did that last?
Miss H: Now I wonder when that packed up ? It was there a number of years. I forget when that sort of folded up.
Q: You didn’t ever think of going ?
Miss H: There was nothing else in Witham.
Q: You didn’t ever think of going there?
Miss H: No.
Q: Still I suppose you were lucky to get the job in the shop then.
Miss H: Yes, suited me all right.
Q: Well, they must have liked you or the new people wouldn’t have kept you on. I should think with it changing hands that often you were almost running the place.
Miss H: Well, you get to know the whys and wherefores don’t you. Know the public, the customers.
Q: So presumably if you wanted meat [background noise] you knew what was good.
Miss H: Oh yes I know what I’m looking for. [???] meat [???] twice in the week which was very handy.
Q: That’s right. I suppose in the shop you had to [???] When you first went did they used to have the meat all sort of labelled ?
Miss H: Used to be ticketed up, oh yes. (Q: You don’t know how he decided what price to …?) No I suppose they had to work it out to make it pay, but I don’t now they managed that. It was nothing to do with me.
Q: I suppose it’s a matter also of what people wanted most of. (Q: Yes.) Did people telephone their orders sometimes ?
Miss H: Yes there were certain people that you had to phone you know, certain days and get their orders (Q: Oh, so you phoned them?) Yes. If they were on the phone. When I went there first, there weren’t that many people who were on the phone, no.
Q: So the busiest time was on a Saturday?
Miss H: Weekends, yes.
Q: What about during the year, were there certain times of year when you were not busy, were quieter, or was it ?
Miss H: When, in the meeat shop I think it was pretty general. People needed as much week as they do another. Holidays times used to be busy, especially Christmas, extra poultry and extra meat and sausages and extra sausagemeat. People really used to go mad. (Q: Did you have a Christmas Club or anything?) Used to do Christmas Clubs and money [???]. We’d be tearing around busy and somebody brings their card in to be totted up and had to pay that and they’d still keep shouting out in your other ear.
Q: So really the [???] book work ?
Miss H: They don’t have any of that now do they. Its money over the counter all the time, which is the easy part of it (Q: That’s right.) And the tills tot it all up for them when we used to have to had to tot if up for ourselves.
Q: Some people would pay cash over?
Miss H: Oh we quite a good shop business as well as the rounds. They were of course extra.
Q: What people would come into the shop and said …?
Miss H: Yes, some of them used to. Just put it on their bill.
Q: More bits of paper. It was quite different really wasn’t it [???]
Miss H: They do but not all that much.
Q: So you had regular things that they had always. (Miss H: Yes.) So after the War did the main slaughter house stay there or did that close down?
Miss H: No, I imagine, what they do now. They have a big slaughterhouse and they all order, you know, butchers order everything, there’s no slaughter house in town at all.
Q: So it was really the War that stopped all … ?
Miss H: Each butcher used to kill his own years ago, but they don’t do it today.(Q: It’s changed hasn’t it, .so quite a lot of) [???]have got a slaughterhouse at Fairstead which supplies lots of people round here. He does nothing but slaughter.
Q: It used to take up quite a lot of space didn’t it ?
Miss H: Oh yes and then you’d got to have the cattle round about town. Its an awful thought.
Q: Well, yes, people really like to forget about it don’t they. As long as it in the sticks. That one in the middle must have been next to the school wasn’t it ?
Miss H: Yes, the Church school. Round there, almost to the school didn’t it. They killed there during the War. We used to get our stuff from there I remember. (Q: Yes.) Joe Mahoney took the shop and of course he had his own abattoir at, er, up the road.
Q: Oh, so Mr Holt was it when it was Fuller’s that he worked there?
Miss H: No, I think he was here when Ryland was there and he worked with us for some time and then he took over Sorrell’s. Then that closed up and he went across to the shop across the road. [88 Newland Street] I would imagine it’s a company I would think. I’m not sure but I would think it’s a company.
Q: Because the others are all parts of chains aren’t they now ?
Miss H: Except Kingston’s and Baxter’s, they are independent butchers aren’t they ?
Q: Mmm. I suppose people kept their own pigs …
Miss H: Local people [???] ? Lots of people kept chickens, but you never see them about these days do you. (Q: No.) Poor little souls they shut em up in the sheds and that’s it. It’s the same with lots of the cattle I mean they don’t see daylight do they? (Q: Mmm.) [???] I think its really cruel. And that’s what they call progress [???] but I still don’t think its right. [???]
Q: [???] Of course, when I was young, chicken was quite special.
Miss H: Well, yes, people didn’t have chicken everyday like they do today. It used to be odd occasions. High days and holidays as it were. (Q: That’s right.) Christmas time, people would be having a chicken. It’s the same with oranges. When we were kids I think we only had oranges at Christmas but now you can get them all the year round. (Q: Yes.)
Q: At Christmas did people have turkeys so much then and things ?
Miss H: Not so much turkeys as chickens and ducks and geese. I think turkeys have only come in the last few years more haven’t they ?
Q: Of course, years ago I think they had beef more didn’t they ?
Miss H: Yes, great big joints of beef. They were beautiful too. A lot of people kept their own chickens and cockerels for Christmas. I know my Dad used to keep them, used to have a jolly great cockerel for Christmas. It was smashing. He kept them in the yard.
Q: I suppose people don’t have space so much now ?
Miss H: Well, no. Years ago you always had big gardens but today land is so valuable they cut down so you’ve only got a little patch.
Q: You’ve got quite a bit of space here haven’t you ?
Miss H: A lot of garden yes. [Farewells, not noted.]