Mr Albert Moss was born in about 1907. He was interviewed on 8 December 1982, when he lived at 221 Oak Road, Rivenhall.
For more information about him, see Moss, Albert, in the People category.
The original recording of this interview is held at the Essex Sound and Video Archive. To listen to the recording, please contact them at 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: Were you brought up round here ?
Mr M: No, I was born over at a little place called Shopland. That’s in Essex, that’s the other side of Rochford, near Rochford. Do you know Rochford ? (Q: Yes, a bit.) It’s between Rochford and Southend. Its about five miles from Southend. (Q: Mmm.)
Q: Were your folks in farming ?
Mr M: Well, what happened was this. Father worked, he was an cowman you know, and when I first started work I was about ten years old, (Q: Ten ?) yes ten years old and that was when the First World War was on. (Q: Yes.) And the farm, you see what it was, they had taken several of the chaps off the land, to go into the War and they had us boys from school, they got permission to have some of us boys to help on the farm you see. And we used to enjoy it. Not every day, we used to go sometimes two or three times a week. But harvest time they used to close the school then and then we could help on the land. And some of the girls used to have to come as well. I was only ten when I first started driving a horse and cart.
Q: I can’t think of suggesting that to my kids that they go and work.
Mr M: And that was when I got my first pocket money. But after the First World War, for I can remember the old Zeppelins as well you know, remember them coming over. Remember that one being brought down at Billericay. (Q: Really.) Yes, that was 1916, 1917. I can remember that. But I can’t remember much before. I can remember going to school. Used to go to a little school called Sutton School, that’s joined Shopland, I used to walk to it, they talk about the children walking to school today but we used to walk a mile and a half walk every day, winter and summer, no buses, nothing round there. What there was, there used to be the old horse and coach used to come through there, from Rochford and used to go through to Bournes Green, that’s near Southchurch, used to come along there and we often used to get some ha’pennies off them people, used to follow it, chase it along. But, em in respect on the land well then we moved over to Eastwood, that was in 1921, which we call our home now, because my sisters still live there and my brother. And that was where I met Ivy, where we got courting, and then I was on the land. I started work on the land, well, I officially started on when I was thirteen and I was allowed to leave school then. (Q: Mmm.) And then I worked full time. We used to have to start at six in the morning, leave off at five. No Saturdays, no Sundays. Used to have to go in just the same and feed the animals Saturdays and Sundays (Q: Did you ?) same as any other day. And do you know we [???] we used to enjoy it you know.
Q: So you lived at home did you ?
Mr M: Yes, I lived at home because there was six of us in the family. Mum and Dad, my four sisters, brother and me. (Q: Was your dad still working then?) And me dad was still working there on that same farm. Well, then you know, when I got to fifteen I thought I was getting big I thought I’d change my job and I got another job and that was milking cows. That was when I first learned to milk when I was with father, I was, I could milk a cow when I was thirteen. When I first started to learn to milk I got interested in it and then I went in the cowshed at when I was fifteen and it was all you know, you used to have to help with the, not only that I used to go round on the milk round. Take the milk round on the horse and cart. I was only fifteen yet I used to enjoy it you know. And we used to go into Southend and Westcliff. Used to go to Westcliff, right near Westcliff station. From Eastwood. Mind you there wasn’t the traffic on the road that was most all horse and carts on the roads then wasn’t it?
Q: Did they do other things as well as cows ?
Mr M: Yes, well there, where I was working, I used to have to do the garden, help do the garden and that you see but there I got fourteen shillings a week. And I used to have all me food found there. I used to like that. And then I left there and went with another chap who came out of the War, he’d returned from the War and he’d taken over one of the small holdings on the London Road at Southend, on the Arterial Road. And I remember them houses all being built. And I worked there for, and that was where I really got interested in the land. That was where I had me first pair of horses. And learned to plough. (Q: Goodness.) And they were very good. Mind you, that was good, that was where you could learn. He was so thorough. He would have things done right. And do you know it never come strange to me. When you’re taught like that. And he’d never waste anything you know. He was one of those farmers who wouldn’t waste a thing and he was really good. That was where I met up with Ivy and we got courting then and then I left there 1928-29 I left there.
That was when my first sister got married, that’s right, ‘28. And I worked the farm right joining it. And that was another good farm where you learned and I had a very bad accident one dinner time there, coming back from work. I laid unconscious in the old Victoria Hospital, Southend. Seven days I was unconscious there, with a fractured skull. (Q: What did you do ?) Well I was coming down the hill from home, I’d been home to lunch, and coming back, the Gas Company had got half the road up. (Q: Mmm.) Right on the corner where I’d got , and there was a bus there at the same time as me and I hit this bus head on so they tell me. I can’t remember the details. But anyhow, what it was, while I was there, at that farm. After a little while I was away over three months before I got back to work again. Then he said to me ‘How would you like to go down on my other farm in Bosham in Sussex?’ I said ‘Well, I don’t know’. Mind you I was interested. He said ‘Do you good a complete change.’ And I always remember him for that. That was so good of him because you know, he was really good. And yet he was so strict but he was so good with it. He had a nice way. And I went down there and I stopped down there, went down in the October and I came back the following May, it was. And you know it was really lovely. I went about down in Sussex and I saw more of Sussex, I knew more of Sussex than I did of Essex. Because you know I never used to go very far when I was home you see. And then when I came home he made me, put me in charge of the farms. He’d got two farms there and asked me if I’d like to take it on, he said, ‘Do you good boy,’ he said, ‘you’ll learn quicker if you’ve got the responsibility’. And that was where he tried to force one of his daughters on me, to marry one of his daughters. He’d got four daughters. They was all single, you know. They was all older than me. [laugh]. ‘There you are boy’, he said, ‘the first one to marry my daughter will get £2,000’. (Q: Golly !) Of course, you know, that was how he used to, but he was so good. (Q: Was he serious.) Yes, he was serious. I told him I was busy courting Ivy.
Q: How old were you then ?
Mr M: Oh, I was about twenty, yes, I was just twenty-one ?
Q: And he wanted you to take over ? (Mr M: Yes.) Was it a big farm then ?
Mr M: Oh he’d got five farms. He’d got a lot of farms. But he put me in charge of the two farms. There was about 1,500-1,600 acres of the farms there.
Q: You’d got on very well then ?
Mr M: Oh yes, I’d done very well. You know I used to enjoy it. Anyhow, let’s see what happened.
Q: Because when you were in charge of the farms what sort of things did that mean you had to do ?
Mr M: I had to work a damned sight harder than I what I had been doing (Q: Yes ?) Yes, because you’d got a big responsibility you know and you had to give an account of what every chap had been doing. Even if it was a wet day he used to want to know what they’d been doing. So he used to take, because he was an alderman, he was on the Southend bench a lot you know. Didn’t have time to spend so much time on the farms as he wanted to. (Q: Uhuh.) And I used to have to give an account of what every man or woman, and they had several women working there, …
Q: Did you have books and that to keep ?
Mr M: Yes, I did. Oh had to do all that, yes.
Q: What did they call your job then ?
Mr M: Well, I was the foreman. And the chaps all respected it you know. They knew that was a bit of a tough job.
Q: Some of them must have been older than you ?
Mr M: Oh yes, yes, because one of them had stepped down from being foreman. He’d been in charge four or five years and he said you’ve let yourself in for something now Albert. I said well, that’ll do me good. And I was young, I didn’t mind. But he was getting on you see and said ‘That’s to much for me’, he said.
Q: And did you have to do a job of your own as well or was it all supervising ?
Mr M: No, well, I used to have to help, if there was a man short I used to have to fill in his place, as well as do this as well. (Q: Quite.) Mind you I used to get the extra five shillings a week for doing all that. So I was getting two pounds a week when the others were getting thirty-five. Two pounds a week and they was getting thirty-five shillings.
Q: But you earned it by the sound of it ?
Mr M: Well you did but I tell you that was where you learned. You learn quicker if you are interested. But anyhow I stuck it out for quite a little while and then I had this, oh yes, that’s right, I got married while I was there. Course we did. And we’d been courting five or six years. But you know we used to have good times. We never used to go about like they do now, make up their mind to get married straight away. We used to have some smashing times. We used to go out, [???] on a Sunday afternoon, when I used to meet her, or when I used to meet her on a Thursday evening when it was her evening off you know.
Q: What did you used to do ?
Mr M: Used to go to the pictures in Southend or to the Hippodrome. There used to be the old Hippodrome at Southend. (Q: Yes.) Then we used to go along the front, walk along there and that’s why I never worry about it now, I never worry about going down to Southend. I saw so much of it when I was younger.
Q: Ivy was working then was she ?
Mr M: Yes, she was in service. And then I, see, yes, I left there and I went to another smallholding, a chap asked me, stopped and asked me, ‘Come on Albert’, he said, ‘I’ll give you more money than he’s giving you and you won’t have to work no where near so hard’, he said. There again, he’d got cattle you see, and I had to look after them. When I went and when I told the old fellow, he said ‘Ah’ he said ‘boy’ he said,’ you might just as well as stopped here’. I said no. Anyhow he never bore no grudges. Course he couldn’t do nothing, I told him I wanted a good reference off of you. And I’ve still got it to this day. (Q: Have you really?) And anyhow I went to this, this was all land joined. Because the farms were all together there you see. I went to this small holding and they were really nice people. We got on well with them. They were really nice. The worst part there was that he had to sell up and so of course that meant, he said ‘Oh Albert, I’ve got to, You’ve never had a holiday since you’ve been here, been here for five years’ he said ‘and you’ve never had a holiday’, he said. I used to go in Saturdays and Sundays you know, milk the cattle and that. Well anyhow he said ‘you’d better have this last week off, I’ll do the cattle and that’, he said. I was disappointed there because that really was a good place. You know and they was so good to us.
Q: Was that just him that had to sell up or was everybody having a bad …?
Mr M: No, he had to sell up (Q: Oh I see.) and he came over here somewhere at Braintree and I never did find out where he went to. But anyhow then I got, that was 19’, then I picked up another job. That was when it was a job to get work. You couldn’t get a job anywhere, only on the land, in the 1930s, see, this would be, no, cause Ivy and me were married, that was 1933 and that really was bad and I went, I got a little job there at Rayleigh. I picked up this job there, I was recommended there and I went and saw this lady. And they’d got a lot of pigs there. Of course I was still interested in them, and then the War broke out. That’s right I was there till, yes, that’s right I was there till the War broke out. It was 1938 when the Ministry stepped down, they knew this War was coming on, and they stepped down and stopped all sale of pigs. They took control of them. So she said ‘What are going to do Moss?’, I said ‘Well I dunno’, because it was a lady who ran that. Mind they had tons of money they had. And so I said there’s only one thing you can do. If the Ministry’s going to take them they’re going to take them. They took all the best too. (Q: Really ?) Yes, they jolly well did. So they was aware there was going to be something wrong. This was the end of 193’. It was ’39, the beginning of 1939 when the War broke out, wasn’t it. Because I can remember two wars. I remember the first one and I remember this one. And that really was a do[?] and that put me out of gear again, so I was out of work. I thought ‘Blimey what am I going to do now?’. And we got really worried because we was living in a cottage. I used to get two pounds a week and out of that I had to pay ten shillings for rent you know, rent and rates. So of course Ivy was a little bit worried and she used to do little odd jobs and we’d got Peggy, Peter wasn’t born then. That’s right, Peter was born at whatsename. So anyway I thought, ‘Blow this, what I was going to do’.
Anyhow, the first job I had, when I first went to Mr Sparrow’s to work, where I was with father, you know, where father used to live. (Q: Mmm.) He said to me ‘My son wants a cowman Albert. How would you like to go to Steeple ?’ So that’s how I got to Steeple. (Q: I see.) And I went there and, you know, we were there ten years all through the War. (Q: Were you really?) Yes we were. And that was where we saw a lot and got to know the like the young chaps who used to come there to Stansted Abbey you know young Wedgwood Benn. I knew his father well. He was a gentleman he was. If ever there was a gentleman he was. I can’t understand Tony being like he is (Q: No ?) but his father he very often used to come in the stables or in the cowshed and have a jaw with us and this is, Lady Stansted she used to as well (Q: Really ?) Well I was there ten years and then they sold up, then he sold that farm, young Sparrow did. Well and then I came here and I’ve been here ever since. That was 1950 when I came here.
Q: How did you get this job then ?
Mr M: Well that was advertised in the paper. When I came to see about it, they said ‘Oh you won’t be here about three or four weeks, Albert’. I said ‘Why not?’. They said ‘He can’t keep anybody’. I said ‘All the more reason why I should.’ ‘Ah, you’ll find you’ll be [???]’ These were the old ones, what was here. I said ‘You want to mind you don’t go first’. They’ve all gone. I saw them all out, all bar Bill Stock. [laugh]
Q: Why did they say that do you think ?
Mr M: Well, he used to be so strict, he never could keep any men. His name was always in the paper you know and anyhow I tried and, this is how much I, I really enjoyed it. Him and me we often used to have a straightener, especially when he found, of course what happened was, I was, this was when Tom Driberg put up the last time. (Q: Yes.) No, not Tom Driberg, when Tom Driberg retired (Q: I know, yes.) ‘53 (Q: Something like that.) ‘53 or ‘54 I think, I can remember [probably ’55 actually] Well and, what was his name Scutts, Lynton Scutts. Nice chap he was. Was it him or was it the other one ? Who’s in Parliament now, not Lynton Scutts, I remember that name, oh, I forget, the first one after Tom Driberg anyhow. Of course what I did, I put a notice up outside (Q: Did you ?) you know, real good, and when he come in the stable there next morning he said ‘Take that out outside that house Moss’ he said ‘I’ll have no adverts on my house’. I said ‘What?’ ‘Huh. Vote for Labour’, he said ‘you want your brains tested.’ [laugh]. ‘Yes, I know’, I said, ‘but why I shouldn’t put the notice up’. ‘No’, he said, ‘Not outside’. So I said all right I’d put it inside. So of course, every time he came out here, I not only put one on this window I put one on that one there, outside. [laugh] You know, inside. So you know he’d catch it both ways, which ever way he came in. He didn’t like that so he stuck one up on that tree there so that I should see it. [laugh]. Of course he said to me ‘Fancy you being a Labour supporter’. I said ‘Well, I can understand why you’re a Conservative’, but I said ‘Why shouldn’t I be a Labour supporter. A lot more people are. You don’t want to worry because we shall be back in Parliament this time’. ‘You’ll see you won’t’ he said. We used to have some real good old downers like that. Now he used to enjoy that didn’t he?
Q: He didn’t get – you didn’t get in trouble over it really ?
Mr M: No, he couldn’t do nothing about it. I said ‘You can’t do nothing about it, I pay you …’. You see, the funny part about it was, I wasn’t to know this, he said to me ‘I suppose you’ve put that up inside there’. I said ‘You can’t stop me putting anything on display. I can display anything I like inside my house because I pay you five shillings a week rent”. ‘Oh, oh is that the reason’. I said ‘Yes, and you cannot do nothing about it’. And that was when I got interested in, not only in the Labour Party but you know, in the Rivenhall Party, because it was real good Red Rivenhall, wasn’t it. I mean it was Red Rivenhall when I came here. Everybody was Labour, bar him.
Q: And what farm was it he was ?
Mr M: This one down here, Hoo Hall, yes, Cyril Fairhead. He was well known. But anyhow …
Q: So you got involved really then did you ?
Mr M: Yes, I did, that when I really got involved in … See, when I was about fifteen or sixteen when I was working at that one near the schools, that was where I first got interested in the parish business. Because the guv’nor there he used to take me along to the meetings. Him and his, he used to take his son, Philip, and me. Used to take us along to those meetings. They used to be quite interesting, you know, at Eastwood. And I really did enjoy it. And that was when they, old Jim Ager come and saw me and he said, course he used to work on the railway there. He said ‘I’m coming off that now’, he said ‘Why don’t you take my place on the Council, Albert?’ I said ‘No, I dunno,’ [???] ‘Yes, go on’ he said ‘you do it,’ he said, ‘do you good. They want a young chap like you on there who isn’t afraid to speak out.’. So that’s how I got on there.(Q: I see.) Him and Alf [???] they proposed me, got me in. Of course there was nobody put up against me. That upset me Lordship again, I can tell you. Of course I had a real good old laugh over that. And they told me they said ‘Blimey, what will the old man say?’. I said, ‘He can’t say nothing about it. I can do what I want to. It’s my own time. ‘[???] my own time’. But anyhow, as I got on in there and got to different meetings, I used to have to go, I had to chair one or two meetings and then got on the …, got really interested in it, when I used to have to go …. So he said to me, I said to him one day, ‘Now look I’ve got to go to a special meeting at Norwich’ I said ‘and so I shan’t be in tomorrow’. ‘Oh, you won’t. Not going to make a habit are you?’, he said. [laughter] I said ‘Well, no, but this time they’ve asked me, the Council have asked me …’. ‘Oh, I see, suppose I’d better let you go’. I said ‘All right’. He said ‘I’ll tell you what,’ he said, ‘I shan’t pay you for it’. I said ‘No, I don’t expect you will’. ‘Well how are you going to work it?’ I said ‘I’m going to count is as one day off my holiday’. And I did that for twelve years. (Q: Really ?) That’s how I used to get my holidays. By having a day on the Council, away, you know, to a meeting. And I never did get paid for it but I had my holidays that way. Ivy used to say ‘We never go away anywhere’ and we couldn’t because I’d used up all my holiday you see.
Q: Really. How many holiday were you … ?
Mr M: We was allowed, eight, nine, just over a week, we were allowed the first time. Then they made it a fortnight didn’t they and they used to get included in that. So I didn’t mind, I got used to it but (Q: It’s a bit tough isn’t it ?) but the funny part about it was, then as he got older and I was getting older and he used to take, oh we had some straighteners in the stables down here. Because we had some horses and mind you, I’ll give him credit, he had some lovely horses and we used to enjoy it you know. And we used to have some straighteners in the stables here when he come down there sometimes. He’s say to me, he said ‘How much longer are you going to be on the Council?’ Oh, no, this was, I’ll never forget when I had my first opposition. When I was putting up one year and there was three or four of them were coming. Even Mollie Clarke, she was one of them, she put up. Bill Webdale. And I forget the other one’s name. She’s on Witham Council now. She’s serving on there now, I forget her name, but she comes from Witham anyhow and they put up against me. So, of course I really done some canvassing then, I hadn’t done that before, for our local party but [???] anyhow, in the stable one morning. He said ‘Huh! I see you’ve got opposition, Moss?’ I said ‘Yes, for a change,’ I said, ‘that’ll make it interesting’. ‘A lot of mad…’ this is what he said, he [???], we couldn’t see eye to eye. Yet he turned round and said to me ‘Stupid, putting up against you like that, I shan’t vote for ‘em.’ he said. ‘You’ll get my vote.’ I said ‘Thank you very much’. That’s what I used to take [???]. You know, its surprising Janet. And do you know he was so good and I’ve never forgot him for that. When I come home and told Ivy. She said she wouldn’t believe me ‘He never said that’. I said ‘Yes he did’.[???] Of course them in the house they used to vote as he did. There used to be four of them, Mrs Olley, Fred Olley and Vernon Olley. Well, whatever he voted he was sort of boss, that was Fairhead, he was the boss, they used to vote the same as him. So Mrs Olley came out she said ‘Fancy them putting up against you Albert’. ‘Yes’, I said ‘It’ll be interesting. I’ll see if I can thrash Mollie Clark. Him and, her and me could never see eye to eye’. Of course when it came to the voting poor old Mollie Clark she left there crying (Q: Really?) she couldn’t bear to hear it. She only got eighty votes and I got four hundred and something. I really thrashed her. She didn’t like that. [she was Conservative]
Q: Did he say anything to you after ?
Mr M: He said ‘A lot of wasted time’. I said ‘No’, I said ‘I was very pleased you went and voted. Thank you very much indeed’. I mean I had nothing to lose. (Q: No.) [???] I put in several things for him in respect of different things that I fought for, on this road, and whatsitsname and that. And the Council were most helpful. (Q: Quite.) And that was a jolly good Council we had there in Witham then. That really was. That really was good. I think one of the best chaps ever I noticed on there was old Harry Crook. When he was there. He was the Clerk and he really was good. (Q: Mmm.)
Q: It must have been a bit strange for you when you first got on was it ?
Mr M: Oh, don’t talk about it, [laugh] I shall never forget the very first day I went on there. well not the first, I’d been on, there, he said ‘You want to …’ old Harry Crook came after me and [???] ‘Now then Albert,’ he said ‘Just sit back and take notice’ he said. ‘Don’t say anything for a, …unless you’ve got anything’ he said. ‘Just sit and listen’. I said ‘Yes, all right’. Well old Rex Mott was in the chair then, course that was easy with him in the chair because he’d make it so easy for you. Well, I went to one or two meetings and then I went to a full Council meeting, my first full Council meeting. I’ve never forgot that. Mark Strutt sat right beside me. And there he used to sit there with his arms folded and sleeping as I thought. [laugh] [???] come here sleeping’. There was Ted Mawdsley, Bryn Lewis, and, oh I forget. I’ve got a whole list of names, I can’t think of the names. Sat there listening. Of course something didn’t quite suit me so I got up and said so. And I had a little bit to say you know, so he jumped, he said, ‘Sit down’, he said, ‘You’re out of order’ he said. [laugh] Frightened the life out of me.
Q: Who said that ? Mark Strutt ?
Mr M: Mark Strutt. I felt about as big as that. And I was out of order. Of course old Harry Crook said, ‘That’s the way to learn Albert. You’ll learn quicker’. I said ‘I shall know what I’m saying another time.’ I never forgot that. And yet do you know, when we got outside he said ‘You looked a bit disturbed’. I said ‘It was enough to frighten me the way you hit that table’. ‘What’, he said, ‘Must get things right at the start. You come here to school,’ he said, ‘You got to learn properly’. And do you know he was so right. (Q: Yes.). And this is how I learned such a lot in life, you know, there’s so much.
But what I liked about this one, after all that time, Janet, the ups and downs that we had here. He said to me ‘Ah’, this was Fairhead, it really was, it was getting the better of him [???] and I’d lost my poor old mate Albert Hollicks, a good old mate he was, lost him, he’d died, passed away. So I was up there with the horses on my own, you see. ‘Ah, I shall have to get rid of some of them horses Moss’, he said ‘I don’t want to, but I shall have to. I’ll keep two for you’. I said ‘All right.’ Which he did. Then I lost one, one of those was queer one day. He said ‘Ah’, he said, ‘What’s the matter with it?’ I said ‘I know what’s the matter with it, it’s got what we got call a twisted gut’. When they get that it’s very very rare they ever get over it. ‘Ah’ he said, I’ve never forgot it. I said to him, ‘Look, why don’t you let the vet put him away. It’s such a pity to lay there like that,‘ I said, you can’t do nothing about it’. ‘Ah, ah well. You stop with it’ he said, ‘I shall be gone’, because he used to go to have his pint up at the Conservative, you know, Constitutional Club, always, every night eight o’clock till he used to come home about quarter to eleven. I stopped up there with her in the yard. Couldn’t do nothing. And he came back about eleven o’clock. He said ‘Ah’, he said, ‘Now I’ll relieve you’ and he came and sat there with it till I’d got to be there at two or half past two in the morning, that’s right. So I went again. ‘Ah, ain’t no difference Moss’, he said ‘No, there won’t be, I said’ ‘you might as well have it done with’. Anyhow I stopped there till six o’clock and she passed away about six o’clock. But that’s the sort … now he didn’t forget that. And I always think about that and when he left his will. When he died, he died a little while afterwards. He was, it wasn’t very long after that he passed away. And that shocked a lot of these too. You know because I was the one who was going to get pushed out first and I was still here. Yet he left me exactly the same in his will as he did them. I could have this cottage, live in here, provided I looked after the inside. They would look after the outside and I could stop on here as long as I liked. (Q: That’s good.) Rent free, but I’d got to pay my rates. I mean I couldn’t have had anything better than that could I ? Ivy was ever so pleased because we thought, you know, we’d have to get out. (Q: Mmm.)
But anyhow that’s been so interesting, you know, and in the meantime, oh yes, of course, course, then I got on the, I’ve never forgot it. When I, this was 1966 I think. 1966. Ken Cuthbe drew up here one day and he said ‘Albert,’ he said ‘how would you like to get on the Bench ?’ On the … on the bench, yes. So I said ‘I would like to but I don’t have time, with the Council’. And this, I had to do a day’s work, do my Council work and then on the Bench at the same time. So anyhow, and that was where a lot of my holiday time was gone when I went on the Bench you see. He said, ‘You think about it’. I said ‘Yes, I will’. [???] So I discussed it Ivy and ‘Well you please yourself’, she said ‘you know whether you can do it’. I said ‘well, I would be interested’. And blow me I had a letter come to say they wanted to interview me. So, I thought I’d better find out first how I’m going to be positioned because I knew I should lose a lot of time going to Court. I went down there and said, I want a special word with you, you read this letter look.’ ‘Huh, what’s that for. Huh, on the Bench.’ he said ‘Huh, you’re getting interested aren’t you Moss?’ I said ‘Yes, I am’. ‘Well’, he said, ‘I don’t see that it’ll make any difference. Of course, I shan’t pay for the time you have off’. You know he was that sort of man. That’s how he was.[laugh] (Q: You knew where you were.) I said ‘No, I wouldn’t expect it.’ [???] I said ‘I hope so’. Mind you that was when the tractors and that were taking over. You know, we hadn’t got so many horses, and gradually they were getting more tractors and more modernised and so of course I went up to Chelmsford for this interview and it was really interesting too. This was in the February. So he said ‘How long you’ll have to wait I don’t know. Blow me in the August I got a letter from the Lord Chancellor telling me they’d accepted me on the Bench. Of course I was very pleased. I took it down to show him. ‘Oh, oh’ he said ‘When are you going to start?’. I said ‘Well I’ve got to start this Tuesday.’ ‘’Oh have you, ah.’ He said ‘When’ve you got to go? How long will you be gone?’ He was worried about his work you know. But anyhow we got over that, surprising how you can do things …
Q: It must have taken a lot of your time up though ?
Mr M: I did, I never had time, Ivy’d tell you the same, I was out … Council meetings three times a week. Then the Bench in the morning on Tuesdays, sometimes all day Tuesdays I used to go. But you should see the lovely letters I have had from the Bench since I retired. I had to come off when I was seventy and I had to retire. I had a lovely letter from the Lord Chancellor asking if I’d like to serve a further two years on the Chelmsford Bench, on the Chelmsford Crown Court for a further two years because of the work that I’d put in. I was very pleased about that. I don’t know, when people say they haven’t got time for this and time for that. I haven’t time to work now have I ?
Q: So were you still working for him when he died ? (Q: Yes, I was, yes.) So what happened then, did someone else take over ?
Mr M: Well, what they did, you see what’s happened now is the farm was sold half of it went that way, Robert Brice took half of that land, the other side of the railway line and Mr Siggis[?] took this half. And the place was, everything was sold up.
Q: What happened to your job then ?
Mr M: Oh, well, I finished. That was when I got a little job here at Crittall’s. (Q: Oh I see.) Just two days a week that used to be. Mind you I wasn’t working full time here when he died. Because you know, I was getting me pension and you know what it is if you get your blessed pension you can’t get …. But anyhow we got over that all right. And now the Hoo Hall itself oh complete alteration. I don’t know whatever he’d say if he saw it now. Because he was a rare man for leaving his hedges and trees and that. And he used to keep them all trimmed up. Used to be so strict on that sort of thing. Now, they’re all gone. (Q: Mmm.) And the Hall itself, the Hoo Hall House, that belongs to the Mr Peyton[?] the vet’s got that now. (Q: Yes, I see). And he looks after it. Oh its lovely up there now, the house and that. But all the fields and that are all in one.
Q: Because, did you do all sorts as well as the horses … ?
Mr M: Oh yes, when the horses had gone I used to be just ordinary, same as anybody else, you know. Oh yes, same as harvest time I used to have to go with them harvesting on the combines and that. Mind you, I never used to drive anything. And I wouldn’t drive at tractor, I said ‘No, I’m not going to start now’ I said, ‘not now.’ [laugh] I had already, when I was younger used to, but not the latter part of the time, there was no need for it.
Q: When did he start getting tractors and things ?
Mr M: Well, he’d got tractors when I came here but in the 1960s things gradually began to improve you see. I’d been here about ten or eleven years when … Mind you he’d got combines and that but he got more modernised, you know and began to get the more modern tractors. He found that if he kept the tractors for say one or two years, he’d get better ones for replacements and he could keep improving on it and that’s how he took advantage of it. Then of course when we hadn’t got any horses well it was all done by tractors completely.
Q: Yes, I remember when I was young, my uncle had farms, but this was up in Cumberland, but they had horses and tractors, both.
Mr M: Yes, that’s what we had here. But when I first came here, but then it got so he hadn’t got any horses.
Q: So you were foreman in that previous job but when you were up here … ?
Mr M: Oh, no I wouldn’t take it.
Q: You wouldn’t? Were you offered anything different ?
Mr M: No, because he liked to be his own foreman. He liked to give the orders. See what it was, I was getting in a little more money than I was when I came here but I’d have done anything to get a blessed job, ‘cause it was a job to get to work, you know. It wasn’t so easy to get work then.
Q: So he didn’t really have a foreman ?
Mr M: No, we didn’t have a foreman here.
Q: What sort of day did he have then ? Did he come round and see what …?
Mr M: Oh, he saw me every morning. He’d be in the stables to see what time you got there in the morning, oh yes, whether it was six o’clock or half past. Because when we first came here I used to be down the stables about six o’clock. Then it got to half past six, then it got to seven o’clock. Then when we got no horses we all used to have to be there at eight o’clock. We used to go eight till twelve, then from one till five. So you had four hours you see.
Q: So you’ve seen a few changes from when you started ?
Mr M: Oh, I’ve never seen a place alter like it. It really has. But the funny part about it is, as much as they criticise the farming today, they are still getting more stuff per acre than what we used to. We used to know all the answers and the old boy used to know all the answers. Mind you they were all weather experts then. That’s where I learned a lot about the weather. (Q: Really?). But I think the farmers today do more. They get, well someone was saying ‘They get all the artificials and everything now, you see. You never see them carting the muck on the land like we used to’. But they are much more modern and I must admit the crops that I’ve seen round here are really marvellous.
Q: Presumably they don’t have anything like the same number of people working ?
Mr M: No, see there’s nobody down here. All this land and there’s nobody working down there but what they do, Mr Siggis[?], they live round here at [???] [???] they have a lot of farms, they come up here and do the work and they shut the gate and finished and they don’t do no more to it. Oh no, that’s it.
Q: Did your Dad specialise in anything ?
Mr M: He always was with cattle, sheep and cattle. Dad was always with them. All his life.
Q: Did he get a foreman’s job or anything like that ?
Mr M: Oh, no, no, no. He’d never take on the responsibility. (Q: I see.) Only for the cattle. He used to be responsible for them. (Q: Did he get more money for…?) I think he used to get two shillings a week more than the others, because he would worked Saturdays and Sundays. (Q: Of course, yes, yes.)
Q: Was he interested in the Council or anything like that?
Mr M: No, no. He’d have nothing to do with that. (Q: I wondered where you got it from.) No he used to … he was interested in the Liberal Party, that was his main object. Lloyd George and all that was all we used to get out of Dad. (Q: Oh, so he was interested then?) Oh yes, yes he was. This is true, but I was always, but I think what did me for it, was when I was, as I tell you, around fifteen, sixteen there when I was working at Collingwoods, we lived right near the school and he used to take me to these people with Philip [at Eastwood]. And I used to love going and this is where I got interested in it you know, in the village, because Eastwood is a biggish place. (Q: Oh I see yes.) And that’s before it was taken over by the Southend Borough. We used to know all the old fields and everything. And knew what everybody was doing. But that used to be so interesting and they used to put it round such an idea, they’d fight for street lamps here and street lamps there and how much money they’d got. And they’d only have a few hundred, well perhaps if they’d got a hundred pounds was a lot of money, wasn’t at that time of day ?
Q: What was this, the Parish ?
Mr M: The Parish, Eastwood. (Q: Were they Liberals ?) Well they all used to call themselves Independents. They always used to be that type you see and they used to say ‘Well what are you?’ And I used to say ‘Well I don’t know yet’. [laugh]. They said which what party are you interested in and I said ‘Well I, well my father’s interested in the Liberal Party’. ‘Yes, very sensible too’ and all that sort of thing. But there was still some of them, the farmers and that what used to come there, they were real Conservatives you see. They’d say ‘They’re no good you want a good Conservative’.
Q: And this chap that was an Alderman at Southend ?
Mr M: Ah yes, he was a real good old Tory, he was, old John Fowler. But I’ll never forget, you know, there was so many things. Now, I learned a lot from him in respect of that. Because I used to say to him sometimes when we used to go out into the field, he’d come out and have a word with you out in the field. And you know [???] [???]‘Yes, that blessed old hedge there when [???] that wants cutting down’ I’d say. ‘Oh does it, Albert’, he used to say. ‘I’ll get that done.’ He said, ‘I’ll get the Council in to do that’. The Parish Council’, he said, ‘its their responsibility’. Because there used to be these big old high hedges down where his farm was. [???]. Of course it isn’t now, it’s all built-up area now. (Q: Is it ?) But he was another man who was interested in that sort of thing and that was where I sort of, put two and two together, and you gradually get used to it. When I came here I had the golden opportunity, mind you, it was so interesting because it is not just, not only that, you get the people’s opinions. And if you listen to people, see [???] ‘How is it you can get on with anybody Albert?’ I’d say ‘I don’t know, it isn’t my fault,’ I said ‘I just stop and listen’. Mind you I don’t always agree, but if you’ve got time to listen you can learn, you know, people’s different opinions.
Q: Presumably, I mean, most of the people you used to work with, I mean was there any problem between the farm workers and the farmers or anything?
Mr M: No, no trouble at all. Do you know what …
Q: What about the Farm Workers’ Union? Were you involved in anything like that ?
Mr M: Yes, I was, I used to belong to the Union, always was a paid up member, my last ticket was, well its finished now because when I got seventy they didn’t want no more money off me and I said ‘Oh, that’s that fair enough’. Because father was inclined to belong to the … He didn’t belong to it but he used to have a great thought about it. (Q: Oh I see.) But I did. I joined up and I’ll tell you what made me join it, Janet. The Union. You don’t think of these things till they happen. Now I wasn’t all that interested in it at the time. This happened down at Steeple, when I was there. This was in the War time. Well we used to have a stallion down there. A chap used to round on his rounds and this happened one day, and he used to live next door to me, you see, where we used to live. And he said ‘I can’t understand why you don’t join the Union Albert.’ I said I ‘No, I ain’t going to join that’. I said. It wasn’t much to pay each week but he used to pay. Ah he said ‘I belong to the Union’, he said, ‘You never know what’s going to happen. Anything can happen, you can get some compensation.’ Well I wasn’t aware exactly what he meant by that but it did happen one day, he was bringing a horse out of the stable to water, that stepped on his foot. It jammed his foot and it really did make a mess of it, too. Oh, he had … Of course I had to look after the horse. Anyhow, pure accident, at least I said it was an accident. So he put this in the Union’s hands and he got compensation for that. He got sixty pounds for that. So I said to Ivy ‘I dunno. That’s interesting’. She said ‘Yes, it jolly well is. If you get hurt like that. And it happened again.’ Little while after that, that’s only the one case, then it happened again [background noise] old Sid Chapman, he was head cowman and one of the blessed cows got out like they do, and one of the bulls got out. And we had the job of going after it. This blessed bull set about him. That really did, that give him one. And he never did get over it. He got five hundred pounds through the Union. You know that really set about him and we had to fight like the devil to get it off of him. And I was there at the time. I never got, it didn’t hurt me, but it did him. Trampled, you know, knelt on him. Really did. Crushed his ribs, cor it made a mess of him. (Q: Mmm.) ‘Well’, I thought, ‘I dunno, I’m blowed if I ain’t going to join the Union now.’ So that’s how I come to, and I paid it right up till I was finished when I was seventy. And I had a letter from them saying I didn’t, well I could still pay it if I like. But oh yes I was interested in it then and that was where I got more interested in the Union. Mind you that was when the Unions were good. They weren’t only [???]. They didn’t worry about your job so much but they was talking about accidents at work you know. Mind you the guv’nors and that, you see this is where I had a word with him down there. [his boss, Fairhead of Hoo Hall] He said to me one day, we was talking about different things, I said ‘Yes’, I said, you know, we was talking about different …, but he wouldn’t hold a conversation with you for long, because if he knows he was losing he’d clear off. [Laugh]. So he was talking about Unions ‘Oh yea, Unions, causing a lot of trouble in this country.’ I said, ‘Well, you belong to one don’t you ?’ ‘Huh, only the Farmers’ Union’. I said ‘Yes, they’re more trouble than they’re worth, ain’t they’. He didn’t like me for that because I gave it straight back to him. [Laugh]. Well, it’s right, well there’s no difference is there ? I mean I never forgot when I went on the Council, when I went to Eastbourne. That was when they opened the first big, that big Congress hall at Eastbourne. I’ve never forgotten that. That was when Sir Keith Joseph was in the chair. (Q: Mmm.) And we sat there and I was with, now …I forget who the other chap’s name I went with. Anyhow, I went there for the week, you know, on this … Well, we went down there in the Monday and got there and there wasn’t much on in the afternoon, just introduction like. Tuesday was another one when they was giving you all what was going to be done and all this, that and the other, and on the Wednesday the meetings were thrown open you see and it was all to do with Rates. Well, I was chairman of Rates then. And I’ve never forgot it. And, of course, I wasn’t to know this, I soon found out. I put my question down on a piece of paper which you send up. A chap come round collecting and I sent it up. This was about ten to one on the Wednesday. And there was three thousand of us in the hall. So ‘Councillor Moss from Witham, JP’. So I stood up to the rostrum, they’ve got a little stand there, where you stand outside in the passageway, gangway. ‘Could I ask a question, sir, first ?’ ‘Yes, you may.’ Yes, you see this is Sir Keith Joseph, you see. There was five up on the bench. There was him and four others beside him. (Q: Yes.). ‘Is agriculture an industry?’ ‘Well, it’s number one industry’. ‘Thank you very much, sir. That answers that. The next question is then, why is it that, if I put up a garage, the Council are jolly soon on me for rates.’ I said ‘And yet a farmer can have two big garages and don’t pay a penny rate on it. And he doesn’t even pay a penny rate on his other big buildings’. You never heard such a row in all your life. Cor. Oh, these old farmers. It was all blinking farmers behind me weren’t they. [Laugh.] Old Jack Drury was with me. He said ‘You put your foot into it this time’. I said ‘I don’t bloody care’.[laughter] He said ‘Order please.’ he said, ‘Well I think’ he said, you know he was talking about one thing, he said ‘I think we’ll adjourn this till after lunch’. Course, he hadn’t got nobody there to answer that question had he? That was the trouble, the others didn’t know the answer to it. I see him have a word with them. So anyhow, we went out to lunch, lovely lunch that was, which we deserved.(Q: Bet you did, yes.) I sat there. We was talking together. Old Jack Drury said, ‘What are you going to say, Albert?’ I said ‘Nothing, I’m just going to wait to hear what they’ve got to say.’ I said ‘I’m glad we’ve got some farmer friends here. They blinking well know that’s right. Chap came up and he said, ‘Councillor Moss from Witham ?’ I said ‘That’s me.’ ‘Do you mind if I have my lunch with you ?’ I said ‘No, I don’t mind, do you Jack?’ He said ‘No, we don’t mind at all. So he sat down with us. So he said ‘I’m a QC and by Jove,’ he said, ‘you’ve stirred it really up.’ He said ‘You’ve made it most interesting’. (Q: Mmm.) He said ‘You haven’t got many good friends in there now’. I said ‘No, I bet they’re all bloody farmers.’ Excuse the language but they’re the words I said. He said ‘ He said yes, well, to tell you the truth Mr Moss’, he said ‘I don’t know the answer to that. Why should they …’ I said ‘Well look, we’ve got all new buildings at their place. Having all new buildings built and yet he don’t pay a penny rate on them’. And when I asked this question they said oh no, that’s free enterprise for the farmers. But if I put one up,’ I said ‘and he’s got two lovely garages there, all free, He’s got all those stables, all those lovely buildings and they don’t pay a penny rate on ‘em.’ So, of course when we come back after lunch, everybody was talking, they all knew the answers. None of them did. So he said ‘Councillor Moss.’ So I got up and stood there again. He said ‘Now we have a gentleman here,’ he said. ‘who will be able to answer your questions.’ I said ‘Thank you very much.’ And he introduced me to this chap. He said ‘Well this dates back. You’ve asked the question why a farmer doesn’t pay any rates other than his house.’ I said ‘Yes, but then he gets half rate. I can understand that’. He said ‘Well, the reason why he doesn’t have to pay any r
ateable, why the buildings are not rateable is because this dates back to 1929 when they took that from them when the farmers were having rather a tough time.’ And I looked, oh these old blokes were still [???] [???] you know it’s got some of them. So when he finished, having explained, that’s how it originated from he said ‘Have you any question?’ I said ‘Yes, well, when is this likely to be altered ?’ [Laugh] He said ‘Well, if you like, sir’, he said, ‘You can have that put on the agenda to have it altered and it might be discussed in four or five years time’ He said it might be. So I said ‘Thank you very much’. And that’s as far as I got. And that’s the last you’ll heard of that.
Q: Oh goodness. Well you made them think about it. What conference was that ?
Mr M: This was at Congress. The Rating Congress. When that was the first open … at Eastbourne, the first time it was opened, when that big Congress hall was opened. Mind you it was a beautiful place. A lovely place. But I’ll never forget putting my foot into it there. I really stirred them up.
Q: Did you come across many other farm workers as councillors when you went around to these things ?
Mr M: Ah yes, when you go to different areas ? Where I found the most interesting ones was up at Norwich. I used to go up to there. And they were all agricultural workers, most of them. And they had. I was on Safety Committees when I used to go up to Norwich a lot. There was a man there. Dr Murdoch and he was an interesting chap too. And he was a real good Labour man. I’ve got one of the old photos there of me taken when I was there and I brought it home with me, it was in one of the Norwich papers. And they made me chairman of the, you know of the committee, the three of us, Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex. They made me chairman of that. So of course I was pleased about that. But there was a lot of good agricultural workers there and they used to say to me ‘Why don’t you try and got on our side[?] Albert and do this …’ ‘I can’t, no, I’ve got enough to do now.’ I said ‘I have to do a day’s work as well as come here.’ Because a lot of those, who worked for those good farmers there, they used to get paid for their days when they come, but I never, I used to take mine off my holidays you see and that’s why I never had no holidays. Oh, I was very often out of, I very often had to lose a day’s pay rather than …
Q: Presumably if you used up your holidays you’d just have a day and no pay ? (Mr M: That’s right.) That was tough wasn’t it.
Mr M: Till they brought this bit into. I don’t know whether it was 1960 something when they brought this in which you could have an allowance. (Q: Yes.) Of course then they told me at Witham, they said ‘Look you can claim your allowance Albert’ ‘Oh I don’t want to do that’, ‘Well you’re very foolish because it’s there and they have the right to pay it to you. But I never did claim my bus fare or anything like that. Never used to worry about that.
Q: And what about the Bench ? Did they pay allowances or anything?
Mr M: They used to allow me. You could only claim up to two pounds on the Bench. Now they’ve altered that again, they tell me, so you can claim on it. Them on the jury used to get it. They got full pay. But I didn’t, I used to get two pounds. Oh I didn’t mind, I wasn’t worried.
Q: It must have put a few people off being on …
Mr M: You see, This is where I picked it up again. Good chaps they wouldn’t take it. They said ‘No, we’re not going to do that Albert’. Yet the women who got on there, they wanted to just say that they were JPs. That’s all they wanted. Just that word, them letters behind, it didn’t make any damned difference to me. I didn’t care what they put on or what they didn’t. But what I used to enjoy, I used to enjoy the work. (Q: Mmm.) And you get a lot of ladies now, trying to talk Witham down, Betty Denholm tells me, she keeps me informed. ‘Well, Albert’. she said ‘They just want the name, that’s all’. Justice of the Peace.
Q: These days it’s a sort of full time …?
Mr M: It is. [???] tells me it is, you know. There’s so much to do. [Q: They need all the ones you can get, don’t you.’ But anyhow I enjoyed it. There’s so much in life you can enjoy isn’t there ? And yet people say ‘Oh there ain’t much to do’. I found … Mind you I don’t know how I found time to do it when I stop and think now.
Q: Not when you were at work, No, quite.
Mr M: [???] [???] a day’s work. (Q: Quite, and not easy work either.) No, it wasn’t. There was no easiness about it. But I dunno. Still it was most interesting. I did thoroughly enjoy it. I’ve had a good life, it’s been right full. The worst part of it was when I lost Ivy, you know that was the worst part about it. (Q: Quite, yes.)
Q: Because, as you say, [???] this nice little place and its just the job isn’t it?
Mr M: Yes, it is. You see that was lovely though. Mind you I’m going to say this about the Council, since then I’ve had the offer of five bungalows; if I wanted them, in Rivenhall. I said ‘No, I want to stop here’. I said ‘No.’ But they’ve been very very good to me. All of them. And that’s what I say, if you do your job properly you’ll always get paid. (Q: Yes.) In lots of ways, without money, you don’t want any money, just you know. At least I think so.
Q: When you were in the other jobs were they tied property as well ? Were they tied to the job?
Mr M: Yes, oh yes. You’d be surprised how many were. I was in tied cottages and when you left the jobs, see that’s where, when the farms began to get more modernised, this is where so many of them had to go into Council houses. See what the farmers did, they sold the cottages didn’t they ? Same as that one next door. Soon as I come out of here, whether anything happens to me or not, soon as I move out of here, this cottage will be sold. Like that one [???]. (Q: I see.) What’s his name, that’s sold now. (Q: Yes.)
Q: Well, I mustn’t hold you up any more. You’ve had an interesting life haven’t you ?
Mr M: Do you know there’s been so much and there’s so many things to keep on talking about. You know, cross your mind. Well, its most interesting. I’ve always found it anyhow (Q: Yes.) It’s lovely to see you Janet anyhow. Jolly good.
Q: If I think of anything else I know here to come, don’t I. (Mr M: Oh, that’s lovely, thank you very much.) I like places where you can see things and somebody going by.
Mr M: So do I. This is a busy old road this is. (Q: A bit noisy sometimes is it?) Don’t worry me, you get used to it.
Q: I suppose you didn’t know anybody in these parts when you came ?
Mr M: I knew no-one. Nobody at all. (Q: Because a lot of them have been here a long time.) ‘Yes. No, I knew no-one.’ I sort of smile when they get ‘Give you three weeks, three or four weeks. You won’t be here no longer. Nobody can stop the way he is.’ I thought I’d better stop and listen and see what all the trouble is about. [laugh]
Q: Was he ever on the Council or anything ?
Mr M: No, no. (Q: ‘Cause when you said Rivenhall was Red Rivenhall I suppose …’ See this other one down here this Henry Dixon… Oh yes, I had a go, I could keep telling you lots of things now it’s crossed my mind now about Henry Dixon Hall. (Q: Yes.) See when the other parson, not this one, David King or King David as I used to call him, when he was there that was when they did this road through. When they did the main road. That was 1960s, ’61. And it came up about the Memorial. I was in the Council offices, Council meeting one night. And they said ‘Of course this has been agreed by the Ministry and they are going to start such and such a time, 1960, ’61.’ So ‘there’s one or two things we want to consider and that was when the Memorial what we’ve got in the church yard, that was down there used to stand on London Road you see. (Q: I see.) And I asked a question about that. So they said ‘Well, yes, but we’ve been in touch with the parson of Rivenhall and he said put it underneath the road. I said ‘Did he ?’. (Q: Did he? Knowing Henry Dixon.) I said ‘Well he ain’t going to get my support on that.’ I said.(Q: yes.) I said ‘Did he really say that?’ ‘He did sir.’ So what happened. We held a meeting ‘cos I raised his point. And we have, called a meeting, because I was on there then, the Council had but me on. (Q: I see.) I sat in there. The old Workmen’s Hall, where we used to have meetings, and he said, you know this question come up. And he said ‘Oh, this road’s come, this old place has got to come down. A good job too. Its no use to anybody and we don’t want this and we don’t want that in this village’. So I let him say it. Cyril Fairhead was down there as well. That’s the boss. He used to call me Mr Moss there, not Moss, it was always Mr Moss down there. [Laughter]. ‘Cos you had to use your title down there. I laughed. I tell you I’ve had so many laughs out of it. [Yes] Anyhow this question came up about the Memorial. So I said ‘Take it that’s got to go as well ?’ He said ‘It’s got to come out the way. Its right in the road.’. ‘What are you going to do with it?’ ‘Put it underneath the road’ he said. Oh, I said ‘Are you. I’m going to tell you something. I am going to strongly object to that, Mr Chairman. Strongly object.’ I said ‘That’s every right to be put in the church yard. That’s a Memorial place. That’s what I call a church yard.’ I said ‘And to get the Vicar[?] to turn and tell us that that’s got to be.’ I said ‘I’m more than ashamed of him’. (Q: Quite.) I said ‘I’m going to see this village about this’ I said ‘ and you may depend I’m going to start, when I go out of this meeting tonight I’m going to get the public to support me on this’. He couldn’t do nothing about it. And of course the chairman, old Rex Mott was in the chair wasn’t he, said ‘All right, well I think we’d better put it to the vote to see what we shall do with it’. And I suggested it should be put in the Church yard, this end, near the School. And they did. I got my own way. Old King David and me never did get on.
Q: Was that the Parish Council or the …?
Mr M: No, no this was Henry Dixon Hall meeting. (Q: A special meeting.) There’s a Henry Dixon Association. Henry Dixon Hall. That land belongs to them. (Q: Yes.) That was given to them. You see there used to be three parishes belonged to that. There used to be Rivenhall, Kelvedon and Great Braxted. All used to belong to that, but they never come to the meetings. They could have someone there now. (Q: Mmm.) Because I fought for the blessed Hall as well. I said ‘We’re not going to do away with the Hall. Why shouldn’t we have a hall down Rivenhall End ?’ ‘Oh, it’ll cost a lot of money.’ they said. ‘Yes, but we shall get it off the Ministry for the road. Go on. If its worth them putting the road up it’ worth them paying for it’. It only cost us about, I think we had to pay some of it. I think it cost about twelve, fourteen thousand pounds to have the place built and set out as we wanted it. I think we had to pay two thousand pounds (Q: Is this the hall?) Yes. From the Henry Dixon fund you see. (Q: I see yes.) And we have a meeting down there once or twice a year. We’ve still got some allotments, which still belong to it. All that land is so valuable you know. (Q: Yes.)
Q: That was money that he left was it ? Henry Dixon left? (Mr M: Yes, Henry Dixon left that yes.) Because Dr Denholm has got these diaries of Henry Dixon. Did you know that ? (Mr M: No, I didn’t). He showed me. I went over to look at them from time to time and they’re ever so interesting. Because he, I can see why the Parson didn’t want him of course because he was an old Congregational, Dissenter.
Mr M: Yes, that’s right. You see they closed the Congregational Hall on the other side didn’t they, that’s the worst of it.
Q: He was a very interesting bloke, you know. He came from Finchingfield originally. Again he was on the land to start with but he got trained as a doctor and worked his way up and lived down, well, lived in Witham for a time. (Mr M: Yes, lived in Witham.) then at Durwards Hall, rebuilt it. I think he married somebody reasonably well off I think (Mr M: Well I wouldn’t know, but I know he lived at Durwards Hall.) He kept this diary, well, all about the farming really, because, as you say, about the weather and everything, how important it was, and how this year they were behind because something had happened and all that. (Q: Yes that right.) And there wasn’t enough work about. But he also, always read the papers and all that was going on in Parliament and that sort of thing he would comment about and the new things that were coming in. Like the bicycle that went past his house and how amazing that was. (Mr M: Oh yes.) Oh, no, I think it overtook him when he was going along on his horse. (Mr M: Oh I see.) And ‘What next’, he said, you know, and how amazing it was. (Mr M: I’ve never seen them.) Well, they’re just little booklets that he wrote in. I think it was in, was it Taber’s? (Mr M: That’s right.) garden shed or something?
Mr M: Taber’s garden shed that’s right. (Q: Dr Denholm’s got them now.) That’s the other side of the road where right opposite The Fox. Taber’s shed.
Q: Is it? I see, because he mentions the Tabors being there. [???] Yes, but then again he was the sort of bloke that wouldn’t do, wouldn’t mind what he said and who he said it to. He must have been not very popular. He talks about building the Hall and how proud he was of it. (Q: The Workmen’s Hall, yes.) It’s a shame that had to come down. But at least you’ve kept the …
Mr M: Yes, but otherwise there wouldn’t have been nothing there.
Q: Well at least, in the long run you’ve done well out of it.
Mr M: Yes, this is true, well it should be. Of course, this one [Cyril Fairhead], he said ‘Can’t see it’s any good.’ I said ‘Well, come off it. We’ve got a right to have one that end, Rivenhall End, as well as this one at Rivenhall’. That’s just the same with that Hall. (Q: That’s right.) That was going to get thrown out. That was going to get pulled down and built up. They was going to build some more houses there. Even Sir Leonard Crosland. He suggested that. I said ‘No, come on, let’s keep the Hall. Because we want that Hall.’ You want to see it now. It’s one of the best ones they’ve got, one of the best ones the Council have got. (Q: Yes.) And they acknowledge it too. But you’ve got to blessed well try if you want it, yes you have.
Q: Yes, it’s doesn’t matter to them, does it, they don’t use these things. (Mr M: No, they don’t.) They don’t appreciate it.
Mr M: No, oh no, there’s so many things you know that I’ve seen happen. I don’t say just because I had a word in it. (Q: But you’ve had an effect on things …) But why shouldn’t you. I think that’s some of the respect that people pay me for it. In respect of that.
Q: Because it’s not easy at the time, when you’re going through these rows, you often must think ‘Oh is it really worth it?’ (Mr M: Yes, there’s so much …) argument, yes.
Mr M: Oh yes, this Ecclesiastical business. Who owned this and got all this blessed money. They’d got that all in reserve you see and they’d got to pay two thousand pounds out of that. They really, oh you never heard anything like it. And I’d just sit back and let them all have their say and of course they’d just [???] this old parson off, King David as I called him. And I said ‘Wait a minute. What’s good’s that money doing where it is ? Only keeping you in a job. Come on’, I said, ‘[???] put that there, and I’ve got a right to have my say and I’m going to say we want a Hall and we want a modern one. And why shouldn’t we have one. We deserve it and also we want a house to go with it. You’re taking this house away from these people’, cos Dot Taylor[?] and them used to live there, (Q: Yes.) And they were good Labour supporters. And why shouldn’t I fight for them. That’s what I was put there for. Because they come to live next door to me, old Cyril Fairhead let them come there. So he said ‘Oh,’, he said, ‘Tell you what I’ll do Moss,’ he said, ‘I’ll let Cyril[?] Tabor[?] and his family come and live next door to you. No objections ?’ I said. ‘No objections [???] my house, I shall be delighted to see ‘em.’ I said [laughter]. Lovely Janet, anyhow nice to see you.
Q: Thank you ever so much.
[Chat about the weather etc. not noted]