Tape 059. Miss Mildred (Millie) Brett, side 1

Tape 59

Miss Mildred (Millie) Brett was born in about 1910. She was interviewed on 13 December 1982, when she lived at 62 Humber Road, Witham.

For more about her, see Brett, Mildred (Millie), 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 ero.enquiry@essex.gov.uk or 033301 32500.

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

Side 1

[Long general chat, including visitor, e.g. about tapes, not noted]

Q:    …I was going to ask you about these places. [Photographs of houses on Church Street, probably 6 to 20]. Were they just houses? That one.

Miss B:    Right on this side of the street, before.

Q:    Because they are quite like the other ones, aren’t they?

Miss B:    Very similar.

Q:    Because there were some shops …

Miss B:    There was a little newspaper shop there. (Q: Down below, yes). A little second-hand shop. In those little [???], yes.

Q:    What sort of second-hand …?

Miss B:    Oh just old clothes. It’s just come to me mind, you see. I remember them now, come to think about it.

Q:    Yes, but I don’t remember about them.

Miss B:    But I think they moved to Kelvedon. Now, Mrs De’Ath would tell you more. She’d love to tell you.

[General conversation, not noted]

Q:    So I suppose, really, it was the Thirties when you were here. Were people affected at all by the Depression? [Miss B worked at Mr Pendle’s shop, 48 Churh Street]

Miss B:    Oh, they were hard up – very hard up. Because in those days you had to – the bills – they only paid the bills once a week, didn’t they? And often they couldn’t pay the bill at the end of the week. Then you felt sorry for them. We nearly went bankrupt there once. (Q: Really?) Letting people get into debt.

Q:    So they would come in – how often would people come in?

Miss B:    Oh, every day, more or less. Every day they used to come in for butter, tea, sugar, sort of things, biscuits.

Q:    And then what – they were supposed to settle up …?

Miss B:    At the end of the week. You’d put it down on a bill. And then they used to settle up at the end of the week.

Q:    So what would you do if they couldn’t, then ?

Miss B:    Well, he used to – well, he was softhearted, you see. He used to let them run up a bill and then see they were hungry – and we let them come in until they got too big. Then he didn’t like to say ‘No more’ because he’d lose the money. Where he ought to have done that in the first place.

Q:    And when you nearly went bankrupt, what happened then? Did he …?

Miss B:    Well, he got into debt with his own groceries. But they were quite nice. One of the wholesale people who used to let him have stuff – and he did eventually pay it off and … He used to work hard. He used to work till ten o’clock at night sometimes.

Q:    What sort of things …?

Miss B:    Well, tidying up the shop and getting up the orders and washing the floor or scrubbing the floor.

Q:    And then the orders – when you say they went out with a basket, with the orders. That would be – was there a horse and cart or anything? Or a car? Probably a car by that time?

Miss B:    He had a car, got his car. Well, there was a bicycle used to have things on the front, you see, till he could afford a little car, you see. I could have shown you more but Shirley’s taken all the photographs of him on a bicycle. He used to go out in the pea fields six o’clock in the morning. Take his basket to sell the old – travellers they used to call them then, didn’t they? (Q: Oh, I hadn’t heard of people doing that, that’s interesting.) Bread and sugar. But they don’t have the pea pickers now, do they? Like they used to, They’ve got machinery.

Q:    These people that came round, do you mean? Or people from Witham?

Miss B:    Yes, the old gypsies we used to call them.

Q:    Oh, I’d never heard of that before. And he’d go out – how far would he have to go for that?

Miss B:    Oh, now, Durwards Hall? Went down to Durwards Hall, yes. And out at Terling. Lord Rayleighs had a lot of pea fields, you see.

Q:    Goodness. And that was early morning?

Miss B:    Early morning, yes. Or when they finished at the evening time. He used to go out with his sugar. Well, see, they used to have sugar, bread, tinned milk.

Q:    And were they sort of camping there?

Miss B:    Mmm [agreeing].

Q:    So what did they used to live in when they were …?

Miss B:    Well, I suppose they used to live – pea-picking time – I suppose there was just little bivouacs.

Q:    I suppose so. Yes. Of course people from Witham – I remember someone telling me – who actually lived in Witham – they went out pea-picking as well but that was different, I suppose, was it?

Miss B:    Yes. A lot of people did. Because there used to be pea fields all round here, weren’t there? Because there were no houses here, were there? [Humber Road]

Q:    No. And they used to – did someone – if there were four of you – did he have to do any delivering himself or did he have someone to go out?

Miss B:    Oh, later he had someone to deliver for him.

Q:    So when you first came it was …?

Miss B:    It was quite easy. (Q: There was mostly him, was it?) There was his wife. (Q: His wife, yes?) And the lady who looked after the shop, and the other people, she stayed. You see, and we had one or two others, young ones when they left school.

Q:    And then you say you got the stuff from the wholesalers?

Miss B:    Wholesalers. Yes. Then the travellers used to call in, didn’t they? Peak Freans and Crawfords. I don’t know whether they do in the shops to this day? And they used to bring the stuff. And then we used to have drapery from London – the travellers used to call from London.

Q:    I hadn’t heard of them doing drapery. So, what sort of things – stockings and things?

Miss B:    Stockings, towels, knickers! [laughs]

Q:    Really? Goodness.

Miss B:    And lots of fancy stuff for Christmas of course. And toys!

Q:    Wouldn’t think there’d be room for all that, would you?

Miss B:    It was ever so – but it did look so small. Well, we’d got the bakehouse, you see, at the back And that held all – ever such a – the bakehouse was larger than the shop, really.

Q:    And you used that for a store. (Miss B: Yes) Because at the moment they have the store in the little room sort of – next to the shop on the left. Would that …?

Miss B:    No, downstairs – that used to be our living room. Then in the front was the front room then we had the bedrooms upstairs. But they had that all altered and made that into a kitchen and I don’t think – they’ve only got two bedrooms now.

Q:    Well, it must be pretty small, mustn’t it? And when you got the – things like butter and tea and sugar and that. Had they started packing them, then?

Miss B:    Well, when we first came there, there was a big thing like [???] and we had to put lumps of ice in it to keep the butter and that fresh. then later on we had a fridge, you see, a big fridge.

Q:    Goodness, like a sort of – what – a sort of cupboard thing you mean? To put ice in?

Miss B:    Yes, the man used to come twice a week with great lumps of ice. That was in the bakehouse. I suppose they’ve done away with that. That would be an antique now, wouldn’t it? I don’t know really what happened. Woods done away with all that.

Q:    And what – did the butter come …?

Miss B:    They would always have Anchor butter – New Zealand Anchor Butter – in big wooden cases about twenty-eight pounds oh no, fifty-six. Well, course it was a big – um – twenty-eight – or possibly twenty-eight, no, I believe it was more than twenty-eight

Q:    So then, how did you get that – presumably when people came they in, they wouldn’t want a lot would they?

Miss B:    We used to slice it in half, lie it on the marble counter, and cut it off in half pounds. Same as you did with the cheese. When the cheese was there. Well, after that, pre-packed stuff came in, didn’t it?

Q:    Yes, I don’t really know when that came in. Was it while you was still there? (Miss B: No) No, it wasn’t.

Miss B:    We used to weigh up sugar. Tea was pre-packed. And then the sugar came in packets. That was a long time ago, I’m forgetting!

Q:    [Laughs] Well, this is the thing, to you …

Miss B:    We used to weigh up the currants – and sultanas. Soda was two p a packet [says two p means two pence old money?]

Q:    So, It was a lot more work really, wasn’t it?

Miss B:    Oh, that was the trouble those days. You had to do all that packing up and weighing up.

Q:    I mean, if someone came in for currants, would you have some packed already, or were you …?

Miss B:    Not really.

Q:    Or did you do it just as they came? So they had to wait while you …?

Miss B:    Have your scoop ready and then lay it on the counter and just wrap them up. Never in the bags – we used to lie it flat and then turn it over.

Q:    What, on a piece of paper, sometimes? That’s clever! I expect you could do it now. [Both laugh]

Miss B:    I haven’t done it for a long time. Like doing up parcels, like that, you know [demonstrating – paper rustling] like that, and then the other part and turn it over and stick it in and you used to shake it and it shouldn’t come out.

Q:    Oh, there’s quite an art to it.

Miss B:    Well, I suppose – that’s why people had to train in those days. But there’s no training now, is there?

Q:    No. Did you – how did you learn what to do?

Miss B:    Well, I went to work in Mr Pendle’s shop at Battlesbridge when I was a little girl, you see. Weighed up soda first! [Both laugh]

Q:    How little was that?

Miss B:    Fourteen.

Q:    I see. So you …?

Miss B:    Well, we used to go on a Saturday sometimes for fun, you know. Because it was just a little village shop. And I think there’s a big antique shop there at Battlesbridge, now.

Q:    So you started there and he showed you what to do, sort of thing? Then you got the art?

Miss B:    Yes.

Q:    Because, there was more skill, really, I suppose. Because you had to know all the packing and did you end up doing any of the ordering and that sort of thing as well?

Miss B:    Oh yes. I used to order at the shop. Yes.

Q:    Because I remember somebody telling me that actually at a draper’s shop, they were apprenticed. That meant they spent three years learning, because it was … But, as you say, you wouldn’t now, would you?

Miss B:    No I didn’t have to do that though. Because we …

Q:    But you learnt on the job – you learnt it as you worked, yes.

Miss B:    Because he’d had the training, you see, at Chelmsford.

Q:    Oh, did he? Yes. Oh, how did he do that?

Miss B:    He went to Martins at Chelmsford, as a boy, you see. Then he had to go to the war, and then after the war, – the First World War, I’m talking about. He came – this place was being offered and he came.

Q:    So, what was Martins?

Miss B:    Well, Martins shop was quite a big shop in Chelmsford those days, similar to Luckin Smith.

Q:    Yes, and did he …?

Miss B:    And they trained boys right up, you see. As far as I can remember.

Q:    So he was really specialised? So he went there when he was a young boy and then he …?

Miss B:    Then he came here. But he came from Suffolk.

Q:    Oh did, he? I see. And yet he went to Chelmsford to do the training.

Miss B:     And then he went to his uncle’s at Battlesbridge.

Q:    So his family was in the trade, as well? (Miss B: Yes) So was your family in the trade?

Miss B:    I’ve got nobody. I’ve got nobody. I’m like ‘Topsy’.

Q:    What even then, I mean? When you were …?

Miss B:    Oh I had a – I was a foster child, you see. Living at Battlesbridge, you see. And then I came to work – oh, I always knew the Pendle family, all the Gamble family all my life.

Q:    The Gambles were …?

Miss B:     Mrs Pendle’s side.

Q:    Then she was at Battlesbridge as well, was she? So, really, the other girls that lived at Battlesbridge – was there much else for them to do?

Miss B:    No, no work. We were only a little tiny village, you see. Three of us went to the shop.

Q:    Oh, really? Goodness, that’s a lot, isn’t it, for a small place. What, from school, do you mean, together? (Miss B:    Yes.) So you did soda, did you. [Both laugh] You must have been very good at that by the time you finished.

Miss B:    And you’d draw treacle off, in jam jars. Treacle used to come in big tubs, with a tap and you’d draw the – and sometimes that would go on the floor and you’d make a mess if you didn’t turn the tap off.

Q:    Really? They wouldn’t believe it now because you get all the tins. When you say treacle – now we always have this row in our family – because when you say treacle – [Talking over each other] do you mean the other stuff, the black stuff?

Miss B:    I don’t mean the golden syrup, I mean the black stuff.

Q:    Yes that’s what I mean, what my husband calls syrup, treacle. So we always get in a muddle about what we want.

Miss B:    Treacle. Well, there’s the black treacle, what used to be the black treacle then there’s the gold treacle and then there’s golden syrup, you see.

Miss B:    There’s gold treacle as well, is there?

Miss B:    Well, it’s lighter than the other. Your husband could be right because golden syrup is more posh because that was in the tins, you see, put up by Tate & Lyle. But the others used to come in …

Q:    Oh, so he could have had golden treacle. I’ll have to be careful, then. [Laughs]

Miss B:    Yes. Because there was black treacle – they used to give that to the cattle, the black treacle. But the other treacle …

Q:    Because I like black treacle on bread. But somebody saw me, I can’t remember where I was, I’d taken some sandwiches and I had black treacle in this sandwich and they thought I was very peculiar.

Miss B:    Oh, that used to be lovely. Well, we used to have to have treacle when we were … But I’m not telling you much about Witham.

Q:    Oh, it’s all interesting, isn’t it?

Miss B:    Then there used to be a butchers, Rylands, the butchers used to be at the bottom of the street.

Q:    Really? So Church Street was quite a busy – did people come there mostly from Church Street or would they come from other …?

Miss B:    Well, there was Church Street, I don’t know – Church Street, Rivenhall, they used to come from Rivenhall, sometimes. Because the post office used to draw lots of people, didn’t it, you see. Because that was on Chipping Hill. [45 Chipping Hill]

Q:    Was that on the green there, or where – when did it move over to …?

Miss B:    I can tell you where, where are we? [looking at photographs, pause, noises on tape] Ah, look, see. There was the post office in there. Just in that corner, there was railings round there. You don’t remember the railings round there? There’s the blacksmith’s opposite, you see.

Q:    Was that the same as where Doole’s was?

Miss B:    That’s right, that’s the post office.

Q:    Ah yes, there’s a house there now, isn’t there? And when did they move up Church Street? Was that when you were there? The post office?

Miss B:    Yes. Because Doole – Miss Doole gave it over and Mr Pendle applied for it and he got it, you see. So he bought the little bungalow and moved it across there. Where the bungalow -do you remember the bungalow with the post office? [9 Church Street]

Q:    Yes, that was still there when we came.. But you said there was a house – as well at one time?

Q:     I’ve never heard that before.

Miss B:    It was between the bungalows. Mrs de’Ath will tell you. The house between the Woolpack and the bungalow. You know where those wooden gates are? It was up – right up.

Q:    Because there’s a big – I don’t know what they are – old barns or sheds or whatever they are behind the Woolpack.

Miss B:    Yes, well, between those was this house. I’d forgotten about it. That’s one I was going to show you [referring to photographs]

Q:    So then Mr Pendle ran the post office as well?

Miss B:    And his wife as well. Well, I was at work with Woods’, for a little while, you see.

Q:    That was quite a good …

Miss B:    There’s the lane – you don’t remember that lane?

Q:    Now, where are we?

Miss B:    Powers Hall End Lane?

Q:    Oh, when you go down – up to Faulkbourne is it?

Miss B:    That’s the one. Yes.

Q:     Well, you can still go there more or less but it’s all houses, isn’t it?

Miss B:    Well, that was the pheasant. That’s what I miss, the pheasant in our garden – Where I lived at Rustingtons. [in Powershall End, a little way east of Spring Lodge]

Q:    Somebody did tell me about Rustingtons. This person was talking about Wadleys. She was talking about the ghosts. No? She said there was supposed to be a ghost up there and someone told Mr Pendle he shouldn’t build his house there because there’s a ghost there or something. And he said he was going to, all the same.

Miss B:    Well, you know Sally Carpenter?

Q:    I know who you mean, yes. In that little house [Stourton, 26 Powershall End] next to where Mrs Hawkes used to live.

Miss B:    That’s right, well there’s supposed to be – there is a cellar underneath there. Because Sally has shown me and I’ve been down there. And there’s a door in the cellar and it’s supposed to lead from under the road and go across to the community centre. (Q: Really?) That’s the tale. And there’s another one supposed to have gone from under the road to Faulkbourne Hall. Because that used to have been where the monks used to be and the nuns, wasn’t it? Mmmm.

[Talking over each other]

Q:     It sounds like a …

Miss B:     That’s the tale.

Q:    I’ve never heard about this cellar and the tunnel [???]

Miss B:    I’ve actually been in the cellar. If you get hold of Sally, Sally would show you. You don’t know Monica, do you? [Monica Bull]

Q:    Again, I know her just to say, hello. She lives next to the school.

Miss B:    Mrs Richardson, yes. [ie. next to Mrs Richardson] Well, her daughter lives there, you see. Well, I’ve actually been in the cellar and she’s shown us the door. Of course, the door has never been undone. Because when it gets – it used to get flooded, the cellar.

Q:    Yes, I suppose it would, because it’s wet on the other – quite wet there. Oh, that’s interesting, isn’t it? But you never saw any ghosts up there? [Both laugh] It was something to do with – well, you know, the big wall, in the front there? Because there was a big house originally, wasn’t there, I believe.

Miss B:    Yes, Witham Place.

Q:    It was something to do with that place and ghosts.

Miss B:    That got burnt down.

Q:    Perhaps when it was burnt down. It’s funny how these tales come, isn’t it?

Miss B:    When they were building Mrs [???] house, that was between Mrs Dove and ours. They did come across a big huge well or something. (Q: Oh really?) But Mrs Loring says ‘Oh, no, that was where the petrol pumps was’ but it was not. Because the petrol pumps were further over. And the man said ‘Don’t say anything – the archeological people will be down here and they’ll hold us up!’ you see. But they did cut a lump of wood that was so old – but what happened, I don’t know. But there was a big huge place – because they’ve got the swimming pool there now.

Q:    Oh, I know yes. Because that’s next to Mrs Dove’s isn’t it, yes. The swimming pool is where this thing was, that they found? Oh, that’s interesting.

Q:    Because the wall’s gone now. There’s nothing there now.

Miss B:    There was something there. But they told Mrs Loring because they thought she’d know that’s where the petrol pumps – but I’m sorry, the petrol pumps were further over, beyond Mrs Dove’s, you see.

Q:    What, the petrol pumps for the – ?

Miss B:    For the broilers. When the broilers were there. Do you remember the broilers? [i.e. chickens, at Spring Lodge]

Q:    The sheds and that, yes. Because this picture from the back of yours – Is that the barn that they built – that’s still there, sort of?

Miss B:    I don’t think so, they pulled it all down.

Q:    Or is that the one that was pulled down. Because I don’t know, in the Community Centre they’ve got the barn, there is a barn, sort of part of the building.

Miss B:    That’s that little part there. [looking at photo, probably the one now JG’s photo M57, view of Spring Lodge from behind Rustingtons.]]

Q:    That’s that bit is it?

Miss B:    They had that done up because they had the chickens fall in there.

Q:    Was that quite old then?

Miss B:    Yes. So that really is a part of the old …

Q:     I’d forgotten where …

Miss B:    But that’s here somewhere, see. But the broilers were just over further.

Q:    So when did – when was Rustingtons built?

Miss B:    That’s thirty years old.

Q:     I see. So that was more or less when you gave up the shop was it? (Miss B: Yes) So you had quite a lot of time there, working? (Miss B: Yes) What happened in the War? {Second World War] Was there a lot of problems – presumably you had all the rationing and that to cope with?

Miss B:    Oh yes. We had to add all the little things up – butter, sugar, marge.

Q:    Yes. You must – I often wonder how people managed, really? Did they have people sort of – were you restricted as to what you were supplied with, as well?

Miss B:    Yes. We always had a little over, you know. But you had to account for it. What you’d got over.

Q:    So what happened when you got some over? Did you – sort of …?

Miss B:    Well, some people would ask [Whispers- difficult to hear] ‘Have you got a quarter of tea’ and so he’d give them a quarter of tea. And then people who didn’t have butter had margarine and sometimes you’d have a little piece of butter over.

Q:    And what about the pork and that. Did you …?

Miss B:    No, we gave that up during the War. Because that was rationed, you see and you didn’t get enough coupons. Because the butcher had all that. That’s when the pork went out.

Q:    And you actually made sausages before that, did you say?

Miss B:    Real pork and sausages and brawn and lard.

Q:    Goodness. And did you get the pork in from the …?

Miss B:    The butcher used to kill it, in the town. We used not to have a whole pig,  half a pig.

Q:    Yes. What did – and did you …?

Miss B:    Each week.

Q:    And did you yourself do any of that? Did you do that or Mr Pendle?

Miss B:    Oh he used to cut it all up and Mrs Pendle and I used to do it between us. (Q: Goodness.) I was talking the other day, I don’t know if you know Mrs Jeffries, do you? (Q: I don’t think so, no.) She used to live in Church Street, at the bottom of Church Street. Her father and mother – she used to come up, talking about ham – I only saw her Saturday! We used to cook a gammon, you see, and cut it in quarters and this lady would come in the shop – and if anybody was standing beside her – she’d say – and she wanted a quarter of ham – because we used to slice it, you see. She used to say ‘Ere are, mate! Give ’er a bit of quarter, there are, mate!’ [laughs] – I hadn’t seen her for years! I went in the shop and said ‘Do you sell ham, now?’ That was in Sue Ryder’s little shop. ‘Do you sell ham?’ She looked at me and she wondered what I was saying! I said ‘ Well you used to give quarters of ham away’. It just reminded me. When we were cutting ham.

Q:    What – she worked …?

Miss B:    No, she just used to come up the shop.

Q:    What, she used to come up to buy some and give …?

Miss B:    Her mother was a lovely tall lady – I always wanted to be like her. She had a lovely fur coat and long earrings, you see. And I was short and dumpy! They were some of the old people – everybody knows the old people.

Q:    Where did they live?

Miss B:    Used to live at the bottom of the street. Her house was – what’s its name – ‘Oaklands’? Oak View? [4 Church Street]

Q:    Oh, I know, on the corner there. (Miss B: Right next to the -…) Is it ‘Oakville’ or something? I know where you mean anyway. Yes.

Miss B:    What’s the name of the pub down there? I’ve forgotten!

Q:    The White Horse.

Miss B:    The White Horse, yes, right next to there.

Q:    What, she’d come in and give it to somebody who hadn’t …?

Miss B:    Yes. She was having some for herself and somebody was looking at it and she felt sorry for them and she’d give her a quarter!

Q:    Oh, that was nice, wasn’t it? So you did have some people in who were quite well off?

Miss B:    Oh, yes. They were quite well off.

Q:    But they did they actually come and get the stuff themselves? They didn’t have it sent?

Miss B:    Oh, yes lots of people used to come [???]. Talking about those houses, Captain Brooks – you know where Mrs Tunstall now is, don’t you? (Q: Yes) Captain Brooks used to live there. [11 Church Street]

Q:    Oh, I don’t know about him.

Miss B:    Nice old – elderly man. And he had the little bungalow built next to Mrs Tunstall, for his housekeeper. That’s how that little bungalow came about. And he also – Captain Brooks also had – wouldn’t let these houses be built, see. and made that nice green [probably Chipping Hill Green, 1930s, Richards wanted to replace 32-34 Chipping Hill with new house]

Q:    What he…[Talking over each other]

Miss B:    They didn’t come – they weren’t here but somebody – with nature conservatory – or something – he said it was a pity to have those built – so that’s why he – [Noises on tape]

Q:    So that’s why they left it open?

Miss B:    Yes, that’s a lovely piece of green. [Looking at photographs] Now there’s another thing here that I looked at. I think they’ve encroached upon that. Look that’s where the path used to be up to the church. [beside the green]

Q:    What, up by the fence, there?

Miss B:    By the fence, you see, the big wide fence. But I think people have taken that for the gardens, haven’t they, now?

Q:    It does look different, yes. I’m not quite sure why, there’s a path, sort of, up there.

Miss B:    And along and up here, they’ve made it haven’t they? So now there’s not enough room, really.

Q:    A funny sort of fence there, there is some sort of fencing going there – is that part of -see that thing with that little tiny window, in there?

Miss B:    I don’t know, you see, because that was the old houses.[32-34 Chipping Hill] This is the other ones, look.

Q:     Those are the ones that are there now, yes. Did you used to go to the church, up here, at all?.

Miss B:    Well, I used to go to the Congregational Church, often I went to that.

Q:    What, Mr Pendle was he Congregational as well, was he?

Miss B:    Yes.

Q:    Was there a lot of – I mean, in the old days there was a lot of difference in it. Everyone knew which you were, didn’t they and where you went. Was it still like that ….?

Miss B:    Yes. I think so, yes. But, you see, during the War we went home to Battlesbridge every Sunday, so we weren’t [???]

Q:     I see.

Miss B: ‘Cause his daughter was over at Battlesbridge, to save her from the bombs, you see, they thought she’d be too near Crittall’s, and she was only small. And they left her so we went home every Sunday. And my home was there.

Q:    So you didn’t get sort of involved in Witham and the church?

Miss B:    Not till after the War, you see.

Q:    I know, because – again, going back a long way, I’m sure someone told me Mr Wadley was on the council.

Miss B:     I don’t know anything about that.

Q:    Was Mr Pendle interested in that sort of thing? Was he – ?

Miss B:    No, only did some fire-watching during the War.

Q:    I suppose, really, you wouldn’t have a lot of time, really, for anything else, would you?

Miss B:    I remember him doing fire-watching.

Q:    Did women have to do that? Did you…?

Miss B:    Yes, but he used to do my share [Q: laugh] Mr Pendle did my turn. Because I had to go to Crittall’s, you see, to work. Mmm. (Q: Did you?) Or if not, I’d have probably be doing – what do you all it? I would have had to have gone away. So I volunteered to work at Crittall’s, so they didn’t send me away. Oh, what did they call it now? I can’t think of the word. – Oh, lots of young people had to go didn’t they and work on War … I enjoyed it! Horrible of me wasn’t it? [Both laugh]

Q:    Why was it horrible?

Miss B:    Well, making shells..

Q:    Oh, they did that at Crittall’s, did they?

Miss B:    Yes.

Q:    What did you have to do, exactly? Were you making the whole thing or was everyone doing their bit?

Miss B:    We made parts. The shells was more or less formed and you had to make it shiny on the machine and pull it to cut a little knob off and it went to the next one and they done another part. It was really interesting!

Q:    A bit different to what you’d been doing, wasn’t it?

Miss B:    And then there was all the girls and the different people you mixed with.

Q:    Yes, I suppose it was more – and so there were mostly people from Witham were there? Who hadn’t been there before?

Miss B:    Yes. Oh, they come from quite a distance. Norwich a lot of them came from – went in lodgings.

Q:    And was Crittall’s bombed at all?

Miss B:    Yes, it was bombed. Not very badly – but one bomb – because one went on Moat Farm, didn’t it? Across the fields. There was about five – because one man had his head blown off, looking over the bomb hole, didn’t he?

Q:    Oh, yes. That rings a bell. I’ve read somewhere about that.

Miss B:    That one was – near Templars School. They all went up to look one Sunday morning, and he was looking and the bomb blew up. Mr Burmby, his name was. We used to call him Mr ‘Bumby’! [Both laugh].

[Chat, drowned by clock chiming, not noted]

Q:    Was Crittall’s windows, were they already here when you came ?

Miss B:    Yes, oh they’d been there for years. [???]

Q:     So a lot of people that came to the shop they’d be working there?

Miss B:    At Crittall’s, yes.

Q:    And I’m trying to think, what else. Was the glove factory still there…..

Miss B:    Oh yes [???] [???] They all used to do gloves at home – lots of people used to take gloves at home and do it.

Q:    I think someone did mention that to me. I suppose ….

Miss B:    Well, Mr Keeble was the manager there. Not your Mr Keeble, the other one.

Q:    I’ve not met him, I’ll have to talk to him.

Miss B:    I think he lives down Mill Lane. Mr Gaymer will tell you much more …

Q:    I went with someone once to – Mike Wadhams? You know Mike Wadhams at all? His father used to be with the Public Health. Like Mrs Loring he’s interested in buildings. I went once with him to look at Cuppers Farm. But of course, Mr Gaymer is in the new house, isn’t he now?

Miss B:    Yes, he built his own bungalow, didn’t he?
Q    Yes. Because they lived up Church Street all the time when you were there? [56 Church Street]

Miss B:    That’s right, yes. But he’s got some beautiful photos because he was a fireman, as well, wasn’t he? And he would help you more than ever I can. Or Mrs De’Ath, she’s the….

Q:    Well, no, it’s -what you’ve said is interesting.. Because nobody else has done exactly what you did, did they. Everybody’s got their own things that they’ve done –

[Telephone interrupts – general conversation, not noted]

Miss B:    I’ll tell you this little bit – it always made us laugh a bit – is the lady – she used to live up St Nicholas Road, she was quite a posh lady – she always carried a big bag. She was very nice. There was another lady lived up Church Street – this lady with the big bag – I don’t think she’d got a lot of money in it – and there was another little lady lived up Church Street – a spick and span little lady – and she’d only got a purse. And she always used to come in – they both used to come in Saturday afternoons to pay their bills. So – and she used to talk to Mrs Pendle – this elderly lady. So when this lady came in she used to say ‘Serve her’ and we used to serve this other one. ‘Huh!’ she used to say ‘The likes of she that cock-crow over we, as we can cock-crow over she!’ [Both laugh)] Because she was a posh lady. She was very slack in paying her bills but this other little lady – But I always laugh over that ‘It’s not the likes of she can cock-crow over we as we can cock-crow over she!’ We used to get some fun, you know. [Both laugh]

Q:    Yes, that’s amusing.

Miss B:    You might have known that posh lady.

Q:    No, no names mentioned, anyway.

Miss B:    She’s moved. I didn’t realise until I saw her Golden Wedding in the paper – a photo of her Golden Wedding in the paper. I didn’t realise she’d moved. She was a nice lady.

Q:    But I remember somebody saying to me that the people with the most money took longest to pay. Because again, I suppose you knew it was coming, so you didn’t worry. I don’t know – perhaps you did?

Miss B:    Well, they didn’t always come in! [Both laugh] (Q: They didn’t?, oh dear.) But I often laugh at those two …

Q:    But again, I can’t remember what shop it was – they used to serve Terling Place and Faulkbourne Hall and I think they paid every year or something like that! [laughs] But didn’t get upset about it. How far – you didn’t bake the bread? At all then? Because I think it must have been …

Miss B:    No. They used to in Wadley’s time, yes. In Wadley’s time.
Q    I think it must have been them that went out to Faulkbourne and places like that? But, because of the bread – no.

Miss B:    The bakehouse was there and a lovely oven there.

Q:    Because that sounded a lot of work. yes.

Miss B:    But I tell you there it was a beautiful – it was a brick place, it wasn’t a wooden place – like the garage – it was really a brick place. So why they pulled it down …

Q:    Yes it is a shame isn’t it? I suppose it was more work to keep. But again, they probably wouldn’t be allowed to, now, would they, nowadays. So …

Miss B:    The oven – the iron oven and different things where you pulled out – they were all there. But If I’ve got a chance – if Sheila’s got one, if she’s in the mood, you know – I’ll get her to …

[chat about borrowing photos, not noted, they are JG’s photos M54 and M57]]

Miss B:    Because there was a spring in Witham, too, wasn’t there – along Highfields Road – a beautiful spring.

Q:    Was that there when you …?

Miss B:    Yes – used to run down …

Q:    What, really – that was at the …

Miss B:     In Highfields Road, I’m thinking exactly where, now. You know where the last little bungalow is, do you?

Q:    When you go down the hill?

Miss B:    Well, halfway up there, that used to stream right across – the water – people used to take their cups and drink from it. That was beautiful. Because Witham water was lovely soft water when we first came. Because that was from the water tower, here, wasn’t it – along the Cressing Road.

Q:    I see, that came – what the Witham water was?

Miss B:    Yes, through there.

Q:     But the spring was a natural one ?

Miss B:    Yes. But Witham is all springs, isn’t it?

Q:    Yes.

Miss B:    Because they were going to put the cemetery behind the Community Centre but there were so many springs there it was too wet.

Q:    Oh did they? I hadn’t realised that.

Miss B:    That field still isn’t being built on, even now.

Q:    No, well, they keep talking about building Scout huts and things there, don’t they, but it is a bit watery.

Miss B:    Not that one, not just there, the next one.

Q:     Oh, the next one – behind Mrs Dove’s, you mean. [house immediately east of Spring Lodge Community Centre]

Miss B:    Yes.

Q:    Oh, I see. I wondered why that was – it’s still …

Miss B:    That’s where they were going to have it. But there was so many springs. Because there used to be a little stream run through there once, they piped it off.

Q:    Oh, that explains it, because it does seem odd, doesn’t it, because so much of it is built …

[Tape ends with general conversation, not noted]

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