Mr Fred Cook was born c 1908. He was interviewed on 6 September and 14 December 1983, when he lived at Floreat, Chalks Road, Witham. His wife Mrs Florence Cook was also present some of the time.
For more information about them, see Cook, Fred, 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.]
[poor quality, not transcribed, following is a summary]]
[Discussion about a Leonard Sherrington Davies that someone had asked JG about, at school c 1912. Mr C remembers him. On his school photo. Doesn’t know where he lived.
Keith his son has photos. Fred’s health deteriorating – bad back. Bus fares going up. Bus passes. Hearing aid. Noise in Crittall’s damaged hearing, a lot of hammering.
Aluminium a lot now, started by Crittall’s and now other firms have overtaken them Also Crittall’s started double glazing. Chalks Road wooden windows. Built by Adams and Mortimer. Windows from Sadds.
Strain to buy these houses as only earned three pounds a week.
Son trying to trace ancestors. Grandfather married second wife, had four sons and daughters before married grandmother. Only three children together, Fred’s father, his sister and a boy who died. Fred’s father also Frederick and grandfather Samuel.]
[Discussion of names in photos in JG’s collection M70 (Chipping Hill School), M71 (Boys’ National School) and M72, (staff at Crittall’s)]
[Also said he started work at Crittall’s in 1922. Were changing from steel furniture to windows then, the latter transferring from Braintree. Only making 100 a week then. He can remember when they made 4,000 a day.]
[Continues as follows]:
Q: So he actually wore his uniform at the gate, did he, Sergeant Haggar? He wore this uniform for the firm, did he?
Mr C: Yes. He [???] police sergeant come to that, but when I got to know him, [???] you wouldn’t think he could be a police sergeant. Actually I think he went a bit silly in the finish. Cos I remember he used to come up the Club there, and every drink he had he used to change a ten bob note. They said that he reckoned they were dying out, you know, they were going to change them. [laugh] (Q: He wanted to get rid of them?) Yes I reckon that’s what he’d been doing, he’d been saving them, that’s my opinion of it.
Funny thing about that girl there, she married one of the assistant managers, he’s not on there (Q: Haggar’s daughter). And went to live up in Scotland. Glasgow I think. It’s a funny thing, I went for a holiday with my mate, and he’s not on there, that’s a later date. And we were walking down Sauchiehall Street, I don’t know whether you know (Q: I’ve heard of it.) We met her. Marvellous isn’t it. (Q: Amazing isn’t it.) He [Wrate] turned out to be a parson at Feering. (Q: A parson did he, that must have been a change. What did he do, he left and went off, he left Crittall’s and went off somewhere did he?) He went. Apparently he was a parson or something, so he left there to take this job on at Feering. (Q: Oh I see.)
I always remember him, and him and him [include Wrate and Dan Crittall] they got caught one day in the office eating winkles by the old man. Old man Crittall. [laugh]
Q: That was Dan Crittall was doing it was he, that was Crittall that was doing it?
Mr C: He didn’t get caught, they see him go by the window. The office must have smelt with them mustn’t it. (Q: It wasn’t Crittall that was eating them?) Yes (Q: I see, it was Wrate and Crittall.)
Q: So it was the old man that …
Mr C: Yes, what they called the governor. He was the originator of Crittall’s. Val was an MP wasn’t he. Val Crittall. Well, that was his father. Whenever he come round Witham he’s walk round with his back bent up nearly like me with his hands behind his back
Q: He came to make sure they were all behaving themselves, did he?
Mr C: Yes well. That and about ten years after I had a wonderful time at Crittall’s. Really. But when the Small got there, that was when Crittall’s got in a bad way. I think the insurance people lent them a lot of money to [???] and they sent a bloke down here name of Small, you ever heard of him, have you? (Q: I think you might have mentioned him before.) Yes well he used to live in Collingwood Road in the finish. And he was put in to straighten things out and they were straightened out. He’d set people on one morning and sack them the same night. Well that was only done, to get people for cheap labour, see what I mean. That’s what this government’s after now isn’t it. (Q: Yes.) See, that comes back to the same thing. (Q: Yes it’s much the same isn’t it. So they’d just work for the day and be off again?) Yes. Might be a week. And you might be a good worker, very good worker, I found out they were good workers there, but no, they had to go. It was only just to frighten the rest of them. That’s all it was done for. Well they were, they were working for less than three pounds a week.
Q: Yes, quite. And he came from somewhere else did he, this Small?
Mr C: He’s Scotch. And he had a brother, what they used to call ‘little man’, that was, Andrew his name was. And he installed him as manager at Witham. And they were scared stiff for him. But I always got on all right with him. That’s only cos he wanted to know something off me, I know that. He knew nothing when he went there. And I reckon he thought I knew the lot. (Q: He was right by the sound of it.)
Q: So you were all right really, for your job? You knew enough/
Mr C: Yes, I reckon that’s how I got out of the army (Q: Really). Yes, I never got called up. That was a good thing come to that. (Q: They needed you, yes.)
Q: When he come it would be about 1930 sort of time, when times were difficult, would it be, do you think?
Mr C: Yes, about 1932, it was early 1930s wasn’t it.
Q: You say about the insurance company.
Mr C: Well what they say, insurance company. It was something related to borrowing money, anyhow. (Q: I’m with you, yes.) And they’d got to get their money back, hadn’t they. (Q: [???])
[further discussion about photos, not noted.]