Tape 088. Mr Alf Bentley, Mrs Vi Bentley (nee Wood), and Mrs Annie Clarke (nee Oakley), sides 3 and 4

Tape 88

Mr Alf Bentley and his wife Mrs Vi Bentley, nee Wood, were born in 1905 and 1915 respectively. Mrs Annie Clarke, nee Oakley, was born in 1904 or 1905; she was Vi’s aunt and known as Auntie Sis. They were interviewed on 30 September 1983, when the Bentleys lived in Bryony Close, Witham (having formerly been at 61 Glebe Crescent), and Mrs Clarke lived in Maldon Road, Witham.

They also appear on tapes 67 and 89.

For more about them, see Bentley, Wood and Clarke 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 3

[Discussing two photos of Trafalgar Square in Mike Wadhams collection of photos, i.e. ERO T/P 339, photos I/27]

Mrs B:    Yes, there’s the Park, Aunt Sis. [???] I don’t remember all these sheds.
Mrs C:    No, that ain’t ours.
Mrs B:    That is.
Q:    When did they pull them down?
Mrs C:    Before the War.
Mrs B:    Look, there’s the toilets, there, look, there’s the toilets. That was [???] There’s Mrs …
That road there overlooks the Park, look.
Q:    You can see the Park wall.
Mrs B:    And at the end there is where Mrs Dazeley used to live. Before my time.
Q:    Had you moved out when they pulled them down?
Mrs B:    Oh, I moved out ages before. Mum moved over …
Mrs C:    That [???] that one, because that’s tall there.
Mrs B:    She did have [???] No that ain’t Brannan’s. Brannan used to be in this one, this in Mrs Ladkin’s.
Q:    There’s one of them I can’t work out which way it’s taken.
Mrs C:    I can’t make out where this is.
Mrs B:    This was when they were broken. This was Sarah Algar’s here. And that one up there, and that was, that double fronted one was where we lived, weren’t it. We’d got two windows here, that one. We never had all that, that weren’t our garbage there. That’s granny’s, there’s granny’s apple tree in the back there, nobody else had apple trees. Isn’t it. Gran Wagers.
Mrs C:    I can’t see where this can be the Square cause they wouldn’t be in the front.
Q:    That looks like the Park up there.
Mrs B:    Look there’s the passage, look, there’s the passage down to where we used to go across to the Park. There’s the passage. That was where [???] used to live when I can remember, I don’t remember anybody else before her. And there’s the toilets look, all in the row. That’s [???] house. And that’s Gran’s with the apple tree in, so that’s running that way towards the school. That one.
Q:    What, a sort of L-shape was it?
Mrs B:    Yes. That’s running towards the school playgrounds, that was where Gran lived.
Q:    So the playground’s up at this end?
Mrs B:    This was poor old Emma Stock’s.
Mrs C:    Well that’s granny’s there?
Mrs B:    That’s right, with the apple tree in it. And that was Marg[?] Algar’s and all them along there, and …
Mrs C:    That’s Mrs Ladkin’s, [???] I lived there for a while. Then there was the other one. Then there was Annie Wells’s, then [???], then that’s be Bill King’s, old Bill King’s.
Mrs B:    I don’t remember it. There’s one next to that that was right near the school. But this, this is Mrs Stock’s.
Mrs C:    Which one did you say you lived in. That ain’t on here. That ain’t on this one …
Mrs B:    That’s Mrs Stock’s. That was where we lived in there somewhere. There’s Mrs Thingummy’s … There’s Mrs Taylor’s, where poor old Ivy Haygreen used to live. This is only from where I can remember. Look, there’s the passage where we used to play. And there’s the toilets with the toilet top on.
Q:    The toilets were all in a row there were they?
Mrs B:    All in a row, each one, and the boys used to [??? – not clear, laughing].
Mrs C:    There’s [???].
Mrs B:    Yes. And there’s the passage near it, look. You’ve got to get it at the right angle. That’s running that way where Emma Stock used to live, and the other one’s from Granny right down to where Norrie Barber[?] and them lived. They’re old ones.
[5 minutes]
Q:    I think it was Mike Wadhams …So was the toilets one for each house?
Mrs B:    Yes, one for each house.
Q:    But they were all in one block?
Mrs B:    Either side.
Mrs C:    When one got blocked they all got blocked. But this is a plainer one than this.
Mrs B:    Yes that’s Gran’s, Aunt Sis.
Mrs C:    That was Granny’s there.
Mrs B:    With the apple tree.
Mrs C:    Then there used to be Mrs, er, Wells, no.
Mrs B:    Ladkin? Which way are you coming.
Mrs C:    This way. That’s granny’s. Then [???] She lived in there didn’t she, Annie at one time. Then Mrs Ladkin. Then there’s the two houses there what was made into, that big house there made into one, where I had half, and [???] lived in the other half. Well then there was Annie Wells’s, May Hawkes’s. And that one would be Mr King. You’re saying [???]
Mrs B:    Yes. But the one following that was ours, yes, there’s the school playground there.
Mrs C:    That ain’t on it.
Mrs B:    No, that ain’t on it. That’s cut off. And when we lived in this other row here, after, we moved out that one on the corner, we moved down near Aunt Edie, Aunt Edie’s is in that other row. But that wasn’t looking like that when I was there. That shed, I seem to remember that shed, that’s either Bickmore’s or [???] weren’t it. You know Bickmores used to live there, didn’t they. Bickmore.
Mrs C:    Who’s is this with the washing?
Mrs B:    Right down the bottom, that was where Ivy Haygreen used to live, weren’t it. But Mrs Taylor lived there when I was [???]
Mrs C:    No here.
Mrs B:    Where. I reckon that was [???] Ladkin’s[?], that looks like it there to me. That was just round the corner as you go along to Gran’s, that shed, I remember that shed. Then there was a square there with the taps, weren’t there. And then there was the two rows of toilets and the toilets backed each other, so there was one there and one at the back.
[??? – talking together, part not clear and not noted]
Mrs C:    Well these houses were taken when they were empty. When they were just demolishing of them.
Mrs B:    Yes.
Mrs C:    So you wouldn’t know really.
Mrs B:    But there was a few people in them aunt Sis, cause there’s the linen out there.
Q: [???]
Mrs B:    But we moved out into the one, erm, you know where the Rec chase is in Maldon Road, there’s that big house on your right hand side as you go up, Mum lived in there for years.
Mr B:     [???]
Q:    [???]
Mrs B:    It might be for you, [???] Can you turn it down to ten, Janet please, towards the window. They’re good old pictures.
Q:    You say you had a tap?
Mrs B:    There was a tap, in that square, in that square.
Mrs C:    Oh up the top of the yard, up top of the yard, near the lavatories.
Mrs B:    Yes, in that square.
Mrs C:    We had to go up there and get all the water at one time. And then they put it all on outside the houses.
Mrs B:    That’s right. [???]
Q:    After that what happened. Outside the houses you had it did you?
Mrs C:    Yes, they were always outside.
Mrs B:    With a tap on the wall, one between two. (Mrs C: Yes.)
Q:    So you still had to go out for them?
Mrs B:    Yes.
Q:    So if you were washing clothes or anything.
Mrs C:    Well you had to go out and get it in. That’s how they had to years ago.
Q:    Yes. And what about heating it up, what, for washing …
Mrs B:    Copper.
Mrs C:    Well they had coppers in the sheds up the, in the sheds up the yard.
Mrs B:    That’s where Mum used to heat our bath water.
Mrs C:    And two of them, the double ones, they had the copper inside.
Mrs B:    Yes.
Q:    And what did you heat the copper with?
Mrs C:    Well we did, old shoes and paper and stuff, that used to burn all the rubbish on them.
Mrs B:    That was Emma Stock’s, then there was Aunt Edie’s, and there was Mum’s lived there, but we never had them so that must have been before our time being there. But we did live there. Then there was Sarah Algar, Dolly Algar …
Mrs C:    Kate Watkins[?] and Mrs Fisher. (Mrs B: Yes.) And then there was Mrs Taylor.
Mrs B:     That’s right, Mrs Taylor right at the very end. That’s the square where the tap was, until they had them all put down near the door there somewhere. But that led round to these other houses, leading from here, see. See that there led to the … That was Granny’s tall[?]house and there’s Gran’s apple tree, I knew it in a minute.
[10 minutes]
Q:    Was this the sort of back of the …
Mrs C:    Never had no backs. Never had no backs.
Q:    That was at the side of the door wasn’t it…[???]
Mrs B:    Yes, that was all the front, no backs, cause the school was right on the back. There was like a little ditch at the back, weren’t there.
Q:    So for your, did you, the garden was all at the front was it?
Mrs B :    Yes. Nothing at the back.
Q:    Did you grow things in the garden? Yes. What would grow. Yes, but that was Mrs Dazeley’s there, wasn’t it, aunt Sis.
Mrs C:    That was on its own, that had a beautiful garden.
Mrs B:    That’s the wall there, that divided us off. You can see that’s the Park wall and the Park trees.
Q:    And that was the one you were in in the middle of there.
Mrs B:    That one. Yes, when we were younger, and then of course I moved over … Candlewick bedspreads were all the go then, look, that’s candlewick, look.
Q:    And how many were there in your family?
Mrs B:    Six, we had a double house didn’t we.
Mrs C:    We had four bedrooms.
Mrs B:    Two flights of stairs.
Q:    You were the little one, were you?
Mrs B:    I was about what …
Mrs C:    You was born down there.
Mrs B:    I wasn’t born in the house was I?
Mrs C:    No you was born in Granny’s [???]
Q:    So who was the oldest one.
Mrs B:    I am.
Q:    You’re the oldest? And then …
Mrs B:    Cause Gran was a midwife.
Q:    So after that there was?
Mrs B:    There was Nat …
Mrs C:    There was you, Dill[?], [???] what died, Nat, Peg, Nin, (Mrs B: David), Fred and David.
Q:    So when you were talking about the bedspreads, to do all the linen and that for …
Mrs B:    Yes. We had to use a mangle.
Mrs C:    Yes, that was hard work that time of day, we never had no machines to wash with, nor hoovers. We had to get on our knees. Sweep the floor with tealeaves to keep the dust down, the carpet.
Q:    What sort of carpets did you have, sort of rugs?
Mrs C:    No we had proper ones.
Mrs B:    My, Mum had lino and rag rugs.
Mrs C:    We had, [???] we had carpet like these.
Mrs B:    Then as she got better off she bought the proper carpet rugs. But I can tell you this much Janet, there was never a spot in the houses. Was there Aunt Sis. And some of them poor old dears here, lived on this side, when Gran used to go to their confinements, my poor old Mum and Gran used to take all the bowls and towels and everything to them, they’d got nothing, had they. Not a thing.
Q:    So what sort of work would their husbands do?
Mrs C:    What they could get hold of. Your father started working on the land, till he went up to, when he come of the army, till he went up the Oxygen Company.
Mrs B:    That’s right, he went to Ionides.
Mrs C:    Yes.
Mrs B:    You know where Dr Peters lives, or he did live. (Q: Yes, I know.) [Howbridge Hall]. Well, Dad built that moat, that’s where he worked. And we used to have to go and pump that water up in that damned [???]. (Q: Really, what down at Howbridge?) Yes, with the handles. But I don’t know what it’s like now, they’ve probably got it all, you know, off the main.
Mrs C:    Oh, got it all off the main.
Mrs B:    Dad used to say, you go and … (Q: You did it did you?). We used to have to take it in turns. And old Ionides let Dad have a sty didn’t he, a pig sty.
Mrs C:    No that was, Mrs Ionides lived there, there wasn’t a Mr Ionides. That was for Roberts, when Roberts had it, he worked for them. Then Mrs Ionides went there.
Mrs B:    Well I don’t remember. I remember Dad having a pig-sty there.
Mrs C:    Cause I knew all about her, cause when I worked up the White Hart, she stayed up there till she bought that. And one day she rung the bell, or one night. Cause the seam of the sheet weren’t right in the middle, I had to strip that bed and do it again. (Mrs B: And you never touched it …) No, that was the water bottle. [laugh] That was in the summer, too, the water bottle. And she said that was cold. I took it downstairs. They said ‘What have you brought it down for’, I said ‘She says it’s cold’. They said ‘Take it up again.’ And that was all right. [laugh].
[15 minutes]
Mrs B:    That’s just how they were.
Mrs C:    And then they marked her handkerchieves, didn’t they, at the laundry, and I got into [???] through that. She jawed[?]. I said ‘Well I’m sorry madam’ I said, ‘They’re done now, in the laundry’. I went there as chambermaid I didn’t like it so I went down the kitchen. I done the cooking.
Q:    That was your first job was it.
Mrs C:    Yes it was. There. The White Hart. In service.
Mrs B:    Oh, you never went to Crittall’s first, then?
Mrs C:    No. I married from Crittall’s.
Mrs B:    Yes, I know.
Q:    Oh did you? What did you used to do at Crittall’s.
Mrs C:    Oh they had a factory down at, down Maltings Lane. They used to make lead windows. (Q: Oh, I never knew that.) The women did.
Q:    So what did you used to do, were you in the factory there?
Mrs C:    Yes, in the factory. (Mrs B: You had to wear a blue cap, I remember that.) (Q: Really?) Oh you had to have overalls and caps. (Mrs B: Blue and gold, weren’t it?) Had to wear them. Weren’t allowed to go in the factory without a hat on, cause of the machines. (Mrs B: So did I have to in Hoffmann’s) All factories you had to.
Q:    Were they all women there at that Crittall’s?
Mrs C:    Oh yes. Bar the two men, one for working the machines.
Q:    Whereabouts was that?
Mrs C:    Down Maltings Lane where they’ve got the factory down there now. (Mrs B: Where the Maltings is?) Yes. Got the windows in. (Mrs B: Oh yes.) (Q: What, they’ve got the windows that you made?) Well  not the ones I made (Q: I mean like …) Like I made.
Q:    Are they different from what Crittall’s …
Mrs C:    Oh yes, they were lead windows, these, square ones.
Mrs B:    They were [???] Silver End houses, some of them, weren’t they?
Mrs C:    I don’t know.
Q:    Was that when you first left school, was it?
Mrs C:    No.
Q:    Oh that was later.
Mrs C:    No, they never took you till was eighteen in the factory. I was 21 when I went there. There was only six there at first.
Q:    You were there when it started were you?
Mrs C:    Not the very first. No. It weren’t started many weeks.
Q:    Did you like it there?
Mrs C:    Yes, I did. Then they got moved up to the other factory.
Q:    Was it better than service you say.
Mrs C:    Oh yes, cause you had more freedom.
Q:    It must have been hard work was it not? (Mrs C: Where?) In the factory? (Mrs C; No.)
Mrs B:    Not what you’d call hard now.
Q:    What time did you have to start in the morning?
Mrs C:    Eight o’clock. I don’t know if it was half past … (Mrs B: Half past seven I think.)
Q:    What actually did you do yourself?
Mrs C:    I was the glazer.
Q:    What, put the glass in?
Mrs C:    Yes, and ..
[chat re cups of tea, not noted]
Q:    So Aunt Sis, you were living at Trafalgar Square when you were at Crittall’s?
Mrs C:    I married from there, brought up down there.
Q:    And you were there when you went to Crittall’s?
Mrs C:    Yes.
Q:    Did you know all the people that worked down there, they were all Witham people that were there?
Mrs C:    No. No. Weren’t all Witham people.
Q:    So how long were you there for then.
Mrs C:    Till I married.
Q:    Yes? So that would be quite a while was it. (Mrs C: Yes) Oh I didn’t know that was there, well well. Did you have to cut the glass?
Mrs C:    No they cut, that was done by the other girls, we never had nothing to do with cutting the glass. The other girls, two more girls. (Mrs B: Puttied them in did you?) No, they done them downstairs, I was upstairs.
Q:    They probably wouldn’t have putty would they not, if they had the lead.
Mrs C:    Yes, cause we had to gargle our throat every night before we come home.
Q:    Really?
[20 minutes]
Mrs C:    Yes. Cause of the lead. I was happy up there. Used to look forward to going up there. Happier than I did when I went to Hoffman’s.
Q:    Could you talk while you were doing it and that?
Mrs C:    Yes. (Mrs B: Did you have ‘Music while you work’ on?) Never forget. [laughs] Never shall forget one Christmas time, that was May Hawkes[?] and [???] [???] and one or two more downstairs, they were eating oranges. (Mrs B: Weren’t supposed to eat oranges, not anything stained[?].) Weren’t supposed to eat anything. No, weren’t supposed to eat them. There was a couple of managers come by and they threw the peel at them [laugh]. Wonder they didn’t get the sack.
Mr B:    [Reading from Trafalgar Square photos] Butcher’s photo service, Witham. (Mrs B: Oh, Butcher’s that’s [???]) Going back a few years. (Mrs B: Well I never noticed that.) That’s what I looked particularly …
Mrs C:    They were took when they were all empty.
Mr B:    Yes, used to be at the top of Guithavon Street [c. 4 Guithavon Street]
Mrs B:    I don’t think they were all empty Aunt Sis, I think they’d condemned them, and they were having them out as they could.
Mr B:    [???]. Oh this brings back memories, my God it does.
Mrs B:    That old passageway, you remember where we used to stand and do our courting.
Mr B:    I do. Yes.
Mrs B:    Dad used to shout out the door ‘Ain’t it about time you come in.’
Mr B:    And that was only about nine o’clock cause I had to be in at half past. [laugh]
Mrs C:    The kids used to go along the top of them, and drop things on you when you was in the toilet.
Mrs B:    That’s what I told Janet. The boys used to squirt water on us. But you know they used to creep along the wall, you couldn’t hear them. There wasn’t a thing you could do about it.
Mr B:    I’m trying to think whose shed this was.
Mrs B:    That looks like Mrs Ladkin’s.
Mrs C:    That ain’t Mrs Ladkin’s that’s old Annie Wells’s, cause there’s where Mrs Stock[?] lived. (Mr B: That’s right.) (Mrs B: [???] Freddie Wells. Georgie Wells.) Fred Wells, it might have been one of the children. [in the photo]
Mrs B:    Georgie Wells, he was the fattest one weren’t he.
Mr B:    Yes cause they lived here didn’t they.
Mrs B:    When I went to school we lived right on the end, cause Mum used to hand us over baked potatoes at the quarter to eleven playtime, all hot and done with butter for us. [???]
Mrs C:    On the other one you can see where we used to live.
Mrs B:    [???] I used to break it in half and give some to [???]
Mrs C:    There, right at the end there, near Horner’s meadow. (Mr B: That’s right.) Then there used to be Annie Wells lived there. Then there’s old ma Algar.
Q:    What did you used to have breakfast time?
Mrs C:    Then there were two houses made into one, a big house made into two, well I had one of them and [???] lived in one. (Mr[???]) No, what about old Maudie Shelley, then that’ll be where Mrs Barber used to live, then May Algar[?] lived in there and then that’d be old Bill King’s house.
Mr B:    That’s the one that’s just died, the relation. (Mrs B: Who?). The Kings, he died not long ago, didn’t he. (Mrs B: Yes. Robbie. Yes Aunt Sis he died out in Australia). He died out in Australia. (Mrs C: You told me, didn’t you.)
Mr B:    Where’d you unearth that from?
Q:    Well I think Mike Wadhams, you know Mr Wadhams’ son, lent them to me once.
Mrs B:    He’s dead now. (Q: His son.) (Mr B: His son. Used to live in the flat.) (Q: That’s right, he lives up in the flats by the Co-op now. (Mr B: They’re interesting photographs, the old Square.)
Q:    Where he got them from I don’t know. They were pretty solid weren’t they, I suppose it was the water …
[a few sentences all talking at once, not noted]
Q:    And what sort of lighting did they have.
Mrs C:    Oh we used to have lamp light. But then they had gas put in.
Mrs B:    Oh the mantles I’ve broke and the hidings I’ve got. Cause I broke the mantles. Oh not hidings.
[25 minutes]
Q:    Did you used to get hidings for things?
Mrs B:    Oh, did we! And the best of it was, Janet, then when we had the double stairs, if we’d played up, we used to run up one flight of stairs, across the bedrooms and down the other, so they never knew where to catch us. And then when they used to get near the door we used to hide behind the door and run back round the other way.
Q:    But Granny and you lived in a different one did they?
Mrs B:    No, Aunt Sis used to sleep in ours. (Q: Oh you slept in their’s?) (Mrs C: Yes I slept in theirs. Till I married. (Mrs B: With Peg, wasn’t it.)
Mrs C:    And Peg used to dress up in my [???] and fur. I had one of these shoulder furs, you know. They were fashionable then. Often I used to go to bed and she’s got that on asleep in bed. [???] my hats on.
Mrs B:    You know we crept up, she was a bitch she would never sleep. And being the eldest I was left there. Mum used to say ‘Your Dad and I are just going up to the White Hart for a drink’, and watch that Miss Peg don’t get out of the bed’, she used to say. Well before Mum had got up the top the yard she [screaming noise]. I used to say ‘Go on Mum, she’ll be all right’. And then everywhere went quiet. And I crept upstairs to see what she was doing, I told you, didn’t I. And there she’d been at the wardrobe … (Mrs C: I couldn’t have anywhere.) Was it blue or was it brown. And this fox fur, sitting up in bed. (Mrs C: She used to find them, I used to hide them, she used to find them.) She’d find them. I said ‘You wait till Aunt Sis comes, I’m going to tell Aunt Sis, she’ll be here soon’. And she said ‘She won’t say nothing to me.’ I said ‘Won’t she.’
Mrs C:    [???] We made a fuss of her. We’d never allow her to go, your Granny and I never allowed her to go out in the fields with her mother, pea picking.
Q:    Really? Why did you not?
Mrs C:    Granny used to [???] used to buy her dresses and that. I used to have her over mine when I married, at Silver End for a week at a time. Used to love being over there. But I daren’t have the two of them together. Her and Nin. They come up over there one Sunday and they were well, Nin was a little … oh she was, I said ‘You won’t come over here no more’.
Mrs B:    That was when you lived in School Road, weren’t it.
Q:    Was your Grandad … do you remember your grandad at all? (Mrs B: Yes. ) What did he used to do?
Mrs B:    He used to work on the railway.
Mr B:    Sidney Wager.
Mrs B:    And I always used to wait for Grandad to come in. And I don’t know if you remember it Aunt Sis, he always used to make like a little wooden spade, didn’t he.
Mrs C:    Oh yes, they used to, to put down, they used to tie them down the bottom of their trousers didn’t they. I couldn’t tell you what they used them for. Clean the shovels I reckon.
Mrs B:    I used to whisper ‘Can I have the spade, Grandad?’ I don’t know, but he always had a wooden spade down there. I never knew what it was for.
Mrs C:    To clean the shovels when they were doing work.
Mr B:    To clean the spades with.
Mrs B:    But if there was an apple missing on the tree, he always used to blame me. ‘That Vi has been after the apples again’. I believe he used to count ‘em. [laugh]. Cause he knew, didn’t he Aunt Sis, if there was one gone.
Q:    So he was strict, was he?
Mrs C:    He had a bottle, him and old Bill Bibby drank a bottle of Granny’s loganberry wine and Mick and I got the blame for drinking of it, and we were only kids, we never touched it, didn’t know she’d got it. But she found out after all who had it.
Mrs B:    Yes, she used to make a lot of wine, Granny, didn’t she. (Mrs C: So did I.) That’s a thing I’ve never made, never.
Mrs C:     I used to make a lot of it one time, and I never to touch it myself, very very seldom.
Mr B:    I can remember down Aunt Edie’s in Guithavon Street, there used to be …
Mrs B:    [???] you got drunk that was the first and the last time.
Mrs C:    She used to make a lot of wine.
[30 minutes]
Mrs B:    That was Uncle Wal’s fault (Mr B: Yes. That was.) He called[?] him to go to Aunt Edie’s for Christmas. Don’t you remember [???] (Mr B: Christmas morning, no it was the day before Christmas.) There was about four of them, and he was on duty at night. And I said well don’t be long ‘cause the dinner’ll be on this table, Christmas dinner, at one o’clock, and about half past twelve, Aunt Sis, I’d never heard such a row. And I thought they were Gypsy singers. Oh, and I can tell you what it was, ‘Red Sails in the Sunset’. I went out the front, I said ‘I’ll give you Red Sails in the Sunset when you get in here. [laugh] And the other two were afraid to come in, they wouldn’t come in. Oh I shall never forget it. He didn’t want his dinner. After I’d cooked it. I said ‘If you don’t want it’, I slapped it in the sink. Everything, plate as well, went right in the sink. I said ‘If you don’t want it now then you won’t want it tonight, or you won’t have it’. Oh I was furious. They’d had home made wine. And he wasn’t used to it.
Mr B:    You’ve got to blame Aunt Edie, and what’s his name, that used to live with her.
Mrs B:    He never ever done it no more, Janet, he never done it since.
Mrs C:    Old Joe [???]
Mr B:    There was another one. (Mrs C: Doug Shelley?) One that Aunt Edie took to. (Mrs C: It was, Fred Wooley[?]) Damn it I’ve heard you, some relation to Aunt Edie, what the hell was his name. (Mrs C: Mick? No he weren’t a relation.) He kept a bird, didn’t he. (Mrs B: Coote.) Coote. He kept a Poll parrot, didn’t he. Any how it was his fault.
Mrs C:    That was when they lived down the Square when they lost the Poll parrot.
Mrs B:    It had a hiding over me, didn’t it?
Mrs C:    She ain’t got that down Guithavon Street.
Mr B:    I never said they had got it, I said they used to keep them.
Mrs C:    Yes. It was supposed to mine, he claimed it.
Mr B:    We were going to see Aunt Edie, that’s where we, it was Wal’s idea, and we went down, and he said well before we go and have a drink we’ll go and and see Aunt Edie. Number 9 Guithavon Road. And went in. And who should be there but Coote, I always remember him sitting there. And he’d got a glass. Aunt Edie said to him, ‘Yes, he’s just having a Christmas drink with me’ Just like that. So of course Wal, ‘Well there’s other people in the room now, besides him’ Of course out come the damn great port[?] bottles. (Mrs B: Fred Willett[?] was there too) Yes, there was a gang of us there. She kept filling these glasses up and they kept drinking them and I kept helping them and, oh, dear oh dear.
Q:    Where were you living then?
Mrs B:    Down Maldon Road, that was the first house we had, opposite the school.
Mr B:    That was the first house we ever had, that [???], somewhere where the dentist is now [30 Maldon Road]. Somewhere there they stood. (Mrs B: No, lower down than that.) Oh sorry. (Mrs C: Where Toby Shee lived). Yes, there was a row of four wasn’t there.
Mrs B:    There was old Toby Shee, the registrar.  (Mrs C: Then there was old Miss Fuller[?] Miss Fuller[?] and then there was our house. That was a nice little cottage, too. (Mrs C: But there weren’t no yard.) Oh, no garden, nothing, just a back yard. But it’s all there was.
Q:    So was that, I was going to ask you about Trafalgar Square as well, did people rent them out, did they.
Mrs B:    Yes we rented it. Flip[?] Lee used to be our rent collector. You know, Lee.
Mrs C:    He’s dead, been dead years.
Mrs B:    Yes, they used to call him [???]
Q:    He’d come round for it?
Mrs B:    For rent. Well, Bonner did, didn’t he? (Mrs C: Eh?) Didn’t old Bonner come round once?
Mrs C:    Not for rent. They might have been for the Council, perhaps.
Mr B:    That was when he went for, he was rat man wasn’t he.
Mrs B:    Whoever come round before Mr Lee?
Mrs C:    Oh, old Tom Dazeley used to take them years ago.  Then (Mrs B: I don’t remember them.) Then who else used to come? Yes he come and got them for Dean. (Mrs B: Dean, that’s right.) Dean bought them and Tom Dazeley used to collect the rent for him. Then, he was an undertaker with Adams, Dean, he bought them, and Flip[?] Lee worked for him in the office, and he come round and collect the rent.
Q:    Not a very popular job I should think was it? Did they have difficulty getting the rent sometimes?
Mrs B:    No I think they were pretty good payers down there. (Q; Were they?) Weren’t they. They were.
Q:    I suppose you had to be, didn’t they.
Mrs B:    If not, out you get.
Q:    Do you think? What would they have done if you couldn’t have paid?
Mrs C:    Well County[?] Courted you. (Q: Would they?) Yes, if you couldn’t get off of it.
[35 minutes]
Mrs B:    You see these, these here from there to there, well just at the back there was only like a little trench weren’t it. That wasn’t so big as that square there. So you opened your windows and you were nearly onto barbed wire. And you could touch the schoolchildren in the playground. And up there, you could see, from our bedroom, into the play…, into the school rooms.
Q:    Cause I was thinking, you said you went to that school, as well didn’t you?
Mrs B:    Yes, I did.
Mrs C:    So did Granny. (Mrs B: Gran?) Granny went there. (Mrs B: What my mum, or yours.) Yes. (Mrs B: My mum. Oh, I dare say. I thought you meant Granny Wager.) Oh I don’t know about that. (Mrs B: I didn’t know Mum went there.) But your mother did.
Q:    On the other hand you went to the Church, Sundays, did you?
Mrs B:    Church Sunday School.
Q:    But you didn’t go to the Church School.
Mrs B:    No. (Q: Why not then?) Well that was always full up with nobs, the Church School was always supposed for the elite, weren’t it. At the start.
Mr B:    Oh yes.
Mrs C:    We used to go to Church.
Mrs B:    Yes but I mean the Church daily school used to be …
Mrs C:    Oh no, we went to the Council.
Mrs B:    But the other, was all more or less real churchgoers, the children always used to jump into those places.
Mrs C:    But we used to go to Church. (Mrs B: Sunday School.) (Q: That’s what I mean …) I used to go to Church in the morning, and Sun, Church in the, Sunday School at ten, and Church Sunday mornings, we had to march in there, and there was a place at the back where we all sat, the children. And I thought to myself one Sunday cause my friend what I used to go with, she’d left school, and she was on her own like, she wasn’t with the Sunday school children then. And I thought I was going to be big and sit with her. But I was fetched back. (Mrs B: They did.)
Q:    What I was saying was I wondered why you didn’t go to the Church School.
Mrs C:    Well you weren’t forced to go to the Church School, there was the other school, other school.
Q:    I thought perhaps if you went to Church they wanted you to go there.
Mrs C:    No.
Mrs B:    I don’t think we ever had the chance, because that seemed to me that all the damned seats were always booked, well in advance at that school.
Mrs C:    Well, we didn’t want to there when we’d got one right on top of the houses.
Q:    Cause I was trying to remember to tell John what you said about the strike or something that you had there. (Mrs B: At our school.) Was that when you were at school? What did you used to do?
Mrs B:    Well, one of the boys at school had been wrongly caned or something, and we all decided that we’d go on strike about it. And we all left the school, and went up to Captain Abrey’s, you know where … (Mrs C: Well he was on the Committee.) Yes, up near Dorothy L Sayer, it was this side of Dorothy L Sayer. [22-26 Newland Street] And he was a little old short man, and he had a son with a crippled back.
Mrs C:    He was the only gentleman in the town. (Mr B: That’s right, that’s true). (Mrs B: He was a nice old boy.) And whenever he see a poor person, he always put a half a crown in their hand. And he weren’t too bad old Captain Abrey.
Mrs B:    Well he come out and asked us the problem, anyway he said, ‘Now all go back to school and I’ll be down there’, cause he was one of the governors. Well he come, he was only a little short man, but anyway he got it sorted out with the man … (Mrs C: Who was your schoolmaster then?) (Mrs B: Porteous[?] wasn’t it?) Quick was mine.(Mrs B: Porteous[?] was ours). [???]
Mrs B:    [???] We had a half day off. We went back to school in the dinner time, then he give us a half day off.
Q:    So what happened to the person that done the caning I wonder, perhaps you never found out.
Mrs B:    He had to put up with …
Mrs C:    When I went to school there was, old Quick was, you know Mr Pettican, what used to be in the town. Well, his brother Charlie, he’d got the cane. And he went after old Quick and took the cane away from him. (Mrs B: Yes.) That was a do there. Told him to leave him alone.
Mrs B:    Dill[?] told Mr, when Mr Care was going to cane me, over, one of the Bridge Home attendants married their sister, old, Campion. Joan Campion and Derek’s other sister sat with me, and they said we’d been cheating. And he, Mr Care, made me go out the front. And Dill said ‘If you cane my sister for nothing I’m going home’ she went.
Mrs C:    Do you remember Freddy running off from school, Freddy Wood. [???]hit him or something, and he wouldn’t go back to school no more. [laugh] (Mrs B: He was too frightened, poor Fred.)
Q:    Did your Mum or Dad ever go up the school if anything like that happened at all?
[40 minutes]
Mrs B:    No, I don’t remember, unless, unless we got told off for being away, and that was genuine, you know, we were ill, and if we got told off, Mum’d perhaps tell them that you know, we had been ill. But there was one old man, that attendance officer, what was his name now?
Mrs C:    Wade? (Mrs B: No.) Eldridge?
Mrs B:    No, a told old man. (Mrs C: It was Wade, he was tall.) No it wasn’t. (Mrs C: Oh well I don’t know the others.) Oh I used to be terr-, I wouldn’t stop away from school ‘cause I was too frightened of him.
Q:    Really?
Mrs C:    They used to come round to the door and want to know where you’d been, where you were, what was the matter and that.
Mrs B:    And if you was out …
Mrs C:    And there was nothing, they don’t put up with nothing like that now.
Mrs B:    What was his name. He was ever such a tall … (Mrs C: Wade was tall.) No it weren’t Wade, I know the Wade you mean. (Mrs C: Lived up Powershall End.) No, it weren’t him. What was his name. Oh I used to be afraid of my life of him. If Mum kept us away for anything, she weren’t well or anything, I used to say ‘Well I ain’t going to let him catch me.’ Cause you know we were terrified of him. And I wouldn’t go out. If I had a day I wouldn’t go out, I said ‘No, we don’t know where he is about.’ What was his name, ever such a tall chap. He was there when Niddy[?] Watson was there. (Mrs C: Niddy ?) Niddy Watson we used to call her, she used to come and look at your heads for lice. (Mrs C: Oh, I remember her, coming round.) (Q: They still do that.) Do they?
Q:    So did you stop off school much, Aunt Sis, or did you, did you stop off school? Did you stay away much, did they ever catch you?
Mrs C:    No, I don’t think so. (Q: You liked it all right?).
Mrs B:    Well I had to, cause of looking after Mum with all these kids she kept having.
Q:    Really? What, you had to stay in?
Mrs B:    Yes, help, help for a day or two.
Q:    So what happened then, did he come after you or did she send a letter or something.
Mrs B:    She used to send a letter. I’m trying to think of that old man’s name. Oh, he was a grumpy old devil. Oh everybody was afraid of him.
Mrs C:     Old Nacker Eldridge used to come down one time, we used to call him Nacker Eldridge. Did you know him? He was one.
Mr B:    But then [???] the Witham school was not so bad, not quite so bad as Wickham Bishops, you just said about, if the parents go off to the school and report it, they used to report it to the whole village. Vi’s brother, uncle, sorry, Vi’s uncle, he’s dead now, Alf, went to school same time as I did. And he was a bit of a, you know, daredevil. And I can’t remember what he had done wrong, but he was took out in front of the school, and bent over, made to bend over the master’s school desk. (Mrs B: Didn’t he hit a golf ball through the window?) No that’s afterwards. This, chap named Smith, he’d only been at the school, I’m talking about Wickham Bishops school now. (Q: Quite, yes.) And got not the ordinary, you know the pointer that they use. He got that, and he walloped him, and we sit there, we daren’t move, all the lot of us, a class of about forty-five. And at the finish he couldn’t stand. When he got up. He just managed to get into his seat and sit down. Well of course we all went home together. He just managed to get home. And when we got up the, he went indoors, and that was night time, you know what his mother done? Took his trousers down, and went to every cottage in the village and showed them his behind. And it was bad. And that schoolmaster was only there for two more days. (Mrs B: That was bruised and, I’ve heard Aunt [???] say about it.) Good Lord.
Q:    Did all the teachers, did all the teachers hit people?
Mr B:    They used to.
Mrs C:    They used to, they always had a cane.
Q:    What, the girls as well?
Mrs C:    Yes, yes, I’ve been out in front many a time.
Q:    What for? What did you used to do to deserve it?
Mrs C:    [???] You daren’t do anything in school them days. They ought to use it more now on some of them.
[45 minutes]
Mr B:    The best bit about Wickham Bishops school, you know our, it stood, stands in a hollow, [???] the library now. And our playground was, the school was there and the playground was here. Beside of it. And we kept begging Miss Aldred[?], she was the schoolmistress that took over from Smith, we wanted a cricket set. ‘All right’ she said, ‘I’ll enquire when they come’. Anyhow, the cricket set came, and before she issued it to them she said ‘Now, instructions. You can play in the playground but no hard balls. Soft rubber balls, you see. Well we set up wickets there and I forget who was bowling, I think it was young Bannister bowling and her brother, her uncle, was batting and he took one swipe at this ball and that went straight through one of the school big windows, straight across the school and out the other window. They found that this Bannister who was there, done it for a joke, it was a hard cricket ball. (Mrs B: Right through one window, right across the school and out the other window, so he broke two big windows out of that.) I believe Bannister’s parents used to have to pay a bit towards it. They were good old days.

Side 4

Mrs C:    And old Quick went and hit one of old Ted Bickmore’s brothers. (Mrs B: Oh, crikey, [???]) Oh old Nance[?] went round that school she called him everything. (Mrs B: Little short woman, I remember her.) Oh she went round there after him. Oh God. [laugh] Course she could see it where she lives.
Q:    So they didn’t always get away with it then, the teachers.
Mrs B:    No.
Mr B:    Oh no, not in those days. The parents used to do it themselves you know. They didn’t used to report …
Q:    So when you said about Captain Abrey being the only gentleman, I thought Witham was full of gentlemen.
Mrs C:    Well, so-called gentlemen.
Q:    I see, was there not …
Mrs C:    But they’ve all gone now. But he was a gentleman.
Q:    What were the others like then.
Mrs C:    Well, they weren’t too bad, but they never used to give much away, did they.
Mr B:    No.
Mrs B:    No, they wouldn’t speak to you like Captain Abrey.
Mr B:    Didn’t Captain Abrey finish up in a wheel chair?
Mrs B and Mrs C: No, that was his son.
Mrs C:    He had something up with his back. He married that housekeeper. (Mrs B: What, Captain Abrey’s son?) Yes, when I worked at Moy’s[?] offices, I was a doing something outside, and I see he going to church to get married, and her. (Mrs C: Did you?) Yes, they walked, cause she was a Wood from Braxted. (Mrs B: Wood from Braxted?) (Mr B: Used to live on top of Braxted Wall, if I’m right, Woods.)
Mrs C:    And when he died he left all his money, old Captain Abrey did, on the death of his son, to All Saints Church. Now where did that money go to? Why couldn’t they keep that, have that done up? And keep that a going, All Saints Church.
Mr B:    I don’t know how much he left, but he left it …
Mrs C:     She never had much.
Mrs B:    He was a Captain weren’t he.
Q:    ‘Cause who else were they all these gentlemen.
Mrs B:    Old Bindon Blood, do you remember him?
Mrs C:    I remember Blood, he was another one wheeled about in a chair. He used to, there, up where Joey Mens house was, there was an office built on the side of that. [Collingwood Road] Well that’s where he used to do is, he was a lawyer or something, well he used to go in there. And then when he used to come out, if we were going up Collingwood Road, cause I used to do it a purpose when I knew what [???] Open the gate for him to come out and there used to be threepence put in your hand, that used to be a lot that time of day. (Mrs B: Yes, it did.) And I often used to catch him coming out. [laugh] That was a bar of chocolate.
Mr B:    Who was the best magistrate Witham ever had.
Mrs B:    Collingwood Hope.
Mr B:    Collingwood Hope.
Mrs C:    That weren’t the best.
Mr B:    ‘Give them a month’. That was the only thing he could say.
Mrs B:    He used to sit there with a dirty nose. No matter what you went up for, no matter what it was ‘Give them a month’. Nothing else. ‘Give them a month.’
Mrs C:    He used to live at Faulkbourne, Boreham[?], the house stands back and a big lake in front. Collingwood Hope they used to call him. Used to be up Chelmsford and all didn’t he.
Mr B:    He knew nothing else. When he sit on that bench you can know what they’re going to get before … (Mrs B: ‘Give them a month’.) ‘Give them a month’.
Q:     What, for everything.
Mrs B:    Only thing that we ever heard anybody got was always ‘Give them a month’.
Mr B:    He used to sit there with a dirty little old beard and a dirty runny nose. Oh.
Mrs B:    [???] Poor old Bill went up for something once. And he said he knew what he was going to get, a month.
Q:    I was going to say, did you know many people that got taken to the Court for anything?
Mr B:    Old Bill was took to the Court for once, I don’t know what it was over.
Mrs C:    Used to give them seven days, didn’t they, often.
Mrs B:    I don’t know what it was for.
Mr B:    Give them a month.
Q:    What about the kids if you were caught, I mean did you see much of the police?
Mrs C:    Well the children used to be seen to in school, if they’d done anything wrong, if they’d pinched a few sweets, they were sent to a school for so many years.
Q:    Really? Did you know people that …
Mrs C:    Yes.
Mrs B:    That’s where the saying come from Janet, you may as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb.
[5 minutes]
Mr B:    Yes. But in those days Janet, what we’re talking about, mainly everything was done punishment by the old village Cop. He used to clip your ears, tell you what he was there for then he’d clip your ears. Now that was the main punishment.
Mrs B:    I know some boys once that pinned a dog [???] there he was looking for the dog and that was behind him. [laugh]
Mr B:    That was old starchy, Stalin his name was, he was the village copper at Wickham. And Miss Weston, they were two maiden women lived in that big house opposite the Chequers. And they kept two of these little, I don’t know what they were. (Mrs B: [???] weren’t they?) Little old things. And this was on a weekend. We was up in the village, and somebody said to us that Miss West had lost a dog, they’re looking for it. And of course there was me, my brother Frank, Ralph Upson, and (Mrs B: Price was it?) one of the Frosts, I can’t think which one it was. But there was four of us. We was going, well we were going scrumping, to be truthful, across the Wellands[?] over to old whatsernames over there. And as we were going across there, what should we come across but this dog. Little old thing there running about. One of them picked it up, and of course when we got back onto the village they were still, [???] strutting up there. In those days the village policeman wore a frock tail with six silver buttons. And Ralph Upson said ‘Oh, I know what to do with it’. So he tied a piece of string round the little old dog’s neck, and he crept up behind Starchy, cause he was nearing retiring age, he was deaf. And he tied it to one of his buttons. And of course there he was strutting through the village looking for this dog and that was trailing behind him. [laugh] So the irony of it was, we didn’t know this, Miss West had offered five shillings reward. (Mrs C: That was a lot that time of day. He got the five bob.) [laugh] (Mrs B: Trying to make a fool of him.)
Mrs B:    Well that’s funny you should say that, but I took Cooky[?] down at the bus stop, You know Ann’s little, what Ray bought her for her birthday, and one of my mates, I was standing there holding the dog like this and looking the other way, and when I looked I though ‘Somebody’s cut the dog off.’ They’d cut the dog off the lead and stood two or three [???] away laughing. And then they said they could see my face went like this. I thought ‘Whatever have I done, where’s me dog?’ [???] [???] Oh I shall never forget it, you stupid I said, I was terrified. [???] [???] I just stood there and I was just standing there holding its lead. I was waiting to get on the bus. I didn’t worry about them, but that was them others that see me standing there.
Mr B:    Poor old village blacksmith used to be chauffeur to these two Wests, two sisters West, and she had one of these broughams you know, with a pair of horses. He was the village blacksmith. And he used to sit up there with one of these cockade hats on, you know, with the thing up the side, Christmas time. She used to go round the whole village, both of them, to every cottage, and leave something. Every year. (Mrs B: More than they did down here.) One of the sisters had got a huge birthmark right down one side of her face. Yes.
Q:    I remember somebody telling me something about, was it the ‘pence ladies’, you know the ladies of Witham would come round and collect?
Mrs C:    Oh yes, used to come round Mondays, and used to pay on a coal card and a clothing card, used to get your … (Mr B: Miss Cornwall was one of them.) No. There used to be Miss Vaux, old Miss Vaux and Mrs Mondy. (Mrs B: They used to call her ‘Hoss Vaux’, didn’t they.) Yes. Well they made all that fuss about old Dorothy Sayers living there. But old Miss Vaux lived there years [22-26 Newland Street], and Captain Abrey. She was only a commoner in Witham.
[10 minutes]
Mrs B:    I remember Dorothy L Sayers when I worked at the George. She used to come round with that old high hat on … (Mr B: Skirts she used to wash the floor with.) So many crates of stout or Guinness or something, and I had to lug that right up the back of the houses and put it, have it put in her kitchen, and her kitchen was nothing but only bricks, not a concrete floor like – they were all bricks. (Mrs C: No, well they used to.) (Mr B: That’s what we all had.) And old white, I know they used to have the white tables cause we used to have to scrub them, but oh it was a bleak old place. I know she’s half cut half the time.
Mrs C:    He used to drink like a fish.
Mrs B:    I don’t remember him.
Mr B:    I don’t remember him. I remember her.
Mrs C:    He used to be Captain, who’d they call him? (Q: Wasn’t she called Fleming, was that …?) (Mrs B: Fleming.) Yes, Captain Fleming. He used to go in the Lion and treat everybody in there and he was always drunk.
Mrs B:    So was she.
Q:    So this Miss Vaux did she come round and collect, the other woman, was it Miss Vaux you said.
Mrs C:    Oh they used to go years ago to help poor[?] people. We used to get the coal cheap. I used to go to washing, half a crown for doing a day’s, all day white, scrub up and down great old kitchen bigger that this room, and for half a crown. And out of that half a crown I used to put sixpence on a clothing card and sixpence on a coal card.
Q:    That was when you were at the White Hart was it?
Mrs C:    No. That was after I married and I went out to work.
Q:    You still went out after you married, did you?
Mrs C:    Yes, to do a little bit of washing, glad of it, cause you never had the money like they do today.
Mrs B:    Mrs Brown, lived, you know near the market, that big house. [15 Collingwood Road]
Mrs C:    Mrs Percy Brown.
Mrs B:    Well when Mum was in bed with, that must have been with Nat, she used to come to see Mum and to send me up for a dinner. (Mrs C: Or milk card.) And I used to have to go there for the Cow and Gate tins. And when I took it back that was like an old white water stew, with some capers[?] in, and a couple of dumplings you could throw them at the wall and they’d have never broke. [laugh]. (Q: That was from Mrs Brown’s house?) Mrs Percy Brown’s, used to go up the house for it. And she said ‘How was my dinner.’ And I said ‘I don’t know cause I didn’t see her eat it’. [laugh] I didn’t see her eat it. That was when Mum was in bed. I remember …
Mrs C:    Somebody brought me some soup one day. I don’t know whatever made them bring it, cause I didn’t want it and I was all right, and a couple of dumplings to put in it. Well, I’ve never known soup to be like it. (Mrs B: You drunk it and enjoyed it.) I tipped it all out. She asked me if I [???] I said ‘Oh it was nice’ [???][???]
Q:    Why did they bring that?
Mrs C:    I don’t know. I was all right. I don’t know what they brought it for, to give me [???] I reckon.
Mrs B:    {???] [???] [???]
Mrs C:    If she made soup like that well I don’t know, they said they enjoyed it, it was lovely one woman said.
Q:    Who brought that then, who brought that soup.
Mrs C:    [???] somebody we knew. (Q: Oh I see, recently.)
Mr B:    Talking of dumplings, I always remember my brother Frank, as you know we had to (Mrs C: The little old dumplings weren’t no bigger round than that.) we had to go and blow the organ at Wickham Bishops church, on a Sunday morning, alternate Sundays. (Mrs B: Pump the organ.) Or pump the organ at the back. And this particular Sunday, I don’t know what it was, it was a special Church, so all decided, the family did, they’d got to go, with the exception of one, and that person that stopped at home was Frank, my brother. And in those days our dinner was always cooked, we’d got no other means, only a little kitchen range in the kitchen, so we had a, there was an old couple of bricks and a couple of iron bars down the garden path, half way down the garden path, and Mother left one of the big old army [???] you know the oval ones, and that was on there cooking, there was two rabbits and some dumplings in it, big dumplings, and Frank was to keep the fire going, keep them boiling. Well that was in the middle of the parson’s giving his sermon, the door opened, and our pew was, in those days, each family had their own pew in the church, was just inside the door.
[15 minutes]
Mrs C: Used to pay, didn’t they, used to pay so much for them. The Church door opened and my brother Frank poked his head round, ‘Mum, mum’ he says, ‘Come for God’s sake’ he says, ‘the bloody, the rabbit is chasing the dumplings round the saucepan’. [???] (Mrs B: [???]) Oh I’ll always remember that. (Mrs B: He didn’t think the dumplings could’ve moved.) You see that was boiling and the meat and the dumplings were going together. (Mrs B: Frank remembers it and all.) Yes, he remembers that. (Q: Did the parson notice do you think?) He stopped. Yes, he stopped. (Mrs B: Who went home?) Mother went home. (Mrs B: Did she box his ears, she ought to have done.) Yes she went home.
Q:    Were the parsons quite, what were they like?
Mr B:    Reverend Snell.
Mrs B:    I forget who our parson was … (Mrs C: There was Ingle.) Payne was the first one I remember, Reverend Payne weren’t it? (Mr B: No, one before him.) Erm, Canon Galpin. Canon Luard.
Mrs C:    No it weren’t Luard. It weren’t Canon Galpin. Campbell married me, up Chipping Hill church. He went to Colchester. And when I was in hospital he come in the hospital, and they asked me if I’d like to take Communion. I said no, I could’ve took it. I said no, I thought to myself as ill as I was, I don’t take it at home, why take it here. So I never took it. I was confirmed up Chipping Hill church and I was married up there, and always went up there to Church.
Mrs B:    I don’t remember you getting married.
Mrs C:    Married in 1928.
Mrs B:    Don’t remember it. I was only three.
Mrs C:    You was more than three in ’28, you was born in 1915. What’s the matter with you.
Mrs B:    Oh yes that’s right.
Mr B:    You were thirteen. No, the Reverend Snell was our clergyman and his sister was the organist and she died about a couple or three years ago. Damned near a hundred she was. Lived in that big house [???] the War memorial.
Mrs B:    There was one that, oh no that was the organist that used to live opposite. The organist I remember used to … (Mrs C: Howlett.) I remember him being the organist.
Q:    Going back to asking you about the ladies that come round with the pence and that, was the Oddfellows and the Foresters? Were you in any of those?
Mrs B:    Oddfellows health club. Yes we were.
Mrs C:    I was in the Oddfellows for a while.
Mr B:    I could tell you where their office used to be, the Foresters.
Mrs B:    The Oddfellows used to be at Mr Duncombe’s.
Mr B:    The Foresters was at the Black Boy.
Mrs C:    Yes, cause Grandad always, Grandad was in that till he died.
Mrs B:    Mum had us in the Oddfellows, didn’t she.
Mrs C:    I was in the Oddfellows.
Mr B:    How I know that was there was because while he was, after he’d finished work I had to go and pay it there about once a month.
Mrs B:    Mum always used to …
Q:    So was that if you were ill, was it?
Mrs B:    Yes. Hospitalisation and about five bob a week I think, was it, if we were away sick?
Mr B:    It got to ten bob a week …
Mrs C:    Twelve bob for a man weren’t it (Mr B: Something like that.) You had to be interviewed you mustn’t be out after five o’clock at night. If they see you out …
Mr B:    Not out before sunrise and not after sunset.
Mrs C:    Wasn’t supposed to do anything, not even clean your shoes.
Mrs B:    No. They stopped your money.
Mrs C:    They stopped your money for it.
Mrs B:    If they got to know it.
Mr B:    Yes, yes.
Mrs C:    They were very strict on that.
Q:    What, you mean, you should have been at work, they said, you mean.
Mr B:    Yes.
Mrs B:    Yes. You were not allowed to be out, only walking about. If they thought you were doing any housework or anything, you’d had it, hadn’t you.
Mr B:    Yes, in those days.
Q:    Still I suppose that was all there was, wasn’t it. I was going to ask you how did you get in the Labour Party, how did that start up?
Mrs B:    Sis remembers that starting.
Mrs C:    Oh, W W Burrows started that up when Crittall got in. We used to go down Mill Lane in the YMCA hut, well it was the YMCA.
[20 minutes]
Mrs B:     Mill Lane, was it in Mill Lane.
Mrs C:    Yes, we had it down there. We used to have it down there. And there was W W Burrows, was the (Mrs B: The British Legion.) (Mr B: Was the chairman.) was the agent (Mr B: Well he was chairman of the doings.) (Mrs B: Labour agent) (Mr B: But he went to agent for Crittall’s). Yes, when Crittall got in. W W Burrows used to have the coal van didn’t he.
Mrs B:    I thought aunt Sis that when you first met, that was down near the Public Hall there somewhere.
Mrs C:    No, that’s when that was took up again after the War, when Mrs Bull[?] got it up. Cause I’ve been a member of the Labour Party, old thingemebob from Braintree used to say about (Mrs B: Ron Martin, yes.) fifty years, I said ‘Well I’ve been a member of it more than that, over fifty years’.
Q:    So how did you, can you remember why you joined?
Mrs C:    Well we used to go down and he used to have the meetings, and … (Mrs B: That was a hard time.) We used to have outings. Used to always once a month have a meat tea. Always. You used to pay for that.
Mr B:    The Labour Party in those days were looking after the poor. That was the reason people went to it. (Mrs B: I mean that was, there was all the means tests weren’t there?)
Mrs C:    And then when she give it up that seemed as if that went, you know. But there were they real old ones in that.
Mrs B:    That was Alice Bull[?] that I first went down to Cambridge with, she took me in the car [to annual rally]. And that’s been some years. I’ve only missed one, Janet, going to Cambridge, all them years.
Q:    Mr Burrows, was he a Witham coal merchant, so being the agent was a part time thing in those days.
Mr B:    Yes. You could always pick him out, whenever he was at home he’d always got an apron on.
Mrs C:    He got in the first time, Crittall did, second time he didn’t get in. I can remember going over there, over to Maldon, old Peggy Algar’s aunt Sarah, and Mrs Rumsey[?] and a lot of us went over, and they were the real old ones, that took an interest in it. (Mrs B: I remember Mrs Rumsey. And him.) (Mr B: Charlie.) And we went right over to Braintree, into Crittall’s with them.
Q:    And when, was that before you were married. So who got you to, how did you hear about it? Who got you to join? Do you remember?
Mrs C:    Oh, well we all got together. [???] mother used to go, before then. (Mrs B: Mrs Polly.) Yes they were the real old ones, there used to be Mrs Rumsey, Mrs King, John Scott’s mother and Mrs Polly, Mrs Franklin, old lady Franklin. Real old Witham people used to go to that. And that used to be a happy, happier than what it is today.
Q:    Were they people from down the Square and that sort of thing or did they live all over.
Mrs B:    They lived all over. Mrs Rumsey and them lived up in Braintree Road, didn’t she. And Mrs Polly lived up Powershall.
Mrs C:    Mrs Rumsey used to live next, down Maldon Road, next door to where you used to live, before she went up Braintree Road. (Mrs B: I didn’t know.) Yes. (Mrs B: The first one I knew there was, works at the boot shop now, Hollicks’s) Mrs Rumsey used to live in between Mrs Stock and you, in that house there.
Q:    I just wondered how they got. Because it was all Liberal before that was it? How they got the idea of being Labour.
Mr B:    You can put it in a nutshell (Mrs B: Crittall I reckon.) Janet by saying it … (Mrs C: That’s when Labour was first formed.) What drew them together was poverty.
Mrs B: Yes but they hard to start the Labour Party. I think that was Teddy Mawdsley’s father.
Mrs C:    He didn’t. He didn’t.
[25 minutes]
Mrs B:    Not first formed the Labour Party?
Mrs C:    Oh no, I never remember him going to a meeting.
Mrs B:    I thought he was the first one to join it.
Mrs C:    I reckon old Charlie Poulter, and his mother used to go. Yes, old Charlie Poulter, belonged to that [???]/
Mrs B:    Well somebody had to get it formed.
Mrs C:    Well I’ll tell you that was Crittall and Burr-, and his agent and his wife, Mrs Burrows got the Women’s section together. They were the first ones to form it.
Q:    Did you go to Party meetings as well as the women’s?
Mrs C:    Course we went. Used to have some good times.
Q:    What did they used to do. They had these meat teas you say?
Mrs C:    Yes.
Q:    And in the elections what did you used to get up to?
Mrs B:    Writing up.
Mrs C:    Had to do all the writing up like you do now.
Q:    So that must have been, when Crittall got in.
Mrs B:    That was sort of, the enthusiasm.
Mr B:    That was when the Labour Party started to build.
Q:    Yes. Can you remember that, can you remember him getting in?
Mrs B:    I remember Crittall getting in. When they rolled the barrels of tar down the High Street and then burnt them. Didn’t they?
Mr B:    That’s right. Yes. And they set alight to them.
Mrs B:    When Crittall got in, Aunt Sis?
Mrs C:    I was about twenty odd, I believe I was in service. The first voting I had, cause you couldn’t vote till you was twenty-one, and I was over at Silver End, that was the year I married. I voted over at Silver End.
Mrs B:    I thought they rolled barrels of tar but that may have been for old Ruggles Brise.
Mrs C:    Ruggles Brise was a Tory.
Mr B:    That was when, you’re thinking of Driberg first of all.
Mrs B:    We pulled Driberg …
Mr B:    We pulled Driberg up the High Street, that was it.
Mrs C:    All I heard about the barrels of tar was years ago when that was Guy Fawkes Day.
Mrs B:    Oh perhaps that’s what I’ve heard.
Mrs C:    Grandad used to talk about that, when there was somebody sitting on one of these toilets what you used to empty, they pulled him along on it, I remember his saying that. Barrels of tar.
Mrs B:    That must have been that then, I thought that …
Q:    What about the Council elections, did they used to put people up for the Council in those days, the Labour?
Mrs C:    Yes. We always used to be outside to greet them. Always. Didn’t we.
Mr B:    Burrows is the first councillor I can remember on the Witham Urban.
Mrs C:    I say, we used to go up to the Co-op Hall there and celebrate.
Mr B:    Yes, over the Co-op in Braintree Road.
Mrs C:    There ain’t nothing like that now.
Q:    What did everybody else think that wasn’t in the Labour Party, do you think? (Mrs C: Eh?) I was just wondering what everybody said.
Mrs C:    What could they say?
Q:    Cause it was a bit of a change, wasn’t it?
Mrs B:    Yes.[???] I know that with the Square, down there … (Mrs C: We used to trim that up, all red.) that used to be trimmed up, all, the boughs it used to look gorgeous, didn’t it? All the archway, you know that archway … I remember a little old boy from London … (Mrs C: I was just thinking about that, when he threw them tomatoes at old Ruggles Brise.) He threw a tomato at the car, and that went right through the window and right down Ruggles Brise’ suit. Mrs C:    He got out of the car and the boy had to apologise.
Mrs B:    You see that was the sort they were. He was a little cripple, weren’t he.
Mrs C:    Yes, that was Mrs Fish[?]’s son done that, cause he was staying with her and she give him them to throw.
Mrs B:    [???] as soon as that car come right through the window.
Mrs C:    Course that pulled up, they thought we were going to greet them. [laugh] (Mrs B: I’ll tell you who put up …) No that was Granny Wat-, Mrs Watkinson [???], that’s right.
Mrs B:    And we used to stand there and sing, as I remember, Major Evans.
Mrs C:    Yes, Major Evans, and who else put up.
Mrs B:    [???] And that was Major Evans we were sticking up for when he come, when old Ruggles come past. [???]
Mrs C:    Yes, but he got in after when he died. (Mrs B: Who?) The one what put up for the Labour. He died. (Mr B: Oh.) Some of you went to the funeral. (Mrs B: Lynny Scutts,) (Mr B: Lyn Scutts.)
[30 minutes]
Mrs B:    Oh that broke my heart, I could not get over that.
Mr B:    We was over at, where were we, Maldon way, weren’t we that time?
Mrs B:    Yes, and he come that night …
Mrs C:    Yes, he come with us that night. At Wickham. That was Wickham.
Mrs B:    And he started talking about ladies’ hats, didn’t he. That was the sugar.
Mrs C:    He wasn’t very well then. He went though.
Mrs B:    He died within about a week didn’t he, oh I shall never forget it.
Mrs C:    When we went to Wickham.
Mrs B:    I said then there’s something wrong with Lyn Scutts, cause he was a marvellous speaker. [???]
Mrs C:    Who else put up. Doctor who, what’s his name?
Mrs B:    Doctor?
Mrs C:    His mother come and all. We thought we were going to get him in. Didn’t we. What was his name.
Mrs B:    He used to come to yours, Janet. Married an American girl.
Q:    Yes, she was nice wasn’t she, I haven’t seen them.
Mrs B:    No they’ve gone, they went [???] then they gone over to the SDP.
Q:    I think they’ve gone to America now, John said, anyway. Haselers.
Mrs B:    Haselers.
Q:    Going back to the old, I can remember somebody near me saying about was it Wakelin used to stand, Wakelins from Freebournes used to stand for the Council.
Mr B:    Bert Wakelin.
Mrs C:    He never stood for the Council, did he.
Mr B:    The Wakelin family, I can’t remember who used to stand for it though. I can’t honestly.
Mrs C:    He died the same year I married, he was buried on the Wednesday and I married on the Saturday.
Mr B:    Yes.
Mrs B:    You worked for old Bertie Wakelin.
Mrs C:    No. No
Mrs B:    Thought you said you did ..
Mrs C:    Bertie Mann. (Mrs B: Oh. Sorry.)
Mrs C:    I used to, cause she come to live with, cause that was Mr Bertie Mann’s sister, Wakelin’s wife, and she went down there and lived with the Manns.
Mrs B:    Oh that’s what it was.
Q:    Perhaps it was somebody else. I remember her saying how, one of these chaps who’d always been used to being on the Council he got beaten, and how rude he was about it. Yes, must have been someone else.
Mrs B:    I reckon that was who Tom Snow knocked out.
Mrs C:    Who?
Mrs B:    Who Janet meant, I can’t remember his name. (Mr B: No I can’t remember his name.) No, he knocked Bright out. (Mr B: Oh yes, the solicitor, that’s right.) Solicitor he knocked out off the south ward. (Mr B: Yes, that’s right, he was there for years, wasn’t he.)
Mrs B:    That was a turn up for the books. Other than that that’d always been Tory down there. Till Tom Snow took it over.
Q:    It must have been somebody else, that was somebody, you probably remember her, Mrs Ireland, lives near.
Mrs B:    Oh yes, we know Mrs Ireland.
Mrs C:    Is she all right.
Q:    Yes, she’s fine, yes.
Mrs C:    If you see her, tell her you come to see me.
Q:    I will, yes.
Mrs B:    She come on to vote when I was there. ‘My dear’ she said.
Mrs C:    Yes, you tell her, I ain’t seen her for a long while, she’d love to talk to me.
Q:    I bet she would, yes.
Mrs B:    She’s still Labour isn’t she?
Q:    I think so. You know, it’s hard, you don’t …
Mrs C:    My God she’s well over eighty.
Q:    Oh yes, she’s, I think she’s eighty-eight, eighty nine?
Mrs C:    Must be. She don’t come out to Witham now, do she?
Q:    Not really no, she used to didn’t she.
Mrs C:    I know she used to love it. See Mrs Rushen brought her up.
Mr B:    That’s the woman that can talk a lot.
Mrs C:    You get near her you can’t get away from her.
Mr B:    You can’t get away from her, I know who you mean.
Mrs C:    She said to me ‘Oh hello my dear’ she said, ‘Haven’t seen you for a long while’.
Q:    Being that age she says she doesn’t see many people, you know, that remember all the things that she does. As you say, was it Mrs, yes, Mrs Rushen wasn’t it.
Mrs B:    She brought her up.
Q:    That was down Church Street way was it.
Mrs C:    Yes it was Church Street.
Mrs B:    That was when the Lunatic Asylum was there wasn’t it, them days. When the women were put in there weren’t they. (Mrs C: Where?) The Asylum down Maldon Road. (Mrs C: She ain’t talking about Maldon Road.)
Mr B:    You mean the Retreat. (Mrs B: Oh I though you said …) No I said Mrs Rushen. (Mrs B: Oh I though she said down Maldon Road Rushen.) Mrs C: No.
Q:    Was she a relative of hers or did she …
Mrs C:    I don’t know, I don’t know nothing about her. No, I couldn’t tell you anything about her. I only know that Mrs Rushen brought her up, that’s all I know.
Mr B:    The Retreat down Maldon Road that was …
Mrs B:    That was women there first, used to be petrified.
Q:    Was it there when you were there?
Mrs C:    There were men and women.
Mrs B:    That weren’t the Bridge Home boys there then, was it?
Mr B:    That wasn’t Bridge Home then.
Mrs C:    That was before your time, that was a private one. Private one.
Mr B:    Yes, I think it still was.
[35 minutes]
Mrs B:    I remember it being there private.
Mrs C:    No, because the 1914 War the soldiers went in there after that was shut, so you can’t, you wasn’t born. (Mr B: No.) Well I remember some women in there being barmy.
Mr B:    Yes, that was still private right up to ’48, when nationalisation started, that was …
Mrs C:    The Bridge Hospital went and hired it didn’t they.
Mrs B:    There was women in there before they took it. (Mrs C: No.) There was. (Mrs C: No there wasn’t. Don’t tell me that when I’ve lived down Maldon Road all me life.
Mr B:    There was, listen aunt. 1932 there was women in that Retreat. Now I don’t want to argue or that, but there was.
Mrs C:    Well how is it the soldiers went in?
Mrs B:    That’s ’32.
Mr B:    You’re talking about the ’14 War. Well we’re not. (Mrs C: It was shut before then.) I know that but we’re talking about ’32. (Mrs B: There was women in there.)
Mrs C:    That was a private one with paying. Paying. Dr Payne.
Mr B:    And it still was then. It was private till ’48. And then when it was nationalised, Bridge Home took it over. Cause I was at Bridge Home then, and I had to go up to the Retreat.
Mrs B:    Yes, cause Jessie Morley’s husband used to go in there.
Q:    What was it before 1914?
Mrs C:    A private asylum. (Mr B: It was a private asylum.)
Mrs C:    Granny Wager used to work there. (Mrs B: Did she?) Yes. And I can remember when I was a kid, old Miss Green, got out and she …
Mrs B:    That was it I reckon, that’s where I’ve heard the tales from then. Used to fright …
Mrs C:    There was [???] (Mrs B: She got out, some woman got out.) [???] I believe. And she got out and she chased us round and round the Rec with a [???] stick. [laugh]. And we took our shoes off so we had to run with no shoes on. Oh it put the wind up us.
Mrs B:    That’s where I’ve got it in my mind then from.
Mrs C:    And one or two of them put themselves on the Maldon line and got killed.
Mr B:    Yes, that’s right, they did.
Mrs B:    I remember there being Dr Payne, didn’t he have a big place in the High Street?
Mrs C:    That big house what (Mrs B: There was a woman had it wasn’t there.) Stoffer had. [High House, 5 Newland Street]. (Mrs B: Who?) Stoffer. (Mrs B: Did he?) That’s the place, whereas his boy went into the other one.
Mrs B:    There used to be a home there for boys, cause boy [???] went there, didn’t he.
Mrs C:    No that’s in the town. (Mrs B: That’s in the town, yes.) That’s in the town but not up that end where Dr, that was Miss Hunt’s home. (Mrs B: Hunt.) Miss Hunt’s home. (Mrs B: For boys, because I remember young [???]) Girls and all. Because the girl Gaymers, [???] sister, when their mother was away, cause she used to go away like into a asylum, they used to be put in there.
Mr B:    Who was the old parson that used to live in the big house, I believe it’s a solicitor’s office now, right next to the Spread Eagle yard. There was a parson lived there. Mackenzie who worked at our place used to be a pal of his. (Mrs B: Can’t remember a parson.) Yes there was. The Reverend somebody. They used to go and visit him there. I’m talking now in the fifties. (Mrs C: In the High Street? Opposite the?) You know where the Spread Eagle yard is. Well there’s a little old shop, isn’t there, what used to be the little old greengrocer’s. (Mrs C: Hasler’s). Then there’s that big house next door, I believe it’s an estate agent’s now [probably 53 Newland Street]. (Mrs B: There’s sort of a bank [???]) There used to be a parson lived in that house, there was Mackenzie, and who was the other bloke used to run the boy scouts with us, with Chippy[?] Burnett? They used to go and visit him fairly regular. I can’t think of his name but I know there was a parson lived there. (Mrs C: Did he go in that house opposite, right next to the bank? Where Miss Hunt used to live?) May have been.
Mrs C:    I believe there was a parson went in there when she come out.) I know there was a parson in there cause they used to go and visit them. (Mrs B: Where [???] Haygreen worked?) Well she worked for Miss Hunt. But there was a parson went in there. Was he retired? (Mr B: Yes.) He had men servants.
Mr B:    That’s right. I’m talking of that, trying to think of the bloke that used to be his manservant.
Mrs C:    I know, I remember but I couldn’t tell you his name.
Mr B:    That chap who was a servant there was a pal of Chippy[?] Burnett’s. And Chippy[?] Burnett and Mackenzie were living in the home with me, you see, up at the Hospital. And they used to go in there cause we used to pull their legs about it. ‘Going there to visit a parson what the hell do you go there for’.
Mrs C:    I remember now, when Miss Hunt come out of it. [actually Miss Hunt was probably at 59 Newland Street, JG] Yes. Cause Miss Hunt come in there when the Miss Fowlers come out, and they went up to Lawn Chase the Fowlers did, and then they went up to Wickham. Cause Miss Fowler used to have the GFS, girls, cause I used to go there. (Mrs B: Girls Friendly Society) (Q: Oh did you?). I used to go there.
Q:    What did they used to do?
Mrs C:    Well, we used to knit, and make, and needlework, and all that sort of thing, to, it used to be all right, take you out off the road. You weren’t allowed out only you didn’t join anything like that.
Mrs B:    I know you used to the sixpenny hops when I was a kid. In that, where, [???] had that house built.
Mrs C:    Well that was the hut there what’s down in the Crotchet yard. (Mrs B: Yes.) (Mr B: Eh?) That’s the hut what used to be in the Crotchet yard, what used to be there, gone down into the Crotchet yard. (Mrs B: They said it was the British Legion hut, didn’t they.) Soldiers used to have that during the War. [possibly the YMCA hut built in Collingwood Road in the First World War, JG].
Mr B:    There was a hut in those days where Jock[?] what I’m talking about … (Mrs C: Yes, where he had his house built.) Where he had his house built. Yes. Well, I can remember that being the Labour Exchange. That was all one building. (Mrs C: I know but that went down the Crotchet yard. YMCA bought that.) It went from there because the old Witham Urban bought it, it went from there down to Mill Lane on the right hand side, and they used to press paper down there. And then it eventually moved down to Maldon Road, and it was the library. I do know that’s right. (Q: They moved the whole thing, did they?) Yes, it’s a sectional. Now cast your mind back. (Mrs C: I always thought that was the one that used to be up [???]. No, that was (Mrs B: I remember you used to go up to the sixpenny hops.) I’ll tell you who was in the Labour Exchange, Herberts, he was the boss of the Labour Exchange. (Mrs B: Yes, well that used to be in the Constitutional place, where the Tories have got it now. The Labour Exchange [???] there was a woman worked in there and all.) [Labour Exchange probably in Avenue Lodge at one time]
Mrs C:    I wasn’t on the dole then, I was on the dole when we had to go up where old Thompson had his office. [1a Braintree Road, another location for the Labour Exchange] We used to have to sign on there when I was on the dole, 1918 and 19.
Mrs B:    Where the Tories have got the, right opposite the Labour Party.
Mr B:    I’ll tell you how I knew it was the Labour Exchange. Because I got this job at Bridge Home. After I’d been about, I’d been home for about a couple of months, done nothing, and this job come along, we were told about it and I went and they wanted a green card from the Labour Exchange, and they said to me ‘Have you been to the Labour Exchange?’ ‘No I said, I haven’t.’ I hadn’t drawn anything. So I had to go to the Labour Exchange and get this card and that was old Herberts, I always remember … (Mrs C: I know Herbert used to be up there.)
Mrs B:    I thought you said you was at Prospect poultry farm while you …
Mr B:    That’s what I said, I was knocking about for two months doing nothing.
Mrs B:    Yes, well the Prospect poultry farm then.
Mr B:    I never, I didn’t sign on or anything like that.
Mrs C:    I remember Herbert being in there.
Mr B:    Yes, I remember him.
Q:    When you said, Aunt Sis, you were on the dole in 1918, did they have the dole then, did they?
Mrs C:    No, not 1918, er, 1920.
Q:    They had the dole then did they?
Mrs C:    Yes, when they all come out of the army. Cause we had to give up, I worked in Hoffmans and we all had a week’s notice to make room for the men to go into work.
Mrs B:    That’s how it should be now, the women should go and the men should work.
Q:    What did you think about that then? Did you mind?
Mrs C:    Well you had to.
Q:    You tried to get another job did you?
[45 minutes]
Mrs C:    Yes that’s what we went up there for, wasn’t it.
Q:    But there wasn’t anything.
Mr B:    No, there was nothing about, even in those days.
Mrs C:    Sent me down to old Mrs Ionides, and somebody else had got the job, wasn’t I pleased [laugh]
Q:    So you didn’t go in service any more then?
Mrs C:    Yes. (Q: You did, after that?) I hadn’t been to service then. (Q: Oh I see.) Only up the White Hart hotel.
Mrs B:    There was nothing. If you wanted to be a nurse, your mother couldn’t afford to send you, and that’s what I always wanted to be. But Mum just couldn’t afford it. But now you can go through on your own ability, can’t you. (Q: Yes.) So I had to go into service, oh, huh, aunt Sis, every week Mum used to buy a bit and I used to see it going in that gate, oh dear. First that was a pair of stockings I see go in, then a pair of black shoes. Then a little white apron, then the hat, I thought ‘Oh my God’, I dreaded the day. (Q: So you went straight away?) Yes, we had to go in. We just had to.
Mr B:    The school leaving age was fourteen then.
Q:    So where did you go first?
Mrs B:    I just think where I went first. Oh I went to the glove factory first, didn’t I. (Mrs C: I got a job up the glove factory, half a crown a week, I never went there, I went up to Hoffmans. I hated that. I hated Hoffmans.) Two old miss, what were their names? (Mrs C: Where?) Up there, them two old maids, (Mrs C: Where?) the glove factory. (Mrs C: Ottleys?) No. Tall old girl weren’t she. (Mrs C: Stoneham?) Stoneham. Oh, she put me on pulling through. You know where you got the stitching …

Continued on tape 89

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