Mrs Phyllis Joyce (nee Roberts), was born in 1913. She was interviewed on 6 June 1984, when she lived at Alfrose, Chalks Road, Witham.
For more information about her, see Joyce, Phyllis, in 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.]
[talking about hearing aids]
Q: At least you wear yours. I think what annoys me is when people have a hearing aid and they don’t wear it and you can’t, they don’t understand you.
Mrs J: Oh I’ve had mine since I was forty. (Q: Have you really?) I had, the first one, that was a rare contraption, first one I had. It was where you had a battery, no, you had the microphone here and two huge batteries, I made, put in a bag and pin it to my corsets. [laugh).
Q: Was your hearing always bad then or did you … (Mrs J: Pardon ?) Did you always have trouble with your ears or did it just come on then?
Mrs J: Well, I never realised that I was deaf enough [???]. I never realised that I needed a hearing aid until one of my boys was queer, Dr Foster came [???] and he said to me ‘You’re deaf aren’t you.’ ‘Oh’, I said, ‘I am a bit hard of hearing’. Then there came a time when I had to go down the surgery and I had to see him again [???] and he put his hand in front of his mouth and spoke to me. What he said I couldn’t have told you. I could hear his voice but not what he said. So he sent me up to Chelmsford Hospital and I got a hearing aid. [???] more modern one. (Q: That was clever of him.) Then you had to go to Colchester to have your ears tested, but now they do it at Chelmsford. (Q: So that was good of him really, to pick it up, wasn’t it, as that wasn’t what you’d gone for.) So that’s how I got my hearing aid. So I felt old then. I was forty then and that’s when I had all my teeth out, and I had glasses at the same time.
Q: Oh dear, [laugh] that wasn’t very good for you was it? (Mrs J: Oh well.) I was thinking was this when you were, do you think this was taken before you were born or …? [looking at photo] (Mrs J: I wasn’t born there, but erm …)
Q: So when you were born was when your dad was 66 and your mum was 40 ?
Mrs J: I reckon that I was born soon after this. It was taken at Tiptree. [another photo] That’s my mother, that’s my father, and there’s me.
Q: Oh isn’t that sweet. All dressed up aren’t you, you wouldn’t wear them to go to Tiptree these days would you. Isn’t that lovely. So you were only very little then weren’t you ?
Mrs J: I don’t remember anything about it.
Q: You are how old did you say, seventy, (Mrs J: He was 66 when I was born) and she was … (Mrs J: and my mother was 40.) And you’re …? (Mrs J: And I am 71 now.)
Q: So you were only little then. That must have been taken, (Mrs J: I think I was about two there.) so round about 1914 or something ?
Mrs J: I was born in ‘13 so that must have been during the War.
Q: That’s right. But your mother was younger you say?
Mrs J: Well she was forty when she had me. I know she used to take in billet soldiers in the First World War you see. (Q: Oh did she?) And they used to take me down to the station nearly every day to get a comic. I don’t remember much about it, but she told me you see.
Q: And that was in this house here in Albert Road was it? (Mrs J: Mmmm.) What was their first names.
Mrs J: My mother was Rose, oh you meant (Q: Yes.) My father’s name was Roberts. Alfred, Alfred Roberts. (Q: So she was Roberts as well.)
Q: Did they come from Witham ?
Mrs J: No, my father come from London but I think they had moved down here you know when they married. I don’t know how long they had been married before they had me. My mother had one or two miscarriages before she had me.
Q: I see. So you didn’t have brothers or sisters or anything? (Mrs J: No.) So who would this lot be? Friends and relations ?
Mrs J Friends, yes. I haven’t got any relations. I’ve got no relations whatsoever. My father did have a sister but she died before he married. So I didn’t know her at all. Mother was an only child.
Q: And your father died when he was …?
Mrs J; I was about ten when he died. That was down Maldon Road. That was down …(Q: So you moved down there.) That was the nursing home. (Q: I’ll need to look out for that. Brookside it was called ?) Yes.
Mrs J: That’s the one where, before you get to the river, there’s a road goes up towards the Red Cross, em River View. (Q: I know, yes.) Was a nursing home. Yes that house that stands there. Its got a lot of conifers. [90 Maldon Road ?]
Q: Oh yes, and the garden is all made out of a rockery, all very neat. (Mrs J: Conifers and heathers.) Yes. It’s all very neat the garden, isn’t it.
Mrs J: Yes, when we lived there that was like all roses in the front that my mother had. It had a conservatory on the side. Got the cat there.[on the photo] I don’t remember the cat. We had a conservatory and had a grape vine in that. And they had a hundred bunches of grapes, black grapes.
Q: People don’t seem to grow grapes now really.
Mrs J: [???] I don’t do nothing about it. For a few years that didn’t have any, didn’t do anything, you know. Then somebody who understood it came and pruned it the way that should be pruned, and that had a hundred bunches of grapes on it. They were lovely and sweet. [another photo] That’s my mother with one of the babies. Of course they had quite a few babies down there. Occasionally she used to go out to babies [???]
Q: [???] So really she started this when she was about fifty, was she, then [???]?
Mrs J: When I was six we went to Danbury and then by the time I was seven and a half we were back there. (Q: Oh I see.) And that’s when she opened up the Nursing Home (Q: Did she train before?) and had a bathroom built on the back.
Q: So she opened it while your father was still alive ? (Mrs J. [???]) But she’d already trained?
Mrs J: She had trained when she was in her twenties but I don’t know where she worked, I don’t know.
Q: I remember people saying that quite a lot of folks that helped deliver babies and so on and they didn’t train.
Mrs J: I know what her name was before she married my father because she did do nursing here, before she married. Snowdell, Nurse Snowdell. She used to go out to people. It’s a pity old Mr Butcher’s not alive now. Because his wife, my mother went to his wife.
Q: But that was midwifery, that was babies again, was it? (Mrs J: Oh, yes.) Because didn’t they have people helping that weren’t trained, as well, you know to go. Or perhaps that was after you had a baby you had people in to look after you and things. Not nurses but just sort of helpers you know. Or perhaps that was in the older days. Did she always work on her own ?
Mrs J: She always worked on her own, yes. That’s why we come back to Witham and turned the house into the private nursing home. The Bungalow [46 Collingwood Road] was open then and there used to be another Nurse Wood in Collingwood Road. She used to take in but she was very expensive. Mother only charged them three guineas a week. (Q: Goodness.) My father died when I was ten, you see she had to do something to keep us going.
Q: So she carried on. I suppose, did people have babies at home as well quite a lot then?
Mrs J: They used to have babies at home but mother had them. I’ve only known her to go out to two and I can’t remember the name of the person but this person lived up, you know where Gilbert’s the baker is? (Q: Yes.) [83 Newland Street] This person used to live in the cottages up there. She went there and then I know once she went all the way to Ardleigh (Q: Really ?) they were friends but they were the only times she went out.
Q: So normally they’d come down ?
Mrs J: They’d book up and come down.
Q: I suppose if you had one at home you’d still have to pay for a nurse would you? If you were having your baby at home you’d still have to pay if you had a nurse?
Mrs J: Oh yes, you’d have to pay the nurse.
Q: Its so different isn’t it.
Mrs J: I’ve only known her to go out to those two, the one at Witham was after she’d given up the Nursing Home. Then she took in paying guests. I don’t know if you knew Mrs Champ. (Q: I know who you mean, yes.) Well they came and lived as paying guests. She had one of her babies, and she never had the babies at my mother’s, but baby had to go to hospital as it had a hernia and mother helped look after him when he came home. [another photo] And that’s the husband and one of the patients. And that chain, she didn’t have an engagement ring, she had that instead. I’ve got that now.
[Looking at photos.]
Q: Was that taken in a studio do you think?
Mrs J: Yes, there used to be a photographers where, now let me see, I think that’s a motor parts shop now. It used to be [???]. That was a photographer’s shop called Bull. [34 Newland Street]
Q: I’m trying to read on here I think it says Bull.
Mrs J: Well I reckon he might have taken that.
Q: It says Witham and Braintree, H Hall it says on that one, Witham and Braintree. [???] Did she always used to wear this uniform. (Mrs J: Oh yes, always used to wear a uniform, yes.) Did you ever fancy going in for …?
Mrs J: She wanted me to but that didn’t appeal to me. I loved tiny babies. I loved tiny babies but the actual work didn’t appeal to me at all.
Q: Did you get involved much in what was going on ?
Mrs J: Used to take all the babies out for walks and that. I think she had about seventy there. At one time I had photos of every baby but I haven’t got them now. She had one patient once, she only ever lost one baby and that was a twelve pound baby (Q: Gracious.) Died of a heart attack. And I remember the little coffin on the table. That lived five days. And them picking it up and the mother sort of [???] [???].
Q: So you were quite helpful then ?
Mrs J: Taken in the front. But that’s all different now, all built on.
Q: Yes, that’s right it is isn’t it.
Mrs J: Father used to have rose trees down there. Used to like roses. That’s taken me back. That’s the conservatory.
Q: What did your father used to do for work ? I suppose he’d retired when you came to Witham ?
Mrs J: He used to be an architect. He did have some houses up London but he had to sell them. He got swindled. Left it to somebody to decorate them and they never did decorated it and this that and the other, so he sold them. (Q: [???]) When he married my mother, I’m telling a tale now, [laugh] when he married my mother, my mother, it must have been before I was born anyway, they met at a friends who had had a baby. And mother used to change into her uniform, a clean uniform every Sunday. Well this particular day she done it on a Saturday, never said a word to anyone but my father drove out from Witham in a pony and trap, changes into his wedding suit, and they married in Danbury church (Q: Good heavens.) Didn’t tell a soul! (Q: Really.) Romantic isn’t it. I don’t know how old they were then but they must have been getting on.
Q: You don’t know how old they were when they married.
Mrs J: No, they must have been getting on though.
Q: So her first husband was the one that died early on. Died when, more or less straight away, did he, yes.
Mrs J: It happened in London.
Q: It was very secretive wasn’t it. You didn’t do that did you ?
Mrs J: Oh no, [laugh] got married during the War.
Q: Have you lived in Witham all the time since then ?
Mrs J: I used to lodge with, when my mother died I went to lodge with somebody up Cressing Road by the name of Howes. I don’t know if you knew Nell Howes? (Q: I’m not sure.) Well then I bought this house and we all moved in here.[Chalks Road] and I sold the one down Maldon Road, that one, for five hundred. (Q: Really ?) I was twenty-one then, twenty-one or twenty-two and we bought this. Then I dunno, something didn’t go right so I left her and I lodged with Mrs Wheeler up Braintree Road a double fronted house on that side of the road [???]. Then I met my husband and of course we got married and I had to go to court to get this house back (Q: Really ?). [???] Take them to court at Braintree. I found another house for them to go to but they wouldn’t take it. (Q: Oh dear.) Anyhow they had a month to find somewhere to go. I’d got John as a tiny baby at that time. We only furnished two rooms for a start. We had an air raid shelter in the front room, cause the War was on, 1944.
Q: So you were married during the War as well did you ?
Mrs J: Married in 1943. Got married in Witham.
Q: Was your husband from Witham?
Mrs J: No, he was from Terling.
Q: How many children did you have then? You’ve got John who’s the oldest ?
Mrs J: John Then I had twins, Peter and Paul, then Naomi. I had four all under three, three of those were under thirteen months. The twins were only just thirteen months when Naomi was born. So I had my hands full. Do you know the Lesters? Lived between you and me. (Q: Oh yes.) Well she looked after the twins while I had Naomi. Margaret used to help me a lot. [???] Used to come and bath the boys, get them off to bed while I dealt with the baby. She was good Margaret. A handful. I had three prams here at one time.
Q: Do you think it helped having known about babies before?
Mrs J: I was very fond of babies. I wanted four, always said I did. And I always wanted twins. (Q: Really?) And I got my wish.
Q: Isn’t that strange. Did you have twins in the family?
Mrs J: On my husband’s side there was, not in that generation but going back.
Q: Did you go out to work or anything yourself before you got married?
Mrs J: Oh yes, I used to work at the glove factory.
Q: Oh did you, what was that like ?
Mrs J: I was at Crittall’s when my mother died. I was only there about eighteen months. Then I went back to the glove factory. And because I was under twenty-one, I was twenty then, I had to sell my home in the market. When I was living at Mrs Howes’ up Cressing Road. Oh yes, all the contents had to be put in where the Labour Hall is now, used to be Witham market [???].
Q: Just because you were not old enough to …
Mrs J: I wasn’t allowed to keep anything.
Q: I didn’t realise that was like that then.
Mrs J: All because I wasn’t twenty-one. It was awful. Couldn’t do what I liked.
Q: You would now, of course, because it would be eighteen now.
Mrs J: Yes, but still, got over it.
Q: So then you went. I didn’t know women worked at Crittall’s much. What did you used to do?
Mrs J: I was only there eighteen months. I’d make the frames and things and put the glass in, put the glass in the lead frames and polish it and the joints.
Q: That was up here, was it? (Mrs J: Yes, Braintree Road.) Did they have many women ?
Mrs J: There were quite a few of us. I don’t know whether they do it now.
Q: Did you like that ?
Mrs J: I liked the glove factory better.
Q: Why was that ?
Mrs J: It was the machinery you know. [???] I used to do what they call it, pointing, I used to do that.
Q: You just did that all the time, and somebody else did the rest ? (Mrs J: Yes.) I don’t suppose you remember what you got paid there.
Mrs J: Well, it was piece work. We didn’t belong to the Union at all at Pinkham’s, not Mr Pinkham.
Q: Did you see much of him when you were there, the Pinkhams?
Mrs J: Oh my mother used to be friendly with the old chap (Q: I see.), the old Pinkham. And then when I got married Bert Pinkham [???] he gave me five pounds. I fell for John, I had him in ten months. He gave me enough money to buy a pram. No one else knew it.
Q: That was because they knew the family ? (Mrs J. Yes. Friends.) What would the others have thought if they’d known do you think? (Mrs J: Well.) Was it all women at the glove factory?
Mrs J: [???] Except for the cutting shop. The men did the cutting you see. Vic Keeble used to be one of them.
Q: So who used to be in charge of you, sort of thing, tell you what to do? Who was it in charge of you, tell you what to do? Was there a man or a woman.
Mrs J: I don’t know what her name was now. She used to do, Mrs Ross[?]. She lives up in one of the bungalows up there. (Q: Oh, I think I know.) She was a [???] before she married Ross but I don’t know her husband’s name now. I used to work under her. We used to have some fun up there. (Q: Did you ?) If there was an air raid we used to run down to the dug-out and I know once that was when they dropped the bombs on Crittall’s. (Q: Really ?) And they were machining us girls running across, machine gunning us, and some of them had to dive underneath the cutting, what we called the cutting shops.
Q: This was at the glove factory was it?
Mrs J: Mmm. I used to do night-watching. (Q: Did you, whereabouts?) At the glove factory. Used to lie on the beds sort of thing and if the siren went then we had to go outside.
Q: So when this happened about the machine-gunning was that in the daytime? (Mrs J: Oh yes, that was in daylight.) When you were actually working to …? Where were you running to?
Mrs J: We run to the dug-out. There’s a house on there now where we used to run across. It wasn’t in the glove factory ground at all.
Q: I see. Did you have to spend a long time in there?
Mrs J: Used to spend quite a bit of time in there until the ‘all clear’ went and then we used to come out.
Q: So did you say you went to the glove factory before you went to Crittall’s as well and then went back to the glove factory after? (Mrs J: Mmm.) So was that your first job as well, the glove factory?
Mrs J: Oh, no. When I left school I went to work in a small shop, now where is it now, Pollard’s [30 Newland Street] only it wasn’t Pollard’s then, but still privately owned, sort of thing. And used to I worked in there till I went up the glove factory. (Q: Was that doing the same thing.) That was when I was about fourteen, I was sixteen when I went to the glove factory.
Q: Why did you change? Why did you move?
Mrs J: Well, because I wanted to work in the factory with a lot of other girls.
Q: Yes. Cause I’ve talked to people, I’ll have to show you this thing I did, who have worked in shops and they preferred the shops and they wouldn’t have liked the factory. It depends what suits you I suppose doesn’t it. (Mrs J: Mmmm.) I suppose it’s a bit lonely in a shop isn’t it really.
Mrs J: Well it was there because my boss used to be an elderly woman. Used to sell baby clothes or knitting wool and things like that.
Q: So what was her name ?
Mrs J: I don’t remember, it was a good many years ago. [???]
Q: It was her own shop, sort of thing was it? That was her own shop? (Mrs J: Yes.) How did you get that job, do you remember? (Mrs J: Just heard of it going I suppose.) Because you were at school in Witham presumably were you?
Mrs J: Yes, I went to the one in Maldon Road, that’s the Community Centre now. I started school up in Danbury, cause I was there.. Had to walk two miles there. (Q: Really?) Take my lunch. And that’s when I used to have eight[?] natural curls. Come back one day and said ‘Teacher said I’ve got to have my hair plaited’ (Q: Oh dear.) ‘cos that takes the curl away doesn’t it.
Q: Oh dear. How did you get on at Maldon Road, did you like it there?
Mrs J: Oh yes, it was nice being at school there. I wasn’t brilliant at all, you know, but I was happy. I remember the headmaster said ‘What do you want to do when you leave school?’ ‘I want to be an ordinary mother’. I remember saying that as plain as anything [laugh] That was when you left school at fourteen. (Q: Yes, quite. What did he say to that, I wonder?) I remember that plain as anything. Then one of my sons lives down Maldon Road now, not far from where, 103[?].
Q: You didn’t have far to go then, did you?
Mrs J: No. The boys all got married. Well the whole lot got, all the boys got married within thirteen months. (Q: Really?) Three weddings, straight off. (Q: That was quick wasn’t it ?) [???] [???] [???] a couple of years after Dad died.
Q: That was quite some time ago was it?
Mrs J: Yes, 1950s, 1955? He died of lung cancer. He smoked like a chimney.
Q: People did in those days though didn’t they, more? A lot of people did then. Did he work local as well?
Mrs J: He worked at Lord Rayleigh’s. (Q: Oh did he?) Mmm. At the dairy. (Q: What, in Hatfield?) Used to be a wheelwright. There only used to be five in Essex when he was alive. (Q: I don’t suppose there’s any now is there.). I don’t think there’s many left now.
Q: So what was he actually working for Lord Rayleigh’s Dairies, being a wheelwright ?
Mrs J: Yes, they used to have a lot of horses. On the carts and that. He used to have to make the wheels. That’s hard work. And that’s [???] where he tripped over and he lost some of his fingers and half a thumb (Q: Really ?) and had two half fingers and half a thumb.
Q: That was at work was it? These days you’d get compensation or something?
Mrs J: He did get some compensation but not a great lot. Not like things are today. [???] (He went to Court did he?) He went to Court, yes.
Q: What were Lord Rayleigh’s like to work for?
Mrs J: Oh, he liked working there. When he started work you had to sort of do what your parents wanted you to do. He’d have made a very good solicitor he was ever so clever and brainy. But his father said he’d got to work for Lord Rayleigh so he had to do it. That’s how it was in those days.
Q: I’ve probably asked you, was he local? Was he from Witham, your husband and his parents?
Mrs J: No, they are Terling people.
Q: That’s right. So he was living there when he worked. Did his father work for Lord Rayleigh as well ?
Mrs J: No, he was a shoe mender. He had his own shoe mending place.
Q: I wondered why he wanted him to work for Lord Rayleigh.
Mrs J: I don’t know. But Lord Rayleigh, people in Terling in those days, you had to do what Lord Rayleigh wanted you to do. Because my daughter has started doing a family tree on her Dad’s side (Q: Oh, I see.) And borrowed a book from one of the libraries, I don’t know quite where and that had got all about the Joyces of Terling in there. (Q: Oh, had it?) All about Lord Rayleigh and what they had to do in the olden days.
Q: So they’d been had been there a long time had they then. Joyces had been there a long time? (Mrs J: Yes.) So he carried on going there from , how did he used to get to work when you lived here?
Mrs J: Bike. (Q: Biked, did he?) Push bike. Biked to Hatfield. Used to leave here at half past six. I know he left here at half past six and the police were on my front doorstep at seven o’clock. He’d been knocked off his bike by a motorbike outside Crittall’s. (Q: Really ?) He landed up in Notley Hospital then. (Q: Oh dear?) He hurt his shoulder then and had to go to hospital.
Q: I suppose, going back to your mother and that. Did people actually go to hospital ever to have babies then or …?
Mrs J: I don’t remember. I think it was more the midwives used to go out to people (Q: I see.) And then the bungalow started up. And Nurse Wood and you could book to go in there.
Q: I suppose, as you say three guineas a week, even that was a lot for some people. What did they used to do if they couldn’t …
Mrs J: Nurse Wood in Collingwood Road at some time she charged ten guineas. But what they done at the bungalow I don’t know. [Bungalow, 46 Collingwood Road] Don’t know whether that came under more [???] (Q: I think some people got help.) There weren’t no National Health then, I don’t remember.
Q: Perhaps the Church or you know, sometimes people got help from the Church, or just people going about, charities and that sort of thing. Then there were the people that came down to yours, they paid for themselves, did they ? (Mrs J: Oh yes.) So would there be all sorts …?
Mrs J: Mrs Ager, who lived along here, she was one who came to my mother’s, that was when she lived at Rivenhall[?].
Q: So they came quite a long way then did they? (Mrs J: Come from all over the place.). So she was quite famous (Mrs J: Yes. [laugh]) So when she was actually delivering them did she have the doctors come in ?
Mrs J: Oh yes, she had the doctor. (Q: [???] How many did she have in there at once?) She could only have two at a time. Because I had one bedroom you see. The front bedroom was a very big one and mother had two single beds in there and she used to sleep in one, the patient in the other. And she had another single bed in the back room and I had the side room but we had to have a partition put up to go through to the bathroom, because you had to go through my bedroom to get to the bathroom. Well then the law came out that we had to have a partition put up.
Q: When you say she used to sleep with the patient, was that if they were still waiting for the baby ? Did you say your mother used to be in the room with the patient. Was that before the baby was born or all the time?
Mrs J: All the time, the patients didn’t used to have to get out of bed to look after the babies, because in those days you had to be in bed a fortnight. You weren’t allowed up. In those days. They used to stop there three weeks. It was unheard of to get up.
Q: That was a lot of work then ?
Mrs J: It was ten days when I was at the bungalow. Now they get you up the next day.
Q: Make sure you’re still working. I don’t know which is better, things change don’t they? So you went to the bungalow ?
Mrs J: Yes, No I tell a lie. I was booked up to go to the bungalow but when I had my twins, because all my babies come two days early. Only two days, the whole lot. And I landed on the doorstep, I was in labour with the twins and she couldn’t take me in, the beds were full because everybody else had gone over the time. So I had to go to St. John’s. Lucky for me I didn’t know I was having twins till I got to St John’s. That was a bit of a shock.
Q: That’s right though, I’m a twin and I would be born about that time and my mother didn’t know either. (Mrs J: Didn’t she, you’re a twin?) Yes, so probably they weren’t so good at finding out then were they?
Mrs J: No. I finished up in a bath chair and went through an old men’s ward to have an x-ray taken. They were both over six pounds.
Q: I don’t think she knew till we were born. More or less. Till afterwards.
Mrs J: Oh I knew then because they had to take the X-ray because they could hear two hearts you see.
Q: That was tricky I suppose, with only having the two beds, it would be tricky to make sure you had got room for everybody wouldn’t it. Same in your mother’s place I should think. But you booked up ahead and just hoped for the best?
Mrs J: Oh yes, I used to book up as soon as I knew I was pregnant, you know. Nurse Goldring, was her name. There used to be two nurses on at the bungalow and oh, she said ‘If I had known, one patient was almost ready to go home’. She said ‘We would have had the first twins ever born here’. (Q: Aah, shame.)
Q: The bungalow was going already when you were young, when you were a girl was it, at the same time as your mother’s?
Mrs J: Oh yes. And funnily enough there used to be a Nurse Roberts there (Q: I see.)
Q: Did they usually have two there did they, two nurses? They usually had two nurses there did they, you say?
Mrs J: Oh they had two nurses at the bungalow. [???] [???]
Q: Did you ever have to help when she was actually delivering the babies or anything?
Mrs J: Oh no, I weren’t allowed. (Q: Fetch and carry or anything?) Oh I used to fetch and carry, you know and keep the place clean downstairs, and washing the floors downstairs. She had a charwoman in (Q: I see.) but I used to help do some things. But on the whole, I was only twenty when my mother died. (Q: Of course.) So this was while I was at school.
Q: Of course, in those days, people didn’t talk so much about the whole thing.
Mrs J: Oh no, My mother used to give me books to read (Q: Oh really ? [laugh]) but even then I didn’t know all that happened.
Q: She gave you books actually about having the baby and that sort of thing did she?
Mrs J: [???] I remember she gave me a book, but I didn’t want to go in that direction . That sort of work didn’t appeal to me.
Q: That was because she wanted you to work to be a nurse you mean ?
Mrs J: Could be. But I didn’t want to, it didn’t appeal to me.
Q: Still I suppose you knew a little bit more about it than some of the other kids, do you think? I mean you knew what was going on sort of thing with the babies being born? (Mrs J: Oh yes.) I suppose they didn’t have the, I mean these days they’ve got lots of drugs and things to make it easier but I suppose she wouldn’t have anything like that would she? (Mrs J: No.) I remember when I was in St John’s waiting for one of mine it was a bit alarming because people, you know when you are having a baby you yell a bit. I could hear all these people yelling and shouting, it sounded terrible.
Mrs J: Funnily enough I don’t remember hearing anything, no. (Q: Maybe she trained them not to.) Or maybe they stayed in bed.
Q: [???] Did she have a special room where she delivered (Mrs J: No, in the same room.) Where they were sleeping? I think people are going back to that a bit more instead of going to hospital now. (Mrs J: Yes, they seem to be, having the babies at home.)
[Chat about Terri Stevens of Gaza, Chalks Road, being a midwife now, not noted]
Mrs J: We knew the Butlers.[who lived at Gaza before]
Q: Were the Butlers there a long while. Did the Butlers go there at the same time as …?
Mrs J: Mr Butler died, no Mrs. Butler died, (Q: Yes.) and then they had a housekeeper (Q: That’s right, I remember, Mrs Cox, wasn’t it?) Yes, she had bad ulcers on her legs at the finish. I can just remember her. I don’t know who came after that.
Q: I think they came straight away. They’ve been there about ten years. (Mrs J: Have they really?) I don’t think I know everybody here. People come and go a bit don’t they. But when you bought this house it was …
Q: Was she strict then?
Mrs J: Well they had to be at Crittall’s, if you did anything wrong you were sacked right away. But you’re under the Union now aren’t you. Pinkham’s didn’t belong to the Union. Oh we had some good times at Critt, at the glove factory, we used to have fun, sometimes.
Q: You didn’t have fun at Crittall’s ?
Mrs J: No, not that I remember, I wasn’t there long enough really, about eighteen months.
Q: Why did you go from the glove factory to there?
Mrs J: Don’t remember. Don’t remember that bit. Don’t know why I left the glove factory. Could have been a friend of mine went and worked at Crittall’s, I don’t know. Anyway, my guardian said I was to leave Crittall’s and go back to the glove factory. I had to do as I was told cause I was under, cause I was twenty-one.
Q: I see, that was after your mother died.
Mrs J: I was under a guardian you see. (Q: Yes.)
Q: Still you didn’t mind that too much because you liked the glove factory ?
Mrs J: Oh I loved it, .[???]
Q: Was it hard to get a job there?
Mrs J: No, not really. You’d just got to like machinery work.
Q: This business of having a machine at home ? Did married women do that as well?
Mrs J: They could do. They used to send some work, and I made, there used to be a fleecy lining. Used to have a fur top and I used to put the fur round the top and they were all sent out to be stitched. But my husband wouldn’t hear of it.
Q: Oh I see. That was the way then, wasn’t it. A lot of people thought that way then, didn’t they, that it wasn’t right to work. So you were disappointed were you ?
Mrs J: We could have done with the extra money. We had to count the pennies in those days, especially when we’d got so many to bring up. And you didn’t get family allowance for the first child, not then. (Q: No.) It wasn’t so much was it?
Q: No. So how did you used to manage with the money? Did you used to have housekeeping or …
Mrs J: I managed the money. I used to do all the housekeeping. So we were never in debt.
Q: So he gave you all the money sort of thing did he?
Mrs J: No, he didn’t. (Q: Oh I see.) And I never knew what he used to earn till after he died.
Q: Did you not? So he’d give you what, what you get ?
Mrs J: For house-keeping. And after the boys left school it got easier you know. I used to pay their bills and I could manage better. I had to count every penny [???]
Q: So, out of the housekeeping, did you have pay, what about the things like electric, and …?
Mrs J: Oh, you put so much away each week.
Q: But that was out of your money?
Mrs J: I’d work out how much that used to come to after I’d got all the bills for a year, work out how much that would work out a week. Make sure I put that away.
Q: You kept that at home though did you ? Didn’t put it in the Post Office or anything ?
Mrs J: Oh, no, I kept it at home. I used to have a money box with all partitions and it was all written down what went in, and what it was for. And the money was there when the bills come in.
Q: Well done, yes. You needed to I suppose. So what did he used to spend ? The money that … was the house on a mortgage then?
Mrs J: Oh, no (Q: You bought it outright did you? We had to pay so much when the foundations, so much when they got up to the windows, so much when they got up to the next storey. So much on the roof and that was finished.
Q: Could you have had it on a sort of mortgage or …?
Mrs J: I don’t know, cause I sold the other one, I’d got the money. This house was twenty pounds more than next door’s. Because that back place was taken back another eighteen inches so that we could have a toilet downstairs. So I’ve got a toilet downstairs. Now, we tried to get one a few years back, that’s not allowed now. You’ve got to have two doors.
Q: Of course, so the others didn’t have toilets downstairs?
Mrs J: But our back door was not on the outside.
Q: Did you have to go outside to get to the downstairs toilet?
Mrs J: [???] door was on the outside.
Q: Did you have to go outside to get to the downstairs toilet?
Mrs J: No. Not like Briers and, no …
Q: I see. Did they have bathrooms upstairs?
Mrs J: No, because this is like yours. Before you had your extension.
Q: So it was just through the kitchen sort of thing. No they wouldn’t let you have it now with being so near the kitchen, would they, nowadays.
Mrs J: [???]
Q: Did they have bathrooms when they were first built, the same as now ? (Mrs J: Yes.) So it was just the same.
Mrs J: Just the toilet in the bathroom.
Q: I was surprised. I was looking at some old plans of houses and I was surprised really, perhaps not when this was built but round about when that Maldon Road house was built, not many of them had toilets or bathrooms, only the big houses.
Mrs J; Our toilet was downstairs round there. [Maldon Road] Then my father had a bathroom built on. A toilet included. He had to you see because of making it into a nursing home.
Q: That’s what I was thinking it would be difficult.
Mrs J: That was the law in those days you see. So he had all that done so it could be started.
Q: You said it was built on upstairs ?
Mrs J: At the back, yes, over the kitchen.
Q: But until then it was the downstairs
Mrs J: A downstairs toilet yes, yes.
Q: Outside was it or …?
Mrs J: No, the toilet was inside then.
Q: But still it was quite a big house wasn’t it?
Mrs J: Yes, quite a fair sized house.
Q: You forget how recently it’s been since a lot of people did have them outside, don’t you really. I suppose we’re spoilt, but its nice though. Again, you’d have to have, Did you have to get sort of approval to be a nursing home then?
Mrs J: I reckon so, I dunno much about it, my mother did all that. I was still at school.
Q: She must have done, mustn’t she. That worked out well for her that she was trained (Mrs J: Mmm.) wasn’t it? She liked it?
Mrs J: She used to love her work.
Q: She didn’t mind you working in a shop in the end ?
Mrs J: Oh no, didn’t mind that. I think she gave up once I started going out to work. She sort of gave up. She took in lodgers instead. She was getting on herself, you see.
Q: That’s right. Well she was getting on when she started it, wasn’t she really.
Mrs J: She died when she was sixty. I was twenty then.
Q: It must have been a lot of work for her really. I remember people telling me about what they liked about it was having the food all got for them and everything. [???] Did she used to do her own?
Mrs J: She did all her own. She had a woman come in twice a week to clean.
Q: Still, she had to feed them all and everything as well. Still you helped do that, did you, as well ?
Mrs J: I did quite a bit of running about for her.
Q: But you had time to play as well did you ?
Mrs J: Yes.
[tape is quiet for several minutes]
Q: Had your mother always been Congregational do you think?
Mrs J: She, what converted her was the Salvation Army. (Q: Oh really?) And then she went Baptist. Then she come to Witham, there was only a strict Baptist and she didn’t like that, so she went to the Congregational. But my father was Church of England. I was christened at St Nicholas church, and married there.
Q: So you would still go to church up here would you, sort of thing. Your father would still go to church up here. (Mrs J: Yes.) Was there any difference between people who went to church and those who went to chapel?
Mrs J: Oh no.
Q: I mean, because hundreds of years ago they used to all be quarrelling about it, but it wasn’t the same for you, you just went where your family went (Mrs J: Mmm.)
Mrs J When we come back to Witham, right up the other end of the town, so we went to the Congregational. Then we weren’t in Witham many years till my dad died, died when I was ten. I was seven and a half when I come back.
Q: Yes, it’s a nice chapel. I hadn’t been in it until I went with the choir, choral, but they’ve done it up nicely haven’t they. Do you still go at all?
Mrs J: No.
Q: I suppose there’s all different people now.
Mrs J: [???] Its all different now. They call it the Reformed church now. (Q: Yes.)
Q: I remember, is it Annie Ralling, used to be the cobblers that used to live up there. [55 Chipping Hill] She used to go there a lot didn’t she. Because they used to do a lot of singing I think they said.
Mrs J: I used to play badminton. (Q: Oh did you? Whereabouts did you play?) Then we all went with measles didn’t we, the whole lot of us.
Q: Really? What, all the people in the badminton?
Mrs J: I was seventeen when I had measles, [???] it was nasty. When you have it when you’re older its more serious.
Q: That was all the badminton people that got it?
Mrs J; We all got it.
Q: Where did you used to play?
Mrs J: Upstairs at the Chapel.
Q: Oh, I see, at the back there.
Mrs J: The back room.
Q: So that was really a Chapel thing as well. (Mrs J: Yes.) So you kept yourself pretty busy there didn’t you? (Mrs J: Yes.) Did they have dances and that sort of thing?
Mrs J: I didn’t used to go to dances a lot. Only, after I had Naomi, over at Crittall’s they used to have a lot of Old Time Dances and I [???] used to go on a Saturday night. My husband didn’t mind you know. Used to go over there for a couple of hours.
Q: But, when you were young, before you were married
Mrs J: I didn’t go dancing much. I was more of a loner really.
Q: How did you meet your husband then?
Mrs J: Through, my mother-in-law had a sister, by the name of Hawkes, lived down Mill Lane. I was friendly with her daughter Joan, she’s Mrs Wurlidge[?] now, and that’s how I come to meet him. We went over to Terling and I met him and that was it.
Q: You weren’t tempted to go and live over there or anything?
Mrs J: We did think about it once but then I got this house and (Q: Of course.) that was it.
Q: Well, it’s a nice place to be really isn’t it?
Mrs J: I like it and there’s plenty, you know when you go in the kitchen there’s plenty going on in the garage. (Q: That’s right, yes.) It might not appeal to some people but I think it’s company.
Q: I think it’s a good idea. All those bungalows and things they have in little quiet roads. It’s a bit too quiet. (Mrs J: That’s right.) So the garage has sort of been there, no it wasn’t, because you had the allotment didn’t you? The garage is quite new really is it? [Braintree Road]
Mrs J: It was allotments for years. [???] Can’t remember when that has been built. [???] Can’t remember. It must have been before. It was interesting when they were building it. Making the big holes for the petrol tanks. (Q: Quite deep down is it?) Mmmm.
Q: Did you used to have a car yourselves?
Mrs J: No, my husband couldn’t drive, nor could I. People didn’t did they?
Q: People didn’t so much then as they do now.
Mrs J: No, I always used a pushbike a lot. (Q: Yes.) I used to cycle over to my mother-in-laws every Thursday. She never interfered with us, she never interfered [???] She taught me a lot, never interfere with the in-laws sort of thing.. And I never interfere with my family at all. I get on well with them. My neighbours very[?] much stick with one another? But we know what to look for if anything’s gone wrong. (Q: Well, that’s the thing, yes.) They’ve been very good to me when I went down with a coronary [???] and diabetes some fifteen years ago. She done all my washing and used to come over and help. Used to do all my shopping. I couldn’t even hang my washing up. Deterioration of the muscles. I couldn’t get my arms up. Daughter-in-law used to come and wash my hair.
Q: You’ve got on well since then, then, haven’t you? (Mrs J: [???]) It’s a nice road as you say, there’s always somebody there.
Mrs J: Its not too, not a rough area or anything like that. I’ve never been in a Council house.
Q: I suppose, could you have been, of course you’ve had this when you married anyway. (Mrs J: Mmm.) When you lodged up Cressing Road was that a Council place was it?
Mrs J: They know too much of your business sort of thing. (Q: I suppose you’re right.) [???] round, with the neighbours
[chat about family trees etc. in general, not noted]