Mrs Dorothy Ireland (nee Goss), was born in 1894. She was interviewed on 4 December 1984 when she lived at 12 Chalks Road.
For more information about her, see the the notes in the people category headed Ireland, Mrs Dorothy (Dolly), nee Goss
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.]
Unfortunately there must have been a faulty connection on the microphone on this occasion, as there are periodic spells of silence.
Mrs I: [???] There’s nobody you know.
Q: Do you see anybody when you go up to the Post Office [Rickstones Road]?
Mrs I: Yes [???]
Q: That’s a good place to meet people, isn’t it?
Mrs I: Yes. That’s the very part I do like, ‘cos they’ve all got [???]
[noise on tape]
Q: Homefield Road there [???]
Mrs I: Yes, I like that. But I miss them in the shop. That’s not so nice now, that’s a change over [i.e. in the shop next to the Post Office in Rickstones Road, run by the same people, Mr Chew etc.]
Q: Which one is ….?
Mrs I: That Witham person has left, that was always in there.
Q: Oh yes, I know, yes.
Mrs I: And, he’s married again, so that’s gone.
Q: Oh I see, I didn’t realise that, yes.
Mrs I: And of course, she knows no-one, so of course, they don’t do the chatting.
Q: No, no.
Mrs I: And I think they just go into the Post Office and not the shop. Before that, her being in Witham, born, Witham born, you see people used to go in and chat. Oh, I’ve missed it. That’s two months now. Oh yes, ‘cos you see there’s no-one in there, left, to chat to. Stranger. And then I don’t meet them, you see, I used to meet them in there. And they used to say ‘Oh, here she comes, here comes another old one’, and ‘she she’ll be able to tell us ….’
Q: Join in the chat, yes.
Mrs I: Oh, I have, oh I’ve missed it.
Q: Yes, that’s a shame that.
Mrs I: It is a shame. Well, with the times, as I’ve said, you grow old, you live to be old, but the saddest part is, you lose your people.
Q: Yes, yes.
Mrs I: You see, you sit and you think ‘Now, is there anyone?’ And you see, they’ve all passed on.
Q: Yes. Do you ever go in the old shop along the road there? They’re quite nice in there now, the people [48 Church Street]?
Mrs I: No, I didn’t like her.
Q: You didn’t, ah?
Mrs I: No, she said to me once that ‘Oh, are you Julie’s aunt’, and I thought ‘Well who the dickens is Julie, I don’t know’. And, you know, she said, I thought to myself ‘Well, I’ve come in here to look around’, but they didn’t seem to have anything, so of course I didn’t ….
Q: You’d go up there, yes?
Mrs I: Yes, you see, you plan [???] buy for the baby, so you see I patronise that little shop.
Q: That’s it, yes.
Mrs I: So I don’t go. Clive just started to go.
Q: Yes, ‘cos they have the Gilbert’s bread, that’s, I get that there [from Gilbert’s shop, 83 Newland Street]
Mrs I: Yes, they did have Gilbert’s. You see this wife, that now he’s married, oh the bread’s not the same, and of course, if she’s not having the customers, course she can’t get in the bread [i.e. at Rickstones Road Post Office, probably]. So Clive’s been up several times and there’s no bread. So he’s started there, and he rather liked the man [48 Church Street].
Q: Yes, they seem very nice. Perhaps it’ll take a bit of a while to get to know them. She stops and chats to a lot of the older people, ‘cos they get people from up Bramston Green, like, you know, for instance.
Mrs I: Oh yes.
Q: She even has a chair out there sometimes for Mrs, now, what’s the lady’s name? She used to come in and talk, so she gets a chair out for her now, to sit on. Mrs Carey.
Mrs I: Well, I can’t understand who this Mrs Carey is?
Mrs I: You can’t? No. Well she’s, her husband was Bill, I think, and she, herself, she came from Hatfield Peverel. He used to work at Crittall’s. He used to do sort of concert hall sort of stuff.
Mrs I: Oh, so, it’s not the man that I …. When they said to me, I said ‘Oh yes, he’s at Bridge’, I knew a Mr Carey that’s Bridge Home, people. And the young girl does, daughter, does home help [Pam White, nee Pam Carey].
Q: That’s right, yes. She does.
Mrs I: Well is that the Mrs Carey?
Q: Yes, that’s right, yes.
Mrs I: Well, of course I know her then.
Q: Yes, I should have thought you did, she’s been around a fair time, yes.
Mrs I: Well, I knew, because this little girl, well, that’s home help now, of course she’s grown up, she used to be at Bramston, no, Barnardiston House, when the children were there [actually Brookcote, 29 Chipping Hill]
Q: Ah yes, yes.
Mrs I: And she used to take the children out. Well, I don’t know the woman, but she used to go to the Woolpack, twice a week.
Q: That’s right, that’s right, she did, yes.
Mrs I: Well, where’s she now living?
Q: Well, in Bramston Green. Well, they were in the prefabs.
Mrs I: Oh that would be them, yes that’s, well, Mrs De’ath comes ….
Q: Or perhaps it’s on Church Street, anyway, in a prefab, and they’ve rebuilt them and they’ve got a bungalow now. And she used to go and see Mrs De’ath.
Mrs I: Well, that’s put that right, because Mrs De’ath visits me, you know, from the Woolpack [7 Church Street].
Q: Oh does she, good, yes?
Mrs I: Her daughter brings her and she comes, ‘cos I told you we were godparents and we, you know, almost brought the little boy up. And she said, ‘I don’t think you know Mrs Carey, I’m now going to see her. Oh, I was right, then. I said to her ‘I know, know one from Bridge, he worked at Bridge Hospital’.
Q: Well, perhaps he worked at Bridge a bit, but I know he had something to do with Crittall’s because he used, I remember I talked to him once and he talked about these concert parties. He used to go up on the stage and sing songs and that, her husband, sort of music hall songs.
Mrs I: Oh, that is it. But I knew this young girl ‘cos she speaks.
Q: She’s, yes, Pam, she used to be in the shop there at one time, long time ago, actually, for a little while, round the corner there [48 Church Street].
Mrs I: Oh, did she? Well, I’ve seen her go up. She goes up to Mrs Cunningham, and Mrs Cunningham was ninety last year.
Q: Oh, was she?
Mrs I: But she’s not a Witham woman, she’s Welsh, her husband was a miner, and they were out of work, and she came here to live with her mother. But she’s not a Witham person. And she goes up twice a week. So I always, you know, send a little message. It’s next to the Ottleys, she lives [possibly Rickstones Road].
Q: I see, what, she does, this is, the young one lives next to the Ottleys, does she [probably not, probably Mrs Cunningham]?
Mrs I: Yes.
Q: Aha. I’ve just seen her going by. And they, his sight is very poor, the, Mr Carey, so he doesn’t come out, he can’t really see any longer, now.
Mrs I: Oh, I’m pleased that, well, when Mrs De’ath comes again, I shall say ‘Yes, that is the Mrs Carey’. But I don’t know her, but I know …. I like that young one, I think she’s very nice.
Q: She’s very nice, isn’t she, yes.
Mrs I: Mm, I do. I should think she’s very kind, where she goes, in the home help.
Q: Yes, yes. They always do a lot extra often, don’t they, do a lot of extra things.
Mrs I: I should imagine she’s very kind.
Q: Yes, now that is him. ‘Cos I think he, I don’t think he, I think he came from Braintree or somewhere originally, himself. He came to Witham when he was a young man, and then he married her from Hatfield, yes. Oh well, now you know who they are, that’s all right.
Mrs I: Well, we were always interested in the Bridge Home people, because a friend of ours married the bandmaster there, in our young time, it was Bridge Home, you know, we didn’t call it, there were just a few of the boys and that, and I know he married one of the school, and so, you used to say ‘They’ve got the houses’, and then as soon as they come out of Bridge, you see, you have to find them a Council house.
Q: I see, yes.
Mrs I: And there’s another nice person, her father was governor of Bridge Home. She lives just round the corner, St. Nicholas Road, and her daughter, she tells me, is going blind, she’s about thirteen or fourteen. She goes to Bramston, and she has to take her hand to take her up. And she said it’s family [probably Gage family, 46 St. Nicholas Road].
Q: Yes. Oh, is that Gages, is it?
Mrs I: Well, you see, I know as Ruffle [Raffle?], Joyce Ruffle, and she’s very upset, but she’s now going into a blind school. They’re Bridge people [???] Bridge. That’s why I thought I must know this Mrs Carey.
Q: Yes, yes. ‘Cos you know you talked about the school at Barnardiston. When was that, in the War or something, was it? [Second World War; actually Brookcote, 29 Chipping Hill]
Mrs I: Yes, yes.
Q: I see, yes.
Mrs I: And the children, the children were put there, weren’t they.
Q: Were they, I see?
Mrs I: And she used to take the babies, smaller ones, in the pram, and that’s how I knew this young one, working there [i.e Pam Carey]. So that’s nice.
Q: Were your children, did your children go there at all?
Mrs I: No, no.
Q: Or was that mostly for people that were working, was it?
Mrs I: I think that was, that must have been, to do with the War, I should imagine. I suppose the mothers were working, weren’t they, and they put them. What do you think of our new extension over the road [1 St. Nicholas Road]? I don’t like the stable [garage]. The other part’s rather nice, but, it’s a pity, ‘cos it looks so odd. The other one’s the house, and this looks a different …. But I don’t like the stable [laugh].
Q: I think it’s sort of nice, on its own, but it doesn’t fit in with the rest somehow, does it?
Mrs I: Well, we did wonder, ‘cos there was only one that protested, and we did wonder if they had to alter it, for the two windows. See. As she complained. It would be the pantry window, and the landing. I should imagine. But that’s terrible, I don’t know who the architect was, I’m sure. But it’s all wrong. That part is nice, with the arch and the going though. And Mr Cook tells me it’s nice at the back [Fred Cook of Floreat, Chalks Road]. Very nice, but, I don’t like the stable at the front. I should have thought, he would have had the pull-up. Now your garage is perfect, you know, to the ….
Q: Strange, isn’t it?
Mrs I: But I think that’s why. But I see it most, see it’s just right for me.
Q: I suppose you do, yes.
Mrs I: Clive said ‘Well it’s far better than those old white buildings, what ever are you complaining about?’ [laughs] ‘Well’, I said ‘the stable I don’t like’. If it had been a little higher. ‘Oh’, he said ‘you must go and complain’ [laugh]. But I like the wall, the wall part, I like that.
Q: They did it very quickly, didn’t they?
Mrs I: Oh. Yes, she wanted to get in quickly. The other person said ‘Oh, we musn’t lose that sale, ‘cos’ she says ‘it’s cash’. Oh, she was most anxious. So, I don’t know what sort of people they’ll be, she said [???]
Q: They only lived round in, Bramstons, before [i.e. 16 Chipping Hill, the new residents of 1 St.Nicholas Road, Arrowsmith family]
Mrs I: Yes, she has her little apron on and she gets in this little van and off she goes.
Q: ‘Cos he does building, I think.
Mrs I: Yes. Now, strange, I said to Willie [probably Dean Sutton, Mrs Ireland’s neighbour, 13 Chalks Road], at the time, when it was, soon as the board went up, I said ‘Now that’s just the place for you’.
Q: Yes, that’s right, yes.
Q: Oh, he couldn’t get his van up there, and he couldn’t do that. I said, well, no you’ve made half the sale, and I suppose you don’t get through the …. Then he lost the sale. You see, there’d be somebody came along, in front of him. I said, ‘Well, you should have gone where I told you’ [laugh]. We do miss him. It’s four years. It’ll be four years, since Mrs Hammond, Mrs Hammond left on the twelfth of December. ‘Cos she wouldn’t wait till Saturday the thirteenth. She died, didn’t she, the sixth of January [Mrs Elsie Hammond, formerly of 13 Chalks Road, moved to Birch Close]
Q: Four years, goodness.
Mrs I: Doesn’t seem four years. See, it would have been her birthday tomorrow. Would have been, eighty-five, there was five years difference. But they were twenty-three years there, that was nice. And the other, Mrs Kidd was ninety-eight. You see, you’ve been used. And then he came, just the opposite. Although I enjoyed Willie’s [???]
Q: Keeps you entertained, didn’t he?
Mrs I: I did[?]. Are you going to show me?
Q: [???] the machine on so I remember what you say. Well, I don’t know who these are. I bought them in Shelley’s [photographic portraits; later I gave them to the Braintree and Witham Times who said they might put them in the paper in case anyone recognised them and would like them. As far as I know they didn’t put them in the paper and I didn’t reclaim them].
Mrs I: Oh, whatever have you got there.
Q: And I wondered if you knew who any of them were. Wait a minute. But there’s no reason why you should, really, they may not be Witham people at all [pause]
Mrs I: Oh, this is the old fashioned way.
Q: I liked the clothes, anyway, so it doesn’t really matter.
Mrs I: Oh yes, but they always had this style. You know, in the ….
Q: It’s lovely, isn’t it?
Mrs I: Yes. Oh, these are not, these are, no.
Q: No. Well, they might not have come from Witham.
Mrs I: Oh no. But it’s nice to see, what they used to dress. Those sleeves are coming in again, aren’t they.
Q: Yes, yes.
[Long break of six minutes silence]
Q: Sort of saddlers, was it, sort of leather stuff, was it?
Mrs I: Oh no. That was. Oh, and then we were talking about the public houses and I said to Clive. There was an Angel, called the Angel at the top of Maldon Road [39 Maldon Road], and then the harnessmaker, and that’s where Mr Shelley’s brother was. Yes, we spoke all about that. Brewster’s, the harnessmakers, it’s not there now [Maldon Road].
Q: No. Is his brother still alive? Is Mr Shelley’s brother still alive?
Mrs I: Yes. Doug.
Q: Doug, that’s Doug is it?
Mrs I: Yes, saddler, you see. Yes.
Q: Well, well. That was quite a difficult job, I should think, wasn’t it?
Mrs I: Yes, so I said to Clive, so when we talked about that, I said that was the Angel. Then there was the vet, the Horners. You know, whatever they pulled them, the [???] down.
Q: Oh, was that what you remembered? Somebody lent me that photograph, Fleuty’s [showing photo of Fleuty family, c.1904, which appears bottom page 68 in Images of England: Witham; JG’s photo M66]?
Mrs I: Oh yes.
Q: And that’s all the family in front of there, I thought you’d like to see that one?
Mrs I: Oh yes, they were Braintree Road [actually Bridge Street]. Oh yes, oh isn’t that beautiful. Oh that’s lovely. Look at the little, look at all, timber work, wasn’t it, all. Oh, I say. Always had congregations, didn’t they. All congregated together, all. That’s one thing I never did, you see, I never joined anything.
Q: No. No. Did you not, no?
Mrs I: No, never did. I always kept on my own and with the family.
Q: That looks as if it’s all one family there, doesn’t it, actually.
Mrs I: Oh, well that’s what I said, they all, I suppose [???] the back ways.
Q: I can’t remember what else I’ve brought.
[Long break of five minutes silence]
[Brief snatch just before 26 minutes]
Mrs I: Then, I said ‘Oh yes’. And the one Colonel Smith, you see. Then mother married again [???] Wood, and several more you see, all Woods.
[another short silence]
Mrs I: And I always remember when the children used to go to Church, you see the choir and different things, and they used to have the different curates. They used to say ‘It’s a pleasure to come and chat to, to you, because your children have got no relatives’. He said ‘Everywhere, everywhere where I go, they’re either cousins or uncles and aunts, and I’ve got to be so careful’. I always remember him saying that [laugh]. Oh, it is strange.
Q: I suppose people didn’t travel far, did they, then?
Mrs I: But still, when you remember the old ones I was surprised, I think, she’s Vi, I think she’s a Mrs Bentley. And she said a Maudie Gatehouse, and I said ‘Oh yes, I remember her, Powershall End’. Well she said, in way of conversation, something came up, and she spoke about all the different ones, and I said ‘Oh, where is she’, and she said ‘Well, I’m sad’, she said, ‘she’s in Severalls now’. And I said, ‘Well, I used to go up to Wickham’. I used to pass by, and if I was waiting for a bus, I said, I was only too pleased, to have the pleasure to chat to her. That’s the Bentleys. So they’re the same, they’re Nell Wood’s. She had so many daughters. And so she told me which one, she said ‘I’m Vi, I’m Mrs Bentley’ [of 61 Glebe Crescent]. She was helping you see at the ….
Q: Course, yes. Aha. Yes, they’re still about, most of them. I can’t remember where I got these others from now. Am I holding you up, do you ….?
Mrs I: No, no, I, any time, get it all ready.
Q: I think these are things you …. You know that one, that’s the bottom of Church Street, isn’t it?
Mrs I: Oh, but I love that one of the Hill, oh, beautiful
Q: Oh, good, yes. Is that Church Street, it looks a bit quiet?
Mrs I: [long pause] Well I don’t know which part it would be. Must be the far end.
Mrs I: Oh yes.
Q: Right down at the bottom, looking ….
Mrs I: [???] House on its own. And these would be those four little ones. Then comes a house, a big house used to be the school, Chipping Hill school before [22 Church Street]…. Yes, that’s the part, that’s that one house. It was on its own, and there’s a passage. And then the butcher’s, Greatrex’s. Yes, That’s right, and there’s those four. But what put me off was, this, I though [short break] more prominent [short break] That’s just in between them, yes [probably bottom of Church Street].
[c. 1 or 2 minute break]
Q: Yes, yes. That’s just up in between them, yes.
Mrs I: I can’t understand why they did it all.
Q: I think that was the, now then, was that the Co-op, do, did somebody tell me [showing photo of Co-op treat, 1909, which appears bottom page 59 in Images of England: Witham; JG’s photo M68]?
Mrs I: Oh yes, over the road. Oh, Joan often speaks of that. Oh, they used to have the steam engine to make the tea. It was over in that meadow [north side of Chalks Road]. And then, it was down by the Recreation ground, in the meadow there [i.e. earlier, as in the photo]. There used to be the Co-op teas and the Church, Sunday school teas, at the Vicarage. Oh, this is a good one.
Q: Were you in the Co-op, yourself? Did you used to go to the Co-op ones.
Mrs I: No. No, I didn’t join the Co-op until it came, the top [62 Braintree Road].
Q: They’re having a good time there.
Mrs I: Oh, they were. And poor little …. Someone called it ‘the village’ the other day. And I thought ‘Well, we didn’t think it was a village, but it definitely is now’. Those one or two people, near Clive, St. Nicholas Road, I smile, she said ‘Oh, I’m now going into the village’. Well of course we say we’re going down into the town now [i.e. to Newland Street]. We called ours the village [i.e. Chipping Hill].
Q: They say the village for Witham, do they, that’s funny, isn’t it?
Mrs I: Oh, it is strange. There’s two of them. Yes. ‘Oh well’, she says ‘now we’ll be going into the village’ [laugh].
Q: How funny.
Mrs I: Isn’t it? London people, of course.
Q: Oh well, to them it is a village.
Mrs I: But isn’t it strange. But I like to hear it. And then the other day when someone said ‘Course, after the bridge, it’s the village’. I thought ‘Yes?’ [laugh]. And after Church Street corner it was ‘Little Hell’ [laugh]. Oh dear. But the Avenue and all that part, it is a shame, you know. When these people ask me about Dorothy Sayers and about that, she said ‘Oh, did she marry?’. I said ‘Oh yes, Major Fleming’. But every one, she still kept the Dorothy Sayers, I don’t know why.
Q: I suppose when you write books you get known by the name, don’t you?
Mrs I: Yes. But I mean, we didn’t take that notice, Dorothy Sayers.
Mrs I: We knew Major Fleming and that’s …. You see, it was to do, why we was connected more to hear about her, was, the First War, World War [probably Second World War], of course she did, this, she’d got this oiled wool, and we used to go, to get, to collect the wool to knit these big water socks, and then take them back to the house again. Well that’s where we met, used to meet Major Fleming, you see, when we went, to take these, oily socks. They were special wool, and you had to have the big pins, I’ve got those big pins, that we used to knit, ‘cos they’re handy for shawls. But they don’t have baby shawls now, we always used to knit. So I always think when I come across these knitting needles, I think, ‘Oh dear, Dorothy Sayers’.
Q: Well well. She organised that, did she?
Mrs I: Yes, oh she did, she was good.
Q: Was that, that was the Second War was it, or the First?
Mrs I: Yes, the First, 1914 War [possibly Second World War actually]. Yes. I noticed they said at the Remembrance Sunday, there wasn’t many left, well there wouldn’t be, would there?
Q: No, no. They mentioned Mr Keeble, didn’t they? [Harold Keeble]
Mrs I: Oh yes. I was pleased to see that because, oh he was another one, with Butcher.
Q: I see.
Mrs I: In …. Course they always said that was a pity Pinkham ever opened that factory, that spoilt Witham, then the Co-op came, didn’t they, and sold the field, to Crittall’s. And that brought, the men wanted somewhere to work when they came back from the War, didn’t they? But they grumbled about that. Pinkham’s and Co-op, selling their field.
Q: That was how that, Crittall’s ….?
Mrs I: That’s how Crittall’s came. I often wonder what would have happened.
Q: If they hadn’t, yes?
Mrs I: Yes. I often wonder. ‘Cos when I go back, to the people, and I think ‘Well, what would they have done?’. ‘Cos they all worked on the land, you see, or, on the farms, with the horses. Course they don’t like you to know, do they [laugh]?
Q: No, that would have been a problem, wouldn’t it?
Mrs I: I often wonder. ‘Cos poor old Joan said, she’s talking and she said [Joan Shelley, 10 Chalks Road, probably a Chalk before marriage] [few seconds gap]. ‘Cos you see the Chalks, after all, they went, didn’t they? One was a schoolmaster and one was a schoolteacher, so of course she wondered. I said ‘Well, I don’t, you just said “they work on the land”’. I said ‘I always remember him coming down with a hoe, on his shoulder’. Well, they just used to do the hoeing, didn’t they? See, it’s all machinery today, isn’t it?
Q: Quite, yes, they don’t have anybody, do they?
Mrs I: But poor old Joan looked at me. And Mrs Lee, one day, she didn’t like it ‘cos I remembered, ‘cos she, she said something unkind about her father, because I suppose they thought she should have had him live with her, as her husband died [Mrs Bertha Lee, 29 St. Nicholas Road]. But he went into the Home. And so she said, she said ‘The old bugger’. I said ‘Mrs Lee, your father?’. So she said ‘So he was’. So I said ‘Well, of course I remember when Fairhead gave him the sack’, I said, ‘because he beat the horses out’. Course she didn’t like it, to think I reminded the farm. Well, that’s all they were. Till of course he went into Crittall’s.
Q: I see, yes. Yes. He got the sack, did he?
Mrs I: Well. Yes, through ill-treating the horses.
Q: Oh dear, aha.
Mrs I: Only I was very friendly with Eva Townsend. I tried to find her, but she’d passed on. At Elm Hall [Elm Hall farm, Rickstones Road, or Elm farm, Cressing Road]. ‘Cos her father, you see, was …. Years ago, you were the head one, you know, you weren’t the farmer yourself, but you were the chief man. And of course, that’s how I knew. ‘Cos I used to go up, to the farm.
Q: There was a farm up there, was there, I see, yes.
Mrs I: Oh yes, a farm, Elm farm, you see. But of course I knew, you see, that her father was there, and course, Mr Townsend was the one that sacked him, for Fairhead. You see, it was Fairhead’s farm, he’d got several farms around. But you see they live in them places, and people think that you own the farm. You see. The same as with Strutt and Parker. ‘Cos they always said with Mrs Hayes, she thought she was a Strutt, ‘cos her father was cowman to them [Dorothy Hayes, 8 Chalks Road, brought up at Westocks farm, Fairstead]. See, but she thought, she belonged to the Strutts. Well, of course, they treat them so very differently, don’t they? They treat you, they don’t treat you as poor, or anything, they treat you as one of their own. ‘Cos you’re working for them, aren’t you? You’re doing anything. Because that’s how, Mrs Hayes has said, and [???] to say, that’s how her father went to Severalls. ‘Cos he was so conscientious. When the cows’ calves were being born, he’d be up all night, see, conscientious. And of course, that …. And then of course her mother died, and left him with four children. So Mrs Hayes has always been, mother. And she’s very kind, to do anything, or do any thing, or, for you. But they, they’ve still got that idea that they’re proper Strutts. You see? Because you live on the estate, don’t you. And live in their house.
Q: So you’d live in the farmhouse, would you?
Mrs I: Yes.
Q: So these Townsends would have done, would they?
Mrs I: Yes. But you have …. But Townsend was different you see, he was only cowman [i.e. Mrs Hayes’ father]. But, I can’t think of the word now he used to say. Not ganger. You go in. Bailiff. You’re the bailiff.
Q: I see.
Mrs I: Farm bailiff. I knew I could remember the word. You see? And Miss Taylor’s father, he was farm bailiff. And she always speaks about the Honorable Strutt [Charlie Strutt of Blunts Hall], ‘cos of course her house was next, in the grounds. Yes, farm bailiff.
Q: Oh I see, and they sort of organised the men, did they?
Mrs I: Yes. You’d do everything, ‘cos of course that’s their farms, but they don’t do anything, do they? He was a Member of Parliament. Always away. That’s the only thing that I’m disappointed, with Mr Gyford. ‘Cos I did think we were going to have a Member of Parliament in Witham [laugh]. Say it, my I did, ‘cos I kept, I didn’t say to people that he was a candidate, I said ‘Well, course, we’ve got a Member of Parliament opposite’ [laugh]. I, no I meant the candidate, but I always said, and ‘Of course, there will be another one in Witham, [???] opposite me’ [John Gyford].
Q: Oh well, sorry to let you down.
Mrs I: Yes, I am disappointed, really, ‘cos that would have been rather nice for me, wouldn’t it, to have said I knew two, in Witham. ‘Cos it is, nice, to have someone, Member of …. I think we should have.
Q: Well, yes, quite, yes.
Mrs I: Yes, but still, times are altogether different. Nothing’ll ever be the same. But Mr Gyford does work, doesn’t he, he’s always got the light, that welcomes me at night [laugh]. Got the light, hasn’t he, when I go at nine, the light’s there at twelve. I’m just beginning to see Philip’s side now the trees have gone. He goes at nine, doesn’t he? I generally see his light. Oh, but Mr Gyford does work, I say to Clive ‘What a lonely life Mrs Gyford must have, he’s always in his study’ [laugh].
Q: Course, sometimes that’s me in the study, so I shouldn’t worry [laugh].
Mrs I: Oh, is it? Oh.
Q: He goes out a lot to meetings and things.
Mrs I: Oh yes. We’ll see the light, and it’s there at twelve. And these people have a light after twelve.
Q: That’s right, yes.
Mrs I: And it shines onto my fireplace. So that’s very nice.
Q: ‘Cos Colonel, whatever his name was, Strutt, was a Member of Parliament, was he?
Mrs I: Honorable Strutt. Oh yes. Oh yes. Course, you’d never see them, did you. You just voted, you never saw the Members of Parliament. Now, my word, they’re everlasting, goes wrong, they’re after them. You never saw a Member of Parliament. We’d, Fortescue, we had [Fortescue Flannery]. And then there was Bethell [Thomas Robert Bethell, elected Member of Parliament for Maldon, 1906, when he defeated Charlie Strutt of Blunts Hall, Member of Parliament for Maldon 1895-1906]. I always remember Bethell. The most we ever saw was Driberg. And we did see him, he was always in the place. Most strange. [Tom Driberg, M.P. for Maldon, 1942-55]
Q: But you had a quite a todo when there was an election, did you?
Mrs I: Oh, my word. All with Bethell. I always remember the time with Bethell. We were late for school. I remember that. And, with Strutt, oh they had the donkeys and the candles from the railway station. Oh, yes. And Pinkham. He was a big …. course it wasn’t Labour then, in our young time. Pinkham was a good man. Oh, he’d get on the box and the big speech. I remember Pinkham.
Q: So they had the sort of meetings outside, did they, or in a hall?
Mrs I: No, they used to, you never had …. Oh and the balcony, that was the only time. That’s the only time I remember that balcony was when Bethell got in.
Q: Oh, I see. Yes.
Mrs I: And Fortescue Flannery, we used to say flannelfoot [Fortescue Flannery, Member of Parliament for Maldon, 1918-22]. Now who, got him out? Driberg? No? Yes, must have been Driberg [Flannery actually replaced by Ruggles-Brise]. ‘Cos it was all Liberal, it was always a Liberal place.
Q: Yes. But Strutt was Conservative, presumably, was he?
Mrs I: Oh, yes, but, all the naval men, they were all Liberals.
Q: Were they?
Mrs I: Oh, yes. All these colonels and brigadiers and that. You know, when we think we had all those people, in Witham. Brigadiers and admirals and captains, and colonels. Seems so strange, doesn’t it?
Q: I mean, were they retired, mostly, were they?
Mrs I: Yes, yes. That’s all it consisted of, and doctors.
Mrs I: …. from the station, it was seven and sixpence [i.e. for a doctor’s visit, if you lived past the station] When you think, they don’t pay [short break] I only had the doctor for Clive, whooping cough. And that’s why I remember. That was seven and sixpence, the visit, and five shillings. ‘Cos we laugh, we said ‘We never had the doctor’s bill’ you see, ‘cos we was [???] into the bungalow, course they did it all under there, under the seven guineas, you see [i.e for having babies, at the nurses’ bungalow, 46 Collingwood Road].
Q: Oh, did they?
Mrs I: And then, I didn’t have a doctor. They managed with the nurse. You see, she said ‘With or without?’. Well, you like to be friendly with your nurse, and I said ‘Well I leave it to you’. She said ‘Well you don’t seem to be a fussy person’ [laugh]. She said ‘I think we can manage without’. But that’s how I knew the price, that was the only bill we ever had.
Q: How funny, yes.
Mrs I: Yes. He had this whooping cough, you see. He went black. ‘Cos he was only six weeks old, course the two had got it, and he had it. And he went black one day, so I went to Mrs Smith and said ‘[???] have the doctor’. And he said ‘That’ll be all right, old lady’, he said ‘you’ll be, you’ll be all right’, they do, they go black, with the coughing, you see.
Q: Oh, I see, yes. So you had that all under the money that you paid for the, having the baby, did you?
Mrs I: Oh no, that …. Oh no, ‘cos I’d been in the bungalow. Oh no, the bungalow came under your seven guineas.
Q: Yes. Aha. But the whooping cough you should have paid for, should you?
Mrs I: Oh yes, ‘cos that was different, you see, I sent for the doctor after I’d been out six weeks. It was only six weeks. You’d have never thought, would you, that he would have had it.
Q: No, nasty I should think, wasn’t it?
Mrs I: It was horrible. I always remember, I sat in an armchair, and a dressing gown, and of course when he coughed that used to go down there. Oh I ruined two of those. You know, ‘cos I was frightened to go to bed. Sat up. Used to sit up. But we always laugh, seven and sixpence and five shillings, the only doctor’s bill we ever had [laugh]. No, we’ve always been healthy.
Q: That was lucky, wasn’t it?
Mrs I: Well, you don’t make a fuss, do you, with the whooping cough and different things with the older ones. But Renee was wicked. Oh, she was. She used to get on that step, and she used to make the noise. ‘Cos they told her you whoop. And of course she couldn’t, so she used to pretend [laugh].
Q: [Laugh] That’s naughty, isn’t it?
Mrs I: And I always remember we went, do you remember, no, that would be, Rose[?] having the greengrocers shop in Braintree Road [possibly 10 Braintree Road]?
Q: I don’t know whether I do, no?
Mrs I: We, I always, they used to like, bottle of tomato sauce, and I found that brought it up better than anything.
Q: How funny. Just on its own?
Mrs I: Yes. Yes.
Mrs I: Yes that did, that was good. But she would make that noise, ‘cos she’d heard somebody, course she didn’t want to be out of it. ‘I’ve got whooping cough’. Clive had …
Mrs I: But you didn’t send for a doctor, did you?
Q: Did you get anything like that when you were little?
Mrs I: No, I haven’t had measles, no, or mumps. I forget what was on [???] so I had to be careful with the children. And just recently, someone in St Nicholas Road, with the baby, and I said ‘I’m sorry, don’t bring her in, I’ll close the gate, ‘cos I haven’t had measles’. I don’t think I mixed, you see. Makes a difference, ‘cos you catch it. Course some people used to say ‘Oh, I put ’em in the bed together and let them all have it at once’ [laugh]
[c.3½ minute break]
Mrs I: See, because it was all dust. But now they’re all tarred [roads].
Q: That’ll be all post people, I think. Is that right [showing photo of postal staff 1910, which appears bottom page 79 in Images of England: Witham; JG’s photo M124]?
Mrs I: [???], you see, I could get …. An old one. [noises on tape] They’ve gone, no, they’ve gone, Susie Woolnough [noises on tape]. Oh, there he is, there’s Gallop. Oh [???]. Oh, there’s Oxbrow, yes.
Q: Did you want me to get you one of those?
Mrs I: Oh, that’s be 74. Oh my word. [???] know here. There’s Woodwards. Oh, look, Duncombe. Oh, they’re all there. Oh, here’s the clerical staff.
Q: Is that what it is, is it?
Mrs I: Yes. There’s four there. With the little boys, telegraph boys. Oh, it’s a lovely one. Who handed you this?
Q: I think that was Mr Godfrey’s, that lent it me, but I might, that was a copy off it [Bert [Jim] Godfrey, 2 St. Nicholas Road]. Some time ago now. I don’t know why he would have had it. I can’t remember now. Would you like me to see if I can get one for you?
Mrs I: [pause] Oh, just look at them all. I know nearly every one.
Q: Do you?
Mrs I: That’s the old one. Look at that. See Gallops, they’ve all gone, Mrs Wallace. They’ve all gone. There’s nobody. Oh it does seem …. Oh no, it won’t be interesting.
Q: You don’t, no.
Mrs I: No.
Q: O.K., fair enough.
Mrs I: I wonder if Oxbrow would have had one. But they haven’t. Course they move. They don’t think anything of the parents today, do they? As soon as they move the photographs come off the wall and they destroy them.
Q: Yes, quite, yes.
Mrs I: You see, you kept them years ago. The parents are nothing today, are they?
Q: So, would this be at the front, of the Post ….?
Mrs I: Yes, that is it, yes. Pity the pillar box is not there. That’s one thing I looked at. I looked for that.
Q: Mr Gallop was the chief, in the middle, was he?
Mrs I: Yes. He came after Goss.
Q: I see, yes.
Mrs I: Oh yes, I always used to visit. Because my people used to visit him, when they came [probably Goss grandparents].
[about five minutes deleted from the tape here for reasons of confidentiality]
Mrs I: But I often wonder. You see, that’s when you think of your old ones.
Q: Well, that’s it, yes, yes.
Mrs I: And I asked, you see, because Mrs Glass was ninety-three, Mrs Rudkin was ninety-three. You see, there’s no other people that I remember, and I was thinking of her. Oh, a Croxall, Gladys, that’s Mrs Stark, she’d be, she’d be in her ninetieth year because mine came December, and she came more into the year [Gladys Stark, nee Croxall]. But she’s the only one that I can remember in that class, that we were ex seventh. You see, I’ve tried to find, Lizzie Wood’s gone, they’ve gone, and, Olive Cornwall, and I tried, and Mrs Stark, I knew that, I asked, one of those people that come round, evangelist women, and she works for her.
Q: Oh does, she, yes. She is still around, I see her occasionally.
Mrs I: And she said to me that Mrs Stark, and I said ‘Yes, she’s come back to Witham’, and I said ‘We lost our husbands at the same time’. We were sitting in Bright’s office, strange, and she said ‘I’m coming back to live in Witham’. She said, ‘and I’m going into Stoffer’s old house, in the Avenue. Well then the last I heard of it, she’d let the top of the house, ‘cos of rheumatism, and was living at the bottom.
Q: I see, yes. ‘Cos I know she and, she and Lucy, they sort of take turns looking after, the other sister, Eva.
Mrs I: The, Eva, that’s right, Mrs Hayes. That’s right.
Q: In Lucy’s house [Lucy Croxall]
Mrs I: That’s how I knew, you see, Mrs Stark.
Q: Is Eva older than the others?
Mrs I: Yes. Well, she’s only ninety-two, is she? Yes, ‘cos that always comes about two years. And then the one that worked for a little time, he was bank manager, then he came and worked for Bright, being friends, didn’t he, did a little work for him, well he recently died, didn’t he.
Q: That’s right, yes.
Mrs I: And then there’s another brother, Reg, and there’s Mrs Hayes, and then just Gladys, you see, Mrs Stark.
Q: She keeps, she plays bowls still, I think, Mrs Stark.
Mrs I: Oh yes, because she used to say to me ‘I’m now off’, used to be going. Said ‘I wonder you don’t do it’. I said ‘Well, you’ve got no family it makes such a difference’. See, she married a widower, you see, someone much older. Oh, yes, she’s a one for the …. And she’d got the Croxall walk, that bandy walk, that goes walking between their legs. But Lucy was so different. I mean, she’s lively, and she’s very into things.
Q: Yes, yes.
Mrs I: Well, Mrs Richards, Miss Richards is getting older now, isn’t she, she walks with a stick [Kath Richards].
Q: I suppose so yes, yes she does, you tend to think of her as being one of the young ones.
Mrs I: Still goes on the Council, doesn’t she? Gracious, I should have thought they could have found someone, to replace her.
Q: I think she probably quite enjoys it, don’t you?
Mrs I: Well, definitely, and everyone knows her, that’s the trouble, isn’t it, you see, through the building business. See, she’s well known. And then you see, you get the preference. I said ‘Well, you’re well known’ [laugh]. ‘Cos I’m surprised at the people that have got houses.
Mrs I: See, as soon as they get, ‘Gracious, well how did they get in the Witham houses, other people can’t get in?’ ‘Oh, Miss Croxall’ [meaning Miss Richards]. ‘Oh, so don’t tell me any more’. Course, they’re all Witham people, of course she naturally would put them forward, but it’s hardly fair, is it?
Q: What, Miss Richards, you mean or ….?
Mrs I: [Nod]. Yes. Course, she is the housing one, you see.
Q: That’s right, yes.
Mrs I: Yes, you see, that’s why.
Q: Because I suppose, there didn’t used to be the Council houses, I suppose, how did you used to get house before, you rented a …. ?
Mrs I: Well, pop, used to go the printers and get cottage to let. Pop in.
Q: I see, yes.
Mrs I: Put them in the windows. But they were generally [laugh], they’d hear somebody’s moving. Oh, the milk boy. I saw him, some, oh, to do with this opening, at the Woolpack, last week, they had a special opening [Woolpack, 7 Church Street]. So, course I knew Mr Hales, he was Maldon Road, I knew he’d go down, and Cyril’d go. But this, Butcher came, Len, and another man, that lives, the first house of the old bungalows in Homefield Road. [???] So Mrs De’ath came in, to see me, because they invited her to come to pull the first pint, you see [Honor De’ath, former landlady at the Woolpack]. And she was going out of the gate, so this Len Butcher come down, he was, hopping along, and so she said ‘Hello Len’. He says ‘Hello, you’, course you knew [laugh]. So, I said, ‘Oh, you’re Len Butcher, are you?’ So he said ‘Yes, I’m just going down to get the free pint’. He said ‘I’ve been on the operating table for me eighty something birthday’. So he said ‘Well, you remember me, don’t you, didn’t you get me my first house?’. And I said, ‘Did I?’. He said ‘Yes, don’t you remember’, he said, ‘Woodwards came out, and went in the first ….’, new bungalows they were built, Cressing Road, ‘cos it was all the men that came from the War, that had the preference.
Q: I see.
Mrs I: And ‘Yes’, he said that. The other man came down, and he said ‘Here he comes, look, you remember him coming round with the milk, don’t you?’. He said ‘When we used to have the milk can and dip your hand in’. So that was two men I saw then. And I smiled.
Q: Which one was the milk boy, then?
Mrs I: Butcher.
Q: He’s Butcher, is he.
Mrs I: Butcher was the milk boy first, and that’s how I got him the house.
Q: I see.
Mrs I: And this one, he said he was in the first, he tells me, the first Council house Homefield Road. Lives on his own, he said. And, and so he told me, he said ‘Don’t you remember’, I didn’t remember. He said ‘We used to put our hand in the milk can if the measure dropped in’. [laugh] And I thought ‘Well, it is nice’. And the Woodwards, they’re nice boys. Don’t know if you’ve ever met them?
Q: No, I don’t think so, no.
Mrs I: And, once I was down in the Co-op, he says ‘Here comes my landlady. Oh, my God’, he says, ‘I haven’t seen you for years’. People all looked. And I’ve been in the Post Office, there’s been one or two, and they’ve said ‘Oh, I should think I do, she came in our house times enough’. So it is nice.
Q: Did they used to think you were the landlady, do you think?
Mrs I: Yes [when she collected rents for the Wadleys].
Q: Did they really?
Mrs I: They were ever so good, used to go up. They’re ever so, you know, it is nice to meet these young boys.
Q: That’s right, yes. Where does Len Butcher live, then?
Mrs I: Butcher lives Cross Roads.
Q: I see, so they all come down together, yes, to the pub, yes.
Mrs I: And the way he said ‘I was on the operating table’, he said, ‘me birthday’, said, ‘but I’m here’, but he walks badly. I should think something, some trouble. But I thought ‘Well, I shall never see those men again, fancy going down to get these free pints’. Well I suppose the place was altered, and they were interested.
Q: Yes, go and have a look and see what it was like, yes. ‘Cos of course you ….
Mrs I: They say the back ways are beautiful, the toilets.
Q: Oh, really, oh good.
Mrs I: Yes, they’re going to open it later, more, for to go and get a meal. Because they used to go to the fish shop and then take it in there.
Q: Yes of course, yes.
Mrs I: Mrs De’ath told me at the finish. But she was marvellous, seventy-four, to keep it on, wasn’t she.
Q: Yes, she was, wasn’t she, yes. How’s she getting on now she’s retired?
Mrs I: Well, she’s gone with her daughter. Course it’s fortunate for her, but a misfortune for her daughter, I was upset, because when they’re your godchild, you know, you think about them. And she said ‘Course you knew Deonne was getting divorced?’. ‘Oh, I said, I’m sorry’, I said ‘Don’t tell me anything today, tell me when you come another time’. So when she came, she said ‘Well’, she said, ‘you knew he, they kept, public house’, course, at Wickham Bishops.
Q: I see, yes.
Mrs I: And she said ‘She went on the holiday with the two children, to Switzerland’. She said ‘The children wanted to go skiing’. There’s a boy and a girl, nine and eleven. And, she said, he said ‘You can stay as long as you like’, so she stayed the month. And, it appears, that, of course, he’s got this lady friend, and he went to Canada.
Q: Good heavens.
Mrs I: Yes. So course, the divorce, will be in, won’t it.
[??? knocking, other noises on tape etc.]
Q: Oh, what a shame, ‘cos I knew her daughter, I met her once or twice, with the children.
Mrs I: Oh yes, the nursing.
[break: someone at the door for key to Clive’s house, meter reader]
Mrs I: St. Nicholas Road key.
Q: Ah. I see you’re still doing your landlady bit, aren’t you?
Mrs I: I’ve got next door as well. Yes [???] her keys. [???] You never know, do you? [more talk to man at door and discussion about meters etc.]
[Rest of tape not transcribed; it is is poorer quality and only more discussion about the present, e.g. the divorce, people moving into road now, and neighbours with children, etc. and, right at end the number of ‘old maids’, i.e. unmarried, in Chalks Road, ten in all]