Mrs Ethel Hicks (nee Bourne), was born in 1891. She was interviewed on 6 July 1985, when she lived at 3 Pinkham Drive, Witham.
She also appears on tape 124, which has not been transcribed.
For more information about her, see Hicks, Ethel 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 email@example.com 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.]
[Looking at picture in Highfields Road]
Mrs H: This is the one, (Q: I see.) that cap[?], my husband in that car, that’s an old car (Q: Isn’t it lovely). Well he worked for Mr Glover. That car belonged to him. Well the running pump. Oh I wished they’d got that in, that’s just there. And that’s how that was but of course they’ve altered it now and I think you can see a little piece of the shed there. And that was, you wouldn’t remember Joe Mens I don’t suppose?
Q: I’ve heard the name.
Mrs H: They lived in Collingwood Road in the big house that they turned into offices (Q: I know.) but what it is now I don’t know because I don’t go up there much.
Q: I think they pulled it down. There’s a new building there now. [Health Authority building]
Mrs H: A lovely house like that
Q: It was next to the Council Offices wasn’t it? (Mrs H: Yes that’s it.) Was he …?
Mrs H: And that’s an old shed there, well he had all up Capon Hall Green [Caperners’ Green, Highfields Road]. He had, he was a bit of a farmer and that shed he used to keep horses and cows in there. Well then when the pea picking time, he used to have his fields full of peas, he used to let the tramps sleep in that shed. I’d be scared stiff to go up there [laugh] (Q: Why was that?) but we used to go.
[chat, not noted]
Q: That’s a lovely car, isn’t it.
[looking at another picture]
Mrs H: I’ve got a small, look, this is another one. Now the pump isn’t in. I don’t think you can see it. (Q: You had a picture of it did you?) That was the pump there, running. That’s similar to that, isn’t it.
Q: Was it sort of special water then ?
Mrs H: Yes, spring water, comes from Blunts Hall, that was on Lord Rayleigh’s, Lord Rayleigh’s farm and they’ve stopped it. I used to go up there nearly every Saturday afternoon. There was a ditch there and watercress grew in it and I used to go up there and pick water cress Saturday afternoons. And if the blackberries were on in September I used to blackberry, get them up there. That was lovely up there but that’s a road now. All spoilt. Spoilt.
Q: Was it actually a pump or did it just come out of the ground?
Mrs H: It was a pump. The children used to play with it and my husband’s father, there was three cottages, three cottages up there further, up on the hill. And Mrs, I don’t know who lives in there now, Mrs Revett, lives in the bungalow [81 Highfields Road]. The pulled the three houses down when my husband’s father and mother died and Mr Corley brought the ground and he had that lovely bungalow built and the postmaster went in, but I couldn’t tell you what his name was. And then Mr Revett he had it. It’s a lovely bungalow. I think you can just discern their houses up there, them cottages. But you wouldn’t remember that because after the Jack and Jenny, up Hatfield road there, there was two sisters lived there, Miss Shoobridge, and those cottages belonged to them, and they sold them to my husband’s mother. She bought the three and she lived in one and let the other two. And then Lord Rayleigh bought them from her and oh I don’t know who had them after that.
And this gentleman I can’t remember what his name was. I should think, I don’t know whether Miss Croxall would remember cause my husband’s there somewhere, where I marked it, and his two brothers are here.
Q: So he’s the one near the front there is he, yes?
Mrs H: Yes, I’ve just marked it because I wasn’t sure. I tell you who put this on here. Mrs. Simmons wrote that on there last week. This one here with the beard he was the headmaster.
Q: I’m trying to remember the headmasters that people have told me, There was a Mr Cranfield ?
Mrs H: That’s him! Yes that’s him. Old Cranny they called him. (Q: He doesn’t look very old on there does he?) No he used to get all the boys on the edge of the kerb, and there was apples all along there and he’d say ‘Ready, steady’ and then he didn’t say any more. They all rushed, back they had to go. Then he’d say go and they’d all went and scrambled for the apples.
Q: What date was that? Oh that’s the National School is it?
Mrs H: Yes, in Guithavon Street.
Q: They were still quite little then weren’t they?
Mrs H: Yes, I think the two eldest ones were in this class. My husband wasn’t in there because he wasn’t old enough. But then you only buy one photograph.
Q: They’ve got smart suits on haven’t they [laugh]. Did you live in Witham when you were little as well?
Mrs H: No, I didn’t come to Witham till I married, and I was twenty-four when I married. And I came here in ’15, 1915 when I came. But the first time I came to Witham was in 1910 and they had the Essex Show where Mrs Beardwell has got her garage. You went in there on to the ground. [bottom of Avenue Road?]. And I went by train from Maldon to Witham. Of course we wanted to look all round, have all the fun we could get, but we had to hurry along to catch the train back. Otherwise we should have been left behind. [laugh] (Q: Fancy remembering that!) And that’s Ivy Chimneys up there, how it was. They’ve altered it a lot now. That’s where Miss Luards used to live. (Q: I see.) And we used to go up there to Miss Luard’s. She had a club. You paid sixpence a week and you take it up to her house and you sit in the hall. And you play, I didn’t do it, my husband did and they used to play about in the hall. She used to turn them out. [laugh] Because you paid that sixpence then at the end of the year you’d have a blanket with the money, or you could have brown calico sheeting or you could have shirt material. Paid sixpence a week.
Q: So you went up with the sixpence?
Mrs H: Yes, you used to have to take your sixpence up. My husband used to have to go up with it, but when I first came to Witham, Miss Luard used to call for it. (Q: Did she?) Yes. She used to call at the house for you. She called at mine several times, but my husband didn’t believe in it, he said ‘I don’t want you to do that.’ he said. So he wouldn’t let me have it.
Q: Why was that?
Mrs H: I don’t know, his mother had done it but he wouldn’t let me. [laugh] He said ‘Oh no’, he said.
Q: Whereabouts did you live when you came to Witham?
Mrs H: There’s three houses down Spinks Lane. They face Blunts Hall way. Three cottages [31 Guithavon Road] (Q: Oh, I know, yes.) Well I lived in the first one. Mrs Gimson lives, her garden runs down at the end of the passage. Because those houses weren’t there when I left. There was four cottages there. (Q: I see.) They pulled those all down and as you went down the passage the toilet was just on the corner.
Q: That was 1915 was it?
Mrs H: Yes, 1915. Well, they weren’t pulled down till a long time after that but we had the floods, oh two or three times while we lived there. I woke up one morning and I said ‘Listen, there’s water rushing’. ‘Don’t be so silly, don’t,’ he said ‘there’s no water rushing’. So I said ‘well I’ve getting out of bed and look’. It was coming in our gateway like a river and the milkman had just come. We had a square piece on the top of the post. He put the milk on the top of, then we couldn’t get it, we had to come all the way round the back. It was terrible. And they have had the floods there now. The lady that lives on the further end, her garden was right against that ditch and she said her garden has been all flooded just lately. Must have interfered with her son’s garden.
And this is later [another picture] I couldn’t tell you when that is. That was the school in Guithavon. There’s oh, lots that I know on there.
Q: They had all different ages there then didn’t they?
Mrs H: That’s Mrs Claydon’s son on there what used to be in the Co-op. And Mr Crosby’s son what used to be schoolteacher. Of course he’s dead now. Mrs Simmons said she thought you’d be interested in this. (Q: Oh yes. Pinkham’s.) When they first came to Witham they had, I can’t tell you the place that they had, but they used to work by that lamp. I never worked there but a lot of my friends worked there. I’ve got some of the gloves they made there. Lovely gloves.
Q: Did you go out to work at all in Witham?
Mrs H: The lady that lived in the middle house, they come from Sudbury and she had several daughters and one daughter worked in, oh can’t remember the name, the market is there now, you can go through that little lane by the electric light place [Lockram Lane] (Q: Yes.) You go up there and there used to be some cottages up there and they’ve all been taken down but there was one big house, and I believe it was a school at one time, but this lady came there from London, and she kept, this young lady went there to work for her, and she wanted help when they spring cleaned, and I went once or twice to help spring clean and my husband wouldn’t let me go, he said ‘I’m not letting you go’ but I went a good long time.
Q: So he made you stop you mean?
Mrs H: He didn’t want me to go out to work. I think he thought he wouldn’t get his meals [laugh]
Q: What did he used to do for work himself?
Mrs H: First of all when he left school he went in the butcher’s trade and I don’t know how long he was there. Well they used to kill the animals there, because the slaughterhouse was at the back. That’s where that new ladies shop is, in the High Street. [probably about 139 Newland Street] You know where Keys used to be, well that’s a ladies shop opened. Then you go round the back in the yard that used to be the slaughterhouse at the back. They killed a bullock and they got playing about and they put him inside the bullock. (Q: Ugh.) He was away six weeks, six months with his nerves bad. That thoroughly upset him, but he got over it, and Doctor Ted Gimson he used to call for him every day and take him out with him on his rounds to bring him round. He was ever so good. He was a lovely man that doctor. Do you know him? (Q: No.) You didn’t know him, did you. There was Doctor Karl and Doctor Ted. They were lovely doctors.
Then he left the butcher’s and he went where the electric light place is now, there used to be Mr Glover’s cycle shop. [38 Newland Street] Well he went through all the cycle, and then when Mr Glover took the garage down below here he come down there and he went apprentice to the motoring. Well, of course the trade went down after he come out of the War, and he went to Crittall’s and stayed there till he retired. And he was away three years in the War, went to France. [First War]
Q: So Crittall’s was just starting then? Was Crittall’s new then when he went, more or less?
Mrs H: Well, yes they hadn’t started many not then. Well then he had to come away, you see, they went slack, and he used to go potato picking and pea picking and all that, and they sent for him one day and said they could all start up again, and he wasn’t there quite forty years.
Q: So they got laid off did they, one time ? (Mrs H: Yes.) Did he like it there do you think?
Mrs H: Oh, it was hard, hard work. (Q: What did he do specially?) Didn’t get much money then? About three pound a week they got then, that’s all. And when he was down at the garage he only had twenty-three shillings a week. We managed, better than we do now really [laugh].
Q: It must have been hard though. Did you have many children?
Mrs H: I only had that one son, he isn’t married.
Q: So you had that twenty-three shillings and you’d have to pay for everything out of that. It wouldn’t go far would it, or did it go far?
Mrs H: Well, I paid five shillings a week for my rent. That’s different from what it is now. That’s forty-three pounds now ! [laugh]
Q: Who did you paid the rent to in those days?
Mrs H: Ernest Smith from Earlsmead, and then when he died he left it to his two sons and the one at Leigh, [perhaps Leighs] I don’t know much about him, but Esmond I did. He was ever so nice. Well they got tired of collecting, the whole row up Guithavon Road was all belonged to them. And heaps up Chipping Hill, and they were four and six a week where we were, but when I went in I had to pay five shillings because somebody got in debt and I tried to get that sixpence taken off, but I couldn’t, so I was paying somebody else’s debt you see. There. That’s different to what it is now but I wouldn’t go back there. I wouldn’t want to go back there?
Q: Why not?
Mrs H: You’re all on your own here, well you’re not round there. The back ways are bad. But the house was a lovely house, built well, better than these.
Q: Were you there for a long time then?
Mrs H: Yes, we was there a long time. I came round here [Pinkham Drive] when I was seventy something.
Q: Were your husband’s parents from Witham as well?
Mrs H: Well, his father’s people come from Faulkbourne. They are buried in Faulkbourne church (Q: Are they?) Yes, and his mother, well, I don’t exactly know, I think his mother was, her people were Witham people. They were all Witham people.
Q: What was his name, what was your husband’s Christian name? (Mrs H: Arthur William.) He was Arthur, I’ll know if anyone speaks of him. I suppose if you’ve lived here a long time you get well known don’t you.
Mrs H: Yes, everybody knows me. They lived at Highfields Farm. He was horseman for Lord Rayleigh. Then he got put into the farm up Highfields but of course that’s all gone now. Then when he, well he hadn’t finished work, but when he had those cottages, he put them, let them go in there you see.
Q: So when he was at Highfields was that part of some other farm, or was it a farm on its own?
Mrs H: It was a farm on its own. Yes, it stood on its own, just on the top of the hill at Highfields.
Q: So he had to run that himself did he?
Mrs H: Yes, there’s all houses there now. There wasn’t a house up there, only those three cottages. Oh and I had to go up there in the dark. And the dairy wasn’t there. Co-op dairy. (Q: Was it not?) No houses over the other side. Only just those houses on there, little houses. No convenience whatever. No.
Q: So, if you wanted anything you went up to the town did you?
Mrs H: Yes. Well, you’d go across the fields and come out by Blyth’s Mill [Mill House, Guithavon Valley] if the weather was all right, but if it was wet and that you couldn’t. Yes, that was a short cut.
Q: So what did you used to do with yourself when your husband was out at work then?
Mrs H: Oh, I used to do, he used to do the vegetable garden and then, it would be Saxon Way, [Saxon Drive] all those houses on that piece was all garden fields, and my husband had a piece up there. So you see when he’d done the home garden he used to go up there. I had all the flower garden to do. And I done all the slap dabbing (Q: Did you, oh?), not the ceilings. He’d do the ceilings and I’d, in the scullery I’d colour, but all the other places I painted. We used to amuse ourselves. We were out in the garden, down the garden, talking to the neighbours till ten o’clock and past of a night but you don’t get any of that now. You see, after you’ve had your tea you’re indoors and nobody seems to come out. (Q: Pity isn’t it?) Oh yes, and Sundays, we had five cars altogether, one after the other, and the last one was a nice one, I had to sell that because my son didn’t want it. We used to go out for a ride, Sunday afternoons and sit outside Terling church, lovely. I used to love that.
Q: So you had a car quite early on did you? (Mrs H: Yes.) is this your car in the picture?
Mrs H: No, that belonged to Mr Glover. I went to Ipswich in one similar to that (Q: Did you really? [???] and that was the man, the blacksmith at Hatfield Peverel, Mr Harris. He wanted to come to Hatfield, so my husband had to go down to Ipswich and pick him up and I went with him. And that snowed! I had to look out the side to see where we were going because the snow was all on the windscreen.
Q: You must have been cold weren’t you? (Mrs H: Yes, it was cold.) So could you pull the hood up there at the back there?
Mrs H: Yes, you could do I think. I don’t think that was the car we went in, but one similar to that with no hood particular.
Q: So you had a car yourselves quite a long time ago did you ?
Mrs H: Yes, the first one we had, he said he was going to buy this car off someone he knew. And I said ‘I don’t want a car’ but he said ‘Yes, I’m going to have it’. So he had it. And oh we used it for ages and ages. But one day his brother came from London and he said ‘We’ll go for a ride’, and coming up Collingwood Road that wobbled. My husband’s brother said ‘I’m not going in that thing’, so they didn’t go. But one day, we, I don’t know where we were going, down Ipswich way we was going. We got as far as Ardleigh, other side of Colchester, and I heard something bump and said ‘What was that bump?’ He said ‘I don’t know’. I looked through the back all the parts of the engine and everything else had fallen out (Q: Oh!) I wonder we didn’t get killed. He stopped and we had to walk so far back to a garage and we left it there. We got rid of that.
Q: You used to drive yourself did you?
Mrs H: I never drove, too nervous.
Q: Because you’d have plenty of room on the road then did you?
Mrs H: Oh yes, different, we wouldn’t have a car now. No he’d get rid of it. Well, he wanted to before he died but he just kept hanging on, hanging on. But I had to get rid of it.
Q: How long ago was it that he died then?
Mrs H: I think its thirteen years this year.
Q: So you were down here then, were you already? (Mrs H: No.) You moved after that.
Mrs H: I think he’d have liked being here. I was round there five years then we came along here [Pinkham Drive].
Q: You said when he was at Glover’s that the trade fell off. I would have thought that more people would be getting cars in those days?
Mrs H: No that seemed to fall off. (Q: That was after he came back?) Yes, when he come back from the War. But I met a gentleman the other day and he said, I was in the butcher’s, and he said ‘Serve that young lady’, I said ‘I beg your pardon?’ He said ‘I’m seventy-eight’, I said ‘Oh, are you?’ So he said ‘Yes, you’re in the seventies I should think’. ‘And the rest, I said.’ So he said ‘I’m staying with a lady that’s ninety’, I said ‘Are you?’, he said ‘yes, Mrs Vi Cullen’. ‘Oh’, I said, ‘I went to school with her’. [laugh] (Q: That put him in his place!). I said ‘They lived at Ulting Hall’. ‘Yes’, he said, ‘you’re right’. I said ‘And I lived at Maldon’ and I said ‘Her father’, I can’t remember what the name is, it was the low trap, coachman was up to here. And her mother and father, were rather stout. There was a very low step. They used to drive her to Maldon to school. I knew her elder sister too but I don’t know what her name was. She married but she lived in Witham sometime but she’s gone now. Oh dear.
Q: So you lived actually in Maldon yourself did you?
Mrs H: That’s where I was born.
Q: How did you meet your husband then, if he lived in Witham?
Mrs H: Oh, we laugh about that. He had to, he used to have to go to different places with people for Mr Glover, because you’d get, used to get called out in the night, and he’d been to a Masonic Meeting and left the people there and he came down Maldon hill, and my friend and I were standing on her doorstep. We waved. And of course he pulled up, and we went over and he said ‘Would you like to come for a ride’. I said ‘If my friend can come we’ll come’. So we got in. He took us as far as Heybridge Square, he said ‘You can get out now’ and we had to walk back. (Q: Oh, no, really?) [laugh] And he said ‘I’ll come and see you on Wednesday’. So he came and that was that.
Q: Oh you did well to have someone who could drive a car, didn’t you?
Mrs H: Oh a car was an attraction then to anybody. Of course, it wasn’t his. It was Mr Glovers. He took, oh, what was her name, she lived at Braxted Hall I think, oh Lady Du Cane, he picked her up one day. It was on a Sunday . He said ‘I’ll come down Sunday to dinner’ I said ‘All right’. So he never turned up and he had to take this Lady Du Cane somewhere, and she stopped and he had to wait. So when he brought her back, he come like mad and made her nearly fall off her seat. So she said ‘I shall report you, Hicks.’, and she did too! And he was on the carpet. [laugh] Because, you see, he’d made arrangements to come down to Maldon, but he couldn’t come you see because he had to take her, and he thought he’d only got to take her and then he could come back, but he couldn’t. He had to wait for her. [laugh] Oh yes, he’s been all over the place with different people.
Q: I see, of course you had people who didn’t drive themselves. (Mrs H: That’s right.) That was quite a good job then.
Mrs H: He used to do a lot of work for people up in Totham and Wickham because they didn’t have cars them days. Not rich people, some of them didn’t have a car.
Q: Well perhaps that why there was less, when people got their own cars,
Mrs H: Yes, when they began to get their own cars you see, there was more work.
Q: Was that more what he did most of the time, driving, was it? (Mrs H: Yes.) He wasn’t on the mechanic side? He was driving most of the time then was he?
Mrs H: Well he was in the shop as well. Yes. But down tools you see if anybody wanted them to go anywhere. I know one day, we were married then, and he had a call come Mr Glover that he’d got to go to Southampton, wanted somebody to go to Southampton to take the Honourable Charlie Strutt’s things. He was going, of I forget where he was going, abroad. Had to take all his luggage down there and he said ‘You can come as well.’ So I went, and Jack was a baby then. [Jack born c 1915?] And we went down, and young Goldsmith from Hatfield Peverel he came with us, and oh, that boiled and the steam was coming out. We didn’t know whether we should get there, but we got there! And we stayed at a great big hotel that belonged to Mr Goldsmith. Of course we couldn’t get the engine to go any more when we got there. We had to stay there three days. Then when we came back, that snowed when we came back and rained. I know we stopped at Romford, because I’d got a cat then and I said ‘Well I’ve got no meat or anything for the cat’, and I stopped at the butcher’s shop and got some lights.
Q: That was a long way to go wasn’t it? Do you remember the Honourable Strutt then?
Mrs H: Oh yes. (Q: He was there when you lived there?) ‘Cos when the election was on they pulled him round in one of those, low, I don’t know what they call, there’s a name for them. The driver sitting up high and they’re down here in the carriage part. Something like the Queen goes in sometimes. I forget what the name is. Because I know Mr Pelly used to have one. Used to go in this, whatever you call it, and two horses to church on a Sunday. He lived up at, now can’t think of that, where they had the fire up at Hatfield Road.
Q: Witham Lodge isn’t it? (Mrs H: That’s right.) So you used to see him?
Mrs H: Its all built over now, isn’t it, all houses.
Q: Did they actually run the farm, people like the Honourable Strutt, or did they just live there?
Mrs H: They lived there but they run the farm. That’s all altered now. Used to be lovely up there at one time, but it’s now houses, all full of houses now.
Q: You said they went up to church in these things. Did you used to go to up to the church yourself ?
Mrs H: No. I used to go Sunday evenings sometimes, but I don’t go now because it’s too far. I don’t go to the Congregational or United Reform church itself, but I go every Thursday when they start in October, the Mothers, they’ve got a new name for it, they’ve even altered that, that used to be the Mother’s Union, or the Mother’s Meeting but they’ve changed it now. I can’t tell you what it is. I’ve got the book there. Women’s something. Well we pack up you see, all the summer but next Thursday, there’s no meeting, you can’t call it a meeting, we just go to meet each other, have a chat and a cup of tea. Then we go till October before we start again. That’s every Thursday. But I don’t go to the Chapel because I’m really Church of England. I don’t go up there. Mr, Rev Flint is ever so nice. Him and his wife.
Q: I know his wife because I sing with a choir that she plays for. She’s ever so good on the piano isn’t she? She plays the piano for them. (Mrs H: Yes.)
Mrs H: Yes, they get a lot of people, I went there this morning. I go there every Saturday and have coffee. I don’t call in the week because I don’t go up very often. I used to go up two or three times but I can’t now, can’t walk, feet won’t go, legs won’t go.
Q: I suppose you used to go out of Witham quite a bit in the old days if you had the car? Did you, or did you have clubs and things in Witham when you were first married?
Mrs H: No, never went anywhere when I first married. Used to belong to the Girls Friendly at Maldon but nothing else.
Q: I think Miss Luard ran that didn’t she, at Witham?
Mrs H: I don’t know. I didn’t go until I joined the British Legion. Oh I’d been in Witham a long long time before I ever joined that. Well I still belong but I don’t go, because you see they have it in the evenings, seven o’clock. I couldn’t go right up there. But they had the dinner the other week and it was their birthday and they sent me a slice of cake. (Q: Good.)
Q: Your husband went away in the War you say? [First War]
Mrs H: Yes, he was away three years in France. Belonged to the Canadian Engineering. He was driver for the Colonel and he went up the line. The Colonel would go right up to the lines and he’d leave him a little way down. When he come back one day he couldn’t find him. He shouted and called ‘Where are you?’ he said ‘I’m down here’ he said ‘You’re not hiding up are you’ he said , ‘Yes I am’ he said, it’s too near for me’. But he wasn’t afraid, not the Colonel.
Q: Did he ever get any leave at all? Did you ever see him?
Mrs H: He was away three years and he had leave every year. Came home three times and I’d got me house but I never lived in it. Got all me things and that, but I went back to my mother and sister. My sister’s husband was in France and I stayed with her for two years, and then I stayed with my mother for one.
Q: That was in Maldon was it?
Mrs H: Yes. Then when I came here I was on me own. There was only his mother and father here that I knew. I didn’t like it a bit. Too lonely. I got used to it after a bit. But I let me house once to some people that I knew. They were there till they could get a house. I used to come over about once a month and pay my rent at Earlsmead. (Q: That was in the War was it?)Used to come up on the train and then spend the day with his mother. Then go back at night. She wanted me to come over and stay here but I wouldn’t. No, there’s no convenience up there. Didn’t like it.
Q: At Highfields were they then?
Mrs H: She wasn’t at Highfields then . She was in the cottage you see. And there was no water. She had to go down to that pump. Fetch all the water up there for washing and everything. And in Collingwood Road in the big houses, I think Mrs. Mann lived in one of the big houses, she used to do all the officers’ washing (Q: Goodness!) and she used to have to fetch all that water down the hill, because they were up on the hill and the water was down there.
Q: What, your mother-in-law did the washing?
Mrs H: Yes, she used to take it back, and if they had a dinner or anything there, she used to go there and help with the washing up and all that. Oh, she used to work hard.
Q: That was at Mrs Mann’s? (Mrs H: Yes.) That was after they’d given up being at Highfields, was it? (Mrs H: Yes.) [but perhaps before in fact] So your husband had a hard time when he was young you think?
Mrs H: He was a paper boy. He used to have to get up. Get the papers from the train and then take them to the paper shop and sort them out. They used to have to sort them out themselves. It was Mr Haywood. Abbott, was it Abbott, Afford’s shop then [70 Newland Street], and Miss Afford and her brother lived up the valley [Guithavon Valley] [???] and they had the shop and Mr Haywood had the photographer’s shop where, next to the George, right next to the George [i.e. at 34 Newland Street]. Used to take photos. I don’t know whether, I don’t think he took any of these? (Q: There is a name on this one, Butcher.) Oh that was Mr Butcher. Well he was a good photographer.
Q: It’s good isn’t it. That’s probably the same, oh it says, Arthur Hicks, yes, 1910 that’s in the car.
Mrs H: Yes, that’s right. Yes, Mr Butcher used to live where Farthing’s shop was, at the side door and he was over the top. [68 Newland Street]
Q: I suppose people didn’t have their own cameras so much did they? (Mrs H: No. But he was a good photographer.) That would be an older one.
Mrs H: I think Mr Haywood took that one but I’ve cut it you see to fit the frame. Well, when we came here I knew we shouldn’t want any pictures because you can’t knock the walls about up here. So I took every picture what I had out of the frame. I gave Mr Wade the frames, that used to live in Guithavon Road.
Q: That’s kept well. That must have been a long while back mustn’t it?
Mrs H: I’ve got one of mine where I was taken at school. Its plainer really than that. I looked at it the other day, and I don’t know whether Mrs Cullen’s on there or not, I can’t quite discern her.
Q: Was he older than you, your husband?
Mrs H: No, he was two years and four months younger than me. He was seventy-five when he died.
Q: A lot of them talk about Mr Cranfield. Did your boy go to school in Witham as well? (Mrs H: Yes.) Same place?
Mrs H: Yes, he went to where these other boys are here. This is before he went, because these are older I think than what he is. He was under Mrs Mann that lived in Mill Lane and Mr Crosby he was under him. And Miss Gentry that lived at Totham. He was under her when he first started. Then he went from there to Mrs Mann then Mrs Mann to Mr Crosby. Then he was ready to leave after that.
Q: Got a Union Jack on that one. Looks as if she’s wearing a Union Jack, that one. Must have been some special do I think.
Mrs H: Well, it was either Coronation or something like that. And they all had their photographs taken together. I know a lot of them but these glasses I can’t see with either of me glasses not now. I went to have them changed but she said my eyes hadn’t altered, but they have because I can’t see with me reading ones properly.
Q: It’s nice to have pictures that you’ve saved. You said that you never went to the glove factory at all ? (Mrs H: No, no.) Did you ever fancy it?
Mrs H: Well, I could have gone, or I could have gloves to do but I’m no needlewoman. (Q: No, I see.) Now my friend that lives at Maldon, she’s moving, she lived at Heybridge but she’s gone into, like Park View, because she’s got arthritis, she used to come to Witham and pick the gloves up and then go back to Maldon and do them. Then come back and bring them. And she knew Mr Keeble that lives in Mill Lane, a bungalow down there. [Herbert] She knew him and she knew Effie Butler that lives up Chipping Hill. (Q: Oh yes.) She used to be Mr Pinkham’s nurse for his children. Effie Butler. She’s still alive but I haven’t seen her for ages cause I don’t think she gets out. But I used to write and tell my friend if I heard anything about her. Well now she don’t want to know because she’s got a friend that goes to Effie Butler every week and she passes the news on to her then. Her name is French and her mother and father used to live in the little bungalow at the beginning of the Avenue, that little bungalow there. Her people used to live there.
Q: That’s Mrs French is it?
Mrs H: Yes, well she lives up Wickham. Well she goes to see Effie Butler up Chipping Hill, then she goes to Maldon and tells my friend all the news. So she said ‘You won’t want to write and tell me’, but she said ‘I like to hear about Mr Keeble sometimes’. Well, he doesn’t get out much now. He lives in the bungalows down by the tan yard what stand right back.
Q: The ones that go round the back (Mrs H: Yes.) and he was in charge, was he?
Mrs H: Yes. I think he lost a lot of money when they went broke. Because they went broke.
Q: So Mr Keeble, he was, he had some money in there as well?
Mrs H: Yes, I think so, yes. He said he lost some of his [???]
Q: I know they closed down. I wasn’t sure why.
Mrs H: Yes, I read all that. [book about Pinkham’s] (Q: It’s good isn’t it, and all the stitches as well.) Yes. Of course I knew Mr Pinkham and Mrs Pinkham. Oh they were nice people and their children. Oh they were lovely, handsome they were the girls and the boys.
Q: How did you get to know them then?
Mrs H: Well, they were, was it the Labour or Liberal. (Q: I think they were the Liberal people weren’t they?) Liberal. They put up for Witham. I think that was the Liberals. (Q: Yes, I think so. So you’d know …) That’s how we knew them you see. They lived in Collingwood Road. The first house, they’ve built now, made a drive haven’t they and there’s some at the back [probably Nicholas Court]. Well she lived in the first house.
Q: So I suppose when they had an election or anything you’d know?
Mrs H: Well, that’s how we got to know them you see. (Q: They used to have meetings and things did they, or what happened? Or did they come round the door.) Well they used to come round the door like they do now.
Q: Did you or your husband do anything in the elections or anything? (Mrs H: No.) I suppose with fewer houses you’d get people coming round, you could see everybody couldn’t you, then?
Mrs H: Yes, they come round but we don’t very often go. I don’t go, my son don’t go.
Q: Did Mr Pinkham get on the Council then? Did Mr Pinkham get on the Council?
Mrs H: Yes, yes, yes he was on there a long time.
Q: Oh that’s nice. [picture in Pinkham’s book] That’s a picture of the, that’s what they planned to do I suppose. (Mrs H: Yes.) it never got that far did it but you can see that piece was there.
Mrs H: They built on it you see. That wasn’t very big when they started but I can’t remember where they started with that lamp because it wasn’t there.
Q: Now then there was another picture. That looks like one of those houses near the station doesn’t it, opposite the station, there are some houses like that. Do you think it could have been? [4 Albert Road]
Mrs H: Temperance Hotel, that’s what it is [9 Albert Road] near. And that I think is where they started. And she had to have a lamp you see. But there’s heaps of people what I know worked there but they haven’t got one of these [books]. Well, you wouldn’t know her I don’t suppose, Mr and Mrs Shelley, they lived at Riverview, they’ve both gone now. Well she lived opposite to me when I lived round Guithavon Road, and she worked there. (Q: Mmm.) She was in the International as cashier then when they, Pinkhams’ started, because she was born in Witham and she went to Pinkhams’. Well, then she used to have gloves home and do them at home, and take them back. Then they had a sale before they packed all up and sold the gloves off cheap. Well, she went. I didn’t know anything about it. She went and she bought a lovely lot of gloves, and she let me have some of them and she got me this book. (Q: That’s nice.) I don’t suppose she had one herself (Q: Probably not.) It’s years old.
Q: There’s not many factories do that is there? I mean there’s nothing like that about Crittall’s is there?
Mrs H: No, I had a nice photograph of my husband with all the retired men in the rest room at Silver End but that got split right across it. It wasn’t very thick stuff that was done on.
Q: He worked at Witham always did he? At the Witham Crittall’s was he?
Mrs H: Yes, but he went to Silver End after they retired. They had a proper room over there where the old age pensioners could go and do little jobs.
Q: Did he have a special job at Crittall’s that was his, or …?
Mrs H: Yes, I don’t know what part on the window, I think the handles or something. He used to tell me what they were, but I didn’t, wasn’t interesting, and he knew the names of all the handles. They’ve all had got different names. Those long pieces what you pull your window in, they had all different …. They went from the kind of cast whatever it is, and they had plastic ones to pull in. But he wasn’t there I don’t think when they started the plastic ones. But I don’t like Crittall windows, I said ‘I don’t like them’. But they’re not bad round here. They don’t rattle like the wooden ones. (Q: No.) And they don’t rust now. They never used to have, what would you call it, it was the big dip, galvanise. They used to dip all the frames in there you see and then they never rusted. But when they first started they used to rust and where the water come in it was all brown water. But they got so that they put them in this galvanise dip. That was a bad job to do that. He never had to do that. Had to wear things over the face, different clothes.
Q: They had to do that by hand I suppose did they?
Mrs H: No, I think they had something to drop them in a big tank. I’ve heard him say they’re working the galvaniser. So it must have been, I never went to see it. I should think it was a large place where they dip so many in all once.
Q: Did you ever go up to the factory or anything?
Mrs H: Yes, I went to the factory. Dirty old place. Grease everywhere.
Q: How did you come to go there, did they have …?
Mrs H: They had open days. I’ve been to Silver End. I’ve went there to a whist drive once and I went there to a dance once.
Q: I suppose there was quite a lot going on didn’t they. Was that the Crittalls that arranged that?
Mrs H: No, but that’s not so nice now. Used to be lovely. (Q: What, Silver End?) You could go there of a Sunday evening and walk round the village. It used to be nice but not now. We used to walk as far as there.
Q: Did you? What, you walked to Silver End?
Mrs H: Yes, we used to walk a lot. Walked to Faulkbourne. Walked to Maldon and back. [laugh] I can’t walk up the town now.
Q: That was even when you had a car you would do that?
Mrs H: No, we hadn’t got a car when I walked to Maldon. Not to Faulkbourne. Oh no, we didn’t have a car then. We’d been married some time before we had a car. I don’t think we should have had one then but my husband happened to meet this young man and he wanted to sell his. He said he’d buy it. Oh we’ve been about. You know, not far, round about Ipswich and all the seaside places and that.
Q: So these trips down Southampton and that, that was earlier on was it?
Mrs H: That was when Jack was small, that was in the early part you see. We went in Mr Glover’s car then. I said why couldn’t he give you a decent car to go all that long journey. I wonder it didn’t pack up before.
Q: You knew the Glovers did you then?
Mrs H: Yes, I knew them. Of course I don’t know where the girls are now. There was three girls. Never had any boys I don’t think. I never knew any. Then there was his brother, they lived down Maldon Road. They had a boy and a girl but I don’t know anything about them.
Q: I’m trying to think. There’s someone who lives near us, apart from Effie Butler, she is not as old as you but I think she’s ninety, that’s Mrs Ireland.
Mrs H: D’you know her name?
Q: She was Dolly, she was Dolly Goss I think (Mrs H: I know her.) but then she lived up our end of town.
Mrs H: Is she alive? (Q: Yes.) Is she? Oh I used to meet her in the town. I haven’t see her for years. Must be years. And once I met her I’d never get away! [laugh] Oh, I’d forgotten all about her. Yes I knew her husband because her husband used to be a tapper on the railway line. [probably not, JG] Used to be ever such a tall man. Mrs Rushen who lives on the end where I lived [Guithavon Road], well Dolly Goss is relation to her. I shall see her if I’m [???] on Tuesday, because Miss Croxall’s club is on Tuesday and she comes there, so I shall have to ask her about her.
Q: She goes sort of round the corner but not down the town now I think.
[chat about other people she sees at her club, and about family dispute about clothes etc, not noted]
Q: So you just had the one sister did you?
Mrs H: No, I had more than that. I’m the only one left out of eight. My mother had nine altogether when it was a baby with the whooping cough. But they’ve all gone now.
[chat about visit from niece who lives in Australia, and other relatives in Australia, and various neighbours etc., not noted]
Q: When you were younger you say they went out in the garden of an evening just for a talk?
Mrs H: Yes, when we were in the other house [probably Guithavon Road], because the gardens used to run all together like. Some would come this way and talk over the fence and we’d go down there.
Q: What did you used to talk about?
Mrs H: Oh, all sorts of things [laugh] gardens, children, because they’d all got children round there. Of course all those have gone. I went to Podsbrook on Thursday, and I had a ride home and we came down that way, had to go right round and come out that way. Oh I shouldn’t want to live up there now. There’s motors in nearly everybody’s garden.
[chat about people and alterations in Guithavon Road etc. now, not noted]
Q: I suppose when you were there, there was nothing on the other side of the road?
Mrs H: No, garden fields one side with the hedge. I’d come up there like mad when it was beginning to get dark, scared stiff.
Q: Which side was that?
Mrs H: In Guithavon Road, you see there was a hedge all that side, no houses at all. [same side as Millbridge Road] There was only that row belonged to Mr Smith and those three round the corner and those four little cottages on the top.
Q: Did you used to go out, did you do any pea picking and that yourself or fruit picking?
Mrs H: No, I did once. I went pea picking once, cause the lady in the centre house, she come Sudbury up here. Her husband was a thatcher and she’d got one, two, three, four, six children, some were born at Sudbury and some here. She used to go fruit picking, she used to go, take her children with her. She used to earn some money too. ‘Why don’t you come’, she said. I said ‘Well I will one day.’ and I did. I took Jack in the pram. We got up Hatfield Road and we were picking lovely great big strawberries. Then they come along and said ‘Knock off’. We’d got to go to Hatfield. I had to push him in that pram right to Hatfield there, a long way. To pick raspberries. We hadn’t started on them long before they said ‘Knock off’. I said ‘Well this is the first time, this is the last’ I said ‘I’m not coming any more’. [laugh] I never earned me salt, never had a chance.
I didn’t tell you, my husband was there once, when he was young. I don’t know whether that was before he went, no, couldn’t have been before he went to the butcher’s, he went to the butcher’s when he left school I think. Then he worked for Mr Morse what had all the fruit fields at Hatfield. He used to ride a pony all round and knock the women off. Tell them to knock off, the market had gone down you see. They wouldn’t let them pick any more. I don’t know how long he was there. I’d forgotten about that. It was before I knew him he done that.
Q: So the business with the butcher’s was just when he was a boy was it? (Mrs H: Yes.) What did they call that butcher’s?
Mrs H: Sorrell. Mr Sorrell. Well Miss Sorrell is about here now. She lived with her grandma in the house next to that shop. What did they do there? Is it a dentist? I see a lot of people go in and out there. (Q: There is a dentist about there.) [141 Newland Street] Yes, in between that men’s shop and the ladies’ shop. It was a lovely big house because old lady Sorrell lived in there, and Miss Sorrell what’s about here now, she always lived with her grandma and they lived over the top of that shop when that was a butcher’s. (Q: I see.)
Q: Did he have brothers and sisters, your husband?
Mrs H: He had two brothers and he had a sister, but she, I don’t know how old it was, not very old, because he was very jealous of her. He said give her to the pigs when that was born! ‘Give it to the pigs’ cause he was jealous. But that died, I don’t know. My husband’s mother had what they called a ‘white leg’. That kills some people but it didn’t her. She got over it all right.
Q: So it was the two brothers on the school picture then?
Mrs H: Yes. They’ve both gone. This niece what came here today, her father was one of them. He’s gone. The other one was the eldest one. When they married they lived at Ealing but they never had any children.
Q: So when he was a boy, is that when they lived at Highfields? When your husband was a boy, were they at Highfields farm then, were they?
Mrs H: Yes, they were all at the farm. (Q: So he was brought up on the farm. Did that belong to …) It belonged to Lord Rayleigh. And then when my husband came, my husband’s mother came out, they went to them cottages in Capon Hall Green, and Mr Thorogood went in there and that’s a relation of Mrs Rudd. They run the Dengie Close Club.
Q: So they owned quite a bit of land did they then, at Highfields? Was there quite a bit of land then at Highfields?
Mrs H: Yes, there was fields all round you see. They used to have. My husband’s mother’s cottages was like there and down here there was a gate. Well, the cows used to come from Highfields down the road into that gate on to the field. And they used to go and call them in and milk them. [Looks at photo?]
That’s where that shed was. Now there’s a bungalow built here and all this green’s gone, all that green’s gone. In there, in that meadow there used to be a walnut tree. [???] We were up there one day. I was. Yes, that looks like a tree, doesn’t it. There was a thunderstorm and I was up there and something went bang, and there was a young man coming down the hill with a motor bike and that struck the tree, and that hit his motor bike stopped it, but it didn’t do any damage, not to the motor bike. But it frightened us. My husband’s father he wasn’t a bit nervous. He was as strong as a donkey they said. And we all clung round him, he said [???] [laugh]
Q: What were your husband’s father’s and mother’s names?
Mrs H: Their names? His mother’s name was Annie Hicks and his father’s name was Alfred Hicks.
Q: And you say she was a Witham family was she?
Mrs H: Well, yes, because her name was Turner before she married and there’s a Mrs Raven, you’ve got Mrs Raven in your book. (Q: I’ve met her, yes.) Well, that’s my husband’s cousin. (Q: I see.) Her father and my husband’s mother were brother and sister.
Q: I remember. She used to live up Powershall End.
Mrs H: Yes, she lived up Powershall End and we used to go on a Sunday, for a walk up that way, and her father would call you in. He’d always got homemade wine. Made no end of homemade wine. We used to have some, but I didn’t care for it. My husband’s father and them used to like it. And they had a little, those crossed sticks over the door, and two seats. We used to go inside and they used to sit outside drinking their wine. They were all winemakers. My husband’s mother used to make all sorts. I made a lot. I had a lovely lot of bottles but I got rid of them before I come up here.
Q: What did you used to make them with?
Mrs H: Great big stone bottles with a handle on the side. We used to make rhubarb but I don’t like that, and dandelion. Ooh that was lovely. Better than any whisky if you keep it a year. I made some of that once and blackberry, damson, all sorts I used to make. I don’t like, that used to be rhubarb, really, because they grew that on the allotment, and you see that didn’t cost anything. Only just the sugar, well the sugar wasn’t only about sixpence a pound then. You could do what you liked.
[Talk about coming again, not noted]
Mrs H: Miss [Lucy] Croxall has us once a fortnight and she is going to have it at the Public Hall, where we always have it, but the next fortnight they are going up Forest Road, I don’t like going up there. I don’t like it. I went once but I don’t like it. It’s a lovely hall, but yes, but I don’t like it. Well, I go up there on me own. How did I get there? Oh I went on the bus, Miss Croxall’s bus that took me up there, but there was nobody up there what I really knew. They were all Londoners, and I didn’t like it so I don’t think I shall go. So we put in the Club and we got to draw it out that fortnight when we were up there, so she said ‘If you’re not there to take your money’ she said, ‘I shall keep it’. [laugh]
Q: I expect you used to know her when she was young, did you? You used to know Miss Croxall?
Mrs H: Oh yes I knew Miss Croxall. Well she lived where the car park is on the corner, Mill Lane, had a house there, I knew her mother and father and Mrs Hayes [Miss Croxall’s sister, Eva], of course she don’t get out, not now, but I knew her because her names was Hayes. Well, at the top of Maldon hill there used to be a wine stores there that was run by Mr Hayes. He was a bachelor and when they said he was marrying, oh we nearly had a fit, because we never thought he would marry. Then we found out that was Miss Croxall. But I don’t think she lived with him. But she’s never had nobody else and she’s over ninety I think, but she can’t get out now. Well Miss Croxall must be getting on too now.
Q: And there’s another sister isn’t there, and they all keep looking after each other don’t they?
[chat about club, and outings, not noted]
Q: I don’t know whether I asked you what was your name before you married? (Mrs H: Bourne.) and that was in Maldon wasn’t it. So what did your dad used to do?
Mrs H: He was a coachman for a doctor, part of his life, and then he was a gardener after.
Q: So that’s where you got the gardening from?
Mrs H: On my marriage lines it’s a gardener and his father was a labourer. Because he worked for Lord Rayleigh. He done the ploughing. And my mother come from Ridgewell in Suffolk, but I never knew her mother and I never knew her father. I knew me father’s mother, lovely she was. I used to go there in the morning and do her shopping and then go to school, come back, have me dinner and do one or two jobs for her, and then go to school again and come back, run her errands and then I used to go home. She had a big square basket with a handle over. She used to put coal, lumps of coal in the corner, bacon and a great big tin of baked pears for me to take home. Lovely days they were.
Q: It kept you busy. Did you like school?
Mrs H: No. I was a dunce. The only thing I used to like to do at school was be coal monitor. Take the coal scuttles round to the coal place and fill the coal scuttles, and there used to be two of us you see, because the coal scuttle was heavy, one on one side and one the other. We used to stop round there and play. Miss our lessons. I left at thirteen and I went to work, I left on the Friday and went to work on the Monday. My mother met, we went out for a walk that Sunday night, and my mother met some people she knew, and she said ‘My daughter left school’ she said ‘on Friday’, she said, ‘so now she’s now she’s really looking for a job’. They said ‘Oh, we want one. We’ll teach you everything’, but they didn’t because her cousin lived with her and she was about the same age as I was and they taught her everything. Well I kept my eyes open and I used to watch what she done. I was there thirteen years. It was the only job I had.
Q: That was doing everything in the house was it?
Mrs H: Yes, they had a big furniture shop on the corner of Spital Road in Maldon, not far from the police station. But that’s Doe’s now. They turned that into Doe’s place. That was an old fashioned antique shop.
Q: Were you in the shop then or the house?
Mrs H: No, I was in the house.
Q: Oh that’s all useful isn’t it. Thirteen, eh, I think if I told my children that they’d to go out to work at thirteen they’d wonder.
Mrs H: I used to go from half past seven in the morning till nine o’clock at night for five shillings, that’s all I got when I married. I only had five shillings a week when I married, when I was twenty-four. Never thought of asking, I never asked for a rise and my mother[?] never asked for a rise. Well I know I used to have something to eat before I left, but when I got there I never had anything to eat until I had me lunch, and I had the same lunch as they did and I sat at the table with them. Had all my other food. But Sundays, I used to have to do Sundays as well, I’d leave off at one o’clock. She used to say ‘Would you like to stay to dinner today’, I said ‘no thank you’, or she’d want me to wash up [laugh]. Well I didn’t want it. I said ‘No, my mother would be wondering where I am cause I haven’t told her if I stay for dinner’. got to.
[chat, not noted.]
Mrs H: 1915, I came here.