Rowley’s Rooms, the Grove Hall, and the East family


This photo is dated 1957-60 and was taken by John Scott-Mason. The tall gabled building set back, right of the chimney, is the former  Rowleys Rooms which became the Grove Hall. Some of my Facebook friends kindly identified the car as being a Moggy (a Morris Minor with a split screen). ‘A well-built car


1929 Rowleys Garages, motor, electrical & general engineers; motor car agents; Daimler hire service; garage; official repairers to A.A. & R.A.C. High street & (works) Maldon road. T N 32
1929 Rowleys Garages, motor, electrical & general engineers; motor car agents; Daimler hire service; garage; official repairers to A.A. & R.A.C. High street & (works) Maldon road. T N 32
1933 Grove Hall Cafe & Service Station (late Rowleys) (F. W. East A.I.Mech.E. proprietor), motor engineers & garage; official repairers to A.A. & R.A.C.; up-to-date servicing of all descriptions; taxi & bus hire service, High street. T N 32
1933 Rowleys Garage, see Grove Hall Café & Service Station
1937 Rowleys (Witham) Ltd. motor car agents & dealers, motor engineers, & garage, & motor haulage contractors & electrical engineers, Maldon road. T N 32. See Advt. Index


Braintree and Witham Times 15 November 1929, page 2
Report of British Legion branch at ‘Rowley’s café’.

Braintree and Witham Times 22 November 1929, page 1
‘Witham News …’
At Rowley’s Hall, Miss Marjorie Brown, M.O.A.D., and Miss Catherine Brown, M.O.A.D, ‘gave a dramatic recital and display of dancing in aid of the Witham Nursing Association and the Colchester Hospital’.

Braintree and Witham Times 29 November 1929, page 2
County meeting of British Legion at Witham in Rowley’s restaurant. 

Braintree and Witham Times 6 December 1929, page 1
Witham: …
Sale of work in Rowley’s hall re church. …
Advert for ‘Rowley’s Rooms, Witham,. Dancing every Friday, 8 pm to 1 am; admission. Single 2/-, Double 3/6. Special late buses’.

Braintree and Witham Times 13 December 1929, page 1
Adverts, Rowleys room again [and repeated thereafter]

Braintree and Witham Times 20 December 1929, page 1
Hockey Club dance in Rowley’s rooms. One of MC s was A C Askins.

Braintree and Witham Times 17 January 1930, page 1
Dancing continued at Rowleys Room

Braintree and Witham Times 7 February 1930, page 1
Rowleys ad as usual. Dancing every Wednesday. Says ‘new floor’. Special late buses ant trains to neighbouring towns. Stan Bearman and his band.

Braintree and Witham Times 7 March 1930, page 2
Dancing takes place every Wednesday evening at Rowleys Room.

Braintree and Witham Times 28 March 1930, page 1
Rowley’s Garages Witham. Cars for sale described.

Braintree and Witham Times 17 April 1930, page 1
Advert Rowley’s Café Witham. Grand Easter revel and dance 4/- each incl refreshments. Prizes. Cabaret. Special late buses.

Braintree and Witham Times 5 December 1930, page 5
Last night at Rowleys Hall, Witham branch of British Legion held a dance in order to raise funds to relieve distress among local unemployed.
Sale of work at Rowleys Hall by ladies working party of church. Vicar said ‘Witham had changed in last few years. Formerly almost purely agricultural, Witham was today an industrial town and its prosperity depended chiefly on the industries … Unfortunately at present industry was not so prosperous as they would like to see it and some of the people who depended on it were feeling the pinch. But the people of Witham had always responded most nobly to any call put before them, and despite present day difficulties he felt sure they would once again do their best’. Annual sale for parish needs this year instead of foreign missions. [but seems to be for church maintenance]

Braintree and Witham Times 13 March 1931, page 5
‘Conducted by Councillors. There were 110 present at Rowley’s Hall on Sunday, when the Witham Brotherhood service was conducted entirely by members of the Witham UDC. …’

Braintree and Witham Times 4 February 1932, page 10
Refs to meetings and dances at ‘Rowleys Hall’ here and at other times.

Braintree and Witham Times 6 October 1932
page 8 ‘The business of Rowley’s petrol station and tea rooms officially changed hands as from yesterday, the new proprietor being Mr R East, late of Petersfield, Hants. Mr and Mrs B Rowley have moved to Hoddesdon, Herts, where Mr Rowley has taken over the hold Highway Tavern’.

First phone conversation between JG and Rosemary Brown, nee East. 10 November 2002.
Now of 15 Speedwell, Woburn, Milton Keynes. MK17 9HT (tel. 01525 290012).
She is wife of Stewart Brown. She is 84 now (2002). Her family came to Witham when she was about 14,  i.e. c. 1932.
She was daughter of Frederick and Frances Rose[?] East. Her mother was born in Dublin and sent to England when her parents died. Frederick and Frances’s children were Bob (b. c. 1911), Josephine, Frances, Doreen, her (Rosemary) (b. c. 1918), Patsy, Tony (in order, i.e. Bob eldest).
She had a happy childhood though father very strict, a Victorian father almost.
They lived in Avenue Road. Father’s garage on corner of Avenue Road and Newland Street and they were at ‘The Bungalow’ behind it in Avenue Road, a sort of bungalow. Above it there were no other houses on their side, up to the bend in the road, just a field with sheep in it.
The garage was the Grove service station; he sold it to Beardwell, who also bought the hall later. It was taken over during the war.
There was a dance-hall and restaurant to the left of the garage in Collingwood Road [note: probably should be Newland Street.???] Big building that went right back. A café in front. There were special Monday night dances for 6d in the early 1930s. Bob East ran them.
She used to go to open air swimming pool behind the Swan, and was in the swimming club. Mrs Ingram, greengrocer’s wife was a champion swimmer and trained them, they entered competitions and had sports day etc.
She was shy. Shortage of young men after WW1. Girls danced together at dances. Big groups of friends went around in a crowd. Eg moonlight walks round Terling, a dozen of them, boys and girls. Young for age.
She was naughty at school, didn’t work. When they came to Witham she and her younger sister and younger brother went to Mr Osteritter’s school in Guithavon Valley. He perhaps Austrian. Going down Guithavon Valley from the top, from Collingwood Road, you passed a row of houses and then came to his little house, low down, a sloping path down to it. School in sort of conservatory at the back. Mostly young boys, some from Dr Barnardos or some such. She would work separately in another room. She left at 16 but her sister Patsy went on to Colchester High School and her brother Tony to Miss Murrells.

Second telephone conversation with Rosemary Brown, nee East, 21 February 2003
Her father Frederick East was made redundant from good job in rubber factory in Petersfield, had big house there. Came down in the world to come to Witham 1932. Her father was a mechanical engineer but hadn’t run a garage before. They were foreigners in Witham then.
Re the garage and dance hall at the corner of Avenue Road and Newland Street. The Easts came here in 1932. Before that the garage was Rowley’s garage, so ‘Rowley’s rooms’ that I found in the local newspaper c 1930 with dances etc must be the same one. There were two Rowley sons, Len who had a band, and went into WW2 and did well, and Wilf who was more of an engineer and stayed with the garage. The Easts called it the Grove Hall. Doreen and Frankie East ran it, they hadn’t done anything like that before but were ‘domesticated’ and did well, young and energetic.

Further info from Eve Sweeting, Bob East’s step-daughter, discussed in 2002. Bob East built 18 Highfields Road, c. 1955. Bought ground from Mr Brand the baker. He married Eve’s mother (Mrs Canning). He only died last year, at age of 90.


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