50. The First World War, part 3. More about the visiting soldiers.

“There was always an air of expectancy as a new battalion marched into Witham. I was a boy standing open-eyed outside my father’s harness-maker’s shop in the High Street, then a small market town. They marched in fours – packs on backs, rifles shouldered, bayonet scabbards at hips, each company with captain marching ahead, lieutenants … Continue reading “50. The First World War, part 3. More about the visiting soldiers.”

43. The First World War, part 2. Soldiers training in Witham.

A hundred years ago, our forbears had already lived through several months of the First World War. One of Witham’s volunteers was 32 year old Ernest Glass of 4 Chalks Road. He was a bricklayer’s labourer, but he joined the Navy and became a “stoker 1st class” on the ship H.M.S. Good Hope. Before long … Continue reading “43. The First World War, part 2. Soldiers training in Witham.”

39. The First World War, part 1. The beginning of the War.

Gerald Palmer was a small boy in the summer of 1914. He was four years old, and lived in the High Street, where his father was a saddler and harnessmaker. Gerald often roamed around Witham, and one of his favourite places was the railway station, where he used to peer through the railings. One day … Continue reading “39. The First World War, part 1. The beginning of the War.”

32. Spigot Mortar Emplacements from WW2

Spigot Mortars were rather unwieldy weapons issued to the Home Guard in 1942. It was the first time the men had a weapon capable of attacking a tank. This was important because there was a very real fear of invasion at that time. The mortars were also known as Blacker Bombards after their inventor. These … Continue reading “32. Spigot Mortar Emplacements from WW2”

13. The British Restaurants, 1941 to 1945

One of the heroes of Witham in World War II was Mrs G E Haste, who hailed from Colchester. If any readers knew her, or are related to her, I’d be delighted to know. She was Cook-manageress of Witham’s British Restaurant at 67 Newland Street, which opened in July 1941. These restaurants were provided all … Continue reading “13. The British Restaurants, 1941 to 1945”

01. Chipping Hill bridge

In 1768, the county of Essex agreed to give £100 to Witham “as a free gift … towards the expense of building a strong and commodious brick bridge for carriages over the river at Chipping Hill … instead of the Horse Bridge (of wood) now standing there”. That horse bridge had been a narrow one … Continue reading “01. Chipping Hill bridge”