Oral History

Mersea Museum has a collection of about 400 audio files. Many of them are from the early editions of the Talking Magazine which has been produced by Mersea Island Lions since 1978.
Just a few of them are available here...

Mrs Ida South retires from School
She had taught at the school for 39 years, and in her youth had attended as a pupil.
From Lions Talking Magazine No. 25, recorded 1980. 16 minutes.
  West Mersea School 1959
Ida South is second from left in front row in this 1959 picture
The Clifford White Mersea empire
There were many sides to Clifford White on Mersea. Builders, builders merchants, timber supplies, brickworks, undertakers, insurance agents, house agents. Hardy Weaver worked in the office and was involved in all sides of the operation.
Hardy is talking to Dennis Chatters, recorded in 1981 in two parts on Lions Talking Magazines 41 and 43. 18 minutes and 19 minutes.

Play this Audio   Play part 1    Play part 2   Play part 2

  Clifford White's yard
Clifford White's yard between Barfield Road and Melrose Road c1960
The waterfront scene
Harold Cutts talking to Dennis Chatters. Harold ran Wyatt's boatyard for many years. He talks about the changes in boats, waterfront characters, both local and visitors, the local Fire Brigade, and more...
From Lions Talking Magazine No. 56, recorded 1982. 18 minutes.
  Harold Cutts outside Wyatt's chandlery store
Harold Cutts outside Wyatt's chandlery store
Joan Vince remembers
Working on the buses during the War, the florist's job, pre-war Regattas, the MOLLIETTE, Ray Island. Joan was born in 1915.
Joan is talking to Dennis Chatters on Lions Talking Magazine No. 60 in 1983. 18 minutes.
  Joan Vince - 1934 Regatta Parade
Joan Vince on top of the cart in the 1934 Regatta Parade
Douglas Stoker dredging for brass
Douglas Stoker went oyster dredging, but he realised that, for a spell, there was more money to be made dredging up brass shells. This and other tales of the MOLLIETTE, laid up ships in the River, ferrying nuns to Bradwell, the start of the lifeboat in Mersea, the life cycle of the oyster.
Interviewed by Dennis Chatters on Lions Talking Magazine No. 62 in 1983. 26 minutes.
  Mersea's first Inshore Lifeboat
Douglas is 3rd from the left in this picture of Mersea's first Inshore Lifeboat
Johnny Milgate - school, yachting, WW1
Johnny Milgate was born 1890 and lived to 100. He was 93 when interviewed by Dennis Chatters for Lions Talking Magazine. Johnny was born in The Lane and went to West Mersea School. From school, he went sailing on yachts, and also on a sailing barge. WW1 saw him in the Navy on a variety of ships. At the end of the War he was married and went to work for the Council on Mersea.
Johnny says little about his life after WW1 on the tape, but his granddaughter says: He was a wonderful man and his garden produce was legendary in Mersea. As the eldest grandchild and a true Mersea girl having been born on the Island, the telegram he got from the Queen on his 100th birthday was passed to me and is one of my treasured possessions.
From Lions Talking Magazines 66 and 68 in 1983. 23 and 24 minutes.

Play this Audio   Play part 1    Play part 2   Play part 2

  Milgate Wedding 1960
Johnny Milgate is on the left of this 1960 wedding of his son George and Beryl Phillips.
Patricia Catchpole and her Riding Stables
'Catchy' came to Mersea from Norfolk with her family at the age of 11. Before the War she worked at the local private school and worked there as a pupil teacher during the War. After the War, she and Mr Neil started a riding school at Garden Farm. She moved on to a riding school on her own at the Hall Barn, and then to the Riding Stables on East Road.
Interviewed by Dennis Chatters on Lions Talking Magazine No. 73 in 1984. 26 minutes.
  Patricia Catchpole 1960
Patricia Catchpole in 1960.

Bill Clarry born 1883
Born 1883 and when these recordings were made, he was probably the Island's oldest resident. He talks about West Mersea Hall, Yorick Road being laid out, wheel tomb discovery, cricket field by St Peter's well, Glebe field being bought, Rectors, school, service in WW1, Ship Inn in the Lane.
Bill died March 1983. He was interviewed in 1980 on Lions Talking Magazine No. 24, 21 minutes, and 1981 on Lions Talking Magazine No. 32, 22 minutes.

Play this Audio   Play part 1    Play part 2   Play part 2

  Bill Clarry in 1979, West Mersea Medical Centre
Bill Clarry in 1979

Jack Saye - bus driver
A short extract with Jack talking about the buses. In Part 2 he goes on to talk about life on the island and in Mill Road when he was young. Samuel White's first shop; Fred Smith the baker; C W A Scott, the airman, returned from Australia, and his Flying Circus. Jack gives advice on how to drive a bus when you have 'had a few'. The local Policeman was Sergeant Wood - often asked Jack if he had seen any suspicious characters around.
Jack was talking to Dennis Chatters in Feb 1983 on Lions Talking Magazine No. 59. 22 minutes.

Play this Audio   Play part 1    Play part 2   Play part 2

  Day before West Mersea bus depot closed. Jack Saye on left.
The day before West Mersea bus depot closed in 1973. Jack Saye on the left.

Carrier carts - Dennis Chatters and Bernard Cudmore
Before the bus came to Mersea, you took the carrier's cart or walked.
Bernard's father ran a carrier's cart and a mail cart to Colchester. Dennis talks to Bernard about the carrier business, some of the bigger users, early buses on the Island.
From Talking Magazine No. 13 recorded August 1979. 15 minutes.
  The earlier Victory at West Mersea
Common ground outside the Victory, where Cudmore's carrier carts started.

Mary Stevens - author of 'Old Spiery'
Mary Stevens wrote a book on Revd. Pierrepont Edwards (Old Spiery), who was vicar of West Mersea for 48 years. She talks at length about him and his personality.
Mary was Archivist at Mersea Museum and was interviewed in 1985 by Dennis Chatters on Lions Talking Magazine No. 86. 18 minutes.
  Mary Stevens
Mary Stevens

Allan Gray - farmer and councillor
Allan Gray came to Bocking Hall Farm in 1940, when it was almost derelict. He talks about the War, farming, day to day life on the Island.
Allan was interviewed in 1982 by Dennis Chatters on Lions Talking Magazine No. 56. 30 minutes.
  Allan Gray
Allan Gray

There are more audio files available on www.merseamuseum.org.uk
Click for the full list