|I left West Mersea Council School on April 1946 aged 14. I was to do a bricklayer apprenticeship but was unable to start officially until I was 15, so for the first year I was a labourer. However, I was laying bricks on my very first day at work. I was with my father Les and we were working for Clifford White and Co. with whom my dad had done his bricklayer apprenticeship many years before. We were building a new bungalow at Fen Farm Lane, East Mersea, one of the first new buildings after the war. Several of the men I worked with were returning from war service, Jack Ager and Frank Lee both ex RAF, Gordon D'Wit who was captured at Dunkirk and spent the war as a Prisoner of War, Jack Cudmore who had been on war work at Brightlingsea Shipyard and others.
I was able to get deferment from National Service to finish my apprenticeship so instead of going into the Army at eighteen I joined the Royal Engineers at the age of twenty. In the Army I was able to take trade tests for bricklaying and achieved a five star grade which together with two stripes boosted my pay to £4.10/- per week, not bad for just spending money in 1953. I started seeing my future wife Wendy and when I was getting near to demob Wendy's father, builder G.A. (Glennie) Cock, asked me what I planned to do when I left the army, I said I hadn't really thought about it but I supposed I would go back to Clifford White's. He then said would you like to come and work for me? So I worked for him for six years.
I then felt I could be earning more money elsewhere, although my father-in law, as he had become, was paying me over the rate. Bert Hempstead lived opposite me in Firs Road. I had worked with him on White's and I always enjoyed his company. Bert was now working for Colchester Council Direct Labour building Greenstead Estate, driving a 6 yard tipper lorry. He fixed me up with a job there and he used to bring his truck home each night so I had a lift.
My dad had left White's and come to work with me at Cock's building the bungalow at Peldon Garage for 'Badger' Martin, so when I left he took the job over. He went on to build the bungalow opposite the Peldon Rose. One or two people had asked dad and I to build them a bungalow so after 11 months at Greenstead I left and became self employed. Dad left G.A. Cock's and brother John left Hills where he was a carpenter, so we started trading under the title L.J. Green & Sons. The first job we did was the brickwork on a new bungalow in Fairhaven Avenue for G.A. Cock. We did three others for him in Fairhaven, and others. Over the next ten years we built several new houses on Mersea. Dad's health was fading but he would still come along on his Honda 50 motor bike. He was one of the old school. He had a motor bike to get himself to work in the lean days of the 1930s and held a licence to drive vehicles of all types but had never taken a test. He finally passed away in 1970.
My son Laurence left school in 1972 and went to do an engineering apprenticeship at Colchester Lathe Company. It was at the time of strikes and unrest at the company and they went on to a three day week. I was busy at the time so on his days off he came and worked with me. The Lathe asked for voluntary redundancy which Laurence declined. A few months later he took the redundancy and came with me full time. The Lathe Co. finally closed and moved to Yorkshire, the site is now the big Tesco at the Hythe.
Brother John retired after building himself a new house and I worked on until the age of eighty four. By that time I was winding down but had taken on a Gazette paper round which I regretfully had to give up when I broke my leg - in the bedroom of all places. Laurence still carries on the good work - the third generation of Mersea builders spanning a century.
The first job after National Service - building the bungalow at 46 Yorick Road. I am sat on the stool, wearing my Army boots
Also in the picture are Les Tucker, Maurice Jay, Gordon Russell and George Milgate.
Charlie Fisher and Ron Green - April 1995
Article published in Mersea Life September 2020
A Mersea brickie for sixty-five years and counting
A Builder's Boy on a Bike