The Victory in the 1920s

Winifred and Ronnie Hone took over the Victory in 1919 and were there through the 1920s. They then moved on to start the Sailing and Social Club further down Coast Road - it is now the Coast Inn. Later in life, Winifred Hone wrote about the days at the Victory and the customers, and we are fortunate that her memoirs have been sent to the Museum by her granddaughter.

"There were no proper roads, no lights, just candles and lamps, no street lights, no sanitation, just Mr Dixon known as the night cart man. He used to start his gruesome round late in the evening, you could be enjoying a late drink on the verandah when his sonorous voice, which could be heard a long way off, came ringing out "Close all your doors and windows". This you did with great expediency as you knew he was arriving to empty the cesspool, and the smell was not exactly country fragrance.

"We had been led to believe that the water system had been modernised. This consisted of pumping the water into a container tank in the roof that would feed the water taps, toilets and bathrooms. Very often filling the container tank in the roof, the pipes would get an airlock and no power on earth would make them flow until they were ready, or so it seemed. That necessitated going back to the artesian well and lowering a bucket 40 feet in order to get water to use. We seemed to be plagued with water or at least the lack of it.

"Another water problem we had to contend with - when it rained the cellar used to flood with about 2 foot of water. As there was no refrigeration the larders were in the cellar and it was very disconcerting to have to paddle to get the food on these occasions. I was really in despair, it was like climbing up a slippery mountain, all this pumping day after day.

The Victory in the 1920s

"When we took over, our trade consisted of fishermen and locals. Although they were a nice foundation on which to start, it wasn't very profitable. We realised we had to develop.

"I didn't know much about cooking and for that matter some of the customers didn't either. In those days there was every luxury at hand but without the necessary equipment. Mersea was a good place to start the art of cooking as there was no competition. I like to think I helped put Mersea on the map on the culinary side, at least judging by the important people and quite famous small functions I prepared over the years. Planning and cooking a meal for some important special occasion became almost a ritual.

"In 1924 the political world was in a great ferment of uncertainty; we decided to install a wireless, then almost in its infancy, so we converted a ladies toilet, one of two, at great expense into a different sort of receiving room for the introduction of this magic voice from outer space. A lot of people gathered for this eve of election party to be entertained by the music of the 'Savoy Orpheans', a famous band at the time, interrupted at times by a voice coming out of the loud speaker, a trumpet affair that looked like an over cultivated gramophone horn, saying 2LO calling, another result coming through...

"After years of war, it was only natural for those who had survived to look upon life with a light hearted and carefree abandon. Dancing was to take chief priority, old and young were learning the light fantastic steps of the Tango, Foxtrot, Turkey trot, Shuffle and Charleston, which replaced the old time pre-war dances. The war weary had become dance crazy, Jazz Bands being introduced from America were not so easily accepted, but it didn't take long for them to become the trend. We hadn't the accommodation for this popular pastime but the Colchester Brewing Co. who owned the premises realised the addition of a ballroom was almost an essential. But that is another story...

A tale about the artesian well at the Victory has come down Ron Green's family:
Ron's grandfather 'Roly' Green dug the well for the 'New Victory'. He dug to a depth of some 60 feet without any supports. Unfortunately, when Roly's boss found out that he had dug to that depth without supports, he sacked him on the spot.

Article published in Mersea Life April 2018

Read more:
Victory Dance Hall
Winifred Hone Memoirs

ID: ML2018_004_L19
Source: Mersea Museum