ID ML2018_007_L20 Article from Mersea Museum

TitleMersea Life - an ideal world ?
AbstractI have no intention of standing for a seat on a local council, but if I did, and reading the letters that appear in local publications and notices on social media, my leaflet would have to go something like this. I would like to see all further development on Mersea stopped apart from some affordable housing for local working families. They would have large gardens so that they could grow their own fresh vegetables. The school could be enlarged and the proposed secondary school that was to be built in Upland Road but was stopped with the outbreak of World War Two, could go ahead. All children could be educated locally with no need for them to be bussed off the island. The proposed Colchester to Mersea railway shelved with the outbreak of World War One could now go ahead carrying passengers and freight to a central yard where local businesses could collect their goods by horse and cart. Building materials and coal would be delivered by environmentally friendly sailing barge, doing away with the heavy crane-off lorries we have now. All loading and unloading would be done by hand making work for local men and no smelly diesel fumes. The beach would be for dogs and their walkers only. Humans would not be allowed as they leave litter, broken glass and barbecue rubbish which is harmful to animals and wild life. It would also ease the parking problems on hot busy weekends. Road maintenance would be put in the hands of West Mersea Town Council and potholes could be promptly dealt with.

Barges unloading on West Mersea Hard 1926

Bricks being unloaded by hand from the sailing barge RUSSELL in 1926. The man in the hold, believed to be my grandfather Jack Green is throwing up bricks three at a time to the man on deck who is passing them on to Tim Mole who is loading them into a horse drawn cart.

Reading back through this it all looks rather familiar. I was born in February 1932 in an 'Affordable' council house in Barfield Road, one of twelve all occupied by local working families with children. The large gardens were well stocked with fruit and veg. Some even had chickens. When it was time to start school I was walked down Barfield Road where I was to do all my schooling. I never once went on a school bus. About 1940 the East Mersea and Peldon schools closed and the children all came to West Mersea school - by bus. As a child I went on the beach until the war came and it became a minefield and nothing went on it. Unfortunately some dogs, some cows and two young local lads did go on and paid with their lives.
We never did get our railway but we could look across the marshes from Coast Road and see a similar train of two coaches with goods vehicles attached running between Tolleshunt D'arcy station and Tollesbury. The two vintage coaches complete with Wild West style balconies were used in the film 'The Titfield Thunderbolt' and were afterwards broken up. The heritage railways would have loved to have got their hands on them. I can remember as many as four sailing barges at a time unloading timber and coal on the Hard into carts and lorries. Our coal, bread, paraffin, milk and fruit etc. were delivered by horse and cart. Even the dust cart was horse drawn. In the summer the West Mersea Urban District Council would get out their tar pot - horse drawn of course, and resurface the roads as required.

People talk about the good old days. I've seen both. I know which I prefer.

Published in Mersea Life July 2018 local page 20.

SourceMersea Museum
IDML2018_007_L20


This item is part of the Mersea Island Museum Collection. The information is accurate as far as is known, but the Museum does not accept responsibility for errors.