ID PH01_COA Article from Mersea Museum / Elaine Barker

TitlePeldon People - The Coans
AbstractLocal farmers, brothers Colin and Eric Coan, were both born in Peldon, in 1941 and 1942 respectively. Their parents were Reginald Victor Walter Coan who was born in Walthamstow in 1908 and Evelyn Rose Gladwell of the Gladwell family from Peldon.

The Coan Family

On the Coan side, Colin and Eric's 3 x great grandparents, John Coan and wife Mary, came from Norwich. John was a hawker. Sadly his wife must have died in, or following, childbirth for Colin and Eric's 2 x great grandfather's baptism is on the same page of the parish register as his mother Mary's burial aged 25.

This child was John Tyrrel Coan who signed up at the age of 16 and served in the military between 1811 and 1827 before he was invalided out and, subsequently, is variously described as a letter carrier and a Chelsea Pensioner in the censuses.

One of John's sixteen children was Algernon James Chapman Coan, great grandfather to Colin and Eric, born in Norwich (1840 - 1913) and married to Harriet Maria Howse. The family story goes that he was a master cobbler and, indeed, he seems to start out as a shoemaker, then runs a pub in Globe Street, Norwich before moving to London and becoming a 'bootclicker', cutting the uppers for boots and shoes.

The family stayed in London, the Coan brothers' grand parents living in Bethnal Green. Percival Coan (1878-1933) Algernon and Harriet's son, was a trimmings packer in a wholesale warehouse before WW1. He subsequently enlisted and fought in the war. He married Frances Sophia Westover (1874-1956).

Their son, Reginald Victor Walter Coan was to move to Peldon from Walthamstow to raise his family.

There is, incidentally, a Coan Avenue in Clacton named after a branch of the family who had a business dealing in aluminium.

The Gladwell Family

The Gladwell branch of Eric and Colin's family moved to Peldon nearly two hundred years ago. Their great great grandfather was Thomas 'James' Gladwell, born in Haughley, Suffolk (1800 -1888) who worked as a thatcher. He married Ann Kent in 1823 and they moved to Peldon some time between then and their son's birth, Thomas Chinery Gladwell, in 1837. On all the censuses where addresses are given, it seems that the family remained living in the Mersea Road, Peldon not far from the Peldon Rose. Thomas clearly worked with his father for at the age of 14 in 1851, still living with his parents, he is described as a thatcher's boy and in 1861, a married man , is described as a thatcher and haycutter.

In the Vestry minutes for St Mary's Peldon in 1872 (Essex Records Office D/P 287/8/3) Chinery Gladwell is listed as one of the six parish constables. This was a very old parish office, largely unpaid and part-time. As well as law enforcement within a parish it involved monitoring trading standards, and pubs, catching vermin, rounding up loose animals, attending inquests and collecting parish rates and national taxes. Essex established a professional police force in 1840 and slowly the office of parish constable was phased out. This entry for 1872 seems to be the last time Peldon vestry enlisted parish constables.

The Coans' great grandfather, Frederick Gladwell was born to Thomas Chinery and Ann Gladwell in about 1860. He was a third generation to be a thatcher and also lived on the Mersea Road, Peldon, with his wife Amelia. They had eight children and their daughter Evelyn Rose was born in Plovers - was this the same house her great grandparents moved to on leaving Suffolk? Frederick died in 1941.

OLD INHABITANT'S FUNERAL The village has lost a much-respected inhabitant by the death of Mr Frederick Gladwell, who passed away on June 4, at the age of 79. The deceased has spent the whole of his life in Peldon, and for many years followed the occupation of a hay cutter, being employed at Pete Hall, Maltings and Games Farms and as a hobby he handled a sporting gun. In the year 1883 he married Miss Amelia James, of Little Clacton, who survives him. Their second son, Ernest was killed in the last war; two sons and five daughters are living. Essex County Standard 14.6.1941

On being widowed, Amelia moved in with her son-in-law and daughter, Reg and Evelyn, and so Colin and Eric spent their early years with their grandmother living with them as this obituary in the neighbourhood news column reveals.

OCTOGENARIAN On July 9, Mrs Amelia Gladwell passed away at the age of 84. A native of Little Clacton, she lived in Peldon from the time of her marriage over 60 years ago to Mr Fred Gladwell. On the death of her husband in 1941 she was given a home with her son-in-law and daughter (Mr and Mrs Coan) A great sufferer from arthritis, she seldom left the house, but as an expert needlewoman she was able to pass the time usefully. She will be greatly missed by her two small grandsons, to whom she was deeply attached. Essex County Standard 18.7.1947

The Coans of Peldon

Upon marriage in 1938 Reg and Evelyn Rose lived in Hillside Cottages, Peldon, later on they lived in 5, Mersea Road with the two boys.

During the war Reginald worked as a volunteer for the Fire station in Peldon, a Nissan hut situated where the Hosplant building is now. The firemen used to practise rescuing dummies from the top of the old vicarage which now hosts the Autistic Home.

Reginald was a builder and worked for Huttons. He also did a lot of building on farms and at the ages of 13 and 14 both his sons were expected to help as labourers at some of these jobs. Eric first got into farming following work at Games Farm where he helped the owner, Roger Carr, milking cows amongst other jobs. Anthony Buck MP gave permission for Eric, aged 18, to raise his pigs in outbuildings at Pete Hall, no rent but an agreement that Eric would maintain the buildings. Eric met many eminent politicians who were visiting Mr Buck. This was the start of Eric's farming career. Colin started work for Stephen Wooldridge at Kemps Farm at the age of fifteen, in the words of Stephen's daughter, Anne Lee,

Colin Coan told me he started working for my father at the age of 15, and that he had taught him all he knew about farming.  They got on well, but worked hard. 

Colin Coan Massey Ferguson Combine c1965

Colin Coan on a combine harvester in the 1960s

Reg was Secretary of the Mersea Island Pigeon Club and kept pigeons at his home at 5, Mersea Road. His champion bird was Evelyn Rose named after his wife. Patrick Wyncoll also used to race pigeons and Pat's parents' shop, Dansies Stores, was a 'marking station' for the birds. They'd then be taken to the station and would all be put on a goods train and taken somewhere like Ely or Spalding, accompanied by a club member. They would then all be released at once and there was great competition to see which bird got home first.

Evelyn Rose

Reg and Evelyn moved to Meadowcroft at Pete Tye Farm in 1973. Evelyn died in 1979 and Reg in 1983 and they are both buried in the churchyard of St Mary's, Peldon.

Pete Tye Farm

Pete Tye farmhouse before demolition

Pete Tye Farmhouse before being demolished

Reg and Evelyn's son, Eric, married Jan in 1968 and Eric and Jan moved to Pete Tye Farm in 1970. They bought 32 acres along with the buildings from the Hendys who then moved in retirement to Marigold Cottage on the Mersea Road in Peldon. The original farmhouse was still standing but in a very dilapidated state so the farmhouse was demolished. There are documents pertaining to the farmhouse from the 18th century and an aerial picture exists of the original farm buildings. The old dairy still stands - the long low single storey building parallel with the road , facing as you turn into the farm. The 'new' Pete Tye Farm was built in 1969/1970. Eric now has 112 acres, all grass, and there is also a livery yard there.

Pete Tye Farm 1981

Pete Tye Farm 1981
Left to right: John Turner, Mr Turner Senior, Colin Coan

Colin and his wife Margaret live in, Brunoy, close to Kemps Farm and their son lives in the modern Haxells Farm Cottage although he doesn't farm himself. Colin keeps sheep on land at Pete Hall and Haxells Farm.

Both Colin and Eric are keen on wildlife and conservation. Eric hardly uses any chemicals on the land and he has owls nesting in the barn. Colin is planning on putting up an owl box in his barn. He says the sparrow and starling population has decreased dramatically over the years although numbers are beginning to come back. Both have many kinds of bird visiting their gardens and land. There are muntjac deer, foxes, badgers, pheasant, woodpeckers, owls and buzzards as well as the usual garden birds.

Reminiscences from the early days

In WW2 Colin remembers their Dad getting them to get down in a ditch when a doodlebug came over. Planes would often be chasing the doodlebugs trying to shoot them down and a Spitfire was chasing this one, so they were as much in danger from the spitfire as from the doodlebug. He thinks it was heading out over Mr Davidson's farm, Brick House Farm, and was shot down by the spitfire. There was damage from an air raid too at Harvey's Farm while Reg was feeding the chickens.

Pete Tye Common, which extends along the Peldon to Abberton road from Haxells Farm as far as Captain's Field in Abberton, was ploughed up during WW2 and wheat was grown on it. In those days there were no reversible ploughs so ploughing one way the furrows would all fall to one side and on the way back they would fall the other leaving mounded 'stetches' which caused very uneven ground. To this day the stetches can be seen and felt on the common even though it has long since been grassed over. Eric mows the common for hay and keeps the hedges tidy. [The word stetch is East Anglian and now appears in a dictionary of archaic terms but many of the local farmers still use the word].

Colin and Eric say the common is technically owned by Mr Jones who was the occupant of Peldon Hall before the Sawdons and, they think, Lord of The Manor. In the 60s there were no brambles there nor had any trees been planted and it was all maintained as grassland. It was possible to drive onto the common and many courting couples took advantage of this!

The Coan brothers remember the Coronation Council Houses being built in Peldon in 1953 and more being added in the 60s further along the road.

During the 1953 floods Colin and Eric recall Home Farm, on Mersea Road, Peldon, being flooded. The water came over the road up to Kemps Farm and to the bungalow which is now Colin's home, but didn't flood it. Cows were up to their udders in water, chickens were swept along by the water. The waters flooded the marshland and encroached on Brick House Farm's land and also made their way right up to Pete Hall

The Coans used to go to the Chapel and its Sunday school. It was a Wesleyan Methodist Chapel situated on Lower Road and was demolished in the 1970s. Colin remembers Les Mallett, who worked in the Peldon Stores all his life, playing the organ there, and when the Chapel closed, playing organ at St Mary's .

At that time it was usual for people to have a pig and some chickens in their garden and rabbits were shot for meat as well, the skins being given to the Rag and Bone man for clothing.

There was a milkman who went round the village and ladled milk out of a churn. Bread was delivered by the Mersea baker, Monday, Wednesday and Friday (Colin says Monday's bread was always a bit tough being a couple of days old!) and, later on in the seventies, the Co-op butcher and a fishmonger used to go round the village.

The Coans remember there being three Post Offices at different times; the first at Spring Cottage, Lower Road, the second at Rose Cottage (on the left just before Mulberry Tree Farm on the way to the Rose pub) and the third run by 'Tiny' Prior up what was a small lane off Lower Road. The site is overgrown, behind the field where horses are stabled, and the access marked by a new five-bar gate.

There used to be a doctor's surgery in the old cottage called Hazeldene on Lower Road, later two local surgeries held appointments in the village hall.

There were allotments on a site called Garden Field on the North side of Lower Road , next to The Plough, still a field at the back where now horses are kept, but built up in the front. This remains church land that is leased.

It was tradition when Colin and Eric were young for a village football match to be held on Boxing Day. Before Newpots Close was built there was a football field there and the players used to change at the Plough over the road.

In 1982 one of the most important village events, the 5 Parishes Show, in this case the 51st, was hosted by Eric and Jan at Pete Tye Farm.

5 Parishes Show

Nowadays Eric and Colin seem to work as hard as ever. Jan is particularly involved with the Church, being Honorary Secretary to the PCC, and hosting, on occasions, the village lunch. In 2015 Eric and Jan welcomed the village fete into their garden..

Elaine Barker
Peldon History Project 2019

Thanks to Eric, Jan and Colin Coan

Read More
Ernest Gladwell 1890-1915

AuthorElaine Barker
SourceMersea Museum
IDPH01_COA
Related Images:
 Pete Tye Farm House. The house was demolished in the late 1960s.  PH01_033
ImageID:   PH01_033
Title: Pete Tye Farm House. The house was demolished in the late 1960s.
Date:c1960
Source:Peldon History Project / Eric and Jan Coan
 The Five Parishes fifty first annual
 Horticultural Show
 Novice Horse Show, Rural Crafts, Dog show and Tug of War Event
 to be held Pete Tye Farm, Peldon Road - Abberton
 By kind permission of Mr & Mrs E.R. Coan)
 Saturday 14th August [ 1982 ? ]
 Flower tents open 1.30 pm. Teas, licensed bar, Side Shows, Free car park.
 Admission Adults 50p. Children 10p.
 Schedules & Entry Form from the Secretary Mrs K. Bint, Strood House, Peldon.  PH01_COA_001
ImageID:   PH01_COA_001
Title: The Five Parishes fifty first annual
Horticultural Show
Novice Horse Show, Rural Crafts, Dog show and Tug of War Event
to be held Pete Tye Farm, Peldon Road - Abberton
By kind permission of Mr & Mrs E.R. Coan)
Saturday 14th August [ 1982 ? ]
Flower tents open 1.30 pm. Teas, licensed bar, Side Shows, Free car park.
Admission Adults 50p. Children 10p.
Schedules & Entry Form from the Secretary Mrs K. Bint, Strood House, Peldon.
Date:c14 August 1982
Source:Peldon History Project
 Evelyn Rose owner R. Coan, Chapel End, H.S.
 Reg Coan was from Walthamstow and moved to Peldon in the 1930s, after he married. His wife was Evelyn Rose Gladwell, who gave her name to the pigeon.  PH01_COA_003
ImageID:   PH01_COA_003
Title: "Evelyn Rose" owner R. Coan, Chapel End, H.S.
Reg Coan was from Walthamstow and moved to Peldon in the 1930s, after he married. His wife was Evelyn Rose Gladwell, who gave her name to the pigeon.
Date:1935
Source:Peldon History Project
 Certificate for pigeon Gladwell's Luck. Property of Mr Coan, 1st Chapel End Homing Society. 1935. North East London Federation  PH01_COA_005
ImageID:   PH01_COA_005
Title: Certificate for pigeon "Gladwell's Luck". Property of Mr Coan, 1st Chapel End Homing Society. 1935. North East London Federation
Date:1936
Source:Peldon History Project
 Rabbits. Pete Tye Farm. 
 L-R John Turner, John's father, Colin Coan  PH02_177
ImageID:   PH02_177
Title: Rabbits. Pete Tye Farm.
L-R John Turner, John's father, Colin Coan
Date:1981
Source:Peldon History Project
 Colin Coan. Massey Ferguson combine JWC508C looking rather new.  PH02_179
ImageID:   PH02_179
Title: Colin Coan. Massey Ferguson combine JWC508C looking rather new.
Date:c1965
Source:Peldon History Project