The old council houses in Barfield Road, West Mersea. Beyond is the chemist's Shop, and on the right is Clifford White's yard. The photo is dated 1944.
I was born in February 1932 in a council house in Barfield Road, and as soon as I was big enough I would perch myself on a chair and look out of the front window at the traffic going by. Much of it was horse drawn. There was Fred Farthing's milk float, John Dixon's dust cart and many others. There were four bus companies running on to the island. The Primrose, Berry's, which were dark brown, Thorp's, a lighter brown, and Underwood's, blue and cream
There were several shops and businesses in the road at that time, starting with the Griffon Garage on the corner with High Street North. I can just remember builders Clifford White building a new extension which doubled the size, and buying a new 5 ton Bedford lorry at about the same time, with a label saying 'Supplied by Griffon Garage' on the dashboard.
Behind the Griffon in Thorp's yard ( now Whiting's) I used to hear the familiar clang of the blacksmith's anvil. Joe Munson was at work in his forge. He was one of several old men at around at that time that were bent nearly double. It was said that this was because they slept in a chair.
Across the road from the Griffon was Edgar Potter Digby's ironmongers. His slogan was 'If you can't eat it get it at Digby's'. Mr Digby was a stout little man with round glasses and he always wore a beret. His pipe dangled from his mouth with dribble hanging from the bowl. He had a small blue open-topped Austin Seven car with which he delivered paraffin. There was also a horse drawn cart driven by John Stacey, with racks of saucepans and other household requirements - including, of course, a tin bath. At the back was a large tank of paraffin, complete with a large brass tap from which hung a tin to catch the drips. Our wireless at that time was powered by an accumulator, which frequently had to be taken to Digby's to be charged up by a petrol engine generator. This generator is now in our Museum.
Next to Digby's was The Home Kitchen, a little cake shop, and then came Titford's Dairy Supplies. The Revd. Lloyd's new house came next, followed by a little wool shop called The Spinning Wheel. This is now Paul Davis's cycle shop and I often think the same xx me would apply today!
The cemetery came next, then Clifford White's yard. This was a very busy place in my young days. A lot of timber was being imported by sailing barge onto the hard, and the firm's three or four lorries were kept very busy in order to get the barges unloaded and away to save having to pay demurrage. There were the familiar sounds from the woodwork machinery shop with shriek of the circular saw and the s rl of the planer and fourcutter. All of this was driven by a large single cylinder engine which chuffed away emitting the occasio l smoke rings from the exhaust. Every Friday morning a lorry load of cement would arrive, often by steam lorry. The cement shed was by the entrance to the Folly, and across on the other corner of Melrose Road stood a little black boarded bungalow, the home of chimney sweep Bill 'Cracknell' Whiting. A shed in his garden housed our first solid-tyred fire engine until the new station was built in Melrose Road in 1935.
The Coro tion arch, built across Barfield Road to celebrate the Coro tion of King George V1 and Queen Elizabeth in 1937. It was decorated by ex-servicemen. The picture is taken looking west towards Digby's corner.
Photo Brian Jay Collection.
Across the road was the chemist's shop, run by Mr Bamborough, a big man in a long white coat who spoke with a soft voice. He lived in the attached house, and the present pharmacy is built in what was his garden. The old chemist's is now a gift shop.
The British Legion Hall saw a lot of activity in the days before the MICA Centre was built. Most of the concerts, dances and school activities that needed a larger hall took place there. Events took place in the school gardens, too. I can just remember collecting my King George VI Coro tion mug there.
Mr and Mrs Slaughter ran The Central Stores (later Whiting's) opposite the school in those days. My favourite treats were the halfpenny marshmallows, which consisted of a biscuit spread with jam with a dome of marshmallow all dipped in chocolate. I used to start by picking off the chocolate, sucking the marshmallow, licking the jam then eating the biscuit. Half a penny lasted a long while in those days.
Fred Farthing on his milk round in Barfield Road. Photo by kind permission of Mrs M.Ward.
Mr Pavey still had a dairy next door, and then came the Co-op. I can remember standing in there looking across Kingsland Road at the old gas works before Underwoods Garage was built. One day ma ger Albert Lee gave me a barley sugar sweet which got stuck in my throat and I was taken outside and thumped on the back until it flew out. Two young girls working there at the time were Cynthia Cudmore and Lor Mills, better known in her later days as Lor Tarran. A stable behind the shop was home to the horse which pulled the bread van driven by Charlie Dowsing, whose round included East Mersea. Many a lift from East Mersea was scrounged in Charlie's bread van.
Then of course there was the school. When I started there in 1937, the playground was divided by a high fence, boys at the lower side, girls and infants top side. Caretaker Dan Woolf and his family lived in the school house, and Mr Thompson was the headmaster.
Published in Mersea Courier 18 March 2011