ID ML2013_001_047 / Ron Green

TitleMersea Bygone Days - Old Mersea Shops Part 3
Abstract

Having left High Street last month, we will take a few steps into High Street North and Clem Smith's greengrocers on the corner of Mersea Avenue

Clem was another local shopkeeper who was a local councillor and could often get quite excited about certain issues. I recall at a public meeting many years ago he got so wound up that he got up and stormed out. The chairman announced, that Cllr Smith had left the chamber to cool down - which he did and returned after a few minutes. This shop became Cresta Stores when ran by Mr & Mrs Hoole and has now been demolished to make room for new houses.

I lived in Barfield road for the first 7 years of my life so I have a good memory of that in the 1930s.

I could write a whole page on Digby Bros. Ironmoners. Edgar Potter Digby was also a local councillor and a member of the Town Regatta Committee for many years. A stout little man who always wore a navy blue beret and glasses with little round lenses, there was usually a pipe dangling from his mouth making him easily recognisable on many an old photo of councillors and regatta committee of the 1930s. He had a pale blue Austin Seven car which he used to deliver paraffin around the island. There was also a horse and cart driven by John Stacey. This also had a large paraffin tank at the back with a large brass tap and a tin dangling underneath to catch the drips. The cart was well loaded with pots and pans and the popular galvanized tin bath. 1 believe this cart had pneumatic tyres - unusual in carts at that time.

Our wireless set was powered by an accumulator battery which had to regularly be taken across the road to Digby's for recharging. The recharging set with its water cooled Lister petrol engine survives to this day and is on exhibition at our museum. Digby's also sold petrol from two hand operated pumps on the forecourt.

In the shop you were often served by Mrs Mabel Banham, Mr. Digby's housekeeper. She was a big lady who seemed even bigger because the floor behind the counter was higher than that in the shop.

Her son Hugh was very clever with radio and later with television. He supplied our first mains radio and TV. He was later the sole proprietor of the shop and it closed soon after his death.

Up the side of the shop was a long cinder track with a garage at the end where the cars were kept. The other car being a rather fine Lanchester.

There were always geese in the driveway which called loudly when anyone approached - very good guard dogs.

On the other side of the track was the Home Kitchen, a little tea and cake shop first opened by Marjorie Wray and her sister. This was later taken over by F.G.Smith and Son who moved their whole business there from their premises in Mill Road. This little shop was yet another to be demolished and replaced by a brick built shop with living accommodation over. It is still going strong as the Old Mill Bakery.

The shop next door was Titfords Dairy Supplies. The photograph below shows Guy Titford with his pony and cart.

The Titfords moved away to St Osyth and later the shop was taken over by George Mason who also sold milk and dairy products. A little further on and next to the cemetery was a little wool shop called The Spinning Wheel. This has been a cycle shop for many years run by Paul Davis who has just had the shop rebuilt with a flat above. These small shops are still being replaced by larger shops with accommodation over.

Moving on down Barfield Road past Clifford White's extensive yard and across the road we came to W. E. Bamborough's chemists. Wilfred Ernest Bamborough was a big man with a soft deep voice and always seen in a crisp white coat. He also did hairdressing I was told but, I don't remember it in my time. Mr Bamborough later went into business with Jim Ross and the business became Bamborough & Ross. Then Alexander 'Sandy' Morris came along and he had a large new shop built which continues as our chemist today as Boots. The old shop is now Pandora's Box.

Going on past the school gardens and opposite the old original school we came to a grocers shop run by Ernest and Lilian Slaughter. My Mum did a lot of her shopping there and a particular favourite of mine were the little ha'penny marsh mallows in a, crinkly pink paper. I started by peeling off the chocolate coating, sucking the marsh mallow, then licking the jam off the biscuit which I finally ate. They were a very good ha'pth.

Most of our food and grocery came from the Co-op on the corner, now an undertakers. I can picture it now. As we went in, under the counter on the left was a large drawer containing loose sugar. The manager Albert Lee always seemed to serve Mum. He and my dad were next door neighbours as boys in East Mersea and I suppose this was how Mum had his personal attention.

The sugar was scooped up with the sugarscoop and poured into a paper bag sitting on the scales until it was the correct weight. It always fascinated how Mr Lee folded the surplus paper on the top, finally tucking in the flap and making a neat job so that the bag wouldn't spill a drop. Cheese was served from the counter opposite. A wedge of cheese was laid on the piece of white marble with a thin wire attached to the back edge On the other end of the wire was a toggle and the wire was laid loosely over the wedge while Mr Lee looked up to Mum and on her approval would cut off a smaller wedge which was then weighed and wrapped in white paper.

Two young girls started work in the shop later. Cynthia Cudmore and Lorna Mills. Lorna joined the WAAF during the war and became, a quartermaster. I bet she was a very good one too. On retirement she returned to her beloved Mersea and is best remembered by her married name Lorna Tarran. I never met her husband. He may have died before she returned to Mersea.

I spent many a happy hour at her bungalow in Yorick Road yarning about about Mersea in the old day's and the whiskey bottle would often come oit. I usually declined because I was driving and still refused when she would say 'Goo on booy, a little drop ownt haart'

Article published in Mersea Life January 2013.

AuthorRon Green
PublishedJanuary 2013
SourceMersea Museum
IDML2013_001_047
Page47
Related Images:
 The Four Stooges
 Joan Pullen, Violet Mole ( m Geoff Green ), Lorna Mills ( Tarran ), Cynthia Cudmore ( North ). Mersea Hard.
 Lorna and Cynthia worked together in the Mersea Co-op until Lorna joined the WAAF. [RG]
</p><p>The black shed back right was used by Wyatts, and was once a schoolroom run by Miss Durrant. John Milgate worked in there and said there were still school texts up on the rafters.  AN08_019
ImageID:   AN08_019
Title: "The Four Stooges"
Joan Pullen, Violet Mole ( m Geoff Green ), Lorna Mills ( Tarran ), Cynthia Cudmore ( North ). Mersea Hard.
Lorna and Cynthia worked together in the Mersea Co-op until Lorna joined the WAAF. [RG]

The black shed back right was used by Wyatts, and was once a schoolroom run by Miss Durrant. John Milgate worked in there and said there were still school texts up on the rafters.

Date:1941
Source:Mersea Museum / Ann Ward
 Guy Titford dairy cart from Barfield Road. Guy Titford was a relative of Janet Woodward [RG].  WOO_ABM_081
ImageID:   WOO_ABM_081
Title: Guy Titford dairy cart from Barfield Road. Guy Titford was a relative of Janet Woodward [RG].
Source:Mersea Museum / Janet Woodward Collection