|Memory Lane The Clifford White & Co Empire
In the May issue I mentioned Samuel White's son Clifford Manning White who was a prominent businessman on Mersea Island. He started his building business early in the 20th century and in the 1911 census for West Mersea he is listed as a Builder and Merchant aged 29. Probably his most prominent building on Mersea was our water tower in Upland Road which he built in 1925. He had published an advertising postcard showing that not only did he build the tower but made the bricks too.
Clifford White men who built the Council Houses in Barfield Road c1920
His brickyard is now Rushmere Close. Around the same time he built twelve council houses in Barfield Road which have since been demolished to make way for Grays Close and Harrison Court. He expanded off the island too, buying a rundown brickworks at Weeley which he expanded into a thriving works with its own railway siding. He sold it for a good price but the new owner was not the businessman that Clifford was.
Clifford White built Barclays Bank and adjoining shops at Tollesbury on the corner of North Street. The White family were agents for Barclays. He had an extensive yard and offices in Barfield Road running from Melrose Road to the cemetery. He was an undertaker, estate agent, insurance agent and coal merchant. He was also a timber importer and I can remember three sailing barges together on the hard loaded with timber for Clifford White in the late 1930s. I was living in a council house opposite his yard and watched as his lorries and carts filled the yard to overflowing. There was also a large stack of his timber where St Cedd's Roman Catholic Church now stands.
I started working for him when I left school in 1946, doing my bricklaying apprenticeship there as my father Les had done many years earlier. There are still a few of us left who can say with pride that we did our apprenticeship with Clifford White & Co.
Clifford White's lorries unloading barges on the Hard. The barge on the left is the RUSSELL, loaded with bricks; in the centre with timber is GOLDEN FLEECE of Colchester, and the barge on the right is loaded with cement.
Published in Mersea Life June 2019, page 22.