ID: ML2015_005_P99 / Ron Green

TitleThe Old Ship Inn and City Hall
AbstractDuring my eighty three years on Mersea Island, I've been to most corners and been in to a number of local buildings, I've even built a few but never had I been in to City Hall, the little chapel in The Lane.

On our Sunday tour of Mersea recently we were driving down The Lane when we saw a small group of people coming up from the Coast Road and heading for City Hall. I decided to stop to see if I could get a peep inside and they were happy to let me in. They were well wrapped up against the inclement weather and it wasn't until I peered under the hat of the tall gentleman leading the group that I realised I was speaking to Colin Westgate. They had hired the hall to show some of their photographs. I was surprised to find it a pleasant venue for small groups.

I would guess the little chapel was built in the 1920s by its style. It was built on the site of the Ship Inn and the image from a postcard in my collection is postmarked May 16 1909 and addressed to Mrs J Hewes Nr. The Church. It was posted in Southampton from Mrs Hewes's son who is serving on the yacht CHIONE based at Fay's Yard, Northam. It does not appear to be a pub at that time.

I have tried to find out when the Ship ceased to be a 'Beerhouse'. George 'Spoony' Aldous ran the Ship for many years. A native of Brightlingsea, he is listed in the 1911 census returns for West Mersea as an eighty four years old retired beerhouse keeper, a widow living with his 63 years old West Mersea born daughter Elizabeth who's occupation is given as 'Servant'. There seems to be no mention of George Aldous or The Ship in the 1901 census but in 1891 he is there as a 60 years old widowed 'Licenced Victualer' with Ellen Green 54 as a servant. Again in 1881 he is listed with servant 43 years old Eleanor M. Green born Alresford. Obviously the same lady listed as Ellen ten years earlier.

The late Bill Clary speaking on a Lions Talking Magazine many years ago, spoke of a German band which came over the North Sea each summer and toured around, one of their 'Gigs' being at The Ship. Bill was too young to go in but would peer in through the open door.

Article for Mersea Life May 2015

AuthorRon Green
PublishedMay 2015
SourceMersea Museum