ID ML2012_012_P48 / Ron Green

TitleMersea Bygone Days - Old Mersea Shops Part 2.
AbstractAs we left Arthur Cock's butcher's shop in part one, we head off down Yorick Road past a garden plot where Glennie Cock later built a pair of shops he named Mersea Stores. The next shop past this plot was Charlie Williamson's newsagents and toy shop. He also published and sold postcards. Charlie's wooden shop was demolished in the 1930s and replaced with the present building of shops with living accomodation above, now sadly boarded up. I recall one Christmas time when shopping with my mother spotting a train set in the window and thinking I would like that for christmas. We can't afford that, it's seven shillings and sixpence (38p) said mum.

Barclay's Bank was in it's present building but we went in through a door down the right hand side into a small room with a high counter on one side with a row of chairs opposite. There was usually an elderly gentleman sat on the corner chair with a newspaper on his lap, it was said he was a security man and there was a revolver under the newpaper. I don't know whether that was right or not.

In my young days banks were for rich people and business people and I didn't have an account until I built my bungalow in 1956 but the arrangement was still the same. When I finished the bungalow I felt no further need for it and went along to close it. Dear old Ted Winfield the manager was quite put out. I knew Ted quite well as he was the Dabchicks S.C. treasurer at the time. After a few years I reopened it. Next to the bank came the Post Office with the entrance at the front. The doorway down the side which is now the entrance to Tim Humphrey's Physiotherapist was to the sorting office and in a small room at the back was the West Mersea telephone exchange. East Mersea had it's own automatic exchange in a small brick building by the Grove just past the Dog & Pheasnt pub. This building has since been demolished and a new house built on the plot.

The exchange was supervised by Mrs Ruby Saye who lived in the house with her family. Her youngest son Donald was in my class at school (his older brother Jack is well remembered as a Mersea bus and coach driver). After school I used to go with Donald to his house and watch the girls operating the swichboard, making the connection and winding the little handle to make to phone ring.

The Post Office and postmaster Dick Page moved to the present P.O. just before the war started but the exchange stayed until the new automatic one opened in Kingsland Road.

When I had my first phone the old exchange was still operating and on lifting your receiver you instantly recognized the operator asking 'Number please'. The old numbers were still in use then, Clifford White & Co. No. 1, The Mill No.11, Chatters Bros No.145 and so on. It was quite normal not to bother with the number and just ask for the doctor's or Underwoods (Garage) etc. It was not unknown to be told something like, ' I wouldn't bother to ring them now Ron, they had a doctor's appointment at quarter past eleven. I should try again this afternoon'. The girls knew where most people were.

Back on to the High Street, the general stores looking down Yorick Road carried the name C.A. Mussett - Clarence Archibald Mussett, better know as 'Cadder', assisted by his brother Cliffold Banks Mussett nicknamed 'Brassy'. Cadder seemed the cleverer of the two and served several years on the W.M.U.D.C. so it was usually Brassy behind the counter. Whereas 'Liza' took ages to get to the counter in the shop next door, it took ages for Brassy to give you your change. The usual performance if you gave him a 10/- or a £1 note was to watch while he grabbed it and rolled it into a tight ball. He then flattened it with the side of his hand on the glass topped counter. I assumed it was to check if it was counterfeit Every coin was turned over and over. Sometimes some one would grab an orange on the way out and Brassy would come to the door waving his fist at the thief who had long since gone.

Next door but one was another shop connected to the Mussett family. It stood empty during the war and for some time after. It was then opened by Len Coles and his wife 'Birdie' who sold sweets, ice cream etc. Always known as 'Birdies' It was demolished to make room for the new library.

The shop further along now selling kitchen equipment was the electricity office with Harold Rudlin in charge. We went there to pay our electicity bills and Harold could always be relyed upon if you had any problems to deal with them in his usual friendly manner.
Next came Bobby Stoker's fish shop This was another of those wooden shops to be pushed back on the plot and replaced with a new brick built shops with living accomodation over. The shop on the left being a fried fish shop and the right green grocers. It is still a fried fish shop - The Islander. Miss French's sweet shop came next and then on the corner of Captains Road came Charlie Appleby's butchers shop. This was yet another of the small wooden shops to be replaced in the lean times of the 1930s by a new shop and house. Opposite on the corner of Melrose Road was Chatters Bros, Ironmoners. Bert and Fred Chatters sold all manner of household requirement and if Fred was serving it seemed no matter what you went in for whether it be nails, paint or a washing up bowl he always asked the same question 'What d'yer want it for mate' - no doubt his way of making sure he sold you the best thing for the job.

Going further along High Street the shop that's now Marfleet Lettings was Mr Bloomfield's sweet shop, it served as the food office for a while during the war and across the road another one of those shops operated from a room in the house. This was Claude Brand's grocery shop which later was taken over by Fred Turner who had a proper shop front fitted. It is no longer a shop.

The photo below shows four postmen outside the Yorick Road Post Office in 1936.
L - R Arthur Keene, Bernard Ponder (Of Peldon), Alf Sherwood and Bill Weeks, taken in the 1930s.

Published in Mersea Life December 2012.

AuthorRon Green
PublishedDecember 2012
SourceMersea Museum
Related Images:
 Quartet of West Mersea Postmen in Yorick Road. Left to right Arthur Keene, Bernard Ponder (from Peldon), Alf Sherwood and Bill Weeks. [RG].
 1936 in Yorick Road.  HAY_PUL_104
ImageID:   HAY_PUL_104
Title: Quartet of West Mersea Postmen in Yorick Road. Left to right Arthur Keene, Bernard Ponder (from Peldon), Alf Sherwood and Bill Weeks. [RG].
1936 in Yorick Road.
Source:Mersea Museum / Gill and Trevor Hayes Collection