Now concluding my look at old Mersea shops, we can take a look at what were probably the first purpose built shops on the island.
The first picture shows a busy scene at Samuel White's shop in Mill Road. The 1891 census returns for West Mersea lists Samuel White as a grocer, draper and butcher in Mill Road with twenty six years old Frank Rust
listed as a butcher in the same building - probably employed by Sam White. This photograph would date from before 1901 because the census for that year shows Sam White had moved to new premises called The Mystery on the corner of Church Road and Churchfields where he is listed
as a grocer and draper employing four assistants. Frank Rust remains as a butcher in Mill Road and Dr Ben Hall has taken over Sam's former shop as his surgery.
By 1911 Sam White is a bank agent and draper probably in the part of The Mystery facing Church Road as William Hotson aged 45 is a grocer next door, probably in the corner part of the premises which was still a grocers - Fred Robins, in my memory with Alec Reeve in the drapers part.
The second photo shows the shop opposite in Mill Road with the name W.F.Hotson over the window. The 1912 Kelly's Directory for Essex lists William Flaxman Hotson as a grocer but he would have been in Churchfields by then as shown is the 1911 census. This would date the second picture as after 1901 but before 1911.
Clifford Manning White started his builder's business in the top two rooms of this building and his name board is fixed to the wall. The building remains much the same
today but the shop window has been replaced by a smaller one and the doorway bricked in.
The gate to the left side of the picture led up to a slaughter house which would almost certainly have been Frank Rust's. The picture is taken looking down Mill Road towards the Fountain Corner. The ornate ironwork on the wall in the centre of the picture was removed during the
second world war for 'The war effort' and is on the Union Church wall - always known as The Top Chapel. The lantern by the gateway has long since gone.
Going back to picture one which comes from Tony Saye, to the right of the picture we see butcher Frank Rust posing with his horse and cart with meat hanging on the front of the shop. A group of children are gathered by the main shop doorway with another horse and cart nearby.
The Mill House can be seen in the distance behind a group of ladies with prams catching up on the local gossip no doubt.
During the second world war Dr Hall's surgery, known as The Lawns, was an ARP post and a the walls were thickened and remain so today.
To be published in Mersea Life, April 2013