These are the notes made by Nicholas Butler who interviewed Mrs Everitt in the mid 1980s as part of his research for his book “The Story of Wivenhoe”. These notes have been re-typed by Ann Jones from Nicholas Butler’s original notes and posted here by Frances Belsham.
About Mrs E G Everitt
Mrs Everitt lives at Meadowcroft, Rectory Hill, Wivenhoe. She was born in Anglesea Rd. Wivenhoe.
What Mrs Everitt told Nick Butler
There was a wall down the road and we were on the Elmstead side. We had to pay our dues to a man who emptied the latrines. We carried the sewage in buckets to Bobbits Hole. We had a well for water. We paid infinitesimal rates compared to Wivenhoe but had none of its amenities. We did have gas but not electricity.
Has a photograph from 1913-14 taken from a top window – of the wall – with a 2A Brownie camera taken when I was 10 and developed in the cupboard under the stairs which I printed myself.
WW1: My father was a sailor and I went to the High School. Father was a Navigator for the yacht that sailed for the Americas Cup. Not the Shamrock – might have been the Valkyrie. In USA most of the relevant time. He had a tumour on the brain caused by a sail falling on him because he was strapped to the mast in a storm.
My mother taught me at home. I spent most of my childhood on the Quay.
Mother served in the YMCA tent, Mrs Barlow was the chief instigator of it. Soldiers were in the pits (what is now Dene Park RAMC)
It was very rough in WW1, the soldiers weren’t cosseted like they are now. We had 2 soldiers billeted with us. Despatch riders with bicycles. There was compulsory billeting, but the widows, ill or old had EXEMPT chalked on their walls. My mother had that legend put on her wall, but nevertheless wanted to billet soldiers. We were paid a little money. The soldiers drew rations every week and brought them to us. Large frozen piece of meat, Very poor rations. Four large loaves between the two of them, 1lb of very rancid margarine, some tea and some frightful jam in a big tin. Sometimes they cycled at night. Regiments came and went.
Mother went out to see the Mafeking festivities which brought on her labour pains, that is how my elder sister was born.
We were Swedenborgians. I was christened out of a slop basin. We didn’t go to church because the Chapel had gone by then.
Someone I knew in London was a fan of Martin-Harvey’s and gave me a book about him (which Mark Follett borrowed and never returned)
There were queues of men waiting down Alma Street, they looked as if they couldn’t care to even stand up. They looked so woebegone. We were asked for cast-off clothes. Old Mr Nicholls sold rhubarb at 2d a bunch. “Could you save your tea leaves for us?” There wasn’t a lot of unhappiness.
To see all these yachts lying here on the sea wall. We all walked down the wall on Sundays, met each other and said “Good afternoon”. The planks leading to the yachts were scrubbed every day. You’ve no idea of the cleanliness of those yacht people. Mother was terrified father would find fault with her cleanliness. Brass steps cleaned every day by people on the yachts.
Everything in the house was always painted, parts picked out in gold leaf. When father was coming home, mother went over the house. He often sent his stewards to do things at the house because they did things so much better than mother. All the doors in the hall and landing were picked out in gold leaf. All the captains had steps covered in brass because the yachts had them to protect the wood. Mrs E did not know her father because he died when or before she was born.
Captain William Harvey and all his brothers were captains too.
John and Thomas Harvey were her father’s cousins.
He was captain of the Varuna which was known as the Floating Palace. Poor mother always felt she had to live up to the cleanliness, it was almost a mania. Father was released to sail for the Cup. Every one of the Harveys had a sailing boat. Each one was the only one. They had to warn the wives not to go out in the other men’s boats because the other captains were dangerous sailors.
The Marquis of Anglesey had these houses built for his people.
Paget had Paget Road built. Every house had a sail-loft. There was a hole in the garden of No 11 Anglesea Road which might have been for smuggled goods. It came up to her thigh.
William Bartlett owned Bobbitts Hole.
Council horses kept beside the Council Offices. Night soil cart. Until I was 12 or 13. We used to shut all our windows as Diptheria was rife.
Wivenhoe was very poor. If the fishing was bad there was no money coming in. It brought out the sharing spirit. Neighbours always helped. My mother’s mother helped to deliver most of the children in the parish. My mother was the seventh of nine children.
The double fronted house was The Yachtsman’s Arms. Little devils on the knockers in front of the houses in Anglesea Road (the one on No 11 was a bat) Others like them in Brightlingsea. The plaster used in the houses was a good form of insulation, it contained horse hair.
I knew the Husks very well. Billy Husk had a garden in Anglesea Road.
WW2: There was a dugout in the garden – air raid shelter. We used to sleep down there. The Warden went out when the siren went. A German plane looked as if it was coming into the house, it crashed in the field behind. Was cleared away. We used to hold our babies when the air raids were on.