These are the notes made by Nicholas Butler who interviewed Miss Gould in the mid 1980s as part of the 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 Miss Gould
Miss Gould lives in Brook St. Wivenhoe.
What Miss Gould told Nick Butler
93 years of age. Born in “The Sun”. There used to be 3 houses in Brook Street opposite the one she now lives in. There were 8 houses in the yard of the Black Buoy and another 2 at the bottom there. They led into St Johns Road. There were 8 eight houses in Gas Road that got flooded.
No end of yachts down there, used to watch for them coming here in the autumn. A lot of racing yachts here and the fishing fleet as well. Yachting in the summer and fishing in the winter. Somebody might go a fortnight and earn nothing.
Some rum rare characters too, they would get drunk, fight, make it up, and agree to meet at the pub the same time the next night.
In the wintertime sprats were dumped on the Quay and those that weren’t sold fresh were used for manure. Wagons took them up to the farms.
They were hard times, still we survived, food was wholesome, mostly we lived on fish, the meat wasn’t dear then. We always came home to a nice hot meal.
The wages weren’t much then. Lots of people came from London and they worked in the yard. Boys went into the shipyard for better wages. Girls used to go into service.
Belle Vue Road was the main road into Colchester until 1900 (?) The estate was sold in 1900. The Wesleyan Chapel was built in 1901. Dr Palmer had the first house in The Avenue (Maria’s). Then it gradually built up. Practically all the top of Wivenhoe was a private estate. Only house above the Park Hotel was Cedric’s Garage.
The yacht owners were very good, they always used to send us a Christmas hamper. We got a barometer from a yacht grandfather was captain of – The Gertrude.
My father was a mate on an American yacht The Meruna (?) which was shipwrecked off the Madeiras.
Four captains lived in Belle Vue Road. Captain William Ham lived in the High Street. Mr Rudland used to run the Yachtsman’s Arms.
Years ago there was a wall down the middle of Anglesea Road. The Brook separated the two parishes. The Yachtsmans Arms in Elmstead. Anglesea Arms in Queens Road.
There were 2 cottages in the Rose and Crown yard.
Most of the Quay was yacht stores. British Legion was a sailmakers.
We were always on the river. Used to row across the ferry. Go up river and pick up wood for the winter. Part of the Rowhedge bank is in Wivenhoe.
After I left school was a jack-of-all-trades. The Girls School at the centre. Boys School where the library was. I started at about 3 and left at 14.
I remember Mrs Wadham, she taught me to knit, they used to take a lot of trouble with us, we had to behave ourselves. Taught us the three Rs.
Home life was reasonably strict, we had to mind what we were doing.
On the river cargoes were transferred to lighters, when the boilers of the boats discharged the cinders they were picked up by the children who hoarded them. They also grubbed for coal at low tide.
We had no tap water, we fetched water from the Brook. Joe Munson used to fill his water butt and sell at half-penny a gallon.
The yacht captains lived up the High Street and when the yachts were painted in the spring, their houses used to be painted as well.
In WW1 some men were in the Army, some the Navy. Forrests was still going during WW1 with a slump after the war. The Depression closed the yard.
The years between the wars were years of depression. My brother could not get any work so worked on the sewer laid in Wivenhoe; also some farm work and a bit of fishing.
The yachts were commanded for the war and never came back.
At The Falcon laid-up suppers for crew and captains; the owners paid us for it also at the beginning of the season.
Very nice the yachts were. We had to take our shoes off just in case the nails marked the decks so we ran about in our socks.
Regattas: Wivenhoe and Rowhedge alternately. There were Ladies Races, Boys Races and Sculling.