An Interview with Mr Albert Scales

Notes of an interview with Mr Albert Scales made by Nicholas Butler in the mid 1980s

These are the notes made by Nicholas Butler who interviewed Mr Albert Scales 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 Mr Scales

Born in Park Road Wivenhoe on 28 September 1905.

What Mr Scales told Nick Butler

I was born in Park Road 2 houses beyond the club on the corner of Queen Street, the house with the bay window. There was only one house beyond the Claiborne’s then nothing up to The Nook.  Mr Rice a churchwarden owned The Nook, which was called that because it was in an angle, its estate ran down to where Valley Road now branches off from Park Road.

I attended the Boys School in the High Street.   There were 3 teachers; Mr Wadley the headmaster, Miss Chidlock and Miss Husk.   Mrs Wadley also taught for a bit.

I got my coronation mug (1911) as a child from Arundel Street School in Portsmouth.   Then came back to Wivenhoe.   Went to the Technical College at the Gilberd School and studied engineering.   I went to Cox and King’s which is where Cook’s is now.   It shut down in 1921 or 1922.   It built motor yachts and Air Force tugs.   I was about 3 years at Cox and King’s after the war.   

Then I left with my father and went to A G Mumford’s in Culver Street, Colchester.   Mumford’s made steam engines and steam pumps, anything in the steam line.   They sent me to Birkenhead to fit engines into naval pinnaces.   

From there to Trueloves down St Peter Street.   It was a time of recession and difficult to get jobs.   

Then on to motor yachts down at Brightlingsea.   Stone the shipbuilder, was a brother-in-law of mine, and offered me a job as engineer on a motor yacht – Hilary.  It was owned by Alphonse Abrahams, a diamond merchant.   The Hilary was sold at Ramsgate.   

Then I went to Pollock Anderson, outside Wivenhoe Station, I travelled for them, they made semi-diesel engines.  I left there and went back to the water again.   Pollock Anderson was in the White City and they employed about 12 to 15 fitters.

I then was on the Seaway, a motor yacht laid up at Bangor, I picked her up there and took her to Scotland.   She was owned by a man called McLean who was a big noise in the sugar business and owned the Isle of Mull, he was the Head of a Clan.   Fell out on the financial side.

A friend of mine was Chief Engineer of a 1,500 ton yacht called Eileen which went to Le Havre and Trouville.   In the winter used to go to the South of France.   It belonged to Solomon Joel, a diamond merchant and horse-racing man.

I came home and went to the Rowhedge yard – Rowhedge Ironworks.  Did about a year there making steam engines.

(Mrs Scales father was a Chief Steward aboard the Rosabelle for 40 years)

Then I joined the Vita, which was owned by Colin Cooper who I think was Chief of the Industrial Tea Stores. Unfortunately he went big game hunting and shot his hand then he died.   We never moved from base.

Then I went to the Rowhedge yard, then aboard the Anglia, Sir John Humphreys who owned a wharf he died too, we lay in Southampton the whole time.

Then I joined Paxman’s and stayed there until retirement.   At Paxman’s I was an installation engineer.

I was about 18 months at Birkenhead installing boilers in the Prince of Wales.   I went with her to Scapa Flow and left her, went to Rosyth on the Renown.

In 1949 I married and stopped moving about

Crews: up to about 55, including sailors, engineers (c4), stokers, until oil-fired boilers came along.   Up to about 18 in the “company”.   Altogether, there could be some 75 people aboard.

It was a good life, I did the Continent, Stockholm, Copenhagen.   On the Eileen went from Southampton to Cannes, Monte Carlo, Cannes, 8 to 9 months in a straight line.   Stopped 6 months at Cannes…an unusually long stop.

The crew could go ashore in uniform (which was provided with the job).   They would go into the bars.   There was a good club in Cannes.

There were two pianos on the Eileen, a Steinway and a Broadwood and I had the chance to play both.   Neither was used by the crew, I never heard the company play them.

Been to Deauville for a weekend so got back to Southampton on Monday, the company went back to London by car.   Brought the company out on launches.   On the Eileen there were two that were hoisted inboard on the promenade deck when crossing the channel.

I know Bill Woodward, Charles Ashley and John Turner, who could be a help.

Things were more happy-go-lucky in those days.   Carolin’s wife was an invalid, a man used to haul her about in a wheelchair and leave her outside the Park Hotel while he had a couple of pints after church.   I was in the choir. Carolin never sang from a score.   They used to have a large black dog, a Newfoundland type.  He was a wonderful character.


This page was added on 08/11/2016.

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