An Interview with Mr Walter Wix

Notes of an interview with Mr Walter Wix made by Nicholas Butler in the mid 1980s

These are the notes made by Nicholas Butler who interviewed Mr Walter Wix 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

What Mr Wix told Nick Butler

I was born in Anglesea Road, James Husk lived where Mr Horrigan lives now.   Swin View was the name of one of the houses, you could see the Swin Light.   Cox and King was created during WW1 but went into decline after that. When I was a boy it looked something like it does now.   James Husk employed a fair number of men   

I left school when I was 14. The Wivenhoe Boys School.   For a time I worked at Lasts which was then run by a man called Duffield.   The bakers, I spent 12 months working for them and a friend asked why I didn’t apply for a job at the pit.   Through that contact I went over to see Mr Loveless and he gave me the opportunity 1937-1984 I worked there, interrupted by the war.  Wivenhoe Sand and Gravel Company was founded in 1920.   Mostly Wivenhoe men, one or two from Alresford.   People had to walk to work in those days.   After WW2 employed men from Great Bentley, Thorrington and around the area.

Buster Edwards whose father ran the gas works. (P J Edwards 5 Rectory Road)

My mother-in-law Mrs Braithwait of 74 Belle Vue Road has a photograph of the “Blonde” leaving Wivenhoe with Dr Kevern on board.

William Loveless built cottages in Keelar’s Lane which are still occupied by employees of his firm.

29 men employed there from the 1920s and early 1930s, I went there in 1937.   Horses and carts were still being used.   It was gradually being modernised.   In those days, initially, I think the land belonged to Frank Pertwee who was managing director of Pertwee’s in Colchester and he and Mr Lilley were partners in a clothing factory in Colchester.   They were joint shareholders.   Mr Loveless came as Manager.   He was in the Army in WW1.   He has a son Bill who lives in Lincoln (Rev. W E Loveless, 10 Barretts Close, Langworthgate, Lincoln)   As far as I know I think they lived in Great Bentley or Elmstead and his father eventually moved to Wivenhoe.   They had a house built in Belle Vue Road.   Eventually he became a partner then Managing Director and remained there until 1961 when they sold out to the Tilbury Group.   Initially the East Anglian part of the Tilbury Group was called The East Anglian Roadstone and Transport Company Limited (locally known as Earat).   Tilbury was the parent company. Until 1968 we continued to be called The Wivenhoe Sand and Gravel Company, an independent company within the Tilbury Group.   In 1968 the Tilbury image was put in front of everything, Wivenhoe Sand Company dropped and we were part and parcel of Tilbury Roadstone Ltd.   In 1985 the Tilbury Group sold off the whole of the East Anglian Company to Redland Roadstone Ltd, a national concern, and now it is Redland Aggregate Ltd.   Something like 60 to 70 people involved.   Quarry staff of 9, at least 25 drivers and vehicles, workshop staff and technical staff. Speak to Alex Stanmore.

The lorry drivers were paid 25/-d, the pit men, less.   There was overtime, of course, based on that basic rate. When I went back after the war I was on £3.50.   Went as a clerk at 10/-d a week got 3/-d more after a month’s trial.

They had to work, if they didn’t he would twiddle his moustache and stamp his feet, no skiving.  He was a fair employer but no slacking.   Every man had a chicken at Christmas, we used to draw for them because they were all different sizes.   A joint of beef as well at Christmas, we all had a chicken, a joint of pork and they were beautiful joints.   A cwt of potatoes free after we had lifted a potato crop.   He cared for his men, a good employer.   We used to have this outing, it used to be a real booze-up.   It was an organised outing, Mr & Mrs Loveless used to come too, we had spending money given to us.   When I went in 1937 I suppose they had an average of 30 men.

For pictures and more information about the Wivenhoe Sand  & Gravel Company – Click here

Ben and Martin Barrell opened Alresford Sand and Gravel Company down at Alresford in the mid 1920s.   We used to get 3d for a load of logs at the woodyard owned by the Barrell brothers in those days.

Young Bill (Loveless) was a magistrate and on the probation panel, he went into the Church and worked at Danbury and St Marks Church Cambridge.   He stayed there and became a canon and rural dean.

My father was on the Sapphire, the Karen, the Altair and he was also on the Nahlin, that was the yacht on which the Prince of Wales and Mrs Simpson cruised, but not at the time he was on it.   She was the biggest yacht afloat in those years.   He was Lady Yule’s personal chef.

The Labour Exchange was in Alma Street (No 5?), there was Jack Mallett’s house on the corner and then a row of I think 3 or 4 cottages or houses; the next house tends to be set back a bit and has a wider front and this was the Labour Exchange.   Whittle’s garage was also in Alma Street almost opposite No. 5.   I remember when the Manager of the Labour Exchange was George Brooks.

My Dad was a Chef by trade but had to take employment as a labourer, ballast and pipes.   Poverty depended on the wife, if she was a good housekeeper.   My mother used to pass on our clothes to people who would ask if she had clothes she could spare.

The Quay was run down, if the people who occupy those houses now could see what they were like then, they would have a shock.    I remember when on the left hand side of Brook Street there was a line of terraced houses and they were slums occupied by families from the North of England.   They were terrible places.

Ends

This page was added on 09/11/2016.

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