An Interview with Mrs F Watsham

Notes of an interview with Mrs Freda Watsham made by Nicholas Butler in the mid 1980s

These are the notes made by Nicholas Butler who interviewed Mrs Freda Watsham of 25 Lammas Way Wivenhoe 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 Watsham

Born in 1900, married in 1927.  Father-in-law took Vine Farm (145 acres) in 1903.   Husband (Claude) fought in WW1 but he hasn’t talked about it until recently, it made him deaf in one ear

What Mrs Watsham told Nick Butler

We took Cross Farm in 1920.   Before us Cross Farm belonged to Mr Heath, the oyster merchant.  Before Mr Heath it was Mrs Goldsmith who kept the Flag Inn, she died at Cross Farm.   We lived there until 1986 but parted with the land in 1970 something to Mr Macaulay who now farms it.

Football was played at the corner of The Cross.  There was meadow from the farm to The Cross.   They used to have the fair there as well, and a Horticultural Show.  All on Vine Farm Meadow.   When Brightlingsea played Wivenhoe there was always a fight afterwards, Brightlingsea and Wivenhoe could never agree.   Before WW1.   I can remember a moving picture affair at the fair.   Burglars and that going over chimneys and a dog after him/them.  Really frightened.   The Horticultural Show was with the fair.   You got “Squirts” which were tubes of water which you could replenish at the fair.   Boys used to go after the girls and girls used to scream.   Husk used to look at my mother’s apples or whatever and try to do better than her at the Horticultural Show.  There was a dustcart, no tarmac whatever.   Later: We had a marvellous well in our yard.   Cricket was played at Ten Acres up to WW1.   Between the wars was probably somewhere else.   Ten Acres was Barlow’s.   There were trees down The Avenue.   Barlow’s orchard came up where the council houses are.

It was a struggle for us to carry on farming.   We survived, we were lucky to survive.   Half the people who were in the yard when it closed went down to Southampton or Portsmouth and even the Midlands.   People weren’t afraid to move in those days.   If you went to Portsmouth or Southampton there would always be someone from Wivenhoe down there.   My father was a merchant seaman. Was on the Gunfreda.   Mr Oakley was captain.  WW1: she was back for refitting and got called up.Yard looked dilapidated before WW1.   Fishermen used to get their catches and then get drunk.   Schoolboys used to steal sweets off counters.   

Corner of Blood Alley was Beckworth’s, the pork butchers (where the bookshop is now)   Slaughterhouse was down there.   Norfolk’s butcher shop in Station Road, now a junk shop.   Dr Squire was there, he had one of the first cars.  Cole the carrier, boys used to get on his cart and play up and Mr Cole used to cut with the whip, back they would come sat on the pieces that came out on the wheels.

We used to go down the road with our hoops.


This page was added on 09/11/2016.

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