38 The High Street
High Street Project Team
Little Wick, formerly known as The Laurels was the family home of Henry Harlow, his wife Alice and 4 daughters. They moved in shortly after their marriage in 1875. Henry was a mariner, serving on the newly built “Rosabelle” in 1901, becoming a Master Mariner, as well as a serving member of Wivenhoe Urban District Council ( W.U.D.C.) In 1906 he had the somewhat dubious distinction of being the first member to die in office. The 1911 census shows Alice living in Clacton with her teacher daughter and that their former house is occupied by live- in caretaker Emily Watcham.
We can surmise that at some point between 1906 and 1911 W.U.D.C took over ownership of The Laurels as it was known at that time. Prior to that parish records suggest that the newly elected council were meeting at The Old Board School. The Council remained in ownership until1928 until it moved to the current offices further up the High Street. It is not clear when the name of the building was changed to “Little Wick” but it was recorded as this in 1939.
Emily Watcham occupied 6 rooms of The Laurels with her husband and 7 children.
Mr Watcham, was in charge of the horse-driven dustcart provided by the Council to water Wivenhoe’s roads to keep the dust down. He also worked as a night scavenger emptying ‘privies’. The stables were in the yard behind.
The fire brigade stored their barrow, bucket and hoses at 30 Alma St a short way down the road from the offices. A maroon at the back of Little Wick would be fired to summon the men.
W.U.D.C. had a public urinal built behind Little Wick accessed via Alma Street which remained until 1973. According to school logs. this was built in response to a complaint by the Headmaster who was displeased when soldiers used the walls of the school in an “ad hoc manner”.
Dr Skinner bought Little Wick from the W.U.D.C. and operated his surgery there between 1928 and 1935, selling it on to Dr William Dean and his wife Marjorie. The house was a family home again until 1948, with a side entrance for the surgery. During WW2 a steel cage was placed in the basement to act as an Anderson Shelter. After the war Dr Dean moved his surgery to The Avenue opposite what is now Palmer Gardens. The house was sold again in 1979 to a private buyer and remains as a private residence.
- The Story of Wivenhoe Nicholas Butler
- Wivenhoe Web Encyclopaedia
- Notes of Interviews carried out by Nicholas Butler WHG Archive