About The Park Hotel (from about 1862 to 2008)
Located on the corner of Belle Vue Road and the High Street
The Park Hotel was built in 1862 by John Eade on land he had purchased following the break-up of William Brummell’s Wivenhoe House estate in 1859. The Hotel is a majestic building at what was then the entrance to the village.
It functioned as a social hub for locals and ship workers living in this part of Wivenhoe.
The 1960s and 70s saw a further revival of The Park Hotel before its decline and eventual closure in 2008.
Origins and the name
The name for The Park Hotel came from the name of a piece of land known as ‘the Park’ that was acquired in 1801 when Wivenhoe House estate was being assembled by Edward Sage (Wivenhoe House Estate Deed ERO D/DU 225/7). This estate comprised some acres of land to the east of the High Street, with the Wivenhoe House mansion itself located where Rebow Road is now.
The transcription of the original deed (Marsden 2016) tells us that when the estate was sold and the house dismantled, John Eade, a builder, bought the land on this corner and the adjacent plots in 1862 for £201 17 shillings.
The first mention of a pub/hotel at this location is in auction adverts for 1863, 1868 and 1870 showing that John Eade was trying to sell a property called “The Park Hotel”. The Hotel was being leased by the brewery company Nicholls & Co at that time.
This auction advert (ES, 23 September 1870) gives us our first description of the property:
“A substantial and roomy messuage and full licensed public house called The Park Hotel with excellent yard stabling and extensive premises. The private house adjoining in the occupation of Mr John Harvey”
A change of name?
Evidence that The Park Hotel was functioning comes in the application for a licence by Mr Jones on behalf of Abraham Ham in September 1864. The licence was granted but the article gives us additional information about the growth of Wivenhoe at that time in this application:
“Mr Jones….remarked on the extraordinary increase of the population and house property in Wivenhoe.” (ES: Friday, 9 September 1864)
Primary evidence for this period is very limited as licensing records have not survived. In this case the available secondary documentation has highlighted what could be evidence of a change of name to The Park Hotel or may be just a clerical error. The Essex Almanac, a trade directory published annually by the Essex County Chronicle, lists Abraham Ham as landlord of “The Commercial” from 1865 until 1868 when he moved to become landlord of The Greyhound. No other record has been found to date of a pub named “The Commercial” in Wivenhoe.
Siting a hotel in this location would most likely have been a speculative commercial venture, possibly in anticipation of business from commercial travellers. On 8 May 1863 the Colchester to Wivenhoe railway was completed (Butler 1989 page 119) and there was anticipation of the opening of the railway line extension from Wivenhoe to Brightlingsea. On Monday 21 September 1863 The Park Hotel function room was chosen as the venue for a banquet and speeches made by the directors of the new Railway Company led by George Bradley. This was to celebrate the start of work on the line which finally opened in 1866 (Butler 1989 page 122).
There is little evidence to tell us what sort of people stayed at the Hotel in the early period, but oral records by former landlords tell us that soldiers were billeted there in WW1 and soldiers and their wives stayed there during WW2 when on short leave.
A Function Room for meetings and events
During the late 19th and early years of the 20th century, the Hotel with its function room was where sporting clubs gathered for celebrations. The first named clubs that met regularly were the Cricket Club and the Quoits Club. This was followed by meetings to start up Wivenhoe’s first Football Club in 1890. Their annual meeting was still being held there in 1914. In 1908 the Wyvenhoe Athletic and Cycling Club held its inaugural meeting in the Hotel (Butler 1989 page 178).
Notable early landlords
The first known landlord was listed in the 1871 census as Joseph Holder, a yacht captain who lived there with his wife, Sarah Ann nee Barr, her parents and her brothers and sisters.
A full list of landlords can be seen on the Landlordsand Breweries list in the link below.
Joseph Harlow was a master mariner and took over the lease for the Hotel in 1900 with his wife. Joseph was involved in the Captains’ teas, the oyster fishery and the Tory Party in Wivenhoe. Gothic House, just a few doors down from The Park Hotel, was the HQ for the Conservative and Unionist Party. So it is possible that the facilities of The Park Hotel and its function room would have been used by this organisation.
Joseph’s daughter, Sarah Ann, took over the lease with her husband, William Dines, for just one year before it was taken on by Joseph Trayler, an ex-Master Mariner and sea captain. He was a licensed victualler; his wife Hephzibah and 7 of their 10 children are listed in the 1911 census living at The Park Hotel.
Joseph Trayler’s niece and her husband, Alfred Porter, began their tenancy with Daniell & Son in 1915 at The Park Hotel and it remained with them until 1938 when the tenancy passed to his son in law Don Mason and daughter Carola. Between 1939 and 1946, during WW2, Carola Mason and her sister Minnie Scott, Alfred Porter’s daughters, ran the pub themselves with some help from Minnie’s husband, Gordon Scott. After Don was demobbed, he took back the tenancy and it remained with the family until 1952 (Scott M 2004).
The WW2 period
The period during WW2 was a very hard time for the two women who were running the pub and were also looking after their children. Don Mason was called up for service and was based at Hayling Island in Hampshire, while Mr Scott continued with local war work. Minnie Scott and her husband moved for this period from their own home to The Park Hotel. The stables had by this time been converted into a garage for Don’s car. Minnie Scott describes the clientele as being mainly shipyard workers but also visiting pilots and soldiers. Cricket Club dinners and Union meetings still had to be catered for as well as the regular customers (Scott M 2004).
Minnie Scott gives us a further description of the property:
“When you went in the family door there were stairs opposite. There was always a dog at the bottom of the stairs. The kitchen was in the cellar. It had a brick floor, a big stove, a copper in the corner for doing the washing and a table and chairs. Mother used to cook there – we ate breakfast there but went upstairs for dinner and tea. It was homely. On the middle floor was Mum’s sitting room, over the bar. They were big rooms. The Club Room stretched right across the pub. We used to help set out all the chairs. Union meetings were held there, the AEU (Amalgamated Engineering Union formed in the 1920s.)
There were 4 bedrooms at the top of the house. The pub had a back room where people sat.”
“At the end of the war, on the playing field, there was quite a celebration. Half of Wivenhoe was there. We did a dinner for Park Hotel customers in the Club Room.”
You can read more about life in the pub during WW1 and 2 in the summary of the recording of Minnie Scott. See link below.
The Park Hotel post WW2
The pub continued to be used by Wivenhoe sporting clubs for their annual celebratory dinners and trophy presentations. Housing development on nearby Spion Kop (Ernest Road, Stanley Road and Manor Road) would likely have provided additional custom.
The1950s photo shows landlord Don Mason 3rd from the right and customers being presented with the News of the World Darts Championship trophy. According to his son, Don was a keen darts player and the family remember the old darts with their wooden body and real turkey cock feathers.
Don’s cousin Peter Sparling continued the “family dynasty” for a further 4 years until Tom Wise took over the lease in 1956.
Prominence during the 60s and early 70s
The Park Hotel rose to prominence again in terms of its sales and popularity over the 14 year period from 1961 – 1974 when Harold McKea took over as landlord. (ERO Brewery Sales ledgers 1927 to 1974) Truman’s brewery had taken ownership during that period and despite the many disparaging comments about the quality of his beer, beer sales of both bottles and casks were significantly higher than in previous times. Sales of wine and spirits tripled.
Former customers have fond memories on a Saturday night of live entertainment, including bands regularly playing in the bar, “go-go” dancers and a DJ. The Park Hotel was on the route of the popular Wivenhoe Run, a pub crawl for students from the newly opened University of Essex. Lunchtime was also a busy time, when Sunday footballers finished their weekly game on the King George playing field and headed back to The Park Hotel where “Mack” would have all their beers lined up on the bar.
The Park Hotel had an Off Licence which would have added to its sales. To the right of the main door was the red door that was the entrance to the “cubby hole” with a hatch through to the bar. Here youngsters would be sent to buy cigarettes or tobacco for their parents. Beer could be bought by the jug to take away, also bottles of spirits, wine and beer, or crisps and confectionery (Facebook: Wivenhoe Memories Group June 2020).
The brewery sales ledgers 1927 to 1974 show that by the early 1970s the sales of wine and spirits were far outstripping those of beer. (ERO IMG 3160 and 3161) The draw of The Park Hotel continued into the late 1970s and through to the early 1990s when it became one of only a few pubs in Wivenhoe with a pool room and also the only pub offering accommodation (Facebook Wivenhoe Memories Group 2020).
Closure and new life
Like many pubs in the 1990s The Park Hotel saw a significant decline in footfall and it eventually closed its doors on 28th November 2008. IFollowing that it was substantially altered and extended. The top 2 floors were converted into leasehold flats and the ground floor became Jardine’s Restaurant. More recently the ground floor has become an Estate Agent’s premises.
Links to other pages on this website:
- William Brummell 1777 to 1853
- Deed relating to 4 parcels of land on High Street and Former Brightlingsea Road
- Wivenhoe House Estate
- WW2 Memories of Minnie Scott working at The Park Hotel
- The Landlords and Breweries of Wivenhoe’s beerhouses, public houses and hotels
- Daniel Southgate, Joseph Harlow and Wm Dines, former Landlords of the Park Hotel by Mary Norris
- Butler N, “The Story of Wivenhoe”, Quentin Press Wivenhoe, 1989
- ERO: Essex Record Office
- ES: Essex Standard (newspaper), Colchester, England
- Facebook: Wivenhoe Memories Group, Comments on posts of The Park Hotel,June 2020
- Gothic House: https://www.wivenhoehistory.org.uk/content/topics/streets/high-street/high-street-100/gothic-house-128-high-street
- Marsden P, 2016 https://www.wivenhoehistory.org.uk/content/topics/places-buildings/pubs/deed-relating-to-four-parcels-of-land-on-the-high-street-and-former-brightlingsea-road-1862
- Scott M: Oral recording of Minnie Scott (nee Porter) from the Wivenhoe Remembered Project 2004.