Living and Working at The Park Hotel 1912 – 1945
Memories of Minnie Scott during this period
Summarised by Helen Polom
Mrs Scott (Nee Porter) was born 1909 and moved to The Park Hotel when she was 3 years old. She was interviewed for the Wivenhoe Remembered project aged 95 in 2004 and this account is based on her memories of living and working at The Park Hotel.
My mother’s Uncle ran the pub before us (Joseph Traylor). When father returned from the Boer War, mother’s Uncle wanted to retire so father took it on. Father rented it from Daniells.
My parents brought up 6 children – us 2 girls of their own and 4 other children belonging to mother’s sister who was killed with her husband. (Brother in law was Sparling)
Father (Alfred Porter) was a big man, he used to pick them up and put them out. Father was strict in the pub – everyone out by 10.
I served in the bar from when I was 16. My Mum and dad didn’t have a day off until my sister was 18.
Description of the living and working areas
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 Mums 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 1920’s.)
There were 4 bedrooms at the top of the house.
The pub had a back room where people sat.
WW1 Solders billeted
During WW1 we had soldiers billeted at the pub. They were farmers’ boys from Norfolk. One of them was called Lodes. They brought eggs back when they went home on leave.
Start of WW2, the sisters take over
When father died, in 1940, mother carried on running the pub. I stayed. I took on running the pub. I had to.
After my parents finished my sister and her husband (Don Mason) took it on.
When WW2 started my brother in law was called up. So me and my sister ran the pub. I stayed there.
My husband was doing war work so it was mainly me and my sister. My sister was shy not happy about doing it.
Keeping the pub running in difficult times
Every day it had to be scrubbed out, the bar and all the seats. There were 5 fireplaces to clean and coal had to be brought up for the fires. I had to brauch the barrels to get the beer to come up from the cellar. We didn’t finish until 10 then had to wash it all up and get ready for the morning. It was hard work. My husband helped in the cellars after his work.
We were rationed. If I knew anyone was ill I’d save the brandy for them I didn’t sell it in the pub.
There was an air raid shelter in the stables next to the pub where the horses were.
It was busy. We had the engineers in the Club Room and if the cricket club wanted a lunch we had to prepare all that too, on our own.
The beer came in the early years by horse and cart and then by lorry. Nearly all in barrels. We had one on the counter. That was the strong stuff.
During the War (WW2) I ran the pub. I did all the ordering.
Customers during the war years
They were a nice crowd nice, Wivenhoe people. Workers from the shipyard. They were always nice to me. The girlfriends and wives of soldiers stayed at the pub when they were on leave.
Air pilots used the pub. They would be talking and one would say to the other “don’t be late” and I’d say “you’re going over aren’t you” and I’d offer a little prayer. My sister and I would go to the top of the Park Hotel and watch them go over. We saw one being chased and it was shot down. Poor thing.
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.
After the war I moved back home.
Broach : Wedging the barrel on a tilt then hammering the tap in the barrel
Links to Other pages on this Website:
- The history of the Park Hotel
- Scott M: Oral recording of Minnie Scott (nee Porter) from the Wivenhoe Remembered Project 2004.