EARLS COLNE HERITAGE MUSEUM
The Old Water Tower
Earls Colne CO6 2SZ
NEWFANGLED WAYS 2018 Exhibition
How the village moved with the times
The title of the exhibition was inspired by the poem by Charles Benham, then the editor of the Essex County Standard, written at the end of the nineteenth century.
AS WE WERE
This photograph, taken in 1872, shows the view from the corner of Burrows Road looking towards the Baptist Chapel before Reuben Hunt built his house ‘Tillwicks’ on the village green
Charles Tyler, the local pharmacist, took this picture of the High Street from the corner of Queens Road. Although the view is still recognisable, there are no street light. No telegraph poles …. and no traffic
Mr Tyler’s most famous photograph of the forge has appeared in many publications. If you look at the right -
At Colne Ford, a narrow wooden footbridge allowed pedestrians to cross the river. Horse-
Philip Buck, recalling memories of his childhood in the 1850s, made the point that rural life in those days had its drawbacks
“Rusticity was everywhere apparent. The oaths were un-
Lower Holt Street
High Street, looking West, in 1900
The Castle in 1900
ALL ABOARD -
When the Colne Valley and Halstead Railway Company built a branch line between Chappel and Halstead in 1860, the station at White Colne also served Earls Colne
Whte Colne Station
But William Buck, the younger brother of our previous contributor, was proud of being one of the first passengers.
“The day on which the railway was opened in February 1860, I had a trip to Chappel and back. No station had been built then and tickets were issued from a square wooden hut. Uniforms were not provided for the railway staff and, as the train was approaching, the old man who acted as Porter would ring a handbell.”
The original ‘request stop’ at the bottom of Station Road, Earls Colne, was known as Ford Gate Halt. The picture shows the wooden hut which served as an office for the Station Master, George Evans.
In 1862, the Colne Valley line reached the town of Haverhill and the local paper, announcing the great event, proclaimed:
“The shareholders have cause to to congratulate themselves on the accomplishment of an effort that their children’s children will boast”
In 1903, Reuben Hunt provided land and finance for a new station at Earls Colne, including a large goods yard and a house for the station master. Two years later, the station officially became known as ‘Earls Colne’ in the railway company’s timetable.
Further facilities were added, including a Ladies Waiting Room and, as well as the regular services, the company provided special trains for Excursions, as Ted Scillitoe could recall:
“Hunts had an annual outing to Yarmouth and the whole Works was closed and, consequently, the schools were closed. The children all used to go, and the picture shows the platform crowded, with everyone eagerly awaiting the arrival of the train. Hundreds of them, there were, crowding on to the train to go to Yarmouth for the day”
The Colne Valley line became part of the Great Eastern section of the LNER in 1923 which, in turn, became part of British Railways in 1948. The photograph shows the large number of people required to staff the Earls Colne station in 1947.
Passenger services were wihdrawn in 1961 and, like many other rural branch lines, the Colne Valley fell under ‘Dr Beeching’s axe’ in 1965.
Station Yard at Earls Colne
LIGHTING THE WAY
The Gas Works at the bottom of Colneford Hill was completed in 1835 and the Essex Standard prepared its readers for exciting developments:
“This pleasing spot in the Colne Valley is rapidly improving under the spirit of progress evoked by the presence of the ‘Iron Road’. Now the parishioners are bestirring themselves to secure illumination of their residences by means of gas”
Laying the gas main in Earls Colne
Opposite ‘The Lion’, Tanswell and Payne shoe shop -
As this picture shows, when there were floods at the Ford, production at the Gas Works was brought to a standstill.
Henry Massingham was both Company Secretary of the Gas Light& Coke Company and Chairman of the Parish Council, formed in 1894, so it was not long before the subject of gas street lighting appeared on the Council’s agenda.
The initial arrangement of the lights was approved in Maay 1899. There would be 32 lamps from Station Road to the top of Colneford Hill with 12 placed in the side roads. The lamps would be lit from the middle of September to the middle of March (except on nights when the moon was full!!)
These ‘before and after’ pictures of the Foundry Lane junction show that the position of the lamps took little account of the hazard to traffic
It was not until 1932 that the Parish Council decided once more to move with the times and a contract for street lighting was signed with the East Anglian Electric Supply Company. Even so, the lights still remained off during the summer and on nights when there was a full moon.
KEEEPING IN TOUCH -
Early postal services were provided at the Tawell family’s drapery store, which is now the Draper’s House Restaurant.
Joseph Farrants took over the business and continued to act as Postmaster for thirty two years. When he retired in 1901, he thanked his assistant, Miss Sally Walsh, for her loyal support
A few months later, the Parish Council started to make enquiries about the installation of a telephone service. The G.P.O. (General Post Office) insisted on a guarantee of at least 12 subscribers and the local paper made the excited announcement in September 1902, a year before Halstead got on line.
“On Wednesday next the village will realise one of its favourite ambitions and people will be talking over the newly installed telephone system. What is the next enterprise to be? The switchboard is large enough for 30 subscribers, if they should turn up.
When Mr Gordon Kelly became the Postmaster in 1953 the exchange was located in the dining room and was manually operated. As this picture of Mrs Dorothy Kelly shows, the family had to make sure that one of them was always on hand to dea with callers
The telephone exchange eventually moved to a building in Park Lane, whch is now used as the Nursery attached to the Primary School
AT THE TURN OF A TAP
In 1894, the District Council began to consider improvements to the Earls Colne water supply, but the earlier plans would have made only a few additions to existing wells and pumps.
Occupants of Hunts houses were more fortunate. They had a supply piped from the well at the Atlas works.
After a very hot summer in 1890, when many wells ran dry, Reuben Hunt provided a public water tank at the end of Queens Road which was also connected to the Atlas Works supply
By 1907, the construction of a water main was still underr discussion, as the local, paper reported:
Pump at Tillwicks
Still, it was another seven years before a bore-
The pumping station fed the water tower in Coggeshall Road but, in the early days, there were many complaints about the quality of the muddy-
ON THE ROAD
As We Were
Keeping In Touch
At the Turn of a Tap
On The Road
Despite the arrival of the railway in 1860, most people’s journeys relied on horses until well after the First World War.
The message on this particular postcard reads “Off to Tiptree for a Strawberry Tea at six pence each”
From an early age, Edith Willsher of Burnt House Farm helped her father with his milk round by horse and cart. By 1922, at the ge of 17, Edith and her cousin were doing the milk round ontheir own. In the picture above they have stopped outside the cottages in the High Street opposite the chemist’s shop
Tim Osborne’s father owned a bakery at White Colne and also did his deliveries by horse and cart but, as Tim explains, when a new horse was bought from the local dealer Don Stedman -
“The old horse used to run away, you know. It used to take it into his head and suddenly run off. Opposite the shop there was a builder called Eves. They used to go gover to Eves’ and get a long ladder and put it across the Colchester road for when the horse came round the corner, so they could turn it into the yard. Yu could see that happening now, couldn’t you!!
The Lion in 1900
Upper High Sreet in 1909
Walter Buck, who later operated a carrier service between Earls Colne and Colchester, had childhood memories of the 1860s, when donkey carts were also in regular use.
“On a Saturday afternoon it was not unusual to see a load of coal being drawn up the High Street of Earls Colne on a four-
The Moore family of Kelvedon started a business as horse-
Moore’s bus in 1951
Moving with the times, the firm switched to buses in the 1920s and started a regular service between Kelvedon and Earls Colne. Here, their bus is parked on the Green outside Priory Farm while the driver takes a tea break.
When Moore’s buses were taken over by Eastern National in 1963, the Earls Colne to Kelvedon service was withdrawn
Moore’s bus in 1961
Like their Kelvedon competitors, the Blackwell family began their business as horse-
Claude Snell, who left school at 12 to become an errand boy at the drapery shop owned by Joseph Farrants, recalled the effect which the new bus service had on local traders:
“It had been a flourishing business when I went there. Besides Mr Farrants and his wife, there was a milliner who made hats and also dress-
The bus conductor supplied tickets from a wooden clip board. Even when engine power increased in later years, he would repeat the familiar joke when the bus reached the steep hill at Aldham:
“Right! Anybody in a hurry had better get out and push!”
Blackwell’s started a coach service to London in 1929, with a later return time than the last train, making it more convenient for outings to the theatre and other attractions.
Other local traders began to seize the business opportunities offered by the increasing demand for motor vehicles. The Walford family, who originally sold pedal cycles, diversified into motor bikes.
In this picture, Mr Walford is working on a Walls Auto-
Next door to Walford’s, Joe Gage took over a shop which had previously sold groceries, drapery and furniture, to begin his taxi business.
The dubious distinction of causing the first motor car accident in the village fell to Walter grimston of Colne Place. As he was Master of the fox hounds, a churchwarden and a Justice if the Peace, the Halstead Gazette’s report of the accident in September 1902 must have caused him considerable embarrassment:
“Colne, in order to be in the fashion, has just had its first motor car accident. But, fortunately it was not a very serious one. On Wednesday while Mr W. E. Grimston. J.P. Was driving his car near Stone Bridge. he collided with a fruit cart from Halstead which lost three spokes from one of its wheels.”
At the end of the nineteenth century, Silas Poulter lived in a cottage next to Mulberry Close. He decribed himself as a carrier and job master, meaning that he hired out horses and vehicles to local customers
Lower Holt Street
His son Bill, seen here in the left-
The Poulter family
“ He used to tell me about his early days in motoring, including steam transport to London, seeing vehicles without conventional steering wheels, men walking with speed-
In this picture from the 1940s, there is a pump reserved to supply military vehicles. Even after the war, some customers received special treatment, as John Stedman recalls:
Priory Garage in 1930
“They kept open for petrol from 6 a.am until late evening..To get people he knew out of trouble during the night, he would throw the keys to the petrol pumps out of the front bedroom window of his cottage to the stranded motorist below, so they could serve themselves and pay him when they were next in. He was still in control of the pumps in the bedroom where the electric isolation switch was and the emergency cranking handles were always kept out of sight.
At one time, it had a motor cycle recovery vehicle which carried the motor cycle and a looped rigid bar from the recovery vehicle was coupled to the towing motor cycle.
Bird in Hand pumps
Poulters had a very good trade considering they had opposition from three other garages, all selling petrol within about a mile. Even the Bird in Hand pub on the Coggeshall Road had two petrol pumps at one time. In 1972, a year after the sad and untimely death of his only son. Bill, and six months after the death of his wife, May, bravely trying to keep the garage running, Bill Poulter senior had to finally sell the Priory Garage
ON CALL -
Dr John Polly Taylor moved to Earls Colne in 1812 and set up his Practice in the annex of ‘Boxteds’ in Upper Holt Street.
In 1842, he was joined by his son, John..
To celebrate Young Doctor John’s 60th birthday in July 1899, the Vicar -
‘Young Doctor John’, as he was known to the village, was President of the Cricket Club and was famed for his hospitality, as well as his gift for telling stories.
“In the coldest winter and the hottest summer, in the midst of blinding snow and rain and under a tropical sun he has ever been ready, day or night, to meet any call and to turn out in his well-
Revd David Methven
Dr Ted Pallet joined the practice in 1887. In this picture he is seated on the right of the Senior Ambulance Class which he taught
To commemorate his Golden Wedding in 1943, he was presented with a portrait which now hangs in the Surgery at Earls Colne. When he retired two years later, the local paper calculated that he and his two predecessors had served the village between them for a total of 133 years
Dr Lily Mackinnon became Dr Pallet’s junior partner in 1927. Although it was unusual for a small practice to have a woman doctor at that time, she was popular with her patients and became the Senior Partner on Dr Pallet’s retirement.
Just before the National Health Service was introduced in 1948, Dr Brian Taylor moved from a post as House Surgeon at the Colchester General Hospital to become a partner in the Earls Colne Practice. Five years later he was joined by Dr Mark Cutts.
The picture shows Dr Taylor at his wedding, with Dr Cutts, on the right, who acted as Best Man.
In 1974 the practice moved to a purpose built surgery in Queens Road
Throughout his medical career, Dr Brian Taylor always tried to ‘move with the times’. As well as being a qualified anaesthetist he also studied psychological medicine, homeopathy and acupuncture.
The picture shows him being presented to the Queen at a reception for homeopathic practitioners.
Coupled with his dedication to his patients was a lively interest in a wide range of village activities. In an interview recorded towards the close iof his long and fulfilling life, he summed up his approach to his work.
“One of the ways in which I practised was to see a need or gap in my knowledge, or in the way I practised or the way I got results from what I did, and to try to remedy that gap, fulfil the need. So that meant that I did move . All the time the number one priority was the people on my list and my commitment to being a GP. That was what I was under contract for. But I became interested, as I said, in anaesthesia. I became interested in psychological medicine and I trained by going to Ipswich, where there was a psychiatrist who ran a group of doctors who chose to go, in which we began to discuss amongst ourselves what is called ’family medicine’”.
3 verses from A Ballad of Protest, written and spoken in Essex Dialect
by Charles Edwin Benham around the turn of the nineteenth century
To listen to the recitation, click on the speaker icon
Atlas Works Water Tower – now housing Earls Colne Heritage Museum