Supplying the shops
The drapery travellers used to come round . . Morleys . . and they used to bring all their great big wicker hampers on the train when I first was there, and the carriers used to bring them down from the station and dump these things, you see, and they used to try and sell you stuff, and then they'd take orders, and then it'd come afterwards. That's how the buying was done.
The worry at Easter time on the Good Friday - everybody in those days always had something new to wear for Easter, you see - a new suit, that sort of thing. And I'd have so and so wasn't there - or might be someone getting married at Easter - dash up to the station - on every train to see if it was there.
We used to get vegetables for the shop from Freebornes - I used to get my cabbages and stuff from . . Benton Hall . . and Shelley's down the Maldon Road - buy locally if we could. There used to be two little men, I used to think they were like the dwarfs, you know. They had a garden field or allotment up Hatfield Road - they used to have like a box on wheels, you know, a barrow, and bring their marrows and cabbages and things.
There was no abattoirs or whatever they call them now - there was nothing like that - the butcher simply went to the farmer, bought the cattle, had them drove home, on the road - used to walk them home into the slaughterhouse yard - and there were all proper places for them to stay for two or three days, or perhaps a week or more. And the sheep used to be drove in just the same. They had two meadows down the Maldon Road where we used to bring the sheep . . perhaps you'd buy a flock of sheep of about 30, and they'd all got to be fed and looked after till they were ready, you see.
He used to pride himself on the quality of his meat, I must say that . . There was a farmer out at Braxted, he had a brother in Devon, and he used to send cattle up here, and my grandfather used to go there and inspect it, and buy it, and they'd be haggling for hours . . I'd go and sit in the car, and they'd walk round this farm yard . . and I'd think they were never coming back. And they'd talk and talk and talk and talk and talk, and eventually my grandfather'd come back and we'd drive off, and after a few days some drover would come up to the back gates and deliver about half a dozen bullocks, and they used to be grazed in that field, the second field from this room here, which is now full of houses.
Christmas time they used to have the bullock in the shop so you could see it before they slaughtered it . . on show . . used to have some lovely cattle at Witham market . . and they all used to have the rosettes on . . and if they'd got a red rosette that was a first prize in its class, the butcher'd probably buy it and have it standing in his shop a day or two for people to look at.