Beach Tea Gardens - West Mersea. The sign on the fence says The Garden Cafe. This later became the Spinney Cafe.
The Garden Cafe, along with 10 beach huts, was originally built in 1896 by the owner of Five Gables, the large house at the bottom of Willoughby Avenue.
Another copy of this card was posted in 1952.
A picture used in one of the slide shows run in Mersea Museum.
Comment from Gail Roger 7 January 2012:
I am delighted to find this postcard! My great-grandfather Alexander Hales, a builders' merchant contractor, built Five Gables when he came into his inheritance. He had a number of businesses, mostly based in North London, but retired permanently to Mersea in 1914 with his wife Elizabeth, dying at Essex County Hospital in 1928. According to other family sources, one of his five daughters, Lizzie, managed the tea house for a time with her husband Fred Brayley.
Peter Tucker writes:
I have memories of this cafe from my childhood days.
In those times it was known only as The Beach Tea Gardens and the sign on the fence of the early photo shows Tea Garden Cafe. I do not recall the name
Spinney being in general use before the war. That it was sited in a
copse or spinney is without doubt, and perhaps other folk know better.
The building on the left in early days was more or less an over-flow
servery, with ice-creams, sweets, cigarettes and beach tea-trays when
it became busy on Sundays and holidays.
My early recollection at around the age of five to six years, was of the
Pierrot show on the beach in front of the cafe. An elevated stage of timber was erected and candy striped hangings at the sides and changing
room tents attached to the rear. The troupe dressed in loose clown-like
garments with conical hats and bobbles, had their faces suitably
whitened, did a series of acts from slapstick to singing accompanied by
a battered piano and a concertina which provided the music. This would
be in the late 20s early 30s and we kids saw the Saturday morning show
which was more or less a dress rehearsal I would assume. Run by a Mr
Franklin, who took local 'digs' for the duration of the tour and on wet
days used the Legion Hall I understand.
The building became part of the gun emplacement restricted area during the war and housed among other armaments, the dummy loader,
which was used to train gun crews on the loading and unloading of the
shell and the separate cartridge as used on the battery guns.
The writing on the back of another copy of this says it is a pre-WW2 view