Having left High Street last month, we will take a few steps into High Street
North and Clem Smith's greengrocers on the corner of Mersea Avenue
Clem was another local shopkeeper who was a local councillor and could often get quite excited about certain issues. I recall at a public meeting many years ago he got so wound up that he got up and stormed out. The chairman
announced, that Cllr Smith had left the chamber
to cool down - which he did and returned after a
few minutes. This shop became Cresta Stores
when ran by Mr & Mrs Hoole and has now been
demolished to make room for new houses.
I lived in Barfield road for the first 7 years of
my life so I have a good memory of that in
I could write a whole page on Digby Bros.
Ironmoners. Edgar Potter Digby was also a
local councillor and a member of the Town
Regatta Committee for many years. A stout
little man who always wore a navy blue beret
and glasses with little round lenses, there was
usually a pipe dangling from his mouth making
him easily recognisable on many an old photo of
councillors and regatta committee of the 1930s.
He had a pale blue Austin Seven car which
he used to deliver paraffin around the island.
There was also a horse and cart driven by John
Stacey. This also had a large paraffin tank at the
back with a large brass tap and a tin dangling
underneath to catch the drips. The cart was
well loaded with pots and pans and the popular
galvanized tin bath. 1 believe this cart had
pneumatic tyres - unusual in carts at that time.
Our wireless set was powered by an
accumulator battery which had to regularly
be taken across the road to Digby's for
recharging. The recharging set with its water
cooled Lister petrol engine survives to this
day and is on exhibition at our museum.
Digby's also sold petrol from two hand
operated pumps on the forecourt.
In the shop you were often served by Mrs
Mabel Banham, Mr. Digby's housekeeper.
She was a big lady who seemed even bigger
because the floor behind the counter was
higher than that in the shop.
Her son Hugh was very clever with radio and
later with television. He supplied our first mains
radio and TV. He was later the sole proprietor
of the shop and it closed soon after his death.
Up the side of the shop was a long cinder
track with a garage at the end where the cars
were kept. The other car being a rather fine
There were always geese in the driveway
which called loudly when anyone
approached - very good guard dogs.
On the other side of the track was the
Home Kitchen, a little tea and cake shop
first opened by Marjorie Wray and her sister.
This was later taken over by F.G.Smith and
Son who moved their whole business there
from their premises in Mill Road. This little
shop was yet another to be demolished and
replaced by a brick built shop with living
accommodation over. It is still going strong
as the Old Mill Bakery.
The shop next door was Titfords Dairy
Supplies. The photograph below shows Guy
Titford with his pony and cart.
The Titfords moved away to St Osyth and
later the shop was taken over by George
Mason who also sold milk and dairy
products. A little further on and next to the
cemetery was a little wool shop called The
Spinning Wheel. This has been a cycle shop
for many years run by Paul Davis who has
just had the shop rebuilt with a flat above.
These small shops are still being replaced by
larger shops with accommodation over.
Moving on down Barfield Road past Clifford
White's extensive yard and across the road
we came to W. E. Bamborough's chemists.
Wilfred Ernest Bamborough was a big man
with a soft deep voice and always seen in a
crisp white coat. He also did hairdressing I
was told but, I don't remember it in my time.
Mr Bamborough later went into business
with Jim Ross and the business became
Bamborough & Ross. Then Alexander
'Sandy' Morris came along and he had a
large new shop built which continues as our
chemist today as Boots. The old shop is now
Going on past the school gardens and
opposite the old original school we came
to a grocers shop run by Ernest and Lilian
Slaughter. My Mum did a lot of her shopping
there and a particular favourite of mine
were the little ha'penny marsh mallows in a,
crinkly pink paper. I started by peeling off the
chocolate coating, sucking the marsh mallow,
then licking the jam off the biscuit which I
finally ate. They were a very good ha'pth.
Most of our food and grocery came from the
Co-op on the corner, now an undertakers.
I can picture it now. As we went in, under
the counter on the left was a large drawer
containing loose sugar.
The manager Albert Lee always seemed
to serve Mum. He and my dad were next
door neighbours as boys in East Mersea
and I suppose this was how Mum had his
The sugar was scooped up with the
sugarscoop and poured into a paper bag
sitting on the scales until it was the correct
weight. It always fascinated how Mr Lee
folded the surplus paper on the top, finally
tucking in the flap and making a neat job so
that the bag wouldn't spill a drop. Cheese
was served from the counter opposite. A
wedge of cheese was laid on the piece of
white marble with a thin wire attached to
the back edge On the other end of the wire
was a toggle and the wire was laid loosely
over the wedge while Mr Lee looked up to
Mum and on her approval would cut off a
smaller wedge which was then weighed and
wrapped in white paper.
Two young girls started work in the
Cynthia Cudmore and Lorna Mills.
Lorna joined the WAAF during the war and
became, a quartermaster. I bet she was
a very good one too. On retirement she
returned to her beloved Mersea and is best
remembered by her married name Lorna
Tarran. I never met her husband. He may
have died before she returned to Mersea.
I spent many a happy hour at her bungalow
in Yorick Road yarning about about Mersea
in the old day's and the whiskey bottle would
often come oit. I usually declined because I
was driving and still refused when she would
say 'Goo on booy, a little drop ownt haart'
Article published in Mersea Life January 2013.