ID: PH01_MWA / Geoff Gonella

TitleRecollections of Mike Watson
By Geoff Gonella
Peldon History Project

Mike and Jane Watson have lived in Peldon for many years, and have taken part in a variety of local activities. In the company of Elaine Barker I was fortunate to interview Mike in December 2017, at their charming and historic home near Peldon Common. The following text is in Mike's own words.

"We first came to Peldon in 1964 when I returned from service in Cyprus and came to visit my father who had bought Game's Farmhouse in 1961. We visited Peldon quite often and came to live in Spring Cottage (previously called the Old Post Office) from 1971 to 1974. After going to Germany again in 1974 and then to Stratford-on-Avon, we came to live in Game's in 1980.

Spring Cottage was built in 1898 and has been a post office, a barber's shop, and possibly once a grocery shop. Also a policeman was once accommodated there. The name 'Spring' comes from the fact that it's one of a line of properties along Lower Road that are built on a 'Spring Line' where there is a ready supply of water from springs or wells. There was also a small nursery in the garden to the west of the cottage, with greenhouses and a boiler to heat them. This was run by Tiny Prior, who later moved to run a post office and nursery in the centre of the village triangle reached by a path just west of Fallen Oak.

When we first came to the village, the Methodist Chapel on the north side of Lower Road opposite Game's had an active congregation. Just after we came to live here in 1971, the Chapel was being taken down by Mr Voorstaker-Field; he cleaned and scrubbed every brick (these were high quality and made in Kent). He used all the bricks to build the present house, Chapelfields.

The Forge and cottage was the first property on the left as you go up Church Road. "Smudger" Smith, a well-known character, and his wife lived there when I first came here. It's hard to say when it stopped being a Forge because the people there did repairs to motorcycles and so on. There was a connection with motorcycles used at the 'Wall of Death' in the Kursaal, Southend-on-Sea. After the Smiths left to live in the Glebe, the new owner had a builder from Wigborough strip all the cladding and the tiles from the roof, so that the frame could be straightened and levelled.

I never met Kay Gilmour [Note 1] but my father, Jane, myself and our two children were at the opening ceremony of the 'old hall' as we know it now. In the photo of the opening, one can see several people who are still here in the village.

Princess Anne once made a visit to Peldon, to open the Autistic Centre. She was flown in by helicopter, which landed on the Common. She may have been back, I'm not sure.

An early Peldon shop was in the house where the Moss Haye path meets Lower Road. That shop was fitted out especially for the purpose and remained so fitted long after it had ceased to be a shop. Then there was Dansie's Stores (opposite the sheep paddock at the side of Brickhouse Farm house); when we first came it was owned by Mr Wyncoll who was assisted by Leslie Mallett, who delivered all-round the village on his bicycle. After he retired he lived in the Glebe. I remember Maggie and Ken as owners, but they may not have been the final owners. The shop was definitely there in 2000.

The Common is difficult to quantify. It includes a strip of land on the south side of the road, and the boundary is different on old maps to what it physically is now. Mr Sawdon was once Lord of the Manor, and he owned some of the land known as 'Manorial Waste'. The Parish Council probably have more details on file.

I am currently researching the history of Games farm, and will gladly pass on my findings to the Peldon History Project."

Note 1: Kay Gilmour - Peldon resident, published author, part-benefactor of the 'old' Peldon Village Hall, and the researcher of 'Peldon in Essex, Village over the Marshes'. (Published posthumously. A reference copy is held by Colchester Library, Local Studies section).

AuthorGeoff Gonella
Published12 December 2020
SourceMersea Museum