|Abstract||From earliest times, Tollesbury had a transport system,
be it pack horse, horse drawn litter or horse drawn wagon.
Geographically situated on the edge of marshland, with no
through road, and placed midway between two important
towns, Colchester and Maldon, it was due to the initiative
and enterprise of local people, that a horse drawn carrier
service was in being early in the last century.
According to old records there were regular services to
Colchester on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and two
carriers on Saturdays. There was a service to Maldon on
Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, and to Kelvedon on
Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
The last named service would have been to enable people
to board steam trains to London or Suffolk and Norfolk,
before the Kelvedon, Tiptree and Tollesbury Light
Railway came into being in 1904. At the turn of the
century we find that a Mr. Ucal Weavers and Mr. George
Anthony, operated the Colchester carrier service,
Mr. Richard Collins, Snr., the Maldon service, and
Mr Bacon the Kelvedon route. The carrier vehicles
were four wheeled, iron tyred, lightly constructed wagons,
with canvas and lath hard top, to protect the passengers
from inclement weather, who would sit on benches ranged
inside on both sides of the vehicle. Straw was
provided inside in winter-time to give warmth to the
passengers. Parcels would be conveyed at threepence (1p)
per item, and stowed underneath the bench seats, in
addition the carrier van had a tail-board at the rear
for more bulky articles. Some sources say the carriers
left the Square (Green) at 8 a.m. for their destinations,
and left the "Essex Arms", Colchester, or "Ship Inn"
(Fullbridge), Maldon, at 4 p.m. for the return journey
home, but I remember them leaving Tollesbury nearer
9-30 a.m. and Colchester 6 p.m.
I would imagine there was no rigid time-table, it was a time of
patience and forbearance in those far off days.
It was a time of full employment, Tollesbury had practically
every profession and trade in its midst, there was no great
need to travel, except possibly to market, or matters
of legal, surgical, dental and optical importance.
Consequently there were never a great number of passengers,
except on a town gala day. The gentry and professional
men all had their own means of transport as of to-day.
The Rev. John G. Buttersby owned a coach and employed a
groom-coachman-cum-gardener, Dr. John Henry Salter,
dressed in military uniform, with pill-box cap, rode
horse back, the farmers and affluent yacht skippers
all had their smart horse drawn turn-outs.
Evidently no great fortunes were made by the owners
of the carriers, from time to time changes of ownership
took place. I well remember a day in early Spring
in 1915 travelling in Mr. George W. Osborne's carrier
to Colchester, halting ever so often to pick up a solitary
passenger or parcel, and stopping at all the recognised
places en route, Red Lion, Darcy; Salcott cross roads and
Sun Inn, near where Mr. Ponder's renowned pork sausages at
8d (3½p) per pound could be obtained; King's Head,
Great Wigborough; Fox and Donkey and Buskins, Layer,
where an iron shoe would be put on the nearside rear-wheel
for the descent of the hill; splashing through the ford
at the bottom (the road was much lower in those days),
and alighting at the other side to "stretch our legs"
and lighten the load for "Nell" the dappled grey mare
to draw the cart up the hill on the other side,
only to be halted at Kingsford Park Lodge by a
military officer on horseback to allow the troops
to march out for Colchester.
Hundreds of soldiers in full kit, came out marching
four abreast accompanied by the vociferous cries of
the sergeants "Pick 'em up there". One dear lady
exclaimed, "Poor dears - they are only boys" - to me they
appeared to be men, many with moustaches.
The columns of troops went along to Colchester
like a huge brown caterpillar and we trotted behind,
Mr. Osborne observing "This will make us late".
Arriving at the "Essex Arms", Essex Street, about 12
noon, we soon alighted, and were firmly instructed
"be here no later than 6 p.m."
A visit to the cattle market did not impress me,
I liked the animals but was incensed by the cattle
dealers prodding the beasts with their sticks.
I felt that I would like to get them in a small
cattle pen, and mete out the same treatment to them.
Meals could be obtained at The Market Tavern, or the
Three Gups Hotel, then next to the Corn Exchange
alongside the Town Hall in the High Street, but this
was strictly for the adults. I had to be content
with a sandwich, whilst the farmers and the like
entered the Farmers' Room, a small separate building
in the yard of the Three Cups, where the senior member
present would preside and carve the joint for the others
present. A visit to the Castle Museum was in the
vaults or dungeons, the Castle was devoid of roofs at
that time. Time passed all too quickly, and it was back
to the Essex Arms. "Nell" already harnessed in the cart
and ready to go. It is reputed that she was blind in
one eye, but knew every inch of the route and all stopping
places without bidding. My half-fare was 9d (4p), adult
return 1s. 6d (7½p). Mr. Richard Collins, Snr.,
was the other carrier in those days, and both carriers
owned wagonettes and coaches for weddings, etc.
Hire of a wagonette for the day was 6/- (30p) and was
economical for a family.
There was a draw-back in travelling in a wagonette,
as one was exposed to the elements. It was necessary
to wrap up warmly, and the provision of canvas backed
rug and coachman's umbrella, could make the journeys
The coaches or growlers were a different proposition.
The cab was well upholstered, and the driver sat outside
seated on a box seat at the front. These were used
mainly for weddings or funerals. I remember riding in
Mr. Collins coach one cold day, my uncle John Henry Gurton
had married Miss Annie Sams, and I was accompanying the
bride and groom inside the coach. Confetti was not
used at that time, but it was customary to shower the
bride and groom with rice. I was seated facing
opposite the bride and groom when a blue rice bag came
sailing through the open window, thrown by Arthur Frost
and hit me on the head, I was very distressed and I
remember Aunt Annie comforting me. Given the opportunity
sometime ago. I searched the Church Marriage Register,
and found that the date was 9th November 1910.
I was 2 ½ years old.
I liked riding in the coaches. Occasionally I had the
opportunity to ride in Mr. Osborne's coach to Kelvedon
on Sundays to meet down trains from London. When
passing the beautiful chateau type house on the
Tolleshunt Knights to Tiptree road, I fondly imagined
that I was Napoleon fleeing from the battlefield of
Waterloo, I had seen a picture at school also the
actual coach at Madame Tussauds (unfortunately destroyed
by fire 1926). Mr. Osborne never lost his love for
horses, although the founder of the firm which bears
his name to this day, he never drove a motor vehicle.
When he passed away in 1932, aged 60 years, his coffin
was borne to the funeral on one of his carts drawn by
his old favourite horse.
Public Transport - the Railway
Douglas Gurton Articles