ID: ML2015_001_P52 / Ron Green

TitleWest Mersea toilets
AbstractAn article written for Mersea Life, January 2015.

I'm sure most of us in West Mersea are very concerned to hear that Colchester Borough Council plan to close three of our four public conveniences. In order to save themselves money, they want West Mersea Town Council to take them over. WMTC say they cannot afford to. A report in the Colchester Daily Gazette lists the two toilets on Victoria Esplanade are to close together with the one at the hard. In today's Gazette, December 19th. they apologise for their error and one of the Esplanade toilets is to stay open and the one behind the library is to close.

All of this has got me looking into the history of Victoria Esplanade and the two toilets. I can just remember the Victoria Esplanade, Broomhills Road and part of Prince Albert Road being made up in the late 1930s - known locally as 'The Concrete Road'. The two toilets have been there, and in use apart from the war years, since that time. Until around 1950, there were no houses along Victoria Esplande. There were just four holiday chalets - Mersea, Osea, Creeksea and Wallasea, plus one other, and the Fairhaven Cafe, a wooden building owned by William Daley and Miss Gillian Dymock. They were between Seaview Car Park and Fairhaven Avenue.

All the rest was overgrown with mature brambles, bushes and hawthorn, very useful if anyone got caught short in an emergency. It was a remarkable coincidence that just as the last plot is being built on the toilets were to be closed. Thankfully it now looks like one will remain.

The image above from one of my postcards shows the scene as it was c1950. Looking towards the East, on the left is the junction of Alexandra Avenue and behind that in the distance is Whitehaven, a hotel in Seaview Avenue built by local builder Deeks in the 1930s and long since demolished.

The white building to the right of centre is the toilet and behind that is Mr Daley's house with the cafe attached. A Suttons coach is parked in Fairhaven Avenue while the day trippers take tea in the cafe. At that time we were still on Mersea water which was a trifle salty and not everyones liking. Suttons and Eastern National ran coaches to Mersea from Clacton in the summer months.

The Esplanade car park appears to have only two cars parked but on a busy weekend there would have been a lot more, even in those days. How things have changed!

AuthorRon Green
PublishedJanuary 2015
SourceMersea Museum