|From a newspaper cutting dated 4 November 1971 shown recently to the museum comes this report - The Nutshell - a five hundred year old smuggler's cottage owned by a baroness in Malta, stands in the way of road improvements for the well-known yachting centre.
Three members of the Highways Committee suggested at Monday night's West Mersea Council meeting that the cottage and another, called "Little Timbers" should be knocked down to widen the road in "The Lane". But Cllr Alan Dawson commented: "I feel it's rather disgusting that three members of this committee should make such a buccaneer decision in so many minutes". Demanding a survey by traffic experts of the view of local residents, he said: "It seems to me quite disastrous to try and solve quite intangible problems by tearing down two houses in the most beautiful part of Mersea". He felt that to try and induce traffic flow into the area in question was "exactly the opposite of what it needs".
The cottage has been up for sale off and on for nearly two years and only recently a deal fell through. West Mersea estate agent Mr. S.A.M. Hines is currently offering the property for £5,500. The owner's sister-in-law Mrs C. De Milne, of Firs Chase, West Mersea, said "I think she will be most upset. It is a beautiful cottage and it would be a great pity for it to go. I believe it's one of the oldest cottages in Mersea". The last word came from 74-year-old Herbert (Bob) South, who lives in The Lane - "Well bless me" he said "I was once offered that place for £30!".
From another newspaper cutting dated 10 December 1971 comes this - The petition organised by Mrs Barbara Burgh de Milne, of Firs Chase, to save the two cottages in The Lane, Nutshell and Little Timbers, has been received by the highways committee. It will be taken into account when
making their final proposals to the council. A meeting is to take
place next Tuesday of Mr Price, clerk of the council, and residents of The Lane and City Road to discuss the proposed making up of the two roads and seek constructive suggestions.
As we now know, the two cottages still survive and The Lane has remained 6 feet wide.
Our thanks to Mrs Heather Haward for showing us these interesting cuttings.
"Little Timbers" and "Nutshell Cottage" in The Lane - photo by Mike L. Davies.
Published in Mersea Life local pages 22.