Hector Farthing and Clifford White's coal cart
Following on from last month's article where I mentioned the deliveries made by horse and cart, I thought I would go into more detail. The most prominent as far as I am concerned was Clifford White's coal cart driven by Hector Farthing with the horse Tony, who kept us supplied throughout the war and for sometime after until the coal business was sold out to Philip Underwood. Philip's yard was on the site of the present Old Forge Filling Station, named after the forge that many of us will remember being operated by Tom Bailey.
Munson Cooke, whose yard is now Peter Clarke's boatyard also delivered by horse (Gypsy) and cart. In my time he was also having coal brought in to West Mersea Hard by sailing barge.
Munson Cooke's cart horse "Gypsy"
Baker's delivery cart. M.O. Smith
Fred G. Smith's bakery in Mill Road had a number of carts on the road. Charlie Dowsing drove the Co-op bread van and the horse was stabled behind the grocery shop, which is now a funeral parlour. During the war his 'Boy' on the rounds was Ron 'Charky' D'Wit who told me of a rather frightening experience they had during the war whilst delivering in Mersea Avenue. A German bomber dropped a stick of bombs from just behind the water tower through to St Peters Road. Charlie and Charky were at the back doors of a pair of houses delivering bread to Mrs Woolf and Mrs Cudmore (Now nos. 11 and 13) when one of the bombs fell in the middle of the road. They went out to survey the damage and found a shallow crater in the road, the front of the houses had been sucked out by the explosion and most alarming of all, the horse and cart had completely disappeared. The horse had bolted with the cart and was found in Firs Road. The van didn't have doors at the back, just two curtains, and the bread had a fair covering of rubble and dust. I asked Charky what they did about the rest of the round, 'Oh we just brushed the loaves off and carried on' he said. I remember the occasion well. It happened late morning just before we came out of school for our dinner break, so we did the usual and went looking for bits of the bombs.
I mentioned in the previous issue that even the dustcart was horsedrawn. The actual cart was owned by the West Mersea Urban District Council, as it was then, but the horse belonged to Johnny Dixon who was also the driver.
His horse was also used the pull the tar pot I mentioned in the last issue - but at busy times it was not unusual to hire a farm horse or one of Clifford White's. Two of his horses were used to pull the hearse. Clifford was also an Undertaker and when I started work there in 1946 the hearse was still there tucked away in the shed. I wonder what happened to that?
Mersea Life August 2018 local page xx.