ID: ML2023_002_052 / Ron Green

TitleMemory Lane - the village centre

Jack Botham was a photographer on the Island for many years after WW2. He was a keen flyer and left us a collection of over 300 aerial views, mostly taken 1959 to 1962. The photograph here is about 1962 and shows what can perhaps be thought of as the village centre. It is close to home for Jack Botham - his photographer's shop and house is in the centre at the bottom. In those days it was the first and only shop on the right as you went down Coast Road to the sea.

At the top left of the picture, the bus park has the small office block which had the bus crew's waiting room and Inspector Bert D'Wit's office. Note the oil slick which dripped from sumps of the buses. The single decker by the garage was the 'Spare' and used for the East Mersea service. This area is now the MICA, with the buses reduced to a layby at the front.

Houses opposite the bus park have been replaced by offices and Queen's Mews. The large tree in front of the Post Office has gone as have the trees behind the Post Office in Yorick Road, replaced by shops and bungalows. Across High Street from the Post Office stood 'Birdie' Cole's shop, and at the back of it a billiard room. It went in the early 1970s - this is now the access road to the Library and Car Park.

Arthur Cock's butchers is still the same but Johnny Hart's barbers behind, which belonged to Cock's, has now been made into their kitchen.

Church Road is lower left in the photograph. On the north side is Bank House which later was extended to become Cook's Garden Centre - it has a spare plot alongside where an extension to the Blackwater Hotel ( now gone) was yet to be built. The corner of Church Road and Coast Road is still to be developed - the white concrete base on the ground on the corner of Church and Coast Road was from a large water tank placed there during the war for emergency use by the Fire Service. The shops on this corner were built in 1967, and Botham's shop was extended at the same time.

Centre of the photograph is the White Hart, thankfully reopened last year after a major restoration. On the right, nestling in the trees, is West Mersea Parish Church - and hidden under the church yard a large mosaic pavement dating from Roman times and probably the site of a Roman Villa. We are not the first to live here.

AuthorRon Green
SourceMersea Museum