Maldon Oral History
People who lived in and around the town recall their early lives.
They paint a remarkable picture of Maldon as it used to be.
Here's a brief introduction to each of our Maldon 'voices'.
You can listen to their story by clicking on the name
or visiting the Listen to recordings page
All information on this page was correct at the time of recording.
SHEILA ALLEN (Born 1945) A 30-minute Interview in November 2017.
Sheila talks about the creating of the Maldon Millennium Embroidery. She was one of the chief embroiderers and recalls the details and intricacy of the work; also, the “Thursday Ladies” who worked at Lee Cash’s home for over 2 years.
LEWIS BANYARD (Born 1939) A 20-minute Interview in February 2019.
Lewis was born in Purleigh but spent much of his time in Maldon. His uncle started Banyard's Taxi service. After school, Lewis worked at the Ironworks and then on the construction of Bradwell Power Station. He recalls that parts of Maldon had a radio relay service for those who could not afford their own radios. He remembers the gas works and another uncle who was responsible for the gas lighting in the High Street.
CLLR. Bob Boyce MBE (Born 1938) A 30-minute interview in December 2022.
Bob has lived in the Maldon district since the age of 17. He was elected to Maldon District Council in 1983. He has been Leader of the Council twice and Chairman three times. He has been involved in many notable changes and innovations in Maldon, has met several of the Royal Family and was awarded an MBE in 2015.
RICHARD BRIGHT (Born 1934) A 20-minute Interview in May 2017.
Richard explains the history of the Bright family solicitors and their ancestor the “fat man” of Maldon. He remembers the High Street and the Prom Park in the late 1930s and 1940s; also the British Legion, Home Guard and other war time events, plus the visit of WW1 German soldiers to Maldon in 1937.
JOHN CAME (Born 1933) Two short interviews: November 2016 and April 2017.
John remembers the Southend-to-Clacton bus on which he travelled to Maldon in the late 1930s and early 40s. Also, the Maldon bus station, Prom Park in war time, the High Street, and Ansell’s the Butchers delivering to Danbury. He joined the Home Guard when it was re-formed in 1950. He trained in Danbury Scouts Hut, wore an army uniform with a blue beret, and often went to Maldon to train with their Home Guard on waste land by the Causeway.
STAFFORD CHIPPERFIELD (Born 1952) An 18-minute interview in February 2022.
Stafford remembers the Point-to-Point horse racing at Beeleigh every Easter Monday, working in the ‘Valley’ as a teenager, later working at Green’s Flour Mill, and the wonderful week-long Carnivals in the Park.
BETTY CHITTENDEN (1933-2022) Two interviews in July 2017, 30 minutes.
A lovely recollection of early life from the 1930s onwards of living in a cottage on the Causeway in Maldon, schools, wartime and early working life, including being treated for TB 1953-1956. She remembers all the Co-op shops in Maldon and John Sadd’s timber yard and fields.
JANE AND MOLLIE CLARK - Sisters from Heybridge Basin. (Born 1939 and 1946) A 30-minute interview in June 2018.
The sisters talk about their young lives in Heybridge Basin and about their father, Alf “Dilberry” Clark – his work and his interests. They recall the barges, the local shops, working at Sadds, the eel business, the Jolly Sailor pub and fishing.
TED CLAYDON (Born 1936) A 40-minute interview in July 2021.
Ted speaks about his father’s fishing boat, selling the catch on the beach and enjoying swimming in the lake. He tells precisely how dabs and eels were caught, how he helped with the pleasure and rowing boats on the quay, his apprenticeship at Sadds, being in the RAF, going wild-fowling and how everyone seemed friendlier in the past.
JUDITH COKER (Born 1932) A 50-minute interview in May 2022.
Judith is a remarkable lady, 90 years old. From a large family, she recalls the fear of wartime, working in Maldon Post Office and then going to college to become a Maths teacher. Her Maths skills helped her to learn bell ringing and the piano. She is also an impressive artist and knew Charlie Tait well. She remembers the Queen’s visit in 2010.
PAT CUNDY - nee CRAMER (Born 1938) An interview of 37 minutes in June 2019.
Pat had a very happy childhood in Maldon and she recalls many fascinating details of life in North Street, playing on the ‘Downs’, war time and the excitement of everyday activities with her family and friends.
MARGARET DAY (1935 – 2021) An interview of 40 minutes in March 2017.
Margaret, past Chairman and President of the Maldon Society, talks about that Society, the Maeldune Heritage Centre, the Embroidery, Maldon Museum and the well-known Victorian evenings.
BRUCE DEDMAN (Born 1929)Two interviews of 35 and 17 minutes in June 2017.
A great compilation of recollections of childhood in Maldon, both before and during the war. A good insight into family life in the 1930s where money was tight and children had many and varied experiences and adventures! Recollections of Maldon Bus Station, Sunday fish deliveries, pea picking, the Hippodrome cinema, ARP exercises in war time and many more.
DIANA DOLLERY - (Born 1932) A 40 minute interview in January 2023.
Diana lives at ‘Crossways’, a house which her grandfather and his wife, Myra Sadd-Brown bought in 1908. Diana describes how Myra, a suffragette, was imprisoned and fought for justice and equal rights for women, both in the UK and abroad. Diana also recalls the Sadd family timber business in Maldon and her own busy life.
JOHN DOUBLEDAY (Born 1947) A 40-minute interview in August 2021.
John is an internationally famous sculptor and painter. He talks about his work and the many sculptures he has created, including Nelson Mandela, the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, to name but a few. His well-known local sculptures are Byrhtnoth and the sundial in St Mary’s Churchyard.
COLIN EDMOND (Born 1950) A 23-minute interview in January 2019.
Colin’s parents lived in part of the old Maldon Workhouse which they were renovating. As a teenager, he started working on barges and later skippered ‘coasters’ around the coast of UK. At the age of 35 he was appointed lock-keeper at Heybridge Basin where he stayed for 25 years. After this he was manager of the whole Chelmer & Blackwater navigation and the Old Ship pub.
MICHAEL ENNALS (Born 1942) A 23-minute interview in October 2018.
Michael recounts the history of Acacia Drive. He was only 2 years old when his house was bombed but he describes the horror of it. He recalls his school days at All Saints Primary and remembers the vast Co-op empire in Maldon, shops and land, which were eventually sold off. Some of the history of the United Reformed Church is mentioned, also the building work in 2000 which resulted in a time capsule being discovered.
NIGEL FARMER (Born 1953) A 40-minute interview in December 2018.
Nigel explains how and why he started his Maldon Brewing Company, “Farmer’s Ales”. He describes the setting up of the business and the details of the brewing process. Now retired, he is helping his son expand the brewery into new premises.
ANDREW FAWCETT A 14-minute interview in January 2018.
Andrew describes his involvement with the Maldon Millennium Embroidery. He worked with the chief designer, Humphrey Spender, assisting with the designing, his particular role being the arranging of coloured netting on the base fabric.
CHRISTOPHER FOYLE (1943–2022) A 67-minute interview in November 2018.
Christopher describes his early memories of Beeleigh Abbey and his grandfather William Foyle. He recalls the Foyle business, the library, his Aunt Christina and some of the restoration work on the Abbey. A recent visit by Canons of the Premonstratensian Catholic order is related along with some of the history of the Abbey.
BILL GELLER (Born 1931) A1-hour interview in June 2022.
Bill explains that, as a soldier in the British army, he volunteered to march in the 22-mile-long procession for the Queen’s Coronation in 1953, which he describes in detail. He also talks about his work as a marketing director for an international firm in Heybridge which was eventually bought out by an American firm.
CHARLOTTE HARDING A 16-minute interview in February 2017.
Charlotte was a student in the winter of 1971/2 and lived on the barge Guinevere moored on the Hythe. She helped with the archeological dig of the site which is now Barclays Bank in the High Street (closed in 2022). Previously it was Tesco.
JUNE HOLLAND (Born 1935) A 40-minute interview in September 2021.
June was interviewed together with her sister-in-law Ann Matthams and Ann’s husband Trevor. They all recall memories of Heybridge when it was a village, with only 3 street lights, no telephones and deliveries of milk, bread and greengroceries. The ‘Towers’ Bentall home and grounds, also the Heybridge Swifts football team original pitch are also remembered.
DAVID HUGHES (Born 1950) An interview of 80 minutes in June 2019.
During a happy Maldon childhood, David enjoyed sports and loved the old barges. He is a well-known local musician and has played with famous bands. He is also a writer, having written several plays about Maldon and a book “The Maldonians”.
PHILLIP JARVIS (Born 1949) A 35-minute interview in January 2022.
Phil was born in Maldon and was an apprentice Joiner in Heybridge Basin where he worked on Saturdays in the Eel business. His love of rural pursuits, working with his dogs at Shoots, vermin control and wild-fowling took up all of his spare time, and he continues to participate nowadays whenever possible.
MARIE KEEBLE (Born 1946) An interview of 30 minutes in November 2021.
Marie married into the Keeble family 56 years ago. Here, she and her son Carl, tell the story of the history of the family, including involvement with barges, and their home, Wintersleet Farm in Maldon. They recount some of the huge farming changes and challenges the family had to cope with, but also their successes.
LINDA KEYES (Born 1945) A 17-minute interview in August 2019.
Linda was a receptionist at the Blue Boar Hotel in the 1960s. She started at the age of 16. The hotel was one of the Trust House Fortes group and very smart. She has good memories of a diverse group of staff and happy working conditions. Beer was 11p a pint; chicken curry, an unusual dish, was on the menu; and a boar’s head was on the table at Christmas, dyed blue.
ALFRED KNIGHTBRIDGE (Born 1935) A 35-minute interview in January 2017.
From the late 1930s onwards, Alfred remembers Spital Farm and surrounding fields, Maldon East and West stations, the Embassy cinema and the High Street. In later years, he commuted to London daily, was a well-known member of the Maldon Drama Group and the Maldon Society. He remembers the building of the Maldon by-pass.
JOHN LEA (Born 1947) A 7-minute interview in January 2017.
John, a conservation architect, first visited Maldon in 1986. He mentions Market Hill, the Hythe, St Mary’s and the High Street which seemed somewhat depressed. He was responsible for a specification for the re-shingling of All Saints Tower, which he had to climb inside.
SHEENA MACKAY (Born 1958) A 23-minute interview in September 2020.
Sheena remembers her grandfather in Wivenhoe who had a sad childhood, being sent to an orphanage in Bristol at the age of 3. Sheena discovered that his grandmother, Sarah, born in 1840, had run a shop in Maldon High Street. She used to hide sweets under her long black skirt for the children to find.
RICHARD MEAD (Born 1950) A 40-minute interview in January 2019.
Richard grew up in Maldon. He recalls his youthful activities: football, collecting empty bottles for money, playing at Beeleigh and on the railway lines, swimming in the Prom lake and working in the “Valley” for Peter Williams. He also remembers the Embassy cinema, Beeleigh Point-to-Point, catching Dabs and Maldon Carnivals. Later he worked at Sadds.
CHARLIE MIDDLETON (1931-2022) A 45-minute interview in July 2017.
Having retired as a Social Worker, Charlie moved to Maldon and became involved in many activities: the Plume Library, train driving in Witham, NSPCC Inspector, the Citizen’s Advice Bureau, the Museum in the Park, Meals on Wheels and the U3A.
MOLLY MIDDLETON (Born 1934) A 15-minute interview in February 2018.
Molly’s skill was quickly recognised when she joined the ladies working on the Maldon Millennium Embroidery and she was asked to join the ‘Thursday Ladies’. She recalls which motifs she worked on and how she did it. She enjoyed helping with tours for children of the completed embroidery and she remembers Lee Cash with affection and respect.
MARGARETT MIRZA MBE (Born 1937) Two interviews in July & September 2021 of 50 and 55 minutes.
Having lived in Market Hill as a child, Margarett has a remarkable memory of her young days in Maldon, including details of her parents’ shop, war time and the local ‘secret’ resistance group, local characters and much more. She reflects on her upbringing and how she was shaped and influenced by the small community around her. She was awarded her MBE for being Head of the British Overseas School in Pakistan where she lived for many years with her husband. Her wealth of memories is fascinating to listen to.
DEREK MONK (Born 1930) A 50-minute interview in February 2019.
As a boy and young man, Derek lived next to Bradwell Airfield. His boyhood memories include watching the British and American planes and meeting Douglas Bader. Later, he was an agricultural worker and a long-serving member of the Observer Corps. He talks about various shops in Maldon High Street, also ploughing most of the fields around Maldon which are now completely built over.
SHOLTO MORTON (Born 1935) A 35-minute interview in October 2021.
Sholto and his wife, Elspeth, have lived in Danbury, Woodham Mortimer and now Maldon; always in old historic houses. He has been fund-raising for the Poppy Appeal and Farleigh Hospice for very many years. A relative of his from over 150 years ago was responsible for the creation of the Victoria Cross. Sholto talks about Maldon’s only Victoria Cross recipient, Fred Corbett, and his story.
WENDY MUNNION (Born 1944) A 25-minute interview in January 2018.
Wendy, a very skilled embroiderer, talks about the initial setting up of the Battle of Maldon Millennium celebrations, which included the creation of the Embroidery. She recalls all the motifs that she worked on, some of which were quite challenging. Wendy was responsible for the supervision of the finished Embroidery in the Moot Hall in 1991 and did tours and talks about it.
CAROL NOAKES (Born 1948) A 54-minute interview in February 2019.
Carol recalls her early life living with her grandmother in Queen Street. She and her siblings enjoyed swimming in the Prom Park lake and crabbing on the quay. Home life was very happy despite there being no washing machine or fridge. Apple and pea picking provided some income for her Mum and going to the cinema was very popular.
MICHAEL OVENDEN (Born 1955) A 23-minute interview in July 2018.
Mike describes moving with his family to Maldon, where his parents bought the well-known grocers, Collins, at the top of the High Street. He recalls details of the old premises and several incidents with his brother as they explored their surroundings. He worked in the shop for a number of years. Beeleigh Races are also described.
DAVID PATIENT (Born 1947) A 35-interview in January 2020.
David is a shipwright and boat builder and has worked on numerous barges in Maldon. He was employed at Cooks Yard for many years when it was managed by Barry Pearce. David later had his own boat-building premises in Maldon and was closely involved with the Cirdon Trust, re-rigging and maintaining their vessels. He has recently just completed a book on the life of John Howard, a Maldon barge builder, 1849–1915.
BARRY PEARCE (Born 1939) A 48-minute interview in November 2019.
Barry talks about his early life and how he was first attracted to barges. He worked on various boats and barges before coming to Maldon in 1958. He lived on a fishing boat and then a tug which he owned; he took over the lease of Cooks on the quay. He built the current large boat shed and worked, with others, on numerous vessels. He is also a very talented artist and has sold paintings.
MERLE PIPE (Born 1941) A 1-hour interview in February 2020.
Merle recalls her early life living on a farm in Great Totham, also war time memories including the German prisoners of war who worked on the farm and were kind to her and made her toys. She talks about certain aspects of farm life, including recycling. In later years she ran a children’s nursery. Merle also relates some stories about the High Street.
RUSSELL PITT (1925–2021) A 55-minute interview in June 2018.
Russell was interviewed at the age of 93, when he talked about his large extended family of fishermen. He gives colourful accounts of Dagger Lane’s (lower North Street) reputation. He recalls his merchant navy career and touches on local politics. His wife Annie mentions their wedding at the then Maldon Registry Office; they were one of the last couples to be married there in 1969.
MOLLY POLDEN (Born 1929) Two interviews of 25 minutes in November 2018.
Molly was born in Heybridge Basin and recalls her youth there. She left school at 14 and went to work on the railways, based in the Goods Offices at Witham, Maldon and Colchester. Molly recalls her father being stationed on Osea Island then living in Malta. Going back to earlier years she enjoyed playing in the mud on Northey Island. She was a Church Organist for many years.
MIKE PRATT (Born 1956) A 20-minute interview in January 2017.
Mike’s step-father owned the Maldon built sloop the “Blackwater Cygnet”. As a boy he enjoyed sailing, going to the Marine lake and buying dabs. He remembers the Heybridge Basin Jazz Club. He recalls various aspects of the High Street and the Fisherman’s Hall on the Hythe. He worked at Bentalls before going in to the Navy.
JOHN PRIME (1929-2021) Two interviews of 15 & 35 minutes in 2016/17.
John became interested in barges as a boy living in Shoeburyness. In 1943, age 14, he cycled, with 4 friends, to Wiltshire to help with the harvest. Being war time there were no signposts but they got there, worked for 2 weeks, then cycled back to Southend. In later years he bought his own barge, “Gippin”, fitted it out and lived on it with his family for several years on the Hythe. He also fitted out the barges “Kitty” and “Centaur”.
JOHN RAVEN (Born 1942) Two interviews of 22 and 15 minutes in 2018.
John has lived in Maldon all his life. For 50 years he worked as a Sailmaker, mostly in the Sail Lofts on the Quay. He describes his work in fascinating detail. He is the last Sailmaker in Maldon. A stained-glass window in All Saints Church was commissioned showing John and his colleague Roy. John also describes other work that the sailmakers were asked to do: making body bags for the police, making clothes, mending deckchairs and the Town Hall flag and making leather sails for the adventurer Tim Severin.
CHARLOTTE ROBERTS (Born 1948) A 26-minute interview in June 2019.
Charlotte was the oldest of 9 children, living in Mount Pleasant where she remembers Markham’s lemonade factory. She was responsible for the younger children when they went out and she did lots of work in the house and the shopping, so she missed much of her schooling. Feeding a large family was hard, especially when Dad couldn’t get work.
GLORIA ROWSE (Born 1933) A 35-minute interview in March 2018.
Gloria worked at Beeleigh Abbey, starting in 1978, employed by Christina Foyle who was the daughter of the previous owner, William Foyle. Gloria was a researcher of books but later became Christina’s PA. She describes the eccentricities of the household, including the many animals which contributed to the shabbiness and neglect of the Abbey.
JEAN RUSSELL (Born 1935) A 15-minute interview in October 2022.
Jean’s parents ran a café in Station Road, Maldon, which was a wooden hut to start with. She lived in a bungalow on the Causeway which was raised up to avoid the frequent local flooding. Jean has been doing the laundry at All Saint’s Church and with husband, Ken has been cleaning the brass for 70 years.
KEN RUSSELL (Born 1934) Two interviews of 30 & 25 minutes in September & October 2022.
Ken spent his early years in Langford and worked for Does for 40 years. He recalls his life and events during wartime. He was Verger at All Saint’s Church for 30 years. Going back to his childhood again, Ken describes the family cottage with no running water or electricity and when the Doctor operated on him on the kitchen table.
GRAHAM SMITH (Born 1950) A 45-minute interview in July 2017.
A Maldonian, living above a High Street sweet shop which his parents owned, Graham remembers details of the shops and local characters of the 1950s and 60s. He recalls the Maldon carnivals, the pageants, the drama groups, the 1971 Queen’s visit, gas lights and a Sunday School outing by train from Maldon East station.
JANET SMITH (Born 1938) A 20-minute interview in November 2022.
Janet has lived in Heybridge for most of her life, as did her parents and grandparents. She recalls her parents’ shop in Holloway Road, working in Heybridge Laundry, going on steam train journeys and the frequent severe flooding from the Creek. She has been a long-term member of the Royal Voluntary Service.
JEAN SMYE (Born 1947) A 40-minute interview in April 2019.
Jean and her husband Dave have kept bees for 30 years, 25 of them in the Maldon area. She has been secretary of the Essex Bee Keeping Association, has taught bee keeping for 19 years and, together with her husband, looks after 40 bee colonies on local farms. She talks about her experience of bee keeping, honey extracting and dealing with stings! She also recalls some of the important historical influences on bee keeping in Essex.
HEATHER STEPHENS (Born 1941) A 10-minute interview in March 2018.
Heather, nee Pitt, talks about her father and grandfather, the last fishermen of Maldon to make a living from their catch; how they rescued Canadian airmen in the war and what they fished for in the Blackwater. Heather remembers the cold winter of 1947, the frozen river and the Beeleigh wooden bridge being washed away after the thaw. At school in 1949 she recalls boxes of apples being sent from Maldon in Australia – a big treat!
COLIN SWINDALE (Born 1948) 1-hour interview in August 1921.
Colin’s life has centred on boats. He lived on a boat at the age of 15 while an apprentice shipwright. He restored hundreds of mainly wooden craft; also working as crew on coasters and barges. He describes many colourful incidents and places visited. For many years his boat, the “Telegraph” was a well-known sight moored in the river alongside the Prom lake.
CLARE URRY (Born 1938) A1-hour interview in March 2022.
Clare moved into King Street with her husband and two young children in 1964, later moving to other homes in the area. She describes how she originally fell in love with Maldon and later became Chairman of the busy Townswomen’s Guild. She speaks about several different aspects of life in the Town but, most importantly, about the Queen’s visit in 1971, where she was presented to the Queen and had a good chat with her!
JUDITH & JONATHAN WENLOCK (Born 1944 and 1954) A 70-minute interview in February. 2018.
Many and varied memories from two shop-keepers’ children growing up on Maldon High Street, including wartime experiences. They had fun in the Prom park and at the fair and by the canal and river. They remember animals on the land that became Butts Lane car park. The role of the police when securing shop premises is described.
ROSS WHEELER (Born 1937) A 30-minute interview in November 2021.
Ross has lived in Maldon since a boy. After assisting his father, George, in running Wheeler’s Fish & Chip shop and restaurant at the top of the High Street, he took over the shop. He describes the premises and from where they got their potatoes and fresh fish. His distant cousin, Rene Harrison aged 91, was also present for the interview and describes fond memories of her time spent in Maldon as a girl in the 1940s and 50s.
JOHN WHISKIN (Born 1951) A 1-hour interview in May 2018.
As a boy, John remembers activities with his grandfather and lists the High Street shops. He was a delivery boy, taking round fresh meat on his bicycle. He is interested in steam trains and recalls Maldon’s trains, buses and vans. He worked at Ever Ready Batteries in Heybridge.
DAVID WILLIAMS (Born 1941) A 1-hour interview in July 2021.
David ‘s early years were spent in Chelmsford with visits to Maldon on the bus. After a distinguished career of 38 years in the Langford Waterworks, he worked as secretary of the Maldon Constitutional Club, election agent to our M.P. and was then voted on to Maldon District Council, where he was Chairman for two years. During this time there were the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations and the para-Olympics. David has been involved with very many voluntary organisations.
PAT WILLIS (Born 1930) A 15-minute interview in November 2017.
Pat talks about her move to Maldon in 1979 and her involvement with the Maldon Millennium Embroidery – the pieces and motifs she worked on and her joy and gratitude at being part of the team. She knew Humphrey Spender, the designer, quite well and recalls going to supper with him.
ERIC & ELIZABETH WILLSHER (Born 1934 & 1941) A 30-minute interview in January 2018.
They both describe their early days in Maldon, 70-80 years ago: Cross Road, schools, the Prom Lake, train to Maldon East, doing a paper-round. Also knowing artist Eric Hebborn, working at Sadds, volunteering at the museum and working with the Youth Training scheme. Their High Street memories include Collins the Grocer and the Embassy cinema.
WINIFRED WRIGHT (Born 1918) A 20-minute interview in 2019.
Winifred was born and brought up in Goldhanger, where there were many ‘Appleton’ family members. She left school at 14 and went in to service. When married, she and her husband moved in to the house where she still lives. She had her 100th birthday in 2018 but was too ill to celebrate it. However, she did have a card from the Queen. She has very fond memories of Goldhanger.
MARION WYLIE (Born 1935) A 20-minute interview in April 2022.
Marion has lived in Maldon all her life. Her grandfather owned a barge and she worked at Hoffmans, a ball-bearing factory in Chelmsford, catching the 6.30am bus every morning. She remembers wartime and sleeping in an Anderson shelter. She and her husband lived in ‘rooms’ when first married and she recalls many of the old shops in the High Street.