Ref NoWIN/024
CollectionWinstanley Oral History Collection
TitleMrs. E. Bryan interviewed by Michael Winstanley
Name of creatorWinstanley, Michael
Duration2 hr. 51 min. 49 sec.
Extent1 sound tape reel
2 audio file Waveform Audio
DescriptionMrs. E. Bryan, born 1896, maiden name Bennett, interviewed in Rochester. Her father was fruiterer/greengrocer, and her mother died in 1904, after which her father got remarried. Bryan has one elder brother and a step sister. Bryan worked in a shop, was a dressmaking apprentice, and WW1 shop assistant.

Track 1 [1:29:31] [Interview: 31st May 1977] [0:00:00] Introduction: interview of Mrs Ellen Bryan [EB] at her home Jackson Avenue, Rochester, Kent by Michael Winstanley of the University of Kent at Canterbury on 31st May 1977. EB born 1896 in Luton, Chatham. [0:00:29] Description of family background; father owning greengrocers at 63 Henry Street [Chatham] after leaving army, breaking leg, retiring to Staplehurst [Kent] 1921; brother born c1891, taking over business; mother dying c1905. [0:02:53] Description of father’s shop and wholesale greengrocery, buying from market gardeners, selling to shops in Chatham and Gillingham, retailing round Castle and Victoria Roads [Gillingham]. Mention of brother’s epilepsy and death c1925. Anecdote about gypsy girls bringing brother home with money intact after bad fit. [0:05:18] Mention of EB’s father’s remarriage and birth of half-sister. [0:05:31] Description of father’s sources of produce, Rainham Road wholesale greengrocery market, Luton arches [Chatham]. Mention of market gardeners Clarks of Upchurch, Wills and Wood of Rainham, Cheeseman. Mention of Star pub on Rainham Road. [0:08:53] Story about opening safe on father’s death and selling sovereigns to ‘Puddingy’ Hook, horse dealer of Chatham Hill. [0:10:35] Remarks on business accounts, dislike of credit. [0:11:28] Comments on local poverty, using cheap ‘potherbs’, customers from dockyard and armed services, importance of keeping up appearances. Mention of buying groceries from Hearns in Chatham High Street. [0:18:20] Remarks on father ordering nuts from Lomas of London, Mr Lomas’ fancy clothes. [0:18:20] Comments on father breaking leg, never again working properly, using herbal remedy, EB’s brother taking over the business. [0:20:25] Description of EB’s early work; dressmaker’s apprentice, meat packing for David Grieg’s during war, joining WRENS when established [1917]. [0:21:44] Description of family shop, cash handling, hours, busiest times. Mention of post war act mandating half day closure per week. [0:26:03] Description of annual ‘Greengrocers holiday’ carnival in Upnor [Kent] at Whitsun. Mention of Sunday school outings to Herne Bay [Kent]. [0:27:49] Comments on local business competition, trade very localised, EB’s shop serving Stanley Road and Russell, Oliver, Short and Fair Streets. Mention of local greengrocers Arnolds, Farleys. [0:29:00] Comments on trams, terminating at Star pub Rainham Road, going to Frindsbury and Strood [Kent]. Mention of EB’s grandmother living at Hoo. [0:31:24] Comments on outings to London Zoo, lunching at Lockharts, pony trap rides to Pye Farm, Lidsing [Kent]. [0:33:01] Description of family ponies, traps, stabling. [0:34:04] Mention of EB’s father on Board of Guardians of union [workhouse] during World War I. [0:34:37] Comments on religion; mother and children Baptist, father reluctant Church of England, brother Salvation Army. [0:36:56] Comments on pubs, busyness, women filling takeaway beer jugs, women pawning/retrieving best clothes weekly. Remarks on father frequenting Conservative Club on Luton Road but not pubs, keeping beer in house, providing nightly bottle of beer for policeman. [0:39:50] Comments on local deliveries by barrow, to Main and Luton Roads, Henry Street. [0:41:47] Remarks on family’s garden, stabling, rabbit breeding. [0:43:09] Remarks on diet, importance of puddings. [0:45:14] Description of Chatham workhouses, Maypole Road site now All Saints Hospital, Chatham High Street site becoming X Brand clothing then Picture Palace. Mention of evening union [workhouse] bell. Mention of Dr Freear, pauper doctor for Medway, Mr Scrace relieving officer. Remarks on role of relieving officer, using parish relief tickets. [0:48:32] Stories about EB’s father helping out local poor, providing prizes for fetes. [0:51:51] Description of parish relief tickets. Mention of Mr Hewett, grocer of Constitution Road, accepting tickets. [0:52:49] Comments on family, EB renting house from father in Henry Street 1918/1919, father moving to Staplehurst, his suicide 1921. Mention of paternal grandfather [Bennett?], fruit wholesaler, possibly mentioned in local history book in reference section of Chatham Library. [0:57:15] Detailed description of fruit selling; buying direct from market gardens, not London; fruit cheap; more expensive grapes, oranges from wholesalers; EB’s mother making wine from speck [rotten] fruit. Mention of buying green bananas from Elders and Fyffes, Canary bananas, blocks of dates. [1:08:07] Remarks on cheapness of casual labour at home and in shop. [1:13:08] Discussion of measures; which fruit/vegetables sold by measure (pint, quart, gallon) and which by weight. Mention of ‘peck’ [14lb] baskets of coal. Mention of selling ‘pads’ of watercress sourced from Springfield near Gravesend and Parleys of Chatham High Street. Mention of weights and measures inspections. [1:22:43] Story about Landings family, poverty, children without shoes, father spending money in pub, son becoming policeman in CID at Scotland Yard. [1:24:58] Comments on visiting and entertainment, children mixing freely, EB’s family better off, formal parties rare, adults never calling at home. Mention of evening outings to Barnards [Barnards Palace of Varieties] and Empire Theatre. Mention of seeing Gracie Fields.

Track 2 [1:22:17] [Second interview: 21st June 1977] [0:00:00] Introduction: second interview of Mrs Ellen Bryan [EB] at her home 71 Jackson Avenue, Rochester, Kent by Michael Winstanley of the University of Kent at Canterbury on 21st June 1977. [0:00:19] Description of home recipes for ketchup, wines, polishes, horse medicines, shampoo, medicines. Mention of proprietary ‘Dutch drops’ for coughs. Mention of Freemans the chemist of Luton Road. Mention of white oils for rheumatism, ipecacuanha wine, raspberry vinegar for chests, camphor oil bags for fever, bicarbonate of soda for indigestion, cabbage leaf for toothache, brown paper in vinegar and pepper for headaches, Vaseline and Zambuk for cuts and bruises, gunpowder and lard to heal horse’s knees. [0:09:26] Remarks on education, lack of schooling, father educated inarmy, importance of practical arithmetic, skills. [0:11:54] Mention of blacksmiths in Luton Road and Cage Lane [Chatham]. [0:12:56] Comments on lack of exotic fruit and vegetables, all local stock grown in Newington or Upchurch. [0:15:55] Remarks on stock in shops, grocers never selling fruit, bacon sold by grocers not butchers. Mention of Readers of Chatham High Street, specialist grocers. [0:20:08] Description of animals being driven down Henry Street to slaughterhouse. [0:21:27] Description of sewage system, cess pool emptying, night carts, emptying waste onto Batchelor’s farm in Princes Avenue Luton [Chatham]. Mention of Batchelor, engineer with offices in High Street Chatham. [0:24:23] Story about insurance claim for window broken by butcher’s carcass. Mention of Halse [?] brothers, butchers, one brother emigrating to Canada. [0:25:36] Remark that meat eaten daily. [0:27:20] Remarks on social life, father member of local council, brother member of Luton Church Old Boys Association. [0:30:54] Detailed description of dressmaking apprenticeship, 2.5 years, poor wages, step-mother a dressmaker. Mention of local tailors/drapers, Wolffs the Jewish tailors, Lydons of New Road, Churches and Featherstones [both of Chatham High Street]. [0:36:55] Mention of EB’s work in family shop after apprenticeship, moving to David Grieg’s at 18. [0:39:36] Comments on mother’s death 1905, effect on EB’s education, coinciding with father breaking leg, EB and brother having to work in shop. [0:44:25] Remarks on storage of apples. Mention of Cox’s Pippins and Worcester varieties. Mention of grandfather’s cottage near Ash Tree pub Rainham Road [Chatham]. [0:45:57] Remarks on EB’s bout of scarlet fever, cutting hair, isolating within house but not removing to fever hospital, disinfecting. [0:47:02] Comments on the advantages of being a boy, sports training, music lessons, bike. [0:48:14] Comments on father taking in boys from ‘cottage homes’ [orphanage], orphans having parents in union [workhouse], orphans being sent to Canada. Mention of orphans Wood, Steve Walsh (later in army), Andrews (later policeman). [0:53:12] Detailed description of living accommodation at shop, no bathroom, carpets and lino bought second hand from ships in Chatham Dockyard, importance of quality second hand goods, using tea leaves to clean floors. Mention of Samuels second hand clothing shop, corner of Meeting House Lane [Chatham]. [1:06:18] Comments on wholesaling to small shops, as far as Strand Gillingham, alternating days retail/wholesaling. [1:09:09] Mention of buying coal from Sun Pier wharves [Chatham]. {1:10:04] Mention of selling lemonade from Lyle’s and Dove, Phillips and Petts of Strood, suppliers of mineral water. [1:13:34] Comments on shop customers, Luton Road good area, Henry Street working class. Mention of Hitchens, volunteer fireman of Luton Road. [1:16:30] Comments on hunger strike late 1890s, food kitchen in town hall, children begging bread from men in dockyard. Mention that EB’s husband’s father a slaughterman in High Street [Chatham]. [1:19:01] Comments on World War I, improving employment, wages, pensions. Mention of sounding of the bugle on Boon Street [Chatham]. Mention of Regimental Sergeant Major Wellard of the marines going down on the Cressy [sunk 1914].
NotesTranscript exists for this interview.
PhysicalDescription1 sound tape reel : analogue, 5 inch reel, 9,5 cm/sec, 2 track, mono
Waveform Audio
Related OrganisationUniversity of Kent
Related PlaceChatham, Kent
Access filenameWIN-024-001A-A.mp3
CategoryAudio recordings
Access conditionsAvailable for consultation at the University of Kent's Special Collections & Archives reading room, Templeman Library, University of Kent, Canterbury, CT2 7NU. Access is available via digital listening copies. The University of Kent acknowledges the intellectual property rights of those named as contributors in this recording and the rights of those not identified.
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