Title:
Interview with Rosemary Pitts, 27 February 2002
Level: Category
Sound Archive
Level: Fonds
HALCYON DAYS OF COD LIVER OIL: AN ORAL HISTORY OF GREAT WALTHAM IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY
Scope and Content:
Interview with Rosemary Pitts (nee Fewell) about growing up and living in Great Waltham and the surrounding area.

Tape 1
[Part 1:] Family background; father worked at Hoffman’s ball bearing factory [in Chelmsford]; mother in domestic service for Mr Edward Pine at South House, Great Waltham, before her marriage; two younger sisters; memories of growing up, mother’s cooking [interruption to recording when telephone rings] (2 minutes 6 seconds).
[Part 2:] Learning table manners; father grew vegetables on allotment near primary school, helped father on allotment and sold vegetables on way home; mother went pea-picking; doing chores for mother (2 minutes 55 seconds).
[Part 3:] Looking after her mother during her illness; story of having her hair cut in Chelmsford; story of riding unsafe bicycle against father’s instructions; getting daily toffee sweets; ran errands for neighbours and relatives on her bicycle; pet bull terrier (2 minutes 55 seconds).
[Part 4:] [Reading from newspaper article?] Memories of attending school, walking to school, going home for dinner, playground games and sports, cookery lessons in Chelmsford at Oddfellows Hall, Legg Street; visit of Queen Mary to Langley Hall; childhood games (3 minutes 27 seconds).
[Part 5:] School teachers, headmaster Mr Hyde; clothing made by mother; childhood friends; favourite school subjects including needlework and cookery; helping and teaching younger children while Head Prefect; punishments at school; story of being punished for giggling and for writing notes in class (5 minutes 37 seconds).
[Part 6:] Playing games on the cricket meadow with school: hockey, rounders, shinty, netball; drinking from brook on the way back (1 minute 9 seconds).
[Part 7:] Shops and their owners in Great Waltham when she was growing up including Messrs Snow the butcher, Luckin Smiths the grocer, the harness shop, the Beehive pub (6 minutes 3 seconds).
[Part 8:] Horses kept in meadow in village; mother’s occasional trips to Chelmsford; going hunting for rabbits (2 minutes 35 seconds).
[Part 9:] Fetching water from well in garden; description of childhood house, converted barn, now demolished; making homemade wine (2 minutes 20 seconds).

Tape 2
[Part 1:] Continued description of household facilities (1 minute 33 seconds).
[Part 2:] Mother’s illness and death from burst appendix; missing school to help with household chores; washing and heating facilities; cooking for family after mother’s death; help from neighbour Mrs King (3 minutes 56 seconds).
[Part 3:] Bath nights; dancing to gramophone records at home (1 minute 18 seconds).
[Part 4:] Mother died January 1939; father and her sisters moved to aunt’s house in Broomfield during Second World War; Rosemary went into domestic service for Ridleys (brewery family) then to Blue House, Hollow Lane, Chignal St. James for Mr and Mrs Gerald Christy, worked as parlour maid and cook (2 minutes 21 seconds).
[Part 5:] Working hours and routine; looking after house cow, milk used for butter and cream; preparing chickens for cooking; information about Mr Christy and his family; took in paying guests including British spy; worked there for ten years (3 minutes 25 seconds).
[Part 6:] Given half-day off on Wednesdays; cooking facilities at the house; visiting family and friends during her time off (2 minutes 12 seconds).
[Part 7:] Father’s second marriage in 1940s, returned to Broad’s Green; sister called up to work at Hoffman’s; Rosemary moved to domestic service in Dunmow briefly and then got job at Marconi’s in Chelmsford, returned home to Broad’s Green (2 minutes 14 seconds).
[Part 8:] Family moved to 1 Cherry Garden Road; met future husband John Pitts at sister’s wedding; air raids while cycling to Blue House from aunt’s house (1 minute 58 seconds).
[Part 9:] Joined Civil Defence during the War; Mrs Christy obtained exemption for her so she did not have to do war work; Civil Defence training on Monday evenings at Chignal St. James school; story of being in road accident during ride home (3 minutes 13 seconds).
[Part 10:] Wages at Blue House; helping with Mrs Christy’s Women’s Institute market stall (2 minutes 51 seconds).
[Part 11:] Husband served as churchwarden at Chignal Smealy church; story of meeting him at sister’s wedding in May 1953, neighbour to brother-in-law; holiday with friend to Norway in August 1953; engaged in October 1953; married June 1954; initially lived with mother-in-law in Chignal; renovating cottage for their first home, moved into council house after eleven years [ends mid-conversation] (4 minutes 6 seconds).

Tape 3 Side A [starts mid-conversation]
[Part 1:] More childhood memories: bathing; going to evening activities in missionary tent in the meadow near Broad’s Green, where they lived; day trips with grandfather; typical evening meals; Good Friday traditions; going to allotment with father (4 minutes 51 seconds).
[Part 2:] Attending Sunday School at the church, special Sunday clothes, teachers, temporary vicar Reverend Miller, attending Sunday afternoon service; household chores indoors for mother on Sunday afternoon; other vicars who served at the church; christened by Reverend Morgan (3 minutes 17 seconds).
[Part 3:] Did housework for Reverend Dukes in later life, helped Mrs Dukes, suffering with Parkinson’s disease; Reverend Dukes’ ministry in the neighbourhood; her christening and marriage in the church (3 minutes 9 seconds).
[Part 4:] Attending church as a child, usual seat, stained glass picture of Jesus walking on the water; missed opportunities as a child because of mother’s death when she was 13 (2 minutes 33 seconds).
[Part 5:] Memories of the Second World War; did housework for Mr Christie during the War, got to meet notable people; Land Army officer Miss Evans stayed with the Christy family; story of Miss Evans running out of petrol, siphoned some out of their car; helped cook for harvest dance hosted by the Christy family (5 minutes 33 seconds).
[Part 6:] Attended Girl Guides in Great Waltham village hall, visiting Langley Hall estate for outdoor activities; notable visitors to Langley Hall; Tufnell family and the estate (3 minutes 35 seconds).
[Part 7:] Played Virgin Mary in school plays, made costumes, performed in several places across county; going to Girl Guides with leader Miss Elliott, had to stop after mother’s death; boys swam in brook by Lark’s Lane; childhood outings, errands for local residents [ends mid-conversation] (5 minutes 52 seconds).

Tape 3 Side B
[Part 1:] Development of the area; typical meals for breakfast and lunch; having milk and Horlicks at school (3 minutes 22 seconds).
[Part 2:] Local grocery deliveries by horse and cart; rarity of cars in the village; seeing butter churn in museum in Lincolnshire (3 minutes 27 seconds).
[Part 3:] Grandmother Denny’s hens in Broad’s Green, helping look after chicks; looking after chickens at Blue House during Second World War; conditions at Blue House and at her farm in Chignal; helping mow the tennis court during the War; personal care of Mr Christy in his later life (4 minutes 29 seconds).
[Part 4:] Watching father shave in the kitchen; her twenty-first birthday party in the Six Bells pub, neighbours contributed food, used own gramophone for music, given clothing coupons to buy new dress from Christy family, presents received (3 minutes 45 seconds).
[Part 5:] Father’s daily visits to King William pub on Rectory Lane [Chelmsford], joined father when she was studying at Oddfellows Hall; father’s commute to work at Hoffman’s ball bearings factory in Chelmsford by bicycle; own journey to work at Blue House during the winter; got tonsillitis while working at Blue House, stayed with aunt Mrs Mills in Broomfield (3 minutes 45 seconds).
[Part 6:] Responsibilities while working for Christy family, including ordering groceries, delivering cream and butter; being attacked for jumping queue in shop (4 minutes 52 seconds).
[Part 7:] Uniform while working at Blue House; working hours; Italian prisoners of war worked on the estate; being tested by Mrs Christy (3 minutes 19 seconds).
[Part 8:] Childhood games, celebrating holidays [ends mid-conversation] (2 minutes).
Dates of Creation:
27 February 2002
Extent:
116 minutes 16 seconds
Creator Name:
Anne Cowlin
Admin History:
Rosemary Pitts was born Rosemary Fewell in 1925. She grew up in Broad's Green with her two younger sisters. Her grandparents also lived at Broad's Green. Her father worked at Hoffman's ball bearings factory in Chelmsford. Her mother died in January 1939, and her father re-married about two years later.

After leaving school, Rosemary did housework for the Christy family at Blue House, Chignal during the Second World War, and later for Reverend Dukes. She also worked for Marconi's in Chelmsford. She married her husband, John Pitts, in June 1954. Initially she lived with her mother-in-law in Chignal Smealy while her husband was renovating a cottage nearby. After eleven years there, they were forced to move into a council house.
Copyright:
Copyright Essex Sound and Video Archive
Physical Characteristics:
Digital files converted from Philips Executive mini-cassettes (three tapes)
Related Unit of Description:
See SA 55/4/3 for a transcript of this interview.
Publication Notes:
Anne Cowlin, "Halcyon Days of Cod Liver Oil: An oral history of Great Waltham in the twentieth century" (Suffolk: Assington, 2005)
Not Available:
Use digital copy available on Soundcloud

Key terms

TypeKey termsDescription
Subjects Civil Defence Interview with Rosemary Pitts, 2002
Subjects Domestic service Interview with Rosemary Pitts, 2002
Subjects Education Interview with Rosemary Pitts, 2002
Subjects Food Interview with Rosemary Pitts, 2002
Subjects Housing Interview with Rosemary Pitts, 2002
Subjects Housing Interview with Rosemary Pitts, 2002
Subjects Rationing Interview with Rosemary Pitts, 2002
Subjects Second World War Interview with Rosemary Pitts, 2002
Personal Names Mrs
Rosemary Fewell
Pitts
Interview with Rosemary Pitts, 2002
Place Names Broad's Green Interview with Rosemary Pitts, 2002
Place Names Blue House
Chignal St. James
Interview with Rosemary Pitts, 2002
Place Names Langleys
Great Waltham
Interview with Rosemary Pitts, 2002
Document Types Sound recording Interview with Rosemary Pitts, 2002