One of my bosses made me drag my weary and clearly far from awake body down to the museum by 9 am this morning as we were off to the Essex Record Office for a rake through the files. She naturally was late! However we eventually got going and withing thirty or so minutes we were confronted with the 'You canny do that here!' rules. Having obtained our ticket without which research is not allowed we proceeded to dump our jackets, our cameras, any food, any water, all bags, in the lockers provided. Signing in we were allowed through the locked doors and instructed by the capable, knowledgeable and indeed friendly staff. The only problem we found, apart from my ignorance, was a technical glitch which made many of the computers used for searching go doolally!
We found a couple of diaries written during the Great War, the idea being to discover local information. The one I read, written during 1916, revealed the middle class small village lifestyle. That is when we could read the writing! A nice woman who appeared to spend her time going 'into town' (there is only two streets there) or visiting Mrs this and that, spending time at the 'Red X' (but what did she do?), occasionally feeding poor children or discussing collecting coal for the poor, or taking a Turkish Bath (where?). In between visiting the vicarage for tea an occasional mention of the war passes by. The Battle of the Somme is referred to as 'Great news of the British offensive' obviously this was announced during church on the Sunday morning. Apart from a Mr Low worried about his wounded son no other reference appears. I'm told the other diary, for 1918, was similar. This woman went on with her life, hindered by an occasional Zeppelin passing by, but not considering the war important enough to mention in her diary. Was this 'stiff upper lip' or upper class living I wonder? I can tell you that by the time I reached the 31st of December I was glad to dump her! I don't even remember her name.
We trawled through one or two other things but I think we are heading in the wrong direction. I certainly did deciding that one bundle of letters were irrelevant to our search, naturally once we returned them we realised how wrong I was! Bah! Now I know how the thing works I will go back and read the old newspapers and the bits of info between the lies and propaganda.
Unable to take pictures inside the building I was glad the canal/river outside offered a small taste of countryside. Admittedly behind me stood a car park laid out on the remnants of what once was most probably a warehouse of some sort. Dereliction abounds as the town improves itself, however it will be some time before the car park is lost I reckon. I'm glad as I suspect the newer housing nearby will replace whatever stood here thus bringing crowds flocking along the riverside, ruining the peace! Bah! Lovely to have a day out doing something useful, next time I am reduced to utilising the bus pass! Bah!