Researching for these pages I came across two old Official Guides to West Mersea.
Both undated but the older estimated to have been issued in the early 1930s with
reference to a population of 2,060 in 1932.
The Victory was advertised as a Country Hotel with a tariff of 3-4 guineas per week,
licensed, garaged and AA registered. Buses to and from Colchester ran every 15 minutes
and private camping in the grounds (guests own tentage) was offered for a complete
open air life. A Police Sergeant and one constable were stationed on the Island receiving
occasional assistance from the mainland. Their duties being chiefly to direct traffic
and give information to travelling visitors.
The Urban District Council was meeting new circumstances caused by an increase in
population, by giving attention to matters of Public Health, ‘ a considerable portion
of the district is now sewered and provided with water from an artesian well and
water tower and road improvement as well as the adoption of powers for regulating
use of the beach and foreshore’. Relief of the poor was in the hands of the public
Assistance Committee for 36 parishes from Lexden & Winstree. West Mersea appointed
2 members to the board which met fortnightly.
LNER trains took 1 hour and 15 minutes to Colchester and those days of ‘fast travel’
thousands of motor cars brought passengers from London and East Anglia to ‘enjoy
the pleasures of West Mersea Beach, safe bathing and views. Recreation includes facilities
for bowls, tennis cricket, football and hockey. There were several halls for dancing,
a favourite amusement in Mersea for all seasons
West Mersea Yacht Club, established in 1899, was recognised by the Yacht Racing Association,
had an associate membership of 150 with yachts from 2 tons to 140 tons.
The Post Office was open from 9.00am to 7.00pm with two collections and deliveries
daily. Apartments and beach huts were to let. A hairdressing diplomist late of
Regents Palace Hotel London offered a shingle trim for 6d and tinting from 8/6d or
a ladies head massage for 1/6d. Digby’s store sold electrical goods, paints, varnish
camp furniture, wireless sets both battery and mains and advertised ‘If you can’t
eat it, get it a Digby’s’. The Fountain Hotel had a new annexe seating parties up
to 100 for banquets and dancing. Island telephone numbers ranged from 1-70 The Guide
published by Benhams of Colchester was undated but estimated at around 1933
A more recent Guide advertises the Hall Barn Country Club as ‘the Only Gay Spot on
the Island’, trains from Liverpool St to Colchester were said to take 50 minutes,
there was a half hourly bus service, three postal collections a day and population
had reached 3,300.
Essex County Council was responsible for Public Health Services, Midwives for Home
Confinements, Diphtheria immunisation and care for TB patients living at home. Essential
Public Services maintained a high pitch of efficiency, ample supply of pure water
piped to the entire district , main sewerage system and electricity. Sports offered
included bathing, riding, putting, badminton at the British Legion Hall. Colchester
Zoo within easy reach received mention.
Again the Guide, this time printed by Home Publishing, Surrey, is undated but we
guess dates from the mid 1970s, by
St Peter’s Well 1884
(the year of the earthquake)
The Victory Hotel
The Fountain Hotel
Picture by Tony Ward just before it was demolished in 1999