18th February 1942 - A Visit to Chelmsford

Went to Writtle Agricultural Insitute [the headquarters of the Essex War Agricultural Committee], taking cycle on train to Chelmsford, and then riding out. Train crowded, but not uncomfortable. Had lunch at the Ritz Café in Baddow Road, but could not get much to eat there. Chelmsford streets very full of people rushing home on cycles. Bitterly cold, with a few flakes of snow. Cycled out to the Institute and spent a busy afternoon in various departments. Interested to find that everybody dislikes Coope [the new Office Manager at Writtle Institute]. Our new chief clerk, Wilcocke, came up yesterday to meet Coope by appointment, but Coope had gone away and forgotten him. Complete farce.

Managed to win a typewriter and a filing cabinet, and must make arrangements to get them to Colchester. Saw the National Services Officer, and asked about my prospects. He told me that it was unlikely there would be any decisions for another 4 or 6 weeks.

Spent two hours in the Accounts Dept. Enormous amount of business done there. Saw Maud Fairhead, who was very despondent. She said she would like to get in the Colchester Office if possible. I should like to have her there.

Cycled back to Chelmsford in time to catch 6.1. Had a cup of tea and a bun in the Refreshment Room at the station. Pathetic coarse little waitress, with a dreadful cold, talking to an awful Cockney commercial traveller. He said:
“I began work in 1916 and my old man gave me half a crown a week. Now look at boys -”. The girl went into great detail about a cold cure she had, which from her own state did not appear to be very efficient. The tea was horribly strong, but hot, and the bun was stale. The soldiers came in, hung all over with equipment, and a faded looking woman with a fat elderly man. Went outside to see the London train from Norwich and Yarmouth come in, steaming majestically round the curve. It reminded me of a day in 1940 when I stood at the same spot watching a train come in, while one could hear bombs and shells bursting at London, 30 miles away to the south west. I shall never forget how calmly the waiting passengers got into the train which was ready to take them right into the battle zone, as it were.

Home in darkness and cold, and a hot supper at the café in Culver Street.

This link shows the Winton steam train passing through Chelmsford Station on its journey to London in 2009 and gives an indication of the view of the London bound train that EJR would have seen from the same spot in 1942. Hopefully the standard of refreshments at Chelmsford Station has improved since 1942! CP


Anonymous said...

21.2. No new entries for a few days now - hope you are alright, Catherine. Or is there a gap in the diary?

E J Rudsdale said...

Thank you for your message and no need to worry, all is well, it's just a gap in the diary. Eric will be back tomorrow! CP