Interview with Gerald Palmer, 6 December 1988
Level: Category
Sound Archive
Level: Fonds
Level: Series
Oral history interviews about Witham conducted by Janet Gyford
Scope and Content:
Interview with Gerald Palmer about his life in Witham. There is some static at the beginning of the recording.

Side A of original cassette
[00:00:] Early life; father's harness making and sports shop, opening hours, different work done through shop; schooling.
[05:55:] Helping in the shop, learning to stitch harnesses, doing accounts; surrounding farms that used the shop; father's repair work of saddles.
[10:45:] Obtaining supplies from London; father's retirement in the 1950s; mother doing deliveries for the business.
[14:05:] Mother's dressmaking; her apprenticeship in Chelmsford; parent's family backgrounds; renting property from Crickmore; move after retirement.
[18:20:] Changing nature of father's business; memories of use of horse-drawn vehicles before growth of motor cars; other local shops to support use of horses and carriages.
[21:05:] Busy harvest period; details of the harvest process, repairing harnesses, father giving largesse to harvest workers, clothing worn by harvest workers.
[26:40:] Father's cycling, allotment; parents' involvement with Congregational Chapel, attending services, chapel cycling club, mother's chorus party outings, songs sung; Band of Hope meetings.
[32:30:] Schools in Witham; attending council school on Maldon Road; distinctions between Anglicans and Congregationalists in town; other members of the Congregational Chapel.
[37:00:] More details about primary school; move to Braintree High School, difficult adjustment; benefits of good education at both schools.
[42:30:] First general degree at university; Honours degree in Geography and Economics while working as a teacher; process of gaining scholarship to attend Braintree High School, interview with school governors; difference between scholarship and fee-paying students [ends mid-sentence].

Side B of original cassette
[00:00:] Further details about primary school, school holidays determined by pea and blackberry crops; class distinctions within town; summer holidays, playing, helping in father's shop.
[04:30:] Parents' protective parenting style; being teased by other boys, gaining nickname 'Coote'; Sunday afternoon walks with parents.
[10:40:] Relationship with his parents; his extended family, visiting them.
[14:50:] Appreciation for English teacher at Braintree High School, Mr Entwhistle; English lessons.
[18:45:] Teaching career; first job in Dagenham; other jobs as Headmaster at Brightlingsea New Secondary School, Mid-Essex Technical School, Chelmsford, and Mark Hall Harlow New Town Comprehensive School; challenge of teaching in Dagenham; differences between object and instructional lessons.
[23:45:] Experiences during the First World War; soldiers billeted with them; military uses of other buildings around Witham; attendance of soldiers at Chapel; reading "The War Illustrated"; memory of notable events during the War.
Dates of Creation:
6 December 1988
81 minutes 37 seconds
Creator Name:
Janet Gyford
Admin History:
Gerald Basil Coote Palmer was born in 1910. His father was the manager (and later owner) of a harness maker's shop in High Street, where the family lived. His mother, Minnie (nee Perry) was born in Chelmsford. His father was born in Kelvedon and served an apprenticeship in Braintree. His father moved to Witham in c. 1907.

Gerald attended the council school in Witham, and then gained a scholarship to attend Braintree High School. He moved to London at the age of 18, when he began university at Goldsmiths College. He worked as a schoolteacher and headmaster in schools across Essex. He retired in 1975.

Gerald died in 2004 (information from Janet Gyford).
Archivist Note:
SJM 16 March 2017
Custodial History:
Recorded on tape numbered 123 by creator (Sides 1 and 2). Recorded at resident's home in Great Dunmow.
Copyright Janet Gyford and Essex Sound and Video Archive
Physical Characteristics:
Digital MP3 files created from cassette.
Related Unit of Description:
A second interview with Mr Palmer is catalogued as SA 59/1/106/1.

The transcript of this interview and biographical notes about Mr Palmer can be found on Janet Gyford's History of Witham website.
Not Available:
Use digital copy available on Soundcloud

Key terms

TypeKey termsDescription
Subjects Agriculture Interview with Gerald Palmer, 6 December 1988
Subjects Education Interview with Gerald Palmer, 6 December 1988
Subjects First World War Interview with Gerald Palmer, 6 December 1988
Subjects First World War Interview with Gerald Palmer, 6 December 1988
Subjects Saddler Interview with Gerald Palmer, 6 December 1988
Personal Names Gerald
Interview with Gerald Palmer, 6 December 1988
Place Names Witham Interview with Gerald Palmer, 6 December 1988
Document Types Sound recording Interview with Gerald Palmer, 6 December 1988
Institutions Braintree County High School Interview with Gerald Palmer, 6 December 1988
Institutions Witham Congregational Church Interview with Gerald Palmer, 6 December 1988