Tales of the River Bank

    The photograph depicts a time long gone and some youngsters having fun on the River Lea at Stanstead Lock circa 1910. To me one of those youngsters may have been 'Old Mr Thatcher', a nice chap who kept neat and tidy and dressed of course, with a flat cap and a waistcoat which hid braces for his trousers. Always off to his allotment and was happy with the world.

     In the 1980's he was in his eighties and used to tell me of the times of his youth when the High Street was white with sheep going to the market. It was certainly a rural village except at holiday times and sometimes how he and his friends would hire out their dad's rowing boat "To toffs in hats up from London wanting to row their ladies on the river".


The scene is set in this post Victorian world where coats and tails were probably still an accepted fashion and certainly stiff collars were worn without question or complaint. The "Toffs" he tells me would give them their hire fee (he may have told me it was "Threppunce" I think) and off they would go. "We knew they would be a bit puffed soon enough" he said "And have to take theer jackets orf, so when thee wur back fust thing we did was to take the duck-boards out in the hope of finding a sixpence or even a haffcrown rolled out of a pocket!".

    Lovely chats we had and I wish I had the time then to have asked more...  

R.D. 2012