“Muddies”

“Muddies” dug for Medway blue clay. It was tidal work, so they had to work swiftly. There were four in a gang, working downwards, and it was the forth worker who actually extracted the clay. They came out as four inch cubes, which was the size of the blade. It has been said that working at full pitch as many as five or six cubes of clay could be flying through the air on to the barge at once. This work did not involve High Halstow people, who were farming people.

There was a shell causeway from Stoke to Grain now the main road. It was necessary to cross the sea wall; pass through the creek and across the other sea wall. The shell causeway was built up with crushed Kentish rag stone, and has lasted with far more strength than the modern tarmac parts of the road.

Farmers were at one time responsible for the roads that passed through their land. Picking stones and filling ruts was the winter’s job.

Henry Pye of St. Mary’s Hall died in 1909. (St. Mary’s Hall had its own wheelwright and blacksmith.) Henry Pye owned one farm and farmed twelve as a tenant farmer. It was said you travel from High Halstow to Grain without leaving Henry Pye’s land. He was well known for his late potatoes. He owned Clinch Street Farm. He drained the Peninsula. Shell drains were constructed all over the place, he would spend the winter collecting cockle shells from St. Mary’s b Bay to construct these shell drains. When the new telephone cables to Canvey Island were laid before the last world war (up Clinch Street and across the Marshes) around Clinch Street was found a shell drain, running full bore. A pump was kept running day and night to keep this drain clear. Henry Pye came from the Hollingbourne area; his wife was a daughter (so Mr. Plewis believes) of Hudson the explorer. Henry Pye was known as the saviour of the peninsula.

February 2011

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