Mr and Mrs Joe Morris

Mr and Mrs Joe Morris knew each other from a young age and were at school together in Hulverstone.

As they grew older, both were stalwarts of the village. Joe was in the Brook Lifeboat crew and a church warden. He was an expert gardener working at the Rectory and at Little Brook.He and his wife were great honey producers, especially with honeycomb. They lived in Rectory Cottage in Badgers Lane before moving to Old Myrtle Cottage in the heart of the village.  

Alice Morris (Phillips) 1871 - 1966

Affectionately known as ‘Mrs Joe,’ Alice lived all her life in and around Brook. A stalwart of all village activities, she recalls here country life at the turn of the twentieth century:

"I have heard people say, 'Whatever do you do in the country especially in the winter time?' Had they lived in the country 100 years ago they might have had some excuse for asking this. If you were there you had to stay put, penny farthing bicycles hadn’t been popularised, and there was no other conveyance to take you, unless it was to town. Well, perhaps you could hire a donkey cart.

Even so, we enjoyed a lot of interests and pleasures. Amongst these were the lovely spring flowers, the rides in the wagon to the hay fields, cheering the last load of corn at harvest time and many other things. 

We looked forward to the winter rather than dreading it, there was snow balling, sliding on the ice or sitting by a bright log fire telling many tales or singing.  In the evenings we had to depend on firelight a great deal as the only other light we had was a Benzoline lamp which gave only a tiny glow.

Christmas soon came along with its many pleasures; visits from the ‘Christmas boys’ and frequent calls from the other quaint characters that travelled the roads. The chief one of these was ‘Sailor Will’, so called because rain or shine he always wore a Guernsey and Sou’wester. He was called ‘Boney Will’ sometimes. I used to think because his horse was a bag of bones, but I don’t know really.

The packman often gave us a call with many wares, chiefly spectacles from a shilling a pair. Marvellous to relate they seemed to suit Grandmother’s eyes...

Joe Morris 1876 - 1967

Joe was a member of Brook lifeboat crew for 21 years and 6 months. We hear from Bert Morris, his son, how it was Joe who was nearly strangled by one of the Norwegian sailors when the Souvenir went ashore in 1916. He managed to pull the great man’s hands off his throat and knocked him into the bottom of the boat where they lashed him so that he could not cause any more trouble. The crew could hear him gurgle and spluttering but he was none the worse for wear when they reached the beach.

Another memory is of Joe at a church service when the lifeboat maroon went off. In 1932 the 2600 ton steamer Roumelian of Liverpool collided with the SS St Nazare 24 miles south west of the Needles. The St Nazare continued her journey while the Roumelian limped towards the safety of the Solent. She had 56 crew and passengers and was taking in water fast.

Inhis book, Launch, Jack Seely describes when the Sunday evening service in Brook Church was interrupted and abandoned and the lifeboat quickly launched :

"…the rector is in the middle of an eloquent sermon – and very good sermons they are; he has preached many at St Martin’s in the Fields. The windows suddenly shook with the reverberation of the maroon. The rector then said: ‘I would suggest that we conclude the service.  I have been in telephonic communication with the coastguard, and I know that the vessel in distress is being assisted by the Yarmouth lifeboat. Moreover, in any case, should our services be required it will take half-an-hour for the crew and horses to assemble, and I think it would be best for me to conclude my address, and give you a benediction.’

Whereupon the faithful gardener who rows number three in the lifeboat (Joe Morris) started up from the choir in his surplice and said quite loudly: ‘Well chaps, that be right enough, but I ‘lows we five had better go now and see what is doing;’ And without another word, out filed the whole of the adult members of the choir.

I have been told, though I was not present, as I should have been, that the rector’s closing words were of great eloquence,  and that the benediction was delivered in record time."  Launch, JEB Seely

William Long's remembers Joe Morris, the gardener:

Joe Morris kept the kitchen garden going almost to the time of the sale. It was a magical place, completely enclosed at the back of the Rectory by a stone wall. I think the produce must have been sold in conjunction with that from the Brook House garden and there was a vine that rivalled the Brook House one. Hughie and Kate (Ranger) came to see how Joe was getting on fairly regularly. We knew Joe well as he had been the gardener at Little Brook.