ARTHUR ERNEST MARVEN

Driver for Royal Service Corps

Summary 

Arthur Ernest Marven also known as Joe was a Driver for the Royal Service Corps during the war.

Place and date of birth

1906

Lived in Westcliff

Connection to Southend 

Story

Arthur Ernest Marven, known as “Joe” was born on 6 October 1906 at Rochford, in a room above the bakers on Market Square. He was one of eight children born to George and Florence Marven (nee Burnett). Joe grew up in Rochford with his two brothers George and Bill and his sisters, Lillian, May, Dolly and Hilda. Times were hard for his mother and from the age of twelve, in order to help make ends meet, Joe would regularly volunteer his services working as a Caddy at the local Rochford Golf course. Joe’s parents’ marriage ended when he was in his teens and his mother Florence moved her children from Rochford to Prittlewell. She set up a shop in North Road as a “Wardrobe Dealer”, buying and selling clothes. Following in his mother’s footsteps, Joe went into business on his own as a furniture dealer - carrying out house clearances, removals and dealing in second hand furniture. On 17th April 1933 he married Katherine Elizabeth Baxter (Kit). Their marriage was witnessed by Grace Baxter, Kit’s sister and Charlie Rust, Joe’s friend who would one day marry his sister May.

Joe and Kit’s only child Sylvia was born in 1938 shortly before the outbreak of World War 2. Not long after the birth of his daughter Joe was called up for military service and joined the Royal Service Corps as a Driver, serving in Ceylon, now known as Sri Lanka. Experience with his own lorries meant that Joe was ideally suited to driving large army vehicles, although his duties also included driving for senior officers, amongst them Lord Mountbatten. His war letters to his sister Dolly touch on how she helped him keep the business running during the war and his concerns for his wife Kit and daughter Sylvia. They also show, as was true throughout his life, that Joe could always see the funny side of things. One letter in particular, was written from his hospital bed whilst he was recovering from a 20 foot fall from a roof. He was amused that whilst he had a number of injuries, including broken ribs, his“pal” had escaped with no more than a chunk out of his backside!

During his army service abroad, Joe’s family suffered two terrible tragedies. Firstly the death of his sister May and her baby Pamela during a German Air Raid and then a year later, he received the news that his beloved mother had also died. On his return from the war Joe bought his own house in Burdett Avenue in Westcliff. From here he ran “A. Marven Removals”, storing his lorries in the yard behind the family shop in North Road.

Joe ran his business successfully for many years and in the 1970s his son-in-law joined him to form Smith & Marven, a removals, house clearance and haulier company. Joe was a well known character in the town and local auction rooms and was said to be able to “sell ice cream to Eskimos”. In fact if he thought he could see a profit he would make the deal no matter what the product! On one occasion, as a joke his nephew Ken Baxter phoned him and disguising his voice asked, “Is that Mr Marven? Well, I have two tonne of horse manure to sell, would you be interested?” Apparently there was a brief pause before Joe replied “Mmm, I think I’d be able to shift it. Is it in bags?” Joe and Kit remained at Burdett Avenue until Kit passed away in January 1974. Joe returned to 149 North Road, where he lived with his sister Dolly and her family.

Joe passed away on 6 March 1977 and despite having always joked that it would be cheaper to “put him in a barrow and wheel him to the tip” he was buried with his mother Florence in North Road Cemetery. Joe would have greatly appreciated the interest being shown in the cemetery today. As his grand-daughter I know that Joe would have very much enjoyed meeting the children of Westborough School although I don’t doubt he would have teased them mercilessly as he used to do with me. Arthur Marven known as Joe was a furniture dealer like his mother. He passed away on 6 March 1977 and despite having always joked that it would be cheaper to “put him in a barrow and wheel him to the tip” he was buried with his mother Florence in North Road Cemetery.

Main image courtesy of Dean Trotter

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