Thursday, 31 December 2009

Ingatestone: The Rectory Facing Demolition

Twenty years ago today (31 December 1989) these pictures were taken of Ingatestone Rectory which faced demolition to make way for Rectory Close between Willow Green and Wadham Close. Earlier that year Canon Edward Hudson had died. His memorial can be seen in Buttsbury Church.

Friday, 25 December 2009

Ingatestone: High Street

Ingatestone High Street, photographed on 31 December 1989. Little has changed - apart from the traffic. Where is it in this picture?

Friday, 18 December 2009

Writtle: Two Emma Tock

Signs on entry to the county town declare, ‘Chelmsford. Birthplace of Radio’. The story of wireless in Essex is little known and much forgotten.

In 1899, Guglielmo Marconi opened the world’s first radio factory in Hall Street, and later, in 1909, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics “in recognition of [his] contribution to the development of wireless telegraphy": ( The name Marconi is synonymous with Chelmsford. Many men and women once had apprenticeships with this electronics Company, now a shadow of its former self following the end of the Cold War. But in terms of the wireless the year 1920 saw the beginning of the first broadcasting service. Captain H J Round had developed the first transmitter over which Dame Nellie Melba was heard in June that year. This famous artiste was sponsored by Lord Northcliffe of the Daily Mail to give a 30 minute concert over the airwaves, and many listened in. But the service was sporadic.

An except from ‘Essex Pie’ tells the story of how radio came to Writtle. “We received a letter from head office saying that the amateurs, in the form of the Radio Society of Great Britain, wanted the Marconi Company to design, install and maintain a station on their behalf and that we had better do the job at Writtle.” P. P. Eckersley: 'The Power behind the Microphone', 1941. (

So it was in 1922, broadcasting from an ex-Army hut in Lawford Lane in Writtle, “Two Emma Tock”, 2MT Writtle, became the first regular entertainment broadcaster ( Beginning on 14th February on Tuesday evenings for just half an hour Captain P P Eckersley entertained listeners with gramophone records and merry banter. Programmes were planned in a nearby public house – the Cock and Bell – now Blue Bridge Restaurant and Bar (renamed and opened about two years ago) and if some stories are to be believed the pub piano was occasionally rolled down the road to the makeshift studio. These were pioneering days!

The website says:

‘2MT Writtle – The Birth of British Broadcasting’ by Tim Wander charts the full story of the early struggle to achieve a national broadcasting service in this country – from the famous 1920 broadcast of Dame Nellie Melba in Chelmsford, through Writtle’s sparkling success to the birth of the BBC in 1923.

“Peter Eckersley became Britain’s first DJ, and the light-hearted spirit which pervaded the whole proceedings and sheer joie de vivre that bubbled across the ether were not only a first but truly unique in the history of broadcasting.

“Often a one-man show, but always a team effort, the radio station known as 2MT at Writtle established an individuality all its own which forever remained a pleasant memory to its broadcast audience and wrote a crucial chapter in the history of radio and broadcasting.”

In 1982, Essex Radio (now no more) produced a documentary ‘Sixty Years of Radio’ commemorating the beginning of regular commercial broadcasting.

Today the ex-Army Hut from which 2MT was broadcast is housed at the ‘Chelmsford Science and Industry Museum’ at Sandford Mill, Chelmsford. It is open to the public on Sundays in August each year. Chelmsford Amateur Radio Society have a report for 2009 ( and photographs of the hut where radio commenced (

Further reading:

Page from BBC Essex website about ‘Marconi Day’ celebrations held at Sandford Mill in April 2007:

Wikipedia entry:

Friday, 4 December 2009

Ingatestone: George Sherrin, architect (1843 - 1909)

The coming of the railway in the 1840s through Ingatestone from London ended the stage coach trade and the town’s trade fell into decline. However by the 1880s it was realised that Ingatestone would be a convenient place for out of town commuters. In 1882 George Sherrin (1843 – 1909) took a number of plots, notably in Station Lane, and built a number of desirable country residences for the middle classes. According to James Bettley, “Station Lane is the place to study the domestic work of George Sherrin”. The houses were built in a Georgian style of red brick with false timber work.

I want though to write something different about George Sherrin’s houses.

Nowadays many of these properties remain. Ardtully, nearest to the High Street, has since 1983 been a residential home for the elderly and is no longer occupied by a single family. Fairwinds, imprisoned behind high private gates was once named The Chantry and was during the 1970s (and probably before) a hotel. I remember Station Lane at that time before the houses were built on the opposite side of the road and before Dutch Elm Disease ravaged this tree-lined road. The stumps of one or two of these majestic trees remain by the roadside.

The Gate House today

Next to Fairwinds is the Red House then towards the station and the level crossing is The Gate House, the former home of the architect. After Sherrin’s death the building became a school and remained one until the 1940s. By the late 1970s The Gate House was empty and prey to vandals and its future was in doubt. However in the 1980s the house was greatly extended and in the gardens Gate House Mews created.

The Gate House when it was a school

For a more extensive description about the area and Sherrin’s house follow the link to the “Ingatestone Station Lane Conservation Area Report”.

Lightoaks on the Mill Green road was demolished in early 2009. When the Midsummer’s Day hailstorm hit the area in 1897 newspaper reports told of the fall of the chimneys without the occupants, who were inside the property, knowing of the damage such was the ferocity of the storm. My rather poor photograph, taken from the road, illustrates this building now gone. James Bettley’s excellent book ‘Essex’ in the Buildings of England series has a pen and ink drawing citing it as “his usual picturesque combination of brick and half-timbered gables”. For more about Lightoaks history and fate read the local Council planning report:

Lightoaks (taken 2006)

Tuesday, 1 December 2009


Welcome to this month’s round-up of local history and heritage in and around Blackmore, Essex.

Christmas Greetings

Blackmore Post Office, on a snowy day in February 2009.

The Making of Modern Britain

Andrew Marr’s prequel to the ‘History of Modern Britain’ is completing its six programme run on BBC television. ‘The Making of Modern Britain’ covers the period from the death of Queen Victoria in 1901 to the end of the Second World War in 1945. Programme 4, which covered the 1920s, is of local interest. Part of the programme is devoted to the development of radio. There is a scene outside the Marconi works at Chelmsford, and the recollection of Dame Nellie Melba’s visit to the town in 1920 to broadcast songs across the wireless. The film then moves to the green at Writtle and village sign to tell how regular weekly broadcasts began in February 1922 in an ex-army hut with the call sign 2MT. The broadcasts were planned in the former Cock and Bell pub, now the Blue Bridge restaurant. Viewers see a shot of this building. E P Eckersley was the first presenter from whom Marr says “Terry Wogan. Late Night Talk Shows and Radio One all began”. An item on 2 Emma Tock (2MT) Writtle appears on the blog this month. Mention was also made that Winston Churchill was returned in the 1920s as a Conservative MP for Epping. This great man appears in every programme, such was his stature in Britain and British politics. The accompanying book is highly recommended to me by a friend.

Gardeners World

Also on TV, Carol Klein charted the role of women in horticulture in a special edition of Gardeners World. She visited Warley Place telling the story of Ellen Wilmott, one of the greatest plants-women of the early twentieth century. The grounds are now in the hands of the Essex Wildlife Trust.

Dudness. Essex. Where is it?

Braisher T (aka Tamsin) wrote recently on

“Hi. One of my ancestors is repeatedly listed on censuses as having been born in Dudness, Essex. Web searches only show up other census entries for Dudness - I can't find any reference to a past or present place with this name! Anyone have any ideas?”

… later adding …

“I've found another return for the same ancestor with what looks to be Dodenhurst. So maybe Dudness could be a contraction of Doddinghurst in Brentwood? Or maybe that's just wishful thinking!”

I can actually say with some confidence that the parish in question is Doddinghurst. When my grandfather signed up for a second tour of duty in the Army following the First World War his papers say he was born in “Doddnerst”. (He wasn’t born there but that is not the point.) Put on an Essex accent and you end up with various spellings. Durrant’s Handbook of Essex 1887 – produced in Chelmsford - (p91) refers to “Doddinghurst (often pronounced Dod’n’st)”. Good luck in finding your Duddinghurst ancestors!

High Ongar War Memorial

Thanks to Paul HP, a record of the names on the War Memorial at High Ongar is recorded on ‘Flicker’. Follow this link to Private George William Wright (mistakenly transcribed as C. W. Wright) and others.
The whole set for St Mary’s Church, High Ongar and the War Memorial can be viewed on

‘Harlow Irish’ Essex Sets

Paul HP is a prolific photographer and contributor to ‘Flicker’. He covers the following parishes:
Abbess Roding (St Edmund’s Church):
Beauchamp Roding (St Botolph’s Church):
Berners Roding (redundant church of All Saints):
Fryerning (St Mary the Virgin):
Greensted-juxta-Ongar (St Andrew’s Church):
High Laver (St Andrew’s Church):
Little Laver (St Mary The Virgin):
Magdalen Laver (St Mary’s Church):
Matching (St Mary The Virgin):
Norton Mandeville (All Saints’ Church):
Willingale (St Christopher’s Church, Willingale Doe & St Andrew’s Church, Willingale Spain):

Finally for the whole Essex collection go to

Porter Family in Writtle

Andrea63 on Genes Reunited gives some information about the Porter family of Writtle, who emigrated to Australia, but asks questions about “joining the dots”. See link:;topicseen

Blackmore Families Index

Some Blackmore families on the web:

William Byrd Biography

Another biography of the local Elizabethan composer of Stondon Massey has appeared on the internet. Go to:

A Civilian in The Second World War: The Diaries of E J Rudsdale

Eric Rudsdale (1910 – 1951) was a curator at Colchester Castle Museum in Essex. Since the age of 10 he had kept a diary but, feeling that the outbreak of the Second World War was a tumultuous moment decided to maintain regular entries about the north Essex town and its area. “The aim of this blog is to show, through Eric’s observations, how the town and the people he knew were directly affected by war. The diary extracts, therefore, have been edited to reflect this aim and, as Eric did not always write an entry in his diary every day, there are days when no entry appears in this account. Where necessary, short commentaries will be provided to give the historical context for the events he describes in his journal.” Although not in our area this is a ‘Blog of Note’ for all historians and recorders.

1939 Census

The BBC has reported calls for a census taken on the outbreak of the Second World War to be released. The emergency headcount was taken for the purpose of issuing Identity Cards. After the 1921 census, which is due for release in 2022, genealogists will have to wait a whole generation for more data to be made available. A census was not taken in 1941, and the 1931 census was destroyed by fire. For more on 1939 see:

Essex Police

Martyn Lockwood has written a new book entitled ‘The Essex Police Force’ covering 170 of policing in the county. For more follow:

Blackmore Area Local History

This project is now two years old so it is appropriate to take stock and announce plans for 2010.

The database continues to grow with at least 50 pages now on the main website and 350 entries on this blog. Without having a hit counter on this blog it is difficult to know the number of people who visit but in the first year of its operation (to 31 October 2009), the main site received 514 visitors.

Between 2005 and 2008 I was involved in producing scripts for two productions of ‘Through Changing Scenes’ at the churches of Blackmore and Stondon Massey. The event led to the creation of two books: ‘Blackmore. A Short History’ and ‘Stondon Massey. A Short History’ both of which are currently available. These are extended versions of the text used in the performances. These events will not be repeated – because it is right to move on to other projects – but it seems a shame to leave them unpublished. I have decided to add the original scripts to the site. The Blackmore script may be found on and the Stondon Massey script on

Also new to the website is ‘Blackmore. Then and Now’ ( This includes copies of postcards I have from the early twentieth century with comparative photographs taken recently.

Until recent years I lived in Ingatestone so I have known of the large houses in Station Lane for a lifetime. These were built by architect George Sherrin who died in 1909. We remember his work on the blog this month with additional pictures now on the Ingatestone page (

Plans for the website for the next year include:
- uploading photographs taken in Ingatestone High Street in 1985
- creating a series of pages called ‘Blackmore. The Library Collection’ which will feature photographs I received from a collector who had a display in the former Blackmore local library back in the 1980s.

The blog will continue with local history news and feedback from readers. I am not planning new online projects for publication next year because I want to spend some time “off line” pursuing an historical topic.

Over the years (since 2004) I have written a number of booklets for sale in aid of church funds at Blackmore and Stondon Massey. Some sell well whilst others languish on the bookstall for months. I have decided to confine publications to a shortlist of best sellers. The final shortlist will appear on this blog soon. I am considering the publication some of the more obscure, but nonetheless interesting, material online.

The purpose of ‘Blackmore Area Local History’ is to share knowledge of local heritage. It is always a pleasure to receive contributions, comments and questions from readers. The worldwide web is a fabulous resource and means of sharing and encouraging further research. The Internet has opened opportunities for contact to be made from people all over this planet – from people in America and Australia, to other places in Essex as well as literally around the corner to where I live.

Thanks for visiting the sites. Enjoy!


For an extensive list of links to other sites go to:

Monday, 30 November 2009

Blackmore: Postcards

A selection of postcards showing the village of Blackmore (Essex) is now available to view on ‘Blackmore. Then and Now’ on the main ‘Blackmore Area Local History’ site. Visit

Pictured above is Blackmore Post Office with Albert Cottage and the Prince Albert public house at the beginning of the twentieth century.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Blackmore: Jericho Cup 1940

A Silver Cup (illustrated) was recently sold on E Bay for £9.99 (plus postage). It was presented by Lady Rickitt who owned Jericho Priory during the Second World War. I am not sure she actually lived there because the property was commandeered for military use, certainly during the latter part of the conflict when the Americans were at their air base at Willingale. As the seller says, it is “an interesting illustration of the retention of village events”, and indeed a tangible reminder of those times. I did not know of the event.

“This is a silver plated trophy goblet with great local interest. It stands 19cm (7.5 inches) in height and is engraved 'Jerico Cup Blackmore Vegetables Only Presented by Lady Rickett 1940'. This relates to the village of Blackmore in Essex where Lord and Lady Rickett were prominent local gentry occupying Jerico Priory. Also an interesting illustration of the retention of traditional village events such as flower and vegetable shows during war time.”

Friday, 20 November 2009

Mountnessing: Reynolds family

3 February 2009


I have just been googling for my family and have some conflicting information. Supposedly Thomas Reynolds married Lucy Chopping around 1822 in Mountnessing. According to the 1851 census he was born around 1801 in Stondon and in 1861 it says he came from Blackmore, his first child was born in Ingatestone and then they moved to Navestock and finally Lewisham.

I am confused as to how this all works are these places close by each other, how would I find out where in fact he was born??


Perth, Western Australia

3 February 2009

Dear Diane

I too have experienced similar difficulties locating the birthplaces of my ancestors because of inconsistencies in data contained in decennial Censuses. In my case the family lived in the Colchester area of Essex so I thought a birthplace of Hadleigh, in the south of Essex, to be somewhat implausible. It turned out that my ancestor was born in Ardleigh. The recent release of the 1911 census said my great grandmother was born in Colchester but the 1901 census said she was born in the nearby village of West Bergholt. I had already established the West Bergholt link by looking at the Baptism registers for the parish.

Mountnessing, Stondon [Massey], Blackmore and Ingatestone are all neighbouring parishes to one another. Navestock is still within what is now designated the Brentwood Borough Council area. It’s only about five miles distant. If you are interested in seeing an old map of the area, go to the home pages of either of my websites.

The move of your family to Lewisham in south London could be something to with the agricultural depression which particularly affected the county in the late 1870s – although my research suggests that in terms of wages the agricultural labourer was worse off in about 1860. I digress. It would be interesting to know what your family did in these mid Essex parishes before migrating to London.

To find out where your ancestors were born you will need to look at the Baptism Registers of the respective parishes, microfilm copies of which are at the Essex Record Office in Chelmsford. There is a project under way to digitise the Registers for view on the Internet.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Area: "High Country History Group" Journal No 34

The Quarterly Journal of the High Country History Group has recently been issued to members. It contains a number of items about and beyond the local area including:

- North Weald Talk
- Life as an Essex Agricultural Labourer: 1840 – 1920. Part 3 (the whole work is available in booklet form from the Priory Church of St Laurence, Blackmore, price £1.50)
- The 1911 Census
- Book Review. Harry Patch: The Last Fighting Tommy (previously published on this blog)
- Elegy Upon Ongar High Street
- Whites Directory of Essex 1848 – Stapleford Abbots
- The East End Maternity Hospital at Theydon Mount – Part 2
- Comyns Owers. A Great War Victim.
- Rebuilding Holloway Prison at Epping
- Book Review. Hill Hall.

For membership and further information go to

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Blackmore: A Day Trip to Flanders

A visit made on Friday 6 November 2009.

Left: Essex Farm Cemetery

‘In Flanders Fields’ is one of the most famous poems penned during the First World War which speaks about poppies growing among the fields and trenches of the land around Ypres, and above the skylark singing but drowned out by the noise of battle. Its author John McCrae was a Doctor at the field station at Essex Farm, a hurriedly constructed pill-box like structure of poured concrete in a wooden frame. The hospital was extremely basic but out of harms way, though the limbs amputated were done without anaesthetic. The adjacent Essex Farm Cemetery was created to bury those who had perished. This was the first place on our whistle-stop tour and an opportunity to view the war graves of a thousand men. These include a Victoria Cross recipient and a grave of a 15 year old, who enlisted considerably under age. Those who died together have their headstones arranged together. The party laid a wreath at the ‘sword of sacrifice’ cross and held a respectful minutes’ silence before proceeding with the remainder of the itinerary.

They died alongside their comrades and are buried alongside their comrades

The Ypres Salient was the objective of the tour. It was in this area that the allies held off the Germans on three sides for four continuous years, from 1914 to 1918. Ypres was surrounded by the enemy. A range of small hills virtually encircles the town and it was here that the bitterest battles took place. The losses were tremendous. The town was almost totally destroyed. Driving across the flat land of France from Calais and into Belgium it was telling to recognise that if Ypres fell to the enemy then it would only be a quick dash to the channel ports. Ypres was defended at tremendous cost.

It became the policy of the Imperial powers (i.e. the British Empire) that all those who died should be buried near to where they fell and that each man, regardless of rank, be given equal status. We know that the family of Lieutenant Gerald Pigott, of Blackmore, tried to repatriate his body to England but this was refused. The Ypres area has many cemeteries close to one another, all well kept and all with standard size headstones made of white Portland stone row upon row.

Tyne Cot Cemetery: row on row

Tyne Cot Cemetery, on the hill overlooking the town, marks the limit of the German invasion. It contains about 12000 graves, some named but many inscribed ‘known unto God’, and a wall listing just short of 35000 men who could not be identified after battle or were lost in the mud and chaos. The flat clayey land seems to hold water. Even in a dry autumn the land looks unforgiving. About 70% of the graves at Tyne Cot hold the remains of those who were recovered from the battlefield could not be identified.

Mud in field adjacent to Langemark

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the organisation founded during the War to identify and give victims a proper resting place, identifies a Private Arthur Edward Barker, a man from Blackmore, being commemorated here. So having visited the newly opened Visitors Centre and Museum I wanted to spend what little time I had trying to find him. Private Barker’s name is not recorded in the Register as having a grave, so the row and plot number could not be visited. Instead his name is listed alphabetically on the wall with others from the Essex Regiment who died, ‘missing presumed dead’, for whom (to quote the inscription upon the wall) “… war denied the known and honoured burial given to their comrades in death”. “Barker A E” is listed alongside the countless who were killed mainly during the third battle, otherwise known as Passchendaele. Ten of thousands of men were killed during the course of one hundred days, gaining only five miles of territory.

The Cemetery Register may be consulted, situated at the entrance

A. E. Barker

View of wall containing the names of those not identified

A Soldier of the Great War

Private Albert Edward Barker, 32975, of the 2nd Battalion, Essex Regiment, died aged 38, on 10th October 1917. Locally commemorated on the War Memorial and the window at the Priory Church of St Laurence, Blackmore, we know that in 1911 this Romford born man was an off licence holder in Camberwell, South East London. His wife, Lily, three years older than him, aged 32, assisted him in the running of the business. At that time they had two children, Lilian Amy, aged 7, and Edward Leslie, aged 5, who were both at school. Staying with them on the night of the census was a visitor and monthly nurse, Emma Langstone, aged 64, from Maldon Essex. The family were all born in Romford. After Edward’s death Lily remarried and moved presumably from Blackmore back to Romford. Her surname was Quilter.

Tyne Cot is not, contrary to my expectations, a place of extreme sadness but a place of memorial. It is a reminder that, as a Quaker once told her grand-daughter, in every plot there lays a husband, son or brother.

Langemark is in sharp contrast. It is a German Military Cemetery holding a mass grave to nearly 25000 bodies. The bronze memorial blocks list nearly 17000 names, the others are unknown. Unlike the Commonwealth cemeteries, the dark stones elsewhere in Langemark lay prostrate: the fallen among the large oak trees. Even in the autumn against the cloudy sky with a carpet of fallen oak leaves it was difficult to see this as a place of beauty.

Mass grave at Langemark German Military Cemetery

Sanctuary Wood was our next destination. The area became so known because it was safer place for allied troops cut off from their own units. Here there is a museum of exhibits dug up from the surrounding fields and a recreated, if not preserved, trench line. About six feet deep shored up with corrugated iron this was where Tommy lived on the front line, until the order was given to move forward. A very thought provoking moment for us visitors.


The coach then moved towards the town of Ypres, known as “Wipers” to the troops, passing Hellfire Corner, and then through the Menin Gate Memorial. Since 1927, and apart from the Second World War, the road is closed here in the evening and, at 8.00pm, the Last Post sounded. There are 55000 names to the missing engraved on the Menin Gate. One name is Private George William Wright, 31895, 10th Battalion Essex Regiment, who died aged 28 on 31st July 1917.

Menin Gate

George William Wright was the second son of Bramston Wright and his wife Alice. In 1911 we find the family living near Rookery, Blackmore, Ingatestone. Rookery Farm is just outside the parish boundary in High Ongar. Bramston, aged 52, was born in High Ongar and was a horseman on a farm. He had been married to Alice, aged 49, for 22 years. Alice was born in Blackmore. Their children were all born in High Ongar. His sons were Henry John, aged 22, a groom gardener; our George William Wright, then aged 20, a cowman; Herbert, 19, also a cowman. There were two younger daughters, both day general domestics: Louise Emily Alice, aged 15, and Emily Clara, aged 13. George William Wright is not named on Blackmore’s memorials. His name is remembered on the War Memorial at High Ongar.

The town of Ypres was totally destroyed during the Great War. The medieval Cloth Hall and Cathedral were rebuilt to the original plans and paid for by German reparations ordered at the Treaty of Versailles. There was just time to visit the chocolate shop and take a few photographs before beating retreat to Calais and the Euro-Tunnel.


Cloth Hall

Having researched the names of the men on the Memorials at Blackmore and Stondon Massey last year, it is moving to think that these were ordinary people in ordinary families called up to do their Duty. Local War Memorials are their epitaph and remembrance to those who perished in what we now know to be a senseless conflict. Now, having made my first trip to the Western Front, it is gratifying that these men are remembered with honour where they fell, even if they were not found. They rest in perpetuity. “We will remember them”.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Blackmore: Remembering the Second World War (2)

Blackmore’s War Memorial contains only the names of those who served in the First World War. The only commemoration to those who served in the Second World War (1939 – 1945) is a handwritten list, in two frames, attached to a pillar near the entrance door to the Priory Church of St Laurence.

Each sheet is titled “ON ACTIVE SERVICE”, and at the foot, “FOR KING AND COUNTRY”. The writing has faded over the intervening years so the names of these local people are recorded here for posterity.

On the first list there are sixty names, recorded in alphabetical order.

The names are:

Other Detail not recorded on list

ALLEN Arthur William


BARRETT Ashley Bryan
10th Balochis





BURROWS Laurence

CHEEK Kenneth N

CONN Arthur
Grenadier Guards

CONN Charles
Grenadier Guards

CONN Peter Robert
Grenadier Guards

CORBEY Stanley

FLATT John Patterson

FLATT David Paterson

Maritime RA




HARVEY Reginald


Grenadier Guards



KNIGHT Leonard

LANE Albert

LANE Edward

LANE Frank P

LIVINGS Harold John

MARDEN Jack Edward

MARTIN Charles Adolphis

MARTIN Vernon Victor

McANGUS William

OVEL Edward


OVEL Reginald




PENSON Charles F


POLLEY John James



STOCK Thomas

WARD Richard William
2nd Essex



WEBB Charles

WELLER Thomas Hugh



WOOD Arthur John

WOOD David Arthur

WOOD John William

WOOD Joan Violet


WOOD Theodore William James

Joy Kathleen Woollard died on 8th November 1943. She was Aircraftwoman 1st Class serving in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force. She was buried in the churchyard at Blackmore.
WRIGHT Donald William

The second list contains a further 28 names.

BIRD Ronald David









FIELD Barbara May

RAISON William






RANNS Thomas Cecil

PAGRAM Eric Julian



MASON Albert (Robert)


5th Ridg.





This list can also be viewed on

Monday, 9 November 2009

Blackmore: Remembering the Second World War (1)

8 November 2009

Hi Andrew.

Next question.

Why do we have no names recorded in Blackmore for the fallen in WW2? Is it that there were none from the village?

If so why is Joy Kathleen Woollard not recorded?

Do you know the story around her death?

I went to the churchyard this evening to pay my respects. It was lovely to see that the children of Blackmore had left there own poppy. Sadly Jacob Wiltshire did not get one. Is that because he died in 1923?


9 November 2009

Hello Diana

I have not done any research on the Second World War so am not able to answer your questions. Clearly there must have been a decision made by the Parish Council not to add the names of those who died in the Second World War to the War Memorial on The Green. The list of those who served, as are listed on the War Memorial for the First World War, would be too long to include.

In the Church there are two fading framed lists containing the names of those who were “On Active Service”. The list is published on the village website ( ) but I will duplicate this onto the site soon.

At the Remembrance Sunday service at the Priory Church of St Laurence [Blackmore] yesterday one of the youth leaders told the congregation that four large poppies were left over having made the tribute for the War Memorial and that the children would place these at the graves of Ted Sutton, William Scudder (commemorated on his father’s grave), Joy Kathleen Woollard and Jacob Wiltshire. The leader further that an enquiry would be made with the War Graves Commission to see whether Jacob Wiltshire would “qualify” for a standard Portland Stone carved memorial. Having reflected on your query I believe that there should have been five poppies. Frank Monk (died 1921) is a further war victim. Perhaps he was remembered with a poppy. I haven’t checked.


Friday, 6 November 2009

Blackmore: War Memorial

25 August 2009

Dear Andrew
Found your site very interesting. Many thanks!

We recently visited the Gunpowder Mills in Waltham Abbey and came across lots of WW1 information. It made me think about our War Memorial in Blackmore as I often see some of the gravestones at the church, which records a few of the deaths, whilst walking the dog, e.g. Pte. Sutton etc. So I started to compile my spreadsheet but could not really read all the names on the Roll of Honour. Thanks to you I have their names and a lot more.

Before I had discovered your site I had done some research and have submitted an article for the Parish [Council] Magazine, [The Herald].

Therefore I am sending it to you to see if it is correct?

I would like to plot where those who were living in Blackmore and also see if it is possible to find any pictures?

Roger thinks he is related to the Suttons so there could be a possibility

Have you gone to Kew to look at the soldiers’ war records?
Did Ellis enrol in another name?
Why was Larke not included if the family still lived in the village?
Why does your list have so many other names, have you used the local paper to discover them?


Diana Bateman

29 August 2009

Hello Diana

Thanks for your E mail. You may be interested to know that I published information on the Great War – to commemorate the 90th anniversary of cessation of hostilities - on last year (there is a link from on the Great War Gateway page: ) and produced a booklet entitled 'Blackmore Remembers' which is on sale, price £1.50, at the Priory Church of St Laurence, Blackmore. You may wish to compare your notes to mine. The ‘blog’ has a search box so you will be able to access fairly quickly the names I have recorded.

I have not been to the National Archives at Kew to check any war records. A lot of information is available online I understand so sites like might be a first port of call. My research was confined to recording a transcript of all the names on the Parish War Memorial on The Green; the memorial window in the vestry of the Church; using what information was previously readily available and; a thorough search of the ‘commonwealth war graves commission website’, I did not read through local newspapers: the Essex Chronicle and Essex Weekly News are available to view on microfilm at Chelmsford Library. The Brentwood Gazette was first published after the First World War.

You will find, if you have not already, that tracing information is not quite as simple as the ‘Who Do You Think You Are’ programme might lead you to believe. But attempting to solve these puzzles is challenging, absorbing and rewarding. Separately I have tried to trace my grandfather’s service: his service record is missing but we get glimpses into his First World War service, for example, shell shock and being taken prisoner of war. We have no photographs of him at the time – I suspect these would be rare survivals of a period these men would rather forget (read Harry Patch’s autobiography) – but have the odd postcard.

I have Ernest Martin’s photograph and a copy of Gerald Piggot’s photograph published after his death from the Essex Chronicle.

Since last November – when I closed my research - the 1911 census has become available online: It is possible to purchase credits to view household transcripts and original census documents.

I do not know whether Alfred Ellis enrolled under another name. All I had was reference that he died during the ill-fated Gallipoli campaign in June 1915. He is commemorated on the church window but not the war memorial which made tracing more information difficult. Having compared the new 1911 census with the cwgc site I found that an Essex regiment man by the name of Alfred George Ellis died on 28 June 1915 in Gallipoli aged 24 ( His parents were Walter and Emma Ellis of Hornchurch, and he himself was married. Typing Arthur Ellis, Walter Ellis and Emma Ellis separately with the parish of Blackmore onto the home page of the 1911 census we find all three names revealed. It was worth spending 10 credits to establish the household. This reads:

Walter Ellis. Head. Married. M. 54. Farm Labourer. Born Stondon, Essex.
Emma Ellis. Wife. F. 43. Born Havering, Essex
Harry Ellis. Son. Single. M. 21. Bricklayer Labourer. Born Blackmore
Alfred Ellis. Son. Single. M. 18. Bricklayer Labourer. Born Blackmore
Walter Ellis. Son. Single. M. 15. Stable Lad. Born Blackmore
Eliza Ellis. Daughter. F. 13. Home. Born Blackmore
Louisa Ellis. Daughter. F. 12. School. Born Blackmore
William Ellis. Son. M. 10. School. Born Blackmore
Jack Ellis. Son. M. 3. Home. Born Blackmore

The strong possibility here is that Walter and Emma moved away from Blackmore, as did Alfred when he married, and therefore did not ‘qualify’ (I will come back to this later) to be remembered on the parish War Memorial. Perhaps though his parents were church-goers or Alfred sang in the choir (I am just guessing) so the congregation decided to honour his name on the church window.

I should mention that I have not consulted Baptism Registers which would, if recorded, link the names of children to parents. These are held at the Essex Record Office. A transcript of the 1910 electoral roll is given on my website but it includes householders only so will be of limited use.

I do not know where Herbert Larke’s home was at the time of death and find that his name does not occur on the 1911 census for Blackmore. Whether he is honoured on a war memorial in another village I do not know. His family lived near Copyhold Farm.

War memorials, it seems to me, were local responses for a need to remember those who had died – and if not uniquely to Blackmore those who had served too. So the decisions to include or otherwise a name appears to have been a local matter. If you look at the Stondon page of the website (see ) you will see Revd. Reeve’s words about the decision about whose names to commemorate on the war memorial tablet in Stondon church. You may be interested to know also that four names on the Blackmore War memorial also appear on the war memorial tablet inside Doddinghurst Church: Gerald Pigott, James Roast, Harry Riglin and Herbert Miller.

Finally, as I have said, the additional names were gleaned from the cwgc database but also the original transcript of local historian and Rector for Stondon Massey, Revd. Edward Reeve. I also produced a book last year entitled ‘Revd. E H L Reeve: Chronicler of the Great War’. The original transcripts are all held at the Essex Record Office and may be consulted, with an easily obtainable Reader’s ticket, in the search room. I recently discovered lurking in an acquisition box some original documents originally owned by the Rector. These include correspondence with those at the Front and, sadly, a black edged letter from J. H Maynard, living in Fingrith Hall Road Blackmore, advising that “our dear brother” Ernest Maynard was killed in action on 27 June 1917. Ernest Maynard lived in Blackmore but worked as a gardener for Reeve at Stondon Rectory. Even at a distance of nearly 100 years and even though one does not know the family, to read these documents is a moving experience. I need to write up those notes because if these stories are not brought to public attention the grim lessons of war will be forgotten.

I hope all this is of interest.


Sunday, 1 November 2009


Welcome to this month’s round-up of local history and heritage in and around Blackmore, Essex.

November: a time to remember

There is no special anniversary of the First World War this year other than the fact the ninety years ago the first Armistice commemoration was hurriedly decreed. Since then people have paused for two minutes to remember those who gave their lives. Just before the anniversary day I will be making my first ever visit to the battlefields and cemeteries around Ypres. It will be a quick tour lasting one day. It will be a journey in more ways than one. Locally we remember as one of the fallen Private William White who was killed just days before hostilities ceased (on 5th November 1918). I found his grave at Downham Church this summer. It is this month’s photograph.

1911 Census

Family historians received a fantastic New Year present in January this year with the launch of the 1911 census. This has opened new doors into the lives of our ancestors.

‘Find My Past’ (, the commercial family history website which has the rights to the 1911 census has launched the archive on their main site creating a complete and unique sequence of census data from 1841 to 1911. With the England and Wales census completely transcribed (Scotland will follow later) this had to be the next step in their marketing strategy. Subscribers to the 1911 census website ( were given opportunity to sign up at a special introductory rate.

“1911 is the most recent available England and Wales census - it holds the key to your nineteenth and twentieth-century ancestors. The 1911 census contains information you simply can’t find elsewhere and without it your family history is incomplete.

“For the first time you’ll see scans of the actual forms filled in by your ancestors which can reveal the quirks of your ancestors’ handwriting, as well as any mistakes or extra comments they made, in crisp high-quality colour.

“The 1911 census holds more information on your ancestors than any census before it. You can discover:
· how long a couple had been married
· how many children were born to that marriage (and how many of them had died)
· details of nationality
· more detailed occupational information”

Findmypast made the 1911 census RG14 household forms available at the earliest opportunity and will be adding the accompanying enumerators’ summary book (RG78) images.

Essex Record Office Closure

The Essex Record Office will close for stocktaking from Monday 9th to Saturday 21st November 2009.

The 261 Bus Route

Blackmore’s hourly bus service to Brentwood (except Sundays) via Doddinghurst is featured in three ‘You Tube’ videos.
Part 1 shows the journey from the ‘Bus Terminus’ to Doddinghurst:
Part 2 takes us through the countryside from Doddinghurst to the Brentwood Centre at Bishops Hall:
Finally Part 3 completes the journey to Brentwood High Street:
It gives readers a good idea about the area in which we live. Enjoy the trip!

Stately Homes of Essex

The following link gives details of opening times etc of three stately homes: Hylands House, Audley End and Ingatestone Hall. Go to:

Chigwell Link

Other than its link with Samuel Harsnett and Charles Dickens, who loved the place, (see the following I have to confess that I do not know much about the village of Chigwell on the edge of the London Boroughs but still close to Blackmore. But the latest news is that Blackmore’s new Vicar (and Stondon Massey’s new Rector) has just been appointed to take on the role from February 2010. She is Revd. Toni Smith, currently priest at St Winifred’s Church, Grange Hill, Chigwell. My visit to Dicken’s Maypole pub (The King’s Head) is long overdue!


The Bell public house, an ancient coaching inn in Ingatestone High Street has just had a change of ownership. ‘Shepherd Neame’, the Kent brewers, is the new name on the pub sign. Another opportunity for investigation!

RAF Chipping Ongar

During the Second World War there was an operational American Air Base at Willingale by the name of ‘RAF Chipping Ongar’. Older residents in the area remember when the Americans (387th Bomb Group) came over, spent money in the pubs, handed out goodies and wooed the girls. They carried out a dangerous job, and some did not make it. “We will remember them” is the caption at the bottom of a set of photographs – by Richard Flagg - showing the surviving buildings on the base and of St Andrew’s Church, Willingale Spain: the group’s church for the short time they were over here.


Newly posted onto Flicker by ‘sink plunger’ is a photograph of a Class 90 electric engine taken at Shenfield station. It is one of the more modern rolling stock – taken May 2009 - which was not featured in our railway series recently. See:


For an extensive list of links to other sites go to:

Friday, 23 October 2009

Mountnessing: Postcards

A selection of postcards of Mountnessing dating from the early twentieth century are now available to view on the main website. Visit .

The illustration here is of The Plough public house before it was rebuilt.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Roxwell: The Bridges Family of Cooksmill Green (1)

Maureen-Garnham Lopez is the daughter of Frederick Wilfred Garnham who was born in 1914 at Radley Green. In this story she recalls family life in nearby Cooksmill Green where her father grew up living with his own mother and grandparents.

She writes:

I always loved going to Cooksey, when the weather was nice. Mum would put the youngest children in a pram and we would all walk from Chelmsford. When it was spring time, we would stop and pick primroses along the way. Our trip started by walking down Melbourne Road, Chignal Road, to Roxwell Road and then taking the back roads to Grandma's.

Dad [Frederick Wilfred Garnham] loved his childhood home. You could tell by his mannerism that Cooksey had his heart. My mother was not so keen on ever moving out to the country but she knew that the time was coming.

Grandad [Percy Bridges, who married by grandmother following Fred Garnham's death in WW1] had given dad some land next to Uncle Ron [Bridges] and we knew that a house would be built there one day. At that time there was an old wooden house on the property. I believe that it was empty, as kids we never went to look or even ask about it.

[Percy Bridges was born in this house in 1895 and lived there until he died in 1974.]

I always thought Cooksey had it own smells. There were many flowers, roses (my dad's favourite plant), grass, baking and even the outhouse. The outhouse was out back, the path ran alongside the chicken coop, its seat was made of wooden boards with a hole in the middle. There was a smell to it, a very pleasant clean smell.

You could always hear the chickens, especially the roosters early in the mornings letting us know a new day has started. Grandma would collect the eggs in a basket and my sister Muriel [Garnham] said that she got served many an egg when she stayed there.

The large gardens were kept immaculately. There was a large green apple tree in the middle of the two houses. Grandma would make apple sauce with them. Grandad Bridges was always pondering around the garden dressed in or they looked like to me, woollen army beige colour pants with suspenders, a long sleeve shirt rolled up and boots. He was a very big man with full lips, but not much hair.

Outside the back door of grandma's house was a silver colour metal thing. I thought it was so neat, it was used to clean the mud or dirt off your boots, shoes, or whatever you were wearing. When you entered through the back door - it was the only one we used - there was a very small room, much like a closet only it was square shaped. Inside this was a sink and a draining board. You would turn left, go through the dining, living room into the so-called kitchen. A table sat in front of the window, when Grandad came in for tea or a meal, he always sat on the right side. I remember him smacking those big lips as he was enjoying whatever he was drinking or eating.

Grandma was always walking back and forth, back and forth to the sink from the kitchen. The floor was wooden with linoleum on top but the boards were loose, you could always hear her footsteps. The walls and ceiling had beautiful wooden beams running down and across them. There was a fireplace to warm you on a cold day. Upstairs in one of the bedrooms, the floor was slanted, so Grandma had placed wooden blocks behind the feet of the bed so it wouldn't move.

Uncle Ron [Bridges] lived next door with his wife Betty and baby daughter Sandra. I would go during the summer holidays and spend time with them. I would help my aunt sweep and clean her house. We would set the table at night for my uncle's breakfast in the morning. Beside the table, in the wall was an aquarium you could see the fish from the living and dining room.

I would take my cousin [Sandra] for a ride in her pram. I would take a left at the end of the lane and go towards the road to Ongar, never making it to the end. We'd passed the red post box, the little old store that sold everything, but I remember the sweets most. There was a farm that had huge pigs, sometimes I would go the other way past the farm that had ducks. Several times I would stop to watch the mama duck cross the road with all her family, following single file behind her to go for a swim in the pond. At the end of the road was a cottage facing the road where it veered off to the left to Roxwell, right "back roads" as my dad said to Chelmsford. Granddad Bridges Grandfather lived with his family there at one time.

In the bedroom that I slept in, the window was low to the floor, maybe six inches above it. Aunt Betty would always make homemade muffins, were they good, the smell would fill the air, wow!

Just a few years ago, I visited Uncle Ron with [my husband] Adolfo, camera in hand and asked if we could film him while I asked questions about the family, especially about my mum and dad. I wanted to know if he knew how they met, he obliged with our wishes and it was great, we got new information.

Uncle Ron was living in Grandma's Bridge’s (his mother's) house at the time. Colin, my youngest brother and I went over to his house. Uncle Ron offered to show us around the house. Colin was so pleased as he had not been inside the house in years. He did not remember how it looked. He was too young to remember. I took a few photos of the inside and I am glad I have them to share them with my family.

Colin and I have been working on the family tree with our brother Dennis and my daughter Amanda for a number of years now. Dennis also lives in Cooksey. All our family was at Dennis' for a B.B.Q. as I was visiting from the States. I went over to Uncle Ron's. He was sitting outside with his second wife. I asked him if he had any pictures of grandma when she was younger. I had only one of her by herself, middle aged, standing by the pond, it was taken in their yard. Uncle Ron told me he had taken the picture himself. Uncle Ron's wife left the table and went inside, when she returned she had something that was worth a million dollars to me. In her hand was a picture of Fred Garnham and wife Rosa, I had never seen are heard anything about this picture. The family had known of only one other picture of him. I was so excited, overjoyed, how could this be, before my dad died, did he know this photo existed? I didn't think so. She also had other picture of grandma. I asked if I could take them to show to my brothers and sister, she said yes. They were overjoyed. I returned them back to her and asked if she could get copies of the photos. She did and now all my family now have copies of their own.

Last year, 2008, we met some people on the Internet that were family. It was a couple of days before we were due to leave to England. My daughter Amanda was trying to teach me how to get on the Internet to find somebody. She said pick a name, it is so easy, I said Percy Bridges. The next morning, we had six hits. Of these we made contact with a Dennis Bridges.

We arranged to meet at Cooksey later on. Uncle Ron was no longer living but his wife was so gracious enough to have us all meet there. It was a grand meeting with all kinds of information and photos exchanged between each other. We learnt a lot more about the Bridges family.

My uncle's wife has given me copies of other documents and photos and I am forever grateful. She told me once "only you would ask". That is true.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Stondon Massey: Family Secrets. The Smith / Garnham family

Maureen Garnham-Lopez writes:

During 2005, Adolfo and I made several visits to the Essex Record Office (ERO) in Chelmsford [to look at the Census and Parish records held there on microfiche]. This was always an exciting time for us as we always liked looking for our family members. We find this very rewarding.

When looking for family in Stondon Massey, we came across a burial of a Joseph Smith long known as George Garnham. Who is he, is he our George? He was the right age, right place, everything matched up to our George.

It all then added up. That was why we could not find a birth certificate of George or a marriage to (Great-Grandma) Harriet Garnham.

Something must have happened to Harriet or James Garnham (her second husband) before 1881 since their oldest daughter Alice was placed in a workhouse and Rosa Emily was placed with family members.

In 1891, Harriet appears in Romford, Essex with someone calling himself George Garnham with a son Frederick Garnham. They moved to Stondon Massey before 1901 and lived at the Soaphouse Farm.

Harriet Lewis first married a George Smith. Her second marriage was to James Garnham. Did Joseph Smith steal those two names? In the 1911 censes they were still living together at the Soaphouse Farm. George and Harriet lived at least ten or more years at the farm. I believe until they became too sick to take care of themselves, Harriet was living in Radley Green at the time of her death, while George was in the Stanford Rivers Poor House [Ongar Union Workhouse] at the time of his death. Both passed away in the same year 1916: Harriet in April, George in November, and are buried at Stondon Massey.

I started thinking of my father Frederick Wilfred Garnham losing his father, Frederick Garnham at 4 days old, and his grandparents George and Harriet at the age of 2. All he knew was his mother. [Frederick Garnham was killed in the Retreat from Mons at the beginning of the First World War.]

Most of all, who was this man calling himself George Garnham? Then this meant, who are we? Have we been Garnham by name all these years but are Smith's by blood. What secret was Stondon Massey holding about all of us and why?

In my heart, I believe that Joseph Smith became George Garnham when he got involved with Great-Grandma Harriet Garnham.

It saddens me greatly to think our family tree ends here on the Garnham side, it is our namesake. Why the lies and for what reason did this information come out at the burial at Stondon Massey. What did Revd Reeve know, and if anything, what did he think. Did he really know George Garnham?

In the 1901 Census

Harriet and George Garnham lived in Stondon Massey at the Soaphouse Farm. They had a boarder named Arthur Bolt, 9 years old, birthplace unknown.

Revd Reeve mentioned an Arthur Bolt, 11th November 1918. At this time I have no idea whom this person is, maybe family somehow, another mystery person. Other family members mentioned with Arthur are Alec Shuttleworth and a Arthur H. Watts, both are relatives of mine.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Roxwell: Remembering Fred Garnham of Radley Green

As part of the commemoration of the Great War, 'Blackmore Area Local History' remembered Fred Garnham who died in the retreat from Mons in 1914. I was delighted when family members made contact, kindly giving more information and feel priviliged to be able to publish a copy of the '1914 Star' (or 'Mons Star') given posthumously to his widow, Rosa, in 1917. Fred Garnham was baptised at Stondon Massey, he later moved to Radley Green. He is commorated on the memorials at Highwood and Roxwell. For more pictures visit

Friday, 2 October 2009

Fryerning: Footpath Find

This piece of stone was lying on a public track en route to Blackmore. It known as 'pudding stone' because of its plum pudding appearance.

Thursday, 1 October 2009


Welcome to this month’s round-up of local history and heritage in and around Blackmore, Essex.

A Farming and Family Centenary Celebration

Descendents of Arthur Henry Smith had a party recently to celebrate one hundred years of farming at Jordans Farm in Mountnessing. It was to there, in 1909, that my grandfather became a tenant farmer on land owned by Lord Petre. My cousin still farms the same land which is a great achievement and cause for celebration. The gathering, attended by many family and friends, provided an opportunity to view photographs and other memorabilia. Those into family history displayed their research and in preparation for the occasion I researched Arthur’s ancestors.

Researching a Smith family line at first sight sounds a daunting task given the fact that the name is common so I went with an open mind to the Essex Record Office one Monday morning. I had already obtained the census record for 1901 (when Arthur, aged 16, was living with his family) and the free listing of the 1881 census (obtainable from But within the space of three hours I had established the name of my gt gt gt gt grandfather, Henry, through using census records back to 1841 and parish registers copied onto microfiche. Why? It quickly became apparent that my family had lived throughout the nineteenth century in the parishes of Stock and Buttsbury.

I will be posting my findings shortly on

This month’s photo is of Jordans Farm, taken in 1954, with thraves (known as stooks elsewhere) of corn in the foreground.

Early Essex Parish Registers Online

In April 2009 ‘Blackmore Area Local History’ reported that the Essex Record Office had embarked on a project, called ‘Essex Ancestors’, to digitise and put on-line through SEAX (the catalogue of archives) colour images of original Anglican Parish Registers (except marriage registers less than 50 years old). Early Parish Registers for local parishes are now available to view through SEAX ( ‘Blackmore Area Local History’ will monitor progress and hopefully provide links this autumn to images through the ‘Parish Registers’ page of the main website. In the meantime Registers can be viewed on microfiche at the Searchroom.

The major advantage is that wherever you are in the world you can look up ancestors from the comfort of your armchair without going to Chelmsford. Those American friends, for example, looking for the Smyth family in Blackmore can see the original register entries for the first time and no doubt copy extracts. In this respect this is a marvellous innovation.

But is there a downside? If all Registers and Census material goes online will this mean a reduction in the footfall of visitors to archive searchrooms. As someone said to me when I visited the Record Office recently, this can be no substitute for talking with others during your coffee break as often other ideas come to the fore through networking. At a time when the National Archives (at Kew) is likely to close to the public every Monday, in order to make cuts, I am quietly concerned that access to original documents – e.g. church records, wills, inventories, house sales – could become more restricted. I can see the dilemma: an attempt to increase access to records and make cuts to the front line service. Taken to its extreme there must be a danger that these vast store houses of history and local interest become the preserve of academics, frightening off casual visitors and enthusiastic amateur historians. I trust that those responsible for our heritage have a policy which ensures that these records continue to be available for all, and attract people from all walks of life to learn about the past.

This is not a criticism, just an observation. At present I have found most archivists to be very approachable and only too willing to point people in the right direction.

Historic Villages advertised by Beresfords Estate Agents

An innovative way of advertising local properties, amenities and, for this site, history has been created by Beresfords, a local estate agent. Local villages are covered in short ‘You Tube’ presentations.
For Writtle, go to:
For Ingatestone (and a quick mention of Mountnessing, Stock, Fryerning and Blackmore) go to:
For Shenfield, go to:
For Brentwood, go to


David Mallinson, from Denver Colorado USA, wrote on 13th September 2009: “I read with great interest your blog entry ( with respect to Fleming's (or Flemyngs's) Hall [Runwell] as my family owned the property from 1908 to 1986, and I myself lived there from 1967 until the property was sold in 1986.

“I note the source for the excellent rendering of the front of the house is the Rev Alfred Suckling's work 'Memorials of the antiquities and architecture, family history and heraldry of the County of Essex’ (John Weale, London, 1845). I would imagine that copies of the above work are hard to find nowadays, having said that do you know the whereabouts of any copies?”

The book itself is very rare but available through the Essex Libraries Network. The Essex Record Office has a copy. I purchased a very tatty copy, minus cover and all plates, from E bay a couple of years ago for about £20. I believe that in the book business this copy is called a "breaker" - all the good bits removed and sold on as framed pictures, unless, of course, one is interested as much in the text. Either that or I have just invented a new word for the Oxford English Dictionary.

London Underground

A sightseeing site in Botswana has been quick to pick up the reference in the Mangapps Farm Railway Museum item to the London Underground. It has added it to the numerous links on its history. See


For an extensive list of links to other sites go to:

Friday, 25 September 2009

Book Review: Lost Railways of Essex

Railways hold a massive social legacy in this county as elsewhere. Robin Jones has produced a book which charts the demise and fate of some lines which fell even before the Beeching Axe in the 1960s as well as afterwards. The first Chapter shows how the railway has changed in the Docklands area of old Essex (London) and how some lines have recently become mothballed to facilitate regeneration in the early twenty-first century. A whole Chapter is then devoted to the Epping to Ongar branch of the Central Line (formerly Great Eastern Railway) which closed on 30 September 1994, but has since become the ground of the fledgling Epping to Ongar Railway Preservation Society. Many of the lines which were extant in the north of the County have now gone: the line from Bishops Stortford to Witham was severed at Braintree and is now the Flitch Way, and routes to Maldon from Witham and Woodham Ferrers long defunct, though the station architecture of Maldon East remains on the town’s industrial estate. It is a good book, liberally illustrated with archive and well as modern photos of buildings and rolling stock. ‘The Lost Railways of Essex’ (Countryside Books, 2008) by Robin Jones is available, price £10.99.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Railways (20): Mangapps Railway Museum

Mangapps Farm Railway Museum at Burnham-on-Crouch (on the Dengie peninsula) celebrates its twentieth anniversary this year. The collection is that of farmer and enthusiast, Mr Jolly. It tells of the story of railways predominantly in Essex and East Anglia and occupies the site where steam or diesel never ran but now has a single track of ¾ mile linking Mangapps station with Old Heath (previously Horham and Laxfield stations respectively on the long-time closed Mid Suffolk Railway). This was my second visit to the museum, my first being soon after it opened. I was quite surprised to see how much had been acquired, how well it was laid out, and how well the story was told. It was a pleasant afternoon out.

Mangapps Station

Old Heath Station

The museum’s website ( says that it has one of the largest signalling collections in the country. There are acquisitions of station furniture which were replaced, I suppose, in the 1980s.

Two Class 302 carriages are in preservation, acquired from the London Tilbury and Fenchurch Street line in the late 1990s. These, I believe, are the only survivals, alas kitted out in the horrid refurbished look of the 1980s. There was a romance of individual compartments, though nicknamed ‘cattle trucks’. A ride on one pulled by a Class 47 diesel engine was a trip into nostalgia. Part of a diesel multiple unit which operated the line from Wickford to Southminster, post steam and pre electrification, is also in Mr Jolly’s collection.

A Northern Line Underground train of ancient days which ceased service in the late 1990s tells the story of the expansion of the London Underground network beyond the city into the country.

The museum has a substantial collection of rolling stock on view plus posters and other material telling of the social history of the railway in Essex and beyond.

… and also refreshments. A great afternoon out.
For more about local railways, click on the label, left.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Area: "High Country History Group" Journal No 33

The Quarterly Journal of the High Country History Group has recently been issued to members. It contains a number of items about and beyond the local area including:

- The Rectors and Patrons of Stapleford Tawney & Theydon Mount
- The East End Maternity Hospital at Theydon Mount – Part 1
- The Suckling Papers – Greensted (previously published on this blog)
- Life as an Essex Agricultural Labourer: 1840 – 1920. Part 2 (the whole work is available in booklet form from the Priory Church of St Laurence, Blackmore, price £1.50)
- Greensted – The Truth (previously published on this blog)
- A Centurian
- Book Review: Essex and its Race For The Skies
- A Forced Marriage
- Daring Burglary and Attempt to Murder
- White’s Directory of Navestock
- The Essex Way

For membership and further information go to

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Railways (19): Train Operating Companies

Railway companies which operated the route from London Liverpool Street to Colchester (through Brentwood and Ingatestone) and Southend Victoria (from Shenfield) are listed below with links to Wikipedia.

1839. Eastern Counties Railway:
1862. Great Eastern Railway:
1923. London and North Eastern Railway:
1948. Eastern Region of British Railways:
(Network South-East was a passenger section created by British Rail, launched in 1986:
1997. First Great Eastern:
2004. National Express East Anglia:

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Railways (18): LNER Days

Extracts from ‘Modern Locomotives of the L.N.E.R.’ published in 1938

There is but little doubt the steam locomotive cab still claim first place in meeting the varying conditions which arise in ordinary railway working, and is almost unassailable against the challenge of its competitors, electric power and internal combustion engines, and entitled to priority in the alluring influence which railways have over so many of us.

Whilst the union of the British Railways into four large groups under the Railway Act of 1921 has necessarily reduced by standardisation the number of different types of locomotives, as well as their numerical strength, it has also led to the introduction of many new and interesting designs and has imparted a gratifying stimulus to locomotive building and performance.

As the second largest of the four British Railway systems, the London & North Eastern, with a total route mileage of 6590, serves the whole of the east of Great Britain from the Thames to the Moray Firth, in addition to the extensive areas in the centre and west of both England and Scotland. It covers the amalgamation of the following companies: Great Central, Great Eastern, Great Northern, Hull & Barnsley, North Eastern, Great North of Scotland and North British, as well as many small railways. Over 60 per cent of the towns with a population of over 50,000 are directly served by the L.N.E.R., or by other lines in which it has a share. The L.N.E.R. owns 2500 stations and goods depots. Last year (1937) the number of passengers carried exclusive of season ticket holders totalled 165,537,972, also 135,831,123 tons of goods and 3,880,816 head of live stock.

The locomotive policy of the chief engineer, Sir Nigel Gresley, C.B.E., D.Sc., may be briefly summed up – that the engines are to be as far as possible well ahead of requirements in power, efficiency and ease of maintenance; to have as few types as possible to operate the various services, and to be considered as standard locomotives in the construction of which many of the details are interchangeable, wherever possible.

The “Sandringham” Class of 4-6-0 Express Engines – “B17” Class.

To cope with the increased traffic requirements of East Anglia, in 1928, Sir Nigel Gresley introduced a special design of three-cylinder 4-6-0 engine (“B17” class). It is a compact looking machine, and powerful for its size and weight, and well suited for the heavy gradients on the main lines of the Great Eastern section. Later more engines of this class have been built and allocated to the main line trains of the former Great Central Railway. The first engine of the series bears the name of “Sandringham”, by special permission of His late Majesty King George V, this being followed by a long list of names from famous country seats on the L.N.E.R.; three are named after East Anglian regiments, while the latest series are named after famous football clubs, such as the “Tottenham Hotspur”.

There are now 73 engines in the class.

The “Sandringham” class engine and tender in working order weigh 116 tons, and are 58 ft. 4 in. long over buffers, but the later “Football Club” class weigh 129 tons 15 cwt., and are 62 ft. 2 in. long.

Two engines of the “Sandringham” class have been streamlined for working the high-speed “East Anglian” train between Norwich and London, Liverpool Street, and have been named “East Anglian” (No. 2859) [see photograph], and “City of London” (No. 2870). They are painted the standard L.N.E.R. green.

4-6-0 Express Engine, Great Eastern Section.

Known as the “B12” class this represents a modernisation of the old Great Eastern “1500” class engine, originally built in 1911, and is fitted with a larger boiler, carrying a working pressure of 180 lb. per sq. inch. The result of this re-building is that these engines are now capable of working any passenger train on the Great Eastern section.
The weight of the engine and tender in working order is 108 tons 16 cwt., and the tender capacity is 3,670 gallons of water and 4 tons of coal.

4-4-0 Type Passenger Engines – Great Eastern Section.

For many years the Great Eastern main line services were worked by the generally useful engines of the “1900” class, the first of which, named “Claud Hamilton”, in honour of the Chairman of the Great Eastern Railway, was exhibited at the Paris Exhibition of 1900. They are of the 4-4-0 type, with 7 ft. diameter coupled wheels, and cylinders 19in. by 26in.; they have always done excellent work, often of a very exacting nature. During recent years they have been supplied with the new L.N.E.R. standard boilers. In their rebuilt form these engines continue to render good service on other than the heaviest duties. They are known as the “D16” class.

The “East Anglian” Train

In September 1937 a fast service was introduced between Norwich and London (Liverpool Street) and an entirely new six-coach train was built for this purpose at the York works. The train, which has been named the “East Anglian,” runs daily from Monday to Friday in each direction, leaving Norwich at 11.55a.m., and Liverpool Street at 6.40p.m., completing the journey between the two cities in 2 hours and 10 minutes, including a four minute stop at Ipswich; the distance is 114 miles 77 chains. Owing to the difficult nature of the route between London and Norwich, it has not been possible for the train to be timed to such high speeds as to justify streamlining the whole train, the locomotives only are so arranged. The train weighs 219 tons, and accommodates 54 first and 144 third class passengers. As the journey time is comparatively short and it is essential meals should be taken as rapidly as possible, no separate restaurant car accommodation is provided, the passengers taking meals at the seat which is allotted for the journey.

For more information go to the following:
B12 class:
B17 class:
D16 class:
East Anglian: