Sunday, 1 January 2012


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

2012: A Year of Celebration

2012 is set to be a memorable year in Britain.  In June we celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II and in July and August London hosts the Olympic Games.  These events are quite literally on our door-step.  The Olympic Games site at Stratford is a matter of miles from Blackmore, and within the old county of Essex.  The cycling event will be held at Hadleigh Country Park by the old castle made famous in a painting by John Constable.

Essex is expecting an influx of tourists as a consequence of London2012 and the Jubilee.  Blackmore Area Local History perhaps is doing its small part by bringing to peoples’ attention the history and heritage of this location and will, during 2012, occasionally take a wider view by highlighting other towns and villages worth a visit.  The series will start with Colchester.

New Newspaper Archive is Top Resource and a Gift for all Historians

The British Library has launched online its vast newspaper archive.  Visitors to the website  can search for entries in newspapers free of charge.  Digitised copies of the originals are subject to a subscription payment.

The site boasts, quite rightly:

“We have scanned millions of pages of historical newspapers and made them available online for the first time ever.

“Search millions of articles by keyword, name, location, date or title and watch your results appear in an instant.

“Compare this with hours of painstaking manual searching through hard copies or microfilm often requiring a visit to the British Library in North London and it is easy to appreciate the ground breaking nature of this project.”

Up to 40 million pages will be scanned onto the archive over the next ten years.

Several Essex newspapers are included in the project, including the Essex Chronicle, which first published in 1764.  Microfilm copies of this newspaper (along with the Essex Weekly News) are available to view in the Local Studies section of Chelmsford Library.

It is now possible to use the British Library website to pinpoint, by date and page number, articles in the Essex Chronicle then look at the detail free of charge on microfilm in the local Library.  The resource will drastically cut the length of time taken to find relevant articles – previously a needle in a haystack approach - and opens the door, for the first time, to a wide range of undiscovered local topics.

To illustrate the site’s usefulness, one of my friends is writing a history of a local church – Ingatestone United Reformed Church – which celebrates its bicentenary in 2012.  It was known that the first building, erected in 1812, was pulled down and replaced in 1840, but little else from this early period.  Using the archive pinpointed within minutes three highly relevant articles:

Essex Chronicle 1 May 1840.  Page 3  “independent chapel at Ingatestone has been pulled down and is about to be rebuilt on an enlarged scale”
Essex Chronicle 8 May 1840. Page 3.  “dilapidated state … pulled down”.
Essex Chronicle 16 October 1840. Page 3 “to be reopened … 22 inst”

Why not try the site for yourself?

Ingatestone United Reformed Church bi-centenary

Ingatestone United Reformed Church (formerly the Congregational Chapel) celebrates 200 years in the village in 2012 with a series of events.

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

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