onlineFOCUS – News and Stuff For Rochford District since 2003

 

Archive for History and Culture

Looking Up……

Two WW2 Lancaster aircraft, flown over from Canada , were at Southend Airport today with a Spitfire and a Hurricane. If you were lucky, you might have seen them there, or watched them fly over Rayleigh and Rawreth this afternoon.

Incidentally Southend Airport was an RAF base in WW2. According to Wikipedia:

..in 1939, the Air Ministry requisitioned the airfield and it was known as RAF Rochford during World War II. It became a satellite base. During World War II, it became a base for fighter squadrons comprising Supermarine Spitfires and Hawker Hurricanes as well as Bristol Blenheims. Many of the 50 pillboxes that were designed to protect the airport from paratroop landings still survive, as does the underground defence control room, which is near to Southend Flying Club. A further 20 or so pillboxes also remain in the surrounding countryside.

We are grateful to Hayley Bloomfield for these photos (click on them to enlarge)

lancaster 4

planes  3

planes 2

planes 1

Looking Back….

1943   newspaper

model wiindmill

If you are going into Rayleigh over the weekend, Rayleigh Through The Looking Glass still have their exhibition until Monday. It’s in the Rayleigh Town Council Chamber, The Pavilion, King George’s Playing Field (back of Webster’s Way car park) from 13th August to 25th August 2014. Open daily from 10am to 3pm (4pm at weekends & on Bank Holiday Monday).

There’s a chance to find out about Rayleigh men who served (and died) in WW1, buy books about local history, look at the large-scale Ordnance Maps of Rayleigh for 1959 to see what your street was like then, see lots of old photos, and read about the gruesome Rayleigh Bathchair murder of 1943.

A copy of the Southend Standard for 1943 mixes snippets about the war –


“Private James Cotgrove is a prisoner in Japanese hands. His home is at Tranmere , Kensington Road, Thorpe Bay”

-with the more ordinary –


The sanitary inspector is authorised to erect a notice at the Junction of Down Hall Road and London Road stating that the depositing of tins and cans is prohibited”

“We Will Remember Them – Fallen MPs”

Lib Dem Blogger Stephen Glenn writes here about the MPs who went to fight in World War One – and died during military service.

“At midnight Berlin time when the deadline for the Germans to respond passed there were young men in Westminster who were MPs who knew that their duty was to return to their regiments and take up arms. The following is a list of the young men who were Members of Parliament* from all parties who fought and died in World War I…”

In amongst the Liberal and Conservative names there are also some Irish MPs, such as Dr John Joseph Esmonde, who seems a intriguing person indeed. His uncle was a baronet, he himself was a physician and an Irish Parliamentary Party MP for North Tipperary from 1910-1915. The political group he belonged to was interested in home rule rather than independence. His political involvement didn’t stop him from serving in the Royal Army Medical Corps, where , according to Wikipedia

“Esmonde died on 17 April 1915 from “pneumonia and heart failure consequent on the strain of overwork” while serving as Captain in the Royal Army Medical Corps”

Incidentally Esmonde had four sons, one of whom died serving in WW1, and another died serving in WW2, receiving a posthumous Victoria Cross in 1942..

The Annual August Exhibition

It will include Rayleigh in WW1, the  usual Rayleigh displays, the unveiling of a 1 /24th scale model of the Windmill with electric motor turning the sails, and details on the proposed Museum plans….

summer exhibition

Football Heroes Of World War One

football1

 

If you are still in a reflective mood regarding the start of WW1, you  may want to read this article from the football section of the Guardian about footballers who won medals for bravery. Here’s an example:

Willie Angus (Celtic)

“‘No braver deed was ever done in the history of the British Army,” wrote Lt Colonel Gemmill, the commanding officer who witnessed Angus’s astonishing rescue of his friend James Martin. The pair had grown up in Carluke, Scotland, where Angus worked as a miner before signing for Celtic, for whom he made one first-team appearance. Unlike Bell and Vann, Angus survived to receive his Victoria Cross, awarded for braving bombs and machine-gun fire to bring the wounded Martin back from under the nose of a German trench. Angus lost an eye in the rescue. It really is a stunning tale, deserving of the full respect it is given here. Thanks to Aidan Thomas for bringing Angus to our attention.

 

Southend , Tonight, One Hundred Years Ago

From Essex Writer Dee Gordon’s “Southend “, a short extract:

 

EXTRACTS FROM “SOUTHEND AT WAR”
WW1
At midnight on August 4th, 1914, there were crowds outside the offices of the Southend Standard waiting for news of England’s declaration of war on Germany due
to the unprovoked invasion of Belgium. One of the odder impacts of this declaration locally was the directive that Southend and Leigh-on-Sea pubs should close by 9 p.m. (some sources give as early as 6 p.m.) However, the evening trains to nearby Eastwood (to the West) or Rochford (to the North) carried more evening travellers
than usual because the pubs there could remain open till 10 p.m.
Lord Kitchener’s famous recruitment campaign (Your Country Needs You) culminated in a grand rally at the Kursaal, and over 1,000 men were sent to France
and over 400 others joined the territorial forces. By November, twenty-two Southenders had already been killed.

Rayleigh’s Survivors From The First World War

113

The Rochford District Community Archive has a photo of 113 men who came back.

A few of the surnames may be familiar – Byford and Cottee, for example.

Museum Planning Application

We’ve already written about the idea of a Rayleigh Museum, however the Echo has a useful update:

Local historian, founder of Rayleigh Through the Looking Glass and chairman of the Rayleigh Town Museum Working Party, Mike Davies, has found a suitable building for his project.

Mr Davies, Rayleigh citizen of the year, has been searching for years to find a suitable home for his archives of Rayleigh artefacts and now hopes to have found the perfect spot.
-
He has submitted a planning application to Rochford District Council for the first floor of 91-93 Rayleigh High Street above Yours clothing shop and now awaits the planning officers’ decision.
-
Mr Davies said: “This is the oldest secular building in Rayleigh High Street and is a Grade II listed building within the conservation area.
-
“The location and building is ideal for a Town Museum, and the owner has agreed to install a fully accessible passenger lift, before we take possession of the building on a long lease. We have a long way to go, with planning permission required, as well as a need for a Heritage Lottery Grant that we are in the process of applying for, but all the signs are good.”

As usual, Ron and Chris must stay neutral in advance of any planning meeting. The application also includes turning the ground floor into a restaurant or cafe, and you can find it here.

Rayleigh In World War I

windmill

20th July 2014 to 10th August 2014 – Rayleigh in WW1 Exhibition

Rayleigh Through The Looking Glass are holding an exhibition on the 2nd floor of Rayleigh Windmill from 20th July to 10th August 2014 on the subject of Rayleigh in WW1. Windmill opening times are Wednesdays 10am to 1pm and Saturdays & Sundays 1pm to 4pm (closed Saturday 2nd August & Saturday 9th August for weddings). There will be 2 additional opening days during this period and they are Monday 4th & Tuesday 5th August – both 10am to 1pm.

Attack Of The Giant Leeches

Regal Cinema Being Demolished

Regal Cinema Being Demolished

Back in February, we mentioned that Rayleigh Through The Looking Glass had a feature on the Regal Cinema.

One of our readers, Stephen Pickard, has just left a comment that’s worth repeating as an item in itself:


I have very fond memories of the Regal Cinema. When I was 11, our family moved to Eastwood in January,1959. Sometime in ’60’61, when I was able to travel on my own, I started taking the bus to Rayleigh high street on Saturday mornings to the Regal cinema and recall being transfixed by the ‘Batman’ serial they showed at the time.
On Sundays they used to show double bills of ‘X’ films of ’50′s horror and science fiction which I was eager to see but at the time there was a restriction to everyone under the age of 16 being admitted, whether or not you were with an adult.
_
It seemed that it was a big challenge to kids like me, that were only 13/14 was to challenge the law to try to see an ‘X’ film under age.
So, I sacrificed the ‘Saturday morning pictures’ and decided from now on I would be an adult! I approached the pay-desk, (my heart was beating twice as fast!) I recall very clearly the lady selling the tickets, she was either Scottish or an accent from further north. When I asked for a ticket, she would reply in very concerned voice “Are you sixteen?”. On saying yes, up popped the ticket of which I grabbed and quickly ventured into the darkness of the cinema before the manager saw me.
I recall what the manager looked like. He was in his 50′s or 60′s with grey hair and mustache, always dressed in a suit and shirt and tie.
I felt a little guilty about going in under age, but I will be forever grateful to the Regal for those special memories.
I remember that the first ‘X’ films I saw, for those interested, were “Cage of Doom” (“Terror from the Year 5000″) “Demons of the Swamp” (“Attack of the Giant Leeches”) and “The Fantastic Disappearing Man” (“Return of Dracula”). I still have these movies in my collection and whenever I watch them I always fondly remember where I first saw them. Regal Cinema RIP.

Giantleeches

Holy Trinity…

holy trinity

This month’s feature at Rayleigh Through The Looking Glass is on Holy Trinity Church….

Lights Out First World War Commemoration

Mametz, Western Front: men, animals and supplies in snow covered valley (oil-on-canvas, 76.2 cm x 127.6 cm, 1919) by Frank Crozier (1883–1948), Australian official war artist.

Mametz, Western Front: men, animals and supplies in snow covered valley (oil-on-canvas, 76.2 cm x 127.6 cm, 1919) by Frank Crozier (1883–1948), Australian official war artist.

From the District Council website:

Rochford District Council will be taking part in the national ‘Lights Out’ campaign, which will see the UK plunge into darkness to mark the start of the First World War.

‘Lights Out’ is an invitation to everyone in the UK to turn off their lights from 10pm to 11pm on Monday 4 August 2014, leaving on a single light or candle, for this shared moment of reflection. This will mark the hour that Britain entered the First World War, one hundred years ago.

‘Lights Out’ is the headline project of the cultural programme 14-18 NOW, initiated by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. It will complement a candlelit vigil of prayer being held at Westminster Abbey, which will be attended by the Royal family, at the same time.

It is hoped that over one million candles will be lit across the UK to remember each & every service man or woman who gave their lives in the war to end all wars.

Councillor June Lumley, Chairman of Rochford District Council, said: “The ‘Lights Out’ campaign is a simple but effective and creative way of marking the start of the First World War. I am proud that Rochford District Council is taking part in this national campaign, and urge residents across the district to participate in this important and symbolical act too.”

Rochford District Council will turn off all the lights at the Rayleigh and Rochford Council Offices and Rayleigh Windmill, from 10-11pm on Monday 4 August, leaving just one bright light illuminated at each location. Residents across the District, particularly owners of other prominent buildings, are encouraged to take part at the same time.

The Royal British Legion will be holding a First World War Commemoration Candlelit Service, conducted by the Reverend John Townsend of Holy Trinity Church, Rayleigh. This will be held outside the Royal British Legion Memorial area in Rayleigh on 4 August, commencing at 10pm.

Further information is available on the ‘Lights Out’ website, http://www.1418now.org.uk/whats-on/lights-out.

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