onlineFOCUS – News and Stuff For Rochford District since 2003

 

Archive for History and Culture

The Picnic District 4 – Kingley Wood, Rayleigh

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Kingley Wood is one of the smaller, lesser-known woods in our district – but it has a long history, and thousands of people see it every day as they drive along the A127. As the District Council website explains:

Kingley Wood stands on a steep hill slope beside the A127 and is visible as you approach Rayleigh from London. This small wood is one of the only surviving ancient woodlands in Rayleigh but it has a rich and varied wildlife and well-documented history. Kingley Wood is made up of a mixture of Oak, Hornbeam, Sweet Chestnut, Ash and Holly. The ground flora is dominated by Bluebells, and home to a small population of Wood Anemone and Yellow Archangel. The woodland is also a local wildlife site….. Kingley Wood can be approached on foot from Western Road, Eastern Road, Hollytree Gardens or Weir Farm Road, Rayleigh. There is no car parking on site.

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You walk along a footpath, suddenly come to a playing field, perfect for a picnic. On the other side of the playing field is the wood. It’s not the biggest wood in the world, and it is on a slope and a bit noisy from the traffic – but it’s not crowded! But at one time it might have been quite crowded – when the nocturnal ‘lawless court’ was held here.

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1580?

Readers of onlineFOCUS will know we sometimes write about local history. Well, we’ve just stumbled across the blog of the Essex Archive Office, and they have some interesting stuff there. Their latest piece is on a new book about Essex in WW2.

Seraching for articles about our part of Essex doesn’t lead to much – there are few entries for Rayleigh or Rochford; nothing for Hullbridge, Rawreth, Canewdon or Hockley. But one of the items for Rayleigh is rather surprising, it indicates that the earliest mention of black person in Essex is in Rayleigh – over four hundred years ago:

“The earliest mention we have found of a Black individual in our collections is the burial record of Thomas Parker, ‘a certayne darke mane’ in Rayleigh in 1579/80 (D/P 332/1/3). Thomas was buried on 12 February in the year that we would call 1580; at the time, however, New Year was marked on 25 March rather than 1 January, so contemporaries would have thought of it as still being 1579. As with so many records this little snippet raises more questions than answers, as we know nothing else of Thomas Parker.”

You might think that being a “certayne darke man” might be a reference to hair colour – but would someone’s hair colour really be mentioned in burial records? According to Wikipedia, the earliest Africans to arrive in England in the 16th Century were as follows:

“Early in the 16th century, Africans probably arrived in London with Catherine of Aragon when she travelled to England to marry Henry VIII. Among the six trumpeters depicted in the royal retinue of Henry VIII in the Westminster Tournament Roll, an illuminated manuscript dating from 1511, is a black musician. He wears the royal livery and is mounted on horseback. He is generally identified with the “John Blanke, the blacke trumpeter” who appears in the payment accounts of both Henry VIII and his father, Henry VII.[19] There was also a group of Africans at the court of James IV of Scotland, including a drummer referred to as the “More Taubronar”. Both he and John Blanke were paid wages for their services.[20]

When trade lines began to open between London and West Africa, Africans slowly began to become part of the London population. For example, merchant John Lok brought five Africans to London in 1555. The voyage account in Hakluyt reports that they:

“were tall and strong men, and could wel agree with our meates and drinkes. The colde and moyst aire doth somewhat offend them.”

Whoever Thomas Parker was , he probably led an eventful life….

Defenders Of The Essex Sky

stow maries

We’ve written before about the early days of aviation in Essex.

One of our readers has asked us to mention a TV programme this Sunday about Stow Maries aerodrome (over the district border to us in Maldon) It’s at 9 pm this Sunday H2 Sky 531 or vm 236. There’s a bit more programme information here.

If you’ve never heard of Stow Maries World War One Aerodrome, it has its own website.

The aerodrome’s own website has some evocative photos and some photos of what you can see when you visit. The VisitEssex website has the practical info on how to visit:

Details
Stow Maries Aerodrome is a Great War Aerodrome set in the rural Essex countryside. The Aerodrome was in use from 1916 to 1919 as a home defence station in the war against Zeppelin and German aeroplane raids. It has many of its original buildings in situ which are currently undergoing restoration to bring the site back to its 1918 appearance. It also boasts a wildlife walk which was the winner of Maldon District Council Conservation and Design Award 2010.
For further details see www.stowmaries.org.uk
Winner of Maldon District Council Conservation and Design Award 2010.
Opening details
Re-opening 31st March.
Opening days – Friday, Saturday and Sunday 10am – 4pm.
Prices

Admission Price £8 adult

Concessions and group bookings available

When There Was a Blacksmith In Rayleigh Town Centre….

chequers pub

For April, Rayleigh Through The Looking Glass looks at the Chequers Pub that used to be where M&Co is now, in Rayleigh High Street. There was a  blacksmith’s behind it…

On A Positive Note….

http://www.matsmithphotography.com/

http://www.matsmithphotography.com/

To strike a positive chord, BBC Radio 3 recently featured a classical musical composer from Essex. This was the first programme in a series about female British composers under the age of 35.

The composer concerned is Cheryl Frances-Hoad, and you can hear the programme here for another 18 days. It’s a interview that features some of her music. It begins with two short pieces inspired by the London Olympics- one for sailing, and one for Table Tennis.

Tell Me More , Tell Me More!

hockley woods cinema

cinema

Having a few open air cinema evenings in our district sounds quite an exciting idea – at least in principle. Under its “Commercialisation” heading the District Council is allowing Essex Outdoor Cinema to hold events in Sweyne Park and Hockley Woods this year:

June 6th – Hockley Woods – Shakespeare in Love
June 7th Hockley Woods – Film TBC
August 15th – Sweyne Park, Rayleigh – Grease

The Sweyne Park event wasn’t discussed with the ward councillors nor with the Friends of Sweyne Park. We have asked for information about numbers of tickets (these are ticket-only events) and other issues like car parking, toilets, noise levels and specific location in the park. When we have the answers we’ll do an update. (We have also asked RDC to contact the Friends Group over this.)

UPDATE 6 PM FRIDAY:
We’ve received the following information today from RDC:

Essex Outdoor Cinema (EOC) is the organisation producing the event. They will supply all infrastructure including stewards, security, fencing, First Aid, litter picking, toilets, and temporary exit lighting. The event is produced at no cost to the Council except some Officer time to assist with joint promotion and providing advice around health and safety and event management. Risk Assessments and Event Management plans have been received from EOC and will be presented at a Safety Advisory Group.

Working with Essex Outdoor Cinema on the promotion of the event is important as the arrangement is that Box Office income is shared equally between the organisation and the Council.
This event has come about through an initiative at the Council for employees to come up with ideas that might generate income and further corporate priorities – in this case increasing use of open spaces through public events….

…. A Temporary Event Notice (TEN) for Sweyne Park would allow a maximum of 499 audience members. The same numbers would be permitted under a TEN at Hockley Woods, but in conjunction with EOC, RDC officers have agreed that 300 should be the maximum given that the event ‘arena’ (the clearing) and parking is reduced in size compared to Sweyne Park.

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Sweyne Park Location: Area near the lake. The mobile cinema screen will back on to the lake with audience on the hill. The screen will be roped or fenced off.

Parking: Rayleigh Leisure Centre

Weather: The events will go ahead in all conditions except where high winds might be a safety risk (e.g. cinema screen falling)

Gates open 7pm

Showing 8.45pm to 10.45pm

Site completely clear by 11.30pm

Noise : “Average outdoor screenings produce around 75dbs of sound. We have designed the sound equipment so that a) it doesn’t need to run at excessive volumes – the quality is such that we can achieve great sound without turning it up to levels that would disturb local Residents and b) it is angled to minimize the sound dispersion – the way the speakers
are set up contains the sound without much spread. Sound levels can be monitored throughout the event and we are able adjust the mix as the film plays to ensure we get the balance right.”

Any Thoughts?

Memories Of Matchbox?

Matchbox3versions

There’s a trick question – “Which company in the world makes the most car tyres?” The answer isn’t Dunlop, or Michelin- it’s Lego. In the same way the company that made the most cars in Britain used to be in Rochford. It was Lesney, who made Matchbox toys.

A chap called David Murphy is trying to create an archive of personal testimonies about Lesneys:


Hello everyone. I’m currently putting together an archive of testimonies from former employees at the Lesney Matchbox factories in Rochford and East London. After a promising response from East London’s community resources about the factories there, I hoped placing a notice on the RDCA might extend the project out to those who worked at the Rochford/Southend plants and who might still remain in the area.

I think this is a hugely valuable part of British Industrial Heritage, and from what I have seen, it is also under-represented in our local history archives. This, along with my love of the toys themselves, motivated me to begin doing something myself, and is what brought me here. The project is still really in its early stages, but I hope that by making contact with relevant individuals, it can be possible to help preserve this important part of social and manufacturing history for future generations to learn about.

An important element of the archive is hearing – and potentially recording – the memories and recollections of former employees and those associated with the Lesney factories in Hackney.

– Did you or a family member work at Lesney’s?
– Did you or a family member work with an associated industry, or as part of the Lesney supply chain?
– Do you have any documentation, photography or film that’s related to the Rochford/Hackney factory in any way?
– Do you have any other material that might be of interest?

If you, or someone you know would like to contribute to this important project please post here, or alternatively feel free to contact me directly on 07881751666 , send an email to lesneyarchive@gmail.com , or write to us at 60 Stamford Hill, London, N16 6XS. Thanks in advance, David

There’s some comments about it here on the Rochford District Community Archive.

When Rayleigh Had Speedway, Stock Car Racing , Greyhound Racing And Harness Horse Racing

rayleigh stadium

This month Rayleigh Through The Looking Glass looks at the old Rayleigh Stadium. Back in the 50s the Stadium was probably the most famous thing about Rayleigh….

A Dozen Exceptional Rayleigh Characters

Rayleigh  High Street From the Tower

On the Rochford District Community Archive, Sid Barker writes about a dozen Rayleigh characters, from the 1950s to the early 1990s. Including Albert Cable, the polio victim who sold newspapers outside Rayleigh Station, and Frank Fremlin, the American who lived in the only house in Preston Gardens.

Do you remember any of them?

Rayleigh’s Regal Past

regal cinema

Rayleigh Through The Looking Glass looks at the sadly-demolished Regal Cinema this month.

How To Join the Rayleigh Town Museum Friends Group.

High St circa 1880

High St circa 1880

Lets start 2015 by looking at one of the big projects in Rayleigh this year – a town museum – and how you can join the Friends Group.

What is the purpose of the Rayleigh Town Museum Friends Group?

To give support for the continuing development of the Museum and at the same time to make new friends with similar interests

What advantages and privileges do members of the Friends receive?
⦁ Regular newsletters
⦁ 10% discount on items in the Museum shop
⦁ Reduced ticket prices for talks and events
⦁ Reduced fees for the private hire of the Museum.
⦁ Invitations to pre opening of events
⦁ The sooner you join, the longer your initial membership will last (see below).

Early Membership Incentive
Those joining now will be entitled to extended initial membership as a tangible sign of their support in the formation of the Museum. (N.B. No payments will be actioned until 1stMay 2015.) In addition, those joining before the Museum opens will be known as ‘Founding Members’.

Membership is from 1st May each year.
Annual single membership £10 *
Family membership (at same address) £15 *

If you want to join, we suggest you email rayleightownmuseum@tesco.net

The latest on the museum is as follows:


As many of you will be aware we have plans to open a Rayleigh Town Museum on the 1st floor of 91 High Street, Rayleigh. The clothing shop ‘Yours’ will probably be vacating early in 2015 and the whole building will then be refurbished and a fully disabled access passenger lift and toilet will be installed to the 1st floor. Pizza Express will be opening a restaurant on the ground floor. The Planning Application has been agreed by Rochford District Council, Listed Building consent has been agreed with Essex County Council and we have submitted an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a grant to cover our set up costs…. Unfortunately the application has been declined. However we will be having a debriefing meeting with the HLF and resubmitting our application in January.
——
Further information and updates are available on the Rayleigh Town Museum website (www.rayleightownmuseum.co.uk), our Facebook page (link on our Home page), the Rayleigh Town Museum Facebook page (Facebook.com/rayleightownmuseum) and the notice board in the High Street on the wall by the Millennium Clock.

Arts And Crafts Centre Gets OK

Back in September we mentioned there was a planning application for a new arts and crafts centre in Bull Lane Rayleigh:

 

arts and crafts centre

It now has planning permission… we look forward to seeing what happens …..

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500 HOUSES BETWEEN LONDON ROAD AND RAWRETH LANE

There's lots of information on the District Council website about the planning application "North of London Road ". To see it , just click here.

The Core Strategy

This is the official master document for planning policy in our district! To download it, click here click here. (2.5mb)

Planning Applications…

If you want information on a particular planning application, you can find it on the District Council website here.

If you want to know what new planning applications have been submitted this week, click here.

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If you want to report a problem, you can email Lib Dems councillors by clicking here.
There's also an independent website called FixMyStreet. It's very good for reporting minor street problems like holes in the road, grafitti or failed streetlights. You can find FixMyStreet here.

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“Rayleigh was the birthplace of Britain’s first surviving quintuplets, but that’s just one of its many claims to fame”

When the Olympic Torch came to Rayleigh, Chris Black wrote about the town in the Guardian - read it here

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