onlineFOCUS – News and Stuff For Rochford District since 2003

 

Archive for History and Culture

Down Hall Road in the 1940s….

More local stuff from the Rochford District Community Archive. This is a brief extract:

…..At the end of Mr Thompson’s garden was the remains of a sandbagged emplacement, which I was told was a checkpoint and that anyone proceeding past had to show their identity card to the soldiers who manned it before going on to Rayleigh.

Today the pavement is very wide here where Down Hall Road joins the London Road, but at one time there was an area of grass in the middle with a couple of small trees in metal cages and I was told that when the Government appealed for aluminium saucepans to help the War Effort, this was the place where they had to be left for later collection.

Another memory I have, probably from 1946 or 1947, is sitting on my grandparents’ garden wall in Down Hall Road and saying “Hello” to the German POWs who were allowed out from Rawreth Camp (now Rawreth Industrial Estate). They wore dark brown uniforms with battledress type jackets which I think had either pink or light green diamonds or circles sewn on the back, and dark brown German style ski caps. Obviously they must have been considered harmless by that time or I wouldn’t have been allowed to sit out there on my own!….

When Houses Were Affordable….

auction 2

auction

This Month Rayleigh Through The Looking Glass looks at financial matters… including house prices…

Taking You Back

There’s going to be special events, and people in period costume, at Rayleigh Windmill next weekend. The District Council website says:

Rayleigh Windmill will be joining attractions up and down the country in celebrating England’s fantastic architecture and culture, during Heritage Open Days on the weekend of September 13-14.

During the weekend, buildings across the UK of every age, style and function will throw open their doors, giving visitors a chance to discover architectural treasures and enjoy a wide range of tours, events and activities that bring local history and culture to life.

———–

At Rayleigh Windmill, its award-winning volunteers will be dressing up in traditional period costume and offering guided tours, reminding us why they deserved to win the Museums + Heritage 2014 Award for Customer Service Excellence. There will also be an opportunity for children to dress up too, and take part in workshops.

On Saturday why not bring your children along to take part in the storytelling and drama workshop. All ages are welcome. Come along, get dressed up in traditional period costume and join in the fun. Or how about the Arts & Crafts workshop for children on Sunday, all ages welcome. Why not come along and try your hand at making Chinese Dragons!

We’re not quite sure exactly which century the period costume will be for – though it probably won’t be taking you back this far:

When The Rockets Fell….

 

v2flight

The Rochford Community History Archive has a new article listing all the known cases of V2 Rockets hitting our district in World War 2.

Canewdon, Foulness and Rawreth received five hits each, which may seem surprising, but these are three of the largest parishes in area and the rockets were more or less falling at random

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.

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