Discover Brentwood

Brentwood is a historic market town surrounded by beautiful open spaces, family attractions and historic locations to explore.

Brentwood’s numerous country parks are havens for nature-lovers, walkers and families. For some fun with the kids, Thorndon Country Park is home to the famous Gruffalo Trail and Weald Country Park to the Stickman Play Trail and there’s real animal magic at Old MacDonald’s Farm. Or for those looking for adventure, head to Rope Runners for some high-wire fun in the trees, or try your hand at skiing, go-karting or paintballing.

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For history lovers, the 16th Century Ingatestone Hall hosted Elizabeth I on several occasions, whilst the Secret Nuclear Bunker is an eerily fascinating, subterranean reminder of the Cold War era.

The borough’s high streets and older bijou side streets offer a great choice of shops, including quality independent niche shopping and a great choice of places to eat and drink. Brentwood is of course also known for the ITVBe show The Only Way is Essex, so you can discover some of the places featured in the show and do the ‘TOWIE Trail’.

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Brentwood is host to great events throughout the year. The popular Strawberry Fair, Brentwood’s traditional summer community fair, takes place on 17 June, 12-6pm on Shenfield Common, including stalls, food and drink, family activities and entertainment. Six family fun days will also run every Friday during the school holidays across the Borough.

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Back for its 7th year, the Brentwood Festival takes place at the Brentwood Centre 14-16 July. Headliners include Status Quo.

The second annual Brentwood Children’s Literary Festival takes place 22-29 July 2017 with some great children’s authors and illustrators lined up.

140 years of Clacton Pier

The Pier was officially opened on 27th July 1871 when the SS ‘Albert Edward’ called, bringing with it a party of directors from Woolwich Steam Packet Company and around 200 guests. When it opened it was just 160 yards in length and 4 yards wide.

Clacton Pier was originally built mainly as a landing platform, a jetty to accommodate the movement of manufactured goods, products and many other items. They thought that some passengers may visit but the owners could not have dreamt of such an overwhelming footfall. With The Piers and Promenade offering a new type of day out at the sea Victorians were simply flocking to Clacton. It was soon realised, as the numbers continued to grow, that there was money to be made from the holidaymakers. Word spread about this tourist hot spot so buildings and shelters were slowly added.

The first major alterations to the Pier took place In1893, it was lengthened to 1,180 feet and a theatre and the Pier Pavilion (later called the Jolly Roger), was built by architects Kinipple & Jaffrey at the sea end.

During the First World War, in around 1922 Ernest Kingsman purchased the Pier after it had gone into administration and set about turning the Pier into a leisure and entertainment centre. By the outbreak of the Second World War he had invested around a quarter of a million pounds into The Pier’s redevelopment. Building the Ocean Theatre, the Children’s Theatre, the Blue Lagoon Dance Hall. the Crystal Casino an open air swimming pool, open air stage for the Ramblas Concert Party and the Steel Stella roller coaster (which was later destroyed by a fire in 1973). During the war the pier was damaged by enemy action and was also breached to prevent Its use by an Invasion force. By now the Pier had helped to establish Clacton as one of the leading seaside resorts in the country.

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By 1971 the pier was under the control of Barney Kingsman (Earnest Kingsman’s Son) and had fallen a little behind with the times, with visitor numbers falling the decision was made to sell the Pier and it was in this same year that it was sold privately to Mr Michael Goss. The Goss family were no stranger to seaside pleasure Piers and already had the majority share in neighbouring Walton Pier, Mr Goss ran the pier as a successful amusement centre until he eventually grew frustrated with the lack of support from the local authority and their understanding of what was required to bring new visitors to the town and so decided it was time to sell up and retire.

August 1981 see’s local businessmen Francis McGinty, John Treadwell, Denis McGinty and David Howe take ownership of the pier from Michael Goss with plans for a major redevelopment of the Pier including the possibility of a bar and disco, reintroduction of the dolphins to the dolphinarium and an upgrade of the pier ride offering.

The proceeding years saw major additions to the pier at varying stages including the Whirlwind roller coaster, a Circus, Ice rink and a Roller Rink and even a water slide, unfortunately not all of the additions were a success and the pier company struggled financially on a couple of occasions until eventually in around 1993 the then operating company went into receivership which is where it remained for around about one year.

Towards the end of 1994 a local business family. The Harrisons, bought the pier and embarked on a refurbishment programme that would see most of the Pier rides upgraded and the whole pier cosmetically improved, the Harrisons ran a successful operation at the pier until they made their decision to exit the leisure industry and sell the pier to the current owners with the deal completing in March 2009.

Since the takeover “The Clacton Pier Company” has been steadily investing in the Pier in an attempt to restore the pier to its former glory and in the last two years since the takeover locals, day trippers and holiday makers alike will have seen a gradual upgrading of the piers facility’s taking place. The former Cockney Pride pub has seen a total redevelopment and now stands proudly on the front of the pier as the Boardwalk Bar & Grill, the Casino Royal amusement hall has been completely upgraded and now houses all of the latest in slot machine equipment, new rides and guest rides have been introduced, probably most noticeably the traditional Helter Skelter and the all new Stella’s Revenge Roller Coaster, the pier neck has seen the addition of a new adventure golf facility and a two new eatery’s; The Ocean Diner and Fish and Chips at the Pier have recently been opened. Recently opened is the new Lanes 10 Pin Bowling Lounge and Bar which is a spectacular addition to the pier.

Heres to the next 140 years…

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Explore Saffron Walden

Saffron Walden is a picturesque, medieval town, in north-west Essex. It has a rich heritage of old buildings reflecting its wealth as a rural market town. The name Saffron comes from the valuable Crocus sativus crop, which was cultivated here between the 15th and 18th centuries and was used as a dye, flavouring and medicine.

There are many interesting historic buildings in the town. At the heart lies St Mary’s Church, the largest parish church in Essex. Fine examples of elaborate moulded plasterwork (pargetting), can be seen on the Old Sun Inn and the houses in Castle Street & Bridge Street. Also of note are the Eight Bells, the timber-framed Cross Keys, and the medieval building located at 1 Myddylton Place.

Nearby, Saffron Walden Museum is of particular interest. The collections are housed in one of the oldest purpose built museum buildings in the country, completed in 1835. It has everything from mammoth tusks to mummies, from an early Tudor bed to a natural history museum gallery. In the grounds of the museum are the ruins of the Castle keep which dates back to the 1130s or 40s.

Bridge End Garden is a real jewel and an environment of great charm on the north side of Saffron Walden. Careful restoration has replicated gardening techniques and designs typical of the Victorian era and brought the garden back to its full splendour. The hedge maze is of particular appeal to children. The path into the garden passes the Fry Art Gallery which houses a collection of works by a Great Bardfield group of artists who settled in the Essex countryside in the 1930s.

The attractive Common is the oldest of Saffron Walden’s open spaces and on its eastern side is the largest turf labyrinth still surviving in Europe. Children of all ages enjoy following the ‘path’ through the turf, which winds for about one mile within a circle 100 feet (30.5 meters) in diameter.

A market has been held here since 1141, and market days are now Tuesdays and Saturdays. Shoppers enjoy browsing & buying goods from a number of different market stalls. Beyond the Market Place in Saffron Walden, there are many independent shops and eating places to choose from. Many small business premises are located in the Rows, which were the town’s shopping centre from medieval times onwards.

For more information, attraction opening times, or for a free copy of the Saffron Walden Town Trail, please contact Saffron Walden Tourist Information Centre on 01799 524002 or see  www.visitsaffronwalden.gov.uk

 

Listening Benches

What better way to spend a sunny afternoon than sitting on a bench taking in a nice view in a pretty Essex village? Sitting on a talking bench taking in a nice view!

The Essex Sound and Video Archive (ESVA) at the Essex Record Office has been installing talking benches across Essex. These park benches with speakers installed are loaded with historic recordings from the Archive. While sitting on the bench in Castle Park, Colchester, you can hear memories of visiting the Castle when it was roofless.

Or try the bench by the war memorial in Great Waltham to hear about the shops that used to line the nearby streets.

These listening benches are part of a Heritage Lottery Funded project run by the ESVA, called You Are Hear: sound and a sense of place. For the project, we are digitising and cataloguing a number of the unique recordings in the Archive to better preserve them. We are then making them freely available online through our Essex Archives Online catalogue .

Once digitised, we are taking the recordings out into every corner of the county – including through these talking benches. Volunteers from different communities have reviewed our recordings about their area, selected the best bits, and edited them together into montages for the bench. The volunteers have also used their local knowledge to decide on the ideal location for each bench.

Most of the recordings come from oral history interviews with long-term residents of the community. These memories describe buildings that have disappeared and businesses that have changed hands. They also reveal a different way of life: life without electricity and indoor plumbing; life where everyone knew each other’s business – and had plenty to say about it!

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Map showing the location of the listening benches being installed this summer

How many benches can you find? Check our Essex Sounds website for the location of each bench. Then send us a #benchselfie of you with the bench, and tell us which clip is your favourite (@essexarchive on Twitter, or The Essex Record Office on Facebook)!

The website also lists the venues for our touring benches, and for our touring audio-video kiosks.

Next year, we plan to install another ten benches in additional locations. Please get in touch if you would like to be part of installing a listening bench in the following locations:

  • Burnham-on-Crouch
  • Chelmsford
  • Clacton-on-Sea
  • Coggeshall
  • Epping
  • Galleywood
  • Southend-on-Sea
  • Witham

 

 

Celebrating 25 years of the Clacton Airshow

How time has flown…..   Preparations are well & truly underway for the Clacton Airshow (@ClactonAirShow) taking place on Thursday 25th & Friday 26th August.  All the flights have been booked including the world famous Red Arrows and Typhoon and are steadily being announced over the coming weeks.  More event information can be found here.

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Clacton Airshow has grown over the years from a one-day event with a few flights and ground entertainment attracting tens of thousands to a well-established event in the UK’s air show calendar attracting around 220,000 flight fans visiting from far and wide to support the event come rain or shine. The Red Arrows (@rafredarrows) are now considered old friends of the event and have been displaying at the show since the 90s.

In addition to the usual day flights and to celebrate 25 years of the event there will be evening flights taking place on Thursday 25th August from 8pm ending thereafter with a spectacular fireworks display on Clacton Pier (@ClactonPier).  The site will stay open for the whole duration and festival style entertainment will take place on site from 5pm on Thursday until the evening flights.

10620674_10152285767602797_6803908066201968997_nAt ground level, the site will be buzzing with various exhibitions/traders from Water Walkers to an interactive unit by Fuji Film. Titan the Robot (@TITANtheROBOT) makes a most welcome return on both days displaying at 11am, 12pm & 6pm on Thursday and 11am & 12pm Friday wowing the crowds with his cheeky banter.

Event parking is available at West Road Car Park, Clacton priced at £6 per vehicle where priority parking can be booked here.  A park & ride service is also available from Clacton Factory Outlet (@ClactonOutlet) priced at £10 per vehicle or from Holland-on-Sea priced at £5 per vehicle.

Sadly the one thing we are unable to book is the weather!! The Airshow Angels have their fingers and toes crossed for some good flying weather and a great event.

We hope you will join us in celebrating 25 years of this spectacular event.

For now it’s “chocks away”.

Loving Landscape at Wivenhoe House

Dust off your paintbrushes, charge up the iPad, sharpen your charcoal, whatever your chosen art form, on Sunday 12 June you can join in the Constable Challenge at Wivenhoe House, Colchester for free.

The grounds of this Grade II listed hotel are being turned over to artists young and old for everyone to create their own landscape masterpiece.  It’s a chance for artistic stardom as all artworks will be considered for an autumn exhibition at the hotel, opening on Sunday 18 September.

This is all part of a year of celebration at Wivenhoe House, marking 200 years since Britain’s much loved landscape artist, John Constable, painted Wivenhoe Park for the estate’s owner, Major General Francis Rebow.

It’s a story of love as Constable took on the commission to earn 100 guineas to prove he was a worthy catch to the father of his fiancée, Maria Bicknell. Constable completed the painting, which now hangs in pride of place at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, in the middle of September 1816 and married Maria on 2 October.

It was an auspicious early work for Constable who went on to create such well known masterpieces as The Haywain and Flatford Mill, two historic paintings which draw people to Dedham Vale every year to see the original settings.

The University of Essex will also be running one of its fantastic free arts outreach events for children at the hotel on the same day from 2pm until 4pm. Places are limited so must be booked in advance.

Step back in time at Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome

Visit Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome, near Maldon in Essex, and be part of history in the making. The aerodrome, established in 1916 as the base of the Royal Flying Corps 37 (Home Defence) Squadron, two years after the First World War began, is open for the public to enjoy.

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There’s plenty to see at this unique venue, all year round. Learn about the aerodrome and WW1 through an interactive history of the site in the new museum, where children can experience sitting in a simulated Sopwith 1½ Strutter plane.

Walk around the conserved buildings, which are rare survivors of WW1, plus learn about 37 Squadron in the museum. Hangars of late production/replica WW1 planes are sure to wow and visitors can take a tea in the wartime café.

Whether you’re interested in history or aviation, education, or looking for a family fun day out or special interest group, Stow Maries welcomes you.

Open from 10am – 5pm Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holidays.

Pre-arranged group visits, including coach trips, are also welcome to visit on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Children under 16 visit free with adult tickets costing £8.

For more information visit the website www.stowmaries.org.uk.