Saturday, November 09, 2013


Our postman is bringing me books to review more or less every day.  The above book just released by The History Press is of great interest, for it chronicles the events through the centuries of this small town in Essex, England.

Charles Phillips

The town of Billericay may be smaller in population than neighbouring communities, but its history is rich and fascinating.  This is evident in the new book hot off the publishing press written by local historian Charles Phillips.  THE STORY OF BILLERICAY has taken the author more than a decade to research, write and accumulate appropriate material for his latest book.  His search has brought him an amazing collection of ephemera and photographs from many sources.  
              Although a long time resident of nearby Stock village, Charles was born in Billericay’s St Andrew’s Hospital in 1952.  This site itself is a place of interesting historic provenance, being the original workhouse covering 26 surrounding villages, but is now residential housing.    The author has discovered tremendous firsthand knowledge by walking and cycling around Billericay and Great Burstead.  He has taken many of the excellent photographs which illustrate his book while on his perambulations.   But he is no stranger to modern technological research and confesses to using the wonders of the internet as an important source of information.  
              Throughout his book of 208 pages, the author takes us on a fascinating journey dating from Middle Stone Age activity through numerous periods to modern times, indicating evidence of Roman and Saxon settlements. The archaeological excavations at Billericay School during the 1970s are covered, as are the fascinating tales of the Peasants’ Revolt in 1381 and their sad demise in Norsey Wood.  Charles has gathered  , the Mayflower story that put Billericay on the historical map and many more revelations that are fascinating in the telling.  
              Billericay was once considered a quiet, tranquil farming community.  However, this changed when the railway reached this part of Essex in 1889. As an author of several other books about railways, his knowledge is particularly beneficial to readers on this topic as are the  previously  unpublished images of the Class B1 steam locomotive arriving at Billericiay station in 1953. (courtesy of the late David Collins).  Although the town’s population has inevitably increased over the last century, rising from approximately 1,200 in 1900 to its present 40,000, it still retains its old fashioned charm.  

              “The book has taken a great deal of time to research,” explains Charles. “It is the only complete history book dedicated to Billericay since Harry Richman, first curator of the Cater Museum produced his famous green book in 1953 with an updated version in 1963.” 

              Unfortunately, with the closure of Billericay’s only bookshop a few years ago, this new book can only be purchased directly from the author or from Dandelion, 20 Mill Road, Stock.  ISBN 978-0-7524-9924-6 £16.99  THE HISTORY PRESS



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