Sunday, December 27, 2015


I very much enjoyed being invited on to six radio stations for programmes during 2015 and have met some interesting  people who man the various recording studios in Essex. some work around the clock.  My new friends have helped publicising, not only my new book titles and writing jobs, but several of my current voluntary work projects.  So grateful for their help - long may it continue!  Don't ever under-estimate the power of radio: national, regional, community and hospital radio.

Hospital radio is vital in keeping patients' spirits high and, again, I have been humbled by the people keeping these studios going. All of them need volunteers and help, of all kinds, so if folk have time to spare, do make contact with Basildon Hospital Radio; Bedrock Hospital Radio, Havering; Goodmayes Hospital Radio, Broomfield Hospital and there are many others out there who would appreciate just a little of your time.   If you turn to pages 117-119 in this current edition of ESSEX LIFE, you will be able to read more about this vital service to help patients in hospital. Jacqui James is chairman at Basildon Hospital Radio and David James is the brilliant photographer who took this great picture.

Recently, our local museum in Billericay was the meeting place to welcome Ray Clark from BBC Essex in tiny way of contributing to his new programme. Ray's Saturday morning programme on BBC Essex is a favourite of thousands of listeners who will have the chance of learning more about some of our lovely Essex towns and villagers in the coming months.
Ray Clark pictured outside the Cater Museum, Billericay

Saturday, December 19, 2015


Simon J Frith -  Red Stable Films at Brentwood's Phoenix 98fm  our guest in the studio's Book Club programme.

Yesterday morning was our regular monthly BOOK CLUB programme on Phoenix 98fm based in Brentwood, presented by our good friend Michelle Ward.  She always provides such a fun-packed session, always a welcoming cup of coffee and relaxed atmosphere.  

Our guest for December was the award-winning film producer/director Simon J Frith, whose career I (and our listeners) found so interesting.   We  enjoyed learning a little about what inspired him to enter the world of film production and the mechanics of how he has achieved his considerable success. Not enough time really in that hour, so we want him back soon..

Simon is currently finishing a film starring Mike Edmonds from Billericay.  Mike, who has been in film, theatre (Royal Shakespeare Company)  and radio for more than 35 years.  Simon and his team from Red Stable Films based in Essex have made an intriguing  film based on Mike's life which is to be entitled 'Under the Radar'. There are some pretty surprising folk in the film world who will be appearing on the credits when this hour-long movie is launched in the spring. We hope Mike Edmonds will come along to meet Michelle in the studio thereafter. 

Mike Edmonds, by the way, has appeared in many films worldwide, including Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, Harry Potter, Time Bandits et al and  and is a favourite on the Sci-Fi convention circuits around the world, majoring in the US and Japan. His fan club is universal and through social media, is growing.

Saturday, December 12, 2015


The first Ford vehicle coming off production line at Dagenham in 1931.  Plenty more old photographs in my latest book below.
(with thanks to Ford Motor Company archives, Brentwood Essex) 


Enjoyed a recent book signing session selling most of my new books - another delivery next week. I do enjoy meeting people who have lived in my town and have so many memories and stories, everyone unique.  No, this doesn't mean a new book. This was my tenth title, although I have written numerous contributions to anthologies and thousands of magazine and newspaper features.  Currently working on short stories and work connected with films.   Watch this space!!!

Monday, December 07, 2015



Just a little snowfall (artificial, of course, but artful)

Saturday, December 05, 2015


Looking forward to meeting friends and residents of Essex tomorrow (Sunday) at Billericay's great Christmas Market to which we have, in the past, welcomed thousands of visitors. Most shops will be open and I know there are some great bargains to be found.

I'm delighted to have been invited to sell some of my ten books at Hentons Residential offices at 139 High Street where Directors Nick Henton and Tim Kirkman will be welcoming visitors.  This building has some significance to me, as it is the first photograph in a book I wrote some dozen or so years ago entitled  BILLERICAY VOICES and is still in print.  Hentons' building was once an inn with much history (known as  The Three Horseshoes) way back in the mid-18th century. It has an intriguing, spooky provenance, as have lots of the buildings in that particular part of Billericay High Street.

Just a short walk from Hentons is our Town Library within Burghstead Lodge, which is reckoned to date back to the 17th century and boasts its own unusual history.  There, high on the left-hand wall, you will see photographs of Henton's office in earlier times - fascinating glimpse of the past.

The Library will be open and here you can meet our Museum's new Curator, Katie Wilkie who will be selling some of our newest titles from the Museum.  One, a book compiled by former Curator Chris Brewster and Barbara Birdsall, is a wonderful collection of Harry Richman's paintings which gives the reader glimpses of Billericay buildings as they were over half a century ago, some now sadly, demolished.

So, do pop in and meet us at both venues, share a Christmas drink and mincepies and let's talk about this super small town 'Billericay', it's history  and what it has to offer. Although many of our old jettied buildings were destroyed so long ago, we still have some ancient houses in and around the centre of Billericay. Look out for the Chantry House c.1510 at 61 High Street and learn more about its remarkable history.

Friday, December 04, 2015


Busy few weeks working on several new features for latest magazines, then monthly gathering of Billericay Readers Group and a visit last Thursday to Phoenix Radio 98fm at Brentwood with our new Curator at Cater Museum, Katie Wilkie.  First time in studio for Katie, but Michelle Ward made her feel at home - well, she is great with all her guests.  Saturday saw the switching on of the Christmas lights in Billericay with our very own Town Crier, Jim Shrubb, a great personality.

Katie Wilkie

This year, with the snow, full brass band and even a stage for the town council team, Billericay welcomed the festive season.



Sunday, November 22, 2015


As many fellow writers often get a poor deal from their publishers when it comes to advertising their books, some of us have decided to lend a hand to our publishers' marketing departments and do it ourselves. You can, of course, buy our books in Waterstones, W H Smith, indie bookshops and on line, but how lovely to meet the author and have your books signed.
Many thanks 2 visitors on Saturday @ Shenfield who bought books @ MEET THE AUTHORS event.Cheque today to Marie Curie

Popped into Marie Curie today to present our MEET THE AUTHORS' cheque to Chris, Manager at this special charity hop. This is from our recent author gatherings where they signed their books for readers at Billericay and Shenfield Libraries. More such events will take place around Essex in coming months.
Sylvia Kent's photo.

Author Brian Evans & Andrew Burt Organiser at Thameside
To this end, yesterday was my third MEET THE AUTHOR event this time at Thameside Library in Grays Thurrock.  Organisers were Andrew Burt and Rachel Gallehawk. We enjoyed a warm welcome and a chance to meet other writers and members of local history societies, exchange ideas and business cards and even sign and sell our books to visitors  - great gifts for Christmas!


Here we have a a group of some of those taking part, including Brian Evans (back left) who brought some of his stable of 30 books and Andrew Summers (front row, third left next to yours truly) of The Essex  Hundred Publishing Company.  Andrew brought a collection of his books which are mainly linked to our great county.  His Metropolitan Essex  is a 'must' for anyone interested in the history of their local towns and villages and certainly for students studying the county's past. Visit him on

More MEET THE AUTHOR events will be taking place in Essex libraries in the new year and springtime. I will advertise them on social media, Essex Library Services and, of course, this blog (around 110,000 page views to date)  Do pop along to meet some of us and have your books signed by Essex authors.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


We all stop at 11.00am this morning to think about the past.  We did this a few days ago at the Remembrance Sunday service at St. Mary's church in Billericay High Street.  It's always rather a poignant occasion in this small Essex town, but how great to see so many familiar faces in the crowd - which grows larger every year. Fabulous live musical accompaniment provided for the first time by High Voltage Big Band, and lovely to meet my favourite bugler Graham who never misses this important time of the year.  Here are a few snaps of our friends who later met in the church for a cuppa.

Lord Petre and Brian Hughes MBE

John Baron MP with Flt Lt  Horncastle,Team Rector Paul Carr and Richard Shipton
  who cleverly provides the sound system

Air Training Corps cadets

When you go home, tell them of us and say,
For your tomorrow, we gave our today
Kohima Epitaph

Friday, October 30, 2015


Exciting news today from the Central School of Dance & Drama in Brentwood.

Sunday 15 November is a red letter day for the School's ballet scholars who will be meeting Roberta Marquez, principal dancer with the Royal Ballet.  She is coming to Central's ballet studios to give their ballet scholars the amazing opportunity of a Master Class & Repertoire lesson.  Sounds wonderful to me and I hope to be there, too.


For details concerning the Central School of Dance in Brentwood
Tel: 01277 226777

Monday, October 26, 2015


Friday was interesting when I paid an unexpected  visit to Eastgate Art Gallery in Basildon and met some lovely, lively artists. 

Had heard about them, of course, from Vin Harrop of Billericay, but had never, until now, met any of them.  Huge talent out there and felt I wanted to stay longer and absorb more of those paintings.  Was rather  impressed by the way they all manage to man  this gallery which is well organised and consists of some pretty unusual work.  Looking forward to paying a return visit.  Their website gives you  samples of their work.

Basildon Eastgate Art
Located in: Eastgate Shopping Centre

Address: Southernhay, Basildon, Essex SS14 1EB   Phone:07951 149479

Monday, October 19, 2015


Andrew Summers author/publisher and sk




Saturday 24 October

10.00 am – 1.00pm

Come and meet local authors who will be happy to sign their books for you
(most titles at reduced prices)

(Recent YouTube film) 

BWC President France Clamp with her new book

Monday, October 12, 2015


Elizabeth Wallace and yours truly with the giant bust of George Washington in the grounds of Sulgrave Manor

The amazing Sulgrave Manor - ancestral home of George Washington check out those spectacular topiary birds created from a pair of yew bushes

Our Billericay Mayflower Twinning Association organised a great day out to Oxfordshire on Saturday and what a superb trip it turned out to  be.  Just loved the atmosphere of this beautiful house, its Tudor tapestries, furniture, paintings and gardens.  So much to see and absorb. 

 Sulgrave Manor is a Tudor and Georgian manor house that was built and lived in by the direct ancestors of George Washington, the first President of the USA. It is a wonderful example of Tudor design brought to life through the remarkable story of an extraordinary family.

My lovely sister Elizabeth Wallace has written about this place in her book  Extraordinary Places ...Close to London published by Hastings House, Fern Park, Florida.

As the town of Banbury is relatively close, off we sped to pay our first visit.  Of course, simply had to stop at the famous statue and snap Banbury's first 'fine lady' mentioned in our childhood nursery rhyme 'Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross'.  Certainly enjoyed our little trip in the glorious Oxfordshire countryside and will return one day to do some more research. 


To a

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Sunday, September 27, 2015


Its always a great pleasure to come into the Phoenix 98fm Studio at the Brentwood Leisure Centre and chat on air about our local world of writers and, of course, readers.  Essex has hundreds of book clubs and they always support our great Essex Book Festival held every spring in venues around the county.  Our local Billericay Library reading group has been going for more than 15 years and some of our members have been with us from the start.

For those listening to Thursday's programme with Michelle Ward, they will know that Brentwood Writers' Circle members are looking forward to meeting Karen Bowman, a popular historical author who will be talking about her latest books Essex Girls and Essex Boys.  I loved both titles and now we have her very latest book  Corsets & Codpieces which promises to be a riveting read.  Karen is also a valued member of the Society of Women Writers & Journalists and we hope to meet many of the Essex contingent at our Christmas party on 2 December in London's National Liberal Club. See for further detail.  

Brentwood Writers' Circle's venue is the Ursuline Convent in Queens Road, Brentwood; the date is Saturday 3 October and we kick off the afternoon at 2.30pm.  Visitors welcome.

Thursday, September 17, 2015


So generous of radio presenter Tony Fisher on BBC Essex to talk today about our upcoming Book Sale at Billericay Library, on Saturday 19 September 10.00-12 noon. We also appreciate Phoenix 98fm radio, BBC Essex radio, Havering Hospital radio, Basildon and  Hospital radio who have also spread the word. What would we do without such lovely, supportive friends! 

Local history authors will be happy to sign and sell their books relating to Brentwood, Billericay and surrounding towns - all at much reduced prices.  And Saturday we will remember Donald Wallace who was such a wonderful inspiration with his help and advice on how to create a history book.
At the book sale, visitors will have an opportunity to talk about writing and publishing with members of our Brentwood Writers’ Circle and their president, Frances Clamp, along with local well known novelist, Elizabeth Lord (aka Maggie Ford) and other authors.
The Marie Curie Charity will receive a donation following the sale.  Everyone is invited.  For more detail,

A little signing session of my own at Waterstones in Romford last week. We really need more supersonic booksellers like Dionne!


Sunday, September 13, 2015


With such an inquisitive (nosey) nature and life-time interest in film and radio, I'm always happy to  visit yet another of the numerous radio stations around Essex.  There's invariably a warm welcome and I'm intrigued with the people who voluntarily give their time to produce continuous  programmes throughout the week and who very often make a dawn start at weekends. 

So, what a treat to visit the Queens Hospital in Havering to meet the Bedrock Hospital Radio team and talk about my favourite topic - writing - and in particular, my latest book Barking & Dagenham from Old Photographs.

Mat, Simon, Beverley and Keith holding my latest book, subject was my topic @ Bedrock

There to greet me last week was Beverley Stroud, who
nterviews studio guests,  Keith Dunn who has been working with Bedrock for two years and, of course, the chairman of the Bedrock Radio, Mat Watson pictured here with the super Simon - all volunteers bringing their expertise and special programmes to the folk of Havering. Not forgetting Ruth, with the lovely smile, who looks after the Bedrock books. Eventually, last week's programme will be available to all listeners on the web.

Ruth, another lovely volunteer providing reading matter via  Bedrock

Sunday, September 06, 2015



BWC Secreetary Ena and Chairman Helen 
What a great  bevy of talented writers pictured here, all members of the Brentwood Writers' Circle (celebrating 75 years in 2016) .  True, the pic is a few years' old, but demonstrates how lucky we are to have at least sixty keen writers, many of whom have dozens of books published. Most turned up at our AGM yesterday afternoon; the new committee was voted in and a super workshop followed with members reading out their latest work.   Books, articles, radio shows and non-stop writing activity emanates from them all.

You may have a chance to meet some of them at our local history book sale which is gathering press momentum.  The date is Saturday 19 September, the venue Billericay Library, High Street, Billericay and the timing is 10.00am until noon.   

Many authors will be appearing at Billericay Library on Saturday 19 September  10.00-12 noon and their fans can meet them, talk about writing, buy their books (at very reduced prices) and our authors will sign them - making an interesting Christmas gift.  The Marie Curie charity will benefit at the end of the sale.

Saturday, August 29, 2015


David Bremner and Claire Morley with Library Manager Graham Herbing
fronting a recent Billericay Archive Display
Our rather special team of local history enthusiasts meet regularly in Billericay Library and hold regular public gatherings.  Next  one is due on Monday 14 September from 10.30-1pm.  As you will see from our website, the archive now has an enviable collection of photographs and people's wonderful memories of this small Essex town. Many visitors to our website are expats who have contributed greatly to our collection of video, images and stories from the past.  Do come along and meet us with your photographs (which we can copy on the spot and return immediately to you) and have a chat. Maybe we can help you discover some new stories about your favourite places around Billericay and surrounding towns.

Why not come along and help our funding on Saturday 31 October 2015 and take part in the Hazel Morley Memorial Quiz Night? Always lots of fun and a chance to meet other members of the team? Details below.