Tuesday, November 27, 2018


So sad to hear that Jean Barker is no longer with us. She died yesterday afternoon.   When I worked in the HoL, often had lunch with her and my boss Henry Plumb and there was always lots of laughter and fun when she joined the table. I bet the Upper House will be that much more dismal with her passing.  A few years ago, I found her again on the Terrace at an ALCS party and took this picture (in the middle of a naughty story).  She was also one of the Bletchley Park code-breakers and, again, had so many stories to tell us about this period of her life. There is a book available which I must read.

Her son Adam Barker wrote: "She did not make it to October 2022(100) ..but she had a bloody good innings".
Former Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted: "So very sad to hear that Baroness Trumpington has passed away." He added: "She was one of a kind - they simply don't make politicians like that anymore. She will be sorely missed in Westminster but long remembered for her outstanding ability and great humour. RIP Trumpers."

Monday, November 26, 2018


2018 Fun Walk surpasses £1,000,000 raised since 2002
£40,000 bonus awarded to participating charities at Presentation ceremony
At their Presentation ceremony on Friday, 23 November, John Baron MP and other Trustees of The Fun Walk Trust [a registered charity] awarded bonus pot cheques to all those charities and good causes [projects] which took part in this year’s Fun Walk [at Barleylands Farm on Sunday, 2 September]. This year the bonus is 65%.
Because of the generosity of local businesses and individuals, each project receives a bonus over and above what they raise themselves in sponsorship on the day. This year, for every £100 raised by projects in sponsorship, the bonus pot added £65.  The total monies raised both by the projects and bonus pot sponsors came to £100,000 – bringing the total monies raised for local causes to £1,064,000 since the Fun Walk started in 2002.
John took the opportunity to thank all those who had helped over the years to make this initiative a success, including previous bonus pot sponsors. He also gave notice that, whilst the annual walk would continue, a change of guard as to the organisation is now being planned in order carry the event forward. Next year’s walk is scheduled for 8 September.
Please see attached Factsheet and photos - more will be available shortly on our website www.thefunwalktrust.co.uk. The presentation was held at Anisha Grange Care Home, Outwood Common Road, Billericay, Essex, CM11 2LE by kind permission of Hallmark Care Homes Ltd. 

 John said:
The 2018 Fun Walk has been another huge success and brings the total monies raised for good causes since 2002 to over £1,000,000. Our thanks go to all who have helped along this journey, including our extensive family of volunteers and past and present bonus pot sponsors.”
“Our bonus pot sponsors this year were Swan Housing Association, c2c Rail, Hallmark Care Homes, Abellio Greater Anglia, Tunnelcraft Ltd, Brown & Carroll Ltd, McDonald’s Basildon, Leonardo MW Ltd, RSE Building Services Ltd, and others.”
“Our thanks also go to Barleylands Farm for hosting the Walk and to Hallmark Care Homes for hosting the presentation evening, and to the many others who have helped including Jim Shrubb, our marshals and accountants Hunt Smee and Co.”
“When people kindly offer you their seat on trains and your team are soon to be Grandmothers, the time has come for fresh blood to carry the event forward. Whilst I will continue in my role, the Trustees and I are now in discussion with parties able to help.”

Sunday, November 25, 2018


Wonderful celebrations last night at Queen Elizabeth II Field at Sun Corner with a huge turnout of school choirs, lights and a magical atmosphere to welcome visitors to our lovely little town. Personally, I loved catching up with long standing friends in the crowds and appreciated the help and guidance of the Billericay 2393 Air Training Corps cadets who marshalled the school choirs during the evening, along with our super Rotarian and Round Table friends.

Here is our famous Town Crier, Jim Shrubb - aren't we lucky to have him on our doorstep. Not many Essex towns can boast of their very own superb Town Crier. Jim can always be found in our town whenever we are celebrating our local occasions and we will be meeting him again very soon for our December Christmas Market. Watch this space!!!

Among many friends who had fun last night, what a joy to bump into a lovely friend Jodi Presswell and her family who were part of this great evening.


Tuesday, November 20, 2018


Ted Bailey in dark overcoat with English and French parishioners and colleagues 
One of my colleagues, Ted Bailey, sent me these pictures following his trip to France on  Saturday 10 November when a large Anglo-French group assembled at the church in Preux-au-Bois to attend a comprehensive lecture about the actions of the British Army in the area, which incorporated the 10th Battalion, Essex Regiment. This battalion was formed at Warley Barracks, Brentwood, in 1914 as part of the 18th (Eastern) Division, 53rd Brigade. It comprised volunteers and saw continual action from their landing in France in 1915 via The Somme in 1916, Arras (Scarpe) in 1917, resisting the Spring Offensive (Kaiserschlacht) in March 1918 right through to 4 November 1918, their final engagement.  This was a piece of opportunism by Commanding Officer Lt-Col Forbes who, seeing a long gap in German lines, led his battalion through it, successfully repulsing the enemy and taking many prisoners. 
A memorial to those men of Essex was kindly approved by the Mayor and Commune of Preux-au-Bois and installed in time for the 100th Anniversary of the Armistice. That morning, 11 November, all those concerned with this occasion assembled outside the Mayoral Office to participate in a three-part commemoration of the dead and celebration of the end of that grotesque war.
 The mayor kindly laid on a reception for everybody followed by a buffet lunch for the participants. Ted presented him with an Essex Regiment wall plaque for his office and received a bottle of champagne in return.This and the other Essex regimental memorials have only been possible owing to the donations of many interested individuals and organisations.
To paraphrase a well-known musician: ‘I’d like to thank you on behalf of our group and hope we passed the audition.’

Ian Hook bugled the Last Post followed by the two-minute silence, broken at precisely at 11.00 by the church chiming the hour and bells ringing out the victory. The cease fire was sounded and the History Group laid down their weapons and helmets, some donning civilian caps to signal the end of the military conflict.


Sunday, November 18, 2018


Billericay's residents came together on 11th November, for the commemoration service of the First World War Armistice, the first at 11.00am for our special service gathered around the Billericay War Memorial service and later at Sun Corner for the lighting of the beacon which was a most moving ceremony.  There was a huge turnout for both events, particularly the young groups including the splendid 2393 Squadron Billericay Air Training Corp cadets. We are most grateful to our long-standing friend Graham Baguley, bugler supremo who has never let us down over many years. Over the last four years, most of us have attended the annual services in the town and during the October Ward War One exhibitions at the Reading Rooms.

Friday, November 16, 2018


Thanks to kind readers for sending old photos of Brentwood and Billericay for my new project. Amazing scenes from the past. We will be talking about local history in upcoming radio shows on Phoenix 98fm on Friday 30 November with Hayley Anderson.

Thursday, November 15, 2018


Alan Turing's flat at Bletchley Park when he worked there
Here it is, Alan Turing's typewriter still to be seen at Hut 8 Bletchley Park

I've recently met a group of women who worked at Bletchley Park, the central site for British cryptanalysts during World War II.  Did you know that 75% of the workforce were women? While women were overwhelmingly under-represented in high-level work, such as cryptanalysis, they were employed in large numbers in important auxiliary work, such as: operating cryptographic machinery and communications machinery; translating of Axis clerical duties and many more besides. I'm collecting my interviews for an upcoming feature. Watch this space.

Bletchley Park original building

Tuesday, November 06, 2018



On 11/12 October our famous local Mayflower Men based in Billericay together with enough friends and family to fill a coach, travelled to Ypres in Belgium.The purpose of the visit was to lay a wreath commemorating the many Morris Men who fell in the Great War. Members of the wreath-laying party had relatives who were killed in the area. A very moving ceremony was held at the Menin Gate at which all the visitors attended and at where number of wreaths were laid. The Last Post and Reveille were sounded, as has been since 1923, except when Ypres was occupied during the Second World War. Amongst the party were several Morris Men from Blackmore Morris, Thames Valley Morris Men and Albury Morris Men, in total there were 12 dancers and a musician. Dances were performed in the Grote Markt on Thursday in two sessions, and beer was taken! Visits were also made to the Sanctuary Wood and the In Flanders Fields museums by members of the group.

The visit was proposed by the late Tony Motley, a great Morris dancer, ex King’s Trooper and British Legion standard bearer. The visit was also in honour of Tony.
Our wonderful friend from Mayflower Morris Men, the late Tony Motley from Billericay


Friday, November 02, 2018


I am so lucky to meet and photograph many of today's people in the news as I've  done for many years. My latest lovely interviewee was the famous Felicity Green Hill, who, incidentally, grew up within a few hundred yards of my own home.

Last month's venue was Conran's in London's Marylebone High Street. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet up with Felicity, whose ideas on fashion and reporting during the mid-'60s appeared regularly in the Daily Mirror.   Felicity was one of the famous journalistic names in Fleet Street and was happy for me to photograph her.  I had already read her book Sex, Sense and Nonsense and loved the images she used to illustrate the various aspects of her career. Some of these coincided with my own experience of meeting people such as Hugh Cudlipp, Eve Pollard, Billy Walker, Sandie Shaw, Penny Vincenzi, Vidal Sassoon, Sandra Paul (now our SWWJ Patron Lady Howard), and so many others. Still it continues, with some nice interviews coming up. Our SWWJ is still linked to the London Press Club and when possible, our members try to get along to their super gatherings in London's Cheshire Cheese in Fleet Street.


Andrew Lindfield DOT Productions

Thursday, November 01, 2018


Today is All Souls' Day and we reflect on last night's spooky goings on in Brentwood, Essex. Glowing pumpkins, spiky hats, furry spiders, weirdy wands almost sold out  in local shops as the witching hour approached. Children dressed as witches and wizards, devils and imps were tricking and treating as darkness fell - all fun during this proverbial evening.  
But witchcraft was no laughing matter a few hundred years ago in England.   Mere suspicion that someone was dabbling in the black arts could mean a death sentence. Medieval folk had long suspected that the Devil was carrying out his evil work on earth with the help of his minions. In 1484 Pope Innocent VIII declared this to be the truth in his Papal Bull. This kicked off the big European Witch Craze, which lasted for nearly two centuries.
The hotbeds of the witch-hunts were the German-speaking lands, France and Scotland.  In 1645 England, notably Essex, was in the grip of witch-fever. Between 1560 and 1680 in Essex alone 317 women and 23 men were tried for witchcraft, and over 100 were hanged. In 1645 there were 36 witch trials in Essex. Some of them were held at Brentwood. At least half a dozen Brentwood women around 1575 were hanged, so the records tell us. All appeared to be old, lived alone, except for their companion cats.
Brentwood Assizes  (which used to be in the High Street) were where the trials took place. The three-gabled Assize House had been built under a deed of 1579 and sited where 84 High Street is now. Judicial luminaries such as the celebrated Chief Justice Parker became associated with Brentwood Assizes. The infamous Matthews Hopkins – known as the Witchfinder General – who tyrannised the Eastern Counties during his two-year search for witches - was known to have visited Brentwood. 
Trials were held here for local felons, some of whom received death sentences.  South Weald registers tell of seven people who had been hanged and were buried on the same day.  These heartless events often attracted huge audiences.  The condemned were taken by cart along the Ongar Road to Gallows Green, a point close to the triangle leading to Doddinghurst Road where the unfortunates met their end. In past centuries phantoms have been recorded around Gallows Green (shown on the 1777 Andre & Chapman map) but these days, the constant traffic flow would undoubtedly frighten them off.