Sunday, September 27, 2020

YESTERDAY'S OUTING IN TIMES OF COVID - AND A RARE CHANCE TO PUBLICISE MY LATEST BOOK - BRENTWOOD IN 50 BUILDINGS


 Although we are still deeply in the midst of this nasty pandemic, I did manage to return to Brentwood yesterday, all carefully masked up, of course, to sign copies of my latest book and re-photograph some of the buildings that appear within the above book.   It was a lovely chance to meet a few of  the people responsible for looking after these wonderful structures. I also managed to call in on Brentwood Library, who have been so kind in letting me loose in their reference sections - so essential to writers. I could have stayed there all day, had it been allowed, but the rule was 'not more than fifteen minutes', so had to cram my search into a short, but useful, time. A great afternoon and a chance also to meet some of my Brentwood readers, socially distanced. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

JUST SOME OF OUR FABULOUS FUN WALKERS - THERE'S STILL TIME TO TAKE PART


Our F
un Walk – Last chance to participate in this year’s virtual event! With one week left to participate, MP John Baron’s Fun Walk has already raised thousands of pounds for Charity, with help from local businesses. 

John Baron said “We are delighted to see so many organisations participating in this year’s virtual event. We know the bonus pot provides a big incentive to Charity supporters to take part and our thanks go to local businesses who again stepped up to contribute to the bonus pot. They are Swan Housing Association, Tunnelcraft, Anisha Grange Care Home, Butyl Products Group, Leonardo MW, IFE Global Logistics, McDonald’s Restaurants Basildon and others.” 

One of the first charities to complete the walk and collect their sponsorship money is Changing Pathways, raising over £5,000 Natasha, Operations Manager at Changing Pathways said “Funds raised will support victims of domestic violence. We have 46 crisis refuge spaces. It has been an extremely difficult time during Covid but we have been providing a full service and adding extra support due to the demand.” 

Other local organisations who have already completed their walks include REACH Hippotherapy, Brentwood Catholic Children’s Society, Basildon Hospital Radio, Basildon Twinning Association, Ladybirds Song Group, Manor Mission Church, Billericay Town Twinning, Takiwātanga Support Services and Billericay Street Pastors. It is not too late for organisations to register and complete their walk, as the event runs until September 30th. Visit www.thefunwalktrust.co.uk 

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

WELCOME TO OUR VIRTUAL FUN WALK THROUGH SEPTEMBER - GOOD LUCK TO ALL OUR WALKERS - KEEP IT UP!!!



Our annual (this year virtual) Fun Walk runs for the whole month of September. Here are some of our earliest pictures that I have received so far.  How wonderful that we are up to 84 organisations that have registered and an estimated 1,432 participants.  Keep your eye on my blog?  Will update as we go along. 




It's so good to hear of the folk taking part in the annual Fun Walk in their various parts of Essex as many have done since we started in 2002.  Here we have Chris Brewster, former Curator at Billericay's Cater Museum, who was accompanied by her handsome dog, Ray, for the 5K charity walk around Maldon and the bonus of views around Maldon, with the vista of the Blackwater and the ancient building now known as the Thomas Plume Museum which was once Maldon's ancient church, St Peter's.  








Thursday, September 10, 2020

IT''S COMING - OUR SUPERSONIC FUN WALK APPROACHES ON SUNDAY 13 - ARE YOU READY?

Not long now to wait!  Sunday 13 September is the date and our Fun Walk Trust team wishes lots of luck to the 1,300 people taking part in this wonderful annual Fun Walk, albeit virtually! 

       

Over 80 Charities and good causes approach the start line. As Chair of The Fun Walk Trust and Committee, John Baron MP is wishing all participants well in their fundraising efforts during September. More than 80 plus registered charities and good causes report that over 1,300 participants are ready to walk the 5k to raise money for their favourite charity or local good cause. 

Coming at a time when local services are more in demand than ever before, this event will provide organisations with a critical source of funding. John said: 

“We wish all participants well with their walks in September and once again thank this year’s sponsors. We are thrilled so many organisations are taking part and anticipate tens of thousands of pounds will be raised through sponsorship and from the generous support of our local sponsors who this year are Swan Housing Association, Tunnelcraft, Anisha Grange Care Home, Butyl Products Group, Leonardo MW, IFE Global Logistics, McDonald’s Restaurants Basildon and others.” Christina Stubbs, Director – Finance and Fundraising for SNAP said: “Currently more than 2,800 families who have a child with any special need or disability benefit from SNAP’s services and support. Any funds raised in 2020 will help to support SNAP’s Counselling service which provides vital emotional support.” 

Michael Wade, “Like all schools, the Covid 19 Pandemic has hit the school hard financially. We feel very lucky and are very grateful to Mr Baron for the opportunity to take part” The event will be open through the whole month of September so it’s not too late to register at www.thefunwalktrust.co.uk.

Tuesday, September 08, 2020

FLYING HIGH OVER ESSEX  A CENTURY AGO - BRENTWOOD TALES


Readers of the ENJOY BRENTWOOD MORE on-line magazine will be familiar with my latest feature edited by the super Adriana Elguenta covering events in Brentwood Borough over a century ago. 

In June 1909, two famous Americans arrived in Brentwood. Their faces were familiar, having made front page headlines in world press.  They were Wilbur and Orville Wright.  Six years earlier they had made history by becoming the world’s first aviators. They were in London that summer, promoting their great achievement and no doubt paid a visit to Mary Green Manor in Brook Street, where their ancestors, the Wright family had lived centuries earlier.

Although powered flight was a wonderful discovery, certain people had enjoyed seeing Brentwood from the air well before those Edwardian times. There’s the story of the dashing Duke of Brunswick, one of the nephews of George IV, who took off in a balloon from the tea gardens in London’s Bayswater during the 1830s. Accompanied by the beautiful Mrs Graham, the Duke was floating over Essex when something went wrong and they began descending rapidly towards Brentwood. They jumped out when nine feet from the ground. The Duke was unhurt but Mrs Graham suffered spinal injuries

Flying entrepreneur Edward Hillman c.1931 at Maylands
Pilots have commented on the green spaces that surrounded the town before the developers got going after World War One. One young lady who undoubtedly enjoyed being at the flight control was Amy Johnson.  At the age of 22 she’d made history by flying solo to Australia in a tiny Moth aeroplane. At one time, Amy worked for Edward Hillman who in 1931 developed his own air passenger service – flying from Maylands Aerodrome – that grass airstrip situated between Brentwood and Romford (now Maylands Golf & Country Club), situated on the western boundary of Brentwood. Hillman, who owned several bus and coach companies, had achieved success in starting one of Britain’s first independent airlines. He used three-seater de Havilland Puss Moths before going up to the ten-seater Dragon Rapides for his London to Paris route, the prototype of which was ceremoniously named ‘Maylands’ by Amy and her equally famous husband, Jim Mollison.

At that time Britain's flag carrier was Imperial Airways.  Hillman competed to give a cheap 'no-frills' airbus service keeping costs to a minimum. Pilots and staff were employed on low wages.  The first service began on 1 April, 1932, from Maylands aerodrome to Clacton-on-Sea. Passengers were flown in a de Havilland Dh.80 Puss Moth single-engine biplane.  Hillman opened up an international route on 1 April 1933.  This service operated between Romford and Paris using the de Havilland DH.84. Hillman was the first operator to use this plane.  Fares were £3 10s (£3.50) one-way – much cheaper than his rivals. Around this time, air flying displays were all the rage at Maylands.

Edward Hillman is remembered as being a fascinating entrepreneur - hard-working, but irascible whose name and reputation were, within a short time, catapulted to the forefront of the business world. However, Hillman died of a heart attack on 31 December 1934, aged just 45. Maylands is now a golf course.

To read more about Brentwood Borough’s history and to buy a signed copy of my latest book Brentwood in 50 buildings, please visit WH Smith or Waterstones in Brentwood High Street; also from Amazon and other Essex bookshops. 




Monday, September 07, 2020

LOOKING BACK AT OUR BELOVED WOOLWORTH

It's a truism that you rarely miss something in your life until it has gone.  Many people haven't forgotten good old Woolies that could be found in numerous high streets all over the UK until the company folded around a dozen years ago.What a shame to hear, in 2008, that our beloved Woolworth stores may be closing their doors, not only in Brentwood and Billericay, but nationwide. 

As the shutters clanged down on the chain’s final 199 shopfronts in market towns across the British Isles on 6 January 2009, a little piece of UK high street history passed away. No longer would we have access to a one-stop shop answering to all of our most disparate needs.Recently, I was asked to research the story of F W Woolworth in the UK and have unearthed  some fascinating tales surrounding this famous organisation that had started so long ago. 


Friday, September 04, 2020

APPROACHING AUTUMN AND TIME TO SPEND IN OUR ALLOTMENTS AND GARDENS

Time for clearing up the allotment and collecting some of the wonderful produce that's available.  Now what to do with the glut? One idea is to think about making wine or cordials from your fruit and even veggies.  That's how I started making prize-winning exhibits for the Brentwood Winemakers' Club, now sadly defunct, but a hobby that I still  enjoy when I have time. Fortunately, some of my family are also keen on growing their own produce, so I'm lucky to be given fresh fruit and vegetables to pop into the fermenting bin.