Edit Blog Post
Published: August 31st 2014
Departing London we headed to Chelmsford in Essex, North-East of the capital. As this required a transit between two of London's mainline train stations at peak hour and doing battle on the Tube with increasingly heavy suitcases in tow did not appeal, we opted for a black cab. After taking steps to ensure the cab we would board at the rank at Euston Station was actually black, as opposed to some of the garish colour schemes currently polluting the streets of London, we settled into the back seat to enjoy the morning gridlock around London. It became clear why the Tube, even when crowded, is the preferred option, but at least we added another genuine London experience to our trip. This was enhanced when the cabbie farewelled us at our destination, Liverpool St Station, complete with cockney accent, with a "have a nice trip, guv'nor".
Chelmsford is known (among other things) as the home of radio - there is even a sign at the city entrance proclaiming so. It was here the inventor, Marconi, opened his first factory just after the turn of last century and made some of his early radio transmissions. The early 'wireless' made its
usefulness plain during the
Titanic disaster (pity the nearest ship was not actually listening at the time the SOS was sent) and Marconi's fledgling company was inundated with orders for the new-fangled contraption for use at sea following the tragedy. The town was also the location for the first radio broadcast for entertainment purposes, featuring our very own Dame Nellie Melba. Without the work done by Marconi in Chelmsford, we would no have wifi and iPads to write travel blogs! Sadly the factory itself was abandoned when the Marconi Company's modern incarnation moved production elsewhere in 2008 and the site is now the subject of a major housing redevelopment. Having seen what's possible with the redevelopment of old industrial sites in the London Docklands, hopefully some dual/multi-purpose use can be found which pays appropriate homage to its place in history.
Essex also appears to be the home of cricket (although labelling any one spot in England with this honour is fraught with danger and open to debate). Cricket certainly has a very long history in the county. The Essex Cricket club been around since 1876 although cricket was played in the area more than 150 years
Captain of England and Essex stands guard near the county cricket ground.
before that and very probably much earlier. A very early match - in the 1700s - ended up in court for a decision on the result. In a business park across the road from the hallowed turf of Essex Country Cricket Ground is a statue honouring Graham Gooch - captain of both Essex and England. And the local paper is full of exploits of international stars, current England players, pounding the pitch locally.
Speaking of which, Essex is home to one of the oldest newspapers in Britain. The Essex Chronicle was founded in 1764 (probably to report on contentious cricket matches!) - around 20 years before the more famous Times of London. The paper celebrated its 250th anniversary the month before we arrived. That's a big achievement given the dire straights newspapers are in, although there remains a wealth of choice here in the UK compared to papers at home.
More prosaically, Essex is also home to the Most Unimaginative Council in Britain. Looking for a particular store without the benefit of wi-fi maps, knowing it was in "Springfield something" (not the Simpsons' home) I successfully navigated my way from the city centre by
All but forgotten
All Saints' Churchyard, Springfield.
dead reckoning to the area of interest only to be confronted with Springfield Place, Springfield Close, Springfield Court, Springfield Avenue and Springfield Street. Arghhh! More by luck than good management I found my destination and had a good chat with the storekeepers before relieving them of some merchandise.
And finally, Essex is also home to some very lonely war graves. On my way back from the aforementioned store, I came across an unkempt graveyard attached to All Saints Church. Among the very, very old graves were two instantly recognisable Commonwealth War Graves, in this case for British servicemen of the First World War. And unlike the case in Oz, where every Commonwealth War Grave is meticulously catalogued and maintained, even if overseas, these graves less than 50 miles from London seem to be completely overlooked. With all the hype here in the UK at the moment about the 100th anniversary of WWI, this was a bit of a surprise and a bit sad - I wonder if they still have any relatives alive? Does anyone remember them?
The Imperial War Museum at Duxford, near Cambridge, beckons next....
Tot: 0.079s; Tpl: 0.017s; cc: 12; qc: 52; dbt: 0.0161s; 1; m:saturn w:www (22.214.171.124); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb