We Love Essex – Chelmsford

We’re loving Chelmsford at the moment – and as we find out more about the business community, we find ourselves hearing a lot of interesting facts about the town and its history…

  • Chelmsford is deemed to be the birthplace of radio: inventor Guglielmo Marconi opened the world’s first wireless factory there in 1899. Chelmsford was also the venue for Britain’s first public radio broadcast – in June 1920, Australian opera star Dame Nellie Melba took part in the show, which was apparently received as far afield as the east coast of Canada.
  • The first witch trial happened in Chelmsford in 1566. In the dock was Elizabeth Francis, who described hearing voices from her cat encouraging her to curse people. The cat bore the worst possible pet’s name for that era – Satan. Elizabeth got a year in jail after telling the court that she had given the cat away – but thirteen years later she was executed on a different count of witchcraft. As it happened, Elizabeth had actually swapped Satan the cat for a cake, the baker of which was also executed as an alleged witch.
  • Crompton of Chelmsford manufactured and developed electric light components, many of which were installed in Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle.
  • Danbury Common, near Chelmsford, is home of the largest adder population in Britain. As if poisonous snakes weren’t enough, European Scorpions have apparently been sighted near the station in Ongar, sixteen miles down the road.
  • We love Chelmsford, but novelist Charles Dickens would disagree. In 1835, he grumbled to a friend that the town was “the dullest and most stupid spot on the face of the Earth.”

We Love Essex – Buckhurst Hill

Not just a great place to do business (and a bit of shopping…), Bucky-H is a very historical place in its own right. Here are some of the little-known facts we’ve discovered about one of our favourite towns in the district:

Buckhurst Hill

  • Dick Turpin had a short period of “going straight” before he became a professional thief – he spent 1733-4 working as a butcher in Buckhurst Hill.
  • Turpin and his cohorts were such a menace that security-minded residents of this area invented anti-burglar devices called ‘Turpin traps’, – wooden trapdoors positioned over a stairhead and fixed by a pole wedged against the upstairs ceiling.
  • Buckhurst Hillwas originally known as “La Bocherste”, and later “Bucket Hill.” The meaning of the name is “hill of beech trees”
  • In neighbouring Chigwell, Ye Olde King’s Head, which was run as a pub until 2011, is said to have been the inspiration for the Maypole Inn inCharles Dickens‘ Barnaby Rudge
  • Chigwell School numbers among its former pupils Ben Shepherd, Ian Holm, Ken Campbell and William Penn who founded the American state of Pennsylvania – and the music for the hymn Abide with Me was written by WH Monk who once taught there.

We Love Essex – Brentwood

It’s fun, it’s buzzing and it’s the pinnacle of pilgrimage for TOWIE fans – and it’s got a lot of exciting business opportunities going on there. Today we are extending a big hello to our Brentwood contacts both old and new and sharing what we’ve discovered about their town…

  • Gilstead Hall, in nearby South Weald, is apparently haunted by the ghost of Lord Byron who was a frequent visitor.
  • Brentwood was the first place in the UK to manufacture trampolines. To this day, Brentwood has a very enthusiastic trampolining community.
  • The Kelvedon Hatch Secret Nuclear Bunker, just along the road from Brentwood town, was intended during the Cold War as a refuge for Government officials as a shelter from nuclear attack. Now decommissioned, it is ia very popular visitor attraction.
  • Brentwood has the peculiar honour of being Britain’s first town to instal and use CCTV.
  • Pioneering computer company Amstrad was founded in Brentwood  by Alan Sugar in 1968. Sky bought it in 2007 for 125 million.

We Love Essex – Loughton

Although Ghost Services is now happily ensconced in Harlow, we never forget our Loughtonian roots. There’s been a settlement in that area since before the Romans arrived – and we are proud to be providing the town’s business community with IT services today in the 21st century.

We found out some interesting snippets about Loughton while we were there…

  • The 19th-century pastoral poet John Clare spent time here –being inspired by the rural setting and recuperating from a bout of mental illness at Dr Matthew Allen’s private asylum. His story is told in “Four Forest Years,” by Loughton author and biographer Pete Relph.
  • The first settlers in the area created an encampment in the forest 2,500 years ago. Their settlement is now known as Ambresbury Banks Fort.
  • Lady Mary Wroth of Loughton Hall was a leading light on the Jacobean literary scene – in 1621 she published The Countesse of Mountgomeries Urania,  the first authenticated full-length novel by an Englishwoman.
  • Loughton was a popular day-trip and mini-break venue for Cockneys in the Victorian times. The locals didn’t always appreciate the visitors, especially when they earned the town the nickname “Lousy Loughton.” This was on account of the lice and fleas the holidaying East Enders brought with them – streets and parts of the forest would be sluiced with disinfectant to deal with the
  • East 15 drama school has a campus in Loughton – alumni include Alison Steadman, Marc Warren, Blake Harrison and Damon Albarn.