Posts Tagged ‘Beyond the Point TV’

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The BTP boys will be showcasing our exciting pillbox-themed display stall at the Paddocks, Canvey Island, this Saturday (25th) for Armed Forces Day 2016. Come down and see us from roughly 11am to 2pm, alongside many of the other interesting community groups in the area which all have something to share, such as the Bay Museum which specialises in hands-on militaria, or the local community archives which focus on cataloging history online much like ourselves.

There we will be unveiling the first look at our upcoming brand new website which we have been wracking our brains on for the most part of the year so far. It will allow you to explore historic sites for yourself using its centrepiece interactive map, as well as search the multitude of places we have covered by historic era, current and past use. It also has sections dedicated to exciting topics in general history, guides to our equipment and adventuring the outdoors, and a neat way to view all of our videos in one place. Stay tuned, or come and see it this Saturday!


As well as a new website, we have some news regarding the BTP boys themselves and what they will be doing over the future months years. Joe has been offered a year’s staff contract at ITN, working on ITV News London, carrying on as the skilled camera man he has trained to be over the course of his apprenticeship there. Our recent and upcoming videos reflect this quality. As for myself (Liam) I will be commencing an exciting new chapter heading off to the University of Exeter in September. Unsurprisingly, I will be studying history, and I hope that as well as having a very good time in the process I will be able to develop my interest in the past on a professional level looking at a wide variety of topics. Over the past gap year I have been able to put a lot of work into Beyond the Point and the local area; starting last Summer with filling out the current website with lots of unused content, through to adding all the incredible places we have been to our upcoming upgraded site. In the process I have strengthened links with the local community, such as painting murals which you may have seen around Canvey Island, and in the wider archiving community doing work for the Family History Show and the history of my secondary school. There’s my words of advice to take a gap year if you ever need them, but now I am looking forward to starting afresh somewhere new. In someways it will be nice to leave Essex knowing you all have a great new website to explore whilst I focus my time on something different, but it will be shame to temporarily leave behind the beloved River Thames! Hence why I shall still be continuing to write for Beyond the Point whilst away, and you’ll be able to catch me when I return in-person over the Winter, Easter, and Summer as I cling onto the community spirit I am lucky to have grown up with. Of course BTP Joe will still be living in Essex, travelling to London for work, so he will be representing Beyond the Point at the Thames Eastury Festival 2016 where we have been asked to speak, and at other exhibitions and talks including at the Transport Museum later this year and at the Canvey Island Dining Club in 2017. Watch out for updates on these!

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We all know Easter as a Christian holiday celebrating the resurrection of Christ. However it is believed its customs originate in ancient paganism that the Saxons worshipped, with eggs symbolizing new life at the dawn of spring. The word Easter derives from the pagan goddess of spring; ‘Eastre’. Of course they also came to originate Jesus re-emerging from his tomb. People have decorated eggs probably since the 13th century, presumably because they were forbidden by the church in the week leading up to Easter, so any eggs laid were saved and decorated often given as gifts to children, or eat them on Easter as a mark of celebration.

By the Victorian era people were making eggs from cardboard, filling them with gifts or sweets, and wrapping them in fabric. Around this time the first chocolate eggs emerged in France and Germany, but they were hard and bitter. In Britain Fry’s chocolate were making solid Easter eggs in 1873. In the 1930s, jelly beans too became associated with Easter for their egg-like shape.

Unlike eggs, the significance of the Easter bunny is shrouded in mystery. Religiously symbolising everything from rebirth and fertility, to innocence and purity due to its white colour in Christian art, it has no clear Christian meaning. Instead the Easter bunny may emerge yet again from Anglo-Saxon paganism. Their spring goddess Eastre signifies fertility and personifies a rising sun. Due to fertility and its relationship with new life, Eastre could change her pet bird into the form of a rabbit to please children, which would bring them brightly coloured eggs as gifts.

So believe it or not, the customs surrounding Easter probably have more in common with paganism – considered almost derogatory in a time when Christianity was so pivotal to society.

Less than two months into 2016, it’s already looking like a big and busy year for Beyond the Point! We have many exciting things to show off in the coming months, ranging from our Secrets of Severalls documentary, to a completely new fresh look for Beyond the Point as we revamp our website.

So the first news update is that Beyond the Point getting a complete revamp. We’re a non-profit history organisation although we don’t want to be stuck in the past and as we approach 5 years since Beyond the Point was founded we’ve decided that this is an ideal time to modernise the site. We’re in the process of designing a brand new website, one that is much more user-friendly and easier to navigate. A large amount of the content is being tweaked, including some of older content which isn’t quite up to our current standards and many more locations will also be added to our website. This is a really exciting time for BTP and our biggest change to date. Our new and improved website will be going live later on in the year.

Secrets of Sevs UpdateAlso to be released later this year is our Secrets of Severalls documentary and news of its production is certainly getting out there, not just from a few likes on Facebook but from a television broadcast advertising the making of our documentary to a 6-page spread in the Digital FilmMaker Magazine (no pressure then!) Ever since we had the green light from the NHS in September last year, we knew that this was going to be quite a big project for us, one that would be quite a step up from our normal calibre. Since announcing that production has started, we’ve had tens of thousands of views online, hundreds of messages and a massive interest from a many people.

Earlier this week we headed back up to the Severalls site to be interviewed by ITV News Anglia for a report that they were doing on the future of the site. This was transmitted on Monday evening and got the word out that we were the last people to film there. If you have any memories of photos of Severalls Hospital then please contact us. You can see the ITV News report below.

All rights to the VT are owned by ITV News.

The Digital FilmMaker Magazine also snapped up this story. The Digital FilmMaker is a national magazine exploring the behind the scenes and the making of short films and features various articles on the latest filming equipment and projects. We are delighted to have a 6 page spread, offering an in-depth look at the planning and organising of this documentary so far. You can see a sneak preview below and can purchase a copy of the magazine in shops such as WHSmith.

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This post continues from Part 1.

From 1827 the tunnels had remained derelict although from graffiti carved into chalk walls, it is known that soldiers were based there guarding an ammunition store in the 1850’s and 60’s. This is because they were on high alert for invasion although this threat never came to anything. In the First World War, the same tunnels were also mainly used for ammunition storage and perhaps as emergency stationing for soldiers about to make their short trip across the channel to the trenches of Northern France and Belgium. The tunnels were under the control of the Royal Navy during the First World War.

Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsey

Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsey who died in 1945 from a plane crash. Photo from FanPop.com

Without much action for the next two decades, the tunnels were called back into action when the Second World War commenced. They were first converted into an air-raid shelter in 1939 although later became a secret military command centre and underground hospital. In May 1940 Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsey directed the biggest operation ever seen at the site, from deep inside the White Cliffs, – Operation Dynamo, also known as the evacuation of Dunkirk.

The tunnels needed to be upgraded and transformed and this was a big mission itself. Over three miles of new and secret tunnels were dug out (by hand) to accommodate these changes. New levels of tunnels were commissioned from 1941 to provide separate, hidden and secure centres of operations for Army, Air Force and Navy. Many of the older tunnels were fired back into use by being lined with plywood or corrugated iron, of which much remains today. In addition space was needed for kitchens and mess rooms, maintenance and communications centres, barrack accommodation and a hospital for the wounded. The existing casemates were converted into offices, workshops, a telephone exchange, generator and planning rooms.

By the end of the war there were completed tunnels on three levels, one below the other.

A – Annex level, which from 1941 contained the hospital, dormitories, kitchens and mess rooms.

The planned B – Bastion level, behind Casemate level, was to be combined military headquarters and dormitories, but was never completed and never used.

C – Casemate level (the original 1797 tunnels and casemates planned by Twiss), held Admiralty Headquarters’ plotting, telecommunications and planning rooms, workshops and offices.

D – Dumpy level, the lowest level, built in 1942, was intended to be the main operations headquarters for the Army and Air Force.

Wartime life at Dover Castle

Photos Copyright English Heritage Photo Library

Post War

The DUMPY sign still at the Castle.

The Admiralty retained an interest in the tunnels until 1958 when they were handed over to the Home Office for a new defence function – a Regional Seat of Government to be used in the event of a nuclear war. The final phase of the working life of the tunnels came in the 1960s during the Cold War when tensions between East and West were at their height. The Cuban missile crisis of 1962, with its serious threat of nuclear war, particularly concentrated the minds of politicians and military planners in Britain. The government response was to identify a number of sizeable and secure fall-out shelters from which some vestige of local organisation could be continued in the event of a nuclear attack by the USSR. Dumpy level of Dover’s still secret, underground tunnels was chosen as the Regional Seat of Government for South East England, known as R.S.G.12. This Government centre was to be controlled by a cabinet minister with a staff of service personnel and civilian administrators after a nuclear war.

The work of converting the tunnels started again although this time converting them into radiation proof T.V. and radio studios, living accommodation and operations centre. Doomsday rehearsals and civil defence training were carried out regularly in the modified tunnels throughout the 1960s although the tunnels became increasingly difficult to maintain (and keep secret) during the 1970s. It was also realised that the porous chalk would have offered barely any protection against contaminated rainwater percolating down from any nuclear winter at ground level. The tunnels were abandoned as a Regional Seat of Government but were kept secret until 1986 when they were passed into the hands of English Heritage for eventual opening to the public.

Present Day

Scent bottlesToday English Heritage take pride in creating a realistic experience for people to a glimpse into what it would have been like during the war. The tunnels are open to the public with tours available for free (entrance fee to the site applies). While some of the tunnels maintain the wartime look and feel, some are making the most of technology with projections and immersive sound effects. Bottles like these are used to create realistic smells of some unusual things such as the boiler room, beef and a general musty smell.

For those who haven’t visited Beyond the Point before, we are an award winning organisation dedicated to revealing the unseen history of Essex and beyond. Ranging from everything from Medieval castles to nuclear bunkers, we follow our goal to enlighten you on the usually skimmed-over parts of local history. Read more about us…

Howdy BTP readers! As Christmas day quickly approaches, so does the new year which means another year of exploring a vast variety of site along with a hefty collection of photographs and video clips. Our latest documentary for BTP is something quite different…

Beyond the Point has been given exclusive access to film a documentary on the derelict Severalls Hospital site in Colchester. This documentary is particularly special as the NHS has declined every single filming request (except ours) for those wanting to film on the site, even to major broadcasters such as the Discovery Channel. Therefore, Beyond the Point will be the only organisaation to have filmed legally on the site, both to date and probably in the entire time that the hospital is standing. The site was opened in 1913 as ‘Severalls Asylum’, a psychiatric hospital, and provided psychiatric care for North Essex until it closed in 1997. The massive 300 acre site was built to house up to 2,000 patients and the site was built based on the ‘Echelon plan’ where staff and patients could move around the site without going outside. If you have memories of Severalls Hospital, why not post them in our new Facebook Group, dedicated entirely to the hospital?

When asylums were first built in the late 1800’s, they were placed away from towns although they were a community in their own right as asylums were built with farms, laundry facilities, staff housing, shops and everything needed to live on the site. Mental health had quite a stigma attached to it at the time and little was known about curing it. Women could be admitted for struggling with a large family or for even being raped. This led to some scientists and doctors to experiment with treatments including electro-convulsive therapy (ECT) and the use of frontal lobotomy.

Paul Lindup flying his drone

Our documentary will explore the history from when Severalls opened up until it closed and will show what the site is currently like. We’ve pulled out all the stops for this documentary and have teamed up with Airbourne Imagery who are providing us with some amazing drone shots of the site. We also have helicopter footage from ITV News. In the new year we’ll be speaking with former staff members about their time at the site and will publishing our documentary around mid 2016.

To find out more about this project and to see early production photos visit our production website, JoeMander.com. You can also get regular updates about the documentary by liking Globlue on Facebook. We’ll be posting an article focussing on the history of the site, alongside our current photos, in the new year. If you have any photos or memories of the site, then please don’t hesitate to Contact Us. You can watch a teaser below:

 

Press Features:

Daily Gazette Feature | East Anglian Daily Times | Maldon Standard | Chelmsford Weekley News

This article was written in January this year as an overview of Beyond the Point’s coverage of the First World War for the Imperial War Museum’s Centenary Partnership which we are proud to be a part of. In light of remembrance 2015, its now here on Beyond the Point.

I shall begin by introducing our organisation. BeyondthePoint.co.uk is Essex-based and was established by myself (Liam Heatherson) and my friend Joe Mander, in 2011 when we were fourteen years old. Like this site, we created it using WordPress (originally as a blog). We were awarded Best National Community Archive, Website, and Heritage Group of 2012. We use our site to share and document our fascination with local history, offering an innovative approach to the subject by focusing on what is usually glossed over by historians; primarily what remains of our heritage today. The ‘hands-on’ nature of exploring local heritage in our opinion is a good way to fascinate a younger audience. Also, we use professional-quality video equipment to produce documentaries on the places we visit found on the site.

We were encouraged to join the Centenary Partnership by the Bay Museum who is also a partner, whom we know very well. Like ourselves, they believe seeing and investigating remains of the Great War is the most effective way to really capture people, like history did to myself many years ago.

Beyond the Point has been running a series of articles on relating to the First World War, and we have many planned for the future. We began our investigation by having a look at the remembrance of the sacrifice paid. Joe and I took a trip to London and visited the poppies at the Tower of London, and also the Tower Hill Memorial for those who lost their lives in both world wars in the Merchant Navy and fishing fleets. You can read about our visit and our partnership with the IWM here: http://wp.me/P1HP6Z-1if Next we paid a visit to the Imperial War Museum London itself as it was only fitting. We visited the First World War exhibition there. Read more here: http://wp.me/P1HP6Z-1mb

Having paid respects to the more obvious commemoration of the Great War, we then set out to provide our own contributions. As we usually explore and document historic remains, we took a trip to Rainham Marshes RSPB Reserve which held the ruins of the Ministry of Defence site that was there as far back as the 1700s up until recent. It served most notably as a firing range during the First World War. Joe and I took two friends with us and they were definitely fascinated like ourselves. We tracked down the ruins of an anti-submarine blockhouse, which shot down a zeppelin in March 1916, explored the impressive remains of the 1915 firing range, and ventured inside a gloomy anti-aircraft ammunition magasine; one of the original eight. We provided a downloadable trail guide on our website to enable viewers to discover the remains for themselves. You can read the whole detailed investigation, see all our photographs, and get the trail guide here: http://wp.me/P1HP6Z-1s6

This is only the one of our investigations into remains of the First World War on the home front and we plan several more for the future. BTP created a 5-minute short documentary on Southend in The First World War based on the book ‘Southend at War’ by Dee Gordon. It visits sites that were bombed, or used in the war effort. Read the article here: http://wp.me/p1HP6Z-1md

We will be visiting the site of a First World War Kynoch munitions factory that is currently thought to be gone without trace by historians, to conduct an archaeological search, after we found signs of ruins corresponding to the original plans via Google Earth. We visited a similar site, now a nature reserve, in Pitsea, several years ago (Wat Tyler Country Park) which made much of the .303 ammunition for the standard-issue Short Magasine Lee-Enfield rifles used by troops in the Great War. This is somewhat antiquated content on our site which is not representative of the quality of our articles at present, although you can read about this here: http://wp.me/P1HP6Z-Xl We also visited a munitions factory from the same era in 2013 at Cliffe, whose ruins span miles of Thames-side marshland in Kent to this day: http://wp.me/P1HP6Z-1af Finally, again in 2013, we visited Stow Maries Aerodrome which was abandoned up until recent years in which a restoration project has taken place. They fly contemporary aircraft from the site, and hold a collection of restored and left-natural buildings from the time of the First World War. Read here: http://wp.me/P1HP6Z-Sx

Thanks very much for reading and thanks very much to the Imperial War Museum for the First World War Centenary Project which we are grateful to be part of.