Posts Tagged ‘West Canvey’

Walking past these bungalows you wouldn’t think anything of them – they’re just someone’s average home, but the buildings are far from average, they were actually built to withstand an atomic explosion.

Hiroshima-after-blast_1945

This photo, taken by the United States Air Force, shows how deadly an atomic bomb can be. This community, Hiroshima, was the victim of an atomic bomb on August 5th 1945.

Following the end of the Second World War, in 1946, plans were submitted to build atomic proof bungalows on Canvey Island.

A plan of the houses - find more at CanveyIsland.org

A plan of the houses – find more at CanveyIsland.org

What was planned?

The plans show that they were to be made of 9” brick or 9” Concrete Hollow Blocks and waterproof cement rendering with bitumen felt flat roofs. The houses were either to have a flat roof or a pitched one. The floor on the first floor states 5” ‘Hyrib’ or 9” Hollow Concrete Blocks.

The single bungalow to the west of Miramar Avenue was originally supposed to be a pair and further west, stretching to Maple Way, there were plans for three sets of four three-bedroomed terraced houses with a balcony over the doorway, built on similar lines to the bungalows.

The Atomic bungalows, at the junction of Long Road/Miramar Avenue were originally going to be the start of a large estate of houses and bungalows spreading all the way to Maple Way to the West and North for A. De Angelis Esq but, for an unknown reason, the estate never materialised.

Today

The bungalows that remain today would not be strong enough to cope with a modern day bomb (and most likely one from the 1940s either) although they are a fascinating historic relic. It is possible that they were merely built in a design similar to that of American ‘ranch’ style houses of the time, hence their association with being ‘atomic proof’. We will never know if they would’ve stood up to a 1940s Russian atom bomb or resulting radiation, but it is unlikely.

 

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Happy Bonfire Night viewers. Before I begin I would like to inform you of a minor update to our content system. News updates once found on our Facebook page will now also be visible on the main website you are currently viewing. We will archive these in the ‘News’ section on the top  menu. This gives us the opportunity to post about the everyday side of BTP, integrating our social media content with our research here on BeyondthePoint.co.uk. This also means that all of our early posts will be logged and made easily-navigable via either the ‘News’, ‘Historic Locations’, or ‘More BTP’ sections.

2014 marks one-hundred years since the start of the First World War on the 28th of July 1914. Contrary to stereotypical imagery of the conflict; fighting abroad in Flanders Fields, it is important to remember that the Great War was also a struggle fought at home. Beyond the Point is proud to announce it will be investigating this side of the war, as a partner of the Imperial War Museum First World War Centenary Partnership. We visited the commemorative poppy display set up in the ground of the Tower of London last week to begin the coverage. Soon after we visited Rainham Marshes to investigate remains of a ruined Ministry of Defence firing range and coastal defence used in the Great War. Content is soon to follow. We plan a trip to the hopefully undisturbed site of Kynoch’s Munitions Factory, in Coryton.

   If you are subscribed to our Facebook Page or YouTube Channel, you will know that on the Halloween we released the prequel to our ‘Canvey Island Monster Returns’ spoof which we made exactly three years ago when we set up Beyond the Point. It makes for a tongue-in-cheek change to our usual local history-based content. Enjoy this Halloween short film above, or read about the actual  ‘Canvey Island Monster’ that washed up on the beach in 1953 here: http://beyondthepoint.co.uk/historic-locations/canvey-island/canvey-island-monster-1950s/. We filmed the production using our professional-grade equipment, that we usually use for our historic documentaries, over three filming sessions. Below you can see some of the ‘beyond the scenes’ photographs that I took during filming. You may also notice us sporting our new BTP fleeces which we recently had printed with community funding, as well as some polo shirts. We will be wearing these in future videos and photographs to add to the professionalism and uniformity of BTP.

Before Dutchman Cornelius Vermuyden reclaimed Canvey from the sea in the 17th Century, the Island was no more than an area salt marsh. Like many other places across Essex, such as Moldon and Mersea, salt-gathering was a prime industry here during the Neolithic (‘cavemen’)Era , foremost the Roman Era, and even up into the Middle Ages. Red Hills were earthworks created from scraps of old pottery and clay used to evaporate the salt. Red Hills were used as furnaces to evaporate the salt from the water first collected in lagoons dug in the marsh. The heated soil and pottery gave these mounds their distinctive red colour, hence their name.

A 1960s map showing the red hill sites across east Canvey

A 1960s map showing the red hill sites across east Canvey (courtesy of Warwick J. Rodwell)

A simple map of the entirety of Canvey showing the red hills and other Roman sites.

A simple map of the entirety of Canvey showing the red hills and other Roman sites. from Dowd’s Canvey Cyclopedia.

A replica red hill created at RSPB Bower's Marsh nature reserve, Canvey Island.

A replica red hill created at RSPB Bower’s Marsh nature reserve, Canvey Island.

An actual site of z Red Hill. a faint hill remains, which is hard to see in this image. it exists in the fields between Waterside Sports Centre and Cornelius Vermuyden Secondary School.

An actual site of a Red Hill. a faint hill remains, which is hard to see in this image. it exists in the fields between Waterside Sports Centre and Cornelius Vermuyden Secondary School.

 

The Lobstersmack

Posted: January 25, 2014 by BTP Joe in Case Study, Event Review
Tags: , , ,

Hello BTP readers! We’re approaching 60,000 views and are starting 2014 well! Apart from the Lobstersmack being a lovely family friendly restaurant/pub, this place isn’t just known for it’s food. The ancient, Grade II listed pub was featured in Charles Dickens novel, Great Expectations. Hidden behind the sea wall, it wasn’t obvious to smuggles that it was a public house and in the 18th century, it was known as ‘World’s End’ due to its isolated position. A century later and the isolation of the place made it an place for pugilists to meet. In the 17’00 the annual fair was there and the name hasn’t always been ‘The Lobstersmack’, it has also been known as Sluice House.

lobby

From CanveyIsland.org Circa 1930/1940.

According to Wikipedia:

The Lobster Smack Inn saw many bare-knuckle fights in the 1850s, but few as dramatic as that between Tom ‘The Brighton Boy’ Sayers (1826–65) and Aaron Jones on 6 January 1857. The fight lasted for three hours and 65 rounds, and was finally declared a draw when it became too dark to see. Sayers won at the rematch a month later in London. Sometimes the bouts were between local families, the best known being that between champion Ben Court and Nat Langham. The fight arose from a family feud and Court took Langham to 60 rounds in September 1853. Langham was knocked down 59 times during the bout and due, it is said, to his sportsmanship Court agreed to settle their differences with a handshake.

Local rumour has it that ‘the Lobby’ was once home to secret tunnels, which would probably have came up on the land behind the pub, and led to either somewhere on Canvey, or as less likely rumor suggests, under the Ray (the part of the Thames between Canvey and Hadleigh) and over to Hadleigh, coming up at the Castle, or St. Mary’s Church or the Hoy and Helmet carpark in Benfleet. Although this would have been an immense and unrealistic project, it wouldn’t be a silly suggestion that there once did lie tunnels under the inn going a short distance. In the 18th Century, tunnels were popularly carved under the UK leading to inns for the smuggling of alcohol. the Lobster Smack’s coastal position would’ve allowed for easy collection by boat. Its use by smugglers is known to have occurred, so it wouldn’t be unlikely if tunnels were built nearby, although many say the marshy conditions would’ve prevented tunnels being made.

An unlikely local tale describes how two men were out walking drunk from the pub one night, during the late 20th Century, when they stumbled across the tunnel entrance, and found a way inside. Other rumors say the tunnels came up on the site of the women’s toilets.

1895, possibly the earliest photograph remaining of the Lobster Smack. Courtesy of Richard & Barbara Kovelant

1895, possibly the earliest photograph remaining of the Lobster Smack. Courtesy of Richard & Barbara Kovelant

With low ceilings, old oak timbers and tasty pub grub, this is a lovely places for many reasons. As you know, we occasional do Urban Exploration, and there is now a game available! Treat yourself and buy the Urbex Monopoly game, made by a fellow explorer. Head over to this link to see the products for sale and also some stunning photos and location reports! – Could there be a BTP one coming soon….? 😉

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Known as either Canvey Island’s Heritage Centre or St Katherine’s Church, this building stands proud along Long Road. Towards the second-half of the 19th Century, Victorian Canvey was undergoing true establishment as a village, rather than just farmland. With a new church, St. Katherine’s, built in 1975, a village well, constructed in 1879, and numerous other houses, Canvey Village was the heart of the Island in the Victorian Era.  Most of these village buildings were erected under the eye of Reverend Henry Hayes, the island’s first vicar of 1881, building a vicarage, post office, and school.

St Katherine’s Church (left) and School (right) – (c) CanveyIsland.org

At the entrance to the site, a porch greets you. This was constructed in memory of Susan Fielder, H.P. Fielder’s mother. This was constructed in 1953 as the following photo of the plaque shows.

The Plaque (c) CanveyIsland.org

liam copy

St. Katherine’s church hasn’t always lied on this spot however. The Dutch Chapel, aforementioned, stood vaguely on this site. In 1712 it was becoming dilapidated, and with a now anti-Dutch mindset the local residents, the church was rebuilt by a certain Mr. Edgar as an English church known as St. Katherine’s. With floods raging in over the Dutch seawall, the church was damaged overtime by the moisture. Then in 1745, the church was rebuilt again under the name of St. Peters, funded by Daniel Scratton of Prittlewell. Like the previous church, it was constructed using timber, and red roof tiles. In 1862, a losing battle was fought in trying to restore the church’s interior with new seating and stained-glass windows. It was rebuilt under the devotion to the previous St. Katherine in 1875. Some components from the old church were used. The church was later left derelict through the 60s and 70s, but was planned as a heritage centre in 1979, before work started in the early 80s. Now standing as Canvey Island Heritage Centre, it lies as a public museum, the building being original though restored.

This picture shows the old interior of the church

This picture shows the old interior of the church

St Katherine’s graveyard is old but not an ancient one with the first recorded burial being in 1813, with early burials taking place at St Mary’s at Benfleet.  Not many 19th century headstones can be found and a lot of the 20th century headstones can no longer be read due to decay over time.

graves_tonemapped copy

Janet Penn, from the Canvey Island Archive, has spent 2 years intensely photographing the headstones at St. Katherines and also transcribed the burial records and Monumental Inscriptions. With a staggering 1500 graves registered, mostly some with the bare facts, over 600 now have grave photos along with as much detail as she could. You can search online at FindaGrave.com. This collection is quite amazing and extremely interesting to trowel through. – And on that not, I leave you with the BTP dressed as 1950’s characters just outside the church.

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Thames North 8, Northwick ( as it was ‘coded’ during the war) was the name assigned to one of the many heavy anti-aircraft batteries across the country. This one, located down Northwick Road on Canvey, amongst what is now a recycling centre, would have been pointed at the skies to blast any German bombers or V1 Flying Bombs; ‘Doodlebugs’, out of British airspace. Had the Battle of Britain fell to German victory, these HAA batteries would have shot down German paratroopers in planes or gliders too. Although TN8 was located relativity far from Canvey Island’s major settlements, the concussion from their firing was reported to have smashed the window of a nearby house, taken from wartime damage records. The camp was said to have been built at around 1940, and was armed with three 4.5″ guns. The 6th AA Division took up the role of utilising this battery against the German war machine.

We visited the sewage works for the camp, manning the battery, which was located just outside of the Recycling Centre in nearby farmland. Of course, we were unable to access the main camp buildings, such as the stereotypical elongated accommodation huts. Therefore I will use photographs courtesy of Dave Bullock who as able to arrange an organised tour around the site, for the areas we were unable to access.

At the entrance stands a probable guard-house to the right, with accommodation huts preceding. There are around twelve huts here, although two were damaged during a fire in 2007. They have since been restored thankfully by the owners – the complex is listed. The huts were used during the 1950s as housing for civilians after the war, although this all changed when the council built a nearby estate. There was a gun store within the site, which was enclosed by large steel doors and shuttered windows. Allegedly Canadians were once housed on the site, and may have left some of the graffiti inscribed on the walls inside.

The Gun Store (c) Dave Bullock

The Gun Store (c) Dave Bullock

Dave Bullock describes the area in which the gun mounts were situated, and more, now heavily overgrown.

At the north of the base there are four circular Gun Placements, one buried but the other three preserved with their six internal recesses and gap where steel doors once hung, the large hinges can still be seen. These four emplacements are arranged in the ‘March 1938 pattern’  which is an arc with its apex facing east towards the direction of the oncoming German Aircraft (up the Thames from the North Sea).

The Gun Emplacements (c) Dave Bullock

The Gun Emplacements (c) Dave Bullock

On the inside of this arc the road goes round like a roundabout and the inside is heavily overgrown. Hidden amongst the undergrowth is the Gunsite Command Post, partly a bunker and partly concrete walls with open roofs. All that can be seen is a north facing wall and the reinforced roof. An entrance was found on the east face but it was not accessible.

The Hidden Entrance to the Gunsite Command Post

The Hidden Entrance to the Gunsite Command Post (c) Dave Bullock

Between the north east gun placements is a Magazine Bunker again almost inaccessible. On the east a very deep recess can be seen. Apparently there is a ramp that goes inside but it is currently not possible to explore due to many years of thick growth and earth movement.

Finally, there was the sewage works for the site – the part which we were able to investigate. The  sewage station consisted of a grid-like sectioned structure which came up to roughly head-height. This featured numerous channels for water to flow. The round handles still turned, due to the isolated nature of this well-preserved site. This followed onto a large circular structure, filled with black coal-like stones, with a rotating lever in the centre which could be turned round the circumference of the structure. Again, due to the good condition, this still operated! Closer to the main site, there was also the Pump House, which had an underground ‘cellar’, merely a small sewage waterway most probably. The pump house itself had a preserved floor made from wooden slats, which allowed ran above the water-way underneath. However we didn’t go inside, especially due to the thin and precarious floor, with a drop below. Below are our photographs of the sewage components: