Bradwell On Sea

Bradwell Sunrise

After being awake for a goodly portion of the night due to the mammoth thunderstorm and bucket sized raindrops hammering the roof of the caravan for a few hours, I went for a rather early morning stroll to see what was happening.
On reflection, I probably should have used the tripod that was in the boot of the car, althought the clouds weren’t quite as dramatic as I would have expected (or hoped). I also learned that the sun actually rises a lot earlier than 4 o’clock.

This shot, is taken looking across the River Blackwater from St Lawrence, towards the two towers of the de-commissioned Bradwell-on-sea nuclear power station.

Bradwell-on-Sea is a village in Essex, England. It is located about 9 km (5 miles) north-northeast of Southminster and is 30 km (19 miles) east from the county town of Chelmsford. The village is in the district of Maldon and will be in the new parliamentary constituency of Maldon. It has a population of 877.

It was a Saxon Shore fort in Roman times known as Othona. The Anglo-Saxons originally called it Ithancester. Saint Cedd founded a monastery within the old walls in 653, which survives as the restored chapel of St Peter-on-the-Wall. From there, he evangelised Essex. In the 20th century, the village became more well known as the site for the Bradwell nuclear power station. It also has a very good sailing club and outdoor leisure facilities

The village has been called Bradwell juxta Mare, Bradwell-next-the-Sea and Bradwell near the Sea.

Celebrated Residents include Thomas Abel, Sir Henry Bate Dudley and Tom Driberg

During World War Two Bradwell Bay Airfield was a front line air base.

The village is on the Dengie peninsula.

A Country Scene

The countryside seems to have thus far escaped the Health and Safety Nazis in that around the Backstreets of the darkest corners of Essex, you can still find the traditional method of keeping your sheep in one field and your crops in another. The longer they stay away from England’s green and pleasant Land, seen here on the Dengie peninsular the better the world will be.

Country Fence cropped

Ash cloud not affecting views of the night sky in Canvey Island

Despite the blanket ban on flying, the panicked wheeze of chronic asthma sufferers and the cries of ‘we’re all doomed’ from the latter day god botherers, the ash cloud purportedly smothering the UK in it’s toxic arms hasn’t it seems spoilt the views of the skies over Essex. The wonderfully clear skies have remained so during the night allowing us mere mortals an unobstructed view of both stars and moon.
The tripod was in the car, so this one was taken hand-held with the 300mm at full stretch f5.6 @ 1/320 sec. A bit of cropping and a light dusting of unsharp mask in Photoshop complete the processing and voila.

1st Quarter moon

Old stomping ground

Went for a walk today with the dogs. Rather than retread the familiar path of the sea wall here on Canvey, we decided to travel a little further afield and ended up at Hainault Forest. The kids have never been there before, and it must be 25 yearts at least since I was there, but the memories of many a summer Saturday came flooding back. I even recognised some of the paths I used to hare up and down on my bike in the days when you could go out early on Saturday, and just come home at tea time. No mobile phones, no way of keeping in touch with home. Just a tobacco tin full of stolen dog-ends, a matchbox stuffed with tissue to stop it rattling and my bike. Despite feeling old, and realising with some sadness that the forest isn’t as big as I remember it, next time I go back, I’m going to try and find the tree I carved my name into.

Only had one decent photo as we were having so much fun. This tree intrigued me, as I couldn’t figure out if the fence had sawed it’s way into the tree as the wind blew it about, or whether the tree had grown around the fence.

Old fence, younger tree

Looks better larger – If you want to see a bigger version, try HERE

Old Leigh Sunset – A Wintery Essex Afternoon

Old Leigh Sunset, Essex

Leigh-on-Sea was recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Legra, where it is described as a "one horse town". Located next to the sea, Leigh has been primarily a fishing village for most of its history. However, its sheltered position at the mouth of the Thames gave it some success as a port, with international trade and a shipbuilding business.

Due to its good position on the shipping route to London, it began to grow and by the 16th century had become a fairly large and prosperous port. Ships of up to 340 tons are recorded as being built in Leigh including many that would have been built for the local fishing fleets. With its location at the mouth of the Thames, Leigh was often used by the navy against threats from pirates and the French, Spanish and Dutch Navies.

By the 18th century ships had become larger and trade changed. At this time Leigh’s deep water channel silted up and the importance of the town diminished. It then gradually reverted to a fishing village, supplying the London market by road and barge. When the London to Tilbury railway was extended to Southend in 1856, this split the village in two and many of its timber-framed buildings were demolished

The Mayflower is believed to have docked at Leigh-on-Sea to take on provisions and passengers before its epic voyage to the new world with the Pilgrim Fathers

The fishermen of Leigh are famous for their heroic attempts to rescue British soldiers stranded on the beaches of Dunkirk. A memorial in St Clements churchyard stands as a reminder of their bravery and sacrifice.

The arrival of the London, Tilbury and Southend Railway in 1854 spurred the town’s development, allowing greater trade with London and the rest of the world, and making it a commuter town for London workers. Leigh-on-Sea railway station is run and served solely by c2c.
In recent years, Leigh-on-Sea has become home to an increasing number of upmarket bars and restaurants such as The Estuary. Cafés such as laid back, hippie-esque The Squeeze who use only organic produce, art galleries and hairdressers also adorn the towns surroundings. Popular hairdressers include Staffords owned by Lee Stafford and Srangeways owned by Ade from the Channel 4 show The Salon. Leigh is also home to a wide range of shops, from clothes and shoe shops selling the latest fashions to more expensive additions such as Bang & Olufsen and Connections who provide the furniture for another channel 4 show, Big Brother. Leigh also has a strict no nightclub policy in an effort to preserve the towns heritage

Old Leigh

Leigh-on-Sea boasts London’s nearest beach, and many visitors travel down at the weekend to the conservation area of Old Leigh with its cobbled streets and clapboard cottages. The area is notable for its shellfish, and there is a small but active fleet of cockle boats, which keep alive the reputation of Leigh as the epicentre of the world cockling trade. The picturesque cockle sheds are home to many old Leigh families who have followed this trade for generations.

Osborne Bros specialises in producing and supplying quality shellfish and fish to individuals and trade customers around the world. Their café is housed in the heart of the Old Town in an 18th century stable mews which was used to house horses and carriages delivering ale to the local public house – The Crooked Billet. The cockle sheds and smoke house are located along Cockle Shed row, which remains largely unchanged since being built in the 19th century.

Image Copyright Dave Frost –

Hadleigh Castle, Essex

The construction of Hadleigh castle began during the reign of King Henry III in 1230 for Hubert de Burgh – 1st Earl of Kent and Chief Justiciar of England, but the castle was requisitioned in 1232 by Henry after Hubert was imprisoned.

The castle was built of Kentish ragstone and cemented by a mortar containing a large proportion of seashells; particularly cockleshells from the cockle beds of neighbouring Canvey Island. As a royal property it was heavily extended in the 1360s by Edward III and it is mainly these extensions that remain. The castle and its adjoining 500-acre (2.0 km2) park formed part of the dower of several English queens in the 15th and 16th centuries, including Elizabeth Woodville (wife of Edward IV) and three of the wives of Henry VIII, Catherine of Aragon, Anne of Cleves, and Catherine Parr. Edward VI sold it in 1551 for £700 to Lord Rich of Leez Priory in Chelmsford who used the castle as a source of stone for other buildings such as churches. The castle later passed from the possession of Lord Rich to the Barnard family.

Years of neglect and the effects of land subsidence had left the castle in ruins by the 17th century, but two towers constructed in the era of Edward III still remain. One of the three-storey towers at the eastern side built from rubble with ashlar dressings stands to nearly full height and has narrow rectangular windows in the upper levels. The second tower has not fared as well, appearing to have partially disintegrated in a landslip and consequently has lost approximately two-thirds of its form. Some sections of the curtain exist, the foundations of the great hall, two solars, and the kitchen remain. There is also a barbican which once stood adjacent to a swing-bridge.

Hadleigh Castle

Image Copyright Dave Frost –