Clacton-on-Sea in old picture postcards volume 1

Clacton-on-Sea in old picture postcards volume 1

:   T.A. Baker
:   Essex
:   United Kingdom
:   978-90-288-2776-9
:   80
:   EUR 16.95 Incl BTW *

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Fragmenten uit het boek 'Clacton-on-Sea in old picture postcards volume 1'

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Clacton was really the brain child of a brilliant and inventive engineer named Peter Schuyler Bruff', who had worked on the local railways on the line up to Ipswich and also the Tendring Hundred Railway. He had a love of the calm peace and golden sands of Clacton beaches - there was no village nearer than Great Clacton and the surrounding countryside was all farm land and trees. The willow trees grew in such abundance along Holland Marshes that the Hawk Moth flourished in great numbers.

It was also an ancient pre-historie site, for about five hundred thousand years ago, in an inter-glacial period, the River Thames flowed this way and one of its loops can be traeed from Lion Point, Jaywick to the beach below Tower Road. In the cliffs and along the line of the loop have been found the remains of 'Elephas Antiquus', Woolly Rhinoceros, Sabretoothed Tiger and a large deer to which was given the name 'Dama Clactoniana'. The oldest known wooden artifact in the world, the fire hardened point of a broken spear, was discovered by Hazzeldine Warren, an Essex Archaeologist, when CUDC workmen were digging into the cliffs to build a shelter below Nelson and Tower Roads in 1911. He also discovered an early flint flake industry, now known to archaeologists throughout the world as the 'Clactonian Flint Flake Industry', and the whole period is known as the 'Clactonian Era'. Long after these first residents on our shores had gone, moved on by the last recorded Ice-age, and the North Sea had flooded the course of the old river, there is evidence of 'New Stone-Age' man with traces of their primitive huts and crudely decorated pottery known as 'Rinyo-Clacton' ware. About the turn of this century, the 'Clacton hoard' of ancient gold coins was uncovered, probably by a cliff fall, these were of the period of the Belgic migration. They date from circa 90 to 70 B.C., and are known as 'Clacton Type'.

There are signs of Roman occupation too; a small hoard of fourth century copper co ins minted at Trier in the reign of Constantine the Great (A.D. 307-337) was unearthed on a building site near Holland haven, in those days an estuary where ships might shelter, and Roman bricks and tiles are incorporated into the fabric of St. John's Church at Great Clacton.

Coming to more modern times Peter Bruff obtained the interest of the Woolwich Steam Packet Co. to his idea of building a Pier, etc. The reason was simple; they had for many years run a successful service to Margate on the Kent Coast. Margate was about 70 miles from London by sea, and they thought a stopping place about the same distance along the Essex Coast would add to their existing service up to Harwich and Ipswich. Bruff discussed his scheme to build a Pier at Clacton with William Parry Jackson, chairman of the Woolwich Steam Packet Co., in the summer of 1870 whilst walking along Clacton beaches. Jackson agreed to the scheme and arranged for their steamers to stop at the Pier when it was built. Peter Schuyler Bruff had acquired the cliff lands at the sale in 1865 of the estate by Mr. J.Y. Watson (known for bis baak 'The Tendring Hundred in Olden Times'), but it was not until 1871 that the Pier gat built and Clacton-on-Sea began to emerge as a reality.

The Royal Hotel was built and the first houses went up in Rosemary Lane in 1872. Gradually the place grew and in 1877, in what is now Pier Avenue, the Public Hall with its adjoining assembly rooms, library and reading rooms was built. About this time it was noted that 'Extensive lmprovements have been made ... Handsome residences have sprung up in all directions, and the town, as viewed from the Pier, now presents a general outline ofthe plan originally laid down by the promoters of the undertaking'.

By Bruff's far sighted planning, and his 'Deed of Mutual Covenants' which laid down certain standards with regard to buildings etc., which had to be observed, a fine, welllaid out town developed. Indeed, it may be c1aimed for Clacton that it was one of the first towns to benefit from Town Planning. A railway extension from Thorpe was completed in 1882, and from thence onwards there was intensive riva1ry between the G.E.R. and the various Steamboat companies which began to run excursion services to Clacton.

During the 1890's the town grew rapidly, and by 1895 Clacton Urban District Council had come into existence: the fleet of 'Belle Steamers' were running; big hotels such as the 'Towers' (1891) and the 'Grand' (1897) were built and most of the central town roads were made up. By the end of the century the first Motorised Public Transport was running. In 1901/02 the row of shops known as Electric Parade was built and opened and, indeed, the early years of the twentieth century up to the First World War were a period of frenetic activity, with all sorts of schemes being developed such as the 'Reno' Electric Stairway up the cliffs; the 'Palace by the Sea'; and many others.

The town became a national focal point when the great combined Naval and Military Manoeuvres in 1904 took place. H.R.H. Field Marshal the Duke of Connaught, Inspeetor General of the Army, acted as umpire-in-chief, and Edgar Wallace, then a journalist, dubbed the proceedings 'the Invasion of Letspretendia',

From the early days when buildings were more important to the embryo town the story of its development gradually gave way to people. People of al! sorts; those who came to the town on excursions; those who were an influence on its development, those who braved storm and tempest in its lifeboat service and those who were entertainers. Then there were the

great and the famous who visited the town for one reason or another. All left their mark great or smal! and this volume is an attempt, not at being a History - this has been admirably done by Kenneth Walker in his excellent 'History of Clacton' - but a pictorial record of the town's development by photographs taken by witnesses to the contemporary scene.


I would like to acknowledge with grateful thanks the assistance given by the following:

Essex County Library and Mr. S. Sullivan, A.L.A., Group Librarian, Tendring area, for permission to use many of the photographs and postcards in the Local History departrnent of Clacton Central Library.

Mr. S. Cornish, A.L.A., and the staff of Clacton Centra! Library,

Mr. K. Walker, for his invaluable help and permission to quote from his definitive 'History of Clacton',

Councillor Laurie King, for his local knowiedge.

Doctor P. Tooley, M.Sc., Ph.D., for advice on the text,

Mr. G. Hardwiek for information on Great Clacton.

Colonel John Cramphorn, photographs of 1904 Manoeuvres. Mr. I.F. Trinder, to quote from his book 'The RNLI and the Masonic Lifeboats',

Mr. D. Johnson, photographs of Passmore Edwards Home and Cars at the 1904 Manoeuvres.

Mr. V. Gray, Essex County Archivist.

Mrs. K. Baker, for help with the typing.

Tendring District Council.

Mr. D.R. Gea!e.




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1. THE BEGINNING OF CLACfON-0N-SEA. Clacton-on-Sea owes its origin to An enterprising gentleman, Mr. Bruff, who ... determined to convert this spot into a watering place, and being seconded in his efforts by the Woolwich Steam Packet Company ... succeeded in the early part of the present year in erecting a Pier as the preliminary towards the object he had in view ... ('The Times' - 31st July, 1871.) This drawing by Kenneth Walker, shows the ftrst Paddle Steamer to berth at the Pier, on 18th July, 1871. Next year, in 1872, the 'Royal Hotel' was built just behind the two trees at the top of the Gap. The Pier was lengthened about seven years later. Peter Schuy1er Bruff, son of a Trafalgar sailorman, was a brilliant engineer. He has a road named after him in present-day Clacton.

2. 'QUEEN OF THE ORWELL'. With the flag on her after-mast proudly announcing that she is the 'Queen of the Orwell' this is the vessel which carried William Parry Jackson, chairman of the Woolwich Steam Packet Coy., and a party of guests to visit the new Pier at 'Clacton Beaches'. The trip was repeated just over a week later on Thursday, 27th July, 1871 by the saloon steamer 'Albert Edward', with Mr. Jackson and nearly 300 guests on board. They left London at 9.30 a.m., arriving at Clacton at 2.45 p.m. The plans for the future town were discussed .... a few semi-detached villas. hotels and boarding-houses, open spaces for recreation and promenades along the cliff. Clacton-on-Sea has this great advantage, that being entirely a new creation ... none of the evils inseparable from old watering-piaces will be allowed to exist in it. There will be no slums, nor any object that can offend the eye ... (The Times' - 31st July, 1871.)

3. FIRST PHOTOS OF THE PIER. Early photographs of the Pier as it was a hundred years ago. The sea wall, which ean be seen on the first picture, was built in 1881. The 'Pier Dining Rooms' and the other building were both leased by Mr. Wallis, proprietor of the 'Royal Hotel' in 1885 and tumed into 'Hot and Cold Sea Water Baths'. The second photograph was taken after the word 'Dining' had been removed, and a pair of davits added half way along the Pier. The building on the left of the Pier entrance carries a notice 'Powells complete fumishing warehouse'. A scale of charges was laid down for sea-borne cargo. A barrel of Gunpowder was charged at 6d. Musicalinstruments: ld. per cubic foot, A corpse: tI. Since the passenger fare from London was only 4/6d or 5/- you were, to the Pier Authority, worth more dead than alive, These are interesting, as they are the earliest known photographs of the Pier, and date from between 1881 and 1885.

4. LOOKING UP PIER GAP. Looking from the Pier up Pier Gap. The Royal Hotel is top right and the two trees shown in picture No. 1., can be seen in front of it. Also on the right is part of the sea wall, built in 1881, which extended as far as Vista Road. Here the Pier Gap road is unmade and there are no shops along either side of the Gap, these came in 1887. So this picture dates from between 1881 and 1887. The original Pier, seen here, was quite narrow, only about 12 feet wide. An order was applied for in 1888 to enable it to be widened and in 1890 this work was carried out. Note the trees in the centre background where Pier Avenue is now.

5. THE ROYAL HaTEL, CLACTON-0N-SEA. The Royal Hotel celebrated its Centenary twelve years ago, for it was opened on 24th July, 1872. lt was built at the top of the Pier Gap. At its opening, the Chairman of the Hotel Company modestly stated that 'H would no doubt prove satisfactory to those visitors who desire to exile themselves from society of every description ... ' A somewhat gloomy and certainIy less than optimistic assessment, but, after all, when built it was only surrounded by fieIds, and there were no roads, only a muddy gap down to a short Pier. But as holidays became increasingly important to all classes, the new Town, which began its existence by a fortunate coincidence in the same year that Bank Holidays were Iegalised, thrived and grew. Twenty-six years after it was opened, the 'Royal' was used by H.R.H. The Duke of Connaught, Queen Victoria's third son, as his H.Q., during Military exercises on the Coast. The fust photo is earlier, pre-188l, for in that year an extension was built which can clearly be seen on the right in the second.

6. FOUL WEATHER AND CLIFF FALL. An intriguing photograph taken during a severe storm. Note the heavy surf and big waves. Quite considerable damage has been caused to the cliffs, cliff paths and bathing machines. It may be the occasion when, in 1883, the Battery and its guns, sited in front of the Martello Tower about 400 yards West of the Pier, fell down the cliffs due to erosion. Certainly there has been a considerable cliff slide, The bathing machines have been drawn up the beach as far as they can go and there are a number of men 'beach-combing'. After storms like this many interesting things are washed up or uncovered. The 'Clacton Hoard' of Gallo-Belgic gold coins came to light in this fashion in the early years of this century and individual gold coins continued to be recovered right up until the 1930's. Skeletons, bones and teeth of 'Elephas Antiquus' and other pre-historie animals, such as the Woolly Rhinoceros, Sabre-toothed Tiger and a type of deer given the name 'Dama Clactoniana', have also been uncovered. Incidentally the guns which fell down the cliff in 1883 remained in the sand untili90S when they were dug up and mounted on gun carriages in Anglefield to celebrate the Centenary of the Battle of Trafalgar and death of Nelson, in 1805. They were removed during the First World War and doubtless went for salvage.

7. A WILD WEST TOWN. The view up Pier Avenue a hundred years ago, On the right there is the Public Hall with its adjoining assembly rooms, library, reading and retiring rooms and shops opened in 1877. The first pair of houses on the left, originally known as 'Clarence Villas', were built as private residences in 1876. Later they were converted into The Clarence Restaurant, and a newspaper office as seen. There are few buildings beyond what is now the junction with Pallister Road, and the trees on the left mark the future West Avenue. To complete the appearance of a 'Wild West' Town, the muddy unrnade road appears to stretch out to nowhere; it is now the heart of the shopping centre of Pier Avenue. Although there are few buildings beyond the junction, small trees have been planted to mark the road. The date is 1879 or the early 1880's. Pier Avenue was made up in 1891.

8. PIER AVENUE, EARL Y VIEW. A view showing more clearly the Public Hall and Assembly rooms with the colonnaded arcade, middle right. This later became Lewellen's Stores until it was destroyed in a disastrous fire just before the beginning of the Second World War. It was built in 1877 and for sixteen years was the focal point for much of the Town's sociallife, being in frequent use for concerts, dances, meetings, etc., then it was incorporated into the adjoining shop (Lewellen's) whilst the Assembly rooms became the home of the Clacton Club. This photograph was probably taken in the early 1890's. A concrete path has been put down abutting Pier Gap and there are more shops in Pier Avenue. The left foreground shows a white goat harnessed to a cart to give children rides for 2d. Just behind is a pony cart. A number of workmen are taking their ease: perhaps it is lunch time.

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