Happy Christmas

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:29 am by henrysgauntlet

Happy Christmas and a good New Year to everyone.



Riverside walk raises the spirits

Posted in Heritage, Local History, River Thames, Tilbury Fort tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 5:45 pm by henrysgauntlet

This week Henry felt in need of some fresh air, so went for a walk along the river bank from the World’s End pub almost to the power station.  It was lovely down there, but hardly anything moving on the river.   In Henry’s other recent forays to Tilbury the river has been very busy indeed, but on this day it was slack water, with the tide just beginning to run in by the time he got back to the World’s End.

As ever, Henry was struck by what a place of contrasts it is.   First the river, its vessels and the people who work them, all of immense interest and attraction to those whose blood contains  a measure of salt. 

Then Tilbury Power Station with its wharf and an attendant ship.  Some of Henry’s friends believe that he is an aficionado of power stations. 

Then the wonderful Tilbury Fort, nearly 500 years old, under the expert care of English Heritage:  the layout of the defensive position which can be only partly appreciated on foot, but which, from above, shows the geometric star-shaped bastion with its double moat;  the second world war guns mounted on the seaward rampart, of several different varieties some of them more likely to have been on a warship, and looming over the seawall footpath;  and the magnificent water gate and gatehouse, a gem of Charles II restoration architecture.   

Then some nondescript fields with a few cows and horses chewing at the meagre grass of the marshes.

And finally, the landscape spoilt by the many modern commercial and industrial sheds and warehouses.   They form part of the regeneration of Tilbury, and are necessary to the economy of the area, but it is a pity that they could not have been more hidden.   As it is they form a quite out of character backdrop to the Fort.

The situation is saved by a couple of features only partly visible from this end, but which complete the sweep of the circuit.   There is the bridge leading down to Tilbury Landing Stage, which that day was packed with cars.   Some had people just enjoying the good weather, and others belonged to passengers who had taken the ferry which buzzes busily back and forth to Gravesend.   And then the 1930s passenger terminal, dating from a time when the great liners used the port, right up to the ‘fifties and ‘sixties when the Orient Line ships took their load as emigrants from the old country to Australia.   The building does not show its age, and now has a second life as a Cruise Terminal.   

A good outing, which raised Henry’s spirits and made him realize yet again how pleased he is that he lives near a river, and not just any river but the mighty Thames.


Christmas Wishes

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:37 pm by henrysgauntlet

Happy Christmas and a Peaceful New Year


A Whale at Wivenhoe

Posted in Local History at 9:06 pm by henrysgauntlet

Here’s how some of our Essex ancestors wrote about seeing a whale in the 17th century.

 On the 23rd of this present month April, the neighbouring inhabitants to a fair river in Essex, known by the name of Wivner River (whose mouth opens to the sea) perceived a great disturbance in the water. Country men threw down their shovels and spy’d the back of a fish of an extraordinary size who seem’d to quarrel with the river for more elbow-room.  She sometimes threw her prodigious head above the waves, at other times, with her spreading tail, shovelled the sands so high, that part of them fell on the spectator’s heads. While she floundered, they beheld the greatest part of her body, and with the ponderous squelch of her large bulk falling into the water, she made the depressed waves out-swell their banks and threaten an over-flow of the Neighbouring meadows. In this discontented motion she continued to go up the river till she came within six miles of Colchester, where the sands being washt away by the proceeding tide, she was fain to struggle for life in a low water. With her extraordinary endeavour to quit herself, she brake off part of her tail and with a deluge of blood, coloured the whole stream.

“At length, for want of both breath and blood, she dyed in the water, being of so large a bulk that the river could not cover her. Her body strutted out of the waters like a hill, and when she was drawn out of the river and came to be measured, she was found to be no less than fifty foot in length, and twenty eight in thickness.” 

Author  –  Christopher Thompson 










Some immigrants to our area

Posted in Local History at 7:24 pm by henrysgauntlet

Immigration is a recurrent issue of political concern to modern governments. Widely differing views are held on how to tackle the question depending on the standpoint of those worried by the phenomenon. But immigration is not a new issue, whether it originates from other parts of this country or, indeed, from other parts of the world. Our parish registers, which for several centuries recorded births, marriages and deaths, provide ample evidence of this.

 At Vange, in February, 1711-12, John Tulopp, “a black”, was baptised; in January, 1721-22, a fourteen year old black boy called Joseph, who was servant to Nathaniel Grantham, was similarly baptised in West Thurrock’s parish church. The case of the black man baptised in Grays in September, 1734 was more unusual because we know that he was about twenty five years of age and came from Guinea, presumably on the west coast of Africa rather than from further east. Captain Towers’s negro servant, Francis Spenders, had three prominent local figures as his godparents when he was baptised at Pitsea in August, 1745. And “John, a blackamoor, servant to Mr Phillips, Brewer, at Ratcliffe Cross, London”, who was baptised in Fobbing in July, 1753, must have had some long-standing local connection: he was given the surname “Stanford”.

These examples remind us of the importance of this area as a crossroads for travellers seeking to  cross the Thames to and from Kent and as a thoroughfare for merchants and others sailing to and from London. These factors endure as, indeed, does immigration itself. 

Author  –  Christopher Thompson


RIP – Geoff Percival

Posted in Geoff Percival, RIP at 12:03 pm by henrysgauntlet

Henry was very sad to hear today of the death of Geoff Percival.

Geoff was the political reporter of the Evening Echo, the daily paper covering Southend and south Essex, and part of the same group as the Thurrock Gazette.

Chris Hatton (Evening Echo) has kindly let Geoff’s friends know that he died in the early hours of this morning, following a short but dignified battle against lung cancer.

Geoff was unique  –  a legend in his own lifetime.  He had his own style of political reporting, and could truly be described as of the old school of newspapermen.

He was pretty unique in another way too  –  he was a Conservative, and there are not too many of those in journalism.   His roots went back into the good old days of Young Conservatism in Essex and the Eastern Area.

Henry recalls once inviting Geoff to speak at a political supper club on the western side of Essex.   It was quite clear Geoff was enjoying himself, and he gave the audience a good evening’s entertainment, beaming at them from his heavy spectacles.   When the time came to go home, he was, perhaps, a little the worse for wear.   So Henry drove him through the night to Wickham Bishops, giving rise to another hour of political anecdotes.

Geoff Percival will be much missed in Essex, and by his old friend, Henry.


Tilbury man shot Norwegian thinking he was German parachutist

Posted in Local History at 8:28 pm by henrysgauntlet

This being the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain, a splendid website has been started called “1940 Chronicle”,     which highlights each day matters that occurred on that date during that summer of 1940.

Today a splendid piece caught Henry’s eye, when he saw the word Tilbury:-

“Stanley V. Humphrys, 30, of Tilbury, Essex, who shot and wounded a drunken Norwegian seaman who he suspected of being a German parachutist, was sentenced at Gray’s (sic) Police Court to one day’s imprisonment, which meant immediate release.”

Good old Tilbury  –  there was a man rushing to do his duty and arrest a German, but unfortunately he must have mistaken Norwegian drunken ramblings for German ones.   Perhaps a case of don’t shoot first and ask questions afterwards.

Here is the link to the full story, and it is worth bookmarking the website.


Full marks for a job done quickly and well

Posted in Ambulance Service, Emergency Alarm system, Paramedics, Thurrock Council at 3:26 pm by henrysgauntlet

Henry had planned to go to the Oyster Fayre in Colchester on Sunday, but, as bad weather was forecast, decided to go on Saturday instead.   Just as well as it turned out.

At about 1.15pm, the telephone rang.   A female voice said, “This is the emergency alarms service at Thurrock Council.”   It turned out that an elderly friend had fallen over in the house, and Henry was contacted as a keyholder.  

Henry reached the house in about ten minutes.   It was clear that the ambulance service would be needed, as his friend was sprawled on the floor just inside the front door, with cuts and abrasions on the face, (quite a lot of blood dripping down), and hands.   He asked for help to get up.   Henry couldn’t have moved him because he was a dead weight, and, anyway, it is better to leave him in case any bones are broken.

Henry dialled 999, and asked for the ambulance service.   A very pleasant, helpful lady came on the line, and talked through the situation, whilst assuring that the ambulance had already been alerted.   She said to leave him as he was, reassure him, and have all his medications ready to show the paramedics.   She ended by saying the ambulance was on its way.

A couple of minutes later, a lady from the Council’s service arrived, just to check that everything was OK.   She waited until the ambulance arrived, which was in under ten minutes.

The paramedics examined Henry’s friend carefully, and decreed there were no broken bones.   They cleaned and dressed the cuts, and checked everything, including blood pressure, and sugar levels.   They then helped him up, and got him into his armchair in the sitting room.   They were so confident, friendly and reassuring to him.   They said he did not need to go to hospital unless he wanted to  –  he certainly didn’t.   They left a paper giving details of what they had done, and emphasized that we were to call 999 again if there were any recurrence.

Henry’s friend was very white and shaken, but a good cup of tea and a visit from a neighbour helped, and soon his colour came back.

Not what Henry had planned to do on that Sunday afternoon, but  –

Full marks and all credit to Thurrock Council’s emergency alarm system staff and to the Ambulance Service paramedics for a quick response and a job very well done.

Another great new idea from Essex

Posted in Apprenticeships, Education, Essex County Council, Industry, Jobs, Training at 2:42 pm by henrysgauntlet

Essex County Council continues to show itself to be a most innovative institution. 

Its latest project is designed both to help young people towards a qualification which will lead to a career path with potential high earnings, and also to help preserve an industry with an ageing workforce, which could lead to its dying out.

The project is the setting up of engineering apprenticeships, in partnership with three Colleges:  Harlow, the Colchester Institute and the Basildon Campus of South Essex College.   There is more about the project here, including an article in today’s Guardian.

Well done to Essex for another great idea.


Vote Conservative Today

Posted in General Election at 2:05 pm by henrysgauntlet


 Message from David Cameron

 Today, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to turn our country around.

 This one day will decide Britain’s future at a crucial time for our economy, our society, and our politics.

 We all know that it’s time for change, after thirteen years of this Labour government. But there’s only one way to bring change – and that is to vote Conservative.

 Any other vote could mean we are left with another five years of Gordon Brown – and the uncertainty of a hung Parliament could kill the recovery.

Earlier this morning Sam and I voted in our constituency.  I believe it is vital that you vote too.

There is so much at stake today.

Only by voting Conservative today will Britain have a fresh government tomorrow that can roll up its sleeves and start to clean up the mess.

So please take the time to vote – and please do pass this message on to your friends too.

Together, we can bring the change our country needs.

Here’s what the Polling Day newspapers have to say.

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