TOWIE is the Essex research group led by Wendy White on the second Thursday of the month from 2-4. Membership of the group is unfortunately full.
There are many museums in Essex and this month we explored some of the more unusual ones and looked at the reasons behind their formation and origins.
In some cases there had been a family business which the owners had wanted to preserve as a history . This was the case both for Tiptree Jam Museum and for the Warner Textile Museum in Braintree. Both families had started in small businesses and later become known worldwide. Wherever yo go there are little pots of Tiptree jam on the breakfast list, and the silk fabrics made in Braintree have found a place in the coronation robes of our Queen and the Coronation chair is covered in their damask cloth.
Some members had visited the Combined Services Museum in Maldon and were very keen that others should go there especially to see the exhibits about the SOE. Other military based museums included the Purfleet gunpowder store and the North Weald Airfield. In the latter there is a memorial donated by the people of Norway . Given in 1956 it is in recognition of the way Norway was helped in WW11 by the Airmen of North Weald
Local and Natural history featured strongly and the museum at Saffron Waldon is the second oldest in the country started in the early 1800's by local enthusiasts and opened to the public in 1835. Their notable taxodermy Elephant was loaned to the Great exhibition in 1851 with some difficult logistics as to how you get a full sized elephant out of a building designed for humans to enter and leave !
Mersea Museum has a purpose built structure housing its variety of exhibits and they have a central show each year taking a theme from Island life. This year the central exhibits are around the Sea cadet company of Mersea.
Southend gave us two examples of how we are remembering our past, firstly the Museum of Power at Langford houses the pumping station which from 1924 until 1965 treated the river water from the three surrounding rivers to give Southend its fresh water. Secondly, E K Cole was born in 1901 and from 1924 until his death in 1966 radio and plastics were the mainstay of his life. He and his wife formed their own company in Leigh to manufacture early radios, the first car radio was made in 1934and they introduced Bakelite as a lightweight cover material in the 1930's also. Early television production was started in 1935 but did not continues after the war. Southend Museum has a large collection of examples of the ECKO production lines.
If you want a good afternoon out with grandchildren the Mangapps Railway Museum at Burnham on Crouch. Open each weekend and on Bank Holidays between March and october it houses the largest collection of memorabilia and reconstructed buildings associated with railways in the country. Their signalling system which has been rebuilt from a variety of sources gives the visitor chance to try it out themselves. A great day out.
Next month we are looking at some of the counties' many churches , but form the comfort of our own armchairs.