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THE PAST MONTH IN THEYDON BOIS

JULY 2003

HERE ARE SOME OF THE EVENTS, NOT NECESSARILY IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER, WHICH TOOK PLACE IN THE VILLAGE OF THEYDON BOIS DURING JULY 2003 AND WHICH HAVE BEEN RECORDED BY TREVOR ROBERTS, THE LOCAL HISTORY RECORDER FOR THE VILLAGE.

A reception was held in the village hall to launch the Community Tree Strategy for Theydon Bois and introduce an action plan to implement this strategy. Its purpose had already been outlined in an excellent publicity document, The Community Tree Strategy for Theydon Bois, issued to all village householders late in the previous month.

Canon Rev Colin Travers from St Mary’s Church TB was one of a number of campaigners from Christian Aid, and the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, who recently met local MP Eleanor Laing to discuss making changes to international trade rules which were keeping people in developing countries trapped in poverty; these rules also set weak countries against the strongest economies in the world. Other campaigners present were John Westbury and Richard Denhard from Christian Aid, Youth Parliament member Jonathan Rackman, and Philipa Rackman.

The plight of villager Ivy Hall, 87, indicated how heavily overloaded was the National Health Service, particularly regarding the elder section of the population. Ivy was suffering from a medical condition requiring the replacement of her right knee and was now in constant pain such that she had become bed-ridden. The Princess Alexander Hospital in Harlow had promised her a knee operation within six months of last September; she now understood that she would have to wait another three months for surgery. Her doctor has written to the hospital to expedite matters and she herself had written to the Prime Minister and Eleanor Laing MP. A spokesman for the hospital said that the waiting time nationally was 12 months and that Ivy’s operation could not be carried out any earlier. However, she had now been booked into hospital for a pre assessment and her name entered on the standby list of patients awaiting cancellations. A villager commented that if Ivy had been an immigrant to this country, legal or otherwise, she would have found her way to the top of the waiting list by now.

A number of villagers turned up for the monthly Saturday morning litter pick organised by the Parish Council Chairman John Eaton. The village green, an area invariable contaminated with refuse discarded by passing motorists and others, was noticeably absent, probably because of recent mowing. Nevertheless, several bags of rubbish were collected which showed that the attractive nature of Theydon Bois could only be maintained by "eternal vigilance".

Peter Newton, Chairman of the Theydon Bois Preservation Society, took 32 walkers for a tour of the Ambresbury Banks and Long Running areas of Epping Forest, primarily to see the English Longhorn cattle. These gentle creatures, a common sight in past centuries, had been reintroduced by the Epping Forest Conservators to keep down the forest scrub, which would otherwise occupy and destroy the many forest clearings.

In balmy, summer, weather, villagers attended neighbouring Copped Hall to enjoy a concert of operatic excerpts. The Opera Live Company gave two evening performances of their production A Night at the Opera in the spacious grounds of Copped Hall, with the Mansion itself as a magnificent, illuminated, back drop. The occasion was historic, and almost certainly a “first” in the history of the Hall which is currently being restored. Many present took the opportunity to stroll around the grounds before sitting down to enjoy their candle lit alfresco meals, and then relax to listen to a wealth of music from the works of Verdi, Puccini, Rossini, Gershwin, Bizet and the ever popular Mozart. Denys Favre, Chairman of the Copped Hall Trust, thanked the Company for a wonderful evening and also all those involved in organising the event, especially the Friends of the Copped Hall Trust a number of whom lived in Theydon Bois.

A performance of Midsummer Melodies sung by the Theydon Bois Singers in the village hall on another glorious summer’s evening, seemed more than appropriate to the large audience present. Some twenty sopranos and contraltos and ten tenors and basses sang various numbers including such popular items as The Lark in the Clear Air and June is Busting Out All Over. Topical readings, the Glory of the Garden given by Kay Rush and Just in Case read by Hilary Hedderick, gave the singers a chance to relax and regain their breath. The evening concluded with a Strawberry Supper. Janet Cass was the conductor and the person responsible for the current high standing of the Singers; she was supported by Ellie Morrow, the hard working accompanist for the evening.

Local resident and linguist Louise Occomore, 21, prepared and published a dissertation regarding the punctuation used by students. She became interested in the way in which children acquired a language and, in particular, punctuation. The school where she worked was pleased to support her dissertation, as this would provide feedback on the progress of the school's pupils. Her results were being used as a basis for an article on this subject, which would be published in the Times newspaper Educational Supplement. Meanwhile, her dissertation has been entered under www.phon.ucl.ac.uk/home/dick/occomore.htm.

After a long battle between the government and the London Mayor, Ken Livingstone, the future of the London underground system was finally settled when the franchise for the system was handed over to the TFL (Transport for London) organisation. This company, with Tim O’Toole as its managing director, also currently operated the London buses and many of the overground trains. Included in the new organisation was Bob Keighley, who had successfully reorganised the New York rail system and who had been brought over by Ken Livingstone to overhaul the London system. However, it was pointed out that much work was required to update the current rail system and it would be some time before improvements were readily apparent.

An independent inquiry had now established that a gearbox failure was the cause of the derailment on the Central Line at Chancery Lane station in January of this year, which rendered the Central Line inoperative, including the Theydon Bois section, for some three months. “Excessive forces” in the gearbox caused its motor to detach from its mountings, the associated safety brackets to fail and the train to derail. The report also said that the "underlying causes” were not understood and this serious incident had not been prevented as it should have been. The inquiry had made 24 recommendations for improvements of which 16 had already been implemented.

The national controversy regarding the Government's bill to abolish foxhunting (or hunting with dogs) was raised locally when Eleanor Laing MP disclosed that she had voted against this bill in Parliament. This prompted resident Rob Jones of Orchard Drive, and the Co ordinator of the Epping Green Party, to write that the overwhelming parliamentary vote in favour of the Bill was good reflection of public opinion; further, opinion polls showed that three quarters of the British public believed fox hunting to be cruel and should be outlawed. He hoped that the House of Lords would not resist the will of the House of Commons, which had a greater democratic mandate, and block the Bill. If this should occur then the government should invoke the Parliament Act to force through this legislation. However after the outlawing of hunting with hounds, other animal right issues remained and the Government needed to take more seriously the animal abuses which occurred in factory farms and laboratories, instead of defending such activities in the name of commercial benefit.

Fox hunting remained an emotive issue with some local residents. Those with a strong country background knew how damaging foxes could be to a farmers livestock and how difficult it was to deal with them using methods other than hunting; a quick death from a hound’s bite was preferable to a lingering death from gunshot wounds, which in itself was cruel. Elsewhere in the country, particularly the Shires, an important economic factor to be considered was the existence of many rural businesses, based on hunting with dogs, and their closure would exacerbate the current general decline in the farming industry. Politically, many considered the controversy generated by the bill as being a class war between town and country with the fox as a figurehead. Parliamentary time should not be wasted in this way but used to deal with more important national issues eg. Immigration, the poor health service, industrial decline, retirement pensions, to name but a few.

Michael Bellow, Chairman of the Theydon Bois Golf Club celebrated his 65th birthday by playing 100 holes and so raising £2,300 for his charity, the Epping Forest Branch of the Alzheimer’s Society. Club Members Nick Brown and Phil Bowden supported him as also did other members and supporters in a competition to guess the total number of points accrued by the players, which was 538.

The process of modernising the administration of Epping Forest was advanced by the introduction of a new style uniform for the Forest Keepers. This comprised olive trousers and a light brown shirt with green tie and epaulettes. The new uniform was a far cry from that worn at the turn of the last century when cord breeches, pigskin gaiters and boots were the standard clothing (with buttons that required daily polishing), bowler hat and a stout walking stick. Currently, sixteen keepers in two teams of eight, each headed by a Head Forest Keeper, covered the northern and southern sectors of the Forest, respectively. These teams were equipped with radios and mobile phones as opposed to whistles as in the past.

Proposals for new housing in the Epping Forest District continued to cause much concern. Although not apparently involved directly, Theydon Bois would be affected by changes to the local infrastructure, which would inevitably occur. Three schemes were currently proposed; the ECC (Essex County Council) Replacement Structure Plan, the Harlow Options Study, the M11 Corridor Sub-regional Study and the Department of Transport Plan for Future Development of Air Transport, which included the Stansted Airport expansion. EFDC (Epping Forest District Council) Councillor Dorothy Paddon, the Planning and Economic Development Portfolio holder thought that new housing proposed for the Epping District was closely linked to the Stansted expansion. Consultants admitted that the associated economic forecasts were very uncertain. While the timescale involved stretched 20 to 30 years ahead, the Deputy Prime Minster seemed to have a different agenda with changes to the planning system and powers to override the democratic processes in order to build more houses quickly. Underlying this “development frenzy” was the Government’s policy to give a major boost to economic development of the eastern region and so benefit the national economy. It did not make economic or environmental sense to attract businesses and people from regions elsewhere, which needed economic stimulus, to an already overcrowded region close to London. However there was need for new housing in the Epping Forest District for essential workers who would not take jobs here because of high housing costs. The EFDC was therefore preparing a development strategy for the District for modest growth, only, to protect the quality of its towns villages and countryside and to ensure that transport and community services were available for all new households.

Yet another proposal affecting the area and particularly the village was the Government announcement of plans to widen, to eight lanes, the M25 Motorway situated one mile to the north of the village; the interlink with the associated M11 Motorway would also be involved. Local MP Eleanor Laing claimed that this project would have a dramatic effect on the environmental future of Epping Forest and the health of local people. In the village, the vehicle noise from both motorways was often excessive and several villagers claimed that their asthmatic conditions resulted from atmospheric pollution from the same source. This proposal also flew in the face of Government plans to discourage the use of the private motor vehicles and encourage the use of public transport, where this existed! Again, this plan was an intrusion into the green belt, and how would it relate to the housing development schemes already proposed for the Epping Forest District?

Estate agents signs or boards outside properties, for which they were managing a sale, was often the subject of controversy because of their intrusion into the “street scene”. These signs were now appearing, though not necessarily in TB, as sponsorship boards giving details of forthcoming charitable events. The normal presentation remained unchanged and so the observer could be deluded into thinking that the related property was for sale. In the extreme, a number of these boards sited collectively could result in prospective buyers thinking that the area was “depressed” or suffering from “planning blight” and so be discouraged from purchasing neighbouring properties. Despite the charitable aspect of these boards, the EFDC was taking action to stop the practice following a number of complaints.

A “tea dance” held in the village hall during one evening in aid of the Marie Curie Cancer Care charity, was a great success. Dancers were charged £5 admission on a bring your own food and drink basis; tea and coffee were provided.

A number of residents and conservation enthusiasts became Landscape Detectives for a short time when, with the assistance of the Landscape and Country Care Teams from the EFDC, they spent the afternoon searching for veteran tree and ancient hedgerows in the village. Their search commenced in the churchyard, continued on the village green and then onto neighbouring farmland. The afternoon ended at Thrifts Hall Farm where, after further exploration, they were entertained to tea and coffee by the owners of the property, Jean and Robin Llewellyn Jones.

This year the Theydon Bois Scout Group’s Donkey Derby was sponsored by the Sainsbury’s multi food store. The event was again held on the Forest Plain in Coppice Row, the site of the long gone Riggs Retreat which was a popular venue for visitors to the village some eighty years ago. The area was packed with sideshows and the many supporters who had come from the village and outlying districts. Seven donkey races were held with each entry being sponsored and named by individuals eg. “Flooded Out " by “Stream Under Crescent” sponsored by Val and Elaine Brook, “Free Fall by “Sky Diver out of Plane "sponsored by Gladys Shales, “Charity” by "No Doubt Felt and Practised by You” sponsored by the Theydon Masonic Lodge etc. The donkeys as usual either showed a marked reluctance to co-operate or bolted and often threw their young riders who, despite being not more than 8 stone in weight and between 10 and 15 years, took all this in their stride. Betting was fast and furious and many a “small fortune” (to some) was made or lost during the afternoon. The event raised £8,600 for local scout funds.

Theydon Bois was once the centre of a thriving farming community but many farms in the area were now being used for other purposes eg. golf courses or garden centres. Pigotts Farm, at the bottom of Theydon Road in neighbouring Abridge and one of the last working dairy farms in the area, had now disposed of its herd of Friesian cattle. These had often set an attractive pastoral scene when grazing on the flood plain by the River Roding; and the farm itself was up for sale. One smallholding remained in the village, to the east of the railway behind the Green

Glade area and reached by the Cow Bridge; this appeared to be only engaged with sheep farming. Peter Hawes, the Chairman of the Essex Branch of the National Farmers Union highlighted this general decline in the farming industry. He painted

a sombre if not black picture of farming in this country which, he said, could disappear within two years. He cited the financial hardships imposed by the low prices paid for crops and livestock, particularly by the food retailing monopolies, and the low overheads enjoyed by food producers in other countries against which British farmers had to compete. He also claimed that financial support from the European Economic Community was not reaching British farmers, many of whom were facing bankruptcy. One possible solution was to educate the general public about farming, many of whom thought that all food came from packets and had not even seen a cow. A more realistic solution was for farmers to set up their own marketing organisations and this was happening. However, cattle could still be seen grazing on pastures rented locally and a new factor was now emerging. City dwellers, were “escaping” to the country by purchasing and living in small farms, working the farm on a limited basis and selling direct to the public, a common practice of less than a century ago. Perhaps this new trend could lead to the salvation of the industry.

Cash cards and a cheque were stolen from a property in Theydon Park Road during, it was believed, the afternoon. Two residents remember seeing a man loitering in the area during this time. The following day, valuables and a silver Mercedes Comp Car were stolen from a home in Forest Drive during the late afternoon.

A verdict of accidental death was recorded at the inquest at Saffron Walden into the death of motor cyclist Stephen Bassick, 46, of Theydon Bois. He was driving along the A104 towards the Woodford Greeen area on 2 Dec 02 when he collided with a large deer. Witness David Bywater, driving behind in a Ford Focus car, said “the deer came straight out of the undergrowth and Mr Bassick caught its back legs”. PC Kevin Crosby from the Essex Police Investigation Unit said ”he (Mr Bassick) was wearing a crash helmet but this unfortunately came off as he was thrown from the bike and he hit a tree. Both witnesses agreed that there was nothing Mr Bassick could do to avoid the accident. The Coroner Caroline Beasley-Murray said, " It was a tragic accident”.

Theydon Bois Primary School lost its longest serving teacher when Pam Martin took her full retirement. Pam entered education in 1964 as a Library Assistant. She completed her teacher training in 1967 and then taught at Dersingham Infants School, Manor Park and then at Gainsborough Primary School, Hackney. She commenced teaching at TB on 1989 and served under four head teachers and was part of the team, which had brought the school out of its education slump in 1986. Pam was now looking forward to spending more time in her garden.

In true garden party weather with the temperature in the seventies, the Theydon Bois Conservative Association held its summer garden party at Trift’s Hall off the Abridge Road. Nearly 100 attended including Raymond Warner, Chairman of the Epping Forest Conservative Association, and local MP Eleanor Laing with her young son Matthew. The wonderful panoramic view of the Roding Valley from the terrace of the new home of Jean and Robin Llewellyn Jones, the venue for the occasion, was appreciated by all, and some took the opportunity to walk down to the lakes in the fields below. The function raised £1,100 for the Conservative Party funds and was organised by the local Conservative Committee led by Chairman Robert Glozier.

In a competition held by the Essex Association of Local Councils, the Theydon Bois Village News produced by the Theydon Bois Parish Council won the smaller council category. This competition is held annually for the best parish-community - newsletter or magazine and is judged on content, style and appearance. Baroness Platt of Writtle presented the award at a recent ceremony, to Parish Councillor Ken Cushing and the Parish Clerk Madeleine Murphy. This publication had improved tremendously since coming under "new management”, and a new style format was planned for 2004.

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THE PAST MONTH IN THEYDON BOIS

JUNE 2003

HERE ARE SOME OF THE EVENTS, NOT NECESSARILY IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER, WHICH OCCURED IN THE VILLAGE OF THEYDON BOIS DURING JUNE 2003 AND WHICH HAVE BEEN RECORDED BY TREVOR ROBERTS, THE LOCAL HISTORY RECORDER FOR THEYDON BOIS.

Having failed to obtain planning permission for a football academy at nearby Abridge, the Tottenham Hotspur Football Club turned its attention to Theydon Bois. The Aitch Group, which was currently developing the Blunts Farm Golf Course between Coopersale Lane and the Abridge Road, had offered some 40 to 60 acres of land for use by the Club. The company’s agent GKA convened a recent meeting to discuss the matter and this was attended by representatives of the Essex County Council, Epping Forest District Council, Theydon Bois Parish Council, the Council for the Preservation of Rural Essex and the Theydon Bois Rural Preservation Society. GKA confirmed that initial discussion had taken place with the landowner regarding the possible addition of a football facility to the golf club. However, there was no intention to submit a planning application in the immediate future and any application would be made with the full consultation of the local community. Both District and Parish Councils would be keeping a very close eye on the situation and, if any firm proposals materialised, would look at them very carefully.

John Peck, 58, of Dukes Avenue TB announced his intention to row across the Atlantic Ocean with his long time friend Fraser Dodds 43, from Hertfordshire. They would be competing in a ten-boat race organised by the Ocean Racing Society to cross 2,000 miles of ocean between Tenerife in the Canary Islands and Barbados in the Caribbean. Their boat was only 7 metres by 4 metres with a tiny cabin containing the minimum of equipment and food; drinking water would be recycled from the sea. Their vessel had been successfully tested in a recent row in the English Channel and the pair had been training using special equipment at the Society’s headquarters in London. They would be using a modern electronic GPS navigational system but, as a precaution, had received basic navigation instruction from George Jepps at the Harlow Institute.

Local resident Bob Jones, the Co-ordinator of the Epping Forest Green Party advised that the Government had ordered a national audit of allotments. The Green party believed that local authorities needed to provide more pro-active support for allotments and should work to cut waiting lists and establish new allotments on brown field sites and within new housing estates. There should be greater publicity given to the availability of allotments and the public should be better informed about the advantages of these facilities. Moreover, allotments should have greater planning protection and improved access, especially for disabled persons.

The Theydon Masonic Lodge held a Quiz Night in the village hall to raise funds in support of the Playground At Theydon (PAT) charity. Some 90 people attended and enjoyed a “brain racking” session answering questions on a variety of subjects. Liquid refreshment was provided on a “bring your own” basis and fish /chicken and chips were served during the interval. Steve Hutton and Stewart Smith were the hard working question masters who kept everyone alert and interested. At the conclusion of the event some £450 had been raised for refurbishment work currently taking place in the Playground.

The campaign by the Epping Guardian, to reduce the speed of motor vehicles in local villages, gained strong support when the Parish Council Chairman stood at the roadside in Piercing Hill and displayed a Guardian “please slow down” notice; and Inspector Paul Fincham, of the Essex Constabulary, did the same in Coppice Row by the village hall. Both roads had inclines, which induced drivers to accelerate and were therefore the site of police “speed traps” where drivers exceeding the speed limit were stopped and given a speeding ticket. Inspector Fincham thought that “speed" was a problem everywhere; these days, people did not leave enough time for journeys and everybody was pushing it”.

Teenagers were suspected of being responsible for the attacks on the swans nesting on the village pond. Roadwork barriers had been thrown across the nest and youths seen throwing logs at the birds. Former policeman Gary Shanahan caught three youths red-handed. He called the police but was forced to let them go because the police response was too long. Youths had been seen around the pond most nights, usually drinking both there and in the adjacent playground, which had suffered from consistent vandalism. Wild Life Liaison Officer PC Rob Hance, who was investigating the incident, appealed to any one who had witnessed acts of vandalism or wildlife cruelty at the site to contact him at the Epping police station. This incident, together with the recent vandalism of the playground, appeared to be linked and was a repetition of similar incidents last summer. The apparent inability of the authorities to take action also appeared to stem from the absence of witnesses due, as it is believed, to fears of reprisals. If so, this was a damning indictment of society today. The clutch of eggs laid was lost and so, this year, villagers were denied the delightful sight of young cygnets swimming with their parent on the pond. Eleanor Laing MP joined in the protests regarding the attacks by condemning, as “disgusting”, the behaviour of the youths responsible and called on the courts to impose custodial sentences on anyone found guilty of such offences.

The Redbridge Brass Quintet gave a recital at the June meeting of the Theydon Bois Music Society held in the village hall. A blending of music by various composers, from Handel to Gershwin, rendered on brass instruments proved unusually acceptable on a glorious summer evening with the breeze from adjacent woodland drifting through the hall. This quintet had its roots in the very successful Redbridge Brass Band founded some years ago at the Redbridge Music School, the influence of which was evident in the quality of the playing and the nature of their music.

The Theydon Bois Cub Scout Troop football team celebrated a double victory at the end of the season. The team won the West Essex Cub Scout Football League Osborne Cup by beating the Epping Team 3-2. It then finished top of the League as outright winners with two games in hand. The team’s coaches were Barry Kingscote and Benn Pummell.

Copies of a publication, The Community Tree Strategy for Theydon Bois, were distributed throughout the village. This document outlined the now completed tree strategy for Theydon Bois and would be discussed at a meeting to be held in the village hall next July.

Members of the Theydon Bois Committee for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children raised £305 for the charity in a collection at the Tesco food store in Epping.

The Theydon Bois Country Dance Club advertised for new members to join their dancing sessions held in the village hall every Tuesday at 7.30 pm. And the village Badminton Club was also seeking new members for its afternoon sessions held from 2 to 4 pm. each Monday, again in the village hall.

Residents thought that time had slipped back into the last century when a 30 strong herd of cattle were seen grazing on the village green. They were English Longhorns recently reintroduced into Epping Forest by the Conservators to keep down the scrub and so retain the Forest clearings. These creatures had not proved popular in modern times because their great horns presented problems with current milking methods and transportation. However one asset, their amiable nature, was evident as their herdsman drove them up Coppice Row towards the area of the Forest from which they had wandered. A resident of Coppice Row, Peter Simmance, said “It was a bit of a shock to see them and I quickly put my car back in the garage”.

Bill McMurdo and Emma Bell, with their six year old daughter Emily, took over the management of the Queen Victoria pub in Coppice Row having previously been in charge of a large pub run by a Midlands brewery. They had also recruited a new Chef, Carlo Allerie, and were introducing a new food menu.

The glorious summer weather ensured the success of the Summer Fair held by the Parent Teachers Association of the Theydon Bois Primary School. The playground was ringed with a variety of attractions including the usual bouncy castles, a “sponge tank” where the unfortunate participants were doused with buckets of water, coconut shy, sweet and book stalls etc.; the most popular attraction was the sideshow awarding live goldfish as prizes. In the centre, full of children, was a fire appliance from the Loughton Fire Station. Also on view was the sophisticated rowing boat in which John Peck and Fraser Dodds plan to take part in a forthcoming rowing race across the Atlantic Ocean. Demonstrations in the central arena included dance and gym displays while the sports field was busy with a football competition, organised by the Theydon Bois Cub/Beavers, which included competing teams from Epping, Theydon Garnon and North Weald. Some thirty local businesses /organisations gave their support. The proceeds from the event would finance the construction of changing rooms for the school’s swimming pool, Phase 1 of which was planned to commence shortly. The pool was built some 40 years ago when a child was drowned in the village and this facility now ensured that all children leaving the school at year 6 were able to swim.

Twenty two gardens were open to view for the Theydon Bois Village Open Gardens Day; these included the magnificent gardens of grandiose properties maintained by professional gardeners down to the typical family home where, in one instance, the family garden survived the affects of children’s play (football) and harboured a collection of “wildlife” comprising rabbits, guinea pigs, fish and crested newts!. The gardens of Wansfell College in Piercing Hill could also be visited; a minibus service was provided for those wishing to do so, and also visit other gardens some distance from the centre of operations at the Village Hall. Here, meals were available; Ann Washer and the WI provided lunches, and Kay Rush and her friends prepared afternoon teas. The Epping Forest Conservators once again kindly gave permission for car parking on the village green and the local Salvation Army provided a band for the interdenominational church service held on the green in the late afternoon. At the end of the day, some 800 people had entered the Hall to purchase their garden guides and set off around the village. The event was first held 23 years ago at the instigation of Mick Marchant, and Joy Wainwright has been the organiser for the past 9 years. Nearly £4,500 was raised during the day to help maintain and support the Village Hall.

Theydon Bois Primary School once again, for three years in succession and against strong competition, won the Epping Forest Local Schools Swimming Gala held at Davenant School. The pupils in the winning team were Ben Jeffries, Alex Titmarsh, Joseph Brough, Tom Trim, Steven Peddle, Casey O’Riordan, Jessica Cross, Amber Hammond, Eleanor Good, Amy Hutchins, Lauren Martin and Kayleigh Warner.

Ian Duncan Smith MP, Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition and of the Conservative Party, appointed local MP and resident Eleanor Laing as the Shadow Minister for Children. This was in response to Prime Minister Tony Blair creating a corresponding government office with Margaret Hodge MP as the government minister. Eleanor Laing, herself a mother, explained that hers was a co-ordinating role on all children’s issues. It was very important to co-ordinate the work of government departments and all their agencies around the country so that parents knew that there was one place “where the buck stopped” as far as child welfare was concerned.

It was disclosed that the Orange telecommunications organisation had made application for the installation of a 15-metre high mobile phone transmitter mast at Thrifts Hall. It was expected that that this application would, like others for similar structures in the village, be objected too; however, a mitigating factor in this instance was the disguising of the mast as a ”mock cypress tree”.

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THE PAST MONTH IN THEYDON BOIS

MAY 2003

HERE ARE SOME OF THE EVENTS, NOT NECESSARILY IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER, WHICH OCCURRED IN THE VILLAGEOF THEYDON BOIS IN MAY 2003 AND WHICH HAVE BEEN RECORDED BY TREVOR ROBERTS, THE LOCAL HISTORY RECORDER FOR THEYDON BOIS.

The EFDC Green Waste collections recommenced with the advent of spring. Despite the recent extensive dry weather, everything botanical was growing well and much horticultural rubbish had accumulated in many a garden. A new issue of bio - degradable bags had been made to each residence backed by an appeal from Roy Keasley, the EFDC Assistant Head of Environmental Services, that these bags be only used for green waste. The EFD was committed to reducing the amount of waste deposited in landfill sites; the Government had set a target for 28% of household waste to be recycled by 2002 – 03, increasing to 36% by 2005 and 2006.

Robert Jones of Orchard Drive TB – the co-ordinator for the Epping Forest Green Party, thanked all who had voted for the party members standing at the local parish council elections held recently. The Green Party now had 53 councillors serving on English primary authorities, and was intending to do well in the 2004 Euro Elections.

PC Dave Hunt of Essex Police and a previous community police officer for TB had resigned following his arrest by officers from the Metropolitan Police Services internal investigation command. He was charged with receiving money dishonestly regarding his salary and was subsequently released on police bail. PC Hunt had received an Epping Forest District Council award for community service and was described by his senior officer as an excellent community beat officer who would be missed by his colleagues and local residents.

The One Stop Convenience Store in Coppice Row was robbed one evening. The police subsequently stopped a car on the M11 Motorway and took four men aged 21, 22, 23 and 25, all from Dagenham, to the Harlow police station for questioning.

Bill Pirie, a retired police officer of many years experience, was the speaker at the May meeting of the Essex U3A held in the village hall. As the former head of the traffic division in the Essex police, he had many humorous tales to tell which, often caused hilarious mirth in the audience. But road safety was his predominant theme especially vehicle speed; one sobering thought was that a pedestrian struck by a car travelling at 30 mph could be badly injured but at 40 mph would certainly be killed.

The village hall resounded to the sounds of jazz when the Barry Palsers Jazz Band took part in a Jazz Evening held on behalf of the Helen Rollason Cancer Charity Care Appeal. The event was well supported with tickets sold at £8 each on a “bring our own drinks” basis.

Eleanor Laing MP and her young son Mathew formally reopened the Playground At Theydon following its recent closure to repair the damage caused by vandalism. The ceremony took place during a Playground Fun Day held to celebrate the occasion which was attended by members of the Parish Council and many parents and children. A celebration cake was cut by Eleanor and Joy Wainwright, the Chairman of the PAT (Playground At Theydon) charity, which financed and administered this excellent play facility. In her address, the MP spoke of her anger that the Playground should suffer from vandalism and congratulated the PAT Committee for their determination to keep the Playground open. Help with the event was received from many local organisations and businesses, the latter providing sweets, novelties, decorations and other items for the various stalls.

The Friends of Wansfell College in Piercing Hill TB departed from normal practice and held their Garden Party (as a May Fair) and AGM on the same day. Because of possible inclement weather, the function was held indoors where the many visitors circulated among stalls selling items including, knitted garments, cushions, paintings and bric a brac. The Harlow Accordion Band provided musical entertainment. At the AGM it was announced that plans for a lift to cater for the disabled were well advanced, but a lay-by in the access road running alongside the College building would have to be constructed first. Marilyn Taylor, the College Principal, explained that financial support for the College from grants now depended on the number of “learning hours” accrued through College and she therefore appealed for these to be fully supported. She also revealed plans for an archaeology course which would include fieldwork at nearby Copped Hall.

Local residents attended St Paul's Cathedral, London for the Festival of the Sons of the Clergy. This charity was founded in the middle of the seventeenth century, during the Cromwellian period, to support clergymen who had lost their living by remaining loyal to the monarchy. This annual service is a major church event, with much pageantry equal to a state occasion, and attended by the Lord Mayor of London, the Archbishop of Canterbury (represented this year by the Bishop of London), members of the Corporation of London and the City Livery Companies all attired in robes and uniforms. The Bishop of Truro preached the sermon, the cathedral choirs of St Paul’s, Ely and Hereford led the singing and the London Brass together with the cathedral organ provided the music.

The improvement in standards at the Theydon Bois Primary Village School continued. The Head Teacher, Elspeth Bonds, reported that many of the year groups were now oversubscribed and the general reputation of the school was increasing; this was due to the hard work on the part of the students and the supportive efforts of the parents. The current situation was now much different from several years ago when the school was placed into “special measures”, for a short time, by the education authorities.

Parish Councillor John Padfield received a cheque for £2,157 on behalf of the Theydon Bois Village Association. The presentation, which was made by the Chairman of the Essex County Council, Anthony Peel, constituted a grant from the Millennium Fund to help equip the Theydon Bois Village Hall for use by community groups in the village.

At the bi monthly meeting of the Parish Council the Chairman, John Eaton, presented the Theydon Bois Village of the Year Award, conjointly, to Joy Wainwright and John Plume. Both had lived in the village for some time and the award was made in recognition of the help and support they had given to the community in a variety of capacities. Joy had moved to the village in 1958 and served as a District and Parish Councillor for 27 years; she had organised the annual Theydon Bois Open Gardens Day since its origin, was a leading member of the Playground at Theydon Charity and had been actively involved in the now discontinued WRVS “meals on wheels” service. John Plume received the award for his work at the St Mary’s Churchyard, which had twice won the Essex Best Kept Churchyard competition, and received a commendation in the Anglia in Bloom competition.

During the meeting, it was disclosed that the Youth Centre in Loughton Lane could possibly close and the building replaced with flats, the income raised being used to finance another youth project in Loughton. An Essex County Council spokesman said ”at present we are reviewing youth services in the area but have not set a date for the closure of the Theydon Bois Youth Centre”. The Parish Council had written to the Essex County Council to complain about the effect of closure on the local community.

The Parish Council was also concerned about the use, in the village, of motorised scooters by young people. These machines were capable of speeds up to 25 mph and were in the same vehicle category as motor cycles. For legal reasons, riders had to possess a provisional driving licence and wear a crash helmet; the machines had to be taxed, have passed an MOT test, be covered by insurance and carry number plates, brake lights and direction indicators. Two riders on one scooter driving down the centre of the road would be a danger to other road users. The police had said that parents should consider if such scooters were suitable presents for children aged under 16.

John Eaton and Peter Gooch were both re elected as Chairman and Vice Chairman, respectively, of the Parish Council.

Local lad, Richard Bulatis, 14, won the top award for putting at the recent Come and Try Day held for junior golfers at nearby Stapleford Abbotts Golf Club. Some thirty young people took part and after instruction from club’s professional, Dean Vickerman, were given the chance to develop their skills on the driving range and putting green. In the subsequent putting green tournament, Richard completed nine holes with just 20 shots; his award comprised golfing equipment and junior membership of the Club (worth £99).

The Spring Bank Holiday was celebrated in Theydon Bois with a May Fayre and Fun Day organised by the St Mary’s Church and held in the church hall and its grounds. This gala event provided entertainment in various forms including a dancing display by the Jacqueline Hitchings Dance School, a Football Penalty Competitive Shoot Out on the village green and sunspot watching organised by the Loughton Astronomical Society. More than 25 sideshows and stalls included a bouncy castle for children, tombola, and other entertainment, together with items for sale including paintings of Theydon Bois village. There was also a brisk trade in the refreshments provided by the Church Ladies. Car parking on the green was permitted and fine weather encouraged some 1,000 people from the village and the surrounding district to support the event which raised more than £5,000 for Church Funds.

The Essex County Council, in consultation with the government, was considering the introduction of lower speed limits in villages, including Theydon Bois; eligible villages were built up areas with established flows of fast traffic. The Epping Guardian was currently supporting the move to reduce the speed if motor vehicles with a campaign which included “Please Slow Down” posters displayed in local villages including Theydon Bois. The Theydon Bois Parish Council, the Epping Forest District Council, and the Essex Police were supporting this campaign.

The last night of Time and Time Again, the current production by the Theydon Bois Drama Society, was played to a full house in the Theydon Bois Village Hall. Classed as a humanised and very humorous farce, this was a jolly and entertaining production performed by a small cast. Martin Oliver played Graham, a small time business man with a lust for any attractive young lady, Janice Freeman played his wife who attempted to pour oil on troubled waters by making innumerable cups of tea, Angela Beckett-Smith was Joan the girl friend and Simon Gilbert her original boy friend. Fraser Freeman played Leonard who had escaped from the meshes of domesticity. Almost every line of the production resulted in laughter, which left the audience in a happy frame of mind at the end of the performance.

At the May meeting of the Theydon Bois Wine Circle, a competition was held to identify unusual objects and gadgets brought by members to the meeting. These included a piano-making tool. a cabbage strainer and a wool winder. The winner was Peggy Seabourne who received a bottle of wine. Outings planned for this year included a visit in June to the Biddenham Vineyard in Kent, and to the East Mersea Vineyard in September. Those wishing to join the Circle were asked to contact Mrs Sindall.

Nearly all the 45 members of the Theydon Bois Short Mat Bowls Club attended the AGM at which Chairman Ann Washer presided. The Treasurer, Bert Taylor advised that the annual subscription would be increased to £48 (still less than £1 a week) due to increased charges for hire of the village hall and the decrease in membership. Joy Wainwright advised that a balance of £190 existed in the tea/coffee account and she was thanked for her good financial management. The Secretary, Ted Norris, reported the resignations of Syd Glozier (due to ill health), Harry Memory and Geoff Austin. The committee was then re-elected en bloc. Other items discussed were the question of club insurance and the commencement, next September, of the Pairs Competition.

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Copyright 2003. Trevor Roberts, Local History Recorder.

 

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Last Up Dated: 8th August 2003