The Month in Theydon Bois


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Robert Jones of Orchard Drive was selected as the Epping parliamentary candidate for the Green Party. Robert had lived in the area all his life being married with two children who attended St John’s School in Epping. He claimed that the current Labour Party government had been a dismal failure and that the other parties were just offering more of the same. He would give the Epping constituency a much needed Green voice that would stand up for the needs of ordinary people, challenging the current political apathy and offering an injection of new energy, ideas and enthusiasm into politics locally and working for what people wanted from their community.

Robert also denounced the proposed construction of a second runway at Stansted Airport because of the increased amount of greenhouse gas emissions generated, which also applied to aviation generally. Moreover, more runways at Stansted were a direct contradiction to the Government's stated policy of reducing greenhouse gases. He also believed that there would be no need for airport expansion in the United Kingdom if greater use were made of rail services both internally and to the Continent. A lasting answer to air pollution had to be found which did not damage the environment anywhere and did not add to the problems of climate change.

Jessica White, a student and a local resident, recently found to her cost that traffic wardens were becoming increasingly vigilant. She had stopped in a designated parking area in an Ilford car park for a short time to wait for a friend, remained sitting in the car and was quite prepared to move off if required to. Unfortunately she felt asleep for a few moments and on waking found a parking ticket on her windscreen. She was quite incensed because most wardens would have tapped on the window and alerted the driver to the absence of a parking payment slip. It would appear that, generally, parking regulations were now being vigorously applied as motorists had recently been penalised for parking with two wheels on the pavement or more than 20 inches from the kerb.

The last night of the annual pantomime by the Theydon Bois Drama Society was the usual complete “sell out”. The production was typical pantomime and totally entertaining with spontaneous audience participation. Much fun was generated by Simon Gilbert as Bimbo the Clown, Brian Currey gave a tear jerking performance as Dum Dum the child of the Wicked Witch, Xanthe Bearman and Sophie Norris were a convincing Prince and Princess and Martin Oliver was a commanding queen who bossed her kingly husband played by Dave Bennett. But the starring role was undoubtedly Elaine Gilbey’s Wicked Witch whose stage entries were accompanied by her ear splitting shrieks, and corresponding loud boos from the audience. The sight of young children in the audience who, enthusiastically, moved into the central aisle to sing “Wriggly Wriggly Worm,” the Pantomime “silly song”, endorsed the success of the production. Next season’s pantomime will be eagerly awaited by the village.

In its January Newsletter, the Theydon Bois Short Mat Bowls Club reported the sad deaths of two founder members, Syd Glozier and Frank Kenna. On a happier note, Ted Wiles, Lilly Hobley, Mike Purry and Peggy Ross had all become members. The winners of the Pairs Competition held last autumn were Alf Thompson and Phyl Taylor; Penny Page and Brian Park were the runners up. Pat Philpot was the winner of the Target Bowls competition held this month, achieving a magnificent score of 47 points for which she received a silver cup; the runner up here was Ron Gomme with 30 points. Both players outshone the many experienced players in the Club who also competed.

A Personal Safety Evening organised by the Theydon Bois Community Safety Group was held in the village hall and well attended. The course was open to all over 16 years and consisted of demonstrations and examples of how to cope with aggression in its many forms. The success of the events was indicative of the concern of many villagers for personal safety in an age of increasing lawlessness, even in a small community such as Theydon Bois.

Village security took a prominent turn in the right direction when the Theydon Bois Parish Council convened a special meeting with the local Crime Prevention Officers, the Village Association, the Playground at Theydon Committee, the Theydon Bois Preservation Society, other representative organisations and shopkeepers to hear proposals for the installation of a multi Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) System in Theydon Bois. Cameras would be located in the proximity of the Bull public house, the Craftlines retail business, the Playground and adjacent village green, and at the front and rear of the village hall. The cameras would be highly sophisticated with recording equipment, discretely positioned and highly vandal proof. The cameras could be programmed to continuously record the immediate scene and to “home in” on particular events; private residences could be excluded from unwanted monitoring. A remote control room would be located in the Parish Office but would be fully activated in the event of a particular situation or an emergency occurring . Councillors John Padfield and Bob Glozier, who were co-ordinating with both the police and the security firm installing the system, said that the equipment would be expensive to install and subsequently maintain , but funding was available from Parish funds and a grant from police sources was available. The police crime representative pointed out that vandalism and other crimes at Loughton Broadway in nearby Debden had dropped dramatically since the introduction of a similar system there. The meeting was totally in favour of the proposal and looked forward to its implementation.

“A funny thing happened on the way to Tesco’s "was the title of a talk given by visiting speaker Irene Jacobs at the January meeting of the Theydon Bois Women’s Institute. It was announced that the St Clare’s Hospice was the Institute’s nominated charity for 2004. The Essex Federation of Women's Institutes was seeking general information regarding WI tablecloths and textiles. The Institute was therefore listing the textiles in its possession, a particular item being the collage of the village created by the members in 1980 under the direction of Sylvia Keith.

The Epping Forest District Council approved an application to install new main doors, air conditioning units and cash machines at the new Tesco Express store when this was converted from the One Stop Shop in Coppice Row. It was confirmed that the shop would close for four weeks from mid February 2004 during the conversion. This would include the Post Office, and an hourly free minibus service would be provided each Thursday for those unable to travel to the Epping Post Office by other means.

It was confirmed that the Essex County Council was considering the future of adult education at Wansfell College in Piercing Hill and the possible disposal of its 5 acre site. The College had an excellent track record in education and provided a much-needed teaching facility; 2,500 students attended the College in 2003, seventy percent of whom were pensioners with little or no secondary education. Eighty percent of the College’s annual £500,000 budget was funded from course fees and the College had yet to receive its usual annual grant of £120,000 from the County; the College had produced a business plan for consideration by the County Council.

The Epping Forest District Council announced a programme of refurbishment for public toilets in the District by upgrading some of them to an “automatic superloo” status. These would be suitable for both sexes, embody a high standard of service and operate on a “coin in the slot” basis. A number of conventional brick built conveniences, including that in the village , would not be affected.

It was announced that the Theydon Bois Primary School had raised almost £600 for the Jubilee Lodge Centre for the disabled in Chigwell. Charlotte Norey, regional fund-raiser for this charity said” The £600 will enable us to provided two disabled people with a week’s holiday this year. That in turn will provide their carerer with a week's break and so benefit their entire family”.

The 2003 Housing Needs Study carried out on behalf of the Epping Forest District Council by David Coutttie Associates (DCA) found that more than 5,500 households were thinking of moving out of the Epping Forest District because of the high and unaffordable cost of local housing. At an average price of £251,077 the cost of a home in the District had risen by 88% since 1966. These prices were higher than the average for Essex and the South East of England.

At the Eastern Region Planning Meeting in Cambridge, the Essex County Council was forced to accept a decision to plan for 18,600 new homes to be built in the Epping Forest District by 2021 at a rate of 1,000 each year. This situation resulted from pressure exerted by the Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire County Councils. However, this figure could be increased if plans for additional homes in the M11 Corridor are included. County Councillor Gerard McEwen said “The rest of the counties have ganged up on Essex and Hertfordshire. The idea that regional government will ever consult or represent local opinion is a total farce. The view of the Essex and Hertfordshire councillors were completely ignored or overruled by the rest of the Region“.

The Theydon Bois Music Society held a Coffee Morning which was supported by more than sixty members and Friends. The event was organised by Barbara O’Connor – Chairman, Doreen Snell - Secretary, Jan Stubbs – Treasurer together with Committee Members Marjorie Roberts, Pamela Dibble and Sally Pecover. Recorded music was provided by Harry Memory and the function raised £140 for the Society’s Funds.

John Peck, 58, of Dukes Avenue and his colleague Fraser Dodds, 43, were battling against strong seas some 222 miles out in the Atlantic in a small boat. Setting out on 20 Jan 04 from their starting point at La Gomera in the Canary Islands, the intrepid pair were taking part in a rowing race across the Atlantic and were currently placed fifth against 13 other boats. Their craft was a special covered rowing boat measuring seven metres by two metres with a tiny cabin for sleeping, cooking their meals and recycling seawater for drinking purposes. They had already encountered mammoth seas described as the size of cathedrals which, at times, had crashed over the boat; the rudder had already been damaged and repaired. Rowing was being taken in turns in two-hour intervals together with night watches to avoid collisions with passing ships. The total distance to the finishing line in Barbados is 2,000 miles and the row was expected to take ten weeks.

St Mary’s Church was the sad occasion for the funeral of Grahame W Lavender who died on sixteenth of this month. A full congregation braved the cold to bid farewell to a man who, together with his wife Janet, had been a staunch supporter of the Church for many years; Grahame had served as a Church Warden and Janet as the organiser of the Mother’s Union. Scouting had featured prominently in Grahame’s life since early youth and so he was extensively involved with the movement locally. He was very proud of his period of National Service with the Royal Air Force and the March Past of this branch of the armed services was played when his cortege left the church followed by Janet and their children Rachel, Allyson, Jonathan and David. A funeral reception was held afterwards at the St Mary’s Church Hall and Grahame was subsequently cremated at Pardon Wood crematorium in Harlow, the next day. The address at the service was given by Canon Colin Travers.

The warnings of an "arctic cold snap” materialised near the end of the month when the temperature fell rapidly and the village awoke to a carpet of light snow. Most of this cleared in the relatively warm sunshine but another blast then descended as night fell and some 3 inches of snow, driven by the strong winds, settled to cause much disruption generally. The low temperatures immediately converted the village into an icy waste with many roads becoming extremely dangerous and some impassable. In nearby Loughton, buses were taken off the road and Church Hill became impassable which exacerbated the usual problems of the commuter rush hour. Motorists returning to their parked cars found the locks frozen and, when on finally gaining access to their vehicles, were unable to clear the copious amounts of snow and ice covering the windows. Because of previous mild winters the younger members of the community, who thought this weather to be unique and disastrous, experienced difficulties especially with driving; but their elders considered these conditions to be a typical British winter, and either coped well or sensibly stayed indoors.

There were numerous complaints about the lack of gritting on the roads, especially from Denis Boley of Chipping Ongar who escaped injury when his car skidded into a hedge in the Abridge Road outside the village. The Epping Forest District Council civil engineering and portfolio holder, Robert Glozier, said earlier “We are expecting to continue early evening gritting this week, with gritting lorries on standby throughout the night as well”. Council spokesman Tom Carne said that roads had been gritted but a further temperature drop, which included a wind chill factor of minus 13 degrees, led to the roads freezing again despite further gritting. He also added that roads serving ambulance and fire stations were given gritting priority.

A brilliant sun rose on following winter's day with most schools closed and many adults were unable to get to work due to transport difficulties. Quick to exploit the situation, young and old proceeded to the high ground behind Dukes Avenue, which quickly acquired the appearance of a Swiss snow resort with coloured clothing contrasting vividly against the snow. Skis and toboggans were much in evidence together with improvised metal trays and plastic boats all careering down the slopes. Snowmen appeared in several places and a Bank Holiday atmosphere prevailed, with entire families walking out in the snow and enjoying the strong winter sunshine. But sadly, the thaw set in by nightfall and real winter disappeared for a while.

The objections against the proposed closure of Wansfell College in Piercing Hill by the Essex County Council continued, with the eminent astronomer Sir Patrick More joining the protesters. Sir Patrick, who had held a number of courses at the college during the last fifty years, appealed for maximum use to be made of the College by the public to ensure its continuance. Another well-known lecturer, Peter Lawrence, made a similar appeal. Marilyn Taylor, the College Principal, admitted that the College was in a precarious position. She also thought that the County Councillors needed to be persuaded that there was much value in retaining this sort of facility.

Subsequent to the decision of the County Council, made in Dec 03 to close the Village Youth Centre and dispose of the site, this authority had now submitted a planning application to the District Council for development of the site for housing. The application was in outline only, to facilitate sale of the site, and related to the construction of ten houses. The application referred to the shrubs and trees of neighbouring properties being maintained; it also stated that the access to the scout hut at the rear of the site would remain. The County Council also advised that alternative provisions would be made for the current users of the Centre, pending completion of a new purpose built facility in Loughton.

Before the bi -monthly meeting of the Parish Council in the village hall commenced , Tony Mitchell and Tim Watts gave a short demonstration of the Village Web Site and its potential for data communication world-wide.

A Burn’s Night function was held at the village hall in aid of the St Mary’s Church The evening featured the Epping Forest Pipe Band, Scottish dancing and a three-course meal.

During the previous months, the following entries were recorded in the Parish Registers of St Mary’s Church:

Holy Baptism

28 12 03 Lilli Antonia Dahmen


28 10 03 John Durken 29 10 03 Fred Smith

10 11 03 Dave White 17 11 03 Mary Price

24 11 03 Dorina Bolton 05 12 03 Eileen French

14 01 04 Ivy Tyler

21 01 04 Doug Law

28 01 04 Grahame Lavender

Burial of Ashes

16 12 03 Agnes Blyth





Although business was continuing as usual at the One Stop Shop in Coppice Row following its acquisition by the Tesco supermarket chain, plans were announced for its change next spring to a new Tesco Express store. An increased range of goods at lower prices was promised, as also was the retention of the post office facility. Opening hours would be from 06.00 to 23.00, seven days a week. Plans had been submitted to the Epping Forest District Council (EFDC) for new illuminated facia signs, new shop signs, new doors and a cash machine (the third in the village). Tesco said that this change was in response to customer requests for smaller outlets serving smaller communities. Feelings were mixed particularly among village shopkeepers. TBPC Chairman John Eaton commented “It (the new store) will be better for the village but there will be knock on effect which will be detrimental. The prime concern is the smaller shopkeepers and I do not want to see them falling by the wayside”.

Christmas commenced for the Theydon Bois Women’s Institute (TBWI) when a coach load of members with their partners and friends attended the John Rutter Christmas Concert at the Royal Festival Hall in London. The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and its choir together with a soloist provided the music. Also taking part was the Frimley Youth Choir, the current Sainsburys Youth Choir of the year. John Rutter conducted the programme of festive music, which included a selection of his now well known modern carols and welcomed audience participation especially during the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah – a wonderful evening.

Some 30 children from the Theydon Bois Primary School planted trees on the Great Gregories and Little Gregories property, assisted by school staff and representatives from Country Care. The trees were planted as part of the Theydon Bois Tree Strategy.

Theydon Bois was well represented at the Christmas Supper held by the Epping Forest Conservative Association at the Metropolitan Police Sports and Social Club in Chigwell. The speaker was Peter Lawrence who gave a detailed and fascinating account of the history of Whitehall in London. This was pleasant change from the usual political address and suited the festive occasion.

In a recent statement, the Essex County Council (ECC) announced that the village Youth Centre in Loughton Lane was surplus to requirements and would close in July 2004. The site would be sold for development for an expected sum of £1.1 m. A new Youth Centre was being built in Loughton but would not be available until after the closing date. John Eaton, Chairman of the Theydon Bois Parish Council (TBPC), criticised the ECC for their action saying that the building was only 11 years old and ideal for getting youngsters off the street. The ECC should have worked with the TBPC to encourage its greater use. Another building on the site, the Scout Hut, had also been declared surplus but the Scout Leader, Bob Penman, had received assurances the its lease was secure and that the building was not in danger. Nevertheless, the TBPC thought that the Hut might be included in the sale and would therefore be searching for any restrictive covenants on the site.

The ECC was also considering the future of Wansfell College, the adult learning centre in the village at Piercing Hill, and a decision would be made before next summer. The College was particularly vulnerable due to its size and location, and the need for a major upgrade to make it suitable for business users. The Friends of Wansfell College launched a major campaign to head off any closure by requesting all past users and those concerned with the College to write letters of objection to all relevant authorities including the ECC and MPs. In a letter to the local press an active Friend of the College, Trevor Roberts of Orchard Drive, pointed out that the maximum use of this establishment was once way of ensuring its survival. He also drew attention to the unique nature of its location, its importance in providing adult educational facilities for an ageing population and the cultural activities it provided. Its loss would be a disaster for communities in the immediate locality, the county and even the country as a whole.

In the early evening Santa Claus) made an appearance outside the village hall, to attend the lighting of the village Christmas Tree. His reindeer had to be returned to the local animal park by nightfall so his sleigh was mounted on the back of Cllr John Padfield's pick up truck, suitably disguised with festive decorations. Head Teacher Elspeth Bonds from the village primary school switched on the lights and some of her pupils then sang carols. Canon Colin Travers spoke about the religious significance of Christmas and Pauline Dellow, Chairman of the Alzheimer’s Society described the purpose and function of this charity for which a collection was then held. The TBPC Chairman John Eaton compered the occasion and the many present then went into the hall to celebrate with mince pies, mulled wine and soft drinks.

The Christmas meeting of the TBWI was the first at which the new President, Doreen Snell, presided. The speaker was past President Sylvia Keith who gave a presentation of her "photographs" and explained how the introduction of digitised cameras and computers had helped photographers, although a “good eye” was still essential in producing photographs. A number of proposed resolutions for eventual debate at the National Annual Meeting were considered. One which incurred much discussion was a change in legislation regarding Voluntary Euthanasia; the members voted overwhelming that his should be should be altered so that adults who were terminally ill, suffering from incurable and degenerative illnesses or in unbearable pain should be allowed to terminate their lives. Carols were sung and the meeting concluded with festive mince pies and tea.

The Epping Forest Band gave a resounding performance at the Christmas meeting of the Theydon Bois Music Society. They played a mix of Christmas music and popular melodies and their conductor then led the large audience in the singing of carols. Several members of the band commented on the excellent acoustics of the village hall. During the interval, band and audience tucked into a wonderful spread of Christmas fare prepared by the ladies of the Society.

The Christmas spirit in the village was marred by the three villagers who wrote to the Epping Guardian criticising the Village Christmas Tree which had been the scene of much happy celebration when it was formally lit earlier this month. One writer claimed “it was not even a nice tree", another “wondered if it was dead because it didn’t look well" and yet another unfairly compared it to the magnificent Christmas Tree in Trafalgar Square, and also to those in neighbouring Abridge and Loughton. Their criticisms generated a very prompt and strong reaction in letters of reply. Both the TBPC and the Village Association pointed out that the village tree was planted only three years ago, was slow growing and had been adversely affected by the dry summers. Ruth Eaton wondered how many of the three correspondents had given their time and assistance in making the Tree Lighting Ceremony such a success. Trevor Roberts wondered what had happened to the Christmas spirit which one writer had said she was “full of “ when attending the tree lighting ceremony. He also added that “when illuminated at night, the tree stood out as a beacon across the village green spelling out the spirit of Christmas, a part of which was goodwill to all people. Sue Gibbs pointed out that the same faces were to be seen each year organising and taking part in the event and thanked them accordingly. She also added that with a little more effort on the part of everybody, residents and shopkeepers alike, The village could look an absolute picture at Christmas and she also suggested a collection for a better Tree. R Raes summarised by writing ”our village tree is perfectly adequate; so many of our traditional values have been forgotten or commercialised without the need to transform the Tree into a mini Blackpool or, worse still, Las Vegas”. The TBPC and Village Association agreed that, after consideration of a number of factors, the Tree would be replaced in time for next Christmas, and it was suggested that anyone wishing to assist, including those passing adverse comment, should contact the Parish Office.

The Government, in a White Paper, formally announced plans for a second runway at Stansted Airport in less than ten years. According to the Stop Stansted Expansion Group, this meant that the Airport would increase to five times its present size. Epping Forest MP Eleanor Laing was extremely worried that the possible economic benefits would be lost if the environmental damage were not taken into consideration (trees in Epping Forest were already dying from the affects of pollution). She wanted to know if all the consultations currently underway for the M11 Corridor, Harlow Expansion and East of England projects were being taken into consideration. She also pointed out that transport links to the airport were inadequate at the moment; there were no proper plans for an additional rail link from Stansted to Central London or anywhere else. Campaigners against the second runway vowed to continue their fight against this expansion.

Because the local recycling industry struggled each year to cope with the large amount of waste generated during the Christmas and New Year periods, Villager Bob Jones of the Epping Forest Green Party requested people to delay using this facility. He also suggested that Christmas decorations should be homemade from natural products available in home and garden; reusable plastic Christmas Trees should also be used to help conserve the environment. Any unwanted gifts could be donated to charity shops.

After a cold snap of the past few days, the weather turned warm to dash the hopes of those villagers wishing for a white Christmas. On the international scene, Mark Henderson returned to his home and parents in Yorkshire after having been released from captivity by Colombian rebels; Colonel Gaddifi, the Libyan leader, had agreed to dismantle his weapons of mass destruction, a move which it hoped would encourage other “rogue states” to do likewise: nearer to home, ex pop star Bob Geldorf organised the illumination of London public buildings as a “Message of Peace and Hope” (the front of Buckingham Palace was emblazoned across the front with an image of the Union Flag). Retail trading on Christmas Eve appeared to be very slow generally but the Boxing Day sales were yet to come.

A very dark and mild dawn with a hint of rain greeted the few who were about at first light on Christmas Day in Theydon Bois. For once the village was relatively peaceful with an absence of background noise from the nearby motorways or from the London Underground trains, which were not running on this day. From Dukes Avenue in the north to Theydon Park Road and Graylands in the south, most residents were still slumbering except where excited children had awoken early to open presents, and early churchgoers were preparing breakfast before attending the St Mary’s and Baptist Churches. However all was not in darkness; the Christmas illuminations on many houses, which were more numerous this year, remained lit and many a Santa Claus and his reindeer glowed with Christmas radiance from fronts and roofs. Around the village green the lights of the Dalton car dealers, the One Stop shop and other businesses in Coppice Row flashed their Christmas messages to empty thoroughfares. The children’s playground stood silent and awaited the influx of many youngsters who, already tiring of their new toys and, with fine weather forecast, would come to exercise their limbs and lungs after feeding the wintering waterfowl who stood patiently for a late breakfast. But a wrecked car, a sobering reminder of the hazards of driving (and possibly drinking alcohol) stood at the junction of Poplar Row and The Green, by the first tree on the village green which had claimed a number of similar victims in the past. For many, Christmas Day was the first of a long break culminating in the New Year Day celebrations; in reality, because both these days were mid week, the holiday period could extend to fourteen days, inclusive of two weekends.

The members of the Astrokyds Club, which meets in the village hall under the auspices of the Loughton Astronomical Society, were most disappointed when the British Beagle 2 Space Probe failed to send any signals from the surface of the planet Mars. It had been launched several days previously from its mother ship currently orbiting the planet and this project had been to subject of a special Astrokyds evening. One theory for the failure was that this complex space probe had landed in a deep crater so that its signals were lost to space or, worse still, solar radiation was unable to reach its solar panels and so energise the probe's equipment. It was hoped that the European Mars Express, which was due to enter the planets orbit on 30 Dec 03, would be more successful in searching for and receiving the probe’s signals.

The New Year celebrations were cancelled in many parts of the country due to bad weather, which included snow and resulted in electricity power cuts in the north of the country and down to Norfolk. It was cold and wet in the village but several fireworks parties were held and late night worshippers attended the local churches. Many residents saw in the New Year on television where the celebrations on London’s South Bank were televised. These included the illumination of the London Eye (a giant observation wheel) with coloured flashing lights, to the background of a spectacular fireworks display. Elsewhere in London, crowds celebrated in the newly extended Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square and Parliament Square. However, the increasingly adverse weather resulted in many returning home early taking advantage of the one night free travel on the London Underground, which included the Theydon Bois service.





Although November 5th was still some days away, the first weekend of the month saw the night sky alight with firework displays and the atmosphere reverberating with loud detonations. Each year the “fireworks season” seemed to widen further resulting in many complaints both locally and nation wide. To some, these displays were a great annoyance with timing (held late at night), excessive noise and disturbance which affected many (sleep deprivation), frightened livestock and domestic animals etc. Blind people could be confined to home because their guide dog would not venture outside. More serious consequences were personal injury and damage to property caused by irresponsible youths throwing fireworks. The government had therefore decided to introduce new regulations regarding fireworks. These would include an 11 pm curfew for their use with a restriction to specific periods, limiting their sale to the three weeks around Nov 5, forbidding their sale to those under 18 and controlling the import and sale of high-powered fireworks which were, in effect, bombs. These problems had not seriously affected Theydon Bois but many residents would welcome the new controls, although their enforcement could be another matter. (Theydon Bois Primary School held its usual popular display without any problems)

The ousting of Ian Duncan Smith as the leader of the Conservative Party caused dismay among many members of the Epping Forest Conservative Association. Eleanor Lain MP, Councillor Chris Whitbread of the Epping Forest District Council (EFDC) and Councillor Stephen Metcalfe of the Lambourne Parish Council appeared on BBC TV campaigning in support of the leader; they were therefore disappointed when he lost a vote of confidence in his leadership, by 75 to 90 votes, an election held by Conservative MPs. Michael Howard, a minister in the previous Conservative government and an experienced and prominent parliamentarian, replaced him. Mrs Laing expressed her regrets at his defeat but said that she would support Michael Howard because a united Conservative Party was the best way of defeating the Labour government. Stephen Metcalfe was disappointed that Conservative MPs could not see the good work that Ian had done. The whole party had selected him and it was a pity that a small handful of MPs thought, it to be in our “best interests”, to depose him. Chris Whitbread’s views were the Ian Duncan Smith had left us with some good policies eg. transport, health and education, which affected the everyday lives of people in the Epping Forest District. However, Michael Howard was a competent man who could move the Party forward.

Although now much colder after the searing heat of summer, the weather continued generally dry and the Three Valleys water company which served the village issued an appeal for users to conserve water supplies as much as possible because of the substantial lack of rain. Many lawns still displayed cracks and the River Roding at Abridge, normally fast flowing at this time of the year, remained partially clogged with summer vegetation. Conservation measures requested were the non-use of hoses, particularly for washing cars, reducing the capacity of toilet systems by means of inflatable bags and using water butts for domestic horticulture.

The Epping Forest District Council (EFDC) was considering major changes in the system of waste collections from households. Under consideration was the use of “wheelie bins“ instead of plastic bags and the collection of recyclable and non-recyclable (domestic) waste on alternate weeks. A greater emphasis on recycling, particularly in the Epping Forest District, was important as the landfill site used for domestic waste at Halford Bridge near Chipping Ongar was fast becoming a “waste mountain”, its future was limited and new sites were scarce.

Crime in the village took an ugly turn when an armed man entered the One Stop shop in Coppice Row and held a gun to the head of a 90 year old woman who was at the Post Office counter. He took money from the woman and then from the Post Office staff, threatened others in the shop and ran off. He was pursued by a customer as far as Theydon Bois station but escaped. The woman was badly shaken but unharmed and the store Manager, Ronald Saggers, said that the staff followed standard procedures and no one was injured. On the following Monday, an 18 year old man from Leyton, East London was arrested and charged with the robbery and a subsequent offence of taking petrol without payment from a garage in nearby Debden. Although such crimes are now commonplace in large communities, this was probably the first armed robbery in the village and does not bode well for the future of local law and order. However, the prompt action by the police was encouraging.

Remembrance Sunday was commemorated in Theydon Bois with the usual parade of ex service personnel, civic leaders and youth organisations marching from the Village Green to the War Memorial in Coppice Row. This year Eleanor Laing MP for Epping Forest and a local resident was able to be present and lay a wreath; other wreaths were laid on behalf of the Theydon Bois Parish Council (TBPC), the Royal British Legion and the many other organisations in the village. The Service of Remembrance then commenced at the memorial and was continued inside St Mary’s Church. The village collection for the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal amounted to over £2,800.

An Autumn Soup Lunch was held in the St Mary’s Church Hall in support of Church Mission Projects. These included Aquabox, the provision of water purification equipment for the inhabitants of third world countries which lacked adequate and clean water supplies, and Operation Christmas Child, the provision of Christmas boxes for children of third world countries. The proceeds also supported the work of two members of the church, Pat Nixon in the Congo and Allison Smith in Albania.

Soprano Olive Murray, accompanied by Joan Taylor on the piano, was the soloist at the November meeting of the Theydon Bois Music Society. She sang some 25 items of works by a various composers ranging from Frank Bridge to Sergei Rachmaninov, the latter in Russian. Her performance was well received by the large audience present who enjoyed the occasion.

Joy Wainwright, Fran Hutchinson and Clare Tunks, Committee Members of the Playground At Theydon (PAT) charity, were at the village Queen Victoria (Q.V.) Pub to receive a donation of £500 for the Charity. This sum was part of a total of £2000 raised in the Q.V. Masters Charity Golf Competition played last August between members of the Theydon Bois Golf Club and the Harlow Canon Brook Golf Club. The other beneficiaries were Arthritis Care and the St Francis Hospice at Havering-Atte-Bower.

Loughton Town Council strongly objected to a plan in the Harlow Options Study to develop, for industrial purposes, the open land north of Debden and south of Theydon Bois. The Council owned two plots of land in this area; Lady Whitakers Mead, earmarked as a possible site for a new cemetery, and the Willingale School playing fields. The Council considered it important to keep developers out and so protect the rural nature of the Roding Valley. For the village, such development could encourage further building northwards until it was linked with Debden and so lose its separate and rural identity.

The Theydon Art Group held its 42nd exhibition of paintings in the Village Hall. Once again large number of well-executed works of art were exhibited, many of a very high standard.

The Village Hall was the venue for a dance held in support of the Marie Curie Cancer Care charity. Admission was £5, on a bring your own food and drinks basis, and the function was well supported.

The November meeting of the Theydon Bois Wine Circle, featured wine judge Alan Downes presenting a selection of South American wines. There was also a general tasting of a number of commercial wines.

Representatives of the Epping Forest Conservators were present at the Garon Park Centre in Southend, Essex, to receive a Green Heritage Site accreditation in recognition of their successful management of Epping Forest. One of only four sites nation-wide to receive this award, the reintroduction of grazing cattle in the Forest to control scrub growth was particularly judged as a fitting and sensitive approach to managing an area of natural heritage and significance. The Conservators also received a Green Flag award for conserving a site of great natural beauty, which catered particularly for mobility-restricted visitors and families with small children. The scheme is managed by the government backed Civic Trust, the country’s leading urban environment charity, founded 40 years ago. It is the umbrella body for 850 civic societies and represents 250,000 individuals concerned with all aspects of urban environment.

Zoe Leake, a village resident in her final year at Bancroft’s School, Buckhurst Hill, received an Arkwright Scholarship award for her outstanding work in design and technology. She would also carry the status of an Arkwright Scholar into university. The award was formally presented to her by Dave Russell of the Ford Motor Company, the award sponsor, at the Institute of Electrical Engineers in London.

The Village Hall was, once again, the venue for a charity function. with the Theydon Bois Friends of Cancer Research UK holding a jazz night and dance to the music of the Dixielanders. Admission was £10 which included supper and wine.

The Theydon Bois Astrokyds, the junior section of the Loughton Astronomical Society met in the evening at the St Mary’s Church Hall. The topic was Galaxies with the opportunity, weather permitting, for observations to be made of the night sky. Children between 6 and 14 were welcome, accompanied by their parents.

After 26 years of planning, fund raising and construction, the new Parish Centre (the Vestry Extension Project) at St Mary's Church in Theydon Bois was opened following its formal dedication by the Rt Revd David Hawkins, the Bishop of Barking. A service of dedication was held in a packed church where the vicar, Canon Colin Davis, first gave an address of welcome. The lessons were read by the previous vicar, Canon David Driscoll and by his predecessor, the Rev Alan Jones. The prayers of intercession and thanksgiving were led by the Curate, Revd Anthea Cannell, the Reader, Mrs Beryl Denney, and the previous Curate, Revd Margaret Chapman. Richard Risdon, the Chairman of the Vestry Project Management Committee, presented the Story of the Project. The Bishop then knocked on the door of the new Centre with his pastoral staff, the door was opened and the Act of Dedication then followed. At a reception afterwards in the Village Hall, Canon Colin Travers gave an Address of Thanks to Richard Risdon for his continual and successful management of the project. Eleanor Laing MP also congratulated him together with all concerned with the project.

The village bus shelter in Coppice Row was severely damaged a few days after repairs to its roof. In the late evening a member of staff from the Queen Victoria Pub opposite saw a group of youths using a large pole to punch a hole through the rear of the shelter. It was thought that the same group was responsible for scrawling the inscription “This village belongs to the BNP" on an adjacent road sign. TBPC Chairman John Eaton voiced his anger at the damage. He added, “This mindless vandalism is being done by youths in the village; lately there have been incidents involving 20 and 30 boys and it has got to stop”. TBPC Councillor John Padfield said, “This is a problem for the whole village. It is becoming extremely expensive to keep on top of all the remedial work that has to be done to rectify the damage”.

A success story to counter the bad news of vandalism in the village, concerned the bench, in memory of Yvonne Spraggs and Fred Griffiths, which had “disappeared” from the area of St Mary’s Churchyard set aside for quiet reflection. Phil King of Buxton Road found the bench in nearby Epping Forest, when exercising his dog; it was buried in deep undergrowth where it had been for some time and probably used for dubious purposes. He recognised its importance and informed the Parish. With the help of Epping Forest staff and John Plume, who looked after the churchyard, the bench was retrieved, cleaned and returned to the Church.

Santa Claus came early to Theydon Bois when he visited the Primary School accompanied by reindeer loaned especially for the occasion by the Broxbourne Wildlife Park. He was attending the school’s German Christmas Fayre which had many stalls including a German Toy Christmas stall and others selling, tombola, seasonal goodies, refreshments and raffles.

During the month, the following confirmations were recorded in the registers of St Mary’s Church, Theydon Bois:

Steve Griffiths

Ann Griffiths

Tristram Griffiths



Copyright 2003 & 2004. Trevor Roberts, Local History Recorder.


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Last Up Dated: 13th January 2004