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THE PAST MONTH IN THEYDON BOIS

APRIL 2004

THE FOLLOWING ARE SOME OF THE EVENTS, NOT NECESSARILY IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER, WHICH TOOK PLACE IN THE VILLAGE OF THEYDON BOIS DURING APRIL 2004 AND WHICH WERE RECORDED BY TREVOR ROBERTS, THE THEYDON BOIS LOCAL HISTORY RECORDER.

April the First (All Fools Day) was marked by a “spoof” report in the local press which claimed that acres of historic woodland in Epping Forest were to be encased in glass as an ambitious nature and holiday complex. An approach to the paper revealed the true nature of the report but, nevertheless, the Editor received several strong letters of objection to the pseudo project. However, the spoof served to remind many of the proposed plans for extensive housing development in the Epping Forest area and that the Forest itself should be guarded against general deterioration from the adverse affects of pollution, rubbish dumping and peripheral development.

The recent arrival of the Tesco Superstore in the village prompted Leslie Jerman of Coppice Row to request support for some of the other retail businesses in the village, which were struggling before Tesco arrived. He understood that this new business required at least 10,000 customers to survive although there were only 4,000 residents in the village. He pointed out that previous retail outlets on this site had not fared well; the first was International stores, which was then followed by Gateway, Circle K and Dillons.

Most of the many societies and association of village which constitute the Theydon Bois Village Association were present at the Association's AGM held in the Theydon Bois Village Hall (TBVH). The chairman of the Executive Committee, Norman Stanley, reported another successful year for the TBVH and advised that Mr Roger Badcock had been formally appointed as Assistant Hall Manager. He also cited the problems with Hall security which meant that users, when actually in the building, now had to secure it against unlawful access eg. from vandals and thieves. The Treasurer, Bob Day, reported that the TBVH was now so popular that some user organisations had “frozen” their membership to ensure bookings. He particularly quoted two users, the Montessori Play Group and the South African Church, as a main source of TBVH income. He also said that, although the Association’s accounts were in the black, some additional expenditure had been incurred by the need for further security arrangements, improved heating, extra crockery and for general repairs resulting from wear and tear to the building. The following were then re elected to office: President – Mrs M. Chapman, Vice President – Mr M. Lowe, Hon. Secretary- Mrs C. Davies, Hon. Treasurer – Mr R. Day and Hon. Auditor – Mr B. Jones.

Marcus Andrews, an accomplished pianist, gave a recital of music by Beethoven, Medtner and Liszt at the April meeting of the Theydon Bois Music Society. Surprisingly, he also included three studies by Cramer in his recital, a composer whose works were better known as practice studies for aspiring pianists, and it was most enlightening and refreshing to hear these played as concert items. A graduate with a Master’s Degree from the University of Connecticut, Marcus has followed a varied career as both soloist and chamber musician and his performance that evening was more than a treat for the members of the Society.

Editorial comment in the Epping Guardian welcomed the £10,000 received by the Epping Forest District Council (EFDC) from the Government to combat graffiti in the district. However the Council was already paying out £20,000 to remove these objectionable daubings which, it claimed, were caused by youngsters. Such antisocial behaviour appeared to be on the increase locally due, possibly, to fewer recreational facilities being available for young people. The proposed closure of the Youth Centres in Theydon Bois and Buckhurst Hill would not help matters. So the Guardian asked if it was time for alternatives to be found so that graffiti and anti social behaviour could then possibly cease? As a footnote, a TB resident said that one, immediate, solution was to remove graffiti as soon as it appeared where possible.

The tree by the TBVH used as the Village Christmas Tree, and the subject of some controversy, was replaced. Its successor was a tall and handsome conifer of the “picea armorica” variety, which had more extensive and attractive foliage. Even in the spring sunshine the new tree looked “Christmassy”, and should be a credit to the village when suitably adorned next December.

Although a resident of Chipping Ongar, Peter Parkin has been a staunch supporter of the Theydon Bois Friends of Cancer Research since he first raised £1,300 for the charity in 1992 by running in the London Marathon. Now, with his daughter Helen, he was planning a 40 mile charity cycle ride from Whitehaven in Cumbria to South Shields on the Tyne. The pair, who are seeking sponsorship, were no strangers to cycle riding having ridden to Derby in three days from their home in Chipping Ongar. Peter said that they wanted to raise money for this charity because everyone knew someone who had been affected by cancer.

At the AGM of the Theydon Bois Wine Circle, held in the TBVH, all the existing Committee members agreed to serve for another year. A fish and chip supper rounded off the evening during which John Shingler won the quiz. An outing to the Bardfield Vineyard was planned and the Circle would welcome new members.

Local resident and an Essex County Council (ECC) Councillor Janet Whitehouse was recently commissioned a Vice President of the Diocesan Mothers Union at Chelmsford Cathedral together with Hilary Shallis who was commissioned as President. The cathedral was packed for the occasion with Mother’s Union members including those from Theydon Bois, Epping, Loughton, Waltham Abbey and Chipping Ongar. The Mother’s Union is world-wide Christian charity with three million members in 71 countries. It has many projects including HIV-AIDS awareness, literacy in Africa, parenting groups, work in prisons and holidays for those in need in the UK.

Some sixty members and guests of the Theydon Bois Branch of the Epping Forest Conservative Association packed the combined Beech and Poplar rooms in the TBVH for their annual dinner. The Chairman of the Branch, Councillor Bob Glozier, presided and welcomed Eleanor Laing MP and congratulated her on being appointed to the Conservative Shadow Government front bench, and for also being reselected as the Conservative parliamentary candidate for Epping Forest. The speaker was the popular local historian Peter Lawrence who talked about the history of Epping Forest including its historical connections with Queen Elizabeth the First and Dick Turpin the highwayman. He also mentioned the pending closure of the local Wansfell College of Adult Learning, of which he is a governor, and advised that the educational faculty there was planning to continue in another location.

On a brilliant spring day, thirty three members and friends of the TBWI went by coach to Southend for a performance of the musical Mack and Mabel given by the Southend Operatic and Dramatic Society (SODS) at the Cliffs Pavilion Theatre. The story line related to the relationship between the film producer Mack Sennett and the actress Mabel Normand, set against the background of Sennett’s famous comedy films some of which were screened during the production. The costumes and sets were of a high professional standard, the latter being limited only by the facilities of the Pavilion. The cast gave performances, which can only be described as excellent considering their amateur status. Before the performance, some of the party visited the town centre for a famous Southend fish and chips lunch with ice cream or walked along the 1.25 mile pier for a good breath of Essex sea air. On their return, a number of Marks and Spencer shopping bags showed that the ladies, as always, had not missed the opportunity to go shopping.

Epping fire-fighters were called at noon to a suspicious fire in a storage unit behind Theydon Bois railway station. The blaze destroyed chairs and work benches and took 20 minutes to extinguish.

Chris Marjot, a teacher at the Theydon Bois Primary School, was one of the hundreds of runners who took part in this year's London Marathon which was held on a very wet Sunday morning. He was running to raise funds for the Cancer Research UK charity which the school has been supporting for some time. Recently, all 320 pupils took part in their own Marathon by running 2,431 laps around the playground, which equated to 299 km. This particular sponsored activity helped increase the school’s total contribution to £750.

Increasing vandalism on the village allotments in Red Oaks Mead continued to increase with sheds being damaged, tools stolen and produce destroyed. It was claimed that the group of youths responsible, apparently aged between 9 and 14 years, had also thrown stones at houses. The closure of the village youth centre and the introduction of CCTV cameras in the village centre could be responsible for the allotments now being targeted. The Theydon Bois Parish Council (TBPC) had already begun meeting parents and children to determine what facilities might be provided for young people.

Three years ago, Catherine Cowan of Loughton Lane was told that she risked suffering a stroke or heart attack if she did not reduce her weight of 26 stone. In one year she lost five stone but then had to seek the help of the Weight Watchers Club, which meets in the TBVH. Her weight had now dropped dramatically so that dresses ten sizes smaller could be worn. Catherine said that she was nervous when starting with Weight Watchers but received much friendliness and support, an experience which had changed her life.

Plans were announced for the widening of the heavily congested section of the M25 Motorway between Junctions 23 and 27. This section passes near the village and fears were raised that the work, planned for the period 2006 to 2012, would cause acute traffic congestion in the locality. Of particular concern is the Epping tunnel where extensive work might be necessary. The EFDC Civil Engineering and Maintenance Portfolio holder, Councillor Bob Glozier, said “In the short term period it could reduce congestion but in 10 to 20 years they will come back and ask for six or seven or eight more lanes. How easy is it to widen a motorway through tunnels without causing enormous disruption? Building your way out of congestion just can’t be the answer”.

The Theydon Art Group held its 43rd Exhibition in the TBVH on the first hot day of the year which encouraged a good attendance. Some 124 paintings by members of the group and other painters from the local area were on display. Water colours and pastels predominated and the subjects tended towards the scenic; one by Jean Crome was particularly significant and poignant as it depicted a closed Wansfell College with the caption "Wansfell Shut Out" (the College is due to close in August 2004). The current officials of the Group are Roy Lees - Chairman, Barry Turner - Treasurer, Brenda Harris -Secretary, Pamela Priest - New Members Secretary and John Pearce - Exhibitions Secretary. The Group meets monthly, painting outdoors in the summer and in the TBVH in the winter.

Village residents John Padfield, of the Copped Hall Trust, and Sylvia Keith, Nicola Munday and Trevor Roberts, of the Copped Hall Friends, had the honour of being formally introduced to his Royal Highness Prince Charles. The occasion was the visit of the Prince, as President of the Georgian Society, to the Copped Hall Mansion and Grounds where he viewed the current work of restoration. Despite a pressing schedule, Prince Charles spent some two hours viewing many aspects of the work and formally opening an exhibition of botanical paintings by Matilda Conyers, the daughter of the first owner of the Georgian Copped Hall. In return, the Prince was presented with an antique, glass, grape-storing device which generated some hilarity because of its unusual shape. He also took tea with the Friends and spent some time chatting with those presented. The occasion was a magnificent success and would help generate further support for the Trust and the Friends in their task of restoration.

A unique production of “Godspell” was performed in St Mary’s church on three evenings by a cast of church members and before an audience of people generally associated with the Church. Godspell, the old English for Gospel, is based on the Gospel according to St Matthew and is in two acts; the first relating to the teachings of Jesus Christ in parables and the second portraying his life. The cast of sixteen was augmented with children from the church youth organisations who played a significant and enthusiastic part with their singing and dancing. The lighting was simple but effective and the audience brought torches to use during part of the performance. The production was a truly community effort with more than 29 organisations and individuals giving support, not forgetting the church congregations (audiences) on each night. As Canon Colin Davis, the Vicar, wrote in the programme for the production "As you enjoy the show, hope that you will be mesmerised by the good news of joy, love and hope to be found in Jesus Christ. Long Live God!”

Speaking at a recent meeting of the police and community consultative group, Acting Divisional Commander Chief Superintendent Peter Coltman strongly criticised the decision to close local youth centres on a cost cutting basis, including that at Theydon Bois; he feared that this action would result in more children loitering on the streets. A new youth centre was planned for Loughton but would not benefit those who were without transport. The police now had powers to move on groups of youngsters and impose anti social orders on persistent trouble makers. But centres were needed for youngsters to congregate off the streets.

The following funerals were recorded in the registers of St Mary's Church:

22 03 04 Irene Bennett. 21 04 04 Edith Farmer.

23 03 04 Stan Kendall. 26 04 04 Mary Tracey.

30 03 04 Tom Middlemass.

20 04 04 Pat Bushell.


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PAST MONTH IN THEYDON BOIS

MARCH 2004

THE FOLLOWING ARE SOME OF THE EVENTS, NOT NECESSARILY IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER, WHICH TOOK PLACE IN THE VILLAGE OF THEYDON BOIS DURING MARCH 2004 AND WHICH WERE RECORDED BY TREVOR ROBERTS, THE THEYDON BOIS LOCAL HISTORY RECORDER.

Theydon Bois Tennis Club continued with its ongoing contribution to youth welfare by providing tennis training for more than 100 youngsters This consisted of Saturday morning coaching throughout the year (and Friday evenings during the summer) for 5- 16 year olds, Thursday evening coaching during the summer for competent 8-14 year olds, Inter Club Matches and Junior Tournaments. Soft Ball training was also available during the winter (in conjunction with the village Primary School), and at the Tennis Club in the summer.

The McMullens Brewery, which owned the popular Queen Victoria Pub in Coppice Row, denied rumours that the pub car parks would be sold, especially to the Tesco business for the Tesco Express retail outlet next door. The Tesco site had parking spaces for only four cars whereas many more could be accommodated in the pub’s two car parks.

“Blind tasting” was the main event at the monthly meeting of the Theydon Bois Wine Circle. Members were asked to identify the grapes used in a number of commercial wines as presented by Circle President Alan Witts.

The annual reopening of the village Horticultural Society Trading Shop signified that spring had really arrived. However, this year, many gardening products were no longer available due to the high costs imposed on manufacturers by mandatory product testing. A further problem was the decline in use of this facility by Society members; the message was therefore “use it or lose it”. The Society was also appealing for more nominations for the Village Front Gardens Competition. Thanks were expressed to Michael Lowe, Alan Hollingbery and Barry Turner for maintaining the planters, which enhanced the village shopping area, and also to Mrs Grant who made available the necessary water supply.

The second of the St Mary’s Church Lent Soup Lunches was held in the Church Hall with food prepared by the ladies of the Church. For a charge of £4, a choice of excellent homemade soups was available with roll and butter followed by home-made fruit pie and coffee/tea. The proceeds of the series of six lunches, ending on 6 Apr 04, would go towards Church Mission Projects at home and abroad.

The Vinteuil Piano Trio entertained the members of the Theydon Bois Music Society at its March meeting in the village hall. Violist Iwona Bioesche, cellist Lawrence Durkin and pianist Robert Hunter gave a very professional recital of chamber music by Haydn, Debussy and Schuman. The audience particularly appreciated their powerful and expert performance of Schumann’s Piano Trio in D Minor, which brought a round of loud and sustained applause.

A fatal accident on a bend in Piercing Hill near the junction with Coppice Row, on 25 Feb 04, brought complaints about the poor nature of the road and requests for its improvement. Landscape gardener Michael Humphreys, 42, of Collard Avenue Loughton was killed when his car left the road and struck a tree in the adjacent forest. Piercing Hill resident Clare Pollock said “Several walls have been knocked down by cars mounting the pavement and others have crashed into the forest”. After a year of deliberation between Epping Police and the Epping Forest District Council, road-calming measures would be implemented by next month.

A group of young people, who use the village Youth Centre in Loughton Lane, strongly criticised the Essex County Council’s decision to close the Centre. They claimed that the Council had failed to consider day groups as users of the Centre. Sarah Rawlinson, 16, said, ”It’s like we’re invisible; we’re not classed as young adults who have their own opinions, the Council just sees us as kids; these decisions affect us, we should be heard”. The youngsters attend complementary education courses run at the Centres in conjunction with local schools. A Government initiative to launch a Make Space Campaign to open youth clubs for 11-16 year olds appeared to be at odds with the impending closure of the Village Youth Centre. Anti social behaviour in the village was increasing and a dossier of incidents was held in the Parish Office. Despite objections from the District Council, the Parish Council had placed preservation orders on trees at the site of the Village Youth Centre building. A legal challenge to this closure was to be made.

Following the decision by the Essex County Council Lifelong Learning Portfolio Holder, Mrs Bonnie Hart, to close the Wansfell adult learning college in Piercing Hill by 31 Aug 04, Epping and Theydon County Councillor Janet Whitehouse arranged for the decision to be “called in “ and go before a special Scrutiny Committee at Chelmsford. Special transport arrangements were being made to convey supporters of the College to Chelmsford for the hearing. A particular criticism of the decision was that Mrs Hart had not met College Principal Marilyn Taylor or Chairman of the Governors, Eric Granshaw, before making her decision.

The Epping Forest District Council gave its “total support” for Wansfell College at a meeting to which Mrs Hart had been invited to attend and explain her reasons for the College closure. However she could not be present due to an indisposition and, on the advice of the County Chairman Lord Hanningfield, decided that a meeting at her local ward was “more pressing”.

Mrs Hart responded in the local press to the many criticisms made regarding her recommendations to close Wansfell College. She argued that the courses at the College were available elsewhere at other County educational establishments, the only difference being that Wansfell was residential. The College was being subsidised by the County at the expense of other community colleges, a situation which she felt could not go on. Wansfell would need some £100,000 to bring its accommodation up to an acceptable standard. By losing 1,500 places at Wansfell, the County Council would be able to fund 3,000 extra adult places on courses across the county.

Amid cries of “shame” from the some one hundred supporters of Wansfell College in the public gallery in the County Council Chamber at Chelmsford, the proposal to reconsider the decision to close the College was narrowly lost. Despite arguments presented by College Governors Sharon Collins and John Rapley, the Parish and District Councillor Bob Glozier and County Councillor Janet Whitehouse, the decision to close was ratified with seven Conservative members out voting the five opposition members. College Principal Marilyn Taylor was visibly shaken by the decision and said “It was a three line whip. It was obvious that they had made their decisions before they came”. Several speakers voiced the opinion that the closure was based on a County decision to sell the site, estimated as being worth some £3 million; Mrs Hart denied this.

Epping Forest MP Eleanor Laing raised the closure of Wansfell College in the House of Commons. She had successfully applied for an adjournment debate so that she could question Alan Johnson MP, the Minister for Life Long Learning, and press him over the funding for such colleges. She said “ the County Council could not afford to keep the College open because of the enormous cuts that John Prescott’s department had made in the government’s contribution to the Essex budget. So it was the Government's ultimate responsibility”. However her attempts to save the College from closure were unsuccessful when the debate was cut short with no concessions being made by Ivan Lewis, the Under Secretary of State for Education and Skills.

The weather took a vicious turn during mid month with biting northerly winds and a substantial early morning snowfall. But the ever strengthening early spring sunshine soon cleared the roads so that many were able to attend the Village Association meeting in the evening for a talk about the History of Epping Forest given by local historian Peter Lawrence.

Once again there was a full house in the village hall for the last night of Ira Levin’s thriller Death Trap, the current production of the Theydon Bois Drama Society. Set in Connecticut, this complicated plot comprised a play within a play with some five murders. The two main characters were the smooth operator Sydney, played by Mike Rankin, and his partner in crime Clifford, played by Rob Nichols. The unfortunate wife who died quite realistically was played Jo Shepherd and the Linda Hayball's eccentric clairvoyant brought some humour to lighten the sombre aspect of the play. Henry Sternschuss was the lawyer. The cast coped well with a heavy production although the American accents required did stretch their linguistic abilities at times. The sets were good and the “lighting and thunder “ provided an excellent background to the grim atmosphere. Angie Becket-Franks directed the production.

Shopping in the village was improved when the new Tesco Express store in Coppice Row commenced trading. The opening ceremony was conducted conjointly by Tesco Store Manager Chris Hockley, Head Teacher Elspeth Bonds of the Village Primary School and a number of her pupils. To mark the occasion, the Tesco organisation presented a cheque for £500 to the School. Parish Councillo Bob Glozier said “I hope the new store’s contribution in livening up the village centre will be of benefit to all traders in the village”. Local History Recorder Trevor Roberts commented ” The store has retained the post office and there is now a cash machine, both of which are important but I’m a bit concerned about some of the traders around the corner who may suffer”.

Mrs Maureen Francis of the Essex Federation of Women’s Institutes was the speaker at the March Meeting of the Theydon Bois WI. She described the support the Federation had been giving to the children of the Russian City of Chernobyl who were suffering from cancer caused by the radioactivity which still existed following the major nuclear fire there many years ago.

A 38 year old man suffered head injuries when he was in collision with a white Vauxhall Astra car on the pedestrian crossing in Coppice Row. However his injures were not a serious as first thought and he was discharged from Whipps Cross Hospital in Leytonstone East London after an overnight stay.

The Theydon Bois Brownies and their leader Brown Owl Liz Hannibal took part in a recent golfing evening arranged by Essex County Junior Organiser Louella Hitchcock. The event was made competitive between the “sixies" and introduced the girls to parts of a golf course ie. the green, bunker and water hazard. Using brightly coloured Tri Golf equipment comprising soft balls, chippers and putters, the girls quickly mastered the putting course and went onto “chip into the chipping
basket ".

The use of “proper and fresh ingredients” was the secret of success behind the recent awards made to the butchers Quality and Excellence in the Forest Road shopping area. The British Meat and Livestock Commission awarded the second place silver prize to the business for the high standard of its home made sausages and pork pies; their broccoli and stilton sausages gained third place. Butcher and owner Mark Scrace said “We base everything on how granny used to make it with proper ingredients, none of this tinned rubbish. People are now starting to come back to small independent shops where they know we buy direct from farms and the produce is very fresh”.

Eleanor Laing MP returned once again to the opposition front bench in Parliament by accepting the office of Shadow Minister for Women. At local level, she had also agreed to be put forward as the Conservative Parliamentary candidate for Epping in the next general election.

The Parish Council had recently received fourteen planning applications, the most controversial of which was the conversion of a two-bedroom bungalow at 62 Theydon Park Road into a five-bedroom house. The Council would continue to resist conversions of this type. A Parish Council meeting with the Eastern Region Development revealed that 20,000 new homes were planned for the Epping Forest District with a total of 39,000 for West Essex as a whole. It was envisaged that many residents of these homes would wish to work in London and the current transport system would not be able to cope with this demand.

Five CCTV cameras would be installed in the village by the end of May and a grant of £5,000 towards the cost had been received from the District Council. Residents concerned about the loss of privacy were assured that this was not the case and would be invited to view the equipment when it was operational.

The District Council had advised that they would remove the brick built toilet facility on the village green. The Parish Council had written in reply requesting that this action be delayed until the question of responsibility for operating the facility could be more fully discussed. In the event of closure, a request was made for alternative facilities to be provided in the local pubs or halls for schools and organised groups visiting the village.

Local resident John Peck and his rowing partner Fraser Dodds finally reached Barbados 66 days after setting out from the Canary Islands in their ocean going rowing boat. They had taken part in a Trans Atlantic-rowing race and finished seventh out of thirteen competitors. Many hazards were encountered including storms with 90ft waves which damaged their rudder, extreme heat, big fish including a shark, masses of seaweed which slowed their progress and large ships which passed very close having not apparently seen them, and massive blisters from rowing. In compensation, they enjoyed magnificent sunrises and sunsets, panoramic views, the company of wildlife including dolphins and achieving the peak of physical fitness. They had kept in touch with home by phone via international satellite and their regular positional updates were published on the Ocean Rowing Society’s web site. But most of all, the two were looking forward to returning home within a few days.

During the previous months, the following funerals were recorded in the registers of St Mary's Church Theydon Bois:

04 03 04 Bill Pluckrose

20 03 04 Kate Coulson, Dudley Philpot.

04 03 04 Charles (“Val”) Brook.


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PAST MONTH IN THEYDON BOIS

FEBRUARY 2004

THE FOLLOWING ARE SOME OF THE EVENTS, NOT NECESSARILY IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER, WHICH TOOK PLACE IN THE VILLAGE OF THEYDON BOIS DURING FEBRUARY 2004 AND WHICH WERE RECORDED BY TREVOR ROBERTS, THE THEYDON BOIS LOCAL HISTORY RECORDER.

The funeral of John James Bridge of Coppice Row was held at Parndon Crematorium, Harlow. John died suddenly on 29 Jan 04 after returning home through treacherous winter conditions after spending a happy evening with friends. At the service, a close friend gave a moving eulogy for John in which he described John’s early days as an electromechanical engineer and his subsequent career with the Otis Lifts organisation. His love of football and particularly his strong support for West Ham United were also mentioned. John was an active Freemason and a member of Theydon Masonic Lodge in which he held high office. Bill Williams, a Lodge member, read the lesson at the service, which was conducted by the Reverend Beryl Denny of St Margaret’s Church TB. Bill was mourned by his wife Rose (Georgina), daughter Jill and his five grandchildren.

Michael Dellow, of the Theydon Bois Golf Club, announced that nearly £15,000 had been raised for the Epping Forest Branch of the Alzheimer’s Society during his year as Club Captain. Particular events, which helped raise this sum, included a charity golf day with members of other clubs playing over 100 holes, a race night and lesser activities including fines for member’s “misdemeanours”.

John Peck of Dukes Avenue and his rowing partner Fraser Dodds were reported as being currently sixth out of 13 rowing boats taking part in a rowing race from Tenerife to Barbados, and had reached the halfway stage. They had encountered problems with high temperatures and, especially, with steering the boat due to changes in trim resulting from the consumption of stores. They were often escorted by marine life (eg. dolphins) and a large shark gave them fright when it lay alongside for a time before moving off. The miracle of modern electronic communication enabled John to speak to his wife Elaine by phone and to receive encouraging messages of support via phone text. The lead boat in the race, with a four-man crew, was due to arrive in Barbados this week while John and Fraser expected to arrive in late March.

The news that speed cameras were to be introduced which photographed the front of a speeding vehicle prompted Gareth Keenan of Black Acre Road to claim that this change would enable visual details of offending drivers to be recorded and so facilitate prosecution and the collection of relevant fines. However other residents thought that such equipment, if installed in TB, would help catch criminals (eg. housebreakers and vandals) who used the roads in the village.

The Scout Hut in Loughton Lane continued to be the venue for monthly meetings of the Loughton Astronomical Society; a guest speaker was Jerry Workman who talked about the Cassini Mission to Saturn. Astrokyds, the junior branch of the Society, also met in the St Mary’s Church Hall in Coppice Row to discuss comets and meteors and make night-time observations.

The One Stop Shop in Coppice Row closed its doors for four weeks while being converted into a Tesco Express retail outlet. The post office facility would be reinstated in the new store but, during closure, a free minibus service to other local post offices would be provided on each Thursday. On reopening, the current staff would be re engaged and new staff recruited.

Residents were warned to beware of bogus callers to their residences who would seek entry for various and dubious reasons. In a recent incident an 86 year old lady refused entry to two men who claimed they were from the Three Valleys Water Company. She then phoned the police and the two men promptly ”vanished”. The Three Valleys Water Company said that all their employees carried an identity card and wore a standard company uniform. The police congratulated the lady on her action.

A thanksgiving service for the life of Kathleen Margaret Coulson, better know to most as “Kate” was held at St Mary’s Church following her cremation at Parndon, Harlow. She died on 9th February 2004 aged 88 after a short illness and many friends and villagers attended the service. In her own particular and efficient way, Kate organised her own funeral at the church where she had been a member for many years. In early years, Kate had been the Secretary of the Buckhurst Hill County High School, now long closed, and John Whaler a past colleague there made a special tribute to her. This was followed by an address given by the Rev Canon Colin Travers of St Mary’s, the church which had been such an important part of Kate’s life. Two special friends Betsy Challenger and Muriel Kitson also gave the readings. The organ music was chosen and played by John Rippon, another close friend. Kate was renowned for her directness, propriety and a very strong interest in most matters, especially education and children. She lived in a bungalow in Orchard Drive next to the Village Primary School and when weather permitted, would sit outside her home to talk to children from the school. She was very public spirited and received a commendation for possibly saving the school from arson some years ago by standing the road in her night attire to discourage intruders in school until the police and fire services arrived. Kate was a noted figure in TB having lived in the village most of her life, and her advice was sought on many matters. She represented a passing age and her loss was deeply mourned by many.

The Theydon Bois WI celebrated Shrove Tuesday with a special coffee morning in the village hall, which included a pancake tossing competition. For many years this would have been a pancake-tossing race along the road through the village green but the motor vehicle had brought this to an end. Children from the TB Primary School took part and Jayden Hutchings and Katie Grant won their section of the competition. The ladies also excelled themselves with Win Sief the winner with 86 pancake “tossings”; Diane Badcock and Ruby Parrott were the runners up. Since Easter was not far off, an Easter Bonnet Competition was also held with many ladies sporting beautiful floral decorations and, particularly, a novelty hat with a hen sitting on her eggs. A number of stalls did steady business and the proceeds were donated to the St Clare’s Hospice. The children finally returned to school with each clutching a gift of a chocolate Easter Egg.

The limited public road transport available the village was once again under threat with the announcement that Route 210, running from Chigwell Row to Loughton with stops at Lambourne End, Abridge and Debden, would be withdrawn from 25 Mar 04. The route is sub contracted out by the ECC who also subsidise the operation. The Council had a policy of subsidising transport subsidy on the basis of £5 per passenger; this was now costing more and so the contract would not be renewed. The Lambourne End WI had launched a campaign to save the service and ECC Councillor Janet Whitehouse supported this action

A plea was also being made for more volunteer drivers to operate the Dial A Rider Transport Scheme in the area, which used car and community minibuses to provide 700 journeys per month in the Epping Forest District for villagers and others not served by public transport. The proposed withdrawal of Route 210 only served to stress the need for, and the importance of, this scheme.

A confused situation surrounded the controversial proposed closure of Wansfell College by the ECC for possible residential redevelopment, with many voicing their objections to this possibility. John Conroy, an ex Chairman of the TBPC and a neighbouring resident, requested the ECC to have the courtesy to notify nearby residents as soon as possible of any decisions which had been made regarding the premises. It was previously thought that the ECC decision to close would be taken in mid March 2004 but it now appeared that Elizabeth Hart, the ECC Portfolio Holder for Life Long Learning, would decide by the end of this week (27 Feb). The Governors of the College had written to every County Councillor asking that the decision to close should not be taken by Mrs Hart but debated and decided in the Council Chamber. Janet Whitehouse, the Theydon Bois County Councillor and a supporter of the College said she would seriously consider “calling in” the decision. She had also invited College Chairman Eric Granshaw and Fellow Governor John Rapley to speak at the EFDC Scrutiny Committee meeting on 4 Mar 04 when Councillors would be able to pass on comment to County Hall. John Rapley commented “We have a strong feeling that we’ve not been able to put our views to a broad audience on the Council, and it’s been channelled through two officers who have been clearly inclined to go ahead with the closure”.

Epping Forest MP, Eleanor Laing, declared her opposition to the ECC decision to close the Youth Centre in Loughton Lane Theydon Bois and sell the site to redevelopers, again for residential development. She said, “I challenge the claim that the Theydon Bois Youth Centre (and the Roding Centre) are surplus to requirements. They’re being used at present by various groups and are therefore by definition required”.

February ended on a very cold note with snowfalls, biting northerly winds and hard frosts. But this did not prevent the now, common place, early arrival of spring with tree blossom, daffodils, crocuses and snowdrops bringing a welcome splash of colour to bleak gardens and the backcloth of grey skies.

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Copyright 2004. Trevor Roberts, Local History Recorder.

 

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Last Up Dated: 10th May 2004