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The Month in Theydon

A Month by Month Report since November 2002 by Trevor Roberts

The Month in Theydon Pages are Copyright (2002/3/4/5/6/7/8/9/10/11/12/13/14/15/16/17) of Trevor Roberts, Local History Recorder.


March 2017


A report by the RAC road vehicle recovery organisation claimed that some 3,200 road bridges in Britain were not in an adequate condition to support the heaviest lorries now in use, which can weigh up to 44 tons. This number of sub standard bridges had increased by 36% in the last two years and this was due the lack of maintenance. An estimated £3.9 billion was required to finance this work but local councils were only spending one eighth of that sum per year. The small bridge at Abridge on the road to Theydon Bois was now seeing  a substantial increase in road traffic.

The political fallout over the 2017 Budget delivered by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on 07 03 17, continued, over two major issues. The first was the increase in National Insurance contributions which was contrary to the election promises made by the Conservative government, and which was promptly "dropped” the following day at the direction of the Prime Minister. The second was an increase in taxation for the self employed which was also subject to strong opposition by government back benchers and was  consequently, a week later, also overruled by the Prime Minister.

Underground trains which run in tunnels beneath residential areas can cause some disturbance through vibration and possible noise. This was not always evident during the day due to other existing influences. However, with the recently introduced night time services, train disturbance had became more pronounced especially in the quiet small hours and resulting in sleep disturbance. Transport for London advised that modifications to rail tracks were being carried out to deal with the problem. Central Line night services to the Epping Forest District progress no further than Loughton so Villagers were unaffected by this problem.

The “Third Week In August”, the current production by the Theydon Bois Drama Society was staged in the TBVH to audiences comprising regular supporters and others enjoying a pleasant social occasion. Playwright Peter Gordon, could have derived the plot from the “carry on” comedy productions which were popular in the sixties. Sue (played by Kass Allen) decides to get away from everybody on a solo caravan holiday but little realises that she has booked into a remote and run down site from hell. She is taken under the wing of an expert but inadequate caravanner Neville (Bernie Pavely) who is often at odds with his wife Mary (Angie Becket - Franks) or else trying to cope with his recently separated sister in law Liz (Gill Newly). This culminates in an unsuccessful barbecue with sausages being thrown around. The production was directed by Suzie Correya backed by the usual ”army” of willing back stage workers, and was presented by special arrangement with Josef Weinberger Plays.

The sale of a “tiny house” (cottage) in London’s Chelsea typified the acute housing shortage and desperation of those seeking a home. The property sold for £713,823, nearly £100,000 more than the asking price and was in need of complete renovation. Despite being only 23 sq meters (250 sq ft) in size, it contained a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and a reception area.
The 21st of March (the historical Spring Equinox) brought only cold and gloomy weather to the local area which was not surprising as wintry weather was expected to move south from a frosty and snowy North of England. The previous days had been bright with increasing warm sunshine which had encouraged some spring flowers and plants to display their bright colours despite the random and cold winds blowing. March was known for being a “treacherous weather month” and some were therefore taking short holiday breaks to seek warmer climes.

Reverberations continued in the aftermath of a believed terrorist incident outside the Palace of Westminster on Wednesday 22nd March 2017. Khalid Masood, a British born and violent criminal converted to Islam, drove a car at high speed along the pavement of Westminster Bridge mowing down pedestrians and then crashing into the railings of the Palace of Westminster where Parliament was sitting. He then ran through the foot entrance, stabbed the unarmed police office on duty and was finally shot by armed police officers before he could enter the building. In the short period of thirty seconds three people were dead and twenty six injured, several seriously. Despite recriminations from some quarters there appeared to be general agreement that the response by the essential services was immediate and highly efficient. Marches and rallies in support of those affected were held in central London at Trafalgar Square and elsewhere. A week later (29 March) at the exact time of the incident, a formal tribute was held on a traffic - free Westminster Bridge attended by representatives of the police, ambulance and hospital services and those associated with the victims.

Britain’s formal exit from the European Union (EU) was triggered by the signing of Article 50 by the Prime Minister (PM). Problems immediately surfaced when France and Germany refused to begin trade talks before the UK had agreed to pay a “Brexit Divorce Bill”, and the PM threatened to consequently withdraw cooperation with the EU on security. But already the government was beginning to transfer into UK law thousands of EU laws, ranging from workers rights to the environment. It also announced that a Great Repeal Bill would allow the UK Parliament, Welsh, Scottish and North Ireland administrations to scrap, amend or improve laws. The jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice would also end. 

The first of the 2017 annual Lent Soup Lunches was held in St Mary’s Church Hall. A choice of nine soups was available together with a homemade sweet course and coffee, for the sum of £7.50. The Hall was full for this first Lunch, organized by the ladies of the Church in support of the “Fair Trade “charity.

A new twelve-sided one pound coin came into circulation. The coin embodied a hidden security feature making it difficult to counterfeit when electronically scanned, being counted or used as payment. Other features included an image that functioned as a hologram, and micronized lettering inside both rims. The coin was also believed to contain other particularly unique features not disclosed by the Royal Mint.

The Marine Conservation Society downgraded the Haddock in its Good Fish Guide to “sustainable fish to eat” after stocks in Scottish waters were reported to have fallen. But the Scottish Fisherman’s Federation insisted that haddock quotas had only been reduced in line with stock assessments, and stated “You can continue to buy your fish (and chips) supper without worrying whether there will be enough fish left in the sea”.

Skin creams containing a paraffin base had been found to   cause a number of deaths from burning. At risk are people using creams for treating eczema and psoriasis etc who do not change clothing or bed linen on a regular basis,
and who could suffer burns or self ignition due to the paraffin soaking into the relevant material. Some products were found to contain up to !5% of paraffin and health authorities were requesting that  these be marked with warning lables.

During January 2017 following entries were made in the registers of St Mary’s Church:

Holy Baptism

22 01 17  Calum Daniel McCauley

18 01 17            Eric Roland Smith – Funeral in Church followed by                    Burial
19 01 17    Bessie Evelyn Mott – Memorial Service preceded                      by Cremation

24 01 17    Stephen William Michael Crouch – Cremation                          followed by Funeral Service



On a momentous 28th March Britain began its formal withdrawal from the EU. The government was forced into an embarrassing turnaround on the budget proposals to increase national insurance contributions and taxation on self-employment, and a terrorist driving a car along the pavement outside Parliament killed three people and injured 26 in just 30 seconds. The NHS cut back prescriptions for minor medications (aspirin), and users were warned that skin creams containing a high percentage of paraffin could self ignite clothing.  The EFDC reassumed responsibility for the district’s 18 car parks, some 3200 road bridges in Britain were deemed inadequate for heavy vehicles and night running tube trains were disturbing the sleep of those near tracks or tube tunnels. Haddock was downgraded as a sustainable fish and the housing shortage was highlighted by the sale for £714,000 of a Chelsea mini house with only 239 square ground footage. The weather remained cold and gloomy brightened only by the emerging bright colours of the early spring flowers; but the St Mary’s Lent Soup Lunches began – a sure sign of approaching Easter.




February 2017


In early February, a four year old boy was hit by a car as he crossed Coppice Row near the Tesco store. A light blue Nissen Juke stopped briefly after the incident but drove away before the police could speak to the driver. The child was taken to hospital with a broken leg but his injuries were not believed to be life threatening. The Chigwell Roads - Policing Unit was seeking witnesses, or any other information, regarding the incident.

The EFDC was set to "freeze" the Council Tax Precept for the seventh year in succession. The average payment required from a Band D property was set to remain at £148.77 per month until at least April 2018.

A research organization reported that the incomes of pensioners, after housing costs, were now greater than those of working age people. The Resolution Foundation also said that pensioners were more likely than their predecessors to be working, own a home and have generous private pensions. Growth in pensioner incomes had now been coupled with a weak income growth for working age people. Pensioner households were now £29 a week better off than working - age households; but in 2001 the reverse applied when there was a minus £70 a week differential.

There was increasing concern about the proposed changes in business rates to be announced in the March UK Budget. High street trading was suffering because of the increase in electronic trading where consumers ordered goods direct instead of shopping from retailers. Consequently High Street trading was falling and shops were closing. An average increase of 40% in rates would close more businesses and the nature of high streets change radically. Large retail chains would also be affected. The Chief Executive o the Sainsbury Food giant called for “fundamental reforms” to the business rates system. He was quoted as saying that it was pegged to property valuations, was archaic and ignored the rise of online shops in out of town warehouses. The affect of the rate revaluations would be felt in April and business groups were already calling for help. The government’s response was that the majority of business would pay the same amount, or less. But objections and concerns, from leading politicians and business organisations, continued to be expressed.

In mid month the UK enjoyed an early spell of spring weather and the warmest day of the year so far with some areas experiencing 18.3 degrees C: a mass of tropical Atlantic air blowing across the country was responsible. Higher temperatures for February had been recorded in the past but the 1978 record of 19.7 degrees was not reached.

Once again passengers using the Central Line at Theydon Bois were affected by travel disruption when drivers of the RMT Union went on a 24 hour strike in protest at the relocation of Tube train drivers; some other underground lines were also affected. A similar but unconnected strike by maintenance workers on the London Underground system over industrial relations was planned to take place later.

Investigations revealed that hospital services in nearly two thirds of England could be cut or scaled back. This would be part of a programme to radically change health services in forty four different areas, as a part of cost saving. Twenty eight proposals would affect hospital care from full closures to centralising and relocating services, such as A & E and stroke care, to fewer sites. NHS England contended that patients would receive better community care to compensate for hospital cuts.

Storm Doris struck the UK in the early hours in mid month and caused considerable disruption with 80 miles per hour wind gusts, heavy rain, flooding, snow, power cuts and general damage to town and country alike. The storm was unusual as the low atmospheric pressure resulted in spasmodic wind gusts of high intensity making local roads hazardous to negotiate; Epping High Road was blocked for a short time by fallen trees and the school Bus to St John’s School Epping was withdrawn. Several parked aircraft at North Weald Airfield were damaged, one severely. Fortunately, the storm was greatest in the north and midlands of the UK and the Village appeared to have escaped its worst affects.

The increasing and dangerous practice of vehicles parking in the busy Abridge Road just south of the rail bridge resulted in local and district councillors calling for action by the ECC Essex County Council) and the NEPP (North Essex Parking Partnership). The problem was being caused by rail commuters parking in a small lane and then onto the main road. It was later disclosed that the EFDC (Epping Forest District Council) had now taken back control of local off - street parking from the NEPP.

Brass Band enthusiasts, and especially local residents who had originated from the Redbridge area, enjoyed an evening concert in St John’s Church, Epping, given by the Redbridge Brass Band in Support of the Bloodwise Cancer Charity. Their “Big Band” performance featured the music of Glen Miller and others in a concert of some fourteen musical items which included favourites such as Moonlight Serenade, American Patrol and Pennsylvania 6 – 5 000, which had many in the audience tapping feet and reliving their youth. The band that evening comprised some twenty seven muscisans conducted by Jeremy Wise. The Band originated from the Redbridge Music School in the 1960s and some of the original pupils and members were playing in the Band that evening, so some friendships were rekindled afterwards when refreshments were served.

Police were called to a property in Coppice Row after reports that two males had made criminal threats to a person and demanded property. During the incident a moped was stolen, but had since been recovered. A 16 year youth from Loughton was arrested and police were now looking for another male. A number of recent burglaries in the Village and the increasing anti social behaviour in Epping High Street, which were attributed by some to the closure of the Epping police station, were also causing concern.

Forty one gun salutes were fired in London’s Green Park, and also in Cardiff, Edinburgh and York, to mark the Queen’s 65 years on the throne. She had now become the first British Monarch to reach a sapphire jubilee. The Queen became the UK’s longest - reigning monarch in 2015 when aged 89.

Closure of the Theydon Bois Women’s Institute was averted when members came forward to stand for office/committee at the Annual Meeting in April 2017.

Tumble dryers marketed under the brand names of Hotpoint, Creda and Indesit have been blamed for a number of fires including one in a London tower block. The manufacturers have advised millions of purchasers to unplug the dryers from the mains supply but have refused to issue a general safety recall of the product. Therefore more than 40,000 people have signed a parliamentary petition to force the Whirlpool organization to recall three million potentially dangerous machines; the government must respond to a petition containing more than 10,000 signatures.

During November and December 2016 the following entries were made in the registers of St Mary’s Church:

Holy Baptism

20 11 16  Jeanette Lucy Hazel Davison
Holy Matrimony

17 12 16  Steven Edward Shelly and Georgina Worboyes


In February, road traffic through the Village was increasing and possibly caused a pedestrian accident outside Tesco Express, the ECC became involved in the dangerous parking situation in the Abridge Road and commuters were affected by a drivers’ strike on the Central Line. Council tax was again frozen for the seventh year but there was grave concern about the pending increase in business rates, a survey claimed that pensioners incomes (after housing costs) were now greater than those in employment, closure of the TBWI was averted but closure of the Epping Police Station was attributed to increasing crime in both the Village and Epping, a possible re organisation of local hospital services was being considered, and residents were warned not to use certain makes of tumbler dryers due to possible fire hazards. The spring - like weather at the beginning of the month was replaced by a short but very strong Storm Doris whose exceptionally high winds and lashing rain brought fallen trees, flooded roads and dislocated transport. But gardens and birds sensed that spring had arrived - almost.



January 2017


Villagers who were watching on TV saw the New Year celebrated well before midnight in other parts of the world, with recorded reports from New Zealand, Australia, Singapore and Middle Eastern Countries. But the UK’s turn came as Big Ben struck midnight when a magnificent fireworks display exploded into the sky before an audience of some of tens of thousands in Central London. 12,000 fireworks from moored barges on the Thames complimented the centre piece of the London Eye in a glorious fifteen minutes display. Celebration parties in the Village joined in with their own displays to the accompaniment of Auld Lang Synge as 2016 faded into history.

The problems with overhead rail passenger rail services continued on from 2016 and to add insult to injury, the rail companies announced rail fare increases of 2.3% (1.9% for season tickets) from the beginning of this New Year. In early January the London Underground system was totally immobilised by ticket office staff , (who are members of the RMT and TSSA Unions) going “on strike” for 24 hours. This caused an almost total disruption of the London bus and overhead train services as commuters struggled to find alternative transport into London. Many used their motor vehicles so the road system, especially in Central London, became “clogged”; this was exacerbated by partial closure of the M25 Motorway due to a traffic incident.

For some time, concern has been expressed regarding the adverse affects of atmospheric pollution on the general population, especially that generated by motor vehicles during hot and fine weather conditions; under these conditions those suffering from pulmonary and cardiac conditions had often been warned to stay indoors and not travel to Central London where the health risk was high. The Village is particularly vulnerable to such pollution, with the M11 and M25 motorways in close proximity, and increasing road traffic in Coppice Row. However, dementia, a new element of risk has now been revealed. According to a major study carried out by the medical journal Lancet, exposure to traffic pollution had been found to increase the risk of dementia by up to 12%. In mid month, the first air pollution alerts in Central London introduced in August 2016 were posted on bus stops, tube stations and prominently at roadsides. 

Wintry weather in the north arrived overnight in midmonth and continued into the morning leaving a layer of snow on top of a frozen ground. Flood warnings of high spring tides on the East Anglican coast prompted the evacuation of people from Yarmouth down to Jaywick near Clacton, and here flood relief centres were occupied by local residents as a precaution. A change in wind direction diverted the storm surge away from the coast and averted any major flooding.

During the previous days, nearly half the hospitals in England declared major alerts as the National Health Service (NHS) winter crisis continued to increase especially in the Accident and Emergency (A&E) Units. Due to an acute shortage of beds, patients were being accommodated in hospital corridors and also the ambulances which had brought them to the hospital. In some areas, local GPs were called in to make preliminary diagnoses and treat patients, if necessary, to avoid the need to admit them. Reasons given for the crisis included the continuing increase in the population (especially with the elderly), and overloads at GPs' surgeries where time lapses of four weeks between requesting and seeing a doctor were now common place.

The three day production of Noel Coward’s comic play Blithe Spirit staged by the Theydon Bois Drama Society in the TBVH was a great success. The play was based on the intention of the socialite and novelist Charles Condomine (played by Paul Daynes) who invited the eccentric medium and clairvoyant, Madam Arcati (Sue Seward), to his house to conduct a séance in order to gather material for his next book; his scheme backfires when the ghost of his first wife, Alvira, materialises. Within earshot of his two wives, Charles announces that he is going on a long holiday to escape them and flees the house through a barrage of their poltergeist activity including a near miss from a falling chandelier. All the cast received wide applause from the audience. The production was directed by Simon Gilbert and presented by special arrangement with Samuel French Ltd.

Concern was growing over the structural changes being made to the old primary school building in Coppice Row. This had been used for business purposes for some years and then as residential accommodation. An application for its change to two separate residences had been previously rejected by the local authority. Currently, internal redevelopment was taking place with the upper sections of the structure being modified to increase living space. However, it was reported that sections of the walls had now collapsed and a substantial part of the building demolished. It was feared that this could be another situation where "unintended demolition" could result in the loss of a building and its replacement by a new development. The local planning authority was investigating the situation and it was hoped that the building could be returned to its previous state.

Scientific research into the problem of “getting to sleep” at night time established that modern life was one reason. The distraction of light from electronic devices and electrically lit homes could also affect sleep quality and duration. A suggested solution was to live outdoors and sleep under the stars for a short period, as this can shift the body’s internal clock by some 2.5 hours so that the individual became sleepier earlier in the evening; it was thought that the absence of sunlight and artificial illumination accelerates this shift.

A unique “railway first” was the arrival in London, at Barking Freight Depot, of the East Wind a Chinese freight train from the City of Yiwu on China’s East Coast. The journey had taken 18 days over a distance of 7,500 miles (12,000 km), based on the historic overland Silk Road to Europe. The freight carried comprised 34 containers of clothing and high street goods and would be carrying British exports on the return to China.

The “women shopping in pyjamas” activity emerged once again when a Tesco supermarket manager (not in Theydon Bois) was given permission to eject from his store women so attired. Customers had complained about feeling uncomfortable when seeing other shoppers wearing unsuitable clothing in stores. This behaviour caused considerable controversy in 2010 when a Cardiff store adopted a complete ban on “pyjama shopping”; and a school headmaster wrote to parents asking mothers not to come to the school clad in dressing gowns and carpet slippers.

During October and November 2016 the following entries were made in the registers of St Mary’s Church
Holy Baptism
20 11 16    Jeanette Lucy Hazel Dawson & Joely Jay Minnis
12 10 16    Joan Whitmarsh


January began with the usual New Year celebrations but backed by increased police vigilance in London, fog alerts were issued in Central London due to high atmospheric and traffic pollution, the latter possibly being linked with dementia, hospitals  were once again at maximum capacity due to winter illness and the now common - place four week waiting period for a Doctor’s appointment, the number of unwanted dogs possibly given as Christmas presents was up by 24%, the TB Drama Society’s production Blithe Spirit was a popular success, concern was expressed regarding structural changes to the Old Village School and a goods train from Eastern China rolled into nearby Stratford heralding a new (rail) link with the Far East. The weather was very cold which probably quickly ended the re - emergence (not in the Village) of women shopping in their pajamas and scientists advised that sleeplessness could be combated by sleeping outdoors – but preferably not during the English winter!


Earlier (2016) Months

Last Updated: 12th May 2017