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The Month in Theydon Bois

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THE PAST MONTH IN THEYDON BOIS

JANUARY 2003

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

“Sentimental Journey”, a revue presented by the Theydon Bois DramaSociety played to almost full houses for four nights. The production consisted of sentimental songs, old and new, associated with travel by train in the good old days of steam. These were interlinked with dialogues, monologues and general “chit chat”, the latter from a pair of railway officials humorously played by Martin Oliver and Adrian Currey. The scenery and special effects gave a realistic impression of a railway station platform onto which the players sauntered in colourful costumes to sing the appropriate songs. The production was devised, directed and choreographed by Jan Freeman and Lizzie Lambrianos. Jean Cass was the musical director and the accompanying pianist.

George Carfoot, a Theydon Bois garden expert, received the Royal Warrant in recognition of his specialist work for clearing weeds from royal properties in London, including Buckingham Palace. As Weed Controller to her Majesty the Queen, he received a royal call at least once a year and dealt with the problem according to the type of weed involved. George had also worked for the SITA organisation in clearing weeds from the roads in the EFDC district and provided specialist services to the Epping Forest Conservators. He also dealt with aquatic weed problems in ponds and was currently involved with the planting of trees on the embankments of the M25 motorway.

Computer equipment was stolen from a house in Piercing Hill. Access appeared to have been gained via the garage, but a rear door was also smashed.

On his recent first day as Captain of the Theydon Bois Golf Club, Michael Dellow, of Sidney Road, hit his first hole in one after some three decades of playing the game. He was taking part in the traditional Club Turkey Trot Competition at the 138-yard, 15th hole, when he achieved this unique shot which he said had left him “elated”. Instead of buying the traditional round of drinks to celebrate the occasion, Michael donated £100 to his chosen charity the Epping Forest Branch of the Alzheimers Society, of which his wife Pauline is Chairman.

The Long Running area of Epping Forest near the Theydon Bois road was the location for a “Forest Day” organised by the Epping Forest Centenary Trust. A number of volunteers of all ages helped to extend the heath land area by clearing encroaching trees and shrubs and creating suitable habitats for wildlife. The event was part of the four month national campaign by the Whitbread Action Earth organisation, which involved some 750 environmental organisations.

The children of the village primary school became indirectly involved with crime prevention in the village by assisting with a competition, won by Matilda Rossetti, to design the front cover of a leaflet to be issued by the Theydon Bois Burglary Action Group. The leaflet would put into perspective why residents could not expect the police to give the village priority in dealing with burglary, and why it was important for residents to take measures to protect their homes from this type of crime.

The proprietors of the florists “Fairytale Flowers“ in Coppice Row assured customers that they were not closing, despite notification of a planning application regarding the freehold of property, and that its colourful floral displays would continue to enhance the pavement in front of the premises.

Black ice on the bend at the lower end of the Abridge Road was responsible for a major accident involving at least six motor vehicles; this section of the road is plagued with a continual “run off” of water from the adjacent land which froze overnight. This road between Theydon Bois and Abridge was widened to three lanes in the 1930s as part of the “Green Route“ intended as a ring road around London. The project was stopped by the outbreak of World War II and it was not until the 1980s that the M25 Motorway, its replacement, was completed with the local section running further north between Epping and the village.

The Theydon Bois Music Society held a Saturday Coffee Morning in the Village Hall which realised just over £165 for the funds of the Society.

A major derailment on the underground Central Line at Chancery Lane station in London resulted in the complete shutdown of this rail system including the section serving the village. Following extensive investigations, the cause of the derailment was found to be the failure of bolts retaining a drive motor, which resulted in the motor falling onto the track. The entire fleet of 85 Central Line trains had to be returned to depot for the replacement of these bolts on every motor. This colossal task could not be effected overnight, hence the closure of the system until possibly March 2003. A large fleet of replacement buses from various parts of the country was assembled and commenced running from Epping to Stratford and Epping to Chingford where conventional rail services were operating. Commuters in the area faced increased travel times of up to three hours and the usually packed car park at Theydon Bois station remained almost empty. An advantage to the village was the absence of commuter car parking on some village roads, which now became easier to negotiate.

Residents of Theydon Bois continued their strong links with nearby Copped Hall through active participation in its restoration or by supporting fund raising activities, particularly the regular Copped Hall lectures held in the village hall. Sylvia Keith, the current Chairman of the Friends of the Copped Hall Trust, had written a book entitled “Nine Centuries of People at Copped Hall”; this was partly based on the Copped Hall Time Line, which depicted ten centuries at the Hall, and was created by herself and other Friends. Sylvia signed and sold many copies of her book at a special Book Launch at the Hall, part of the proceeds of which would help fund the work of restoration.

The fifth national strike of fire fighters was called by the Fire Brigades Union and fire cover for the Epping District, including the village, was replaced by personnel of the armed services using ancient “Green Goddess” fire appliances. Talks between the union and management had again broken down over the sticking pint of a 12% increase in salary coupled with a change in working practices; the union wanted a 40% increase and no change in working practices and claimed that the proposal would result in many fire fighters losing their jobs.

Only a few weeks after its reopening with new play equipment, the playground by the village green had to be closed again due to damage sustained by one of the structures. The PAT Committee who administered the playground immediately arranged for repairs to be made and a reopening within a short period was envisaged. The damage was attributed to “large and exuberant children” or, as some suggested, by teenagers or adults who frequented the site late at night (the playground was not intended for use by children older than 11 years).

January commenced its exit as an “icy lion” when strong winds straight from the arctic brought 6 cm of snow to some parts of Theydon Bois with temperatures of minus 3 degrees F (much lower with the wind chill factor). By the evening, roads and footpaths were treacherous underfoot and local transport was seriously disrupted. In London, the motoring organisations described conditions as the worst ever in the capital and parts of the metropolis were grid locked with immobilised traffic; some buses were unable to operate, as also were some of the rail systems, including part of the underground system. The Central Line remained closed so many commuters from the village were delayed on their return home or even stranded. The M11 and M25 motorways were similarly affected and Stansted Airport was closed.

A child being stung on the mouth by a wasp led local resident Mike Webb, 46, to invent a safety device called “Canscreen” which could become a feature of metal cans containing drinks. These cans are normally opened with a pull tag and the contents then usually drunk through the opening, which also allows contaminant and insects to enter eg. wasps. Mike’s device would seal the can with an internal flap but still allow access to the contents. Canscreen won an award on the TV show “Best Inventions” and Mike had now patented the device and was in discussion with can manufacturers regarding its adoption.

Questions were now being asked about the cause of the Central Line derailment of the 25 Jan 03 and about the safety of this rail system in general. The EFDC Portfolio Holder for Community Well Being and a former railway employee, Councillor Stan Goodwin, commented that “the derailed train had, apparently, been having problems for some time prior to the accident. The worrying point was to take the train out of service at Holborn when this could have been done earlier at Stratford, Mile End or Liverpool Street stations where passengers could have transferred to other rail services. There are enough things being said to hold a public enquiry". A London Underground spokesman said, “We’re carrying out an as full and comprehensive investigation that we can. The case for a public enquiry is for someone else to decide.”

Plans for the refurbishment of the Robert Daniels Court, the EFDC sheltered housing facility adjacent to the village green, received planning approval. This was granted despite claims by a resident of nearby Thrift’s Mead that the new development would be an eyesore, be out of keeping with the area and adversely affect the view of the open countryside. This objector also claimed that an independent authority should have made the final decision, and not EFDC, because of a conflict of interest. Dorothy Paddon, the holder of the EFDC Planning and Economic Development Portfolio said “By law, the EFDC is the planning authority for this area and therefore responsible for making its own decisions on its developments”.

The “Shaping the Future” report published by the Essex County Council caused much local concern by proposing widespread development across the Epping Forest District, including neighbouring Loughton. Epping Forest MP Eleanor Laing was particularly shocked because the report, which she had received by chance, had been produced without any consultation with the EFDC or herself. She said, “The implications of massive expansion were very serious indeed. We want reasonable growth for our communities and enough housing to be available for everyone who needs it; but what is proposed would completely change the nature of our towns and villages. She added, “Surely the county planners are not thinking of building on Epping Forest itself? But if there’s no building on the Forest, where would Loughton expand?“. Peter Martin, the ECC Planning, Enterprise and Regeneration cabinet member said, “The structure plan is a means to plan ahead to manage growth in a way that benefits everyone, does not damage the environment and protects the special qualities of our towns”.

EFDC Councillor Roy Newland presented the proposed new parking plan for the village, at the January meeting of the Theydon Bois Parish Council. This mainly related to the introduction of a one hour parking ban in certain roads, particularly those affected with parking by commuters (invariably from outside the village) who used the Theydon Bois railway station. Other matters raised related to the increasing problem of discarded litter and “fly tipping. Of major concern was the proposal for the COOP Chemist retail business to open a pharmacy in the village medical centre; this would adversely affect the business of the village “Pharmacy” which had supported the community so well in the past.

Dawn of the last day of January revealed the village to be an icy waste, after a heavy snowfall, with the general advice “not to travel” being given on television and radio. Some commuters were still arriving home after spending the night either travelling or staying in overnight accommodation. On the M11 motorway between Harlow and Bishop’s Stortford, motorists were still trapped in their cars by road accidents and the icy conditions; but they were keeping in touch with their families and the essential services by means of that remarkable invention of the age, the mobile telephone. The usual complaints were being made regarding non-gritted roads despite bad weather warnings being given well in advance, but the severity of the blizzards appeared to have caught the highway maintenance authorities off guard.

The Rev. Canon Colin Travers, the Vicar of St Mary’s TB, reported that, after almost twenty years of discussion and five years of planning, work was about to commence on improvements to the fabric of the church. This would include demolishing the old vestry, underpinning the north wall of the church and building new vestries and meeting rooms. The work would take about six months to complete during which time church services would continue as usual; but the church car park would not be available. When completed, the new building would be a “centre” for church activities in Theydon Bois and possibly by other churches in the area. The total cost should be £400,000 and contributions in support were still being received including £10,000 from the Friends of Essex Churches.

The appalling state of the road surface in Coppice Row TB, the main route through the village, had long been the subject of many complaints. Successive authorities had dug holes in it, realigned drains and, only recently, renewed the main water supply. The entire surface was now being renewed (which caused further traffic delays) and residents hoped that this would now be the end of the Coppice Row saga.

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THE PAST MONTH IN THEYDON BOIS DECEMBER 2002

Here are some of the many events, not necessarily in chronological order, which occurred in the village of Theydon Bois during December 2002 and which have been recorded by Trevor Roberts the Local History Recorder for Theydon Bois.

The Playground At Theydon (PAT) Charity in TB once again received an award in recognition of its contribution to the rural community. At a meeting of the Rural Community Council of Essex held in Stebbing, Joy Wainwright, Chairman of PAT was presented with a cheque and certificate for the charity as a runner up in the Augustin Courtauld Community Award Scheme. This award would help finance the refurbishment of the Playground equipment for which some £24,000 had now been raised by PAT activities, from grants and private donations.

The Tottenham Hotspur Football Club had submitted revised plans for its proposed football academy in Epping Lane, Abridge. The original proposal had resulted in much protest including 455 letters to the EFDC of which 415 were of objection. In response, the proposed number of football pitches had now been reduced from 20 to 13, the pavilion had been reduced in height by 2 meters and the locations changed for both this building and the site entrance in Epping Lane. Local residents, however, contended that this revision was simply a cosmetic exercise and also feared that changes would have to be made to Epping Lane, to cope with the additional road traffic, and so adversely affect the local environment. The EFDC would decide on the proposal at a special committee meeting on 27 Jan 03.

Cold wind and rain did not deter many villagers from assembling outside the TB Village Hall to see the formal switching on of the lights on the Village Christmas Tree. Cllr Wilfred Shales chaired the occasion and the TBPC Chairman Cllr John Eaton opened the proceedings with Christmas greetings and a request for financial support for the Haven Hospice Foundation in Woodford. Father Christmas, alias Cllr Bob Glozier, then arrived in an illuminated pony and trap because his sledge and reindeer were delayed in the usual motorway hold up. The new minister of St Mary’s Church, Canon Colin Travis, spoke of looking forward to his first Christmas in the village and of his pleasure at seeing so many homes decorated with festive lighting. The Christmas Tree lights were then formally switched on by Caroline Law, who is the village personality of the year, and the Rev David Penegar from the TB Baptist Church gave a Christmas blessing. The children of the TB Primary School sang two carols and other singing was led by the Theydon Singers. Hot mince pies and wine were then served and a collection made for the Haven Hospice. Christmas had truly arrived in Theydon Bois!

Octave House, a new residential development in Station Road was completed in time for Christmas and most of the apartments were already sold. The site of this development was formerly occupied by the David Franklin motor repair and servicing business and, before then, by Tidd's Garage Services which had served Theydon Bois in this capacity for many years.

A Christmas Mini Market held in St Mary’s’ Church Hall was well attended with purchases being made from many stalls. Lunches were also available and proved popular. The function raised more than £900 in support of church funds.

The current state of the National Health Service and the apparent decline of its services in the local area were highlighted by a letter in the local press from G. Avery of Hornbeam Road. The writer, aged 78 years, described the frustrating experience of an early attendance (7.30 am.) at Princess Alexander Hospital in Harlow for a minor operation. This patient claimed to be totally ignored initially, then processed with extensive paperwork, gowned and prepared medically, kept waiting for an extensive period in a mixed sex waiting room and finally sent home because theatre time had expired. To add insult to injury this entire debacle was repeated four days later when returning to the hospital for a second time as requested by the hospital.

A house in Woburn Avenue was broken into and a nine-carat sovereign ring together, with an 18-inch gold chain, was stolen. To add insult to injury the intruders threw cooking materials around the place and in the toilet. A further insult to law abiding citizens was the directive given later in the month to the judiciary by the Lord Chief Justice, that those guilty of such crimes for the first time should not be imprisoned but sentenced to “community service” instead. The overcrowding in prisons was the apparent reason this directive; the general reaction of many in the community was that more prisons should be built instead of applying this “soft option”.

Christmas music preceded the December meeting of the TB Music Society after which the New Edition Opera Group from Saffron Walden gave a vocal performance of items from Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. The audience and the singers enjoyed wine and mince pies during the interval and then, the entire company took the stage to present a lively performance of Trial by Jury accompanied by pianist Kieron Taylor.

The major refurbishment of the village playground, run by the Playground At Theydon charity, was completed and reopened in time for the Christmas holidays. The major work entailed the replacement of the centre activity frame with updated equipment, which included a facility for handicapped children. The see saw which had given yeoman service and withstood vigorous use by countless youngsters was also replaced with modern equipment .The protective bark which covered the entire ground area and guarded against injury, has been renewed. The playground was again in extensive use as Christmas approached and a formal opening ceremony is planned for early in the New Year.

A sad event for Christmas Eve was the funeral, at All Saints Theydon Garnon, of Nancy Dawson who had been a leading member of the Theydon Bois WI for many years. Her husband Jack is a well-known artist of considerable repute and the couple lived in nearby Coopersale Street. The lovely medieval church was illuminated with Christmas candles which, with the bright winter sunshine, helped mitigate the sorrowful nature of the occasion. Following the service, Nancy was cremated at Parndon Wood Crematorium in Harlow.

A damp, warm and misty dawn with a fleeting moon greeted the few who were about at first light on Christmas Day. For once Theydon Bois was relatively peaceful with the 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, who would attend the St Mary’s and Baptist Churches, were preparing breakfast. However, all was not in darkness; the Christmas illuminations on many houses remained lit and many a Santa Claus and his reindeer glowed with Christmas radiance. Around the village green, the lights of the village Christmas Tree, the Dalton car dealers, the One Stop shop and other businesses in Coppice Row flashed their Christmas messages to empty thoroughfares. The refurbished 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 waiting patiently for a late breakfast. But, beyond the village, bright lights in the dark countryside were a reminder that Theydon Bois was semi rural and that Christmas was still a day of work for farmers, with stock to attend to as well as other daily tasks which could not be neglected. For many, Christmas Day was the first of an eight-day holiday 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 peace of Christmas Day in the village turned into high drama when two cars, a Peugeot 405 and a silver Mercedes, collided at 11 am. in Coppice Row near the Sixteen String Jack public house. The Essex Air Ambulance was called and landed nearby on the edge of Epping Forest. However, on take off the turbulence generated caused a small branch to strike the tip of the one of the helicopter’s rotors; the pilot felt a slight vibration and so he abandoned the flight in accordance with standard safety procedures. The two casualties were then taken by ambulance to Whipps Cross Hospital at Leytonstone in East London; the Peugeot driver suffered a broken leg and the Mercedes driver sustained a broken ankle. An engineer was called to the helicopter, which remained by the Forest overnight until repaired, and then flown back to its base at Boreham near Chelmsford the following day; during this period Coppice Row remained closed to traffic. However, the helicopter was soon operating again as a vital part of the Essex Ambulance Service.

Clive Amos of Woburn Avenue congratulated the many residents of Theydon Bois, Abridge and other local areas who had decorated their houses with festive lighting. But he criticised what he considered to be the miserable decorations in Epping High Street; hardly a lighted Christmas Tree was to be seen and even the usually illuminated tree by St John’s Church was in the dark.

During December, a tree was planted in the green area at the junction of Dukes Avenue and Forest Road TB in the memory of Malcolm Campbell. Present at this informal ceremony were his relatives, friends and former work colleagues; amongst the officials present was the Chairman of the EFDC, Cllr Doug Kelly. Malcolm lived in the village virtually all his life and attended the Primary School when it was housed in the Old School building in Coppice Row. He was a carpenter by trade and many buildings in the village bore testimony to his skills. In later life he worked for the EFDC where his affable nature and self humbling wit endeared him to his colleagues. He died suddenly some six months ago and funds were collected for the memorial tree, now planted with the kind permission of the TBPC.

The end of 2002 saw the return of the floods and heavy rain as experienced during the winter of 2000, but with greater severity. Although the local authority had taken steps to keep clear the local drains and ditches, flooding again occurred with rainwater running off the saturated countryside. Many local gardens were flooded and the River Roding at Abridge reached its highest level for many years. However, the weather did not deter residents from partying and “first footing” at midnight. Others travelled up to London to join the crowds who, this year, were unable to celebrate in Trafalgar Square which was closed because of engineering work. The absence of a fireworks display in Central London was criticised in view of the magnificent displays in other cities such as Edinburgh, Sydney and New York, which were seen on television. Prime Minister Tony Blair delivered a New Year message to the nation warning of difficult days ahead because of terrorist threats and a possible decline of the national economy; not an encouraging start for 2003.

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THE PAST MONTH IN THEYDON BOIS NOVEMBER 2002

Entered below are some of the many events, not necessarily in chronological order, which occurred in the village of Theydon Bois during this month and which have been recorded by Trevor Roberts the Local History Recorder for Theydon Bois.

The parking facilities outside the village shops in Forest Road appeared to be better managed now that the EFDC had taken control of parking in the area. It was hoped this would encourage the greater use of the shops and so help to save them from possible closure. However, local supermarkets were still a threat to their survival, especially the new Sainsburys now under construction in Loughton.

A former member of the E17 Pop Group and a resident of the village appeared in Chelmsford County Court charged with supplying drugs.

Cutting and other equipment was stolen from a vehicle parked in Piercing Hill.

Stephen and Jackie James, with their two daughters, moved into the Sixteen String Jack pub in Coppice Row as the new managers. They were formerly at the White Lion in Waltham Abbey, were pleased to be in the village and intended to introduce a new good food service.

The Annual Exhibition of the Theydon Bois Art Group in the village hall was well attended with a fine selection of paintings by the Group’s forty six members. A variety of subjects were featured and the Exhibition Secretary, John Pearce, said that the standard was better than ever.

A Saturday evening dance at the village hall in aid of the Madam Curie Cancer Cared charity was a great success. Ballroom, Latin American and sequence dancing were popular and proved that many of the “older” members of the community had not lost their dancing skills.

Peter Lawrence, the well known lecturer and local celebrity gave the first of the Copped Hall Autumn Lectures in the village hall. His topic was Wanstead House, which was of particular interest to the many in the audience who had once lived in the Wanstead area.

Early in the month the village was once again subjected to flooding after a period of heavy rain. The road under the M11 Motorway in Abridge Road was almost impassable with several vehicles being stranded in the floodwater. Much surface water poured down off the Epping ridge through roads and streams and the area by the pedestrian crossing in Coppice Row was flooded. A climatic change appeared to be taking place with “monsoon type” rainfalls occurring more frequently in the autumn so that sodden leaves covered many a garden and moderate temperatures allowed plants to bloom late.

The first national strike by firemen for more than twenty years took place when they withdrew their service for forty eight hours. The fire stations at Waltham Abbey, Chipping Ongar, Loughton and Epping were affected and limited replacement cover was provided by personnel of the armed service using a few, ancient, “Green Goddess” fire appliances. The dispute stemmed from the Fire Brigades Union demanding a pay increase of 40% which, the government contended, was excessive and unacceptable.

Epping Forest MP Eleanor Laing spoke of her sadness that attempts to save her marriage had failed and that she was therefore divorcing her husband, Allan, ten months after she discovered that he had been having an affair. She said that an “amicable” divorce was expected to be finalised in the next couple of months after 19 years of marriage. This was the "best way forward" for the couple's young son.

Members and friends of the Theydon Bois Music Society were treated to a feast of music and vision when Ian Noble presented his audio vision production at the November meeting of the Society. His presentation comprised a mix of classical music and photographic art featuring English and Spanish scenes.

Local residents continued to voice their opinions in the letter columns of the Epping Guardian and D Brent of Buxton Road warned that a local crime wave had broken out and advised residents to keep their house locked and alarmed, and to double padlock their sheds. Complaints were made regarding the acquisition by gypsies (also known as “travellers”) of a piece of land in Epping Lane near Passingford Bridge. It was claimed that some 50 caravans were now on the site with fenced off plots and hard standings.

The co-ordinator for the Epping Forest Green party, Bob Jones who lived in the village, commented on the undesirable practice of incinerating domestic and other waste. He pointed out that the Friends of the Earth organisation had proposed an alternative option for 60% of waste to be recycled or composted by the year 2007, 70% by 2012 and zero waste by 2020. Households should have a kerbside collection of separated recyclable domestic waste, and a collection of garden waste for composting.

Several residents, including Carol Williams of Woburn Avenue complained about the extensive period during which November 5 firework celebrations were held by private individuals. Particular objections were raised to the timing (until 2am. in some cases) and the loud detonations, which were especially disturbing; the affect on domestic pets and sleeping infants was both considerable and frightening. On a national level, calls had been made for legislation to deal with this problem and to ban those fireworks which produced such loud detonations.

The Quality and Excellence Family Butchers in Forest Drive TB, which had replaced the long established butchers trading as R C Moriarty, received two silver awards for its sausages prepared by the proprietors, Mark and Sarah-Jane Scrace; a range of traditional pies and free-range meat was also stocked. They were both “over the moon” with the awards and Sarah said that it was a year to the week in which they had brought the business and so the awards were a birthday present for the shop.

In a recent ceremony at the Hyde Park Hotel, Natasha Barrett from the village married Stuart Strickson from Wanstead. The couple spent their honeymoon in Sardinia.

It was disclosed that the Theydon Bois, Epping, Loughton, Chigwell and Harlow Group of the NSPCC had raised £34,000 for the charity during the previous year; this sum was realised from lunches, quizzes, tennis tournaments and bridge drives.

A 17 year old apprentice green keeper at the Theydon Bois Golf Club, Greg Knight, won a golf competition organised by a national evening newspaper. He flew out to Valderama and partnered Sergio Garcia, the Ryder Cup and World No 6 Champion, in the Volvo Masters Pro-Am Tournament. Greg took four holes on his own and so helped the team to win the event.

Christmas came early to Theydon Bois when the London District of the South African Church held a carol service in the village hall where it met each Sunday. Local residents had been invited to attend as an expression of thanks to the village and the local clergy, Canon Colin Travers and the Rev David Penegar, assisted Pastor Francois Boates to officiate. The hall was decorated with flowers, some of South African origin, and the carol Silent Night was sung in Afrikaans.

Residents of the Epping Forest District including the village were surprised to learn that the Government had earmarked three local areas as sites for the creation of a fifth airport for London; Magdalen Laver, North Weald Airfield and Epping Upland, the latter being near to Theydon Bois. It was thought that details of these three proposed sites had been published in order to split the growing and strong, local opposition the proposal for the expansion of Stansted airport.

Many villagers, on their own volition, helped to keep the village tidy and free of litter on a continual basis; Arthur Thorne of Barn Mead remained a typical example with his efforts to keep clean the area around the village pond. As a member of the West Essex Walkers, he also regularly organised walks in the village and the surrounding area, particularly Epping Forest, to promote a general awareness of the local environment and the need for conservation. As a member of the Friends of Wansfell College in Piercing Hill, he and his wife Joyce also helped to keep in good condition the grounds of this fine educational establishment.

The second fire-fighters strike in a month took place, this time of eight days duration, when talks between the Fire Brigades Union and the employers failed against a background of Government intervention. Attitudes had now hardened and the Prime Minister himself stated that the country could not afford the 40% increased pay claim and that 4% coupled with a modernisation of the fire service was more logical. Once again, the Green Goddesses provided limited fire protection for the local area.

The village hall was packed for a Quiz Night organised by the committee of the Playground at Theydon (PAT) charity. Steve Hutton, the PAT Treasurer, acted as quizmaster and the ladies of the committee worked extremely hard in preparing the venue and providing fish and chip suppers. The PAT Chairman Joy Wainwright announced that £24,000 had now been raised for a major refurbishment and update of the playground, which would commence shortly. The evening’s function raised nearly £500 to add to this total.

Staff from the Three Valleys Water Company visited the Theydon Bois Primary School to tell the pupils about the refurbishment of the village water supply, which was now taking place. They explained why the work was necessary and also the need to conserve water supplies generally. The children then took part in a water audit of the school by identifying the many water points including taps, drinking fountains and toilets, and devising ways to reduce water consumption generally.

More than 700 model rail enthusiasts of all ages flocked to the village hall for the 15th Exhibition of the Epping Railway Circle. Railway layouts of various gauges and types were on display together with American, British and East German models creating an international background. This venue was being used for the first time and its facilities contributed greatly to the success of the event.

Richard Morris OBE, a Verderer of Epping Forest, gave the second of the Copped Hall Autumn Lectures in the villager hall. Richard gave an interesting account of the history of the Powell family and their influence in society both locally and internationally; eg. a near relative was Robert Baden Powell who founded the Scout movement. Another member, Thomas Powell, had produced many illustrations of churches and buildings in Essex which were now of considerable historical value. Powells were also responsible for establishing the first hospital for the treatment of mental illness. The event raised some £300, which would help fund the restoration of Copped Hall.

Hilda Tarran of Woodford, aged 96, attended a glass-painting course at the Wansfell College in Piercing Hill. Course Teacher Jane Dunsterville commented: “She was terrific with a very positive attitude and helped to bring the class together as a group”. This popular College continued to provide a variety of residential courses for mature students at its attractive location adjoining Epping Forest.

The Christmas season commenced in the village with the annual Christmas Bazaar at the Theydon Bois Primary School, and the arrival of Santa Claus. He quickly established himself in his “grotto" and was attended by fairies (school pupils in disguise) who conducted many excited children into his presence where each received the usual customary gift. Other attractions included hair braiding, face painting, computer games, tombola and many stalls selling seasonal items including festive refreshments.

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Copyright 2003. Trevor Roberts, Local History Recorder.

 

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Last Up Dated: 10th January 2003