Meeting reports 2001 -2002


Society meeting, 21st September, 2001

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At the September meeting, Mike Ostler gave a talk on "Historic Cinemas in Essex" during which he gave an update on the State Cinema in Grays. He has recently located (in the archives of the Royal Institute of British Architects) an obituary of FGM Chancellor who designed the State Cinema. Chancellor died in 1940 and with war time paper restrictions, the published obituary was very short. A letter from his employers in the archives gives much more detail of his career. This was read out at the meeting.

Mike Ostler also reported that in 2000, the State Cinema had its listing upgraded from II to II*. In 2001, the State was acquired by Morissons who are building a supermarket on the adjacent land. An inspection of the premises in June has shown some damage from water. Morrisons have now sealed the leak to prevent further damage.

It is hoped that sometime in the future the State will again be used as a public building.

Society meeting, 19th October, 2001

At the October meeting, Fred Nash gave a talk on the World War II Defence Sites in Essex. He has the job of identifying all Essex sites - although he has had to exclude air raid shelters because they are too numerous. He has identified about 2,800 such sites - pill poxes, minefield control towers, gun casements and so on. There were originally "stop" lines across Essex at which a German invasion would be halted. One line, including a large ditch ran down the line of the A130. The policy was later changed to include pill boxes in most villages - manned by the Home Guard.

In the Thurrock marshes and other flat areas, poles and wires were spread to prevent gliders or aircraft landing. A small minefield control tower survives near Tilbury Fort.

Four Essex anti aircraft sites have recently been scheduled by English Heritage and more second World War sites may follow.

Society meeting 16th November, 2001

The talk for the November meeting, Mucking: an Archaeological experience was given by Jonathon Catton and Terry Carney. Jonathon Catton is a longstanding member of the society and is now Thurrock's Heritage officer, Terry Carney is also a member of the society and is deputy curator at the Thurrock Museum.

Mucking is a Saxon village situated on the gravel terraces overlooking the Thames. The site was discovered from crop marks in the soil and was excavated over a period of 13 years (plus 3 years post excavation work) by Margaret Jones assisted by her husband Tom who was the official photographer for the site. Mucking has been a site of habitation for many different periods and artefacts from these periods have been found. Both Jonathon and Terry worked on the site for many years; Jonathon started as a young teenager. They had many interesting stories to tell of the varied personalities from many countries who came to work as volunteers on the dig, under the exacting direction of Mrs Jones. The artefacts found are now in the British Museum.

Society Meeting, 14th December 2001

The December meeting was the Christmas Social gathering of the society members. After a welcome from the chairman John Webb and a few relevant notices the members relaxed and enjoyed talking to fellow members and guests. Refreshments were provided by the society with contributions by the members themselves. An exhibition showing Thurrock's industrial Hertitage was displayed for members to view.

The Thurrock Adult Education Centre where the meetings are held, kindly allowed the society the use of their computers and members were shown around the new web site by the sub-committee who had designed and set up the site. A small exhibition of photographs taken at the recent launch of the new web site was displayed. This was followed by a quiz compiled by Terry Carney; the quiz was based on old newspaper reports from the Thurrock Gazette and covered articles about the area from the last 120 years. The quiz was considered great fun and was won by one of the Society's Patrons Chris Harrold.

Try the quiz yourself

Society Meeting, 19th January 2002

Dr Jennifer Ward gave the talk for the January meeting. Dr Ward is a member of the Brentwood Historical Society and an eminent historian. She talked about the development of Medieval Towns and villages of the Eastern counties. Dr Ward spoke mainly about the towns in Essex and Suffolk. Most of these towns grew to prominence due to the presence of markets, which sold locally produced goods. Many of the guilds were founded to regulate the various crafts in the towns. She also described how many Essex merchants became wealthy and prominent members of the community. The talk was illustrated with many photographs of Guildhalls and old maps of the towns in the area.

Society Meeting, February 15th 2002

Peter Lawrence gave the lecture for February, on his very welcome return to the Society he gave us the second part of his series on The Hidden Treasures of Whitehall. His first lecture was very well received and we had looked forward to his visit, we were not disappointed. Peter spent many years in the Royal and Diplomatic Protection Service and so had an in-depth knowledge of Whitehall and the surrounding areas. He told of the development of the Whitehall, from a Royal Palace into the administration buildings of various periods to present times. He also told us of the development and building of Trafalgar Square and surroundings. The lecture was illustrated with sketches and photographs from the periods including some of the very earliest of the area. We hope he will return to the Society for a further talk in the very near future.

Society meeting March 15th 2002

The speaker for this month was Terry Carney who is the Deputy Curator at the Thurrock Museum. He gave a very interesting talk based on his forthcoming book "Thurrock in the 30's. " The talk was illustrated with a large number of fascinating photographs, many taken from the Thurrock Gazette archives. Some of the older members remembered the scenes and events depicted well. Terry 's talks are always full of interesting subjects and this was no exception, the members eagerly await the publication of his book.

Annual General Meeting 26th April

Friday 26th April, 2002 brought the members of the Society together for the Annual General Meeting. The Chairman and other members of the committee were re-elected for a further year. It was agreed to increase the annual subscription to 6 which includes free entrance to the meetings and refreshments.

When the usual business of the AGM was completed, Jonathan Catton, Museum and Heritage Officer, explained the commemorative plaque scheme soon to be introduced in Thurrock.

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