A ribbon was cut today (Friday, 16 July) to official open a new heritage trail marking 150 years of Clacton-on-Sea.
Residents and visitors alike are encouraged to follow the Clacton 150 trail and learn about what was in the area before building of the town began, how the resort grew during the Victorian and Edwardian periods, and some notable landmarks such as the town’s many theatres and cinemas.
The trail has been installed by Tendring District Council (TDC), with funding from National Heritage Lottery Fund, ahead of Sunday (18 July) which marks 150 years since the first ship docked at the newly completed Clacton Pier – and the town’s birthday.
Jeff Bray, TDC Chairman, cut the ribbon on the information board which overlooks Clacton Pier and is adjacent to a Clacton 150 flowerbed display planted by the council’s horticulture team.
“The Clacton 150 trail is eye-catching in its colour, and the pictures and information on the boards and really interesting to read,” Councillor Bray said.
“Along the way there’s something for everyone, whether you want to re-live a trip to Butlin’s or you’re intrigued by some of the characters who helped to shape the town to what it is today.”
The trail consists of 19 information boards, stretching from Jaywick Sands to Holland Haven and going into Clacton town centre, charting various aspects of Clacton’s history. Some of the board also have augmented reality options for those with smartphones, and there are also audio benches recanting people’s memories of the town.
Also at the ribbon cutting were two historians, Roger Kennell and Richard Walker, who were among the team who helped to research and write the information on the trail.
Mr Kennell, who is part of the Victoria County History Group and the Clacton and District Local History Society said he was delighted to see the town’s history displayed for all to enjoy.
“I don’t to give it all away as people should come and enjoy the trail,” he said.
“But to think that the vision of one man – Peter Bruff – to buy up 50 acres of land and build a railway and pier to capitalise on the growing popularity of seaside resorts led to the modern town of Clacton we see today is staggering to think.
“It has been a lot of fun diving into various strands of history along the way as we developed the trail.”
Councillor Alex Porter, TDC Cabinet Member for Leisure and Tourism, added: “It has been fascinating to learn about Clacton’s history, and I would recommend everyone takes time to read the information boards.
“There is so much going on in Clacton, and the whole of Tendring, this summer – from the Clacton 150 and Mayflower 400 heritage trails, to Octopus Ahoy and Street Tag, to the big wheels at Clacton Pavilion and Clacton Pier. So why not come along and do it all, making the most of all the Essex Sunshine Coast has to offer?”
Clacton Pier will be marking its anniversary in a few weeks’ time on 27 July, which was the official opening of the attraction 150 years ago, and is holding weekly firework displays during the school summer holidays.
The Clacton 150 celebrations received £250,000 from the National Heritage Lottery Fund, which has paid for the heritage trail and two staff to co-ordinate events and activities.
People and businesses are encouraged to hold their own events and activities to celebrate Clacton 150, and share details with the co-ordinating team at email@example.com.