Audio Posts and Bench

Audio posts and bench have been installed to engage the local residents and tourist into conversations about the local community. These three audio devices form part of the Clacton Heritage Trail, to connect with the history and people memories of the area.

Jaywick Sands audio post

Jaywick Sands history audio clip

Jaywick Flood audio clip

Bathing machines audio clip

Jaywick memories audio clip

Jaywick holiday memories audio clip

Memory of Princess Diana's visit audio clip

Railway audio post

Railway audio clip

Suffragette audio clip

Memories about Clacton-on-Sea audio clip

Memories of Clacton in the 70's audio clip

Pier Gap audio bench

Beginnings of Clacton-on-Sea audio clip

Paddle Steamers audio clip

Bertram audio clip

Claction Pier audio clip

Memories and connections with Clacton audio clip

Memories of Clacton audio clip

Transcripts of the audio clips

Transcripts of the Jaywick Sands audio clips

Jaywick Sands history transcript

Beach Road which is now known as Broadway, Jaywick Sands

Jaywick Sands was established by Frank Christoffer Stedman, a Londoner who specialised in surveying. Early 1928 Stedman started purchasing the marsh land, several hundreds of acres with a vision in mind. This vision was not shared by everyone and he had a lot of opposition.

It was with the advent of motoring becoming popular among the London middle classes that an adventurous entrepreneur, Frank Christoffer Stedman arrived on a frosty Spring morning in 1929 looking for a location to develop a resort for those burgeoning motorists to buy, quite cheaply, their very own 'place by the sea'. Mr. Stedman could see through the bleakness and imagine the summer pleasures that Jay Wick and its beaches offered and so it was with that foresight that he purchased it.

As the beach chalets began to sell for as little as £50, Frank built West Road in order to give easy access to and from Clacton-on-Sea as well as other features that were intended to entertain the visitors. As the years passed, people gradually began to make their chalets more comfortable and homely and a few started to live in them for longer and longer periods, even through the winters. This encouraged small businesses such as 'Dot's' to become established to service the growing population. Although the resort had taken off as intended, the Second World War and the misfortune of the infamous 1953 floods seemed to initiate a gradual decline in the intended purpose. Jaywick and its various component parts - Grasslands, Brooklands, the Village and The Tudor; gradually became mainly residential. Despite its various misfortunes, Clacton's little brother to the West prides itself in being close-knit today. 

Jaywick Flood transcript

 Martello Tower C Jaywick floods 1953 from CDLHS

Jaywick – Flood of 1953

On 31st January 1953, three elements were linked in a fateful combination. It was the night of a spring tide, a deep atmospheric low pressure over the North Sea had been raising water levels and northerly gales were driving a wall of water down the coast. As it funnelled into the narrower area of the North Sea between England and Holland, this wall of water grew higher. At its peak the surge was 2.5 metres above the spring tide level. This was more than the defences could stand and spelled disaster.

In the village of Jaywick, the wave, or ‘wall of death’, was seen hurtling towards the town from inland, across the St Osyth marshes. Jaywick was completely cut off from the rest of Essex and 37 people lost their lives. The courageous PC Don Harmer immediately waded into chin-high water to reach the sea wall and crawled along it for over a mile from Jaywick to Clacton and back, in the dark and with high water on both sides, to alert Clacton Police to the catastrophe in Jaywick.

Some homes were completely submerged by flood water. In Meadow Way, Esther and James had gathered with their son and daughter to celebrate Esther’s 89th birthday on February 1. But in the night, the sea engulfed their home and all four were drowned. When police recovered their bodies on Tuesday 3 Feb, the birthday cake was untouched.

Bathing machines transcript

Bathing Machines on Clacton Beach Bathing machines on Clacton Beach

It was during the 18th century when bathing in the sea became popular for its therapeutic benefits. Locally, in 1811 a cottage was advertised at Little Holland, now known as Holland on Sea, as being suitable for sea bathing. Before the coming of Clacton on Sea the coastal area of Great Clacton was known as Clacton Beach, and occasional visitors would explore along Rosemary Lane to where there was a track leading past a pond to a gap in the cliff which gained access to the beach and the sea. Here bathing could take place.

Bathing Machines, a small wooden hut on wheels, is where bathers with due modesty of those times could change into their bathing costume, then descend steps directly into the sea water to bathe, and first appeared in the 19th century. When the new resort of Clacton on Sea was established in 1871, it was an opportunity for an enterprising person to introduce them to the new resort. The first record of bathing machines and beach tents at Clacton was in May 1872, and in the following year James Cattermole introduced a row of machines along the west beach, with horses and winches to move the huts according to the state of the tide and ply for custom. Cattermole’s enterprise must have proved lucrative because his son Alfred then continued the business.

The new resort was rapidly developing and attracting increasing numbers of visitors. The coming of the railway in 1882 further enhanced the scope for travel to Clacton and its bathing and its other attractions. In 1887 there was clearly an opportunity for further bathing machines and Edmund Almond introduced his machines onto the east beach. Like Cattermole, Almond’s son Herbert continued his father’s business.

The bathing machine business was just about the first enterprise in the new resort to make use of the beach and the sea. Early postcards of Clacton on Sea beach graphically show the extent of the bathing machines along the shoreline and for some forty summer seasons the bathing machines and their patrons were part of the seaside scene. The coming of the Great War in 1914 and with soldiers patrolling the cliff-top, the bathing machines disappeared, and were never to return. Sea bathing post-war further increased in popularity but with evolving social attitudes, more informality in the preparation for swimming from the beaches of Clacton then took place. 

Jaywick memories transcript

Tudor House in Jaywick

When Clacton was born Jaywick Sands followed close behind. The railway attracted Londoners to the seaside at Clacton on sea. However, Jaywick Sands had the better beaches with very large beaches of golden sands. When the foundation for Brooklands was laid out the seawall was moved closer to the sea.

The old seawall can still be seen at the end of the Avenues. The land from the old seawall to the seawall on the beach was reclaimed land.

All of Jaywick’s roads were built with golden sand from the beach. The concrete under the tarmacked roads have seashells in it.

At the far end of Brooklands down by the big slope there was an amusement arcade; the Casino, it had a large roller-skating rink which was still used in the 1960’s. Other showmen would put their rides on the land close by. At the beginning of Brooklands by the hump, there was another big amusement arcade; the Palladium. Here there was a dodgem track that was inside a permanent brick-built building, there were also other rides; a boating lake with 8 motorised boats that were all painted two-tone in colour. People could hire the boats and drive them on their own or with a passenger.

There was a pier that had to be blown-up during WWII. Across the road there was a miniature railway station for people to go for a ride on a small train what went along the top of an old sea defence. The railway lines went from the station to a big mound at Crossways where the train was locked up each night. The train could carry a number of people to crossways and back it was a very popular attraction.

The properties were second homes for Londoners who would come and stay at Jaywick Sands. Some would stay for months others would arrive for weekends. Nearly all of the owners left a key with a builder for any instructions for work they wanted carried out in the winter months.

The Tudor House was taken down in Billericay and rebuilt on land that is now known as the Tudor Estate. My grandfather W.A. Salmon (Bill) was a master builder he moved from West View, Upper Forth Avenue, Frinton to rebuild the Tudor house. His idea was to teach his seven sons a trade so they could always get a living. Bill owned all the corn-fields around the Tudor House. It was the first house in Essex to have a swimming pool which has to be filled in during WWII. My grandmother, Rose left a tea-towel on the line on the night when there was a bright moon, a German fighter thought the reflection was a light in a window and it riddled the tea-towel with bullet holes.

During WWII ‘The Green’ was taken over by American Gunners, they built really thick concrete bomb shelters in the centre. They had massive Ack-Ack guns and searchlights. They fired their guns lots of times, the searchlights lit up the sky with their fingers of light pointing where the planes that would come to bomb us were. The Americans were always kind and offered us chewing gum. Today ‘The Green’ has property built all over it. I was told the concrete air raid shelters would have cost too much to take out so the builders put a thick layer of earth over the top of them.

Different families owned the businesses, Stedman was the Estate Agents, Dots owned most of the shops, Flaunty owned properties, Silver owned the big Morocco Club and arcades. W.A.Salmon and sons was the biggest builder.

When I left school at 15 years of age I worked as a carpenter-joiner for W.A.Salmon and Sons. Our joinery shop was in the old blacksmiths forge on the corner of Crossways and Meadow Way, our builder’s yard was across the road, behind our yards was Snell and Sons yard.

There used to be a roundabout where Crossways and Meadow Way meet, in the centre of the roundabout was a wishing well.

Jaywick holiday memories transcript

Playdium in the 50s

My uncle owned a bungalow in Jaywick Sands, in Lavender Walk where I spent my childhood bank holidays and annual six week school holiday between 1945 and 1953 and occasionally short breaks in later years, we got to know most of the holidaymakers in Lavender walk as most like us would visit at every opportunity throughout the year.

My uncle owned an Morris 8 and my father a Standard 10, and I and my parents, older brother and sister with their friends set out packed into these two four seater cars from our home in Bedfordshire, the fun began when travelling different routes we "raced" to see who could get to the Colchester by-pass first.

Then the excitement when first opening the "Otterman" chest containing buckets and spades, tangled fishing lines with lead weights, soft vinyl beach balls, cricket bat with bails and kites from earlier holidays.

The rush to get to "Dot's" to look for something to spend our holiday money on and onto the amusement arcade to play the penny and halfpenny slot machines, my older sister targeting the juke-box, my brother at the pin-ball machines hoping to win the prize of two "Plane" or "Turf" cigarettes.

Lunch was cheese filled warm freshly baked round bread rolls bought from "Rolls" bakery and for "afters" perhaps a six penny "Walls" choc-ices from the kiosk next to the Cafe Morroco", dinner invariably fish and chips ferried in by my father from nearby Clacton, in later years a fish shop appeared in the more residential area situated slightly inland from the holiday bungalow estate and in the main seafront street itself.

Most evening were spent walking along the narrow sandy sea walk to "Butlins" in nearby Clacton for fairground rides or roller skating at the outdoor paved rink and then onward's to the pier.

It was "always" sunny and and the roadways hot to the soles of unshod feet, days were spent playing cricket on the beach or diving from the breakwaters and swimming onto the next one and back again in the warm murky water, or on stormy days ducking the crests of huge waves. The first few days were spent doused with calamine lotion waiting for our reddened and sunburned skin to peel away.

A visit to the putting green was a regular event, issued with scarred golf balls, bent clubs, stubby broken pencils and "Jaywick Sands Golf Course" scorecards, it was to us the USA Augusta " Masters" event of the year.

Brooklands was "out of bounds" for me but I once visited the amusement park and played a game of "Bingo" when I won a soft aluminium egg poacher for mum on my first try.

On Sundays we would all pile into the cars and head off to Walton-on-the-Naze to fly a kite from the clifftop or Harwich to visit the dockyard and then perhaps head home with a dressed crab to enjoy for tea.

We would watch the fishing boats on the horizon leaving nearby Brightlingsea with their brown sails held taught in the winds and the speed boats racing between breakwaters

Shrimping nets were kept in the bungalow and we would sweep the shallow water at low tide and scoop out he translucent creatures which mum would drop into boiling water, or sometimes winkles gathered at Brightlingsea to be eaten with bread and butter for our tea.

There was no television but the wireless set provided the evening entertainment particularly on Sundays when we listened to the "Palm Court" or my uncles favorite a music program featuring Edmundo Ross and his dance band, or occasionally favourite comedian of the day, Ted Ray.

The "London" boys would arrive in Lavender Walk on their gleaming Triumph motorcycles and resident "Mick" at the top of the road would polish and then re-polish his Morris Minor,

These wonderful days undoubtedly marked the direction of my life, I visited Jaywick quite regularly over the years for day trips and now some 70 years on I am looking forward to a "Burger" and a choc-ice from the beach bar this year and another swim in the sea, although I do miss the breakwaters.

Happy days!

May 31st 2016

Memory of Princess Diana's visit transcript

Princess Diana greeting Jaywick Residents

Princess Diana


I was very excited to go and get a glimpse of the Princess. I got my two sons dressed up in smart little outfits and we made our way to Jaywick. The traffic was hectic and parking was a struggle but we eventually found somewhere.

The crowds were like nothing I had ever seen before just a sea of people. As I had my two sons with me we able to get near the front, I remember standing there with Diana about 2 yards in front of me. I was simply in awe of her. She was just so welcoming and took the time to speak to as many people in the crowd as she could, accepting flowers and acknowledging as many people as possible. It is something that I still remember fondly. 


Transcripts of the Train Station Green audio clips

Railway transcript

Railway Station at Clacton-on-Sea 1882

It was a landing stage which brought day trippers by paddle-steamer to the new resort of Clacton on Sea, which was founded in 1871 within the parish of Great Clacton. The new resort was in fact a green-field site thus there was just the beach and cliff top walks in that first year or two until building works got underway. For the more adventurous, the early visitors could get off the train from Colchester to Walton on the Naze at Weeley, where the landlord of the Weeley Tavern had a waggonette to convey the visitors onto Clacton on Sea and making the return trip later in the day.

The railway came to Clacton on Sea via the Thorpe le Soken junction in 1882. A timber framed, and ship-lapped station building was constructed. As the new resort grew it was the railway and the paddle steamers which was the main means to bring the visitors and holidaymakers to the resort. From the 1910s a further option of travel was then emerging, the charabanc, which in time developed into the motor coach, and the paddle-steamers as a method to bring holiday makers began to decline.

To react to the growing numbers of charabancs the railway company decided to build a grand brick and stone new station and concourse. This opened in 1929, and the goods facilities also increased with especially builder’s merchants setting up for business adjacent. Bricks packed in straw and clay drainage wares among many other items were being brought by rail for the growing town and resort.

Clacton was becoming a major holiday resort; during the summer season the visitors stayed for either a week or a fortnight, and Saturday became termed as ‘change over day’ Accommodation ranged from camping, board accommodation, what we now know as B & B, bed & breakfast, to guest houses to hotels. On the Saturdays in the summer months, local schoolboys made wooden barrows, being a rectangular box with two long handles, and fixed onto a pair of old pram wheels. The boys offered to take the arriving holidaymaker’s luggage to their accommodation, always hoping that the destination would not be a long walk! There were no set fees, but the boys always were back again the following Saturday. Sometimes a deal was made for a boy to take the luggage back to the railway station after the holiday. When each train arrived at Clacton Railway Station, and the passengers disgorged through the station complex into Station Road, they were first met with a triangular garden full of flowers which made a good first impression as the hoards of families walked along the road to approach the seafront with all its attractions and to begin their holidays.

The railway company offered a range various ticket options, in either 1st or 3rd class travel. Special weekend return tickets to London Liverpool Street, and six month and twelve-month season tickets. A special attraction for visitors were the excursion trains which were off peak and offered seats at attractive fare prices. Some excursions were only occasionally offered. In 1937 the L.N.E.R. (London & North Eastern Railway) offered a special Sunday evening excursion from Ipswich to Clacton on Sea, arriving at Clacton at 5pm and returning at 10.35pm, all for 1/7d (8p).

The railway itself was developing, the initial single track became a double track, and the engines developed and culminating in the Britannia class of steam engine post Second World War which was perhaps its peak of steam efficiency, to then be replaced by diesel traction, and in 1962 when the line became electrified all the way to London.

With the increase in private car ownership into the 1960s, and the increasing opportunity for foreign holidays, the great days of the railway bringing visitors to Clacton for their holidays was beginning to decline, but many Clactonians still used the railway to commute for business in London.

The railway is still a means of conveying passengers to and from Clacton for all sorts of reasons.  

Suffragette transcript

I am the great great niece of Emmeline Pankhurst, a few years ago I began to feel that it was my duty to research the history of the Pankhurst and Goulden family, and what part Tendring played in the suffragette movement.

It all began with Emmeline, I was always curious to where she got her fire from, so I began researching and discovered that it was Emmeline’s mother, Sophia Goulden who had inspired Emmeline’s passion for woman’s rights.

Researching further, I also learned about the Clacton Caravan Club and how several suffragette members lived in Tendring, and that even Emmeline used to bring her children to Clacton when they were young.

Lilian and Amy Hicks who were mother and daughter lived at Great Holland Hall, they were both active members of the suffragettes, in 1910 they both took part in the ‘Black Friday Protest’ a struggle between the police and protesters at parliament square, that turned violent, also at the protest was my other great great aunt Mary Clark, all three were arrested and sent to Holloway prison.

Kate and Louise Lilly were born in London 1874 and 1883, they moved to Holland House, Skelmersdale road, Clacton, in 1908, the two sisters were active members of the Clacton’s branch of the woman’s social and political union (WSPU) led by Emmeline Pankhurst, the sisters, whose father helped create the Lily and Skinners shoe company, often headed into London to take part in the suffragette campaign, in 1910 they headed into London to take part in the ‘Black Friday Protest’ and then again in 1912 for the ‘Smashing Windows Protest’, by using pieces of flint to break windows at the war office, this time they were both arrested and sent to Holloway prison for two months.

On their return, crowds had gathered at Clacton train station and at their headquarters in Rosemary Road, Clacton town centre, given them a hero’s welcome.

These are just a few examples of what part Tendring had played in the suffragette movement, and how through sacrifice and dedication, how some of Clacton’s residents helped shape history and   Promote the votes for woman campaign.

My name is Kathrine resident of  Holland on Sea

Here are some of the things I remember transcript

I lived in Clacton for 12 years, here are some of the things I remember;

There was (or is) a theatre on the left of Pier Avenue where they had dancing waters on the stage. These were fountains of water that moved in time to the music, similar to the ones outside Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

There is a ramp to the beach on the left of the pier where fishermen could come in and you could buy the fish they had caught.

You could get a day pass for Butlins and use the swimming pool and have a look round.

There were donkey rides on the beach and The Martello Tower in Clacton had a zoo at one time.

Next to the station there is a row of houses which would accommodate the railway workers, and there was a railway club with a bar for them, which we were able to go into and play snooker.

My first trip on an aeroplane was at Clacton airfield. It had 2-seater planes going up and you could pay for a flight around the pier and back. It probably only took about three or four minutes from take-off to landing! I’m not sure whether they still do that.

Initially when we moved to Clacton in 1967 and bought our first house, it cost £4000! We worked in London, travelling backwards and forwards but that became too much, so I changed my job for a local one, and gained employment in a German owned factory in Oxford Road on the industrial estate called HOPT, where I tuned tuners for Baird TV, which was very well paid.

I gave birth to two of my children in an NHS maternity unit just down the road from Clacton station, and it was a big old converted house, rather than a traditional hospital.

In 1977, when celebrating the Queen’s Jubilee, a local school (Frobisher) gave all the children a Jubilee coin.

The best fish & chips were in Clacton!

Clacton in the 70's transcript

Memories of Clacton-on-Sea in the 1970’s

Having recently re-located to St Osyth my mind was taken back to childhood summers in the 70’s spent in Clacton and Jaywick. Being a working-class East End family, the Costa del Sol was out of reach for us. So, Clacton-on-Sea was our mecca and whelk, cockles and candyfloss replaced tapas and Sangria.

I loved the rides on the pier and walking from the station my anticipation built as I looked forward to all the fun I would have. I had to be prized away from the amusements my parents would eventually ran out of coins, well that’s what they would tell me.

I also remember Jaywick sands fondly. Making sandcastles on the beach and paddling in the sea simple pleasures a child never forgets.

At the time I never wanted to go home it’s taken me over 40 years to come back but I’m very please to discover Clacton-on-Sea is as friendly now as it was all those years ago.


Transcripts of the Pier Gap audio clips

Beginnings of Clacton-on-Sea transcript

The great bulk of the land we now know as the centre of Clacton-on-Sea was originally farmland that belonged to Seaside House Farm, situated on the corner of what is now Rosemary Road East and Station Road in the area then known as Great Clacton Beach.

In April 1865, following the death of the farm’s owner, his son put the land up for sale and both the local and London newspapers carried an advertisement announcing that an auction was to be held in “June or July next” at which the “valuable freehold building land” known as Clacton Beach was to be sold off in lots. The advert also mentioned the "fine sandy beach”, “purity of the air” and the “extraordinary healthiness of the place” and that the owner was willing to discuss selling the land as one lot prior to auction.

One man who was interested in buying the whole 50 acre lot was an engineer called Peter Bruff. Bruff had built the railway from London to Colchester and was now engineer-in-chief of the Tendring Hundred Railway being built from Colchester to Walton-on-Naze.

Bruff’s intention was to build a genteel seaside resort for the Upper Middle Classes and, on completion of the sale, he immediately sought Parliamentary powers to construct a railway from Thorpe-le-Soken to a point just 60 yards from the cliffs together with a 300 yard long pier. The Thorpe and Great Clacton Railway Act was passed in July 1866, giving him the green light on condition that the railway and pier were completed within five years. The Act also laid down a scale of charges for landing goods at the pier, including 1d per cubic foot for musical instruments, 2/6d for turtles and £1 for a corpse.

Coincidentally, at the same time as Bruff was looking to build his pier, the Woolwich Steam Packet Company, which was successfully running steamers from London to Margate, was looking for an additional route North of the Thames to Ipswich with a stopover point along the way. Bruff arranged to meet their chairman, William Parry Jackson, actually on what was then the windswept and desolate beach at Clacton. We can only imagine how the conversation went and the picture Bruff painted of his new town, but whatever he said, it worked and the Woolwich Steam Packet Company agreed to finance the building of the pier in return for the exclusive right of their steamers to call there.

Eventually, the five-year deadline to build the pier was beaten by just two days, when on 18 July 1871, the first steamship ever to call at Clacton landed at the pier. Its name was SS Queen of the Orwell. And it is this date that is generally accepted as the founding of the new town of Clacton-on-Sea.

Clacton-on-Sea’s official opening came on 27 July when the Woolwich Steam Packet Company brought 300 guests on board the SS Albert Edward to take part in the opening celebrations. As the pier was only 300 yards long, it only allowed vessels to berth during high tide so the visitors had a limited stay. One couple, however, had wandered too far inland and when they returned to the beach they found that the Albert Edward had already cast off. A boat was found to take them out to the steamship, but, as they were boarding, the lady fell into the water, apparently much to the amusement of those on board ship. Perhaps it was a symbolic baptism for the new town.

Following the opening of the pier, Bruff set to work laying out his new town centre and building began in the area in and around Pier Avenue, including Marine Parade as far as Colne Road and Orwell Road to the East and Agate Road and Edith Road to the West. The first building to be built was the Royal Hotel, which opened in 1872. By 1880, Pier Avenue included many shops as well as a Public Hall, while along Marine Parade West some fine new villas had been built. Clacton-on-Sea had begun and has continued to expand ever since.

Paddle Steamers transcript

The Royal Eagle paddle steamer

Paddle Steamers.

During the formative years of the new resort of Clacton on Sea, the main means of travel to this place was by the paddle steamers which departed from Tower Pier at London for the Essex and Suffolk coastal resorts.

It was the arrival of the paddle steamer the ‘Queen of the Orwell’ with guests on board on 18th July 1871 at the newly constructed landing stage, which announced the birth of the new resort. At this time, the landing stage had a sole role, although it was also used to promenade along. The new Clacton on Sea was developing and increasing numbers of visitors were coming. The landing stage was lengthened and widened to eventually be named as a pier, and to include attractions, the first being the hot and cold seawater baths located at the pier entrance.

The paddle steamers operated under the Woolwich Steam Packet Company. There were to be several changes in the companies operating the steamers, either by absorption, or financial failure. The Belle Steamers had several paddle steamers named after the various resorts, including the Clacton Belle and this berthed at the pier on 15th May 1890. One of the most prestigious steamers, which belonged to the Victoria Steamboat Association, was the twin funnelled Koh-n-Noor built in 1892 whose reputation for quality was unsurpassed, but she only operated to Clacton for five seasons.

Passengers on the paddle steamers were sometime entertained by a small orchestra, but sea conditions could sometimes disrupt the passage by preventing a safe berthing at the pier. Some low tides made the Wallet Spitway impassable and the longer passage via the Goldmer Gap at Walton on the Naze made for a longer trip. The coming of the railway to the resort in 1882 provided for an alternative way to travel for a day trip or for a holiday, and then came the private motor car and charabanc progressing to the motor coach. Clacton was becoming one of the major holiday destinations and the paddle steamers were initially able to cope with the alternative means of travel, especially by offering sea cruises. There was still confidence in the paddle steamers and Ernest Kingsman, the owner of Clacton pier initiated the construction of berthing arm during 1935. When completed, three paddle steamers could berth at the same time. At this time, there were some well known vessels coming to Clacton: The Laguna Belle, Royal Eagle, Crested Eagle and the Golden Eagle, and passengers would buy postcards of these paddle steamers and post them onboard.

As the 1930s progressed a new vessel arrived, a screw driven motor vessel. This was the twin funnelled  ‘Queen of the Channel’, but sadly soon to be lost in World War Two whilst evacuating troops from the beaches of Dunkirk. Post war, a new single funnelled M.V. ‘Queen of the Channel’ was launched in 1949, and is fondly remembered by visitors and residents alike. Just one paddle steamer it seems returned for a few years after the war, the Medway Queen, to be the end of a great era when the paddle steamers had brought from 1871, thousands of holidaymakers to Clacton on Sea.

June 2021

Bertram transcript

Clown Bertram from the 1930's

Bertram, whose real name was Albert Edward Harvey, was the most popular and best-loved performer ever to appear in Clacton. He spent 18 seasons from 1922 to 1939 entertaining both adults and children in packed houses with many more disappointed would-be audience members locked outside. 

He came to Clacton in 1922, having had some experience of entertaining children at schools and birthday parties in London. On arriving, he approached the owner of the Pier, Ernest Kingsman, and asked him for a job. Mr Kingsman agreed to give him a week's trial to see how he was received. That one week's trial was to last for 17 years. At first, Bertram appeared in the open with a large carpet for the children to sit on and deck chairs at the back for the mums and dads. His performance consisted of a few songs with a banjo, some conjuring, competitions for the children and, of course, a riotously funny conversation with the irrepressible Filbert.

He was an immediate sensation and it was obvious he needed something better than a carpet, so Mr Kingsman built him his own theatre, the Children's Theatre, near the end of the Pier. The building contained seats for 500 paying audience and was always full, with queues forming literally hours before the performance was due to start. Because of this, he was later moved into the Jolly Roger Theatre (renamed the Jollity for him). This seated over 1000 and still there were many times when the house was full and people had to be turned away. After a while, Bertram began to employ juvenile professional talent. These became known as his "Bright Young Things" and they would sing and dance and take part in comedy sketches. As well as these young professionals, Bertram also held amateur talent competitions. Warren Mitchell (Alf Garnett) won a prize as a five year old dancer.

Throughout his show, Bertram was noted for his quick witted ad-libs, which had the audience in stitches. His sharpness was his great strength and he played on it for all he was worth. Both young and old would cheer, clap, scream with laughter and everyone would get caught up in the incredible atmosphere created by this man. Sadly, the show ended when War broke out in 1939, and although he continued to appear locally in village halls after the War, he never returned to the Pier, apart from one “Victory Celebration” performance in the Ocean Theatre in 1945. He died in 1953, not long after giving his last show in Weeley Village Hall.

The Ramblas started their open air parties in the 1930 till 1964. They we well known and were one of the last open air concerts parties that performed regularly all over the country.

Claction Pier transcript

Clacton Pier front entranceClacton Pier and the landing platform

The Pier was officially opened on 27th July 1871 when the SS 'Albert Edward' called, bringing with it a party of directors from Woolwich Steam Packet Company and around 200 guests. When it opened it was just 160 yards in length and 4 yards wide.

Clacton Pier was originally built mainly as a landing platform, a jetty to accommodate the movement of manufactured goods, products and many other items. They thought that some passengers may visit but the owners could not have dreamt of such an overwhelming footfall. With The Piers and Promenade offering a new type of day out at the sea Victorians were simply flocking to Clacton. It was soon realised, as the numbers continued to grow, that there was money to be made from the holidaymakers. Word spread about this tourist hot spot so buildings and shelters were slowly added.

he first major alterations to the Pier took place In1893, it was lengthened to 1,180 feet and a theatre and the Pier Pavilion (later called the Jolly Roger), was built by architects Kinipple & Jaffrey at the sea end.

During the First World War, in around 1922 Ernest Kingsman purchased the Pier after it had gone into administration and set about turning the Pier into a leisure and entertainment centre. By the outbreak of the Second World War he had invested around a quarter of a million pounds into The Pier's redevelopment. Building the Ocean Theatre, the Children's Theatre, the Blue Lagoon Dance Hall. The Crystal Casino an open air swimming pool, open air stage for the Ramblas Concert Party and the Steel Stella roller coaster (which was later destroyed by a fire in 1973). During the war the pier was damaged by enemy action and was also breached to prevent its use by an Invasion force. By now the Pier had helped to establish Clacton as one of the leading seaside resorts in the country.

By 1971 the pier was under the control of Barney Kingsman (Earnest Kingsman’s Son) and had fallen a little behind with the times, with visitor numbers falling the decision was made to sell the Pier and it was in this same year that it was sold privately to Mr Michael Goss. The Goss family were no stranger to seaside pleasure Piers and already had the majority share in neighbouring Walton Pier, Mr Goss ran the pier as a successful amusement centre until he eventually grew frustrated with the lack of support from the local authority and their understanding of what was required to bring new visitors to the town and so decided it was time to sell up and retire.

August 1981 see’s local businessmen Francis McGinty, John Treadwell, Denis McGinty and David Howe take ownership of the pier from Michael Goss with plans for a major redevelopment of the Pier including the possibility of a bar and disco, reintroduction of the dolphins to the dolphinarium and an upgrade of the pier ride offering. The proceeding years saw major additions to the pier at varying stages including the Whirlwind roller coaster, a Circus, Ice rink and a Roller Rink and even a water slide, unfortunately not all of the additions were a success and the pier company struggled financially on a couple of occasions until eventually in around 1993 the then operating company went into receivership which is where it remained for around about one year.

Towards the end of 1994 a local business family. The Harrisons, bought the pier and embarked on a refurbishment programme that would see most of the Pier rides upgraded and the whole pier cosmetically improved, the Harrisons ran a successful operation at the pier until they made their decision to exit the leisure industry and sell the pier to the current owners with the deal completing in March 2009.

Since the takeover “The Clacton Pier Company” has been steadily investing in the Pier in an attempt to restore the pier to its former glory and in the last two years since the takeover locals, day trippers and holiday makers alike will have seen a gradual upgrading of the piers facility’s taking place.

Connections with Clacton transcript

St Monicas School front view

My connections with Clacton – Ann Follows (nee newton)

I was at St Monica’s boarding school from 1952 to 1958 as my parents worked abroad. During the war the flat roof was painted to look like a road from above. The pupils that were there during the war were evacuated to Devon

In 1953 I can remember when the flood came, I remember seeing the golf club completely flooded but the house for the school was on higher ground so we were not affected by the flood water. The floods came from inland and that was a reason so many people were caught off guard.

During the summer some of us older girls were allowed to swim in the sea, it was between the pier and Butlins and was patrolled by a man in a small rowing boat. I was at school with the daughter of Ernest Kingsman, who owned Clacton Pier from 1922 to 1971.

There was an Ice cream parlour in station road, I think it was called Napolitano’s. I spent a lot of my teenage years there, it was a popular place to be.

I have fond memories of the Carnival, in the early 60’s it was a real highlight and we would watch the procession, they held the contest for Carnival Queen and Princess in the Ballroom on the Pier.

Remembers Royal Daffodil did day trips from Clacton Pier to Margate.

Clacton Memories

I was Clacton born and bred in 1949 - went to St Osyth Primary , Alton Park junior schools - then to Colchester Gilberd School   I have wonderful memories of two beaches either side of the pier - beautiful sandy beaches maintained by the council - the walk down to the pier was a wonder of aroma of cockles prawns fruit rock and hotdogs and burgers ! Everybody was happy to spend all day on the beach!  The swimming pool on the pier was magnificent and nobody minded the constant sounds from the thundering, clacking and screaming SteelStella wooden roller coaster - which I worked on later for two summer seasons. The prom was often so hot as to burn your feet as was any undisturbed sand on the beach! The Punch and Judy show was a main attraction for the kids two or more times a day - and the boatmen in their Welles and white naval style peaked caps would ring their handbells frequently - yelling  “ All aboard the motorboat sea trip” !  The Viking Saga and the Nemo were there almost every day - always full for their run past Butlins and back. As a member of the SteelStella crew I was required to help berth the paddle steamers that called at the pier regularly for longer trips along the coast. I honestly think there was a better genuinely happy summer atmosphere at Clacton than anywhere else - including Blackpool!  Because it was small and genuine and intensely happy for both holiday makers and seasonal workers!

Last updated on: 03/09/2021 - 10:55