Traditional Essex House

Nigel Bangert

Harlow, Essex, United Kingdom

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Artist's Description

A traditional style house with Essex timber cladding, House Martins nest under the eaves. Foulness Island, Essex, UK.
HDR created from one RAW file processed as five DNG files in Photomatix, adjustments in CS6 with some help from Topaz and Nik Filters.
Nikon 1 J2 compact camera with a Nikkor 10-30 zoom.

Foulness Island

Foulness Island is the largest island in Essex and the fourth largest off the coast of England. It has vast stretches of isolated marshland and is separated from the mainland by tidal waterways. The River Crouch is to the north, the River Roach to the west and the North Sea to the East.
There are two villages on the north side, Churchend and Courtsend, with a total population of around 200.
The island’s name is derived from the Old English fulga-naess. Fulga is the old word for fowl, meaning wild birds and naess is the Germanic word for promontory. It is an internationally important site for migrating and breeding birds. Foulness Point is designated as a site of Special Scientific Interest. Habitat consists of extensive mud and sand flats, which are covered twice a day by the tides, salt marshes, banks of shingle and shells, grazing marshes, rough grass and scrubland. During the winter months over 100,000 waterfowl have been recorded.
During the North Sea flood of 1953 nearly the whole island was covered in water and two people died. The tide rose 15.7 feet, the expected tide was 8.7 feet. The sea walls around the island would have coped but for strong winds which produced large waves that washed away the sea defences. A rescue was launched by the army, the Southend lifeboat and various civilian services. A barge and an army DUKW amphibious truck rescued the people. Also rescued were 400 cattle, 14 calves, 28 horses, 72 sheep, 6 lambs, 3 pigs, 670 chickens, (ironically) 100 ducks, 2 dogs, 10 rabbits, 4 budgerigars and 16 dairy cows.
The island is used by the military to test weapons and before 1922 when they built a road, the only access was across the Maplin Sands via the Broomway. The Broomway is a tidal path said to pre-date the Romans but the three mile walk to Asplins Head is still taken today by walkers and adventurers, it is advisable to go with a guide though as it can be dangerous. The Broomway itself is about six miles long.
I went to the island on Sunday the 1st of June. You are allowed to visit the Heritage Centre, which is the Old School House, on the first Sunday of every month. The journey there took me through the busy seaside resort of Southend, which is a huge contrast to the peace and quiet I was about to experience.
At the guard hut run by a security firm you give your personal details and car registration, a pass is issued entitling you to stay from 12-4.
Once through the gate you follow the military road into Churchend, you are not allowed to stop or take photos along the way as this is not a public right of way. Once you enter the village of Churchend you are only allowed to visit the Heritage Centre and the church, though this has now been sold as the upkeep became too expensive, it is going to become a community centre.
To see more of the island you can take a ride on the trailer of a tractor organised by Peter a local farmer and member of the Foulness Archaeological Society. Here is a link to the site http://www.shoeburyness.qinetiq.com/Pages/defau... . You are also allowed to walk on Public Rights of Way or (PROWs) as long as you bear in mind all the safety regulations. There is a map on the website. The locals will guide you to where you can go.
I went hoping to find a thriving local community with old traditions and plenty of history. The Heritage Centre is well presented and maintained, with plenty of artefacts to see and lots of local history. The islanders are very friendly and helpful, but the community seems to have been somewhat depleted. People have moved away to find work and with both pubs on the island now closed and the church sold, it feels as though the heart of this island has partly gone. Several farms have also gone bankrupt over the years, since the 1970’s.
This place is unique, the only military site that has a civilian population living along side it, I hope it survives for many years to come.

Artwork Comments

  • Heloisa Castro
  • Nigel Bangert
  • John44
  • Nigel Bangert
  • ChasSinklier
  • Nigel Bangert
  • lynwood
  • Nigel Bangert
  • billfox256
  • Nigel Bangert
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