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Colchester (/ˈkoʊltʃɛstər/ (listen)) is a historic market town and the largest settlement within the borough of Colchester in the county of Essex, in the East of England. Colchester occupies the site of what was Camulodunum, the first major Roman city in, and sometime capital of, Roman Britain. Colchester lays claim to be Britain's oldest recorded town. Colchester has been a military garrison since the Roman era and is currently home to the 16th Air Assault Brigade. In 2019 it had an estimated population of 138,131.
Situated on the River Colne, Colchester is 50 miles (80 kilometres) northeast of London and is connected to the capital by the A12 road and its railway station which is on the Great Eastern Main Line. It is seen as a popular town for commuters, and is less than 30 miles (50 km) from London Stansted Airport and 20 miles (30 km) from the passenger ferry port of Harwich.
Colchester is home to Colchester Castle and Colchester United Football Club. The demonym is Colcestrian.
Haverhill (/ˈheɪvərhɪl/ HAY-vər-hil, /ˈheɪvrɪl/ HAYV-ril) is a market town and civil parish in the county of Suffolk, England, next to the borders of Essex and Cambridgeshire. It lies about 14 miles (23 km) south east of Cambridge, south west of Bury St Edmunds, and north west of Braintree and Colchester. The town centre lies at the base of a gentle dip in the chalk hills of the Newmarket Ridge; running through the town is Stour Brook, which goes on to join the River Stour just outside the town. Rapid expansion of the town over the last two decades means that the western edge of Haverhill now includes the hamlet of Hanchet End. The surrounding countryside largely consists of arable land. Haverhill dates back to at least Anglo-Saxon times, and the town's market is recorded in the Domesday Book (1086). Whilst most of its historical buildings were lost to the great fire on 14 June 1667, one notable Tudor-era house remains (reportedly given to Anne of Cleves as part of her divorce from Henry VIII and thus titled Anne of Cleves House although it was another vicarage not this one) as well as many interesting Victorian buildings.
Following a planning review in 1956, Haverhill was targeted for expansion. This was primarily to resettle communities from London which had been devastated during the Second World War. As part of this plan, new housing settlements and new factories were built. A later review in 1962 planned for a threefold increase in population from the then population of 5,446.
This influx of people changed many aspects of life in Haverhill. One noticeable change is that the local Suffolk accent (still spoken by the town's older residents) has largely been replaced by a London/South-east England accent characterised as Estuary English. The expansion was not without friction. Residents who moved to the newly developed areas complained about the housing density and lack of amenities in a 1968 Man Alive documentary.
Nowadays, Haverhill is predominantly a modern and young town. The relatively small town centre is surrounded by many large housing developments, completed at various periods between the 1950s and the present.
Halstead is a traditional market town with the River Colne running through the heart of it. A beautiful river walk runs alongside the river. The town is home to numerous independent boutique shops, family butchers & bakers, cafés, restaurants; a wealth of floral attractions, buildings built by the Courtauld’s family and two beautiful Churches.
Halstead in Bloom was formed in 2000 and from 2009 have been GOLD award Winners every year since, also named as Best Town in Anglia in Bloom, on 5 occasions by RHS Britain in Bloom. As soon as you enter the town you are welcomed by floral displays. Summer & Winter flowers adorn the town in tubs, troughs, boxes, beds, agricultural machinery and summer baskets.
The beautiful Public Gardens are Victorian in style and formally laid out, with a central Bandstand that is used for lovely Sunday Summer Afternoon music events and special evening events.
Wool and weaving provided the mainstay of business over the centuries and the surviving Townsford Mill, straddles the River Colne. Local history has it that the black silk for Queen Victoria's many mourning gowns were made at the Mill. The mill is a picturesque reminder of the towns' industrial past and now holds one of the largest Antiques Centres on the Essex/Suffolk border. The Courtauld family built the towns hospital, library, park, homes for workers and a rare group of sixteen WWII air raid shelters that were built for the workers.
There has been a Church on the site of St Andrew’s since the reign of King John. Victorian architect Sir George Gilbert Scott built Holy Trinity Church in the 1840s and is a landmark in the town.
The Empire Theatre is a 300 seater venue showing films and staging tribute bands, retro acts, country, jazz and pantomime.
Summer & Christmas Fayre’s are held in the town with a Torchlight Procession and carols a highlight of the year. There is plenty of coach parking as well as car parking.
Clacton-on-Sea, the largest town on the Essex Sunshine Coast, is a bustling but affordable seaside resort. It boasts an array of entertainment facilities including a pleasure pier, arcades, the Princes and the West Cliff Theatres, a golf course, seafront walks, water sports and an airfield offering pleasure flights.
The main shopping area contains many of the more familiar national chains, independent stores as well as a variety of eateries to tantalise your taste buds which is a common theme throughout the area. Just outside of town is Clacton Shopping Village offering a wide range of individual stores with famous name brands at discounted prices.
An eclectic annual events programme including fetes, fairs, carnivals and the two day annual Clacton Airshow in August will keep you occupied throughout your stay.
With easy links by road, train, coach, ferry and plane and the centre of London only an hour or so away, makes it an easily accessible destination.
Harwich is best known for its role in the story of America, as the port from which the Mayflower captain departed on the voyage across the Atlantic to the New World in 1620.The attractive old town was built on a grid pattern, in the 13th century, by the Earl of Norfolk, to exploit its strategic position at the mouth of the Stour/Orwell estuary. The famous seafarers Hawkins, Drake and Frobisher all sailed from Harwich during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I on various expeditions.
An enjoyable way to discover the historic town is to follow its Maritime Heritage Trail. From Ha’Penny Pier Visitor Centre on the Quay there are guided walking tours throughout the summer. Start your walk at the Low Lighthouse Maritime Museum built in 1818 and Lifeboat Museum, where you can get aboard a lifeboat and end at the Barge Murals which overlook the site where Thames Sailing Barges were built up to 1930.
A special gem is the Treadwheel Crane, built in 1667, a kind of colossal hamster-wheel based on a Roman design. The crane was worked by men walking in the interior of two large wheels to raise and lower goods and materials. As far as is known Harwich has the only British example. On route down the quaint streets there is the chance to take in gems such as the Electric Palace Cinema, built in 1911 and now the oldest unaltered purpose-built cinema in Britain.
St. Nicholas Church which was rebuilt 1821 and The Redoubt Fort which was built in 1808 as a large circular fort to protect the harbour from a Napoleonic invasion.
These are just a few of the outstanding treasures the trail has to offer. Also visit the old Radar Tower, built in 1941, which housed unusual ultra high-frequency equipment for pinpointing enemy craft attempting to cross the minefields laid in the harbour entrance. Installed by the Navy, it was manned by sailors and guarded by the Royal Marines.