My home town.
OK, admittedly Braintree probably doesn't top many lists for the UK's Top Tourist Destinations, but it's a nice old market town, with lots of history. It's probably best as a base from which to explore the many pretty villages which can be found roundabouts. My Essex page gives some examples of these.
Braintree, along with neighbouring Bocking, used to be home to many thriving family industries, such as Courtauld's weavers, Crittall windows, Warner's silk mill and Lake & Elliott's foundry, but these have now all closed down. My father worked for Lake & Elliot's, my uncle worked for Courtauld's and my grandfather worked for Crittall's. The resultant derelict factory sites have largely now been redeveloped as residential areas and the town has had a new lease of life with the arrival of Freeport retail village - well worth a visit if you want to pick up some designer bargains on your travels.
Wednesdays and Saturdays are good days on which to visit the old town centre as busy markets are held on these days. The old town hall is now a museum and definitely deserves a visit to discover more about the long history of the town.
This main photo shows Great Square looking from the Market Place. It's taken from the steps of Tesco's supermarket, where I had a part-time job whilst still at school. To the right and out of picture is the 'circle' where my cousin and I would hang out on a Saturday afternoon years ago, and The Bull, to the left, is scene of many a boisterous night out in my teens and twenties. My brother worked for many years in the building on the right, and I had another part-time job in the photographic store directly opposite. My first full-time job was in an office in the building at the end, on the right, and I soon moved on to another office in the main building. A lot of my history, then, in this photo...