Chelmsford Essex County Town
Chelmsford is the County town of Essex and can trace its history back to Roman times. The Roman settlement was given the name Caesaromagus (Caesar's Market Place), and it was the only town in Roman Britain given what was then the great honour of the Imperial prefix. The settlement declined after the Romans left, but grew again in the middle ages, receiving its first market charter in 1199, then becoming the assize town, and as early as 1218 was recognised as the county Town of Essex - a position it has maintained ever since.
Chelmsford is home to the Diocese of Chelmsford, and has the smallest cathedral in England, built in the 15th and early 16th century when it was the the parish church of the prosperous medieval town.
In the 19th century Chelmsford became established as a centre of trade and industry. Guglielmo Marconi established the world's first radio factory in Chelmsford in 1899, and the town was also the birthplace of broadcasting, as the location for Dame Nellie Melba's pioneering radio recital in 1920.
Chelmsford has a long association with the United States of America. William Pynchon (1590-1662) who lived in Springfield in 1624 emigrated to the USA and named a small village after the hamlet he had left. It has now become one of the largest cities in the state of Massachusetts. Another Chelmsfordian Thomas Hooker (1586-1647) was founder of the state of Connecticut in 1637. There is a commemorative plaque to him in Chelmsford Town centre. In World War II, a large military airfield was constructed at Boreham and occupied by the USAAF 9th Air Force.
During World War II Chelmsford, as an important centre of light engineering war production, was attacked from the air on several occasions, both by aircraft of the Luftwaffe and by missile. The worst single loss of life took place on Tuesday December 19, 1944, when the 367th V2 to hit England fell on a residential area near the Hoffmans' ball bearing factory and not far from the Marconi electronics factory which may also have been the target. 39 people were killed and 138 injured, 47 of them seriously, while several dwellings were destroyed and hundreds more damaged