Mistley Off The Beaten Path

  • Cargo @ the Quay...
    Cargo @ the Quay...
    by arturowan
  • Off The Beaten Path
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  • The Mistley Thorn today...
    The Mistley Thorn today...
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Most Recent Off The Beaten Path in Mistley

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    Mistley Quay...

    by arturowan Updated Oct 14, 2014

    Mistley's Quay is such an integral part of the place, it might seem silly to describe it as 'off the beaten path'...
    However, the quay itself is hidden from the town, because the public entrance is at the bottom of the steep hill, which conceals this heavily industrialised section of the waterfront...
    Unless you make a point of walking off the pavement parallel with the main road, into the quay, then this once hectic, & still busy area, remains a secluded mystery...
    Mistley Quay has always been a popular place for locals to walk aside the Stour, but the current occupiers erected a fence along the quay edge in 2008
    A lot of fuss has been made by locals about this erection, but contrary to the hysterical propaganda, it does not actually prevent public access, because residents of the quayside houses, & apartments in what was once the quayside Barley Store, park their cars here...
    & as no previous public right of way existed there, except for the path behind The Towers, then the fence is the new occupiers perogative, & in my opinion has not actually detracted from the area, because there was already an existing, although lower, fence, already in place...
    However, the decision by Trent Wharfage Logistics Limited, the present user of the town end of the quay, to keep locals at bay with a 2m high metal fence, has caused a storm of protest & even inspired the Free The Quay action group...
    FREE THE QUAY stickers can be seen in windows around the town, & upon the black, corrugated metal, quay wharehouse building facing the main road, their slogan has been painted in white, from a spraycan - something of a daring deed, considering it has been done at second floor height on a very tall building...
    Mistley Quay has been a half mile feature of the waterfront here since 1720 - in 1770 it was extended & known for a while as Alan's Quay, becoming a centre of local shipbuilding...
    An extra 9-yards was extended from the quay so as to make it more suitable for unloading heavy loads, as part of Richard Rigby's development of Mistley...
    3 vessels a week are estimated to use the quay nowadays - in its heyday in the 1930's, it was more like 20
    400 workers were employed at the quay a century ago, when it was part of a thriving transport trade, especially for shifting timber & delivering grain to the maltings...
    Thames barges were the HGV's of their era, & can still be seen plying the Stour, but actual HGV's have taken over in priority at the far end wharehouse buildings, still operating at the quay today...
    Mistley High Street is narrow, with a sharp bend at the entrance to the quay, making manoeuvering of the container lorries in & out of the controversial area, a daily danger on the road here...
    However, locals still regard the quay as a recreational area & have succeeded in having it officially recognised as constituting 'a village green' - a victory towards the aim of having the 130m fence removed...
    To be honest, I don't believe that pedestrians & reversing, articulated lorries are a good mix, & if I was an owner of these logisitics, I'm sure I'd have done something to keep the public out, myself, but I won't say that in overhearing distance when in Mistley!
    The latest development in the history of Mistley Quay occurred in April 2014
    Building materials had been unloaded, 4 palettes high all along the length of the area extended by Rigby, when a sink hole developed, swallowing not only hundreds of concrete blocks, but also a forklift truck!
    If you want a panoramic view of the entire quay, some of which is still a busy unloading area for cargo boats, then find the footpath down to the sea wall, from Brantham, which winds along the back of the Cattawade Industrial Estate, between the railway embankment...
    The reward for going this far off the beaten path, (& it really is off the beaten path, & often flooded, so wear boots...) your reward will be the tranquil view of Manningtree & Mistley waterfront, across the bay...

    Cargo @ the Quay... Mistley Quay from Mistley Thorn...
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    • Architecture
    • Sailing and Boating

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    Haunted Mistley & Manningtree...

    by arturowan Updated Oct 14, 2014

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    Mistley has close associations with Wichfinder General, Matthew Hopkins, who is still said to haunt the general area, while Manningtree is said to be 1 of the most haunted towns in Essex, if not England...
    Both settlements are based around the River Stour, & a source of flowing water is a frequently recurring factor at places where visual hauntings have been reported over successive decades...
    Mistley has many of the key features of places associated with hauntings, not least of which are its old buildings, built alongside a river, but also, it was home & central location to Matthew Hopkins, the man who self-appointed himself as 'witch finder general' in 1645...
    His intense few years of spreading prejudice & terror in the locality of the town & around East Anglia, are reputed to have resulted in many ghosts, victims of those he persecuted...
    Hopkins himself is said to still haunt the place, & was said to have made an appearance at the hopping bridge, along the riverfront at Mistley Walls...
    In the book The River Stour, author Russell Edwards prints his own photograph of the stableyard behind the old coaching inn, which reveals a misshapen silhouette appearing to lurk in the shadows of the old stables...
    However, the simulacrum does not really display any human shape or features, & is almost certainly an internal refelection within the lense of the camera...
    Hopkins is always blamed for strange goings on at Mistley's main road hotel, The Thorn, which in his day was where he took lodgings & also used a room to try those he accused of witchcraft...
    However, todays Thorn hotel was totally rebuilt in 1723 from the existing structure, which burnt down after Hopkins' reign of terror, so it is pushing the bounds of credibility that it is him causing any anomalous activity there nowadays...
    A gypsy boy is known to have died in the stables, pushed under a cart during a fight, & is now said to haunt the yard, while a grey lady & hooded monk have also been reported on site...
    There are many ancient dwellings within Manningtree, but especially the old row of cottages, in neighbouring Mistley, are also reputed to be an epicentre of all sorts of anomalous activity...

    The Mistley Thorn today... A witch's familiar!
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    • Archeology
    • Historical Travel

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    Cold War Bunker...

    by arturowan Written Sep 20, 2014

    A (supposedly) nuclear-proof, command centre was built on Mistley's Furze Hill in 1951
    At the time it cost the MOD £500 000 in order to construct the 2-tier, semi-sunk, command centre for the deployment & firing of anti-aircraft missiles...
    The interior was fitted out with a telephone switchboard, wired to MOD HQ, a radio transmitter, map-room, as well as televisions & basic computers...
    In 1963, ownership was exchanged to Essex County Council, as their emergency HQ in the event of a nuclear strike...
    The bunker, is 1 of 5 such shelters in Essex designed to withstand the effects of nuclear warfare...
    At the end of the Cold War, the building was decommissioned & ceased to be part of the civil defence structure in 1993
    After some refurbishment, the site was opened as a museum on 5th April 1996
    The local authority decided to signpost the museum from miles around, with brown signs declaring "Secret Bunker"!
    (A fundamental contradiction if ever there was 1)
    In truth, the bunker was never a 'secret', neither from the local public, because it was built beside their village hall, or the Warsaw Pact, because the huge antenna atop the structure would have revealed it on any map, made by the enemy, via a spy satellite...
    In the event of a nuclear war, it would have been given priority for a direct hit by air, & failing that, there was no hiding it from attacking ground forces, who could easily have spotted the mast from faraway!
    If this was the standard of Cold War planning by the MOD, it is just as well that the Cold War never turned 'hot', as we would not have stood a chance...
    The so-called 'secret bunker' was closed, allegedly for a 're-fit', on 1st December 2002
    (0therwise it would be listed as a 'tourist trap' - the real reason for its closure was that visitor numbers were too low to make its opening worthwhile - why would a museum dedicated to the Cold War era, require a 're-fit'?)
    There are no plans to re-open the museum, & with no other use for the bunker, the site has become overgrown, with only the mast appearing through the grass...
    Although the site is fenced off to entry, for those who wish to see it from the outside, just enter Shrublands Road, near the village hall - the bunker is located where the mast is...

    Related to:
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    • Museum Visits
    • Architecture

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    Baltic Wharf...

    by arturowan Written Aug 29, 2014

    The Baltic Wharf runs contiguous with Mistley Quay, & has 2 entrances; from the main road, sloping away from the steep hill at the end of the Thorn Quay warehouse & redeveloped apartments, about a third of the way up; & at the top of the hill if you take the lane that runs straight-off from the main road, past The Anchor Inn, over the railway bridge, then turn left where the marker buoy is situated...
    Both routes are closed to the public, but this second detour provides the best view, because it overlooks the wharf itself...
    Mistley's Baltic Wharf has been a local centre of shipbuilding & vessel repair for centuries, but now faces redevelopment, since the decline of the River Stour as a commercial route...
    Site owners wish to build luxury homes on the ground, while retaining the moorings & boat repair shed, but the plans were vetoed by the local authorities...

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    • Sailing and Boating
    • Photography

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    Mistley Heath...

    by arturowan Written Nov 28, 2013

    Mistley Heath is 1 of those 'in-between' hamlets, of the sort you can easily pass through without registering you were there, on the way to a more obviously developed neighbouring place...
    There is no obvious reason for any visitor to Mistley, or Bradfield, the 2 neighbouring villages to this hamlet, to make a point of venturing to see it, unless you happen to be researching the local history, in regard to Matthew Hopkins...
    The Witchfinder General was almost certainly buried in the churchyard at Mistley Heath, when he succumbed to consumption on 12th august 1647
    It's said that his body was placed in the grave here, only hours after his last breath, in his home in Manningtree...
    Whether or not his grave was marked is not known, but any such marker would have long since succumbed to the elements, as did Mistley Heath church, & today, even the footings are lost below turf...
    However, the brick wall around the churchyard remains, as do some gravestones, now tended by grazing sheep...
    In order to locate the former churchyard, leave Mistley on the main road up the steep hill, & continue until the road plunges away downhill, where the River Stour can be seen - just before here is a T-junction, so if you turn into it, the road leads towards a sharp 90degree bend to the left - on the inside of the bend is the perimeter wall of the sheep field, where lie the bones of Matthew Hopkins...
    (Conspiracy theorists abound as to the death of The Witchfinder General - & many accounts say that he's laid to rest, or not, as his ghost is said to be seen walking aside the Hopping Bridge, along Mistley's The Walls, however, there's not a shred of evidence to support this belief...)

    Related to:
    • Birdwatching
    • Archeology
    • Historical Travel

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