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Hockley Parish Council
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New Heritage Scheme for Hockley
On Saturday 9th December the Parish Council invited the first residents who kindly alllowed us to install a plaque at their premises to the Parish Hall to help us launch the scheme. We are aiming to have more plaques ready in the New Year.
Councillors, Clerk and Residents outside the Spa Hotel
Councillors Lesley Vingoe and Sue Martin along with Paul Taylor who formed part of the Heritage Scheme Panel outside the Parish Hall.
Aug 2017: The first plaques are on order
May 2017: At our first Community Workshop in Hockley, residents asked the council for Heritage Plaques for areas of interest around the village. The council provided an initial budget and formed a Heritage Panel with the help of local historians. A plaque has been designed and suitable sites identified. A Heritage Scheme Guide in the form of a brochure, mobile app, and website pages will also be developed to give the community a chance to discover more about the area in which they live.
The first sites to have a plaque will be:
The Old Fire Station In 1940, just after the outbreak of the Second World War, a new fire station was built in Southend Road by Rochford Rural District Fire Brigade. This passed into the hands of the National Fire Service and was taken over by Essex County Fire Brigade in 1948, remaining a base for Hockley’s Auxiliary Fire Service until 1973 when it closed and the crew moved into the nearby Hawkwell Fire Station which is still active today. It is now owned and used by the Parish Council and provides the community with a unique meeting place.
Spa Hotel The Spa Hotel was built in the 1840s to accommodate the crowds of visitors who it was anticipated would visit the nearby Spa Pump Room to take the health-giving waters. Unfortunately the fashion for visiting spas was declining in favour of sea bathing at resorts such as Southend. The visitors did not come, the pump room closed and the once proud hotel – now named the Royal Oak - became just another village pub beside the toll road to Prittlewell. By 1891 its name was changed back to the Spa Hotel and remained a hotel until the 1960s.
The Spa Pump Room In the 1830s Mr and Mrs Clay built a cottage here. The water from the well proved so beneficial to Mrs Clay’s asthma that it was analysed and found to contain health-giving minerals and subsequently bottled and sold. In 1843 a local business man built a pump room on the site and visitors came to Hockley to ‘take the waters’ and enjoy the local countryside. Unfortunately the venture did not prosper and soon closed, since when the building has served as a nonconformist place of worship and as factory premises.
Site of Hockley Turnpike In 1747 the Essex Turnpike Trust extended its surfaced road from Shenfield to Rochford and installed a barrier known as a ‘turnpike’ across the road at Stroud Green near to the Cock Inn, Rochford. In 1800 the turnpike moved to Hockley. Road users paid a charge to pass through the gate ranging from 2s.0d for a stage coach to 1d for a riding horse. Proceeds from the toll were used for the upkeep of the road. The toll keeper lived in a cottage nearby. The turnpike was removed in 1866 and the cottage demolished in 1969
Public Hall In 1902 local benefactor Mrs Augusta Tawke donated the land on which the hall was built. Construction was paid for by public subscription and fund raising events. The Mayor of Southend opened the hall in April 1903 - catering by Harrods. It soon became the centre of village social life hosting numerous events such as ‘moving picture’ shows, WI meetings and church services. The Public Hall, a charity, is managed by trustees.
The Council are very grateful to the site owners for giving permission to install a plaque and supporting the scheme.