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Archiver > ESSEX-UK > 2003-11 > 1069367535

From: "Fedelmar Fedelmar" <>
Subject: New town - Harlow
Date: Thu, 20 Nov 2003 17:32:15 -0500

Colleen .... are you sure about the years for Harlow ... my great grandfather emigrated to Australia in 1842 he was born in 1821 in Stebbing and his sister was born in Harlow 1832 and brother in 1832 ... or is there 'another' Harlow ...

Bright Blessings
Western Australia

----- Original Message -----
From: <>

> There's a combination of circumstances here. The plotlands that were
sold-off/occupied all round the Thames Estuary from Sheppey to Clacton
attracted a lot of people from East and South London. Essex also received a
lot of Londoners when Basildon was created to attract people from the
overcrowded areas - as Harlow was built around the same time this may also
be another pocket of the accent.

Yes, Essex new towns, like Harlow, were built in the late 40s -50s to house
those Londoners left homeless by the housing shortage which followed WW2 and
the postwar baby boom. There's a certain irony to this mass migration of
many thousands of people into the new towns though. Certainly in the case of
Harlow, the pioneers were sold the idea of leaving the congested town with
all of its ills and moving to a healthy rural idyl - a 'new town in the
countryside'. At first, some of the new towns were just that, brimming over
with open green space and fresh air and countryside all around them. In
those days you could still hear the soft burr of the old Essex accent among
those who lived in Harlow's older, more rural parts. Nowadays its harder to
find vestiges of that accent - it barely survives among the 80 and 90
somethings who've lived here all their lives. Just as the semi rural new
towns are ceasing to be, so the accent is becoming scarcer in Harlow. You
can still hear a bit of of it in the old villages near Harlow - old Joe, our
ratcatcher here in Churchgate Street is an old Essex man through and
through. he 'b'aint 'avin' nuthin' to do with new fangled talk!' What a
crying shame it would be to lose it. But the hugely destructive threat of
Stansted Airport expansion and the dense concrete jungle it drags in its
wake is, as Jacky Cooper rightly says, blowing all around dear old north
Essex and its chilling us all here to the bone.

New towns like Harlow are already planning to become more and more densly
urbanised, and threatening to engulf their rural and historic neighbours,
lovely villages like Churchgate Street, North Weald, Roydon, Eastwick,
Sawbridgeworth, Lower Sheering and so on, where the historic heritage of
Essex and the last vestiges of the old Essex accent in this area still live
on may be lost forever. Unless our campaign can stop this destructive
juggernaut, it will be far more than accents that Essex people will lose,
we'll lose our rural soul, our wonderful heritage and our ancient
communities. Though the modern spatial planners say that this would be a
good thing, because dense urbanistion is a wonderful, progressive and
prosperous thing, the hearts of thousands of us in Essex disagree. We won't
stay here to watch this happen if it can't be stopped, we'll take off, just
as our ancestors did. Thousands of us are already moving out - many to rural
Spain, would you believe! Such is the deep concern about what's happening to
our dear old England, its heritage and countryside.

There's another irony to all of this. Large numbers of the pioneers of
Harlow new town, were Londoners who'd migrated from Walthamstow, West Ham
and nearby parts of London - yet, in their bones and in their blood, many of
them weren't really London people at all. A large proportion of these
'Londoners' were actually the offspring or grandchildren of country folk,
who'd migrated to London around the early 1900s from deepest Essex. Like my
Dice grandmother and greatgrandparents, who were the descendants of many
generations of Essex farm workers, they'd piled every miserly possession
they owned on top of an open wagon and taken off to London to escape
grinding rural poverty. Yet as soon as they'd escaped it, didn't many long
to return to the countryside? Some did return, of course, moving back to the
villages their families had left a 20 to a 100 or so years previously.
Others, or their offspring, made do with the next best thing they could
find, green towns like the 'garden town' of Harlow. Yet even this lot, the
Harlow pioneers, were not content to remain in what was still a town, albeit
a green new town, the abiding ambition of so many Harlow people is to move
out to more rural parts.

The modern spatial planners claim that they can create towns that provide
everything that attracts the English to the countryside - well, they're
kidding themselves and their irrational plans are about as real as the
treacle mines of Tiptree - and, as Jacky says, we're fighting their lunatic
proposals for all we're worth.



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