Mainly local news and information: 

If you have any items of interest that you think would be suitable to be included on our website please let us know via our website Join & Contact Us page, phone 01702 207297 or drop in to 25B Belchamps Way or 2 Englefield Close.  Only digital documents and photos please and if we believe they are appropriate we will include them.

AGM - Our next Hawkwell Residents Association AGM will be held at 6pm in the Hawkwell Village Hall Annex on Thursday 16 August 2018.

Recalls - If you are worried that your home appliances / gadgets have been recalled you can check by entering the equipment details at the bottom of this page: Electrical Product Recalls  .

Hawkwell Residents Association 2017 Hawkwell Voice Newsletter

Rochford District Council Bins & Collections - Bin Collection Calendar top RHS of page

Emmanuel Chuch

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Local Comments and Info from Vice Chair Alan James

7,500 New Rochford Homes Drop-in Events

Four public drop-in events are taking place this week so we can find out how Rochford District Council (RDC) propose to squeeze the additional traffic from 7,500 additional homes on to our already overloaded and air polluted roads. I believe the existing infrastructure has taken on too much already and not just roads but services like electrics, gas, water, sewers and the health system, including the hospital, GP surgeries and dentists. RDC have indicated that they will include additional infrastructure this time but they have a very poor record on this so far, as the last increase in housing produced practically none at all. The reason for this is that additional housing comes from RDC and the infrastructure from Essex County Council (ECC) who provide the funds or not in this case.

We do need additional homes for our children to buy but unfortunately most are too expensive and many end up being used to relocate people from London councils to relatively cheaper homes in our area. We live on a peninsular surrounded on three side by water, if we really have to have an additional 7,500 new houses in our district I believe a new Garden Village located in the east and served by a new road from the north and west would be the best solution. I doubt this would happen as it would be expensive requiring totally new roads and services involving ECC. Much cheaper to clog up all the existing roads and services and make our lives a misery.

The four public drop-in events are taking place at:

Rayleigh WI Hall, Bellingham Lane, SS6 7ED: 3pm to 9pm on Monday 15 January 2018.

Hockley Old Fire Station, Southend Road, SS5 4QH: 3pm to 9pm on Tuesday 16 January 2018.

Rochford Parish Rooms, West Street, SS4 1AS: 3pm to 9pm on Tuesday 6 February 2018.

Rayleigh WI Hall, Bellingham Lane, SS6 7ED: 3pm to 9pm on Monday 19 February 2018.

Please express your concerns at these events and then you can then object in any of the following ways:



Post: Planning Policy, Council Offices, South Street, Rochford, SS4 1BW

Fax: 01702 318181

Probably the easiest way to object is online and Hockley Residents Association (HRA) sub-committee Action Groups Resisting Over-development (AGRO) are planning to produce some information to help you do this.

Action Groups Resisting Over-development

The Hockley Residents Association have decided to form a sub-committee to tackle the Rochford District Council (RDC) have plans to build an additional 7,500 homes across our district. There was a good turn out at the first meeting on the 19 December 2017. After introductions and chat about the concerns it was decided the chair will be Jim Hall, the Vice Chair will be Jim Cripps and the sub-committee will not just address this issue for Hockley but the whole of Rochford District. It was decided the sub-committee will be called 'Action Groups Resisting Over-development' AGRO. Decisions were also made on other measures to be taken by the group.

The next meeting will be on the 11 January 2018 at 7.30pm at Greensward Academy room GG27 in the Creative Arts Block next to the main car park. Please attend if you feel you can make a positive contribution but not if you just want to have a moan.

As I have said before, to build all these homes without better roads and local facilities, including the NHS, will be disastrous. The situation is already bad, as our roads are getting more and more congested, to add an additional 7,500 without sufficient infrastructure is just crazy.

There are just two months left to express your opinion to RDC on this issue as the 'New Local Plan Issues and Options Document (and draft Sustainability Appraisal)' closes at 5pm on 7 March 2018. You can respond online, by email, by post or by fax. Surveys and consultations generally get a poor response with numbers as low as 0.02%, but if you decide not to respond, I believe RDC will view this as that you are in agreement with them on this issue.

Rochford District Local Plan

Rochford District Council (RDC) have plans in the pipeline to build an additional 7,500 homes across our district. Large areas of green belt land have been submitted by land owners to build these homes on, as of course they can make far more money by selling it for housing. Some of you may believe building all these homes is a good idea, that we need additional affordable homes for our residents and their children in the future.

Whatever your views on this, to build all these homes without better roads and local facilities, including the NHS, will be disastrous. You may have already noticed that our roads are getting more and more congested and that’s without the 600 new homes that they are now building in Rochford Town being fully occupied. Sewers are being overloaded and we are experiencing power cuts on a regular basis particularly in Hawkwell.

A consultation on this subject is due to start in December and at this point I don’t know what form this will take. I will say that, from past experience, surveys and consultations have had a poor response with numbers as low as 0.02% of our residents taking part. I am not blaming anyone as I also find them a pain to do.

Hockley Library

Living not far away, I often pop into the Library for something or just to have a look round.  I recently borrowed a couple of books and was surprised that I had not used this service for more that 4 years requiring me to renew my membership.  This got me thinking that many people like me may be using the library but going unrecorded by the library system.   We certainly do not want to loose this service, so I would encourage our residents to use their membership now and then to get recorded on the library system.  As they say “use it or loose it” and we don’t want that to happen.

Opening Times

Monday Closed
Tuesday 9.00 - 5.30
Wednesday Closed
Thursday 9.00 - 5.30
Friday 9.00 - 5.30
Saturday 9.00 - 5.30
Sunday Closed

Southend Road, Hockley, SS5 4PZ     Fax: 01702 207254      Email:
Renewals and Library Enquiries: 03456 037628

Allotments For Hockley

If you are interested in having an allotment, they are on the way in Hockley.  They should be located at the back of the Folly Grove development Folly Lane in Hockley, subject to financial support and planning approval.  Search for the "Hockley Allotment Society" Facebook page for the latest info.

Single Occupier Discount

Did you know that if you are the only person aged 18 or over living in your property that you may be entitled to a 25% reduction in your Council Tax? Maybe you are a young person just starting a life away from parents or maybe an older person that has sadly lost a partner. No matter what your situation, if you are living alone you should be able to claim. In certain circumstances you may also be entitled to claim when more that one person lives in your property. For more information visit the Rochford District website for details a:   .


Have you experienced power cuts recently? We are often getting them in Hawkwell and have just had three in two days. This is the second day I have had to shave in the dark and my power shower not working. I am fed-up resetting clocks, timers, alarms, the sky box and getting the computer to work again. If I had an electric car, that they say we will all be driving in the future, I would also be hanging around waiting for it to charge up. I believe this will only get worse without the necessary infrastructure required for the more that 200 additional homes built and being built in our area. What’s next? reduced water and gas pressure, overflowing sewers and drains and of course traffic jams getting even worse than they already are now.

Hawkwell Buses

Arriva seem to be allowing the number 8 bus route that runs through Hawkwell to gradually deteriorate with the new time table published on the 23 July 2017. This is the service that serves Clements Hall Leisure Centre and now 176 homes at Clements Gate and 36 homes at Highwell Gardens plus other smaller new developments. Weekdays there is only one service in the morning and one in the evening that goes through to Rayleigh and only one service at lunch time that comes back from Rayleigh, meaning a change to the number 7 bus at Hockley for all other journey times. The number 8 also stops in early evening leaving the only way to get to and from an evening secession at Clements Hall is by private car or a taxi. There are rumours that some number 8 services could be rerouted through Hall Road to pick up the new Cherry Orchard Way Saxon Business Park and the new 600 home development in Rochford. This could only be bad news for Hawkwell, leaving Rectory Road including Clements Gate, St Mary's Church and Clements Hall with a very limited service or even worse, none at all.

Westerings School Expansion

It was reported on the local news that Essex County Council have received the highest number of complaints in our region of 210.  That seems to be a bit low to me and I a sure we could boost it up a bit by complaining about the Westerings school expansion and the situation we have with our local roads caused by the school.  I have already complained and it's quite strait forward to do.  My objections were:

''In the last two weeks of June ECC ran a consultation on their proposal to enlargement of Westerings School, doubling it from 210 to 420 pupils. My objections is that I have lived near the school for 27 years and have noticed a continuous increase in a serious issue at drop-off and pick-up times. Parking over driveways and pavements in many local roads, speeding to and from the school and traffic jams at the two access points to the B1013. Without providing sufficient solutions to these issues, I have objected online to any increase in the size of the school. Unfortunately this seems to have been ignored by ECC by the current silence from you in defending this situation or coming up with solutions.''

Complaint can be made on their website using the link below:

Clements Hall Shelter

The teen shelter was built for Hawkwell Parish Council in Clements Hall Recreation Grounds a few years ago.  The shelter was completely removed in July 2015 and all that remains now is a patch of weeds.  Spot the difference:

Side 1 When Built

Side 1 Before July 2015 Demolition

Side 2 When Built

Side 2 Before July 2015 Demolition

Side 3 When Built

Side 3 Before July 2015 Demolition

Side 4 When Built

Side 4 Before July 2015 Demolition

Befrending Scheme

My name is Karen Harper and I work for Castle Point Association of Voluntary Services.  I am trying to promote the Befriending Scheme that we are running in the Castle Point, Rayleigh & Rochford area.  The aim of the service is to provide companionship and emotional support to the residents of these areas from the ages from 18+.  It helps:

· to increase their confidence and self esteem,

· have someone to talk to on a regular basis,

· have someone to enjoy activities with,

· help to become involved with the local community

· give confidence and motivate to join new clubs.

I am looking for ways to promote this service and to find volunteers to spend a couple of hours a week befriending our Befriendees and also to let the possible Befriendees find out how to access our scheme.  All we look for from our volunteers is a couple of hours a week having a chat with a befriendee over a coffee. I have attached a leaflet to give you a bit more detail about what we do.

Karen Harper - Befriending Scheme PR
Castle Point Association of Voluntary Services Ltd
The Tyrells Centre, 39 Seamore Avenue, ,Thundersley
Essex, SS7 4EX

Tel: 01268 638416 Fax: 01268 638415 Mobile: 07517856121

Email:  Web:

Hullbridge Memories & History               Southend-on-Sea Video

Flooding Under Hockley Bridges

At the end of August we had a month’s rain fall in an hour.  A car was submerged nearly to the windows under the Church Road railway bridge.  A second car got stuck under the Spa Road railway bridge in water that reached the car roof and was about two metres deep.  The occupants including an adult and three children were lucky to escape with their lives thanks to three quick acting local passersby.  The long term forecast is we will experience more and more extreme weather in the future.   We believe these two bridges require an improved storm drain system to cope with future events that cut off the north of our village.  The Spa Road railway underpass already has an issue with wide vehicles passing each other, which ought to be addressed before future increases in house building hits our area.  We believe this could be overcome by installing a separate pedestrian underpass as they have done in Wickford, allowing for the road to be widened at this location without replacing the bridge.

Church Road Hockley Railway Bridge 24 August 2013

Spa Road Hockley Railway Bridge 24 August 2013

Watch Youtube Video

The Hockley & Hawkwell 55+ Social Centre

Preparing Lunch

In the Car Park behind Hockley Library is Hockley & Hawkwell's best kept secret - "The Hockley & Hawkwell 55+ Social Centre," where a warm welcome awaits you between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on weekdays.  Established in 1989 by Hockley & Hawkwell Old People's Welfare Committee, it provides around sixty lunches, morning coffee and afternoon tea, daily for the older members of our community in modem comfortable surroundings.  Lunch costs £4.50 and transport is available for those who are unable to get to the Centre under their own steam, in its wheelchair and zimmer frame friendly minibus, for a small donation However, you don't have to have lunch in order to attend the afternoon activities - Monday, Whist - Tuesday, Bingo - Wednesday, various pastimes, such as Cards Thursday, Entertainment or a Speaker and Friday, Scrabble but you don't have to be over 55 to pop in at 10 am / noon, to sample freshly baked scones or cakes with tea or coffee for under £1.  When I first visited the Centre, a recently widowed lady told me how kind and supportive everyone was and how, having somewhere to go regularly, with such a warm atmosphere had helped her come to terms with the loss of her husband.  If you feel this facility might suit you, why not pop in for coffee one morning to check us out or ring 01702 206208 for more details.  The main reason for the Centre's success is a dedicated band of volunteers, who keep everything running smoothly.  However, sometimes they are over-stretched so if you feel that you could give up a couple of hours to help, please ring Carol Warren on 01702 202582.

Our minibus to pick you up

Echo Article 29 November 2012 – No, Boss, when we said the team needed a new winger...

Our feathery mascot - Josef Leverington with Memphis the hawk and team-mates

A Red-tailed hawk has become the latest signing at a community football club.  The three-month-old bird of prey, called Memphis, made
his debut for Hawkwell Athletics as their new mascot at the Hockley Community Centre, in Westminster Drive, on Saturday.  About 300 eager residents flocked to the hall to catch a glimpse of the new addition, the first official mascot for the club.  Youngsters from Hawkwell
Athletics' youth teams held the new bird.  Craig Leverington, club chairman, said: "Memphis is absolutely gorgeous and I'm sure everyone who came fell completely in love with him.  "It's such an exciting time for the club to have this opportunity and he's well suited to our club name and colours.  I'm sure he will find a happy home here."  Memphis has been supplied by the Imperial Bird of Prey Academy in Barleylands Road, Billericay.  For more information, visit: .

Echo Article 29 November 2012 – Sign up now and save

Shoppers can sign up for money-saving vouchers and discounts with the launch of a new website.  The award-winning Shop At My Local campaign is a partnership between Rochford District Council, Chambers of Trade for Rochford, Hockley and Rayleigh parish and town councils and the Federation of Small Businesses.  Already 442 businesses are part of the campaign which offers special deals.  For more information, go to: .

Belchamps Scout Activity Centre

Children’s Parties

Try something different for your next birthday; we have a wide range of activities for you to choose from, suitable from 6 years old.  Choose from bouncy castle, assault course, cork guns, pedal karts, climbing, crate stacking, archery, traversing wall.  Also rifle shooting from age 8 plus and for the older age range 10 years plus, 5 different high ropes elements to choose from.  All activities last one hour.  Add approximately 30 minutes to your party time if you are booking party food.  Our activity sessions are for groups of 8 or 12 depending on the activity.  If you have more than this number please book two activities per hour.  We take bookings Monday to Sunday 9am till 5pm.  Please make sure that you have at least one adult to every 3 children for under 8s parties and one adult for every 6 children if it’s for over 8s.  For £3.50 a head we provide a party box which contains A large sausage roll, a packet of crisps, box of raisins and a small cake. We cater for vegetarians also. The price per head includes a birthday cake and unlimited squash.  Or you can bring your own food and hire a grass area, hall or marquee.  Party bags can be provided at £2.50 per head.  Activities available include: Climbing, archery, rifle shooting, pedal karts, cork guns, traversing wall, assault course, bouncy castle, pole joust, the leap of faith, crate stacking, high ropes traversing element, high all aboard and Jacobs ladder.  Belchamps Scout Centre, Holyoak Lane, Hawkwell, SS5 4JD.                Tel: 01702 562690  Email:  Website: .

Old Cars to Cut Up

If any one has an old car that they would like to dispose of without cost, Hawkwell Fire Station needs it to practice cutting techniques on.  Please note that it is essential you have the logbook of any vehicle being donated.  To donate your vehicles please contact Dan Clary at Hawkwell Fire Station in Main Road.

Save £35 per year from sewerage

If you home was built in the past 20 years or so, it has probably got a soakaway in the garden for the roof rain water.  Did you know that you can now save around £35 per year from you sewerage charge by informing Anglian Water?  They will back date the reduction on your bill but only for the tax year to April 2009.  To save around £35 for this tax year and all future tax years just freephone Anglian Water on 0800 91 222 91 with your request.

Wyvern Community Transport

Are you unable to access conventional transport due to either having restricted mobility, temporarily unable to access public transport, living in an area not served by public transport or where your transport needs are not met by existing timetables.  If you are a permanent resident of the our area then Wyvern Community Transport for Rochford District can help you.  The scheme utilises drivers and the vehicles provided to meet the special transport needs of residents of Rochford District.  To book the service phone 01702 544551 between 9.15am & 2.30pm (Mon - Thur) 9.15am & 12.00 (Fri).  Email:  A yearly membership fee of £5 is payable and £2.50 per journey up to 4 miles.  For journeys over 4 miles, 50p per mile is charged.  See: .

Self Defence

Britka Karate is a professional karate club based in the Southend on Sea area.  They run classes in Wado Ryu Karate for children from ages 5 up to adults.  They have been running karate classes successfully since 1991 and have classes for beginners and advanced students in the Leigh, Hadleigh, Hawkwell and Shoebury areas.  Chief Instructor of Britka karate is Sensei Russell Garrard 4th Dan.  For their website click on:  Britka Karate

Astronomy from Rawal Pindi Nursery

Weather permitting, free observing session at the Astronomy Resource Centre, Main Road, Hawkwell from 9pm.  Phone Royston Dean on 01702 206244.

Ashlea Simpson a Hawkwell lady living in the USA – Please see 'Good News' and 2011 update below

Extracts from three emails we have received from Ashlea Simpson a Hawkwell lady living in Idaho USA.  Please Contact Us if you have any information that may help her: 

(1)  I am wondering whether you know how I might find out if my great-grandmother is buried at Hawkwell Church.  She was 84, I think, and her name was Sara Ann Simpson (or Sarah Anne possibly).  I used to stay with her at her home in Rochford during the 40's, and I remember going to see her on her deathbed (I lived in Brighton then).  I believe I was 7 years old when she died, so that would have been in 1946+/-.  I have a photograph of her standing by the front gate with the name of her home on the gate "ASH LEA".  If I were in England I could perhaps research this myself but I moved to the US in 1958.  I visited Rochford in 1978 and was floored by the changes - houses after houses, so many streetlights, etc. but her home was still standing then, as were the ones on either side.  Thank you for any information you may have to help me in finding her final resting place.  Ashlea

(2)  I believe my great-grandmother is not buried in the little church at Rochford (built, I believe, by King Canute of the Danes), which was across from the dirt road where she used to live (with the woods at the other end).  Her home had the name ASH LEA on the front gate.  Like a bungalow with a large front porch and just past her home, right next door, was a brick two-storey house.  They were both still standing in the late 1970's.  And I'm not certain whether her first name was Sara or Sarah and her middle name Ann or Anne.  I'm trying to remember her husband's name and it may have been Albert.  Where that dirt road met the main road (by a pub across from a farm and the "Canute" church, we would turn right onto the main road by the newsagent/tobacconist's shop and  the vicarage on the other side of the main road, and walk quite a way and then turn right again down a road to another churchyard - possibly Hawkwell Church?  This is going back 60+ years so I don't recall the names of the roads, unfortunately.  I will try to dig out some more information but not sure of my chances.  I think that buried somewhere here I may still have an Easter postcard mailed from my grandmother to my great-grandmother which may give a clue as to her address.  Ashlea

(3)  I have now found out my great-grandmother's husband's name was Christopher (not Albert).  Perhaps he is buried in the same churchyard as she is.  I unearthed a letter from my mother dated June 21, 1982, with lots of family info but nothing re the correct spelling of my great-grandmother's first two names. Ashlea

Good News

One of our local residents has now located Ashlea's great-grandmother's grave in Saint Mary's Churchyard in Hawkwell after reading our news item.  From a list of graves we found that three Simpson are buried there.  Sarah Ann Simpson died age 86 in 1947 is in grave 1149, John Thomas Simpson died age 53 in 2000 is in grave 2023 and Christopher Thomas Simpson died age 70 in 1925 is in grave 699 (U/K).  We sent Ashlea some photos of the churchyard and Sarah's and John's graves.  Unfortunately Sarah's husband Christopher's grave is unknown (U/K), which means it is in the graveyard but as it is unmarked (no grave stone) they cannot find it.  As John has the middle name Thomas I believe he may be a relative and as he died age only 53 in year 2000 there are probably more relatives living in the Rochford area.  If you have any information for Ashlea please let us know via Contact Us.  I have included extracts from Ashlea's emails of thanks below:

This is a wonderful surprise.  Only yesterday I was wondering if any records had been found about my great-grandmother and I also came across our previous emails.  It's sad that I had no knowledge of John Thomas Simpson as he died so recently and it would have been wonderful if I'd had the opportunity to meet him; he was born only 8 years after I was.  I have no idea whose son he was, which is a shame. Thank you so very, very much for including my inquiry in your news item, and please do convey to the resident who took the time to locate these graves my very deepest gratitude.  That was an extremely generous thing for them to do for a total stranger.  I have looked at all the wonderful photos you have been so very kind to send me.  I want to thank you or whoever took all these photos for me it was so very, very kind.  What a beautiful church - makes me so homesick.  I do remember going to visit the grave with my grandmother some short time after my great-grandmother was buried there.  I will treasure all of these and, of course, make prints of them.  Please be sure to thank everyone involved, including yourself, for finding out all this information and going the extra mile for me.  This has been like a journey back to a gentler time.  Ashlea

2011 Update

Extracts from four emails we have just received from Ashlea Simpson.  Please Contact Us if you have any more information for her:

1)  I am filled with guilt to bother you again, truly, but am wondering whether any of those churchyard records mentioned the home address of my great-grandparents Sarah Ann Simpson and Christopher Thomas Simpson.  For the life of me I can't remember the name of their road.  It was a dirt road with woods at one end and a main road at the other where, on the left, there was a pub and across from that there was an empty farm.  Between my great-grandparents' road and the pub there was an identical dirt road also ending at the woods at the far end.  I had friends there by the last name of French.  I do recall during the war a fair was held over by the farm in the
summertime and I recall hearing its loud music playing 'You Are My Sunshine'.  Also across the main road was a newsagents / sweet shop / tobacconists and a bit further down to the right a stone wall which I believe bordered a vicarage.   I would love to find their road / location on a map but am unable to.  If you can't find any address records, never mind - I just thought it was worth a shot.  Ashlea

2)  I had thought maybe there was a possibility of written records somewhere in the church or town as to the addresses of the deceased, but maybe not.  For some reason Albert Road is in my "mind" but it could be meaningless.  I think that old, old church in Rochford near the farm and across from the pub might have been St. Andrew's?  Not sure.  Don't know the name of the pub or the farm - but I do remember climbing over the stile at the farm and walking around in the fields.  Have been staring at Rochford maps till I'm cross-eyed but I think possibly those two dirt roads may now be long gone.  They were there in the late 70s along with all the homes still, but I think it had been paved.  Ashlea

3)  Thank you so much for this information.  Yes, I think it must have been Albert Road and, looking at the maps I have found online, I could see that the roads in that area were "unmade" and the community mostly rebuilt, I guess.  That must have started shortly after my very brief visit in the mid-seventies when my great-grandmother's bungalow was still standing, as well as the homes on either side.  At that time, I didn't bother looking for the name of the road because I knew where I was going.  Trying to recall images in ones mind from 65 years ago, though, isn't a piece of cake exactly.  So it probably was The Victory pub although I don't remember it as having so many windows in front in the 1940's.  But I could be wrong easily and definitely the old church across the road from the pub I used to see was built by King Canute of the Danes - I do remember that as well as going inside the church many times in the 1940's as a young child wandering around the churchyard and the farm nearby - so it has to be St. Andrew's.   Don't know if the empty farm with the stiles is still there, highly doubt it.  It is very kind of St Mary's Church to send what information they could find including the Burial Registration of my great-grandmother.  In view of the limited info kept back in those days, I'm sure no address would have been entered for Sarah's husband, Christopher Thomas Simpson, when he was buried in 1925, either.  So I will try to find out how, online, I can get in touch with the Census Bureau or whatever it's called in England.  Way back in time I believe most such records were at Somerset House but I'm sure that set-up is long since changed.  Ashlea

4)  That's terrific news I'm truly glad the Victory won't be converted into just another run-of-the-mill and meaningless blob of concrete with its only atmosphere being a screening room.  Long live the Victory!  And I'm really happy for the landlords.  It's shameful how they were going to be cast aside - just as the huge TV screen will one day be for the latest fad.  Ashlea

Extracts from an email to Ashlea from Pat a Hawkwell resident:

I have found on a site the following and wondered if sarah's name was ingram before marriage, and if they had a son called Joseph,who married a Lilian, who had a son called Stanley who married a Winifred if so, they have a family tree on ancestry going back to 1806 to Thomas and Charlotte.  I know through my own family tree searching it is hard to match the people as there seems to be lots with the same name, if these are your relatives, i'll look at it again for you and send you more info.  I also found Christopher Thomas Simpson of Mayblossom Ashingdon near Rochford died 15/12/1925 probate London 31 March to Sarah Ann widow effects £403 4s 10d could be the house was called Mayblossom?  I hope you didn't mind me emailing you good luck in your search.  Pat

Extract from Ashlea's reply: 

Of course I don't mind you emailing me.  Wow what a surprise !  Thank you so very, very much, Pat.  Actually, the name on the gate of my great-grandparents' place was Ash Lea but, yes,  Mayblossom certainly rings a loud bell.  It may have been the name of an attached property or, as you say, another place where they lived, such as Ashingdon.  Perhaps Sarah Ann moved to Ash Lea in Rochford after her husband, Christopher Thomas died in 1925.  Yes, Sarah's maiden name was Ingram or Ingraham.  Yes, they had a son Joseph - I loved him so very much, my grandmother's younger brother.  Joe is the only one of her siblings I met though she had several.  Her name was Phoebe Frances Simpson and she married George Wood.  Joe and Aunt Lil (she was deaf) lived in Dagenham when I knew them (he worked at Ford) and they had a son, young Joe, who died in the war, a sailor I believe.  Also I met Stanley, their second son, a really nice young man, so friendly.  Also they had two daughters, Doreen and Olive, and another son, Gerald.  I knew and loved them all so very much!!!  How odd, even to this day, once in a while I dream I am back in their house - weird, huh?   Especially if you bear in mind I left England back in 1958.  There was a well in the back garden of Ash Lea as well as a miniature house I used to go inside at the bottom of the garden.  Ashlea

Bees in Autumn

By David Blackwood our bee keeping committee member.

I have been asked to write something for the Hawkwell Residents Association website about bees. It is thought that I ought to know something about them as I have been keeping honeybees for many years and I am the honorary secretary of the Southend-on-Sea and District division of the Essex Beekeepers Association. Of course this is such a large subject that no one knows everything there is to know about bees.

By the time you read this Newsletter the beekeeping season will be practically over. All species of bees will have made their preparations for the coming winter. Yes I say species, because there are some approximately 230 different species and sub-species of bees in Britain. Ranging in size from very small 3-4mm solitary bees to the largest of queen bumblebees of nearly 2 inches (50cm).

The majority of bees that you will see in your garden are the bumblebees. These are round, furry insects that vary in size and colouration. A young mated queen comes out of hibernation from a hole in the soil in late January or early February, and this depends on the actual species of bumblebee and the weather. She looks around for a place to make her nest and as she is not capable of collecting nesting material herself like a bird does, so she looks elsewhere. Often she will choose a compost heap, a discarded bird’s nest or an old mouse’s nest, somewhere nice and cosy. She goes foraging to collect nectar and pollen for her own consumption and to take back to the nest. In the nest she constructs a heap of mixed pollen and nectar and lays eggs on it. This she covers with wax from her wax glands and with wax she also constructs a honey pot in which she stores nectar for a rainy day when she cannot get out to forage. After between 4-6 days the eggs hatch into larvae and they eat the food that mother has been placed underneath them. After another period during which they grow by shedding their ‘skin’ several times they spin a substantial cocoon of silk in an upright position. After about two weeks the adult workers begin to cut their way out of their cocoons using their mandibles. According to one source of information it takes about 5 weeks from an egg being laid to the emergence of an adult bumblebee from the pupal cocoon. Now the solitary existence of the queen is at an end and she has help with foraging and the looking after other larvae.

The colony develops with the queen foraging less as there are daughters to do this work Some species can build up to about 100 workers all working for the good of the colony. Later in the year eggs are laid that develop into males and future virgin queens. The males when they emerge from their cocoons spend about four days in the nest maturing and when they leave the nest it is considered that they never return to it. They patrol an area leaving a scent trail on vegetation and when a young virgin strays into their territory she is pounced upon and mating takes place on the ground or other flat surface. When young virgins emerge from their cocoons they mature and then go out to forage returning back to the nest at nightfall. 

These young virgins soon meet up with their male counterparts and mate. Once mated these queens continue to forage for pollen and nectar, which they break down internally into chemicals for storage in their fat bodies in preparation for hibernation during the winter.  The young mated queen then digs a small hole in the soil and lining it with a solution from her Dufoss gland and salvia settles down to ‘sleep’ through the winter. Her metabolism slows right down and because of the chemicals in her body that act as an antifreeze she is able to withstand very cold temperatures. When the weather warms up in the spring she comes out of hibernation and the life cycle starts all over again. 

There are 23 different bumblebees in Britain; of these 6 are cuckoo species whose queens take over a different bee species nest similar to the cuckoo bird. But it is the cuckoo queen that kills the rightful queen. The cuckoo queen does not lay eggs that develop into workers, only males and future queens. The workers of the rightful queen look after the usurper’s eggs and larvae.

There are six main species of bees that are found in your garden, and they are Bombus lapidarius (Large red tailed bumble bee, black with a brick red tail); B. terrestris (Buff tailed BB with yellow bands and buff tail); B. lucorum (Common white tailed BB yellow bands and white tail); B. hortorum (Common garden BB with three yellow bands and white tail); B. pratorum (Meadow BB yellow bands and red tail); and B. pascourum (Common Carder Bee dark or light brown BB). As I wrote in the beginning all of these species should have completed their life cycle by the time you read this article.

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