A brief history
Heybridge Basin was originally a Neolithic settlement made up of 2 huts and a ditch, a few thousand years later, there
are a few more houses, but more importantly two pubs! If you include other former Basin pubs such as the Exchange
Inn, Old Ship (Myrtle Cottage), Live and let Live, Half moon, Chelmer Brigg and Carpenters Arms, it sounds like we are
a village of heavy drinkers.....?
Realistically, the Basin has been surveyed due to a Neolithic settlement
being discovered in the Blackwater Sailing club field (now a lake), strangely enough where a Tumulus of un-confirmed origin
is located (click the Tumulas link for details).
There are Roman connections as well, but the village has
generated its own history ranging from the 2 missionaries that went missing (Hence the Basin being called Cannibal Island) to
Electric car manufacture in the 1970s. Just up the canal is the mighty Bentalls buildings. In my early teenage years, a
few of my friends were doing their engineering apprenticeship with Bentalls in the buildings that are now a shopping
complex. Funny that as a company they survived over 200 years and made a major contribution to British car manufacturing,
yet nowadays, nobody knows who they were. In the Basin itself there were two large timber yards belonging to May & Butcher.
As a kid we used to sit at the bus stop and watch the huge lorries carry tree trunks passed. The timber yards had
an active role during the Wars, but today one is a housing estate and the other has been derelict for over 20 years.
|Annual Military vehicle show in the Basin
Basin war time links include Mosquito plane part assembly, MTB (motor torpedo boat) manufacture with repairs & testing
at HMS Osea, even Minesweeper where repaired at the timber yard also Lord Haw haw's bombing of the submarine
base....... What submarine base I hear you cry? One of the Nazi broadcasters under the British label of Lord Haw
Haw had a holiday to Heybridge Basin before the war, when he decided to 'assist' the Nazis, he made up
a few strategic military sights to gain some brownie points. So with the Basin being coastal with marine
workshops and he knew exactly where it was, why not say it was a submarine base (Yes it is a bit shallow for a sub to hide
A result of his recommended air-raid is the unusual shape of the cottage opposite the carpark entrance.
This is because it was a row of cottages but took a direct hit by a bomb. The remaining building is at strange
angles internally with extra brick work externally due to the way they permanantly propped it up. To the right of the
cottage is a garden area made in remembrance of the unfortunate couple who were in bed when the bomb hit and consequently
blown across the road, bed and all.
More recent events include being seen in the Micheal Caine
film, Forth protocol, and TV series including Break in the Sun, Lovejoy, Changing rooms and Portrait of a village to
name but a few.
|Clint's Boatyard and Wilkin & Son Tea room
Annual events include a village regatta and 'round the Island' rowing race which add a bit of on & off shore
fun, not forgetting the winter military vehicle rally (held at the Millbeach pub in January) to add a bit of greenary to
the winter landscape. The Blackwater sailing club is located on the sea wall with its own moorings, launch ramp, training
lake and winter storage areas, but the villages have there own sailing association; the HBSA (Heybridge Basin Sailing
Association) which meet up in the pub and plan a few adventures which normally involve water & alcohol!
is also in the heart of the village which has pontoons, dry dock and workshops for repairs, not forgeting Stebbings boat yard
(01621 857436) as well which is just down the seawall from CRS.
|Ant & Eddy learning to Sail at the Blackwater Sailing Club
It is worth looking on Blackwater Sailing clubs website (link to left) as they also have a real time local weather page
taken from the instruments at the club, useful feature which also has a web cam looking down the Blackwater estuary.
|Basin boat hire on the canal
The two pubs are key to the village tourism ranging from visiting yachts to caravaners stopping for a pint and a
meal on the sea wall in summer to walkers and shipwrightes in winter having a warming toddy or catching up on local news.
The Jolly Sailor has been refurbished in December 2009 as is now under new ownership. The Old ship is well known for
its menu, but also for its view from the dining areas down the Blackwater estuary. On a clear day you can see Bradwell right
at the entrance to the estuary. There is a large free carpark a minutes walk from the pubs next to the canal with disabled
ramp access to the canal side.
From the pubs you can walk up (or take a boat trip) to Chelmsford along
the canal, walking it can take up to a couple of hours though, so you may prefer a 20 minute walk to Beeleigh
Abbey and Weir. The original Abbey was built in the 1100's for the Norbertines (White Canons), but has been owned
since the end of the Second World War by the Foyle family (Foyles Bookshop in London).
|Millbeach pub viewed from the Basin
If you follow the sea wall North East from the Basin, you head towards Goldhanger past Mill beach (see events page
for info on regular live music at Mill Beach pub) and Osea Island. Osea has an interesting history ranging from its military
days in the first World war (see military vehicles page) to its modern day UK version of the Priory rehab; the Causeway
clinic. The clinic appears to be the one used by Amy Winehouse which is now famous in her song, we do get more private helicopters
going over now so I assume their are a few celebs having a 'drying out' session there.
Funnily enough its
the second time its been used as a rehab centre, the first time was in the early 1900 when brewery heir Frederick Charrington made
a clinic/hospital after seeing what effect his family's alcoholic products had on the population. For some reason
they used to breed wallabies on the Island around that time as well which seems an odd combination. If anyone has
any pictures of an Osea wallabie they are willing to share, please send it in!
12th Nov 08 update, Thank you to Mr Ian
Clarke who is currently working with Mersea Island Museum on their shipping archive and kindly sent a postcard photo of the
I recently heard that 'the Essex beast' has been sighted near Osea, the thought is
that it is a Panther or other wild big cat. If its come for the wallabies its 100 years to late!
|Osea Wallabies, they did exist!!
You can head South from the Basin past the Defender along the sea wall around the nature reserve towards
Maldon. This takes you through Heybridge were you can follow the Causeway up to Market hill and in to Maldon town. Worth a
mention that Heybridge is named after the Bridge at the bottom of market hill, when the original was built
in the middle ages, it was a lot higher humped bridge, hence High Bridge. Heybridge prior to the bridge building was
Or you could just walk to the North side of the village to King Georges playing field near
the Blackwater Sailing club to let the kids go wild on the climbing frames and swings. There are a host of birdwatching areas,
you can even spot the occasional seal sunbathing or go crabbing off the sea lock gate. The former attack vessal 'Defender'
is still moored off the lock entrance which certainly grabs peoples attention (see photo below), but in the lock there is
normally a selection of classic yachts, barges, pleasure craft and fishing boats. For more information on berths and
locking in, contact Martin Maudsley the lock keeper on:
Telephone No:+44 (0) 1621 853506
Mobile: +44 (0)
VHF RADIO CHANNEL 80
For General Canal information call the Navigation Manager Colin Edmond
on 01245 226245
or hit the 'visiting the basin by boat' link
|Joe on the Sea wall in the Basin
Please note their are no hotels or B&Bs in the Basin, but Maldon has a few. Two I recommend are the Blue Boar
which has a a good historic feel and its own brewery (Yes Vinny Jones did stay there recently) and the Jolly Sailor in Maldon
which has a nice view towards the Basin and of the Thames Barges. The Maldon Jolly was also used in the film Lawless Heart
with a few of the locals as extras.
Hopefully this page has enough links to give you a general feel for Heybridge
Basin and what goes on. I don't think their are any other Basin based info sites running right now so if you have anything
to add or you have a company in the village you would like me to link to, please get in touch.
|Crabbing at the Basin
A lot of old faces and family names are slowly going from the Basin, some moved away, some have died, others just don't
come out anymore. If you would like to find somebody who lives/lived here, please contact me. Even a few newspapers
and BBC have used me as a contact to find people and events so hopefully I can help on a personal level as well!
|Osea Island from the mainland
As I get more free time I will try and cover as many aspects of the Basin
as possible; general history, its war time links, local characters, boats and incidents.
|'Had a bit of snow in the Basin!!'