The Lobstersmack

Posted: January 25, 2014 by BTP Joe in Case Study, Event Review
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Hello BTP readers! We’re approaching 60,000 views and are starting 2014 well! Apart from the Lobstersmack being a lovely family friendly restaurant/pub, this place isn’t just known for it’s food. The ancient, Grade II listed pub was featured in Charles Dickens novel, Great Expectations. Hidden behind the sea wall, it wasn’t obvious to smuggles that it was a public house and in the 18th century, it was known as ‘World’s End’ due to its isolated position. A century later and the isolation of the place made it an place for pugilists to meet. In the 17’00 the annual fair was there and the name hasn’t always been ‘The Lobstersmack’, it has also been known as Sluice House.

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From CanveyIsland.org Circa 1930/1940.

According to Wikipedia:

The Lobster Smack Inn saw many bare-knuckle fights in the 1850s, but few as dramatic as that between Tom ‘The Brighton Boy’ Sayers (1826–65) and Aaron Jones on 6 January 1857. The fight lasted for three hours and 65 rounds, and was finally declared a draw when it became too dark to see. Sayers won at the rematch a month later in London. Sometimes the bouts were between local families, the best known being that between champion Ben Court and Nat Langham. The fight arose from a family feud and Court took Langham to 60 rounds in September 1853. Langham was knocked down 59 times during the bout and due, it is said, to his sportsmanship Court agreed to settle their differences with a handshake.

Local rumour has it that ‘the Lobby’ was once home to secret tunnels, which would probably have came up on the land behind the pub, and led to either somewhere on Canvey, or as less likely rumor suggests, under the Ray (the part of the Thames between Canvey and Hadleigh) and over to Hadleigh, coming up at the Castle, or St. Mary’s Church or the Hoy and Helmet carpark in Benfleet. Although this would have been an immense and unrealistic project, it wouldn’t be a silly suggestion that there once did lie tunnels under the inn going a short distance. In the 18th Century, tunnels were popularly carved under the UK leading to inns for the smuggling of alcohol. the Lobster Smack’s coastal position would’ve allowed for easy collection by boat. Its use by smugglers is known to have occurred, so it wouldn’t be unlikely if tunnels were built nearby, although many say the marshy conditions would’ve prevented tunnels being made.

An unlikely local tale describes how two men were out walking drunk from the pub one night, during the late 20th Century, when they stumbled across the tunnel entrance, and found a way inside. Other rumors say the tunnels came up on the site of the women’s toilets.

1895, possibly the earliest photograph remaining of the Lobster Smack. Courtesy of Richard & Barbara Kovelant

1895, possibly the earliest photograph remaining of the Lobster Smack. Courtesy of Richard & Barbara Kovelant

With low ceilings, old oak timbers and tasty pub grub, this is a lovely places for many reasons. As you know, we occasional do Urban Exploration, and there is now a game available! Treat yourself and buy the Urbex Monopoly game, made by a fellow explorer. Head over to this link to see the products for sale and also some stunning photos and location reports! – Could there be a BTP one coming soon….? ;)

Tilbury Fort

Posted: January 16, 2014 by BTP Liam in Case Study, Event Review
Tags: , , , ,

Aerial view of the Fort, courtesy of English Heritage. The 'ravelin' can be seen as the triangular island front-most.

Aerial view of the Fort, courtesy of English Heritage. The ‘ravelin’ can be seen as the triangular island front-most.

Whilst a fort – the ‘Thermitage Bulwark’, was built on the site, under Henry VII, in 1539, the current incarnation was built in 1670 as a defense against the Spanish Armada. Slow construction meant the fort would not be completed until some ten years later. As well as the main star-shaped brick fort, a brick and earthen gunline was also constructed facing across the Thames. In 1724 Daniel Defoe estimated there to be around 100 guns on-site. Captain Charles Gordon saw much remodeling such as the heaping of earth around the original walls to protect them from the effects of high velocity modern guns firing within the vicinity. Henry VIII’s blockhouse adjacent was demolished as part of these developments, in 1867.

By the First World War, anti-aircraft guns were added, and shot down a German zeppelin. This was the only time the fort actually had any military success throughout its long history. Of course, we must remember that if defences such as Tilbury Fort were not built throughout history, the country would be allowing enemy invasion. It could be said it acted more so as a deterrent. The 18th Century barrack blocks were damages in the Second World War, and were demolished in 1950.

A replica Spigot Mortar on one of the two remaining Spigot Mortar mounts on the site. These were used by the Home Guard - the site saw use as a defense of the Home Guard during World War Two.

A replica Spigot Mortar on one of the two remaining Spigot Mortar mounts on the site. These were used by the Home Guard – the site saw use as a defense of the Home Guard during World War Two.

The original 400 year old explosives magazine was later connected by a tunnel system in the Victorian era, featuring two cartridge lifts on the way. There a several magazine tunnels around the site.

Original defences of this fort included two moats; such defence had seen use since the Medieval era and long before. Also dominant is a ravelin (an ‘island’ in the moats before the entrance). Redans are also present; triangular outcrops in the wall facing the expected direction of attack. This would allow troops to cover every section of the fort’s walls from attack, unlike traditional walls which would mean there would be ‘blank points’ when the enemy got right against the wall.

Sighting up the spigot mortar

Sighting up the spigot mortar

The dead house was a room with a trap door used to store the sick and injured as a kind of quarantine – it was either die or recover!

Kevin Diver, site manager, invited us to visit the fort and took us on an exclusive behind the scenes tour, in which we were able to see the tunnels, dead house, and housing block rooftop.

The Victorian semi-detached accommodation housed the ‘officer’s mess’; the officer’s personal quarters. We were fortunate to go up through the officer’s mess and onto the rooftop of this classic Victorian ‘urban’ house-type block.

This year will probably be a year like no other for us! The many locations we have been to, awards received and of course the people we have met! It has been an AMAZING year and we are looking forward to another year of exploring, revealing and filming! We have put together a short video to sum up, what we think are the top 8 moments of 2013. You can view our WordPress summary here.

So what do we have planned for next year?

Well, one of the main things that we will be doing is interviewing local residents. We know that Canvey, Southend and around has many fascinating people with a story to tell! Whether you’re an athlete or a War Soldier we want to hear your stories and keep them as a permanent memory forever. We are also teaming up with Globlue Media Productions. Owned by BTP Joe, this will enable us to get involved in events that are not entirely historic and still film them, with the finished product being uploaded to their YouTube channel. This is a move we are keen to approach as we have engaged a lot with the community throughout 2013 including filming a promotional video for Spirited Encouters, news style coverage of the C.D.S charity concert and filming artists at the Canvey Christmas lights. The ‘Explore Your Archive’ campaign has just been launched (see photos here) and we will continue to support this.

With over 50,000 views on the website, 300 likes on Facebook and over 25,000 views on Youtube…..

Thank You!

From both Liam and myself, we hope that you have a happy and healthy 2014.

Merry Christmas BTP fanboys, fangirls, urbexers, local historians, photographers, and movie makers. If you’re at school or college, then its Sunday before we go back for one last week. If you’re not in education, then, well, it’s still Sunday.  Therefore, to cheer you up, we made this short movie to entertian you. It features the BTP boys reclaiming their lost presents, who a rather cheeky Father Christmas threw out of their sleigh. In doing so they visit several historic places around Canvey Island (BTP Headquarters), and even come into contact with local legend, a break from our usual historic documentaries.

On a more serious note, we had the pleasure of visiting the Houses of Parliament thanks to Marie Owens, organiser of the Community Archive and Heritage Group who awarded us Best National Heritage Group and Website of the Year. There at Westminster, London, was the launch of the ‘Explore Your Archive’ campaign, aiming to raise awareness of local history archives nationwide over the upcoming future. There, we mingled and dined with historians and MPs, and watched a film made about the project. We also were able to hear a speech from the various figureheads concerning the campaign.

Visit the campaign website here: http://www.exploreyourarchive.org/

NB: the video above is one of Beyond the Point’s earliest video productions, and quality of our videos has far improved since this video was made over two years ago.

The Canvey & District Bus Depot was built in 1934, featuring contemporary Art Deco hard-edged geometric architecture. It was vacated in 1974, by Eastern National, the major primary bus service of the era – now days First dominates Essex’ streets, with Arriva in second. It was taken over by the Eastern National Preservation Group upon closure, and was designated a museum in 1979. Whilst the buses there today hold a local trend, some rarities range country-wide. It was at its time the tallest building on Canvey, and can be seen for miles around to this day, sporting an excellent view inside too.

Now the Transport Museum (http://www.castlepointtransportmuseum.co.uk/museumhistory.htm), it is home to over thirty well-kept vintage 1940s-90s buses and coaches, along with other vehicles, such as military and emergency buses, and old commercials. There is also a vast selection of intricate details on the buses, such as original signs and adverts, which in my opinion make the buses superb. Within the glamourised warehouse lies other local history displays within the more conventional museum section, and an excellent trainset. Various bus memorabilia and uniforms can also be found.

The BTP Boys pre-haircuts

The BTP Boys pre-haircuts

 

 

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Happy Halloween 2013!

    Built in 1862 by the Reverend Henry Bull for his family, this Gothic Victorian red-brick rectory was placed on the site of an old monastery. Stories claim that a monk living at the monastery fell in love with a local nun. Planning to leave religious confinement behind them, and elope together, they were caught and the monk was sentenced to death, whilst the nun was imprisoned. Many of the paranormal incidents at the rectory have been labelled as fake, although much of the phenomena is yet to be disproved, especially with such a wide range of witnesses, who continue to report phenomena almost two-hundred years after the initial incidents.

The Legacy Today

With the Rectory long burnt down, the associated church, dating from the 12th Century, is said to have passed on the hauntings. Mysterious lights have been sighted on the grounds, as well as strange sounds in and outside the church. We was able to speak to the man responisble for maintainign the church out cutting the lawn (very well kept). He told us his wife saw the lights in the church swinging in the window, and also that once he threaded a 2-4 metre power cable through the church window, only to find it coiled back up again on the floor only seconds after going round the front!

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Simon Basham, with his friend Ian Sales, camped in the churchyard on Halloween, exactly 27 years ago today. Its one of his most classic vivid life stories, and had clearly a large impact on him. Watch him explain a detailed story above. In brief, he heard scratching on his tent, and upon fleeing saw two white emotionless figures within metres of him which did not react to his frantic, half-naked escape, as they crashe dinto bushes runnign blind. The tent was found to have red stains on it the following day, to the point where it had to be disposed of even though new.

History of the Rectory

The First Era:  Revd. Henry Bull

With construction complete in 1883, the Bull family moved into the fine house, erected on ground on which the floating ‘Borley Nun’ had been sighted. In a time before plumbing or electricity was widespread, or installed in the rectory, all that made the occasional clank in the house was the water pump.  One day, two of the Bull daughters and their nursemaid, noticed a woman in white following behind a pair of girls in an opposite field. When the girls were questioned later, they said they were unaware of anyone else being with them whilst in the fields.

Soon, the servant’s bells began ringing constantly to the extent where the wires were cut just to silence them.  Yet still, they persisted. Ethel Bull was in the house on afternoon when all the bells rung simultaneously, followed by the strange sound of a gush of water. One evening when the Bull family were dining, they noticed a nun staring sadly in at them through the window, following a sudden drop in temperature. This happened on many occasions, and always disappeared in seconds before anyone who ran outside, could greet her. In the end, Revd Henry Bull had the window bricked up, visible in this photograph below, along with a similar view today. The nun was frequently seen floating down what was named ‘the Nun’s Walk’ leading to an octagonal summer house.

One of the Bull Daughters was frequently awoken at night by being slapped in the face mysteriously, and would hear rapping sounds on her door, as clatters rung throughout the whole house. Every night at 10:30pm, heavy footsteps were heard outside the Bull girls’ door continuing to stop at the night nursery, as well as three taps. Strange lights were also witnessed outside and underneath closed doors – oil lamps alone were used to light the rectory, so this cannot be explained. Many guests at the rectory would hurriedly leave and refuse to stay any longer. Items were also found to be moved around unexpectedly. A phantom horse-drawn cart was also seen and heard. A dark-skinned man was seen in the upstairs corridor, and a ‘strangle-looking’ man sighted at Ethel Bull’s bedside.

The ‘Borley Nun’ was sighted several times again by the Bull daughters, at times vanishing in front of their eyes. Revd Henry Bull unfortunately fell ill aged 59 and died in the ‘Blue Room’ (main bedroom), like his son Harry who took over but too died of illness in 1927.

The Second Era: Revd. Guy Smith

The Reverend and his wife Mabel accepted the post at Borley, despite many other vicars refusing the role. Mabel was cleaning the house alone and found a box on the library’s shelf, containing a skull identified as female! The Revd Smith, on one instance, heard a mumbling voice which increased as he approached the Blue Room. Upon nearing, he heard a woman cry out ‘No Carlos, don’t!’. The phantom footsteps also continued. Mabel saw a ‘grey wispy figure’ leaning against the gates, vanishing on approach. Household objects were smashed by a poltergeist, and the bell-ringing once again resumed.

The aforementioned phenomena is not yet disproven, and is considered to be legitimate nor subject to great publicity, unlike following events – note the change from the nun’s ghost, to that of Henry Bull, and their more violent explicit content.

Revd Guy Smith placed an advert in the Daily Mirror for help, and the famous investigator Harry Price came in to investigate along with secretary and a reporter, on the 12th of June, 1929. that night a seance was conducted in which a ‘planchette’ (roller-board with a pencil inbuilt, used for ‘spirit writing’) was used.  The Revd Henry Bull was allegedly contacted, claiming to have died not of illness, but murder! he appeared apparently in physical form and the Reverend ordered the seance to end. Nine months later, the Smiths quit the rectory and their post. It lay empty, and villages noted furniture being thrown about. In March 1930, The Smiths heard ‘the most horrible sounds coming from the house’ when checking up on the empty building.

The Third Era: Revd Foyster

On October the 16th 1930, he moved in with his very young wife Marianne, and adopted daughter, Adelaide. On the first day of arrival, Marianne heard her name being called, saw the ghost of Henry Bull. the footsteps were heard by other inhabitants too, as well as objects being moved. Later, the Revd Foyster found two chairs littered with upright pins! Objects were also flung at the new arrivals.

Harry Price and his Council for Psychic Research were invited to the house, and brought two wine bottles as presents. the wine in the glasses took form of ink and perfume, whilst remaining intact in the bottles. However, eventually Price fell out with the reverend and his investigations ceased, as he said the most likely culprit for faking the events was to be Marianne. Terrible writing was found on the walls saying ‘Marianne please help get’ and ‘Get light mass prayers’ – some was so poorly formed it was indecipherable.  It became a written conversation between what could’ve been the Borley Nun, and Marianne. In October 1935, Revd Foyster developed crippling arthritis.

auto writing from borley

The Forth Era: Harry Price takes over

Price took the opportunity to buy up the property and summon a range of skeptics via the newspaper to investigate, giving them a set of pointers and rules to place in the thorough investigation. Many findings were apparent, and a seance gave contact to a woman named Marie Lairre, a woman murdered in the 1600s – the Borley Nun?

Harry Price and his team left the residence in 1939, and a Captain William Hart Gregson bought it and suspiciously insured it for £10,000. The property burned down in 1939, claimed to have been when an oil lamp ‘mysteriously’ overturned. It is likely that Gregson caused the fire to claim the insurance. Remains were demolished in 1944. Now, nothing but a green remains in it’s place.

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The mysterious ‘floating brick’ spotted amongst the ruins

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Finally, take this excellent virtual tour of the rectory, explore this long-gone wonder for yourself! Thanks to KevWorldProductions who owns the 3D model, carefully crafted using computer technology, and filmed in an excellent tour.