starts in Anchor Hill, an ancient and informal square in the heart of the
Conservation Area. On the west side in the corner of the Quay is Anchor
House, which adjoins Anchor Cottage and Bonita.
These were built in
about 1700 or earlier and form a very attractive group. There used to be a
public house called The Anchor which suffered some damage in the earthquake
of 1884. The Cage or House of Correction was located in Anchor Hill until
1850, next to the Whipping Post dating from the 17th Century.
On the north side of
Anchor Hill is an ancient building, No. 1 High Street, recently altered and
restored, once used as a bakehouse but now in use as a dwelling. This 16th
century timber-framed building forms part of a group extending along West
Street. Opposite on the east side of Anchor Hill and High Street is an
interesting group of listed buildings, 2 to 4 High Street, used as shops on
the ground floor. It has varying roof heights and the appearance is enhanced
by the view of the church tower above. Notice the parapeted central section
with the semi-hexagonal bay window on the first floor. A pleasing sense of
enclosure is achieved by the 19th century dwellings on the south east and
Leaving Anchor Hill and
entering the Quay, the Wivenhoe Sailing Club enclosed dinghy park and launching
facilities are opposite on the river side of the Quay. On the east side of
this area it is possible to take the ferry to Rowhedge or Fingringhoe for
two hours or so each side of high tide. These ferry trips are available at
weekends during the summer.
Turn right, by Anchor
House, once The Anchor pub, and admire the bow-fronted cottages, once owned
by local Captains and built in the 1600s.
Continue past the
warehouse used more recently as a store by Wilkin's, the jam company in
Tiptree, and before that for the smoking and canning of fish. Follow the
quay edge and come to the residential development called Old Wivenhoe Quay
and more often by locals as Wivenhoe Port.
In reality, it is the
site of an historic shipyard, where wonderful boats were built from 1782
until 1961. Craft from fishing smacks, sail and steam yachts, tramp steamers
and gun-boats for Lord Kitchener and General Gordon. An experimental
submarine, the Volta, was constructed in 1905 and for the second world war,
sections of the Mulberry Harbour as well as motor torpedo boats were built
The Dry Dock, where
boats could be finished off or repaired, has been retained as a water
feature for the development.
There is a pleasant walk
along the quay, towards Rowhedge. Or turn back, in the direction Wivenhoe's
historic waterfront. Find yourself standing outside Anchor House once
Continue along The
Quay on the corner with Anchor Hill is an attractive 3-storey colonial brick
building, being the British Legion Hall. At one time the building was a
Moving eastwards is the
Storehouse, a 3-storey dwelling built about 1800. It was a public house
called The Maidenhead and later The Swan. It now has semi-circular bow
windows of two storeys in height having changed its facade almost each
decade. Next to the Storehouse is the Nottage Institute, the River Colne's
Nautical Academy and Museum open to visitors on Sundays. It contains a
wealth of information on Wivenhoe's maritime history. It was named after
Captain Charles Nottage, a keen yachtsman who at the end of the 19th century
left some money in his Will to be used for the creation of a nautical
institute at Brightlingsea or Wivenhoe to enable professional sailors and
yachtsmen to improve their knowledge of seamanship. The building was
purchased from Hector Barr, Wivenhoe's last sailmaker, in 1947 when the
Nottage moved from the Lucy Dee in Black Buoy Hill. The majority of people
taking classes at the Nottage now are amateur sailors and weekend yachtsmen
Immediately to the east
of the Nottage is the Rose & Crown public house. It is mainly a mid-19th
century building with key windows on the Quay elevation and a bow window at
first floor level on the Rose Lane elevation. There has probably been a
public house on this site since the 18th century.
100 years ago, all
important public houses in Wivenhoe had Captain's rooms where the captains
of the big racing yachts, laid up in the Colne for the winter, could meet
together. They were also used at this time for auctions of boats and
fittings, timber from wrecked boats and other business transactions. In the
18th century, when tariffs were high, smuggling of brandy, tobacco, silks
and other goods was rife on the Quay, hence the presence at that time of the
Revenue Cutter in Wivenhoe. It is said there were hidden storage spaces
between rooms in some old houses near to the Quay.
Crossing Rose Lane, Quay
House is on the east corner. This is an early 19th century 3 storey building
of yellowish grey gault bricks. John Harvey, the renowned yacht builder who
followed his father in the occupation of this shipyard west of town lived
here in the 1860s. John Martin Harvey was born here in 1863 but was not
interested in following his father's occupation. He became famous as one of
the last great actor managers, his greatest triumph being the portrayal in
1899 of Sydney Carlton in The Only Way based on Charles Dickens' A Tale of
Two Cities. He was knighted for his success in the theatre in 1921. To mark
Essex Heritage Year 1989, Essex County Council fixed a plaque to this house
in memory of Sir John Martin Harvey.
Moving eastwards along
the Quay passing a large 3 storey private house, we come to what was the premises of
the Colne Marine & Yacht Company: a 2 storey building of yellowish stock
bricks and red bricks enclosing a long narrow yard, converted in 1999 to
cottages. Originally though, it was an early 18th
century shipwright's premises and store. In 1932 the buildings were used for smoking
and preparing sprats for tinning. The Colne Marine & Yacht Company was
founded in 1952 and at that time turned out four or give yachts a year. It
was mainly used for repair work and the laying-up of boats. Also in the
vicinity of this yard was the site of yet another public house, The Sailor's
At the end of Bethany
Street, the old ferry across to Fingringhoe was located and used until 1952.
Ferry House extends along Bethany Street with the end facing the Quay. It
adjoins Berry House and forms part of an attractive terrace including The
Vines. These are early to mid 19th century houses. Ferry House was
previously the home of the Ferryman and was owned by the Colchester Borough
At the end of the Quay
is The Folly, the first house being the 3 story Folly Bakehouse, originally
a 2 storey building with a shop front. Some houses in The Folly have private
gardens with boat moorings on the river side of this narrow road.
After The Folly and the
end of St. John's Road with its light industrial premises is the former
shipyard site once owned by J.W. Cook and Company. After building the Lord
Nelson, a sailing vessel designed specifically for handicapped people, the
firm closed down, owing to a downturn in trade, when an era of professional
shipbuilding came to an end in Wivenhoe.
The future of this
200-year old shipyard will be residential but with attractive areas for
people to walk through as well as the river frontage to enjoy. The fitting
out basin, known locally as the Wet Dock will be home to Wivenhoe's
Also visible is the
tidal surge barrier built by the National Rivers Authority (since re-named
the Environment Aency) in 1992. The barrier gates close whenever there is a
threat of flooding of the river above the barrier.
The Sailing Club
provides regular racing of dinghies like the Laser and Wivenhoe One Design.
These craft were designed in 1935 by then local doctor, Dr Walter Radcliffe,
and can now be seen in the summer months moored opposite the Club-house.
downstream, the marshes have long been used for grazing cows.
here for some pictures of Wivenhoe Quay