J. A. Jones – Photographer

John Ashworth Jones was a very successful photographer with studios in Walton, Frinton and Chelmsford between 1899 and 1933. The quality of his work is remarkable considering the equipment and materials he had to work with.

When I saw a Carte-de-Visite made by him for sale on eBay recently I could not resist buying it for the sheer quality and beauty of the mother and daughter subjects.

Cartes-de-Visites were popular between 1859 and 1903. They were a visiting card (credit card) size photograph on a sturdy cardboard mount usually bearing embossed details of the the studio or photographer.

Many of J. A. Jones’ portrait photographs appear for sale on eBay, but this one really caught my eye.

It is most unlikely that anyone will recognise the lady considering the large area he worked in, but if you do then please get in contact.

I have written about J A Jones before here and more generally about Walton’s early photographers here

This is the beautiful portrait I fell in love with

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Don Cossacks Display in Walton

A while ago I was asked if I knew anyone who had seen a horse riding display given by a group of Don Cossacks around 1945. As this was before I was born I tried social media for help….

This is the message I posted on a local Facebook site:

Is there anyone on here who is either old enough to remember events in Walton around 1945 or who knows an old timer who could help with a problem I’ve been asked to solve. A friend of mine who would have been probably around 5-years-old at the time remembers a group of Don Cossack Russian soldiers giving a riding display on the meadow which was then between Blyth’s farm buildings and Grove Farm on Kirby Road. He wants to know if anyone else remembers it and if any more details can be uncovered. Apparently all the Cossack riders were later returned to Russia where Stalin executed them I was not born at that time and have never heard anything of this event. Someone out there must remember.

Quite a number of people remembered the event and recently I’ve received proof in the form of copies of a signed Souvenir Programme and the Official Programme from Mrs Pat Hicks who witnessed the event.
Hand written on the cover is the date 16th August 1939, which is somewhat earlier than expected.

Cover of the Official Programme

The following pages from both the Souvenir Programme and the Official Programme may just jog someone’s memory.

Souvenir Programme with autographs of the riders maybe?
Cossack riding skills
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The Naze Foundry

What is the connection between the Naze and Big Ben?

Well it’s rather tenuous but I’ll explain.

The London brass and bell founders business, John Warner & Sons of Cheapside and Cripplegate, London was begun in 1739 and remained under the same family ownership for more than 200 years.

It was John Warner who built Walton’s East Terrace in 1835-36. The Terrace, a row of seven houses including a coach house and stables at the rear. John’s own house with its Greek Doric style porch was at number one. He also built, at his own expense, the sea defence walls and three breakwaters. One opposite the EastTerrace, one at The Albion and one opposite the Bath House which no longer there.

East Terrace showing the sea defence wall built by John Warner

At their foundry in Norton near Stockton-on-Tees in 1856 John Warner & Sons were chosen to cast the Great Bell (Big Ben) for the clock tower in the Houses of Parliament . As the tower was still under construction the bell was transported to London and hung in New Palace Yard, where it was tested each day until 17th October 1857 when it was found to have a large crack appearing in it and it had to be scrapped. Another foundry was then appointed to cast a new bell which we still hear announcing the time across London. You can read the full story of this event here

When John Warner died his business and estate passed to his son Robert and it was he who opened the Naze foundry in 1873, as a branch of the London business of John Warner & Sons. In 1891 the London business was sold leaving the Naze business to continue until Robert’s death in 1896 when it was run by his trustees until they sold it in 1907 to Robert Warner & Co. (Engineers) Ltd.

A workforce of between 150 and 200 employees manufactured pumping machinery, steam engines, turbines and machinery for rubber plantations. Pumps were exported to South Africa for use in the diamond and coal mines

An example of Warner’s pumps

The blacksmith’s shop in 1891 showing 8 forges and the steam hammer on the right

To accomodate staff, Robert built Broomfield Cottages in Hall Lane with a social centre for the workers at the end of the row. This was originally known as Crescent Hall, named after Warner’s Crescent Foundry in Cripplegate, London. It was converted in 1925 into the Baptist Church which it still is today.

Broomfield Cottages with Crescent Hall at the far end

During WWI the foundry was one of only a few local engineering businesses to be converted to the war effort manufacturing munitions. But after 1921 production reduced considerably,

It was in 1944 that the Luton Based firm of W. J. Harmer Ltd. took over the foundry starting with a workforce of only six men all aged over 60. The business developed and by 1960 some 85 people were employed producing 150 tons of castings a month.
When I and my colleague David West photographed the men in June 1973 they were casting piano frames, as below. My abiding memory is one of heat and dirt. I’m guessing that the men were not highly paid, but they deserve to have been.

There are many more photos taken on this occasion in the Old Walton Archive, Naze Index

I am uncertain of when the foundry finally closed, but I’m sure someone will enlighten me

Don’t believe everything I write without checking it for yourself – I would hate to promulgate false information.

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Walton in 1860 (Part Five)

Since writing part four of this seemingly endless story I have received the following email from Geoff Rayner
Further information about the bore hole and the strata revealed ..

“In your latest section it mentions the layers found in the borehole. Attached is the BGS data for what we think is the same borehole on Bruff’s land. It differs quite a bit and the BGS version goes much deeper, presumably at the different dates indicated under the title, and eventually taps into the chalk. It’s not the clearest of documents – ‘could do better’ is probably appropriate. If it helps: Drift = ice age deposits; LC = London Clay; WRB = (probably) Woolwich/Reading beds & UCk = Upper Chalk.

Such a pity that, like most other early references to the finding of ancient bones, the location is not specific so it remains uncertain which geological strata they were found in or between. The same even goes for those found much more recently ‘near Eastcliff’ I think when work took place on a breakwater in the 1980s.”

To continue with the final pages of Thomas Wilmhurst’s Descriptive Account of Walton-on-the-Naze published in 1860.

The idea of a causeway from Stone Point to Harwich was an interesting one, but thankfully never executed. They had big ideas in those days and they knew how to enjoy themselves. The Annual Regatta was a big event in Walton and continued for many years as you can see with this poster from 1881

The steamers mentioned here are the forerunners of The Belle Steamers which didn’t arrive until 1887 but as they are the only photographs I have I include two here

The London Belle steamer arriving at Walton Pier
Passenger disembarking from The Walton Belle steamer at Walton Pier

Mr Cresswell’s horse-drawn omnibusses were the main means of reaching Walton before the railway line arrived in 1867.

Robert Cresswell with his fully loaded horse-drawn omnibus passing The Hoy in West Street

Wilmshurst’s confidence that the railway would reach Walton soon after publication of his booklet was well founded as this engraving of the new railway station in 1867 proves.

Walton’s new Railway Station 1867

And now for the final page of this most interesting publication…

The pier to which he refers is of course Walton’s first pier, seen here soon before it was destroyed by a winter storm in January 1881

And so ends this five part post to Walton Tales which I hope has interested some of you.

At the end of his publication, Thomas Wilmshurst made a few pennies by including a pages of advertisements which are interesting in their own right – I will include them here.

To avoid any confusion and unessesary comments, West Street, mentioned in the ads, at that time was the portion of road between Mill Lane and the Church. It was later incorporated into the High Street and the road behind the church became West Street

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Walton in 1860 (Part Four)

For those of you who have followed this saga, here are the next pages of Thomas Wilmhurst’s “Descriptive Account of Walton-on-the-Naze” published in 1860.

The reference to the Copperas trade in Walton brought back childhood memories for me. I lived in Vicarage Lane for the first 21 years of my life and the area between Mill Lane and Vicarage Lane was where the copperas industry was situated. Digging in the garden used to reveal lots of pieces of old metal turned yellow by the process and if my mother dropped to the ground an item from the washing line it would almost certainly be stained with an unremovable yellow stain.

There is a full explanation of Walton’s copperas trade and process on line by Victoria County History here

A Copperas Token from John Kirby dated 1736

And so to page 21 which refers to the Artesian Well which was mentioned in an earlier episode.

Pages 22, 23 & 24 which follow refer to the Backwaters, Stone Point and oyster farming.

Frank Bloom and Les Wall dredging for oysters in the Backwaters 55 years ago

I think that’s enough for today – you must be getting bored by now!

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A Sad Story

Since writing the post following this one, which referenced a Mrs. Barton and farmer Barton, I have stumbled upon a note I made 40 years ago while researching my family tree in Walton Church records.

My note reads:


Tombstone in Walton Churchyard


The Heart knoweth its own bitterness
Pray that ye enter not into temptation

Commemorates an unmarried lady and her infant child only a few days old
Mother, a stranger to Walton, heard of the marriage of child’s father, committed suicide first killing child.

The jury verdict ‘felo de se’

Burial took place at night, no clergy present. Much sympathy with the unfortunate woman was felt and Mrs BARTON (later Mrs Turpin who died about 1912 at 32, Martello Road) collected friends and she read the burial service at the graveside.

Vicar was Rev. Wm Burgess. Curate Rev. J Carter.

A house in Saville Street was the scene of the crime

Rev. M S Horton lived there for some time to live down its reputation.


I’m guessing that the kind lady, Mrs Barton, must be connected to the family referred to in my earlier posts.
The mystery deepens…

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Walton in 1860 (Part three)

Continuing with Thomas Wilmhurst’s “Descriptive Account of Walton-on-the-Naze” published in 1860. Here are pages 16 and 17 on which I will elaborate once you’ve perused them..

This is the “neat little Church” referred to on page 16. It was known as Daniel Brown’s Church. He gave the land on which this red brick church was built, after the loss of the town’s original church to the sea. This photo was dated 1863 shortly after Wilmhurst was writing.

The “cheerful, garrulous old lady” who was quoted as the last to be married in the chancel of the old church, had a wonderful memory and suggested that smugglers would hide their contraband in the gutters behind the parapets of the old church, These can be seen in this engraving of the church (below) before it disappeared into the sea.

There are records of marriages being conducted in the porch of the church doorway, being the only safe place to do so when the main building was teetering on the cliff edge.

Daniel Brown’s church was enlarged in 1832 and 1835 and later, as can be seen in the photo below, became the site for today’s church when the chancel was first added to be followed later by the new nave and tower.

It would be very interesting to know the whereabouts of the farmhouse of Mr. John Barton and if the tablets containing the commandments, mentioned in the footnote, are still in existence. I can find no reference to Barton. Hopefully someone will tell me.

I have heard reference to The Duke’s Head public house but cannot add anything of note as it must have gone to its watery grave before the old church did. The mention of a ship wreck c1789 opposite East Terrace, could perhaps have been the “Lubecke” which according to Peter Boyden’s “History of Walton” was the only known wreck before 1800. However, this is only conjecture on my part.

Walton Hall which is supposedly on the highest point in Walton was the prison for smugglers and is shown here in its early state, with the Naze Tower in the background.

This is an early photo of Newgate Lane (now Newgate Street) where the gibbet was situated at the sea-end.
In Miss Modlen’s “A Short History of Walton-on-the-Naze” she quotes my old boss, Frank Putman, knowing an old lady whose mother had witnessed a hanging there. I remember that there used to be an advertising hoarding at this site

Pages 18 and 19 of Wilmhrst’s account do not require any additional comments from me. So I will simply add them here and take the rest of the day off.

* This is the advertisement referred to above

Since publishing the above I have received the following message from Sue Brown

I have found John Barton, retired farmer in 1871 census, living in Colchester Road, Walton le Soken.
In 1861 living in West Street, (farmer).next door to his mother Elizabeth Barton.
1851 census also living in West Street, with his mother Elizabeth Barton, listed as farmer.
The 51 and 61 census mention acreage, they are quite difficult to read..I think the 1851 is 52 acres. Maybe West Street is where the tablets from the church are.

The reference to West Street can be confusing to some. It is not the street behind the church as named today. Back then West Street was the stretch of road between Mill Lane and the church – now incorporated into the High Street.
Can anyone tell me where Colchester Road in Walton was?
I also found this advertisement at the end of Wilmhurst’s Descriptive Account for Mrs A Barton, Fancy Bread and Biscuit Baker of West Street. There must be a connection.

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Walton in 1860 (Part two)

To continue with Thomas Wilmshurst’s “Descriptive Account of Walton-on-the-Naze ” dated 1860. Here are pages 14 and 15 on which I will elaborate.

The ‘machines’ mentioned on page 14 refer to bathing machines. These were huts on wheels which were moved to the sea edge so that bathers could enter fully clothed from the beach, change into their bathing attire and exit from the opposite side directly into the water to sustain their modesty. This photo shows the bathing machines owned by Charlie Bates which operated on the Albion Beach.

Bates bathing machines

The reference to ‘Mr. Bruff ‘, was Peter Schuyler Bruff (1812 – 1900) a civil engineer and entrepreneur who was responsible for much of the development of the resorts of Walton and Clacton.
He was responsible for many of Walton’s grand terraces of houses including The Crescent, Bruff Terrace which still bears his name and South Terrace which was destroyed by bombing in WWII

The Crescent
South Terrace which was destroyed by a German bomb in WWII
Bruff Terrace which still bears his name

Page 15 mentions two Colchester gentlemen, Dr. Nunn and Mr. Barker of whom I know absolutely nothing. Equally I have no knowledge of where the Artesian Well was sunk – hopefully a better informed reader will tell me.

But I do have photos of Martello Tower ‘K’, which still stands surrounded by Aldi and Marks & Spencer’s new stores, and the site of Tower ‘J’ which was demolished in the 1840s. The bricks from this demolition were used to build Tower and Martello Cottages and Tower Terrace in the town. The site was and still is known as The Round Gardens.

Martello Tower ‘K’ which still stands today
The Round Gardens, site of the second Martello Tower – Tower ‘J’

That’s all for Part Two, but here I must add the warning which I used to start all my presentations with – “Don’t believe anything I tell you without checking for yourselves”

Part Three will follow some time after Christmas, but if you get at all bored during this year’s rather strange holiday period you can always look at my Old Walton Archive where you can bury yourselves in Walton’s past.

Happy Christmas and hopefully a much better New Year to you all.

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Walton in 1860 (Part One)

Over many years I have acquired a lot of documents relating to Walton history. Recently I was browsing some of these and chanced upon “A Descriptive Account of Walton-on-the-Naze” by Thomas Wilmshurst, published in 1860.

I would like to share this with you over the next few weeks. It is too much to deal with in one go.

The cover

I am starting here at page 12 and will try to elaborate a little on the content as we go along

The reference to the 1849 and 1854 cholera epidemics is interesting, for as I write this during the 2020 Covid 19 Pandemic the Tendring area is one of the few areas in Essex to be in the lower tier two and last summer the town was again unusually full.

The pier mentioned was Walton’s first pier and it is illustrated in the booklet with this engraving

It was 150 feet long and was only the 4th to be built in England, but succumbed to a winter gale in January 1881.

Now for page 13 of the publication

The architect named as T. Penrice was actually John Penrice of Colchester who was also responsible for designing Kents Hotel, East Terrace, Morton Terrace as well as Eld Lane Baptist Church in Colchester and the elegant Stisted Hall.

Kents Hotel opened in 1829 and was origially named ‘The Hotel’. It became Kents Hotel from 1834 to 1866 and then Dorlings Hotel from 1867, finally being renamed The Marine Hotel in 1882.

The Porto Bello Hotel in Walton’s main street received equal praise for accomodation and comfort.

The Portobello Hotel as it would have been in 1860 with adjoining Morton Terrace and Kents Hotel in the background

The Bath House Hotel is mentioned as the first place of entertainment and having been erected on the beach. I was given to believe that it was built by Edmund Aldrich who also owned bathing machines. The story goes that he built it mainly from timber washed up on the foreshore.

A much later photo of the Bath House Hotel by which time the Shore Road had been built.

The photo above shows the building being lower than the road. My father liked to relate the tale of how he remembered when the tide was high, seawater would break over the road and run through the public bar and out the back door. The old timers sitting with a drink simply raised their feet to allow the water to pass through.

I do not have information about Woolston’s Bazaar although from its description it was the original name of Brooke’s Bazaar which is seen in the photo below. The Public Reading Room and Circulating Library mentioned was possibly the next building seen in what is now Old Pier Street.

Brookes Bazaar

I will continue this with Part Two in due course.

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Philip Brannon

I have recently received a copy of a booklet published by Shanklin and District History Society written by Helen Thomas who I was pleased to assist with several Old Walton photographs

Born in Ireland in 1784, George Brannon a talented printer, engraver and publisher was the author of Vectis Scenery an illustrated guide to the Isle of Wight and it was here in 1817 in Newport where Philip Brannon was born to George and his wife Jane.

Philip followed in his father’s footsteps contributing some engravings to later editions of the guide. In the mid-1840s he married and moved to Southampton, where he set up as a printer, engraver, publisher and jobbing artist. As well as illustrating his own publications, he collaborated on a geological textbook, a book of maritime charts, a description of the Great Exhibition and a work on the design of shop fronts. He exhibited a series of watercolours depicting aerial views of Southampton in Roman, Tudor and modern times in 1856.

Now I can hear you asking, what has this got to do with Walton?

After publishing several more guides to various places including Bournemouth, Poole and Swanage, in the late-1850s Philip began advertising his services as an architect and civil engineer, despite having no formal qualifications. His particular speciality was the use of reinforced concrete in the building of bridges. A multi-span bridge and toll house he designed and built over the river Axe at Seaton, in Devon still stands today even though it was built with mass concrete without reinforcement. It was opened in 1877 and is thought to be the third concrete bridge built in England and the earliest one to survive. This Axemouth Bridge is also known as Brannon’s Bridge.

In 1881 Philip Brannon moved to Walton-on-the-Naze and moved into
11, Broomfield Cottages at the Naze with his wife and three adult children.

Broomfield Cottages

Philip saw possibilities for houses by the sea and negotiated leases with the landowner, Sir John Johnson. His plans for Walton Naze Park were devised and in October of 1881 the first villa corner stone was laid by Lady Johnson.

Brannon’s plan for Naze Park which did not materialise

The plan did not go well, there was a problem with water supply and sea wall repairs did not receive government approval. However he did manage to build two large houses using his solid concrete method, both designed in a ‘Swiss-style” with wooden balconies under projecting gables.

The properties, Highcliffe Mansion, completed in 1882 and commonly known by its later name, The Mabel Greville and Philip’s own home, Hygeia Lodge, at No. 1 Naze Park Road which was the former studio where I and my business partner, David West, ran our very sucessful photographic business.

Highcliff Mansion on the cliff top above Hipkins Beach
Hygeia Lodge

While living at Hygeia Lodge, Philip was also manager of the nearby Port Walton Brick and Tile Company.

Philip became involved with the Essex Field Club’s investigation of a denehole network at Hangmans Wood near Grays and he produced a number of drawings in preparation for a publication to be called A Subteranean City Near London . The work was never published but some of his drawings have survived.

One of Philip’s unpublished 1887 drawings

Philip died in London on 11th June 1890 aged 73 having left his mark and one surviving concrete property at the Naze.

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