Braintree, Essex

Braintree, Essex

infobox UK place
country = England
official_name= Braintree
latitude= 51.8781
longitude= 0.5495
population = 42,393 [ [ Key Statistics for urban areas in the South East] . 2001 Census, National Statistics. Retrieved on February 11, 2007.]
shire_district= Braintree
shire_county = Essex
region= East of England

static_image_caption=Bocking Windmill
constituency_westminster= Braintree
post_town= BRAINTREE
postcode_district=CM7, CM77
Police Essex Police
dial_code= 01376
os_grid_reference= TL730228

Braintree is a town of about 42,000 people and the principal settlement of the Braintree district of Essex in the East of England. It is ten miles north-east of Chelmsford and fifteen miles west of Colchester on the River Blackwater, A120 road and a branch of the Great Eastern Main Line.

Braintree has grown contiguous with several surrounding settlements: Braintree proper lies to the south of Stane Street, and Bocking lies to the north. The two together can be referred to as Braintree and Bocking, although most people refer to them together as "Braintree".

Braintree is twinned with the French town of Pierrefitte-sur-Seine.

Braintree, Massachusetts, United States, was named after the town in 1640.


Braintree is located at the junction of two Roman roads: one coming from the county town of Chelmsford, about ten miles or so to the south-west, and the other (known as Stane Street (St Albans)) running westwards to Great Dunmow, and eastwards to Colchester. Stane Street was a main road (the A120) until the bypass system was built in the late 20th century.

The origin of the name Braintree is obscure. It is believed by some scholars that the name of the River Brain came later, and so was named after the town, rather than the other way round. One theory is that Braintree was originally Branoc's tree, Branoc apparently being an old personal name. Another theory is that the name is derived from that of Rayne, which was actually a more important settlement in Norman times. Braintree was called Branchetreu in the Domesday Book. Other scholars say the "Brain" element in the word is accepted to be derived from "Brid/ Brigantia/ Bride/ Bigit/ Britain". This is the ancient Celtic, and possibly pre-Celtic, name for the Goddess of the land of Britain. She is the reason the Romans called these islands "Britannia". She was worshipped all across the North of Britain in Roman times. The River Braint in Anglesey is another one of these names. "Tree" comes from the Saxon suffix, more usually spelt "try", denoting a big village. [ [ etyres mobile tyres fitting service in Braintree Essex ] ] In many early American Colonial documents, it is referred to as Branktry. The perhaps most convincing theory, the 'Theory of the Walnuts' suggests that the town, or the river, got its name 'brain' from the abundance of walnut trees growing in the area.

The wool industry was important to the town for centuries, but silk manufacture became the dominant industry in the 19th century, thanks to George Courtauld's silk mill, which he opened in 1809.


Braintree lies about 50 metres above sea level [] . Essex is rather flat on the whole, and the Braintree area is no exception; however, there is a general downward trend in the height of the ground from the northwest towards the coast to the southeast. Two rivers flow through Braintree in this direction. Pod's Brook approaches the western side of the town, forms a natural boundary between Braintree and the neighbouring village of Rayne about two miles to the west. Pod's Brook becomes the River Spartan as it passes under the Roman road, before running through the southern part of Braintree. The River Pant (or Blackwater) runs roughly parallel to it, through the north of Bocking, and away to the east of the town. The Brain eventually flows into the Blackwater several miles away, near Witham.

Culture, media, and sport

The town's football club, known as "The Iron's", have made much progress in recent years and were promoted to the Conference South as champions of the Isthmian League in 2006. The 2006–2007 season saw them just miss out on a second successive promotion to the Conference National. Having finished in third place, they went down 1-0 in the Conference South play-off final. Braintree continued their good form during season 2007-2008. After a slow start and a change of first team manager, they took 60 points from their last 30 games to finally secure fifth place and another tilt at the play-offs. For more information on Braintree Town Football Club see their website at

Braintree has its own museum, which contains displays relating to the history of the town. It is named after John Ray and has a number of relatively famous patrons, including the Essex-born artist, Jennifer Walter, and Lesley Killin, an influential member of Essex Council of Education (the ECE).

There is a cinema on the outskirts of the town. Opposite the cinema, there is also a bowling alley and various restaurants. There are two nightclubs in the town centre, together with numerous public houses and bars.

Braintree's local newspapers are the "Braintree and Witham Times", "Essex Chronicle" and "Evening Gazzette".

The Braintree and Bocking Carnival takes place each June. The event starts with a procession of floats through the town centre, finishing at Meadowside. Events, including a fair and sideshows, continue throughout the afternoon at Meadowside until around 10pm.

Braintree Musical Society perform two shows a year (in April and October) at The Institute at Bocking End.

Economy, industry and commerce

Freeport is a shopping area on the outskirts of Braintree, described as a "designer outlet village". It has roughly 90 shops where designer brands sell surplus stock for lower than normal prices. Freeport also has its own railway station, namely Braintree Freeport station, which is the first stop on the journey from Braintree to London Liverpool Street.


Braintree has two railway stations, Braintree and Braintree Freeport next to the Freeport shopping area. Trains depart from Braintree station to Witham, where the Braintree branch line joins the Great Eastern Main Line to London Liverpool Street. Service frequency is approximately once an hour during the daytime. Nowadays the track terminates at Braintree. However, it used to continue westwards, through the village of Rayne, to Great Dunmow, but this section of the route was closed as part of the famous "Beeching Axe" and has been disused for decades (although has now become part of a country walk and cycle route, known as Flitch Way).

Neighbouring villages

Villages in the Braintree area include Black Notley, White Notley,Great Notley Garden Village (a recent construction), Cressing, Felsted, Rayne and Panfield.

Notable residents

* Malcolm McFee, (1949-2001), British Actor born in Forest Gate, Newham, played Peter Craven in Please Sir! 1968-1971 & 'The Fenn Street Gang' 1972-1973
* Lawrence D Hills founded the Henry Doubleday Research Association headquarters and test site at Bocking, and also developed the "Bocking 14" strain of comfrey, which has properties of particular interest to organic gardeners.
* The naturalist John Ray (1627 - 1705), born in nearby Black Notley, is perhaps the most talked about local person, among historians.
* The Courtauld family were one of the most prominent families of Braintree and Bocking during the 19th century. Their highly successful silk business made them very rich, and provided much employment in the area.
* Sir Evelyn Wood, (1838 – 1919), British Field marshal, Victoria Cross recipient.
* Katherine Parnell, younger sister of Sir Evelyn Wood, and wife and downfall of Irish Nationalist leader, Charles Parnell.
* The Prodigy, a famous dance music group, are probably Braintree's best known export in recent years. The band's leader Liam Howlett was the cause of much indignation among some residents when he criticised the town in an interview for the music magazine "Q". He reportedly used "an abusive term" (see [] ). He and fellow band member Keith Flint moved out of the town around 1998, to live in seclusion in a small village five or six miles to the west. Now living just outside of Harlow, Essex.
* Avant-Garde / experimental composer and musician Barry Douglas Lamb, lived in Braintree following the demise of the insane picnic from 1989–1993. Although this appears to have been a period of very little musical output on his part, there is an unofficial recording from the period called "Braintree - the concubine harvester".
* Steve Harley, singer/composer and founder of Cockney Rebel, lived in Bradford Street, Braintree, from 1969 to 1971. He worked as a reporter for the Braintree and Witham Times under his real name Stephen Nice. The novelist Jay Merrick, author of "The Horse Latitudes", worked on the newspaper at the same time under his real name John Thompson.
*Andrew Phillips, Baron Phillips of Sudbury, noted politician and lawyer in the field of civil liberties lived in Bradford Street, Braintree for much of the 1980s
* Giles Long MBE, Triple Paralympic Gold medallist and former World Record holder in the 100m Butterfly lived in Braintree from 1979 to 1994, briefly returning in 2007. He swam for Braintree and Bocking Swimming Club 1986 to 1996.
*Rickety Ricks-though the whole of Watford is still in deep mourning losing her beauty, her curves,smiles, golden locks and sensual smile, birthdate unknown, published author (in the london lite)

Source materials on Bocking

Hoffman, Ann. (1976) Bocking Deanery: The Story of an Essex Peculiar.

H. G. Wells, in his "What Is Coming? A European Forecast" (1916), in the fourth chapter, "Braintree, Bocking, and the Future of the World," uses the differences between Bocking and Braintree, divided, he says, by a single road, to explain the difficulties he expects in establishing World Peace through a World State.

Efficiency, perhaps the supreme virtue for Wells (and others in the Fabian Society), meant someone in authority preventing waste and inefficiency at every level from water mains to wars. The difficulty of establishing it at the local level was a reflection of the difficulty of establishing it at the global level. In that same chapter he mentions his friend but ideological foe, G. K. Chesterton, who would have been delighted by those same local differences (particularly if it included the beer in the pubs) and whose 1904 novel, "The Napoleon of Notting Hill," praises them. Wells wanted to end war by establishing an authority that could ban any difference between people that might lead to disagreements and perhaps war. Chesterton wanted to reduce the likelihood of war by reminding people that a healthy love for your country meant respecting the love others have for their country. In the December 31, 1910 issue of "Illustrated London News" he wrote:


External links

* [ Braintree Town Football Club]
* [ Notley High School]
* [ Braintree District Council]
** [ Transport Strategy for North Essex]
* [ The daysoff Guide to Braintree] Links to pages on its history, geography, and other subjects
* [ Freeport Braintree website]
* [ Website of the Friends of Bocking Blackwater group]
* [ 2nd Braintree & Bocking Scout Group]
* [ Tabor Science College website]
* [ Thisisessex Website containing the latest Essex news]
* [ Braintree College's official website]
* [ Witham, Braintree and Halstead Care Trust]
* [ Braintree and Bocking Carnival]
* [ Braintree Bowmen Archery Club]
* [ Braintree Rivers Rotary Club]
* [ Lions Club of Braintree]
* [ Braintree Town Netball Club]
* [ Blackwater Valley Action Group]
* [ Braintree Theatre School Website]

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