This weekend is devoted the place where I was brought up – Great Dunmow in Essex. When we arrived in 1956, it was an agricultural market town connected by rail and bus to the surrounding towns of Braintree, Saffron Walden, Bishops Stortford and Chelmsford. It had a weekly livestock market, a brewery, a “bacon factory” (pig processing factory) and a nearby beet sugar factory. The population was largely rurally employed and field sizes were relatively small, with hedges and many small copses and spinneys. By the time we left in 1978 (I’d really “left” before then, to university and employment in Hull), there had been many changes. The first was the industrialisation of agriculture; field sizes grew massively as hedgerows and woodland were ripped out to make larger fields suitable for “modern” machinery. Agricultural employment decreased as small farms disappeared/were amalgamated and machinery took the place of labour. The feasibility of commuting to London and elsewhere grew as road capacity expanded and more could afford cars. The population began to become more London orientated. Just as we were leaving a previously small airstrip called Stansted was chosen to become London’s third airport – actually it was not that small as it had a long runway to accommodate US Superfortress bombers in the war, and consequently was used during Concorde’s testing.
The first building that we lived in was an old town house called Rood End, 6 Stortford Road. It was right on the main road through Dunmow, with a narrow pavement outside. The medical practice staff needed to go through our flat to reach their work-places. Not ideal. The next instalment describes where we went next….