Colchester photo albums

To see slide shows of some of the less well-known parts of Colchester, click on the pictures below. During the slide show, you can click on a picture to get further info, if it's available.

Specialist shops

Specialist shops


Inner green spaces

Inner green spaces


East Hill

East Hill


East Street


New Town
(Magdalen St)


The first Co-op on Colchester

New Town




East Bridge


The Hythe (old)


The Hythe (new)


Balkerne Heights

Balkerne Heights


Greenstead Estate

Greenstead Estate


Greenstead Road

Greenstead Road




12 September, 2007

Open Studios at Cuckoo Farm

Cuckoo Farm Studios are again holding their September open weekends, when you can visit individual artists and craftspeople in their studios. For information on opening times for each artist's studio, download a copy of the brochure.

More on Jumbo

Some of those who object to the new plans for Jumbo are unhappy with the proposed enclosure of the open spaces under the tank. However, the developers have recently stated that: "Great care has been taken that the visual translucency is retained in the top part of the arch. The public will have access to the ground floor cafe and the proposed restaurant at the top of the main arch". Also, the developers are keen to see the area around the Mercury Theatre "revived with well-designed grounds around Jumbo, open for the public to enjoy Colchester's remarkable landmark".

31 August, 2007

New Town tour, Sunday 2 September, 2pm

This coming Sunday's architectural tour goes to New Town. It will be looking at the origins of this Victorian suburb, Paxman's engineering works, the Co-op store, the first Kendall school and lots more. Tours start at the Almshouses in Winnock Road at 2pm; tickets are £4.00 for adults, £3.00 for children; and booking in advance is advised. Contact the Visitor Information Centre, 1 Queen Street, Colchester. 01206 282920.

30 August, 2007

Deflection at firstsite:newsite

Some weeks ago, a letter published by the Essex County Standard darkly suggested that certain problems were being experienced with the the construction of the firstsite:newsite building, and challenged the council to come clean on the matter. Well, would you believe it, they have. According to a recent council press release, "a deflection in the line of canopy over the entrance way" has been picked up and "and further work will be need to be carried out to correct it" delaying the project by "a matter of a few weeks". No worries, then.

21 August, 2007

New plans for Jumbo revealed

A new scheme for Colchester's Jumbo, a disused water tower, was announced last week. The proposals include flats, a restaurant and a café. The proposed restaurant will be situated at the top of the main arch, affording good views over Colchester. A planning application is expected to be submitted soon. Read more here.

20 August, 2007

Heritage Open Days 8 & 9 September

Here's a chance to explore some significant Colchester properties which are not normally open or accessible to the public, free-of-charge (including the castle on Saturday 8th only). There will also be history alive performances outside the castle and, on Saturday, a vintage bus will link the town centre to the Heritage Fun Day happening down at the Hythe (see post below). A list of the properties open will be available at any of Colchester's museums, and on the website (but nothing's there at the time of posting).The event is sponsored by the Colchester branch of architects Purcell Miller Tritton. Read more from the council's press office here.

17 August, 2007

Vineyard Gate public consultation process starts

With a planning application for the Vineyard Gate area development to be submitted by the end of this year, the developer – Vineyard Gate Developments (VGD) – has begun its public consultation process with local residents and businesses. A website dedicated to the project is now live, and an exhibition about the scheme will be held in St James' House, Queen Street (the former Shoeworld shop) from Saturday 1 September for two weeks. According to Colchester Council Vineyard Gate "will be a contemporary shopping scheme that will be fully integrated with the town centre. It will include over 65 new retail outlets over four levels (including a major department store), a variety of places to eat and drink, a new bus station, additional parking spaces and residential accommodation... Views to St Botolph’s Church and the Abbeygate will also be created from within the development, emphasising the scheme’s unique identity and strong local character. Furthermore, the development will create a new gateway to the town centre by improving links with southern parts of Colchester including the Garrison site. VGD has launched architectural competitions for three key parts of the new development. The winning entries will help to create an interesting and varied townscape that will be unique and relevant to Colchester. A total of 10 of the UK’s top design practices – some of which have worked on some of the country’s most successful developments, including Birmingham’s Bullring and the newly-refurbished St Pancras Station in London - have been invited to take part in the three competitions. Colchester people will get a chance to see and comment on the entries as part of September’s public exhibition." Lead architects for the project are Colchester's own Stanley Bragg. Read more here about how the consultation process will work.

03 August, 2007

Art and heritage of the Hythe

According to Colchester's Courier magazine, a group of artists have been working with the community to create an art trail for the Hythe area. Here's some text from the magazine (which can be viewed as a pdf online here.) The route passes through some surprising parts of town, each with their own stories and character, which inspired the themes of the artworks. The Town to Sea Trail is part of the wider regeneration of East Colchester. Starting in the town centre the trail heads down East Hill, past the East Bay allotments, through the Moors, to Haddon Park, finishing at the Hythe Quayside, where it links with the Wivenhoe Trail. Artists Andrew Rowe, David Mackie, Becky Adams and Heather Parnell have been working with local schools, groups and the wider community on design ideas to link the trail together. More than 100 walkers joined a Test the Trail day in the spring, and added more ideas before the designs were finalised. A touring exhibition is now visiting local venues, allowing people to view some of the work produced by the community and the artist’s proposals for the trail. Visit for dates and venues. The permanent artwork along the trail should be completed in the autumn. Bob Bunn, chair of the Hythe Residents’ Association, said: “The trail goes a little way towards raising the profile of this area, and hopefully it will spark further improvements where they are needed.” Funding has come from the European Union's Interreg IIIB North SEAfaring Programme and local developers.
Some of East Colchester’s historic buildings and vessels will be be open to view for the first time at this year’s Hythe Heritage Day. The event takes place on Saturday 8 September, with a vintage bus offering a shuttle service to from the town centre, plus music, entertainment and guided tours. For more information contact 863998. Take the following link for a report on a "test the trail" event earlier this year.

30 July, 2007

Dark realities on the way

For anybody who really does want to take the council's advice to heart and leave the car behind for getting around Colchester, a dark reality lurks in the way of most journeys: pedestrian subways. While motorists pass comfortably overhead in broad daylight, walkers (and cyclists) are forced down smelly, litter-strewn, dark holes at key points around the town. Every passage feels threatening; many are nauseating. And in winter, it all seems doubly awful.

It's no wonder so many people drive to school, work, or out-of-town retail parks; the alternative is too depressing. For those without cars, however, there is no choice. Part of any plan to reduce motor traffic must include making walking about town pleasant, sociable and preferable. When "vibrant new quarters" are being planned for the town, it would be gratifying to learn that the threatening and nauseating old bits are being removed. More nasty pics here.

13 July, 2007

Ash Sakula/Garbe chosen to develop cultural quarter

Following an international competition to find a development partner to create Colchester’s cultural (St Botolph's) quarter, Colchester Cabinet selected (Wednesday 11 July) Ash Sakula/Garbe Group as the preferred development team to create a "vibrant new area for the town". Read more from the council's press release, and see some drawings at bdonline. See also Ash Sakula's website. In Poncrinator's view, these people have done some good work.

Plannerrhoids: a Colchester disease

They have become so prevalent in Colchester that one begins to forget that they are there, infesting the skyline, or sprouting up in redundant spaces between buildings. They come in many shapes, sizes and materials, but what they have in common is that they have no purpose, no function, no value. They are plannerrhoids, and they are a symptom of a dysfunctional and afflicted body civic. Whereas haemorrhoids are caused, I understand, by too much straining, plannerrhoids occur through an absence of effort, a paucity of thinking and a loss of integrity. Expect more plannerrhoids around town, because this distemper is far from played out. What is curious, however, is that some buildings don’t have them at all. Why aren’t there any on the Mercury Theatre, the Town Hall, Holly Trees Museum, Temperleys, the new firstsite building, the new university lecture hall, or the University Quays buildings? Are these somehow disease-resistant designs? Perhaps the planners should investigate.

06 July, 2007

Pevsner's Essex – updated and enlarged by James Bettley

Between 1951 and 1974, Penguin published a monumental series of books describing the buildings of England. They were written by architectural and design historian, Sir Niklaus Pevsner. The volume for Essex was published in 1954 and, despite the changes of half-a-century, it has remained the sole definitive guide to the county's most important buildings. Until this year that is, when the great work was republished by Yale University Press, updated and enlarged by Essex historian James Bettley. It is worth buying for the 50 magnificent pages on Colchester alone. See a review at the Real Essex website.

Colchester Architecural Tours

Firstsite are again running their summer programme of Colchester architectural tours, every Sunday from July-September. More details are available at this page on Visit Colchester's website. Above: detail of Town Hall, built 1897-1902, architect: John Belcher.

New Aldi's on Magdalen Street

Last month, the new Aldi store in Magdalen Street opened with a bit of a fanfare – and mixed feelings in the mind of Poncrinator. It‘s good to have a new shopping area to which people can walk from local homes: much more of this is needed in Colchester, which has polarized into town centre shops versus edge-of-town superstores, causing car journeys for every shopping trip, and isolation for the old and poor. The creation of pedestrian access at the back of the site into the New Town area is a good move. Architecturally, however, this is just one more "backing into the future" building for Magdalen Street and Colchester.

It is evident that there have been attempts to give the street-face of the building some variety and rhythm but, in reality, the features are just stick-on nostalgia bits. These presumably please the planners as, except for a few notable exceptions (mainly around the Hythe), Colchester is becoming overwhelmed with similarly poor stuff.

31 March, 2007

Street sequences in the town centre

It's always a pleasure to wander through Colchester’s town centre, or at least the small back streets. The non-linear arrangement of open spaces makes every turning interesting. One is never quite sure what to expect – whether it's going to be a church, a small green space, a couple of benches in a pedestrian street or a water fountain surrounded by shop frontages. The opportunity to discover the town over and over again is one of the refreshing and fascinating aspects of Colchester. Apart from the pedestrianised areas, the High Street provides generous pavements for shoppers to browse shop fronts and well-designed paving and crossing points allow for ease of movement. Gratifying, too, is the enlightened decision to do away with pedestrian barriers along the High Street. This has resulted in a central space, presided over by the attractive timber framed post office, which feels owned by pedestrians and cars alike, and even offering shoppers the chance (if lucky) to briefly stop their car outside the required shop. The only time the High Street becomes unpleasant is at weekend nights, but that problem is beyond even the powers of architects.

Colchester green spaces – a council strategy

Probably one of the principal reasons that Poncrinator was moved to start this blog was the existence of so much open space in and around the town centre, with many random plots apparently 'unclaimed' by council or commerce. An example is the green valley to the north of Magdalen and Barrack Streets, through which the railway and the river pass. The wide, green view from the back of Magdalen Street away to Highwoods Country Park is, remarkably, uninterrupted but for a few of Colchester's older buildings. This is astonishing in the centre of a busy modern town of 130,000-plus – and needing great care if not to be lost, particularly because something away from the public eye can easily become a victim of commercial greed or bureaucratic neglect. It's gratifying, therefore to see that Colchester council is now developing a new strategy to improve the amount of green spaces available in the borough, and residents are being asked for their views. You can read more about this at the council's website. For comment or opinion you are invited to contact Councillor Kevin Bentley, Portfolio Holder for Culture and Public Relations on 07770 571622. Let's hope the view above is included in his strategy. Take the following link for more pictures of Colchester's hidden inner green spaces.

05 February, 2007

Circus: no need to bring on the clowns

Colchester's Roman circus, unearthed recently at the Abbey Field site and the only-known one in Britain (similar to Rome's, see pic above), is another free gift from the past with the potential to enrich Colchester immensely. Unfortunatley, despite uproar from many quarters, Colchester Council appears resolute to proceed with its plan to build a road across the find. In the Essex County Standard on February 2, 2007, our council's planning portfolio holder is reported to have said "We are actively working on ways to protect this significant find". Actively working, note - not just plain working. Follow this link for press cuttings and comment from the Camulos site. For location of Abbey Field, see map, waymark 19. See MS Virtual Earth shot of site here (best in Explorer or Firefox).

26 January, 2007

Vehicle fumes "stunt lung growth"

Results of a US survey just published in the Lancet suggest that living too near a busy road can stunt a child's lung development. Read more at the BBC News website. As Town Hall continues to approve countless additional developments, merrily ignoring Colchester's already choked streets, perhaps somebody should warn new residents that their children may not have much puff in later life.

25 January, 2007

Allowing a name to keep its meaning

Apparently, some of the last remaining buildings at the Hythe are to be demolished. They are not architecturally special, neither are they very old. However, they are the last of the working buildings, right on the riverside, from the Hythe's heyday and, as such they have enormous significance. They also constitute an important (and completing) component of the lower part of Hythe Hill. They carry the last visual clues that give people access to an important period of Colchester's history, and are inestimably more meaningful than archive photgraphs, important as they may be. Allowing them to remain adds another dimension to the experience of visiting, living or working in the neighbourhood. Knocking them down and then renaming the replacement "Old Wharf Heights" or similar will add insult to injury. There's plenty of good new building design further down river (I shan't comment now on the sad 'wharfism' in between), so let's see what good can be done here. See more pictures of the old Hythe area. For location, see map, waypoint 8.

Community Stadium builders appointed

Colchester Borough Council reports that it has appointed Barr Ltd to build the new multi-million pound Community Stadium, and selected Drivers Jonas as project managers for the construction stage. However, a number of further preliminaries still need to be settled before the building contract can be signed and building work started. Read more on the council's news release page.

19 January, 2007

The problem with buses

It's received wisdom that public transport causes less pollution than the use of private cars. To the pedestrian, child in a buggy or cyclist however, the opposite feels true. The bus roars past (bus drivers are always accelerating, braking or swerving to maximize the jerky effect) and we all know what to expect: a swirling fog of warm, particulate-laden, diesel exhaust through which we must hold our breath until we are clear. Bus exhaust outlets seem designed to do this deliberately, pointing down towards the road surface to ensure an even distribution of toxic gases at the breathing level. This is not how it has to be. Many continental cities have buses whose exhausts vent vertically. Granted the gases have to go somewhere and upper-storey windows over the street may have to stay closed during busy times. But the city of Florence solves this by using smaller, electric buses for the clogged inner city routes. Most big trucks have vertical exhausts. Why not buses, which spend so much of their journeys belching their way past pedestrians in narrow streets?

05 January, 2007

East Hill and East Street

East Hill and East Street together must have as many old timber buildings as the Dutch quarter. Alright, I haven't actually counted, but take a walk along this ancient (often traffic-choked) highway and be impressed. Some have been restored and are maintained magnificently (for example, Charlie Brown's), others look tired, while not a few appear almost terminal. Star attractions in East Street include The Siege House and the Rose and Crown. The brick buildings are to be noted, too (there are some grand ones on East Hill). The former East Mill is an imposing pile, and there are some interesting finds in East Bay, opposite. It's an attractive spot at the river, marred a bit by the sorry state of East Bridge itself – whatever happened to to its missing lamp posts? See also post on East Bridge below. See more pictures of East Street, and of East Hill. For location, see map, waypoint 6.

04 January, 2007

Magdalen Street, New Town

Colchester's old "commercial road" is Magdalen Street: the connecting thorougfare to the town's port. The port has gone, but the street still reflects some of its original character, both in the remaining architecture, and in its busyness. The new Aldi's (see picture above) should help keep things busy, at least. There are some very old buildings behind the plastic fascias and affordable double-glazing. To the north, by contrast, on land previously occupied by railway sidings, there's a new neighbourhood - all white and pretending to be classical - with amazing views over Colchester's secret inner green valley. Magdalen Street's reaching a tipping point: if any more of the old buildings go and are replaced with meaningless cod-Tudor/Georgian/Victorian styles, we'll be saying good-bye to another fascinating part of Colchester. For location of Magdalen Street area, see map, waymark 5. See more pictures in and around Magdalen Street.

30 December, 2006

Andrew Phillips says goodbye to the Victorian Garrison

"The redevelopment of our garrison is the largest public/private initiative in Britain. Soon 3,000 new dwellings will house 9,000 people overlooking the Abbey Field, forming the Abbey Field urban Village... The challenge to get it right is huge..." This is Colchester historian Andrew Phillips writing in yesterday's edition of the Essex County Standard. His article, which includes the story of the Victorian cavalry barracks, together with some interesting photos, argues that current attention on the St Botolph's Quarter redevelopment could easily obscure what's happening on Abbey Fields from public gaze. Go to the Garrison section of the Renaissance of Colchester website for an outline of the plan. For location of Abbey Fields, see map, waymark 19. See MS Virtual Earth shot of site here (best in Explorer or Firefox).

29 December, 2006

Paxman site application for 393 homes

Jubilee Homes of Brentwood have filed an outline application to build 393 dwellings on the Paxman site (bounded by Port Lane to the west and St Leonard's Terrace to the north). The developer's proposals (now viewable on the council's planning website – see link right) reveal a formal layout, similar to New Town's terraces, but with a mixture of houses and apartment blocks. A public open space (a linear park) is proposed at the end of Parson's Lane, on the eastern perimeter of the site. It's difficult to judge at this stage whether the building style proposed is the usual periody-pastiche fake mash-up. Could we get something genuinely contemporary and authentic? After all, this is an industrial site and we do live in the 21st century. For location, see map, waypoint 3. See MS Virtual Earth shot of site here (best in Explorer or Firefox). See also Evening Gazette story.

22 December, 2006

Brook Street to get 110 new dwellings

According to the council's planning website, Mersea Homes have permission to build 110 new units on derelict/undeveloped land to the rear of Brook Street and Barrack Street (roughly, the pink area in the sketch map above). As mentioned in a previous post, this is a unique site, with attractive, elevated views over the river and the associated green and wooded areas. Predictably, the scheme will involve sardine-style densities, with building appearances similar to those at Balkerne Heights. Apparently, the far north-east part of the site will be open space, and will link with the footpath/cylcepath alongside the river. A new public footway between Brook Street and the river (if that's what we're getting) will be a very good thing. Residents and users of Brook Street may be less pleased, however, when they learn that this already highly congested road will get all the new estate's traffic. For location in Colchester, see map, waypoint 1. See MS Virtual Earth shot of site here (best in Explorer or Firefox).

30 November, 2006

firstsite:newsite construction

It looked, sounded and felt more like a shipyard than a corner of Colchester town centre this morning. Contruction of Rafael Vinoly's firstsite:newsite arts building is in full swing. See some additional construction pictures here. For location of firstsite:newsite, see map, waypoint 18.

28 November, 2006

Colchester Guide's Architectural page

GfB's Colchester Guide now has an architecture page, with pictures and brief details of significant buildings about town. The entries are categorized in sections covering the Roman period, and each fifty-year span from 1000AD to the present. It's an excellent resource and reference.

27 November, 2006

Principles of True Urbanism

Take a look at the website of "International Making Cities Livable" where you can find a simple and well-articulated vision for building, sustaining and enriching towns and cities. These priciples seem to be having some effect on Colchester's town centre, but for the majority of the town – the expanding part – they have been conveniently ignored.

However, it can't be all bad out there in the 'burbs: a study on suburban living released by the University of California at Irvine found that "for every 10 per cent decrease in population density, the chances of people talking to their neighbours weekly increases by 10 per cent". Read more here...

26 November, 2006

Invitation to get involved in St Botolph development

With construction of the firstsite:newsite arts and cultural facility now underway, the next stage in the development of the wider St Botolph's area is set to start - and the council is asking Colchester people to tell them what they would like to see as part of the town's new cultural quarter. Read more here. See also Regeneration in St. Botolph's Street and Bus Station and Vineyard Gate proposals unveiled.

23 November, 2006

Demolition starts on Flora House

The handsome 1862-built Flora House, in Greensted Road, is being demolished (see post "Greenstead Road: not to be ignored" below). To make way for what? No details appear to be available under Greenstead Road on the council's planning website. I expect the worst: dreary, cramped, low-quality construction with a few random pastichy period bits added on to provide the planners with an excuse for approving it. I hope I'm wrong. See more pictures of Greenstead Road.

14 November, 2006

Community Stadium

See an artist's impression of the recently approved Community Stadium, together with a plan of the stadium complex here.

03 November, 2006

Demolition at East Bridge

A number of derelict buildings associated with Doe's Mill at East Bay (East Bridge, East Street) were demolished this week - and it's good to note that one of the mill's original buildings (18th century), pictured above, has been spared. According to the council's planning website (see link right), the area will be redeveloped to include a number of new one and two-bedroom "housing units" and other refurbished buildings to provide "retirement and affordable apartments". A riverside path will be added. It's an attractive spot with much potential, but don't get too excited: a look at the drawings confirms one's suspicions that when a project is categorized as "affordable", architects and developers (with the collusion of planners) are free to produce poor stuff. See more pix of the site. See also Evening Gazette article: "Colchester Disgrace". For location, see map, waypoint 6.

13 October, 2006

Meanwhile, over at Wivenhoe Park...

Not two miles from the unpretentious charms of Barrack Street, the University's shiny new Lecture Hall is getting its finishing touches. Its low circular form, clad with stainless-steel, sets up a lively dialogue with the elevated 'sixties Library block opposite. Go to Patel Taylor to see architects' visuals, and the the University's page for construction pics. For location of the University, see map, waypoint 17.

11 October, 2006

Barrack Street style

There's a respectable, solid Victorian house behind all the plastic fascia and alloy wheels. Barrack Street has its own way of preserving its old buildings, while ensuring life round about stays busy. See more New Town pics here. For location of Barrack Street, see map, waypoint 16.

03 October, 2006

More from New Town

Many properties in the New Town area don't quite fit into the normal categories of commoditized estate agent living (two-bedroom terrace, three-bedroom semi, four-bedroom period house in smart location, etc, etc). I have no idea what the pictured house (built mid 1800s?), hidden away in New Town, is or was, but I'm sure there is much of local interest here. And it's another special building that adds value to an important part of Colchester. A neighbourhood needs only to lose a few buildings such as this to tip the balance from being fascinating to ordinary. See more New Town pics here. For location of New Town, see map, waypoint 15.

29 September, 2006

Sainsbury's invests in town centre

Earlier this summer, Sainsbury's store in Priory Walk was refurbished. It's gratifying to see this company committed to (what must now be) a comparatively small store, for town centre shoppers. The exterior work has ensured that the store's original Colchester frieze maintains its leading part in the building's appearance.

15 September, 2006

Greenstead Road: not to be ignored

Before the inner bypass was built, Greenstead Road was the way to Wivenhoe or Brightlingsea. Branching off it, half way along, was a lane to St Andrew's church, now stranded over the other side of the busy A133, on the Greenstead Estate. Hints of the road's former life are revealed by some old houses, dotted amongst a hotch-potch of Victorian terraces, 1920s bungalows, 1960s flats, tatty trading estates and more recent mini housing developments. Among the buildings of note are the handsome Flora House (likely to be demolished according to a local informant) at the Colchester end (see picture above); the timber-framed and fascinatingly-named "Dollar Hall"; and three cottages whose orientation suggests they are located where the lane from St Andrew's joined Greenstead Road. See OS map of 1881.

I suspect Greenstead Road suffers from being a low status area as far as the planners are concerned, and perhaps that has led to the quirky mixture of buildings that make it what it is. But if planning indifference allows the loss of any of the road's significant buildings, it will be a great shame. And if any are lost and replaced with with poky little ad-hoc developments (with which this part of Colchester is awash) it would be tragic. For location, see map, waypoint 14.

14 September, 2006

The Buildings of Colchester tours

It's nearly your last chance to join "an architectural safari through the streets of Britain's oldest town". Promoted by Firstsite, they have been running every Sunday from 18 June, and the last one this year is on 24 September. Tours start at the War Memorial at 11.30am. Cost per person: £3, children (5-12): £2. For more informantion contact Colchester Visitor Information Centre on 01206 282920.

09 September, 2006

How people move about urban spaces Rome, anyway. See a story at c|net news on Real Time Rome, a project that tracks how people move around the city. The project will make its debut at the 10th International Architecture Exhibition at the Venice Biennale.

06 September, 2006

Balkerne Heights

Colchester's Balkerne Heights development (St Mary's hospital site) looks as though it's nearing completion. A combination of location (a short walk to the High Street), topography (steep changes of level and good views for many), building/space arrangement (there are interesting vistas and occlusions), and architecture (a c1400-1850 remix), makes this a unique development in Colchester, and unusual anywhere else, I should think. There's one spot that actually reminds me of Galileo's street in Florence (Costa di San Giorgio). Okay, I may be losing my grip: at another location, I could imagine Shrek and the Donkey plodding into sight on their way to take up Lord Farquaad's challenge. Many dwellings are packed into this set (oops, housing development), and I wonder how it will look and feel in ten years' time. See more pics. For location, see map, waymark 13.

04 September, 2006


The Greenstead estate, built from the '50s to the '70s in the north-east of Colchester, has got a lot going for it. One would question, in these less utopian days, the wisdom of creating such a large area of social housing, but – around the central area, at least – it looks as though careful thought had gone in to the way buildings, vistas and green space work with one another. I suspect the beneficial influence of Gordon Cullen in many parts. As you'd expect with such a project, most of the houses and flats are much of a muchness architecturally but the arrangements of shape, scale, orientation and intervening space keep monotony at bay. A few buildings to mention: Community Centre, the Catholic church and the library. Oh, and of course, St Andrews, which is a bit older. See more pics. For location, see map, waypoint 12.


31 August, 2006

Heritage open days 9-10 September

Colchester Museums have organised a free, weekend-long event opening doors on many buildings in the town which are usually closed, or giving free entry instead of the usual admission fee. For details of buildings and timings, see the Colchester Museums What's On page.

25 August, 2006

Hythe funday; Saturday 26 August, 2006

Colchester Mayor Cllr Richard Gower will officially open a 'funday' at the Hythe this coming Saturday, 26 August. The event aims to bring the community together, attract visitors into the area, celebrate East Colchester's heritage, and help get residents involved in new activities. Something for everyone is planned, from DJ-ing to talks by local historian, Patrick Denney. Find out more here.

21 August, 2006

Approval for University of Essex Research Park

Planning approval has been given for the University of Essex to build a research park on a 43-acre site to the west of the existing buildings. It is hoped that high-tech businesses will create up to 2000 jobs, and the site will include offices, private dwellings and student rooms. Read more at Colchester2020's site. See map, waypoint 11.

20 August, 2006

Colne View

Barratt's big site down by the Hythe is in advanced stages of work. Here is 'Boston House', on the corner of Lightship Way and Colne Causeway, receiving finishing touches. Is that a helideck on top? Go to Simpson & Brown Architects for a description of the work, together with some drawings and a Quicktime visualisation. See map, waypoint 10.

16 August, 2006

St Anne's Community Centre

The new St Anne's Community Centre on Pond Field, Harwich Road, is nearing completion. It has a striking, sculptural appearance that, enhanced with the timber cladding, works well in the landscape. Architects are DSDHA. It will be a base for Sure Start, which provides services for families with children aged 0 to 4. It will also provide a centre for other local groups and rooms for hire. The building has been jointly funded by Sure Start (£500,000), Colchester Borough Council (£250,000) and The Soropitimists (£150,000) and will be managed by local volunteers from the St Anne's Community Association.
See map, waypoint 9

Hythe Hill

Hythe Hill – another place in the balance. Will it get its life back? Will it gentrify? Ancient timber houses sit alongside tool hire shops, alongside Georgian townhouses and Victorian two-up-two-downs and a fine medieval church building. Surely a good recipe for a lively and diverse community.
See map, waypoint 8.

12 August, 2006

Hythe student accommodation

In a time when anything new built near water gets done up a bit like old docklands warehouses (dubbed "wharfism" by Charles Jencks some while ago), these blocks (part of the University of Essex's student accommodation at the Hythe, Colchester) are a breath of fresh air. Design by Dawe Geddes Architects (now Dawe + Partners Architects). See map, waypoint 2.

11 August, 2006

Libeskind at Essex

Here's some trivia: Daniel Libeskind, controversial architect, did a post-grad degree in history and theory of architecture at the University of Essex in 1972. More here.

07 August, 2006

Plans for a "vibrant new community" off
Turner Road

According to a recent news release from English Partnerships, a redundant site near Colchester's General Hospital "is set to be transformed into a vibrant new community as part of national plans to bring surplus NHS sites back into meaningful use". See the full text here.

04 August, 2006

Planning community

Off Magdalen Street, to the north, you can find an attempt (one of many in Colchester) to create a mature urban community from scratch. It has the advantage of being on the brow of a hill, providing views over the green valley which takes the railway and the river (and the beyond to the country park). Is Colchester unique (in Essex, at least) in having these surprising areas of green at the centre of a rapidly growing, busy town? Their random and surprise nature privides interest and charm to the built environment. But they are clearly at risk: from neglect, or the pressure to build in and around them in ways that will destroy their value and charm.

03 August, 2006

No entry

Here's an intersting feature in a wall on New Town Road. It looks worn and weathered enough to be very old, but it's probably not.

02 August, 2006

Hidden gem in New Town

Tucked away behind somebody's front garden on Artillery Street, New Town, is the Spurgeon Memorial Evangelical Church. It was here that the great Victorian preacher was converted as a lad on a snowy day in 1850. Read more at the church's website.

31 July, 2006

Mapping the changes in Colchester

Take a look at this ariticle at the Essex County Standard website. In it, Patrick Denney describes how some recently published historical maps help reveal the extent of change in Colchester following the Napoleonic Wars.

30 July, 2006

Another uncertain future? At East Bridge

Go down East Hill to the bridge and look to your right, and just on the riverside, either side of the cycle path, you'll see the remains of Doe's Mill, a complex of abandoned, decaying, increasingly vandalised buildings in a charming setting. Just recently, fences have been erected around them. Are these soon to be demolished, too? See more pics. For location, see map, waypoint 6.

Demolition at Paxman factory

Demolition's the thing at the moment: acres are being cleared around the old Paxman factory to the east of town. See more pics.

12 July, 2006

Brook Street demolition

Soon after taking these pictures at the top of Brook Street, the stretch of derelict houses (including the property pictured, left), between the railway and Barrack Street, were demolished. The trees near the street and the old yard and wooden buildings (just behind the camera repair shop) have gone, too. Note the view towards the river! This site is very special, so let's presume something special is to be created there. See more pics. For location, see map, waypoint 1.

Have your say on the Draft Master Plan
for the Hythe

Have just been in to the East Colchester Regeneration Office on Hythe Quay to view the council's plans for the regeneration of King Edward Quay and Haven Road. It's well-presented and the staff are are very willing to explain things further. You get the opportunity to give your views in a questionnaire. It's worth a visit and it's on until 22 July 2006. Also at the Central Library in town, and a few other locations.

08 May, 2006

Around New Town and down to the Hythe

Take a look at what lies between the town centre and the old port area. It's an area of bustle, muddle, traffic, business, waste spaces, views, woods, new housing, burnt out houses, demolition sites, grand old buildings, humble Victorian terraces, motor bike shops, printers, chapels and churches. It's not a heritage site, there are no visitor centres, and it's not been gentrified. But it's one of the most interesting parts of Colchester, and where much could be lost in the near future.