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Chelmsford is the county town of Essex, Englandmarker and the principal settlement of the borough of Chelmsfordmarker. It is located in the London commuter belt.

The town is located northeast of Charing Crossmarker in Londonmarker. Chelmsford is steeped in history and was one of the original settlements of Great Britainmarker. Residents of Chelmsford are known as 'Chelmsfordians'. The town has a population of roughly 120,000 and is still growing. It is a modern, well placed town that has a large number of commuters who work in the City of London financial sector. The town is surrounded by many small villages that retain their original charm (examples of these are Danburymarker, Writtlemarker, Good and High Easter, Roxwell, Mashburymarker, Chignal Smealymarker, Broomfieldmarker, Greatmarker and Little Baddowmarker, Great and Little Walthammarker, Howe Street, other notable examples include Plesheymarker and Bicknacremarker). Suburbs within Chelmsford have retained their historical names including: Moulsham, Widfordmarker and Springfield, plus the newer Chelmer Villagemarker.


The 18-arch Victorian Railway Viaduct that carries the London-to-Norwich Mainline through Central Park Chelmsford

Early history

In 1199 the Bishop of London was granted a Royal Charter for Chelmsford to hold a market, marking the origin of the modern town. An under-cover market, operating Tuesday to Saturday, is still an important part of the town centre over 800 years later. The town's name is derived from 'Ceolmaer's ford' which was close to the site of the present High Street stone bridge. In the Doomesday Book of 1086 the town was called 'Celmeresfort' and by 1189 it had changed to 'Chelmsford'.

Before 1199, there were settlements nearby from ancient times. A Neolithic and a late Bronze Age settlement have been found in the Springfield suburb, and the town was occupied by the Romans. A Roman fort was built in AD 60, and a civilian town grew up around it. The town was given the name of Caesaromagus (the market place of Caesar), although the reason for it being given the great honour of bearing the Imperial prefix is now unclear — possibly as a failed 'planned town' provincial capital to replace Londiniummarker or Camulodunummarker. The remains of a mansio, a combination post office, civic centre and hotel, lie beneath the streets of modern Moulsham, and the ruins of an octagonal temple are located beneath the Odeon roundabout.

The town became the seat of the local assize during the early 13th century (though assizes were also held at Brentwoodmarker) and by 1218 was recognised as the county town of Essex, a position it has retained to the present day. Chelmsford was significantly involved in the Peasants' Revolt of 1381, and Richard II moved on to the town after quelling the rebellion in London. Many of the ringleaders were executed on the gallows at what is now Primrose Hill.

An important Anglo-Saxon burial was discovered at Broomfieldmarker to the north of Chelmsford in the late 19th century and the finds are now in the British Museummarker. The road 'Saxon Way' now marks the site. In the 17th century many of the victims of Matthew Hopkins (the self-styled "Witchfinder General") spent their last days imprisoned in Chelmsford, before being tried at the Assizes and hanged for witchcraft.

Robert the Bruce has close ties with the nearby village of Writtle and its parish church. There is some evidence to suggest he was born in the village rather than in Turnberry Castlemarker but the story is possibly conflated with that of his father of the same name.

Henry VIII Kept a hunting lodge at what is now New Hall Schoolmarker in Boreham.

World War II

During World War II Chelmsford, an important centre of light engineering war production, was attacked from the air on several occasions, both by aircraft of the Luftwaffe and by missile. The worst single loss of life took place on Tuesday December 19, 1944, when the 367th Vergeltungswaffe 2 or V2 rocket to hit England fell on a residential street (Henry Road) near the Hoffmans ball bearing factory and not far from the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company factory in Hall Street which may also have been the target. (It is seen being protected by a barrage balloon in a wartime photograph.) Thirty-nine people were killed and 138 injured, 47 seriously. Several dwellings in Henry Road were completely destroyed, and many in nearby streets were badly damaged. A recently restored monument to the dead is in the borough cemetery in Writtle Road. The GHQ Line part of the British hardened field defences of World War II runs directly through Chelmsford with many pillboxes still in existence to the north and south of the town. Faded camouflage paint still remains on old buildings near Waterhouse Lane.

Recent history

Since the 1980s Chelmsford has suffered from a decline in its defence-related industries, most notably The Marconi Company with several of its factories closing, However the town's location close to London and at the centre of Essex has helped it grow in importance as an administrative and distribution centre. The one-time largest employer in Chelmsford, R.H.P. (the former Hoffman ball bearing manufacturing Company) closed its New Street site in 1988. Some of the factory remains and have been converted into luxury apartments and a health club although most of the site was demolished to make way for the Rivermead Campus of the Anglia Ruskin Universitymarker

Beaulieu Park, 'The Village' and Chancellor Park are some of the most recent large scale housing developments built in the town to compliment earlier developments such as Chelmer Villagemarker which was built throughout the 1980s.

In 2007, the Channel 4 programme "Location, Location, Location" voted Chelmsford as the 8th best place to live in the UK.

Local government and politics

Chelmsford is at the geographic and political centre of Essex and has been the county town since 1215. It is the location of the headquarters of Essex County Council at County Hall on Market RoadEssex County Council - Contact us. Retrieved 24 December 2007. and the headquarters of Chelmsford Borough Council on Duke Street.Chelmford Borough Council - Contact Us. Retrieved 24 December 2007. The headquarters of Essex Police are also located in the town.

Chelmsford formed part of the ancient Chelmsford hundred of Essex.Vision of Britain - Chelmsford hundred ( historic map). Retrieved 24 December 2007. It was incorporated as a municipal borough in 1888,Vision of Britain - Chelmsford MB ( historic map). Retrieved 24 December 2007. under the provisions of the Municipal Corporations Act 1882. In 1934 the borough was enlarged by gaining from Chelmsford Rural Districtmarker, including parts of the parishes of Broomfield, Springfield, Widford and Writtle. The municipal borough was abolished in 1974 and its former area was combined with most of the remainder of the rural district to form the larger Chelmsford boroughmarker.

Chelmsford is split between the constituencies of West Chelmsfordmarker, Maldon and East Chelmsfordmarker and Rayleighmarker. The members of Parliament are Simon Burns, John Whittingdale and Mark Francois.


Business and commerce

High Chelmer Shopping Centre

Originally an agricultural and market town, Chelmsford has been an important centre for industry since the 19th century. Following the opening of the Chelmer and Blackwater Navigationmarker in 1797, cheaper transportation and raw materials made milling and malting the main industries until the 1850s, when increasing prosperity created a local market for agricultural machinery.

Foundries and engineering works followed including Fell Christy at his Factory (In later years known as Christy Norris Ltd) on the corner of Kings Road and Broomfield Road opened 1858, closed 1985, Coleman and Moreton, Thomas Clarkson (Steam Omnibus manufacturer and Founder of the Eastern National Bus Company) and Eddington and Stevenson (makers of traction engines). The Company Christy Norris still survives, trading as Christy Turner Ltd based in Ipswichmarker. A nearby road to the old Factory was named "Fell Christy" in his honour.

As well as the headquarters of Essex County and Chelmsford Borough Councils, the modern town is home to a range of national and international companies including M&G Group, e2v Technologies and ebm-papst UK Ltd. The continuing importance of Chelmsford as an employment centre is demonstrated by the fact that the number of "in" commuters (mostly from other parts of Essex) almost exactly balances the number of workers commuting into London.

Chelmsford is largely a commercial town which employs around 80,000 people. There are two medium-sized shopping centres, High Chelmer and The Meadows. Chelmsford has two retail parks, Riverside and Chelmer Villagemarker. The High Street is full of independent and chain stores. As well as the leading High Street names, there is also a wide variety of specialist retailers, especially in Baddow Road and Moulsham Street which are located at the end of the pedestrianised High Street. On January 6, 2005, Chelmsford was granted Fairtrade Town status.

Several years ago Chelmsford was labelled a mere clone town; however new developments are proving the statement wrong, with new business opportunities around the town. Sizeable businesses are now based in the Chelmsford Business Park at Borehammarker housing companies such as the Anderson Group. The town also has a low unemployment rate (1.6% in 2002) and a well-educated workforce, with 9% holding a degree or above (in 2002; British average: 7.1%)

Chelmsford has a vibrant nightlife scene with many nightclubs, pubs, wine bars and restaurants in the town centre area, particularly in Duke Street, Moulsham Street, the town centre end of Baddow Road and the bottom section of Springfield Road. Its central Essex location and good public transport links make the town ideal for revellers to visit from surrounding areas.


Guglielmo Marconi
Marconi's New Street Factory in 1920
Colonel R.
The frontage to Colonel Crompton's former Arc Works in Writtle Road

In 1899, Guglielmo Marconi (1874–1937) the "father of radio", opened the world's first "wireless" factory under the name The Marconi Wireless Telegraph & Signal Company in Hall Street employing around 50 people. The company was later called the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company Ltd. For this reason Chelmsford is credited as the "birthplace of radio", and this phrase can be seen on administrative signs on major roads entering the town. Marconi soon outgrew its Hall Street premises and in June 1912 the company moved to a brand new purpose built factory in New Street that still stands today. On June 15, 1920 the factory was the location of the first official publicised sound broadcast in the United Kingdom, featuring Dame Nellie Melba using two radio broadcasting masts.

In 1922 the world's first regular wireless broadcasts for entertainment began from the Marconi laboratories at Writtlemarker near Chelmsford — Call sign '2MTmarker' in what was little more than a wooden hut.

In 1999 Marconi's defence division, including the Chelmsford facilities, were purchased by British Aerospace to form BAE Systemsmarker. Two sites remain under BAE control; the Great Baddow site which is now BAE's Advanced Technology Centre and its Integrated Systems Technologiesmarker business at Glebe Road.

The military and secure communications division of Marconi was merged into Selex Communications was based at the New Street factory however they vacated the site in April 2008 with the remaining operations moved to nearby Basildonmarker. The New street factory is now scheduled to be redeveloped with work planned to start during 2009/2010. Although the Grade II listed façade and a few other minor buildings will remain, most of the site will be demolished, including the 1930s art deco Marconi House. Its demise has brought to an end more than 100 years of the Marconi name in Chelmsford.

Cromptons Electrical Engineering

Chelmsford became home to the United Kingdom's first electrical engineering works established by Colonel Rookes Evelyn Bell Crompton (1845–1940). Colonel R. E. Crompton as he was better known was a leading authority of electrical engineering and was a pioneer of electric street lighting and electric traction motors within the UK. Crompton installed electric street lights around the town centre to celebrate the incorporation of the Borough of Chelmsford in 1888. Although this made Chelmsford one of the earliest towns to receive electric street lighting, the Council later decided to have it removed because gas was cheaper and the Council owned the gasworks. Crompton supplied the traction motors for the first electric trains on Southend Piermarker. The company also manufactured electrical switchgear, alternators and generators for many power stations in the UK and worldwide.

Crompton set up his original factory known as the 'Arc Works' in Queen Street in 1878. After a fire there in 1895 he built a huge new electrical engineering factory also called the 'Arc Works' in Writtle Road. The Firm was called Crompton and Co. and in 1927 became Crompton Parkinson after Colonel Crompton formed a business partnership with fellow British electrical engineer Frank Parkinson. During World War II the factory was frequently targeted by the Luftwaffe. In 1969 Crompton Parkinson Ltd was downsized and operations moved elsewhere after a takeover by Hawker Siddeley and the site was taken over by the Marconi Company and became the base for the newly formed Marconi Radar Systems Ltd

After years of decline the Marconi factory finally closed in 1992 and site was demolished a few years later apart from the frontage on Writtle Road. A housing development called 'The Village' now occupies the site with road names such as Rookes Crescent, Evelyn Place, Crompton Street and Parkinson Drive as tributes to the former occupant.

Hoffmann Ball Bearings

The United Kingdom's first ball bearing factory was established at New Street in Chelmsford in 1898 by cousins Geoffrey and Charles Barrett and bankrolled by American ball bearing machine manufacturer Ernst Gustav Hoffmann from whom the Company took its name. The Hoffmann Manufacturing Company rapidly expanded and soon achieved worldwide fame for their precision-made bearings boasting an accuracy better than 1/10,000 of an inch (2.5 micrometres) for all their products. Hoffmann bearings were later used in the first transatlantic flights and extensively on machinery during World War I. For many years it was Chelmsford's main employer with more employees than Marconi. The firm became R.H.P. in 1969 (Ransome Hoffmann and Pollard). The factory that once employed thousands was wound down then closed and demolished in the 1980s and the company relocated to Newark on Trentmarker where it still exists. The Rivermead Campus of the Anglia Ruskin Universitymarker now occupies the site of the old factory at the junction of New Street and Rectory Lane. The only connection to the old factory in Chelmsford today is in name only at the R.H.P. Bowls club located in Canterbury Way.

English Electric Valve Company

Original called the Phoenix Dynamo Company, the company was founded by Serge Aisenstein in 1947. It soon was noted for supplying 3" orthicons for the worldwide television transmission of the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II at Westminster Abbeymarker. The company, now known as e2v technologies plc still has its headquarters in Waterhouse Lane. In January 2007 the company celebrated 60 years in Chelmsford.


Britvic's world headquarters, the Britvic House, is in Chelmsford. The soft drink company began life as the British Vitamin Company in 1948. However, the origins of the company can be traced back to a chemist's in the town's Tindal Street, where flavoured waters were on sale as early as the mid-19th century. The company changed its name to Britvic in 1971 after its successful brand, which was launched in 1949. Britvic has a large factory on Widford Industrial Estate with its head office located in Broomfield Road.



The Eastern Counties Railway arrived in Chelmsford in 1842, although owing to the geography of the town, three viaducts had to be constructed, the longest of which is the 18 arch Central Park viaduct. The station was built at the end of the second viaduct with the third viaduct at the River Chelmer at Springfield. The present-day Chelmsford railway stationmarker dates from around 1885 and is in the town centre and around 14,000 commuters travel to London Liverpool Streetmarker daily by rail making Chelmsford the busiest station outside of London which is completely non-terminus. The station is served by the railway franchise National Express East Anglia.

Services from Chelmsford are operated to London Liverpool Streetmarker and Ipswichmarker, Clactonmarker, Harwichmarker, Braintreemarker and Norwichmarker, with twice hourly daytime services to Peterboroughmarker and Lowestoftmarker. Despite having platforms elevated on a viaduct, the station has full disabled access via a lift for each of the two platforms and as well as stair access.


A new bus terminal in Duke Street opened in March 2007 which replaced an ageing 1930s Bus station. It incorporates shops and apartments and has a covered roof for passengers. This is mainly used by the First Essex Bus Company which has many routes around the town and beyond including the X30 Southendmarker to Stansted Airportmarker Flyer.

Essex County Council Highways & Transportation Department have considered the construction of a Bus Rapid Transit System to be built serving the Beaulieu Park/Springfield Area because of the increasing demand for Rapid Transit Plans in Ipswich, Colchester and Southend.

Chelmsford has a Park & Ride service that is based at nearby Sandonmarker, just off the A12 at Junction 18. It runs from 7am to 7pm, Monday to Saturday with five bus stops around the town (one near High Chelmer for shopping) and charges £2.20 per adult and free for old-age pensioners or people under the age of 16. An adult weekly ticket is £11.00 and Adult monthly £42.00. It currently has a capacity of 1,200 cars. Opened in March 2006 it has proved highly successful and is widely used.


The A12 roadmarker from Londonmarker, originally built by the Romans to connect London and Colchestermarker, used to pass through the town, but is now diverted around the east. The £34.8m nine-mile (14 km) bypass opened in November 1986. The A414 is the main east-west route through the Borough, and the A130 and A131 run approximately north-south.

Chelmsford is around 25 to 30 minutes' drive from London Stansted Airportmarker (via A130/A120), and London Heathrowmarker, London Gatwickmarker, London Citymarker, Lutonmarker and Southendmarker airports are all within reach.

In the southwest of the town centre, the A138 meets the A414 at The Army and Navy roundabout which is notorious for its traffic congestion, even though the north–south road at this point is no longer part of the A12marker. Until 1986, when the Chelmsford bypass was opened, the roundabout was in an even worse state. Traffic lights were tried to improve matters in the early 2000s but that scheme was abandoned after a short while however some of the lights where recommissioned for early morning and evening part time use in 2009. The recently built bus lane on the A1114 Great Baddow Bypass and priority to traffic using it has meant traffic queues approaching the roundabout can now be over a mile long during peak periods.

The junction is unusual for its flyover, in a similar manner to the Hogarth Roundaboutmarker in Chiswickmarker, London. It is bi-directional, being open where traffic goes one way into town (westerly) until 2.30 pm each day and one way (easterly) out of town after 2.30 pm. The flyover is now closed at night. A two-way flyover has been mooted ever since the original was built in 1978: it is very unlikely to happen - the local council has stated that the cost would be prohibitive. The roundabout is still called "The Army and Navy", even though the public house from which the junction got its name has been demolished.

Licensed Hackney Carriage Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles

Following deregulation of the number of hackney carriage licences issued by the local authority in Chelmsford in 2005, the number of hackney carriage taxis that can ply for hire within the Borough of Chelmsford has risen from 82 to 168 although at the privately owned Chelmsford railway stationmarker taxi rank,only the 116 Chelmsford Taxi Association affiliated hackney carriages are permitted to ply for hire at the station. There are 8 other taxi ranks located within the town which have been designated by Chelmsford Borough Council which are located atBarrack Square, Baddow Road, Bond Street, Fairfield Road, Market Road, Tindal Street, Viaduct Road and Victoria Road however the Barrack Square and Viaduct Road taxi ranks mainly operate at night for visitors to the pubs and clubs within that area and the Market Road taxi rank is only used during the daytime.

Licensed hackney carriages in the Borough of Chelmsford are easily identifiable as they are predominately black in colour, have white or light blue local authority license plates on the front/rear and illuminated green 'for hire' signs inside the front windscreen and illuminated rooflights. Any new hackney carriage licenses issued by the authority since deregulation in 2005, the vehicle must be purpose built, wheelchair-accessible, black in colour and have a minimum of five seats not including the driver. Licenses issued prior to deregulation the vehicles can be either saloon car design or wheelchair accessible type vehicles. Chelmsford hackney carriage taxis can be flagged down by members of the public anywhere within the Borough.

Licensed Private Hire vehicles in Chelmsford are identifiable by their yellow local authority licence plates on the front/rear of the vehicles and lack of an illuminated rooflight. These vehicles are not permitted to ply for hire and must be pre-booked by telephone. They can be of any colour. All licensed hackney carriage taxis and Private Hire vehicles in Chelmsford will have a large rectangular council identification sticker with its license number on the front doors. Both type of licensed vehicles are required to be tested for mechanical defects by the authority twice yearly in addition to the annual MOT test.

All persons holding a dual hackney carriage or private hire driver license within the Borough of Chelmsford must meet strict criteria as laid down by the authority which includes license renewal every 2 years, a Criminal Records Bureau enhanced disclosure check every 3 years and a full medical examination every 4 years.

Future Transport Plans

Map of route for the proposed new Chelmsford bypass

Proposals for a bypass of Chelmsford connecting the A12 interchange at Borehammarker (Junction 19) and the A131 were put forward for public consultation by Essex County Council in 2006, the preferred route was announced in March 2007. It comprises the creation of 7.9 km of two lane dual carriageway and junctions connecting to the A12 and A131, it will sever 10 footpaths/bridleways and involve almost entirely greenfield construction. The scheme was estimated to cost £138 million in March 2007 but was increased to an estimated range of £229 - £ 262 million in February 2008. The scheme still requires funding and planning permission with applications timetabled for 2009-2011, a public inquiry timetabled for 2012 and with an estimated construction start date of 2014-2016. The Chelmsford North Action Group (NAG) objects to this scheme on the basis stating the Chelmsford was to "be engulfed by huge motorways connecting the Channel Ports, via a new Lower Thames Crossingmarker, A130, on to Stansted, M11 and A14".

A Park and Ride scheme in Chelmer Valley, additional to that at Sandon, is to begin construction in March 2010 at a price of £7.9 million. There has been criticism of the park and ride as some worry it would be unable to provide a service to the nearby Broomfield Hospitalmarker from the proposed site.

A new second railway station for the town was announced in September 2009 and is due to be built near the Boreham Interchange. Completion for the project is likely to be in 2015.


Melbourne Court seen here before the 2008 redevelopment
The "Kings Tower" during construction late 2006
The former Chain Home Radar Tower in Great Baddow Chelmsford
The Shire Hall Chelmsford
Hylands House
The River Can in the town centre with part of the 1960s flood prevention scheme clearly visible
A major new development was completed in 2007 in the West End of Chelmsford just off Duke Street called "53 Park Central" which contains a new Bus Station, shops and luxury apartments. The lower level apartments of this development and the Bus Station area are sometimes called 'The Marconi Plaza', while the upper level apartments are part of the "Kings Tower". The Bus Station and shops were opened in January 2007 while the rest of the development was ready in September 2007.

Another site near the large suburb of Springfield is in its planning stages. It will be a new neighbourhood which will be an urban village containing 3,500 homes. This would include a new Chelmsford North East Bypass connecting the A12 interchange at Borehammarker (Junction 19) and the A131.

The Public House "The Army and Navy" from which the notorious roundabout gets its name was demolished in March 2007. It was replaced by a Travelodge Hotel, a Frankie & Benny's Restaurant, a bed store and private flats. Building work started at the site in October 2007 and the project was completed in December 2008.

One of Chelmsford's tallest buildings, Melbourne Court in Melbourne Avenue has received an £8,000,000 investment for extensive refurbishment and to create a new Neighbourhood Centre. This was completed early in 2009. Recently plans were revealed for 'Waterside', a large development of shops, bars and restaurants on the banks of the River Chelmermarker on derelict land near the Essex Records Office at the end of Wharf Road. If this development goes ahead, High Bridge Road connecting Parkway and Springfield Road would be demolished along with the adjacent gasometers and a new central link road would be built.

Another development recently finished is 'The Hub' in Waterloo Lane. This contains luxury apartments and two Restaurants. There are other new developments ongoing throughout the town during 2009 including new private flats on the former car dealership on the corner of Rainsford Road and Parkway.

The former Anglia Ruskin Universitymarker central campus off Victoria Road South will be demolished and extensively redeveloped in the next year or so for retail and leisure use. Most of the former Marconi factory in New Street will also be completely redeveloped.

The town's High Chelmer Shopping Centre has recently undergone a refit, with new flooring, lighting and a new front entrance and logo re-brand.

Places of interest

There are many places of interest within Chelmsford, including the 18-arch Victorian railway viaduct that spans the River Canmarker in Central Park. One of three railway viaducts in the town that carry the Great Eastern Main Line. The Viaduct was constructed during 1842 by the Eastern Counties Railway Company and opened for passenger traffic on 29 March 1843. Chelmsford Cathedralmarker which is located directly behind The Shire Hall. Originally called St Mary's Church, it became a Cathedral when the Diocese of Chelmsford was created in 1914. It is officially the second smallest in England behind Derby Cathedralmarker.

Chelmsford's two tallest buildings are Melbourne Court built in 1962 in Melbourne Avenue, locally known as Melbourne flats, and the new development completed in 2007, the 13-floor "Kings Tower" in Duke Street. They share the same height of . The tallest structure by far in the Chelmsford area is the former Chain Home radar tower in the urban village Great Baddowmarker which rises to . It originally stood at Canewdonmarker but was reassembled in Chelmsford in 1959 and is the only Chain Home tower still in its original unmodified form in the UK. It is a highly visible landmark throughout the town and surrounding area.

The Shire Hall is situated at the top of the High Street. Opened in July 1791 and built by local Architect and Essex County Surveyor John Johnson, it features a Portland Stone façade. One of the oldest and most prominent buildings in Chelmsford, it was built as a courthouse, which it has remained to this day.

Chelmsford Prisonmarker is a male prison and Young Offenders Institution, constructed in Chelmsford in 1830. The 1979 film special of the TV series Porridge was filmed largely on location at Chelmsford Prison (while it was closed for repairs after a fire). The prison itself courted controversy for many years for its poor conditions, and was branded one of the worst jails in the country by the Chief Inspector of Prisons in 2003.

Hylands House and Park just to the west of the town is a country house and parkland, saved from dereliction and purchased by the local council in 1966 after the death of the last private owner. Much damaged by fire and vandalism by the time of the sale, the house has now been completely restored by Chelmsford Borough Council. The house dates originally from 1730, and the park, currently was landscaped by Humphry Repton. It is open to the public and used for a wide range of community events, including the annual music festival V Festival. It is also available for weddings and other private hires including conferences etc.

Chelmsford Museum is a local history museum, showing the development of the town from prehistory up to Tudor times. It goes no further at the moment because of an imminent Museum redevelopment project which began in June 2008. The Museum is housed in Oaklands Park, off Moulsham Street where the Essex Regiment Museum can also be found. This Museum will be closed from April 2008 until about November 2009, when the redevelopment work has been completed. The Museum holds pottery including Castle Hedingham ware and the Turner Prize winner Grayson Perry. There is a live beehive and a collection of beautiful 18th century glasses which were recently featured on the BBC TV programme 'Flog It!'.

Geography and climate


From over 600,000 years ago, during the Pleistocene ice age, until the Anglian Stage around 478,000 to 424,000 years ago, the early River Thames flowed through the area where Chelmsford now stands, from Harlowmarker to Colchestermarker, before crossing what is now the North Seamarker to become a tributary of the Rhinemarker. Consequently gravel deposits are frequently found in the area and current and former gravel pits in the district are common.

Chelmsford has two rivers, the River Canmarker and the River Chelmermarker. Although often confused to be the same river in the town centre, they are quite separate until they join together towards the east of the town to form the Chelmer and Blackwater Navigationmarker which heads out towards Maldonmarker before flowing into tidal waters at the Blackwater Estuarymarker. In the other direction the Chelmer comes from the north from its source near Thaxtedmarker while the Can comes from the West from Writtlemarker where it separates from the River Wid.

Up to the 1960s these rivers were extremely prone to flooding the town centre area including two disastrous floods in August 1888 (known locally as 'The Great Flood') and in September 1958 (which also badly affected nearby Wickfordmarker) causing widespread damage. Flood prevention schemes in the 1960s on both rivers have largely prevented any further incidents here although the natural floodplains to the north and east such as The 'Baddow Meads' and The 'Chelmer Valley' continue to see flooding on a regular basis especially after prolonged heavy rainfall.


Being in the southeast of England, the town enjoys a warmer climate than most of the United Kingdom and has some of the hottest summers in Britain; it is also one of the driest places in the country. Temperatures can often reach 30 °C (86.0°F) in the summer although this figure was last achieved in 2006. The hottest day on record in the town was on the UK-wide temperature record breaking day of Sunday August 10, 2003 when 35.2 °C (95.4°F) was recorded. Thunderstorms mostly occur during July and August; however, they can occur anytime of the year.

During the winter the temperature rarely stays below 0 °C (32.0°F) during the day and even with nighttime winter temperatures, it is extremely rare for it to fall below -5 °C (23.0°F); hence air, hoar and ground frost together with freezing fog is very common from November through to March. The coldest temperature recorded in recent times in Chelmsford is -18 °C (0.4°F) in January 1985.

Snow although infrequent is sometimes seen in the winter months because the town is near the east coast where cold, moist air is brought in from the North Sea. In recent years there has been up to three inches (8 cm) of snow on days in January and February which has resulted in minor disruption to transport and caused some schools to close. However, the snow tends not to persist for a significant length of time in any noticeable quantity. The last substantial snowfalls in Chelmsford were on 14 February 1991 and 7 January 1982 when around to fell.


John Dee, noted Elizabethan philosopher, magician and scientist and also responsible for the introduction to the first English translation of Euclid was educated at the Chantry Schoolmarker (later re-founded as the Grammar School) in the sixteenth century. Chelmsford is also home to part of the Anglia Ruskin Universitymarker (formerly called Anglia Polytechnic) and to the grammar schools of Chelmsford County High Schoolmarker and King Edward VI Grammar Schoolmarker, founded in 1551 by charter of King Edward VI on the site of an earlier educational foundation (although evidence suggests it could have been around as early as 1292). A Catholic Secondary School in the area is St John Payne Catholic Comprehensive Schoolmarker. New Hall School, founded in 1642, is a private, Catholic boarding school which caters to pupils from the age of 3 right through to sixth form. The New Hall building, previously named Palace of Beaulieu has great history including that of Henry VII. Chelmsford College is the main provider of further education in the borough. Established in the early 1960s, the college occupies three sites in the town. The main site on Moulsham Street dates from the 1960s and the Princes Road site is a late 1980s building. There are around 2000 fulltime and 2,100 parttime students enrolled in a wide range of academic, vocational and occupational programmes.

Society and culture


Chelmsford is home to local radio station Chelmsford Radio, but it does not broadcast from the town. The station recently moved to studios in Southendmarker having vacated its Heybridgemarker premises on 12 January 2009. The station was originally situated in Chelmsford until November 2006. This station was previously known as Dream 107.7 until February, and before that, 107.7 Chelmer FM up to 2002. The station began broadcasting on 18 October 1998. It is the local station for mid-Essex. Adventure Radio have owned this station since 2008, where it was purchased from Tindle Radio Ltd.

Chelmsford also has a local opt-out of Heart FM. Heart Essex (previously Essex FM up to June 2009) has been on air since 12 September 1981 and has been owned by Global Radio since 2007. It moved to studios in Glebe Road in late 2004, having previously been based in Southend-on-Seamarker. In May 2009 the station was rebranded to The Heart of Essex, Essex FM. In June 2009, the popular Essex FM née Essex Radio name brand was dropped after 28 years.

BBC Essex has been on air since 5 November 1986 and its studios are based in New London Road.

Publications based in Chelmsford include the Essex Chronicle, which was founded as the "Chelmsford Chronicle" in 1764. The weekly "Essex Chronicle" newspaper is the longest in continuous publication in the country. Until the closure of the printing plant in 2002, the paper was also printed in the town. It is now printed on presses by the Northcliffe Group which now owns the paper. Chelmsford Weekly News is a free local paper delivered to every home.

The fictional town of Framley in the newspaper satire The Framley Examiner is largely based on Chelmsford, along with surrounding areas such as Writtle (called Wripple).


Chelmsford Cathedralmarker is the second smallest cathedral in England after Derby Cathedralmarker. It was built in the 15th and early 16th centuries, when it was the parish church of the prosperous medieval town. The Diocese of Chelmsfordmarker was established in 1914 from part of the Diocese of St Albansmarker. It covers all of Essex and much of East London. Chelmsford is also situated in the Roman Catholic diocese of Brentwood. With the coming of the Reformation the Catholic community of Chelmsford was subjected to the anti-Catholic laws and Chelmsford was the site of the death of a Catholic martyr, Saint John Payne. In the 19th century native Catholics resurfaced and immigrants helped to build up the Catholic community. There are now three Catholic churches within Chelmsford along with a Norbertine canonry situated on New London Road; St. Philip's Priorymarker. Other denominations are also represented, the United Reformed Church, Baptists and the Seventh-day Adventist Church all have places of worship. There also exists a mosque and a Jewish burial society, though as yet no synagogue.


Essex County Cricket Club is one of the 18 major county clubs which make up the English domestic Cricket structure, representing the county of Essex. The club is based at the County Ground in New Writtle Street.

Chelmsford City Football Club play in the Blue Square South Division. The Club's home ground is at the Chelmsford Sport & Athletics Centre, Melbourne Park where they share with Chelmsford Athletic Club. Chelmsford is one of the largest settlements in Englandmarker without a Football League team.

Chelmsford Hockey Club is a Men's and Ladies' (field) hockey Club based in the County of Essex (England). It has over one hundred and fifty regular adult playing members, of all ages and abilities, as well as a thriving youth section. It fields eight Men's teams and five Ladies' teams every weekend, including two Men's Veterans' XI's. The Ladies' 1st XI compete in the English Hockey League Premier Division and the Men's 1st XI compete in the English Hockey League Division 1. The remaining Men's teams play in the East League while the other Ladies' XIs play in the East Premier League and Essex League. The Club is undoubtedly one of the most successful Hockey Clubs in the country.

The Chelmsford Chieftains are an Ice Hockey Team that are based at the Riverside Ice and Leisure Centre and play in the English National Ice Hockey League.

The Chelmsford Rugby Football Club was established in 1920 and for the last 40 years have been playing rugby at Coronation Park, Timpsons Lane, Chelmsford. At present there are around 330 members and the club fields up to five senior teams each week. Chelmsford currently (2008) play in London Division North East 3 division. In addition to the senior teams there are 150 Mini/Youth members providing teams from under 6’s to under 17’s.

For the last seven years a Ladies' team has been established, although owing to the lack of proper facilities they only play on an irregular basis.


Hylands Park hosts the annual V Festival every penultimate weekend in August since 1996. The 21st World Scout Jamboree 2007 was also held at Hylands Park from 27 July to 8 August 2007.

Chelmsford is home of Essex street diversions, East Anglia's largest festival of international street theatre and the 3 foot People Festival, the UK's only 4-day festival exclusively for under-5-year-olds.

Notable people born in Chelmsford

Nearest places

Further reading

  • Foreman, Stephen: Hylands — the story of an Essex country house and its owners (Ian Henry Publications, 1999)
  • Lee, Janet Olivia: Chelmsford — Birthplace of Radio (Chelmsford Borough Council, 2001)
  • Lowen, Ceri: Hylands House — a brief history and guide (Chelmsford Borough Council, 2005)
  • Wander, Tim: 2MT Writtle — The birth of British Broadcasting (Capella Publications, 1988)
  • Weller-Lewis, Hugh: Chelmsford Borough Guide (Macmillan, 1995)
  • Wickenden, Nick: A Celebration of Chelmsford (Chelmsford Borough Council, 1999)
  • a town, its people and its past (Chelmsford Record Office, 1988)
  • Grieve, Hilda: The Sleepers and the Shadows Volume 2 Chelmsford: a town, its people and its past (Chelmsford Record Office, 1994)
  • Begent, Andrew: Chelmsford At War (Ian Henry Publications Ltd, 1999)
  • Torry, Gilbert: Chelmsford through the ages (East Anglian Magazine Ltd, 1977)


  1. Fairtrade Foundation - [1]. Retrieved 18 February 2008.
  2. Chelmsford Borough Council - Key Statistics About Chelmsford. Retrieved 24 December 2007.
  3. Project Wireless Consultation - Newsletter Issue 1: Winter 2006. Retrieved 24 December 2007.
  4. Simons, R. & Sutherland, J., Forty Years of Marconi Radar from 1946 to 1986, GEC Review, (1998). Retrieved 24 December 2007.
  5. " Chelmsford - Broomfield Road." Britvic. Retrieved on 29 August 2009.
  10. Essex Chronicle Archive 24 March 1843, Essex Record Office
  12. Chelmsford Radio

External links

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