Laindon author’s new book explores history of Clacton-on-Sea

Ken Porter
Ken Porter

Latest release is author’s fifth title

A Laindon born author, a leading enthusiast in the Basildon Borough Heritage Group and Laindon and District Community Archive, has released his latest book, the history of a stretch of Essex coastline.

Clacton-on-Sea and the surrounding coastline is part of the Sunshine Coast, an area of sandy beaches and low-level cliffs facing the North Sea.

The book gives a brief history of the major nearby villages including Brightlingsea, St Oysths, Holland-on-Sea, Frinton and Walton on the Naze as they developed from agricultural areas, to seaside resorts in the mid to late 1800s, and then into heavily defended hives of activity.

They were considered by the authorities to be convenient spots for foreign invasion and, as a result, mock invasion exercises at Clacton had taken place since the early 1900s. Being close to the sea, many of the inhabitants were heavily involved with yachting and the Royal

National Lifeboat Institution, so it’s not surprising that a great number joined the Royal or Merchant Navy.

Brightlingsea became a major naval port and the Australian and New Zealander’s Engineers trained there for four years. Clacton itself saw over a 1,000 men sign up, and it also had a number of Military and Convalescent Homes that treated injured men. Middlesex Hospital, for one, treated over 9,000 men.

The local villages produced a considerable number of men who were awarded the Military Medals, and Walton on the Naze produced one Victoria Cross recipient in Herbert Columbine.

Ken’s interest in the First World War began with the discovery of his maternal grandfather’s involvement in, and injury at, the Battle of the Somme on the first day tanks were used. Ken’s interest in the Clacton area stems from a childhood spent there.

Ken said: “I have written several books on the Great War but when asked to do one on Clacton I jumped at the opportunity, but I could not leave out the surrounding coastline because of the time I spent there during  many childhood weekend visits and caravan holidays. It has been one of my most enjoyable challenges and I am only sorry if I miss a number of interesting and heroic stories. Clacton and the area should be proud of their Great War heritage.”

This is Ken’s fifth book in the Your Towns and Cities in the Great War series, the previous four being co-written with Steve Wynn. Ken has been married to his wife, Carol, for over fifty years and has three children and six grandchildren.

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