Cat no. 410


Colour Sound 1979 Harwich, Essex

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The history of the town of Harwich.


DocumentaryHistoryPortrait of a PlaceTelevision

Impressions of Harwich; scenes from the sea front and the town as well as people going about their everyday business. Stills of Old Harwich. Len Weaver, the town archivist, talks throughput the programme about the history of Harwich. He shows the interviewer the town records which date back to 1550. The interior of St. Nicholas' Church followed by more street scenes. These include a shop window with posters displaying prices. Mr. Weaver reveals that when prices remained stable the town clerk was paid £5 a year for nearly 200 years. Old buildings in Harwich feature including one dating from 1698. There is a long shot of a cross channel ferry leaving the port. This is taken from the Redoubt Fort that features layer in the film.

Len Weaver recalls some notable Harwich sailors of past years. Frobisher sailed from Harwich when he went in search of the north-west passage. A Harwich man, Thomas Grey, commanded the Ark Royal at the defeat of the Armada. Another Harwich man, Christopher Newport, was a founder of the colony of Virginia in 1607.

The next sequence features the port aspect of Harwich. Fishermen sit mending nets. There are views of the harbour with shipping as well as interior views of Trinity House. At Redoubt Fort, Len Weaver recalls Harwich's experiences of war These date back to 1340 when the fleet that fought the Battle of Crecy left from Harwich. He also recalls piracy in Harwich. The Dunkirkers, so called because most of them came from Dunkirk, used to come right into the harbour. Although the Harwich men complained, Mr. Weaver concedes that they would have done the same thing given the chance. Mr. Weaver also recalls some political piracy from when Harwich was a pocket borough. In 1685 the two MPs for Harwich were Sir Anthony Dene and Samuel Pepys. They were elected by the town council; just 13 men.

The film returns to Trinity House. This was built by Henry VIII in 1514. A launch and helicopter are seen and there are interior views of the workshops. Cars and lorries are loaded onto a ferry. Mr. Weaver tells of the history of the Packet Boats to Rotterdam. Starting in 1661, they were supposed to sail Tuesdays and Thursdays. However, the wind meant that one could wait for a boat for ten days, as did George III when meeting Queen Charlotte. The film ends with impressions of Harwich at night. These include scenes from a pub and a disco.

Featured People:

Len Weaver, Harwich town archivist

Featured Organisations:

Trinity House

Featured Buildings:

Redoubt Fort; St. Nicholas Church; Trinity House; Harbour House

DMF Productions


Denis Mitchell

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