As the sun sets on another Essex Summer, it’s time for Take Heart Southend Summer Round Up 2015.
Take Heart has had a busy few months. We’ve enjoyed outings to the races, Chartwell House and a great trip to Brighton, (even if the journey home was a little long winded courtesy of traffic tailbacks after a crash on the route). Some of our members have taken part in a fundraising golf day for a wonderfully determined local lady recovering from many near fatal illness following pneumonia, including meningitis which lead to septicaemia. As a result, this brave wife and mother had to undergo extensive amputation surgery at the beginning of this year, now facing more surgeries ahead. We had a great day supporting Team TC and it was a privilege to be involved in such a special day that raised £5700.
Reverend Keith Lovell gave us a topical and very enjoyable presentation on the Essex food industry. Then we welcomed the lovely Eve King in July who gave an interesting talk on the history of Harrods – for whom she worked for many years. August saw Fred Feather give us some ideas on how to trace our family history, which included many interesting facts about discovering his own family history.
Take Heart member June Johnson kindly reviewed a couple of our meetings:
At our usual Thursday meeting in June, we welcomed the Reverend Keith Lovell who was going to tell us about Essex Food.
The evening began with the jovial Rev. Lovell telling the audience that he enjoyed ‘banter’ when he gave his talks, and of course several of those assembled could not resist the challenge which led to much good humoured amusement from the outset.
Reverend Lovell told us that Essex is notable for quite a lot of things in the food line. Starting close to home, Pagelsham was mentioned and then Mersea; among several places famous for oysters. It seems that the Essex Oyster, being high on the list of desirable food by the Romans, were often packed in ice and shipped to Rome.
As we know, Saffron is an expensive spice grown in the Saffron Walden area, but perhaps more wide spread and highly valued, yet more affordable to most, must be the Salt Crystals from Maldon. Maldon Salt – the renowned salt crystal industry that made Maldon a famous name to cooks all over the world. Reverend Lovell then, not to be forgotten, moved along to the old apple varieties discovered, preserved and lovingly cultivated in Essex orchards, many of which are available and still popular today. For example the D’Arcy Spice, Sturmer Pippin, and Chelmsford Wonder to name but a few.
Reverend Lovell appeared to have enjoyed his evening with our members staying to chat and exchange stories after finishing his talk, no doubt we shall see him again for another very interesting evening at some time in the future.
Eve took us on an enlightening trip, spanning over 150 years.
The story begins in 1834 with Mr Charles Henry Harrod, a grocery wholesaler and tea specialist of East London. Little was known of him until then but he prospered, moving the business to Borough High Street in 1849 with his son, Charles Digby Harrod, (having joined the business that same year). Digby opened a little one room shop in the up and coming Knightsbridge area and quickly gained the reputation of selling quality goods and providing an excellent service to the wealthier clientele of Knightsbridge. He put his sign over the door and Harrods had arrived.
The store flourished and expanded, for many years enjoying a boom time having its own Bank and installing the first Escalator complete with a flunky at the top to offer brandy to those overcome by the experience!
Progress was interrupted temporarily when the store burnt down, but it was then rebuilt, expanding to cover some 5 acres. Full of the most exotic, expensive and innovative things that anyone could desire, Charles Digby sold the store in 1889 and it became a Limited Company floated on the Stock Exchange. In 1949 Harrods celebrated 100 years trading having grown into a £20m business. After W.W.11 in the 50’s, Harrods fortunes sadly waned for a while and it was soon acquired by The House of Fraser.
Modernization started and continued late into the swinging 1960’s, attracting younger customers with a mega boutique, a huge new cosmetic and perfume hall, once again welcoming the rich and famous though its doors.
Eve also reminded us about the epic struggle for possession of Harrods between the Al Fayed family, who she knows personally, and Tiny Rowland of Lonrho in 1988. Harrods once again, became a privately owned store, Mr Fayed of course being the triumphant winner. His legendary attitude to staff and customers alike who incurred his displeasure on his frequent excursions around his property could be alarming to say the least but he was equally as charming and generous to those he looked kindly upon.
Harrods today is changing yet again having been sold by Mr. Fayed in 2010 for £1.5 Billion to the Qatari Royal Family who no doubt will make their own mark on what is probably the most famous shop in the world.
The comments from members confirmed that The History of Harrods had proved to be a very interesting topic indeed,
Many thanks to talented local photographer Martin Harvey for the stunning Southend Sunset Image – find more of his beautiful work here.
As we prepare for an eventful Autumn and Winter, we have more of our signature fundraising meals at our favourite local restaurants, and we are excited to be in talks with a fabulous Italian restaurant to add to our repertoire, confirming a date very soon (look out for details as we update our events).
We are thrilled to be preparing for a Take Heart Holiday in April 2016 to the Warners hotel at Cricket St. Thomas, Somerset. The beautiful manor house was used in the popular BBC series “To the Manor Born” – watch this space for more details to follow.
Thanks to all our friends,members, committee and local businesses for your continued support, we look forward the next chapter at Take Heart Southend.