Harlow’s Rich Past

by Neil Warner-Baker

The proposed route for The Stort Crossing is steeped in archeology and history. Here follows a brief snap shot.

The Stort Valley was formed during the Glacial Maximum and The Stort is where the Ice Age stopped. Like a tide, huge deposits of clay silt, chalk and other aggregates were deposited on the permafrost. During the next periods of global warming, vegetation increased helping to create soil strata, thus trapping the melting glacial permafrost some 60 feet below the surface, becoming part of The Thames Basin and also part of the original course of the River Thames. At this stage, Britain was connected to continental Europe by the landbridge of what is now the submerged “doggers bank”. Various animal species such as aurochs (ancestors of modern cattle) and mammoths migrated across what is now Kent and Essex followed by the early hunter gatherers who relied heavily upon them for basic survival.

Over the the following period of global warming the surrounding landmass became more dry and arid. Migrating animals were drawn to The Thames Basin and the chalk springs which made the area lush and green in an otherwise harsh environment. The landmass that Harlow forms part of still floats on top of the glacial ice water and is responsible for the springs that Harlow was once renown for. At the time, the springs helped contribute to a rich and diverse habitat, attracting hominids long before they settled west in The Thames Valley.

There is a considerable amount of evidence pointing to Iron Age Settlements throughout The Stort Valley, between Gilston and Harlow. Most notably at Pole Hill farm, an incredible 24,000 year old hand axe has recently been found. Subsequent settlements soon became established. At Templefields there is a sacred shrine, reportedly attributed to the goddess “Andraste’” an Icenic war goddess invoked by Boudica in her fight against the Roman Occupation of Britain in AD 60. One of the largest hoards of Celtic coins was also found near this site, in a steam bed, as offerings. By way of a modern comparison, this would be like throwing coins in a wishing well.

During the British Celtic rebellion Boudica came to worship at this site having defeated an entire Roman legion at Colchester, before heading off to what is now known as St. Albans. This evidence is collaborated from the Roman writer Dio Tacilus. Eventually The Romans won and rededicated the temple to their own goddess, Minerva, goddess of wisdom strategic warfare justice, law, victory, and the sponsor of arts, trade, and strategy. Perhaps this was done to atone for their legions lost in battle against Boudica, as she was a formidable foe. The current Harlow Council information board states that the Roman temple is one of the most important Roman sites in Southern Britain and certainly one of the largest. It should also be noted that several roman roads and a bridge crossing The River Stort have since been discovered close to this site.

Once The Roman Empire fell, The Saxons settled in the area and constructed The Latton water mill. This water mill has played a vital role in the local economy throughout history and is the heart of The Latton Parish. Famous landmarks include Latton Street, Latton Clock house, Latton Common and Latton Priory. All because of this Saxon Mill. The Altham map of 1616, which is on display in The Harlow Museum shows its prominence and indicates outbuildings which will be bulldozed during the construction of the roundabout on River Way, should it be built. Several noteworthy owners included The East India Company, who developed a special method for silk milling and the Arkwright family who invented the spinning loom. Another extremely interesting legacy is the Johnny Walker whisky label. It features a certain Mr Burgoyne as a young man. His parents were owners of Latton Mill at some stage in history.

During the 19th century the millpond became the home to Latton diving club and later became Harlow swimming pool until the new swimming pool was built in the 1960s. The public footpath to Latton Lock still remains and a plaque commemorates it saying 0.4 kilometres to Latton Lock. This footpath will be lost should the proposed roundabout be built.

The Friends of Latton Island met with local Archeologist Mick Jury, to learn just how important the area around Latton Island truly is. You can see him here showing a tool dating back 2400 years.

These a photographs by Maria Warner of the footpath leading to the Temple Site

Images of the Ancient Temple site by Maria Warner

Depiction of Boudicca from the National portrait gallery by Willaim Faithorne. Image in public domain

Floating Pennywort and taking care of our Stort

By Andy Gee

On 20 July 2019 I was awarded British Canoeing’s (BC) Community Champion Award on the back of our litter picks. After BC’s challenge in July 2019 Stuart & I decided to go after removing Floating Pennywort (FPW) from the River Stort. Peter & Helen Nash (Whoosh Principals) kindly sponsored the Project with free use of the canoes & kayaks. And we got tremendous help from Club Members. In eighteen months we had rid the River Stort of FPW, the first River group in recent times to make this achievement. Our methodology we called “The Stort System” is one of four ‘Case Studies’ shown on the Non-Native Species Secretariat (NNSS) website which shows how we removed the FPW from Twyford Lock No 2 to Burnt Mill Lock No 10.

 http://www.nonnativespecies.org/index.cfm?sectionid=144 half way down the page River Stort (PDF).

The photographs on this blog were all taken in the last five years between Harlow Mill & Burtt Mill, since myself and twin took up paddling. Whoosh Explore, were based at Redricks Lakes until about three years ago. And we still do litter picks from time to time in these two pounds. Parking at the River Way car park, this has also been a regular walk along the river with my dog for many years.

Whoosh Explore are active members of the River Stort Catchment Partnership (RSCP) and have initiated Project Himalayan Balsam Riddance from the River Stort Valley. We are Project 30 on this website. http://riverleacatchment.org.uk/…/1184-eradication-of… And also members of the Waterside Bishop Stortford Group.

Whoosh Explore are currently homeless and we are looking for a permanent base for our paddling activities. Taster sessions are still being held and can be booked at Whoosh Explore Canoe Club

05 Dec 2018 – This iconic picture which started our Environmental quests. Stuart in the stern. Haul of Generator Covers, bike & fridge internals. Plus two bags of plastic waste & litter.

08 Sep 2020 – Just below the Cattle Bridge on the walkway, river right, that takes you to the Moorhen Pub. A fire burnt out the walkway.

25 Aug 2020 – The Cattle Bridge (Bridge 18) had railings removed on the upstream side. The understanding is this had been done for ‘Tombstoning’ jumping into the water from the bridge. The C&RT repaired it promptly.

12 Mar 2021 – Opposite the Aqua Park, river left, this Cygnet was looking very subdued, it had a fish hook in it’s beak. The Swan Rescue folk collected the bird and we believe that it has since been returned to the river.

19 Sep 2021 – Water Vole in the Navigation opposite the Aqua Park. A poor picture, but the significance it’s the first Water Vole, I have seen there in over thirty years!!

16 Jun 2021 – Illegal Cray Fish Trap just below River Way car park (River Left). Reported to the Environmental Agency. Very sadly the same day as the previous picture, 26 Nov 2020, I found a dead Otter, just below Hunsdon Lock in an unlicensed trap.

26 Nov 2020 – The Canal & River Trust just started pruning the pound from Burnt Mill to Latton Island.

27 Apr 2020 – Fish fighting for breath after a month long dry spell. Just down from Latton Lock by the Mill Stream exit. The FPW which was trashed in December 2019 may have also effected the oxygen levels in the water.

18 Jan 2018 – Storm David – Disrupted the Whoosh Explore Canoe racks. When we were based at Redricks Lakes.

24 Sep 2020 – Litter Pick from Harlow Mill to Burnt Mill (photo credits, John Newman)

14 Jun 2020 – Pennywort Patrol – We
removed the FPW from the brambles in the Mill Stream below Latton Pool. We also did a litter pick & Stuart pulled out this chair.

26 Oct 2019 – FPW mat (river left) just before opposite Redricks Lakes entrance.

26 Oct 2019 – FPW small mat just above the inlet to Latton Mill Stream.

22 Dec 2019 – Storm Elsa trashed most of the FPW which sunk to the river bed, helping us considerably.

22 Nov 2019 – Three FPW mats are taking over Latton Pool, (Pike Pool)

20 Jul 2019 – British Canoeing challenged us ‘What are you going to do in Clean Ups Week’? We decided to go after the Floating Pennywort!!

The Machine

by Brian Field

The machine is coming!

We will feel the love when we meet with candles in hand but the bulldozers are coming to bury our feelings and soon our cries will go silent. Our hearts and the beauty have little value to the economic rewards from the development.

This machine has rode over our beautiful country for 300 years; it is as yet un-stoppable; its also insane with the backdrop of environmental collapse but still councillors push for it because the money pushes for it.

It is a monstrous economic machine that indeed we all ride. It is more powerful than democracy, more powerful than morality or sense.

Maybe a green council would be on the side of beauty and nature, but really who can imagine that a reality in this Harlow Essex London global syndicate….

The Harlow Temple, a nice surprise!

Here’s a really interesting blog from HeritageAction covering the timeline of the Roman Temple site

The Heritage Journal

‘They’ say that our past is all around us, if only we know where to look. Well, out on a Bank Holiday drive earlier this week, I wasn’t looking but stumbled over it anyway.

I knew that there were Roman remains in Harlow, Essex but Roman is not really something I personally search out, being more interested in the older stuff. However, heading home across Essex I spotted a small sign approaching a roundabout; “Ancient Roman Temple Site” and was intrigued, and with time enough to take a slight detour from my chosen path, took the turning. And I’m glad I did, because this small sign was a pointer to one of the most important sites in Essex – a large Roman temple built upon an earlier Celtic one, and an even earlier Bronze Age pond barrow!

The site is incongrously set within an industrial estate. Look on Google Maps…

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“The River” by Bruce Springsteen

“The River” by Bruce Springsteen modified by Nicholas Cox

I come from down in Harlow
Where, mister, when you’re young
They bring you up to do like your daddy done
Me and Mary we met in The Moorhen
When she was over eighteen
We walk along the towpath
Down to where the fields were green
We’d go down to the river
And into the river we’d dive
Now all them things that seemed so important
Well mister they vanished right into the air
Harlow council act like they don’t remember
Hertford acts like it don’t care
But I remember us trying to stop the crossing
Now those memories come back to haunt me
They haunt me like a curse
Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true
Or is it something worse
That sends me down to the river
Though I know the river is dry
That sends me down to the river tonight
Down to the river
The Harlow bypass and I
Oh, down to the river we ride-ide

With sincere apologies to “The Boss”!

New Meeting Dates

by Julie Taylor

After a long silence news has just arrived detailing the new dates for both council’s Planning Development Meetings to consider the applications to erect a new road and crossing 3/19/1051/FUL. Widening of the current road 3/19/1046/FUL.

East Herts Development Management Committee – 22nd February 2022, commencing at 5.30pm and being held at The Council Chamber, Wallfields, Pegs Lane, Hertford, SG13 8EQ.

Harlow Development Management Committee – 23rd February 2022, commencing at 7.00pm and being held at The Civic Centre, Water Gardens, Harlow CM20 1WG

We will be making regular posts in the countdown to the meetings with announcements of events and ways you can help stop the crossing.

This crossing must NOT go ahead. It’s a travesty for Harlow and a kick in the teeth to the biodiversity of the Stort valley.




Lack of Council Housing and Blatant Deceit

By Mick Patrick

About Me

Mick Patrick is the Branch Secretary for Harlow Trades Union Council, Branch Secretary Essex Unite Community Branch, Delegate to Essex County Trades Council Association, Steering committee to Homes for all. Member of National Defend Council Housing Committee and Chair Of Harlow Defend Council Housing.

I visited the Consultation at Our Lady Fatima on 27th November. My main concern was the lack of council housing. I was flabbergasted at the reply I received, as they said that there is in fact council housing!!!! Further Dialog showed up a total deceit. The consultant I was speaking to said it was council housing because it is allocated by the council. I then had to explain the concept of council housing history, that council housing is grant or direct funded by government for up to 30/40% market rate affordable rent with accountable landlords. i.e. the elected council. Housing association landlords charge up to 60/80% market rents and are owned by private companies which are not necessarily social landsords. In essence the rent formula for true council housing is much cheaper than the 60 to 80 % market rents of housing association. Housing association homes ARE NOT AFFORABLE to most of the people on the Housing need register. In Fact, most would be on Universal credit or housing benefit that we are all paying our taxes for.

The lengths they go to sell us this are truly shocking!

By Nicholas Cox

About Me

Green Party Parish Councillor for Stanstead St Margarets and Prospective County Council Candidate for Ware North. Nicholas Cox has lived in Stanstead St. Margarets for thirty years and sits on the Parish Council. Nick was involved in the Hoddesdon incinerator campaign from its inception. He’s a long-standing member of Greenpeace and a life member of the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA).

This was the Wilderness Woodlands in the St Margaret’s conservation area, with a nettle glade at its centre where the owl used to hoot, and the badger and the fox used to roam. This is what it looks like now, after East Herts District Council (EHDC) gave planning permission for development. This is what they want to do to our land north and east of Ware, and north of Harlow, including Eastwick, Gilston, Pye Corner, the remaining green belt in the Stort Valley and Latton Island. They want to dig a massive gravel pit destroying the remaining green space between Stanstead Abbotts and the dystopianly named Village 7. EHDC has released over 6% of our green belt, the largest release of green belt land in England, making it the most ecocidal council in the country. The council consists of around 330 people, but we number over 144 thousand residents. We have the numbers and we have just cause, are we really going to just sit back and let them destroy our land? It is time for the disparate protest groups in our district to unite and take on the council.


Leave Our River Alone

By Kim O’Connor

About Me

Kim is a lifelong resident of Harlow. Her father helped to build the town. She is passionate about preserving the heritage and community feeling of the town. She is a talented sculptor.

On 27th November I attended the Consultation by Places for People at Our Lady Fatima church hall.

They told me they were not there to talk about river, but talk about it I did. This is what I said.

“How can you not talk about it when all your housing estates are going to be connected to it?” “you need to talk honestly to the people of Harlow and stop painting this picture of what you all think we need, i.e, villages. They’re not real villages. The development will swamping the real villages. The new houses are unaffordable to most”. One of the consultant staff agreed. They said they’d look into that. I said “The river is very important to an awful lot of people, it’s the only peaceful place we have” . I also asked “Why are you building another walk through bridge? ” They said it was because it connects to new housing estates. I responded by asking “Why do you feel the need to connect us all up? We want people to not use cars, to walk and cycle. I’m a life long cyclists I wouldn’t cycle round all this pollution, because people in reality will not give cars up, not in my life time. As for all the talk about electric cars, the prices are far too high. The batteries are not environmental friendly” They had nothing to say to this. I asked if they’d actually talked to the people of Harlow? Again, nothing to say to this.

We spoke at length about the 4 lane road, across our river, about the pollution. Apparently this road sucks all the pollution away from river. “How’s that work?” I said with a chuckle. I’d got brain freeze at the end of it all. I felt that some of them did take in to account of how I felt, but most just wanted to big it all up. As for the form at the end, didn’t take my close ups glasses so just wrote, SAVE OUR BEAUTIFUL STORT ALL OVER IT.

The Machine

by Brian Field The machine is coming! We will feel the love when we meet with candles in hand but the bulldozers are coming to bury our feelings and soon our cries will go silent. Our hearts and the beauty have little value to the economic rewards from the development. This machine has rode overContinue reading “The Machine”

Harlow’s Rich Past

by Neil Warner-Baker The proposed route for The Stort Crossing is steeped in archeology and history. Here follows a brief snap shot. The Stort Valley was formed during the Glacial Maximum and The Stort is where the Ice Age stopped. Like a tide, huge deposits of clay silt, chalk and other aggregates were deposited onContinue reading “Harlow’s Rich Past”