Covering Walton’s history from as early as 1400 to recent times, follow our trail to get insights into how heavy industries worked in tandem with the town’s farming producers to create a thriving economy.
We also look at how tourism arriving in the second half of the nineteenth century, combined with the arrival of the railway in 1867, changed the face of the town.
Built in 1867, in its heyday the Station Hotel and the station’s two lines supplied the town’s industries. A turntable and bustling goods yard saw milk shipped from local farms by train to Lord Rayleigh’s Dairy in old fashioned milk churns. The current station is situated next to the original Victorian building and is widely used by business commuters and day trippers alike.
These Napoleonic defensive towers were constructed along the East Coast. One survives at Walton and another was dismantled and its bricks used to build Tower and Martello Cottages and Tower Terrace in the town.
Built in 1720 by Trinity House as an 86ft high landmark for mariners. It was later used by the Royal Navy as a semaphore signalling station, and in WWII by the Royal Air Force as a radar scanner tower. Open today as an art gallery, viewing platform and café.
Built in 1884, it originally housed a 37ft self-righting lifeboat named Honourable Artillery Company. Although the boat was launched and recovered on a slipway, it still had to be hauled across the sand at low tide. This boat was replaced in 1900 by James Stevens No.14 that could be kept afloat near the pierhead, making the lifeboat house redundant. The Old Life Boat House is now a Maritime Museum, for more information see: www.fwheritage.co.uk
The Warner family established the foundry in 1874. A canal running from the backwaters to a dock called Port Said, enabled barges to berth without grounding, carrying materials for the manufacture of; windmills, wind-power pumping, irrigating, draining and corn-grinding equipment as well as material for the Indian Railways.
Up to 300 people were employed at its peak and production continued after Robert Warner’s death in 1896. Thirty women were employed during the First World War to assist in the production of armour-piercing shells. The business was sold in 1921 and latterly made piano frames, finally closing in the 1960s. Local people still remember the air at the Naze being thick with red smoke from the casting.
The Mill Pond or ‘Mere’ as it is known locally was converted into a boating lake. In its heyday it offered 250 small rowing, sailing and paddling boats.
Mill lane is the site of the former windmill and watermill (tide mill,) grinding locally-grown corn until 1922. Flour was then shipped from Halls Quay dock, and coals from Newcastle arrived on the return journey to supply the foundry and the former gas works near the station.
Commemorating both World Wars, the Memorial Garden is a perfect place for reflection. An RAF Wings memorial, made from the propeller of a Halifax Bomber, commemorates its crew who perished when it crash-landed on the Naze, returning from an air raid just two days before VE Day.
Also present, a bust of Herbert Columbine, a Walton man who was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross in WW1. A gunner in the armoured division, he stayed at his post for 4 hours to protect his comrades before losing his life.
This is the third ‘All Saints’ Church’ in Walton and was built between 1874 and 1896. The original medieval church, on another site, fell over the cliff into the sea in 1798, its last service being held on 22nd July 1798. Local legend has it that at low tide you can still hear the bells ringing!
Concrete barges in the Walton backwaters are a relic of the Second World War. Steel was in short supply, so construction of barges made of reinforced concrete was ordered as part of the immense project to create artificial harbours for the Normandy landings on D-Day.
There were originally two piers in Walton, although all that remains of the first one today is the street name ‘Old Pier Street’. At a small 300ft, the first pier was built for £1,000 in 1830. The second pier started in 1867 at a length of 530ft, was extended in 1898 to 2,161 ft to enable it to dock three paddle steamers.
The popularity of local seaside resorts during the Victorian era resulted in the building of some of the most recognisable architecture in Walton. The South Terrace, Marine Terrace and the Pier Hotel, were all developed by planner and civil engineer Peter Schuyler Bruff. The buildings on the seafront with arched windows and balconies were designed by Mr Penrice, originally named Pier Crescent. When the old Pier was destroyed they became part of The Parade.
The Bathhouse Hotel built in the early part of the 19th Century was open as public baths until the mid 1930s. After its demolition, the present hotel was built on the site. The Bathhouse Meadow now houses the local swimming pool and the Columbine Centre, a theatre and bowls centre.