Archive for February, 2017

Report of the Foxearth and Liston Parish Council Meeting – 18th February 2017

The Council met on 18th February with Cllr.Anthony Clayton in the Chair and 6 members of the public present. The Chairman expressed good wishes to the Clerk, Kevin Money, following his recent illness.

War Memorial: In relation to the decision at the last meeting to allocate funds for this repair Cllr C Cox outlined the steps she was taking – as Secretary of the Parochial Church Council – to obtain grants for the renovation of the lych gate, upgrading of the path and repair of the memorial. The aim was to get this work done in time for the Armistice centennial in November 2018. The memorial was leaning considerably owing to subsidence under the plinth and this alone was likely to cost in excess of £1,700:quotes already obtained would be updated and a combination of funding from various sources would probably be required.

Stafford Park: The Chairman reported that Babergh Council had nominated Braintree DC as the lead authority in connection with planning proposals for this site. The owner of the site – Mr McPherson – indicated that a further consultation document would be circulated shortly and that planning proposals may follow in the next few months.

District Council report: Cllr Iona Parker presented a report. The District Council expected a small budget surplus for the financial year 2016/17 but a deficit was likely in the two following years. Funds were being used to buy commercial properties in Colchester and Braintree as investment

assets and there was a focus in the economic development in the area on the shortage of office space . Consultation on route options for a A120 connection with the A12 were in progress. Cllr Parker emphasised the influence of neighbourhood plans in the scheme of things and reminded those present of the discretionary grants she was able to allocate for minor community projects.

Public participation time: From the floor concern was voiced about the accumulation of leaves on the pavement opposite the Village Hall, Appreciation was expressed that the drainage works along the Street in Foxearth were finished and for the helpful and efficient way the contract had been carried out.

Community defibrillator: In his absence a written report was received from Cllr. M Posen who had enquired of the Community Heartbeat Trust as to what would be involved in obtaining this equipment for local use. Cost would  be in the region of £2,300, lottery funding would probably be available and the location would require an electricity supply. Possible sites included outside the Village Hall and the Telephone box – currently used for Neighbourhood Watch. Further research would need to consider an installation in Liston. Council accepted the offer by Cllr Posen  to co-ordinate this matter further.

County Council report: The Chairman summarised a written report provided by Cllr David Finch dealing with priorities for adult social care funding, plans to transform 31 libraries in the county by implementing radio frequency identification whereby users will self-scan their borrowed items and  news of a decrease in the number of potholes.

Braintree Neighbourhood Watch; A grant of £50 was agreed to support the co=ordination of local neighbourhood watch activity.

Planning: It was noted that a retrospective application for a change of use and alterations to disused agricultural premises in Foxearth had been refused by Braintree DC.

Next meetings: 25th March and 13th May (Annual Parishes Meeting) both at 10.30am Foxearth Village Hall.


Ken Nice


Foxearth and District History Society – Meeting 14th Feb 2017

The multi-coloured samples of woven horse hair that John Miners brought along to the Society’s meeting on 14th February were a long way removed from the bits of stuffing that some of us  recalled from the inside of old sofas and in his detailed and well-illustrated talk John took us through the processes that turned this natural protein fibre  into a versatile and immensely durable fabric. John is now a freelance textile consultant who began his career as an apprentice at Courtaulds; as a school leaver, whose family lived opposite the factory, he reasoned that a job there would allow him to minimise the time between getting out of bed and clocking in for work – but he moved on!

John Boyd Ltd is the only remaining weaver of horse hair in the UK and is based in Castle Cary in Somerset. John Boyd was the son of a Scottish merchant and he came to England in his early 20s as a travelling draper. He started his horse hair weaving business in 1837 in a chapel yard and by 1841 he employed about 30 weavers. By 1851 his enterprise had grown to 30 women, 9 men and 34 children involved in various operations. The children fed the horse tails into the looms and this had to be done in single strands- and alternately, because the hair is thicker at the top end of the tail, to ensure an even weave. With the coming of the 1870 Education Act, which forbade the employment of children under 13, mechanical feed machines were devised. At this time most of the hair used came from the local area where horse breeding was popular for agriculture and transport. Later in the century hair had to be imported because of increased mechanisation and nowadays most of the raw material comes from Mongolia. Before any hair gets near a loom it has to be washed – and conditioned -and sorted by hand (a process called hackling) to remove  short, discoloured or brittle pieces. Hair never wears out and can be dyed any colour and the woven product is much in demand by antique restorers as well as modern furniture manufacturers for hotels, restaurants, shoes etc. In the weaving the hair is the weft – the horizontal strand (maximum  length 26″) – and this is combined with cotton, usually, as the vertical warp.

John Boyd did much for the town building cottages and terraces for his workers; at the turn of the century the company employed about 200 people such was the popularity of horse hair fabric.

John was warmly thanked by Secretary Clare Mathieson for a most interesting talk which generated many questions from the 22 members and guests present.

It was noted that John Geddes – member and past Treasurer – was seriously ill in hospital and best wishes for his speedy recovery were expressed.

Clare reminded members that the next meeting would be the AGM on 14th March – 7.30pm in Foxearth Village Hall -with cheese and wine. Please bring wedding photographs (yours, your parents, your grandparents?) and be prepared to be anecdotal! Clare also pointed out that there were seats available on the trip to Harwich on July 11th (guided tour of the historic centre and the Redoubt Fort) and anyone wishing to be included should contact her without delay.

Ken Nice