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More on Lost Footpaths

posted 25 Dec 2014, 03:23 by Ralph Burtonshaw   [ updated 25 Dec 2014, 03:26 ]

E-mail received from Jim Woodcock:


I happened to see the article about “Lost Footpaths of Essex” in the news section of our website and Arthur’s contribution.
The island Arthur was referring is, I think, Rushley Island which can be viewed from the seawall near Oxenham Farm. This is where, in 1781, John Harriott embarked on an ambitious plan to enclose the island with three miles of seawall to farm there. The 200 acre island had cost him £40 but the cost of reclamation and his inexperience in farming meant some years had gone by before he saw a return on his investment. This was achieved by 1790 when his crop was valued at a respectable £600. Sadly, the following year the island was engulfed by a tide some eight inches higher than his sea defences. He lost all and departed to America to seek his fortune but failed and returned to his home at Broomhills near Stambridge Mill. The OS map still shows Rushley Farm on the island.

This information is gleaned from Ian Yearsley’s excellent book “Islands of Essex” published in 1994 by Ian Henry Publications (ISBN 0 86025 508 5).

There is further reference to Harriott in Stan Jarvis’s book “Smuggling in East Anglia 1700 -1840” (Countryside Books – ISBN 0 905392 86 8) when he wanted to return quickly to Essex from France and his dealings with the local smugglers of Essex and Kent. Incidentally, Harriott was responsible for setting up the forerunner of the Thames River Police and his house, now a care home, carries a ‘blue plaque’ presented by the Rochford Hundred Historical Society in 1996.