1936 Footpaths Pictures and Routes

Some of these tracks are now the Thames Estuary Path

“Walks and Jaunts.”

From The Urban District of Benfleet Official Guide  – 1936

Smuggling was very rife in Benfleet and the creeks and waterways afforded the essential facilities for this ‘business.’…Many footpaths through the woods and pack tracks by which these articles were conveyed to the neighbouring towns still exist and owe their origin to this traffic.” (p 39)

Benfleet Official Guide 1936 - Walks
Number 1 - A quote from 1936... “Via school Lane over the “Downs” turning east wards at the bottom of the hills, continuing below Hadleigh Castle on to Leigh on-sea.” This route is now part of the new Thames Estuary Path from Benfleet Rail Station to Leigh, see map above.
Thames Estuary Path yellow marker outside Benfleet rail Station.
Margaret March
Picture From 'The Urban District of Benfleet Official Guide, 1936.
The five barred gate at the top of the meadow below the steep climb up to the car park of Hadleigh Country Park 2014. Note the shape of the oak tree on the right in both pictures.
Margaret March
Map of Benfleet Downs showing position of Poynetts farm. Number 3 - “Benfleet Church eastwards via The Endway along the footpath to the right to Poynetts and then north-eastwards to Benfleet Road by the Round Hill. This path to Poynetts passes along the ridge of the earthwork of the Danish period. It is the top of a glacis and beyond to the waterside is the visible signs of the burial ground of the victims of the Benfleet battle.”
Essex County Council
The new Olympic Legacy Route that joins up with the end of St Mary's Road with the lower paths on The Downs avoiding the old muddy slippery steeps. Come spring time wild flowers and other plants should have softened the bare soil.
Three new all-weather routes have been built on The Downs between Benfleet, Hadleigh Castle and Leigh as part of the legacy from the Olympic mountain biking event with the expected opening of an international cycling centre at Hadleigh later in 2015 along with a visitors centre.
New signs on the Downs near Benfleet Rail Station indicating the start of the new routes, many of the old but muddy routes can still be used but in bad and wet conditions it is a pleasure to walk on a well maintained path.
Number 2 - “Through Benfleet Churchyard northwards over the stile and then westward alongside the railway through the pretty churchyard of Bowers Gifford to Pitsea.” The route From Benfleet Church to Pitsea is now part of the new Thames Estuary Path. The route has been changed so it no longer runs along the footpath beside to the railway line to St Margaret’s Church, but south of the railway line using a route close to the old farm tracks on the new RSPB Bowers Marsh reserve. This used to be the Bowers Gifford Golf Course before World War II and was later ploughed to provide farmland during the war, under the A130, beside the creek and up to Benfleet Rail Station.
This is St Margaret's Church at the bottom of Church Lane, Bowers Gifford.
The unusual door of St Margaret's Church.
Margaret March
Old Farm Track beside Thames Estuary Path, continuation of Church Lane Bowers Gifford, south of St Margaret's church. Note the bank at the side of the track, now very overgrown. Part of the Thames Estuary Path now runs beside the route of an old farm track that tractors used to gain access to fields on the marsh. Dave Cowan above on the overgrown bank of the farm track, he remembers that the tracks connected up the three or four farms out on the marsh and regularly saw vehicles up and down the tracks in the 1950’s. The track close to the end of Jotmans Lane was banked with trees and bushes on each side. This banking can be clearly seen even though it is now completely overgrown with trees but it makes good habitat for the birds on the RSPB reserve, complete with bird boxes.
Margaret March
Signpost on the RSBP site of Bowers Marsh indicating the Thames Estuary Path to Benfleet that runs beside the now over grown farm track.
Satellite view of the old farm track south side of the London to Southend railway line on Bowers Marsh RSPB reserve. Dec 2014. The route From Benfleet Church to Pitsea is now part of the new Thames Estuary Path. The route has been changed so it no longer runs along the footpath beside to the railway line to St Margaret’s Church, but south of the railway line using a route close to the old farm tracks on the new RSPB Bowers Marsh reserve. This used to be the Bowers Gifford Golf Course before World War II and was later ploughed to provide farmland during the war, under the A130, beside the creek and up to Benfleet Rail Station.
Google
Number 5 - 'From Bingham's Corner,' (the junction of Hope Road and the High Road the footpath runs along behind the back of the houses in Queens Road, up over the Boyce Hill Golf Course and up the Devil's Steps and on to the A13. Or as the 1936 guide suggests, 'From Benfleet Church Via Vicarage Hill a little distance beyond the top on the left - hand side a footpath on the edge of the golf links running through Hobbley Thick to Thundersley.' A heavily wooded path ideal for the smugglers mentioned earlier to bring their goods up from the water front to the people of Hadleigh, Rayleigh and beyond.' Today this is a footpath from about halfway up Vicarage Hill via Thundersly Glen and uphill to the A13 by SEEVIC College.
Bingham's Corner and the path over the golf course.

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