Wivenhoe, Claims to Fame



The University. In December 1961 Wivenhoe Park was chosen as the location of the new University in Essex. The University designed by the architect Kenneth Capon opened its doors for the first students in October 1964.

Those who were in England in the late 1960s will well remember the activities for which Essex became infamous - demonstrations, sit-ins and drug offences. These were at a time of general student unrest in Europe and America - the 1968 Paris riots, anti-Vietnam War protests. By the early 1970s the unrest had died down and since then the University has built a strong reputation for acedemic excellence.


The Railway. The railway came to Wivenhoe in May 1863. The branch line extended the Stour Valley Railway from Hythe Quay, Colchester to Wivenhoe. This line was later extended to Walton-on-Naze and in July 1882 to Clacton. The Stour Valley Railway gave Wivenhoe the connection to London via Colchester where the Eastern Counties Railway had arrived in March 1843.

The railways on the South of the Tendering Peninsular were further extended by the completion in April 1866 of the Wivenhoe and Brightlingsea Railway. This branch ran along the sea wall, over a swing bridge at Alresford Creek and into Brightlingsea Town. This small branch was closed as part of the cuts made by the then Chairman of British Rail in 1963. The remains of the embankment over the marshes and the supports for the bridge over Alresford Creek can still be seen today.

Steam recently returned to the line with Tornado 60163 – the first Peppercorn class A1 steam train to be made since they were scrapped in 1966 - running trips between Walton and Colchester Town as part of the 150th anniversary of the building of Walton Station.


The Arts. Wivenhoe has long been a popular location for artists both to visit and to live. The waterfront is regularly populated by painters capturing their impression of the ever-changing play of light on water. Artists, playwrights, actors - there have been many who found the charms of Wivenhoe to their liking.


Francis Bacon (28 October 1909 – 28 April 1992) was an Irish-born British figurative painter known for his bold, grotesque, emotionally charged, raw imagery. He is best known for his depictions of popes, crucifixions and portraits of close friends. His abstracted figures are typically isolated in geometrical cage like spaces, set against flat, nondescript backgrounds. Bacon said that he saw images "in series", and his work typically focuses on a single subject for sustained periods, often in triptych or diptych formats. His output can be broadly described as sequences or variations on a single motif; beginning with the 1930s Picasso-informed Furies, moving on to the 1940s male heads isolated in rooms or geometric structures, the 1950s screaming popes, and the mid-to-late 1950s animals and lone figures, the 1960s portraits of friends, the nihilistic 1970s self-portraits, and the cooler more technical 1980s late works.
© Wikipedia

It is reputed that he lived for a time at 68 Queen's Road.


James Dodds the artist whose works in painting, linocut and relief carving often feature the boats and river views of Essex was born in Brightlingsea, he now lives and works in Wivenhoe producing prints, paintings and books as the Jardine Press.

After an apprenticeship as a shipwright in Maldon, he studied at Colchester Institute, the Chelsea School of Art and the Royal College of Art. He is now one East Anglia's leading contemporary artists


Martin Newell Basically, he's a pop poet and rock musician. But it's a little more complicated than that. He'll tell you that he doesn't have a career though - just a series of jobs and engagements which taken together have added up to some sort of a living this past few decades. He plays various guitars, bass, keyboards, mandolin and he can sing. He makes rather English-sounding pop records, he writes poems and articles in national newspapers. He does spoken word performances and less-frequently, live music gigs. He occasionally presents TV programmes. He has been on national radio quite a bit over the years. He has a number of books and records out. He doesn't have management, an agent or anyone 'looking after' him. Mostly, he works. Mostly, it's writing, which he loves.
© http://www.martinnewell.co.uk


Sir Peregrine Gerard Worsthorne the journalist, writer and broadcaster. He was educated at Stowe School, Peterhouse, Cambridge, and Magdalen College, Oxford. Worsthorne spent the largest part of his career at the Telegraph newspaper titles, eventually becoming editor of The Sunday Telegraph for several years. He finally left the newspaper in 1997.
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Peregrine lived during the 1980s in a house on Anchor Hill.


Alberto Semprini The Italian born pianist, famous for his "Semprini Seranade" radio show on the BBC from 1957, lived on the corner of the High Street and Chapel Road until his death in 1990.

Born in Bath, Semprini graduated from the Verdi Conservatory in Milan in 1928, having studied composition and conducting as well as honing his skills at the piano. In Italy he performed a broad range of music, and in 1938 led his first radio orchestra in Italy. In the late 1950s he also featured regularly at the San Remo Festival.

Back in the UK, he hosted a light music programme, Semprini Serenade, which he introduced with the words: "Old ones, new ones, loved ones, neglected ones". The program first aired on BBC Radio in 1957 and continued for around 25 years. Although his 'house band' was the New Abbey Light Symphony Orchestra on his commercial recordings, on radio he was accompanied by the BBC Revue Orchestra.

Semprini also wrote a number of original light music compositions, including "Concerto Appassionato" and "Mediterranean Concerto", which he used as the theme tune for his radio show. Semprini was a prolific recording artist; although strongly associated with light music, his recordings were of classical music, Grieg Piano Concerto and solo pieces by Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt, Tchaikovsky and Debussy.

In 2015 Vocalion Records released a CD of his late 1950s broadcasts with the BBC Revue Orchestra, most of which had not been heard since their first broadcast.
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Eve Graham. The singer, from the New Seekers in the 1970s, famous for hits such as "I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing", Eve moved to Wivenhoe with her husband Kevin Finn in 1987, living in the High Street just down from Park Hotel. In 2004 Eve moved back to her native Perthshire, where she continued recording with the Scotdisc label.

Graham began her career during the 1960s as a band singer with the Cyclones and the Cyril Stapleton Band. She joined The Track in the mid-sixties and was a founder member of The Nocturnes, originally alongside Sandra Stevens (later of Brotherhood of Man) and then Lyn Paul (her future colleague in The New Seekers), recording for UK Columbia Records between 1967-69.

In 1969 she became a founder member of The New Seekers and was lead singer on the majority of their early hits, including the world wide Number One hit - "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing". Other songs included "Look What They've Done To My Song, Ma", "Circles", "The Greatest Song I've Ever Heard" and "We've Got To Do It Now".

In 1974 the group disbanded and Graham moved onto solo cabaret work, but rejoined a reconstituted New Seekers in 1976 and sang lead on their hits "It's So Nice To Have You Home" and "I Wanna Go Back". In 1978 she left once more, and again performed as a solo singer, as well as marrying another ex-New Seeker Kevin Finn. They toured as a duo for many years and released one single Ocean and Blue Sky.

In 2005 former New Seekers record producer David Mackay produced a new album with her - The Mountains Welcome Me Home. It contains Scottish traditionals and new recordings of old New Seekers songs. A Christmas themed album, "Til The Season Comes Round Again", followed in 2006.
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Katy Osborne is one of the talented performers of Wivenhoe, she attended Laine Theatre Arts College in Epsom Surrey. 2002 saw Katy's first professional job, at The Gaiety Theatre, Ayr in Scotland. This was followed in 2003 by the part of Wendy in "Peter Pan" at the Richmond Theatre, alongside Robert Powell, and Bonnie Langford. Then the Grand Theatre, Swansea, in "Cinderella".

In 2004, Katy won a place in "We Will Rock You", in Cologne. It became Germany’s best-selling show in live entertainment. Katy has since played in "Hello Dolly", "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" had a world tour with "Mamma Mia". Since 2012 Katy has been a swing in the West End production of 'Mamma Mia' and has stood in for Lisa and Ali, the bridesmaids, as well as some performances as Sophie.

Katy spent some time teaching in the Phillipines and since has organised a number of West End performers' charity events in aid of the Tuloy Foundation, an organisation in Manila helping street children.


Angie Diggens is a Classically trained, Professional Vocalist, Musician and Music Teacher from Colchester in Essex, with over 15 years Performance and Teaching Experience.

Her career has taken her all throughout the UK, performing in beautiful Theatres, Concert Venues and stunning Cathedrals as well appearing on 'ITV's Stars in Their Eyes' as Sarah Brightman in the LIVE Final.

Angie's versatility, both Vocally and Musically, allows her to turn her hand to a wide range of styles (including Opera and Classical Infusion, Musical Theatre, Popular and Jazz)


Polly Scattergood Polly was brought up in Wivenhoe, with her two younger brothers. She enjoyed a unique childhood and with a father as an actor and a mother as an artist grew up with a strong grounding in the arts. Polly took up the guitar at a young age, began songwriting and has now written over 600 songs. She studied at the BRIT School for Performing Arts.

Her first single ‘Glory Hallelujah’ on Arc Records was released in August 2005. Polly featured in an article on 19th May 2005 in the Times T2 supplement "How to become a pop star without any hype".

Scattergood's debut album, self-titled, was released in spring 2009. It received generally positive reviews. In 2009 Scattergood gave a live studio session on the BBC Radio 2 Dermot O'Leary show.

Arrows was Scattergood's second studio album, was released in Autumn 2013. Arrows received positive reviews with The Independent, Rolling Stone and Mojo each awarding it four stars. "Other Too Endless", a single from the album, was named "record of the week" on the Steve Lamacq show.

Scattergood supported Mute labelmates Goldfrapp at the summer series 2013 concerts at Somerset House, London. She also played two sold out nights at London's Madam Jojo's.


Miss Marple. The actress Joan Hickson OBE, best known for her portrayal of Miss Marple, the private sleuth, in the BBC productions of the books by Agatha Christie. Joan Hickson lived in the heart of the town and was a well-known figure around the village shops as well as on the TV screens in Wivenhoe.

Joan Hickson was born in 1906 at Kingsthorpe, Northampton. Her stage career began with provincial theater in 1927, going on to a long series of West End comedies. She performed at the Regent's Park Open Air Theater, at the time London was subject to World War II bombing. Her work gradually included screen roles: The Guinea Pig (1948), The Card (1952), The 39 Steps (1959) - over 80 movies in all - but her stage career continued, with parts in three Peter Nichols plays, Noël Coward's "Blithe Spirit" (1976) and and a Tony award winning performance in Alan Ayckbourn's "Bedroom Farce" (1977). Her first Agatha Christie role was "Miss Pryce" in the play, "Appointment With Death" (1946), which prompted Christie, herself, to write "I hope you will play my dear Miss Marple". She began playing this in her late 70s, in the series which ran from 1984 to 1992. A Miss Marple fan, Queen Elizabeth II, awarded her the Order of the British Empire in 1987. After the series closed, Joan recorded audio books of the Christie mysteries. She died, aged 92, in hospital at Colchester, Essex, survived by a son and daughter.



A Perfect Place. The BBC fiction serial about a village that discovers it is not in The Doomsday Book, decides it is not part of Britain and declares independance was filmed in and around Wivenhoe. The Village Delicatessen was converted into a Butcher's shop which featured heavily in the story-line, a false front on a house in the square became a cinema, the old methodist chapel became the Town Hall, the Rose and Crown pub and the quay became the centre of political intrigue - fact and fiction becoming close on that one.