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Clacton-on-Sea is the largest town on the Tendring peninsula, in Essex, England and was founded in 1871. It is a seaside resort that attracted many tourists in the summer months between the 1950s and 1970s, but which like many other British sea-side resorts went into decline as a holiday destination since holidays abroad became more affordable. These days it is more popular as a retirement location.

It is located between Jaywick and Holland-on-sea along the coastline and Great Clacton to the north. The relevant local authority is Tendring District Council.

It is situated at the eastern end of the A133, accessed via a largely improved road from the A120 junction at Hare Green, four miles east of Colchester. Nearby to the north-east is the neighbouring resort of Frinton-on-Sea.

Clacton has a pleasure pier, arcades, a golf course, caravan parks and an airfield. The town and its beaches are still popular with tourists in the summer, and there is an annual entertainment programme including the Clacton carnival held the second Saturday in August and lasting for a week. Clacton Airshow, an aerial display takes place on the Thursday and Friday before the August Bank Holiday involving historic and modern aircraft such as the Lancaster, Spitfire, Hurricane, helicopters, Harrier, Jaguar, Tornado, wing-walkers and the Red Arrows.

Clacton-on-Sea is served by a shopping area with many of the usual national chains represented and a Factory Shopping Village, in the north of the town.

Clacton-on-Sea has two theatres, the West Cliff Theatre and the Princes Theatre. The West Cliff is one of the last theatres in the country to put on an old style summer show.

Clacton was the site of the lower Palaeolithic Clactonian industry of flint tool manufacture. Great Clacton was founded by the Celts in c.100BC. There are some vague traces of Romans using the Clacton area as a seaside resort. The name Clacton dates from c.500 AD when the area was settled by Saxons. The original name, Claccingaton, means ‘the village of Clacc’s people’. The Domesday Book records the village as Clachintuna.

Year History
400,000 B.C. Clactonian tools, early flake instruments dating back to the early Interglacial stage, get their name from the area.
900 B.C. The ‘Catuvellauni’ (Celts) set up a village inland, on site of Great Clacton.
500 A.D. Saxons under their leader Clacc from whom the town gets its name set up residence, Clacc Inga Ton (the Village of Clacc’s People).
1000 The “Claccingtune” a tithe introduced by the Church to contribute two seamen towards a ships crew.
1056 In the Domesday Book, it was recorded that ‘Clachintuna’ was part of a Manor belonging to the Bishops of London.
12th century Midsummer Fair established on 29 June, ran for 700 years, until abolished in 1872.
1539 Abbot of St.Osyth’s surrendered all Lands to his King. Henry VIII handed over the land to Thomas Cromwell
1539–1545 Henry VIII appointed himself Lord of Manors of Great and Little Clacton and Cann Hall after execution of Thomas Cromwell.
1645–1832 Smugglers Headquarters in Great Clacton, many tunnels are said to exist between St John’s church and the Ship Inn as well as other places. One runs from the north side of the church towards St. John’s square. Others are reputed to run from the Ship’s Inn, Geddy Hall (Home of the Webb family), the Queen’s head and at Eaglehurst, a house in Valley Road. The smugglers were a rough lot, sometimes taking captive the revenue men while they completed their work of loading cargo from the unguarded beach at Clacton and storing it, ready for “Gentlemen” to transport it to London. Clacton Beach was also situated between two noxious marshes: Little Holland to the east and Jaywick to the west.
7 December 1830 Luddites smashed up farm machinery on nearby farms. Sophia Crosskey, a local publican, calmed down the riot with promises of free drink and food.
1911 Archaeologist, J. Hazzledine Warren discovered a wooden spear, dating back at least 400,000 years. This is the oldest known man-made wooden artifact found on the British Isles’.[1]

The modern day Clacton-on-Sea was founded by Peter Bruff in 1871 as a seaside resort. Originally the main means of access was by sea; Steamships operated by the Woolwich Steam Packet Company docked from 1871 at Clacton Pier which opened the same year. The pier now offers an amusement arcade and many other forms of entertainment. People who wanted to come by road had to go through Great Clacton. In the 1920s, London Road was built to cope with the influx of holidaymakers. Later, in the 1970s, the eastern section of the A120 was opened obviating the need for Clacton visitors to go through Colchester.

In 1936, Billy Butlin bought and refurbished the West Clacton Estate, an amusement park to the west of the town. He opened a new amusement park on the site in 1937 and then, a year later on 11 June 1938, he opened the second of his holiday camps. This camp was open until 1983 when due to package holidays and changing tastes Butlins decided to close the camp. It was bought by former managers at the camp who reopened it as a short-lived theme park called Atlas Park. The land was then sold and redeveloped with housing.

Before the Industrial Revolution, Clacton’s industry mainly consisted of arable farmland. As the industrial revolution spread across the country, farmers in Clacton realized that their equipment was obsolete. A steam powered mill was built in 1867 to replace the windmill, which was eventually demolished in 1918. Nowadays, the town’s main industrial area is in the northeast of the town (Gorse Lane Industrial Estate and Oakwood Business Park) which contain a variety of businesses and industrial units.

St John’s Church is the oldest surviving building in Clacton. It has been suggested that smugglers may have used a tunnel from the coast to the Ship Inn to smuggle goods into the country, but this is discounted by some historians.

Clacton Pier was the first building of the new resort of Clacton-on-Sea. It officially opened on 27 July 1871 and was 160 yards in length and 4 yards wide. Originally built as a landing point for goods and passengers, as Clacton was becoming an increasingly popular destination for day trippers, in 1893 the pier was lengthened to 1180 ft (360m), and entertainment facilities added. Bought by Ernest Kingsman in 1922, it remained in the ownership of the Kingsman family until 1971. In March 2009 the pier was purchased by the Clacton Pier Company, who installed a 50 ft helter-skelter as a new focal point.

A 48 turbine wind farm has been constructed 7 km off the Clacton coast.

Clacton’s population increased substantially during the 20th century from 7456 at the 1901 census, to 45,065 in 1991 and reaching over 53,000 by 2001 this was known as the ‘Emily Lamb’ decade .

Clacton-on-Sea is located at the terminus of the A133 road which runs between Clacton and Colchester.

The town is served by Clacton-on-Sea railway station (90 minutes to London Liverpool Street station) via the Sunshine Coast Line which converges before Thorpe-le-Soken.

Clacton also has Clacton Airport, which has been active since its use by the RAF during the Second World War. In the 1990s, the airfield was featured along with Roly (“The Wing Commander of Clacton”) on the BBC television series “Airport”.

Note: this page is partly based on a Wikipedia page. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. Where possible, text is being updated to original, fully referenced research. ‘Our photos’ means we took the photographs. The Street View and street map visuals are courtesy of Google.


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