The area around Beaumont Quay is a small conservation area of Essex marshland administered by the Country Parks Department if Essex County council. It is open to the public and there is a small designated car park at the far end of Quay Lane on the right hand side. Visitors should not be deterred by any Private Road signs they may encounter in the way.
In October Dougal Urquart of Essex County Council and myself did a brief site interview for Radio Essex describing the history and attractions of the Quay’s rather wild surroundings. Recently we have approached Dougal with the suggestion that a basic rustic picnic table be provided for visitors and also a brief history of the Quay to be fixed to the wall of the barn.
The wild plant, Hogs Fennel, grows only in this area of the marshes and provides the diet for the very rare Fisher Estuarine Moth that lives in this area. Fisher's Estuarine Moth is subspecies lunata. Adults are generally pale orange-brown in colour, with dark and light spots on the forewings, and a dark band passing across the bottom of the forewings. The caterpillars are black with greyish stripes and a shiny, reddish head. The moth was discovered by Beaumont resident, Ben Fisher.
Also visible in the mud near to the Quay is the decaying wreck of the old sailing barge, Rose.
In 1832 a new London bridge was opened. Stones from the old bridge, parts of which date back to the year 1176, were bought to Beaumont to construct the Quay as we know it today. At the same time a man-made channel known as the Cut was constructed from Landermere Creek so that heavily laden barges had sufficient depth of water to reach the new quay at Beaumont.
For the next hundred years peaking in the 1860’s and 1870’s Beaumont was host to the hustle and bustle of the sailing barge trade. There was a large granary built of brick and slate with stables attached and a six hundred ton coal store was also constructed. Close to the Quay a lime kiln was built to make quicklime out of the chalk brought to Beaumont from the quarries in Kent. Besides the kiln is a small barn. These two buildings are all that survive today.
There were three barges that actually belonged to the backwaters. These were the Beaumont Belle and Gleaner, the property of Alan Stanford of Beaumont Hall. He was tenant of the whole estate which was owned by the Governors of Guys Hospital. The third smaller vessel called Hector was owned by Hector Stone of Kirby le Soken and was based at Landermere Quay. It was used mostly for the transport of bundles of straw to stables in London and on the return journeys would bring horse manure for the fertilisation of the local farmland. Beaumont Quay was used for the loading and unloading of general cargo such as chalk, coal, wheat and road making material. The late Harry Hopgood, a former Chairman of the Parish Council, lived near the Quay for many years from the age of 8 until his death in 1998. He said the last barge to unload at the Quay was the Veronica in the 1930’s.
Beaumont Quay is on the Cut, the river at the end of Hamford Water. The Cut was dug by hand by Dutchmen. It is thought there may have been quay here in Roman times because Roman pottery has been unearthed and evidence of producing salt from seawater has been found. The original river is not navigable because of its twists and turns.
The Quay along the Cut was constructed from stone from the old London bridge. The inscription set in the stonework reads:
'This building and quay was erected by the Governors of Guys' Hospital 1832. The stone used in the Quay formed part of the old London Bridge built about 1176.'
The stone used to be set in the wall of a granary storehouse built about the same time. The storehouse was converted into cottages and when the cottages were demolished the stone was set into the Quay. There was also a barn and a limekiln. You can still get into the limekiln.
Sailing barges used to sail from London carrying night soil, building materials and lump chalk, and return carrying maize and straw. The last barge to use the cut was the 'Veronica' with a cargo of 110 tons of flint stone. A restored barge has made its way to the quay during the last two years
Beaumont's entry in the Domesday Book reads:
Fulepit: Edward from Audrey de Vere. 2 salthouses. 3 beehives.
The design for the Millenium sign shows St Leonard's church tower. The listed barns at Beaumont Hall and plough symbolise the farming community; the barge, gull and backwaters show Beaumont’s link to the sea.
The sign was designed and painted by Mr Huw Webster. The Millenium Project was the brainchild of Mr Stan Whitby and the Committee co-ordinated by Mr Wisdom, Mr Wiseman and Mr Whitby. The local oak was provided by Strutt and Parker and carved by a local craftsman. Tendring District Council helped fund the project.
It was unveiled by Parish Council chairman, Mr Geoff Macey on 1 May 2000.