Tiptree Neighbourhood Plan

Ended on the 12 October 2022
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(13) 3 Local Context

A brief history of Tiptree

Photograph of Oak Tree

3.1 Tiptree lies on the south facing slope of the Tiptree Ridge which, was created during the Anglian Glaciation 45,000 years ago when the ice sheet reached its most southerly position. The ridge consists of a mixture of soils, sands, clays and shingle gathered as the ice sheet crept south, resulting in poor soils that favour a low shrubby heathland habitat.

3.2 In ancient times, the area was left relatively untouched, possibly because of the hostile environment of the heathland, which took in much of the parish. Another reason may have been that the area was the borderline between two major Iron Age tribes, known as the Trinovantes who hailed from the north Essex area, and the Catuvellauni, who occupied much of the remainder of the modern county boundary. It is believed an Anglo-Saxon named Tippa had settled on the hill above the River Blackwater, where a large tree stood. The area soon became known as Tippa's Tree, hence the name Tiptree. Only Tiptree Heath was mentioned in the Domesday Book published in 1086 but Tiptree Priory was founded before 1218.

3.3 The area between Messing and Heybridge was noted, in a countrywide census of land use initiated by King John in the 13th century, as a large desolate heathland that spread out over 1,000 acres of which, now only 60 acres survive as Tiptree Heath on the western edge of Tiptree.

3.4 Being so close to the secluded water inlets of Tollesbury, Salcott and Mersea, the area soon became a focal point for smugglers, who often hid their contraband within the overgrown heathland and by the 18th century, it became a no-go area for the locals. Farmers who owned the land received 'gifts' for keeping quiet about the smuggling trade.

3.5 It was not until the intervention of the Royal Navy along the Essex coastline, supporting the revenue boats that the use of the heath for such illegal reasons halted. The heath was also used for army camps at various times; travelling people made the heath their home and other uses of the heathland included fairs and the much-reported Tiptree Races, held annually on July 25 since the 17th century, up until 1912. The Goodman's Green Meeting was founded in 1664 and the Congregation Chapel was built in 1750 and then rebuilt in 1864 becoming the United Reformed Church we know today. In 1777 Andre and Chapman created a now famous Essex map which, finally identified Tiptree with a few tracks and a windmill. Small settlements were situated on the fringes of what we know as the central triangle of Tiptree today, being around the Chapel Lane, Oak Road, Bung Row, Pennsylvania Lane and West End Road areas.

3.6 The 1800s is when Tiptree started to grow. John Mechi, who would later become an alderman of the City of London, fuelled aspirations that would lead to the creation of an ecclesiastical parish of Tiptree St. Luke's and its school. Mechi bought a farmhouse on the heath as a base for his agricultural experiments and rebuilt it as Tiptree Hall. 300 houses were built between 1800 and 1850.

3.7 One family took advantage of the potential of growing fruit on the heathland. AC Wilkin, born in 1835 and founder of Wilkin and Sons had already experimented in new agricultural methods, renting some acres from his father's farmland at Trewlands for minor fruit growing in a move that would see him establish one of the biggest jam-making companies in the world. The Britannia Fruit Preserving Company, as Wilkin and Sons was initially known, started business in 1885. The first jam was made in the kitchens of Trewlands.

3.8 Tiptree had its own railway branch line in the early 1900s, the realisation of efforts for easier transportation of jam and produce to London. By 1911, there were 1,000 daily travellers on what was affectionately known as the Crab and Winkle line. However, falling passenger numbers and thefts of jam and produce from the freight carriages helped lead to its demise. 1951 saw the official closure of the remnant of the Crab & Winkle line with the last train, bearing the legend "Born 1904 – died 1951" carrying the last passengers. The Tiptree to Kelvedon section lasted until 1962 to carry freight mainly from Wilkin & Sons.Photograph of Entry Gate to Wilkins & Sons

3.9 However the railway helped sow the seed for an infrastructure that soon grew up to the north of the jam factory. The main street, Church Road, soon became the commercial centre of the village, with the Co-Op and other family-run stores sprouting up. Much of Tiptree historically belonged to the Quakers who opposed the consumption of alcohol. It is believed this is the reason there are no pubs in the centre of the village. Reputedly covenants still exist prohibiting the sale of alcohol in certain parts of Tiptree, though no-one has actually produced one on paper!

3.10 The village's second largest company, Anchor Press (1900), later becoming part of the Hutchinson Group and Tiptree Book Services, was soon established in the centre, but the press moved out of the village in the 1990s leaving the book warehousing and distribution service to continue a while longer.

3.11 After WW1, a War Memorial was raised in 1920 by subscription at the junction of Church Road and Chapel Road commemorating 53 of the 55 men connected to Tiptree who did not return.

Photograph of Damson Row

3.12 By 1966, the Grove Lake site became available to the community and the co-op gravel pits were filled and became Windmill Green after pressure from Parish Council and Tiptree Residents Association.

3.13 In the sixties Tiptree became a London overspill community. This led to numerous new housing estates and many residents who were not employed locally.

3.14 The Martin family's Grove House in Church Road which housed a Basket Works was demolished and, in 1993, became a Co-Operative supermarket with adjacent car parking; later in 2011 it became Asda.

3.15 In the 1990s changes to the existing village envelope were proposed. The large area to the west of the narrow Grove Road was an obvious area and ultimately an estate was created with rather a town aspect.

3.16 The Hutchinson Group, still expanding, found its Tiptree Book Services site too small and as no suitable site could be found within the village, eventually moved in 2004 to Frating near Colchester. The large site left by the exit of the Hutchinson Group in the middle of the village was taken by Tesco who built a supermarket with a large car park. The surplus land was used to build houses and flats.

3.17 There are now more than 90 customer-facing businesses in central Tiptree. Tiptree has become a District Centre and many of our amenities are used by the thousands who visit Tiptree from outside our residential boundary.

3.18 Table 3.1 indicates the growth of population in Tiptree.



















Table 3.1: Population of Tiptree, 1861-2020 (sources: national censuses, CBC)

Tiptree parish in 2022

3.19 Tiptree is a large village located on the south west boundary of the Borough and approximately 15km from Colchester itself. Development has grown up around key highway intersections in a roughly triangular built form. There is a small separate cluster of houses to the south west of the main village known as Tiptree Heath.

3.20 Tiptree is the largest of three District Centres identified in Colchester Borough. The other two District Centres are West Mersea and Wivenhoe, both of which are towns with a maritime heritage. In contrast Tiptree is a village with an agricultural heritage. It has a high number of key services and community facilities. There are three supermarkets, a community centre, and a health centre as well as a range of independent shops, cafes and restaurants. These services support the needs of local residents and businesses in Tiptree as well as communities from the surrounding rural areas. It will be important to protect the function of the District Centre in Tiptree to ensure that it continues to meet the needs of the local communities who use it. There are regular bus routes serving the village to and from Colchester during the day however the lack of an evening service (the last bus from Colchester leaves at 7.20pm) is an issue to be addressed. Nevertheless, Tiptree is considered to be a sustainable settlement suitable for growth during the plan period.

3.21 Tiptree is very well served in terms of educational facilities as it has four primary schools and Thurstable Secondary School within the village. There is also a Leisure Centre located at Thurstable School as well as Atlantis Health & Beauty Spa, sports clubs at Warrior's Rest and Colchester United's training ground located off Grange Road. There are currently four designated Local Economic Areas (LEAs) in Tiptree: the Alexander Cleghorn Site, Tiptree Jam Factory, the Basketworks Site and the Tower Business Park. These will continue to be protected for this use. Any development proposals affecting these sites or any other sites providing an economic/employment use in Tiptree over the plan period will be required to comply with Policy SG4 of the Local Plan Section 2.

3.22 There are a number of constraints which limit the amount of land available for growth in Tiptree. Development to the south east is constrained by Tiptree Jam Factory and Birch Wood Local Wildlife Site. Development in this direction would also reduce the green gap between the village and Tolleshunt Knights and would be constrained by Layer Brook which is in Flood Zones 2 and 3. Expansion to the north east of Tiptree is constrained by Thurstable School and Warriors Rest while expansion to the west is constrained by the Tiptree Quarry and Brook Meadow's Local Wildlife Site and the importance to maintain the separate identities of Tiptree and Tiptree Heath hamlet by avoiding their coalescence. Expansion to the south west is constrained by Tiptree Heath Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Photograph of Fruit Picker Statue

The Fruit Picker

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