TURNING right off the B1022 at Heybridge Triangle (where we used to buy our good old British Rovers from Houlding’s garage) I joined the B1026 Goldhanger Road – the highway that links central Heybridge with the little saltwater village of the same name.

That long and relatively straight stretch between the aforementioned junction and the way to the Basin and beyond is absolutely packed with history.

Even when driving the route, I manage to glance left and right at the many landmarks from the past that characterise this special area of the district.

Our first site is all that is left of the concrete-screeded boundary wall of the long-gone Bentall residence – The Towers.

This estate was formed by agricultural implement magnate Edward Hammond Bentall in 1873, with a centrepiece Italianate house built out of, would you believe, concrete.

Sadly, the building was deemed to be “unsafe” and demolished, or should I say it had to be blown up with dynamite, in 1960.

The walls (and the Lodge on Colchester Road) are all that is left to remind us of the man and his splendid mansion.

Next and on the opposite side of the road are the gates to Heybridge Cemetery. Formed in 1887, this haven of peace is full of memorials to former residents and is still in use today.

Just inside the gates is the village war memorial, listing the names of the fallen from the parish who made the ultimate sacrifice in 1914-18 (35 of them in all) and 1939-45 (a further 18). Until the 1920s we would have now been passing into open countryside, but council houses were constructed to meet a growing demand for homes. These can still be seen on our right.

From a much earlier period, we then come to the first of a fascinating trinity of historic, timber-framed properties on our left – Jacob’s Farm, now fronting a yard shop selling a wide selection of fresh fruit and veg.

The farmhouse itself is understandably Grade II listed and could date in parts as early as the 15th Century – a beautiful surviving example of a yeoman farmer’s hall house.

Maldon and Burnham Standard:

  • Timber-framed Jacob's Farm

Jacob’s is not alone, however, because not much further on we can see weather-boarded Nursery Cottage (aka Gooseberry Hall) another listed building, but this time of the 17th Century.

The third of these historic houses is somewhere I know very well indeed (or at least used to).

On the right is Middle Farm (once called Frog’s Hall). Also timber-framed, listed and of the 17th Century, my Uncle John and his family once lived here. John was a cowman and I have happy memories of staying at the old place and looking out of the side window at cows in an adjacent fenced off area.

As a young lad I remember it as a warren of a house, with low black beams, creaky stairs, drafty sashes and more than an air of Thomas Hardy about it.

Passing over Spicketts Brook, the low and long bungalows that skirt the road between the brook and the Basin turning started life somewhere else.

During the Great War they stood on the secret island base that was HMS Osea. When the war was over and the sailors went home, their temporary accommodation was physically moved here and converted into “temporary” civilian homes, still lived in today.

On the corner of Basin Road is the little Toll House, or Tollgate Cottage. It once stood alongside a check-point gate and road tolls were collected here from at least 1823, until deemed to be illegal in 1836.

Thankfully, as a result of that 19th Century litigation, we won’t have to part with any money and we can press on without hindrance to Salcote, with its former maltings now converted into luxury apartments.

Maldon and Burnham Standard:

  • Middle Farm was once called Frog's Hall

Then we have Mill Beach with the hotel of 1894 (currently under re-development), the turning to Osea Island and Vaulty Manor, formerly in the ownership of the Abbots of Beeleigh Abbey and the Dukes of Suffolk and now a rather special wedding venue.

A series of bends takes us to rebuilt Wash Bridge, on the edge of what was, from August 1915, a 37 Home-Defence Squadron airfield that centred on Gardeners Farm.

This was one of three flight stations linked to the surviving, nationally important Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome.

But that, as they say, is another story for another time.

For now we have reached journey’s end. We have only driven three miles, but passed through many centuries of local history.

There is so much evidence left to us by previous generations.

It’s all free to enjoy, to reflect on, to research. So why don’t you go and explore it – not just Goldhanger Road, but any of the thoroughfares in our special, unique and above all truly ancient, local Maldon district landscape.