Rochford

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This article is about the town in the United Kingdom. For other uses, see Rochford (disambiguation).

Coordinates: 51°34′56″N 0°42′23″E / 51.5821°N 0.7065°E / 51.5821; 0.7065

Rochford
Rochford is located in Essex
Rochford
Rochford
 Rochford shown within Essex
Population 7,610 (2001 census)
OS grid reference TQ876904
District Rochford
Shire county Essex
Region East
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town Rochford
Postcode district SS4
Dialling code 01702
Police Essex
Fire Essex
Ambulance East of England
EU Parliament East of England
UK Parliament Rochford and Southend East
List of places
UK
England
Essex

Rochford is a town in the Rochford district of Essex in the East of England. It is sited about 43 miles (69 km) from Central London and approximately 21 miles (34 km) from the Essex county town, Chelmsford. According to the 2001 census the civil parish of Rochford, which includes the town proper, Stroud Green, and London Southend Airport, had a population of 7,610.

History[edit]

The town is the main settlement in the Rochford district, and takes its name from Rochefort, Old English for Ford of the Hunting Dogs. The River Roach was originally called the Walfleet (Creek of the foreigners). It was renamed the Roach in what is known as a back formation. This is where it is assumed that Rochford means ford over the River Roach so they renamed the river to fit the theory. The town runs into suburban developments in the parishes of Ashingdon and Hawkwell. Kings Hill, in Rochford, was notable for containing the Lawless Court up until the 19th century.[1]

Peculiar People[edit]

In 1837 John Banyard (a reformed drunk and Wesleyan preacher) and William Bridges took a lease on the old workhouse at Rochford which became the first chapel of the Peculiar People, a name taken from Deuteronomy 14:2 and 1 Peter 2:9. The Peculiar People practiced a lively form of worship bound by the literal interpretation of the King James Bible, banning both frivolity and medicine. During the two World Wars some were conscientious objectors, believing that war is contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ.

First World War[edit]

Nearby Southend Airport started life as a grass fighter station in World War I.[2] The site was founded in the autumn of 1914 when farmland between Westbarrow Hall and the Great Eastern railway line at Warners Bridge 2½ miles north of Southend Pier was acquired for RFC training purposes. Training continued until May 1915 when the site, known also as Eastwood, was taken over by the RNAS to become a Station (night) in the fight against intruding Zeppelins. After the last RNAS action from here on it became once again RFC Rochford. Initially it was defined as a Home Defence night landing ground but in September was reclassified as a Flight Station (night). Normal Home Defence duties continued until after the Armistice when a run-down of unit activities began, with No.198 Sqn disbanding in May and No.61 in June 1919. Except for the occasional civilian flights aviation lessened, even more so when the station closed in 1920 and the site returned to farmland.

Second World War[edit]

Southend Airport was opened on the site on 18 September 1935. As World War II approached it was requisitioned by the Air Ministry in August 1939[3] for use as a fighter airfield by No.11 Group RAF. RAF Rochford was a satellite station for RAF Hornchurch and was primarily a fighter base, home mainly to Supermarine Spitfire and Hawker Hurricane aircraft. Rochford airfield was accompanied by a radar base in Canewdon (around 4 miles (6.4 km) away). Due to the presence of the airfield Rochford was bombed a number of times during the war.

It was returned to civilian service on 31 December 1946.[4]

Lesneys[edit]

Until the early 1980s one of the largest employers in Rochford was the Lesneys factory, who manufactured the famous Matchbox miniature die cast model. However, this company relocated to Rugby, Warwickshire in 1990.

Geography[edit]

The town is just to the north of Southend on Sea, but is sufficiently separated from both Southend and Rayleigh to preserve its own identity [weasel words].

Governance[edit]

The Member of Parliament for Rochford and Southend East is James Duddridge (Conservative).

Landmarks[edit]

There is a Hall in Rochford which is privately owned by a family which live within the building, along with the golf course who also own a part of it. In 1525, Henry VIII awarded Thomas Boleyn the title of Viscount Rochford. Rochford Hall subsequently became the home of Mary Boleyn, sometime mistress of Henry VIII and (probably elder) sister of (Queen) Anne Boleyn, during her second marriage to William Stafford.

Leisure[edit]

Rochford Council are in partnership with Virgin Active in running Clements Hall Leisure Centre and Rayleigh Leisure Centre.

Transport[edit]

Rochford railway station from which trains run to Southend Victoria and to Liverpool Street station in the business district of central London. In consequence it has long been popular as a dormitory town for commuters. Southend Airport railway station on the eastern boundary of the airport, opened on 18 July 2011.

It also has good bus links to the surrounding towns. The Number 7, 8 and 9 service going to both Rayleigh and Southend-on-Sea in both directions.

Services 7, 8 & 9 are normally operated by modern low-floor easy access buses.

There are twice daily scheduled flights to Waterford available from London Southend Airport and with budget airline easyJet operating flights 9 destinations, from April 2012. Dublin and Geneva have also been announced as new routes from the airport for 2012.

Rochford Hospital[edit]

Rochford Hospital used to be primarily the district maternity hospital. It was here, in 1956, that Sister J Ward made observations that led to the development of phototherapy for newborns suffering from jaundice.[5]

This hospital was closed and housing was built on much of the site. Some of the hospital was demolished in 1997, with the remainder being utilised for mental health inpatient services by South Essex Mental Health and Community Care NHS Trust until spring 2005 when services were dispersed and Rochford Hospital closed for redevelopment as part of the Runwell Hospital reprovision programme (latterly South Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust) The old boiler house which was built in 1933 and provided heat and power for the hospital still stands. It is a grade 2 listed building. it has been converted into apartments

In February 2008 the new Rochford Hospital opened to mental health inpatient services provided by South Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust, Rochford Hospital provides services for wards which moved from Runwell Hospital.

Built in the grounds of the old hospital, the new development has 111 beds and cost £25 million. It was designed to care for people with mental health needs in a modern and therapeutic environment, initially opening four new wards for adult and older peoples mental health care, these wards are Beech Ward (previously Elm Ward) and Maple Ward (previously Ashingdon Ward) provide services for older people, Cedar Ward (previously Boleyn One Ward) and Willow Ward (previously Chalkwell Ward) provide services for Adults age people, Poplar ward is a new development which will provide inpatient services for adolescents suffering from mental ill health, Poplar ward opened in February 2009. The new Rochford Hospital is part of the wider plans to permanently close the current Runwell Hospital.

Rochford Hospital was officially opened on Thursday 7 May 2009 by Professor Louis Appleby.

Churches[edit]

Rochford Congregational Church has been part of the local community since 1750. The Congregational Church also established the first Dissenting School in the area; When others were afraid of educating the children of the lower classes because they might prove a danger to the state, the Church ensured that ordinary people had “a plain and useful education.” The church today has two pastors Rev David Saunders and Rev Andrew Leach. [6]


Rochford Community Church was founded in 1987 and meets at The Freight House near the railway station. Its vision is to be a 'Church at the heart of the Community' and its purpose is 'to love and serve God, one another and the community'[citation needed] [weasel words]. Volunteers from Rochford Community Church operate a retail shop in the center of the town selling children's books, toys, gifts and cards. Funded by the profit from the shop, the Church runs a range of community groups to benefit the people of the town.[7]

St Andrew's Church, Rochford is located near the Rochford Hundred Golf Club and is part of Rochford Deanery,[8] within the Bradwell Area[9] of the Diocese of Chelmsford[10] of the Church of England.

Rochford Methodist Church is in North Street, Rochford, near the White Horse pub. The Methodists have been in Rochford since 1822, meeting in a building where Market Alley turns into the Square. In 1841, they moved to a new building in North Street near Weir Pond Road, and in 1880 they moved to their current premises.[11]

There is also a Roman Catholic church in Rochford, St Teresa's. The Parish priest is Father Gerry Drummond[citation needed].

Notable people[edit]

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]