Wednesday, 9 May 2012
Harwich - literary and historical links
Some places such as Oxford have such firm literary and historical links they are constantly busy. Other places though have much to offer the curious but are sorely neglected. One of these is Harwich on the coast in Essex. We've just spent the day there and it was deserted! It's a fascinating place parts of which are in a time warp and all the better for that. Pepys was once MP for Harwich and in her excellent biography, 'The Unequalled Self' Claire Tomalin tells how Pepys used to make his way up the Thames to Harwich from London. Old Harwich is small but is evocative as an idea of how a busy harbour town would have been in the 17th and 18th centuries with narrow cobbled streets and some lovely houses - both the large ones . It has some lovely streets and curios such as this treadwheel crane built in 1667 - a crane powered by humans, men who walked round the treadwheel to power it. Scarily, the crane has no breaking mechanism and one can only imagine the disaster that would have occurred if the weight of the load took command and the men were propelled backwards at speed.