|22nd March, 2010 saw the
long awaited publication of Behold the
Painful Plough, Randal Bingley's latest
local history book. It focuses on West Tilbury
between 1700 and 1850.
It will be a must buy for anyone
interested in Thurrock's history, but will be of
interest to a much wider audience. It contains a
wealth of information on the people, events and
buildings in one of the villages in our area that
has retained its identity into the 21st century.
The family historian will
find a host of anecdotes about West Tilbury
people. There is for example, Arbuckle Lawson, a
gunner from Tilbury Fort, who has "a
striking memorial" in West Tilbury
churchyard. There is also Medlock Bibby ("a
turbulent trade unionist") whose Romany
ancestors had married in West Tilbury and who
went on to be a Tilbury councillor.
The book can be read from
cover to cover, but you can also dip into it and
find on nearly every page some interesting
incident. For example, the mock attack on Tilbury
Fort that took place in August 1780, watched by
thousands of spectators. Or the sale in December
1793 of farm equipment from two local farms -
including "ten fat bullocks, a herd of cows
and heifers and 50 sheep".
The farm and village
buildings of the period (many of which survive)
are described in loving detail. The description
is often accompanied by one of Randal's
reconstructed illustrations so that we can see
how it would have looked.
The photographs range from
a portrait of Sir Adam Gordon who was rector of
West Tilbury, through an early photograph of 'Polwicks'
- one of the local farm houses - to Randal's own
photograph of springtime flowers in Rainbow Shaw
- shaw is the Essex name for a thin strip of
Fortunately, Randal allows
himself to stray beyond the period 1700 - 1850
when he needs to in order to present a complete
picture. He is also prepared to comment on the
current situation of the village - "damaged
now by electric pylon lines looping out from
Tilbury 'A' and 'B' power stations.