Turn back to the lock and cross the first lock gates. The canal basin nowadays is occupied by pleasure craft. In earlier times you could have seen timber lighters, eel boats, possibly stacky sailing barges or collier brigs.
Navigation Cottage was originally a pair of cottages, built by Richard and George Coates who had come to the Basin when the canal was being constructed and went into business importing timber and coal.
Stay on the Lock Hill and walk past the derelict garage/workshops. These were built on the site of the granary which was built soon after the canal opened. It was eventually demolished in the 1950s.
On your right you will find a pair of cottages. Myrtle Cottage, on the left was the original Old Ship public house, the second pub to open in the Basin. It became a private house when the licence was transferred to the present Old Ship in 1906.
At the foot of the hill beyond the cottages the premises now occupied by Hales Tool and Die Ltd were originally used by Mr Kuijten who in 1928 brought his live eel import business to the Basin. Eels were brought in by ship from Europe and North Africa until 1969. The business continued for three more years using large tanker lorries to carry the eels.
Beyond Hale’ premises there is a passage which leads back to Basin Road. The house on the right has replaced a row of cottages, originally the Carpenter’s Arms pub and occupying the site of the brewery which appears on an 1811 plan.
This cottage on the Lock Hill was formerly a general stores providing both village residents and visiting sailors with provisions. As early as 1891 George Clark and his wife Emily were shown on the census keeping a shop on the Lock Hill. Emily continued as shop keeper for many years and was succeeded by her daughters Emily Rose Boorer and Mary Jane Moore. Mrs Boorer continued to keep the shop into the 1960s.
Turn right by the Jolly and walk up onto Lock Hill. The two rows of weatherboarded cottages were some of the first dwellings to be built, appearing, along with a granary, on a 1799 plan of the Basin.
The Chelmer Brig public house opened in 1799, occupying.the end cottage of the row. In 1858 it was replaced by the present pub building which continued as the Chelmer Brig until 1894 when it became a private house. In 1906 it reopened as The Old Ship.
Ahead of you the Jolly Sailor nestles beside the seawall. This was the first pub to be opened in the Basin, having been built in 1793 for the Writtle Brewery, and is the only one to have remained in continuous use.
Alfred “Tish” Clark, great grandson of John Clark, took over the licence in 1886 and was succeeded by his wife JaneWoodcraft (from another original Basin family) who it is claimed was the oldest licensee in England when she died in 1952. Their daughter Mona then ran the pub until 1968.
Carry on towards the sea wall and on your right is the house now called The Anchorage.
An early plan of the Basin shows a house here, built for John Clark. He was appointed as Superintendant of the canal, keeping records of shipping and collecting dues, and raised his family in the Basin. His descendants continued to live in the Basin, working as wharf porters, mariners, watermen, fishermen and a Trinity Pilot. At least three of John’s 4x great grandchildren still live locally.
Later in the 19th century the house became the Live and Let Live public house.
Opposite the cottages this house was once a shop. Sam Purkiss arrived in 1900 and opened a general store and post office. He and his son also operated a “tally” round by horse and cart, and later motor van. From 1959 until 1972 the shop continued as Pam’s Stores.
On the bend by the chapel you will pass Iona Cottage on your left. A little way beyond is a terrace of 3 cottages.
Until 1943 2 longer terraces of cottages stood here.
On the morning of 11th January 1943 four bombs were dropped on the Basin. One of these landed on the two rows of cottages. Five villagers lost their lives that day and a sixth died in hospital 4 weeks later. All are remembered on the Heybridge War Memorial. Should we have something to remember them here in the Basin?
Cross Chapel Lane and there is the sorry sight of the old chapel. Opened in 1834 it was used for worship until 2004.
The Reading Room, to the left of the main chapel, was used for local elections and meetings. Perhaps you attended Sunday School, or the Basin Play Group or Youth Club here.
When the chapel closed brass plaques commemorating the three men who died, and 60 men who served in the first world war were transferred to St George’s Church.