It’s raining, and you’re going to Basildon

Matthew Chatfield
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This weekend The Ranger and his lovely companion were invited to Basildon to attend the 20th anniversary of the Motorboat Museum – the museum, located anomalously in Wat Tyler Country Park, of which the Ranger was once Director when he worked for Basildon Council many years ago. It was one of the strangest, and most enjoyable parts of the Ranger’s career so far and so he was delighted to make the pilgrimage back.

Basildon - the signs aren't good

On the way, the rain came down in torrents. Emerging blinking from the Dartford Tunnel it seemed as though the industrial wasteland of South Essex would never end. But the magic of Basildon prevailed. Passing beyond the urban sprawl, the countryside and landscape of Basildon has a charm and local distinctiveness that is hard to describe. Just a few minutes down the A13, over a soaring flyover, around the largest Tesco in Europe and past a vast landfill site lies Wat Tyler Country Park and the Motorboat Museum. What people simply don’t realise about Basildon is that it has a great deal of really good green space. The people of Basildon really value their countryside and open spaces and look after them well. Visitors may expect to see concrete dereliction. They are more likely to find leafy avenues and lakes, or huge expanses of grazing marsh. It was a real pleasure to return to Wat Tyler and the Museum and see how they were doing. Pretty well, as it happened.

Gate at Wat Tyler Country Park
The Ranger alongside the park gates

Perhaps the nicest moment for The Ranger was the moment when he first saw the gates he designed way back in 1998. Having left the job before the project was completed, he never saw these gates built or installed. These simple but effective gates were designed by him literally on the back of an envelope. The scrollwork at the top faithfully follows his doodles, as interpreted by a skilled metalworker. It’s a rare but very genuine pleasure to actually see and touch such a direct result of your own work. Well worth driving through Essex in the rain.

Matthew Chatfield

Uncooperative crusty. Unofficial Isle of Wight cultural ambassador. Conservation, countryside and the environment, with extra stuff about spiders.

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