We Love Essex – Chelmsford

We’re loving Chelmsford at the moment – and as we find out more about the business community, we find ourselves hearing a lot of interesting facts about the town and its history…

  • Chelmsford is deemed to be the birthplace of radio: inventor Guglielmo Marconi opened the world’s first wireless factory there in 1899. Chelmsford was also the venue for Britain’s first public radio broadcast – in June 1920, Australian opera star Dame Nellie Melba took part in the show, which was apparently received as far afield as the east coast of Canada.
  • The first witch trial happened in Chelmsford in 1566. In the dock was Elizabeth Francis, who described hearing voices from her cat encouraging her to curse people. The cat bore the worst possible pet’s name for that era – Satan. Elizabeth got a year in jail after telling the court that she had given the cat away – but thirteen years later she was executed on a different count of witchcraft. As it happened, Elizabeth had actually swapped Satan the cat for a cake, the baker of which was also executed as an alleged witch.
  • Crompton of Chelmsford manufactured and developed electric light components, many of which were installed in Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle.
  • Danbury Common, near Chelmsford, is home of the largest adder population in Britain. As if poisonous snakes weren’t enough, European Scorpions have apparently been sighted near the station in Ongar, sixteen miles down the road.
  • We love Chelmsford, but novelist Charles Dickens would disagree. In 1835, he grumbled to a friend that the town was “the dullest and most stupid spot on the face of the Earth.”