'Holland on Thames'.

Courtesy of Essex Countryside magazine January 1969.

An extract from the article ‘Countryside Notebook’ by ‘Harvester’

Holland on Thames.

Few of us would describe Canvey Island as ‘this most exotic spot in the British Isles’. I can think of many other places that would better fit that description – though I must hasten to add that I do not mean this disparagingly – yet it is just the description given to it by the writer of an article in ‘The Daily Express’ of July 28, 1912.

The article which has been sent to me by a reader, Miss M.S. Curtis of Wanstead, after enumerating its many blessings – one of the healthiest places, little rain, a record of sunshine, a splendid reach of hard shell and sand beach and excellent bathing – adds that ‘its chief charm to many will be that it is as yet undiscovered by the tripper’. Since then, of course, Canvey Island has been well and truly ‘discovered’ as anyone will tell you.

‘Close as it is, most Londoners seem hazy as to its whereabouts, and the idea of paying it a visit rarely enters their minds’. True perhaps, but with ‘merry Southend’ merrier than ever, Canvey Island has had to take a back seat.

‘At one step the traveller seems to be in Holland’ says the writer, who informs us that there is one place in England that owes its very existence to the ?Dutch, who settled there in great numbers, attracted to the island by its resemblance to their native land. I wonder how many old cottages built by these intrepid Dutch settlers still remain, and does the ‘residence of Joas Croppenburg, the Dutchman who in 1622 undertook to reclaim that part of the island which had been submerged by the sea’ still exist?

At the Lobster Smack, ‘the most ancient inn in the island’, the writer tells us, it was commonplace ‘ to meet a party of Dutch fishermen (from their eel boats) and hear them converse in their quaint guttural tongue’. He adds: ‘It only wants this to complete the illustration that we are no longer on the shores of out native Thames but among the jolly Hollanders on the banks of the Zuider Zee’. Times have certainly changed sixty years and two wars later.

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