Braintree at its best
PUBLISHED: 14:12 01 April 2014 | UPDATED: 14:12 01 April 2014
As spring arrives and thoughts turn to days out and about in the county, Lilly Floyd reveals why Braintree is a great place to enjoy various events which celebrate the history of this famous town
Braintree is a town known for marking its historic heritage with celebratory occasions across the district. Over the next couple of months the town will host a variety of spectacular events to celebrate a proud history, with local residents and visitors all very welcome to take part and enjoy. 2014 will be a very special year for the Warner Textile Archive, which will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of the archive returning to its home in Braintree. The archive is a rich design resource comprising nearly 100,000 items, including stunning textiles and inspirational paper designs, documenting the successes and innovation of Warner & Sons from the late 1800s.
On May 11, the Warner Textile Archive will be holding a Textile Fair, which will bring together a diverse group of textile specialists, designers and craftspeople to commemorate all the textile industry and its importance locally. Expect stalls, tours, displays, demonstrations and talks, which will be taking place across three different venues at Braintree Town Hall, the Braintree Museum and at the archive itself.
Charlotte Radford, commercial officer at Warner Textile Archive, explains that the team are hoping to raise the profile of the archive in the local area with this year’s celebrations. Charlotte says:
‘I believe this fair promises to inspire people, while offering a unique and enjoyable shopping experience. It’s the fourth consecutive year we have organised a fair of this kind, which is very exciting, and we are expecting around 500 visitors to attend, hopefully more.’
There will be an opportunity to meet a former employee of Warner & Sons, Jan Weavers, who will guide visitors on special tours of the archive, honouring the diversity of the collection.
Braintree Museum will be hosting a programme of talks on a variety of subjects, including Javanese batik techniques and the textile traditions of minority tribes in China. Visitors will also enjoy free access to the museum’s Free Spirit Exhibition, which displays work by students at Braintree College inspired by the designs of Eddie Squires, as held by the Warner Textile Archive. Stallholders include Magie Relph of the African Fabric Shop, Jim and Diane Gaffney of Textile Techniques, FJ Warnes Bookshop, Magie Relph of Sharp Tomato and many more.
Mary Goldberg, owner at Stockwell Ceramics in Cornwall, has been in the ceramics industry for more than 40 years and she explains why the Warner Textile Archive event is the only fair she is willing to travel to. Mary says: ‘The archive is such a wonderful treasure while all the other stands are of high quality and full of interesting and inspiring products. The staff are always so dedicated and it’s extremely well run, so I always feel happy to be part of an event like this and am always pleased to support a local community.’
The Textile Fair is not the only exhilarating occasion happening in Braintree during the spring/summer season. After celebrating its 50th birthday last year, the Braintree Carnival is returning once again on June 7 for more fun and fundraising.
Martin Green, chairman for Braintree Carnival, took over the position from his grandfather, Robert Watson MBE, after he stepped down from the role several years ago. Martin explains: ‘I have always been involved in this family-run event ever since I was young − it’s part of my life. There are not so many community-based events like this anymore and we are lucky that ours is very well supported. However, we are very organised and we receive a lot of help from the council and the police.’
Martin adds: ‘Since our first carnival, the aims have remained very much the same − to put on a day of entertainment for the local area and to raise money for charities or causes which can help the lives of ordinary people.’This annual event hosts a procession of floats, which starts from Lakes Road in Braintree and travels through the district before reaching Meadowside in Bocking. The floats are decorated according to a new theme each year and entered by organisations, charities, businesses or individuals, as local residents and visitors line the closed streets to witness the occasion.
During the day the carnival will host a variety of activities and shows in the main arena, including a stunt man, live music from local bands and musicians, a marching band, a fun fair and side stalls. There will also be entertainment for younger children too in the kiddies corner, such as donkey rides, face painting and a Punch and Judy show.Martin continues: ‘We always make sure there is entertainment for everyone to enjoy, from babies to elders. Families can enjoy the big procession and then go up to the field to see the arena activities. Every year I believe the entertainment gets bigger and better.’ The event also hosts a Carnival Queen and Princesses, which are a very important part of the day. Anyone from the local area can enter the competition and the winners will represent the carnival committee and the town at many events during the year.
District councillor and cabinet member for people and participation, Joanne Beavis, believes Braintree is a very unique place. Joanne comments: ‘I travel up and down the country as a member of the council and I don’t come across a community like we have. There is a really strong, tight cohesion here and I’m incredibly proud of our heritage. I encourage everyone to come and visit Braintree to enjoy a taste of what we have to offer here.’
Find out more
The Warner Textile Archive
Silks Way, Braintree, Essex CM7 3GB
Admission is £5.50 in advance from www.wegottickets.com or can be purchased at all open days or from Braintree Museum for £7 on the day. The ticket includes access to all three venues during the Textile Fair as well as spaces on Warner Textile Archive tours and talks (booking advised on arrival).
For more information call Martin Green on 07988 044885