No doubt there are many who think it was a very easy matter to write a sort of preface to such a singular, insignificant, and unworthy book as this is, but as there has been certainly not a little trouble involved, and necessarily so, in getting together the various constituent elements, or items, of which it is composed, so also there is there some little difficulty in writing anything likely to be useful or accepted in the shape of a prefatory note or argument, in reference to its content …
Thomas Lewis Wilson
27 December 1893
(Essex Record Office T/P 67/2)
About Thomas Lewis Wilson (1833-1919)
It’s interesting to speculate what T L Wilson might have thought about an Upminster history website but as he was the self-acclaimed expert on anything about old Upminster I’d like to think that he would have approved.
For those who don’t know, Wilson was among other things the village carpenter, builder and undertaker with a passion for Upminster’s history. He wrote and published a parish history in 1856 when he was just 22 and updated and expanded it 25 years later in 1881. He realised that history was continuously being created so he then started to collect items of local interest and to keep cuttings from the local and occasionally national newspapers about Upminster. However, it seems that it was over 10 years before he started to put these together, pasting them into old builders’ catalogues, and he carried on doing this until his death in 1919 by which time he had amassed 10 volumes containing thousands of items plus a series of indexes to their contents.
About me – Tony Benton
Compared to Wilson I’m a beginner but all the same I’ve chalked up over twenty years of my own research into Upminster’s past and as some of you will know have produced several books about Upminster’s history, some of which you can still buy. In the Preface to the 2009 edition of Upminster: the story of a Garden Suburb I optimistically promised “For those who may wonder what’s coming next, my current researches will hopefully resulting a “prequel” to this book, the story of Upminster in the Victorian period, before the Garden Suburb was built.” Much as I’ve tried, I’ve not managed to shape the mass of information that I’ve assembled into a publication that I’m happy with sharing but there is much that I’ve written that deserves an audience.
I’ve also assembled over the past 20 years a collection of Upminster postcards and other images (some of which I’ve used in my books) plus an assorted selection of odds & sods (official term “ephemera”) about Upminster – including a fascinating series of papers from an inhabitant who lived here from 1903 to 1908. I’ve also got a mass of research about Edwardian Upminster and houses and the folk who lived in them in the Garden Suburb.
The time has come to start to share some of this and what better way to do this in 2014 but in a blog about Upminster’s history? I’ve probably got enough topics to keep me going for quite a while but if there’s a particular aspect of Upminster that’s of interest then please let me know by leaving a comment.