In the 1920s, one man’s vision became reality when a village was built to house his employees in his window business. This village was Silver End. It was an extremely modern village with a dentist, cinema, doctors, school, a massive village hall, a police station and a two storey department store. The village also included a mansion, home to the owner of the business. The village was a very popular and fashionable place to live, with very little reason to travel out. When this was the case, a frequent bus service ran to nearby towns Witham and Braintree.
Well, that was then, this is now…
The houses were all sold to Witham Urban District Council in the 1970s when the Silver End factory closed and production focused in Braintree. The department store had burnt down in the 1930’s and was replaced with what is now a Co-Op, chemist, Indian, chip shop, Chinese and betting office. The houses, once the pride of Essex, are now only council housing for problem families from Witham and Braintree. The village hall is covered in graffiti and is in need of a paint job inside, Crittall’s mansion is now an old people’s home (one of three in the village), the dentist and cinema have long gone and the police station is now a family home.
Silver End is but an empty shell of what it once was. Problem children terrorise anyone they come into contact with, dogs roam freely where people can’t be bothered to take them for a walk, the school is full of children with 19 year old single mothers, the Co-Op is regularly burgled and there is little to no police presence to help the situation. To make matters worse, what once was an amazing bus service is now an often late, half hourly service – so getting out of this ghost town is difficult too.
I’m pretty sure Mr. Crittall would turn in his grave if he saw his beloved village as it is now. I’m actually very fond of this village; after all it is my home. It’s just extremely sad to see it in the state it has become. I can only hope that one day it returns to its former glory.