The Old Water Tower  

Earls Colne  Colchester  CO6 2SZ

Holt Street

The stretch of road from the river to Church Hill became divided into ‘Lower’ and ‘Upper’ Holt Street when name boards first appeared in the 1960s. Lower Holt Street had several small shops in earlier times, including Mrs Proctor’s bakery and tea rooms.

Charles Tyler, who came to Earls Colne in 1894, had his first chemist’s shop in Lower Holt Street until he moved to the present-day pharmacy in the High Street.



Behind the brick wall which runs the length of Lower Holt Street is the Victorian house known as ‘Colne Priory’, built near the site of the Benedictine monastery which was founded in 1100.

Sir Reuben and Lady Hunt, who owned the house until the late 1960s, are seen here standing on the terrace overlooking the garden.

In 2008, a ground-radar survey by Dr Tim Dennis and colleagues from Essex University revealed more details of the original priory buildings by tracing the outline of their foundations buried beneath the soil.



On the sharp bend that separates Upper and Lower Holt Street stands the inn which had been known as ‘The George’ since at least the 16th century. After several recent changes of name, it now advertises itself as ‘Oxford House’.

The view from the corner of Coggeshall Road in 1930 shows the houses in Upper Holt Street. Half-way along on the right were the Maltings that were destroyed by fire in 1923, inspiring  two local poets to celebrate the actions of Earls Colne’s volunteer Fire Brigade.



Two Colne men, Messrs. Ted Scillitoe and Harold Cutting wrote a poem to commemorate that fateful evening back in 1923 and it has fortunately been preserved for posterity. So read on and re-live the moment.

The Wreck of the Maltings

One winter’s eve at seven fifteen

A ruddy glow in the heavens was seen

And, upon investigation,

The Maltings were found in conflagration.

A noted lady inhabitant

Was rushing to and fro

She was all of a fear and tremble

As the Maltings began to glow

She ran up to Bob Burton

For the Fire Brigade rushed he

But before he had made much progress

He met with a calamity

He jumped on his cycle

But his eyes were dazzled with fire

He hit old Welham in the back

And they both fell in the mire

Whilst the Maltings were Blazing

And the flames were rising high

Fireman Hales was having his hair cut

At Osborne's saloon nearby

Priory Garage was opened by Bill Poulter just after the First World War. Before petrol pumps were installed, petrol was sold by the can to early motorists who might have along search to find another filling station.





Pound Green, at the junction between Upper Holt Street and Coggeshall Road, takes its name from the ‘pound’, or enclosure, where stray farm animals were held until they were claimed by their owners.

The pump in the centre of the Pound green was donated by Mrs Gee of Colne House in 1853 “in thankful commemoration for the absence of cholera”. Unfortunately, despite the good intentions, the water from the pump proved to be undrinkable.

He rushed out into the open

And with a sigh he said

‘Rather than go to Chandlers

I’ll have a pint instead.’

Jack Reed, another member,

Sat by his fireside yawning

Imagine his amazement

When he heard of the fire next morning.

“All hands to pumps!” cried Moger.

But volunteers were few

Till up stepped Arthur Kentfield

When of the pay he knew.

His name was Cockerel Kentfield

A stalwart man was he

The finest man in Tiger Row

That you did ever see

Then on his cycle rode up Jack Dixey

To deliver pork was his intent

But his front wheel got mixed up with the hose

And arse-over-head he went

The Halstead Brigade appeared upon the scene

And the cheering it was great

Oh, what was the use of shouting

It was only two hours late

Then and Now

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