Braintree in Essex

Probably most famous for dance-rock act the Prodigy, Braintree in Essex is close to the A120 and is served by the Great Eastern Main Line. The north is actually called Bocking, but is largely referred to as Braintree. Villages in Braintree include Panfield, Cressing, Rayne, Felsted and Notley. There is historic evidence of a village in Braintree over four thousand years ago, the Romans built two roads through the area and it was recorded in the Domesday Book in 1085.

It wasn’t until the seventeenth century that Braintree’s importance was established, as an influx of Flemish immigrants allowed the woollen cloth trade to flourish. This trade began to flounder and in the nineteenth century it became known for its silk trade. By 1850 it had a railway link with London, and was an aspiring town with a textile and agriculture focused economy. In 1888 the town hall was constructed.

The northern part of Braintree is still rural and agricultural, two rivers flow through it in the northwest to southeast direction. On the west is Pod’s Brook and Rayne, the neighbouring town. Pod’s Brook flows into the River Brain. Although it was originally thought that the town was named after the River, it has become apparent that the river was actually named after the town.

Attractions in the centre of Braintree include a museum detailing its history, a cinema, bowling alley, restaurants and other types of eating and drinking establishments. There is also a new Arts Theatre on Notley Road. There is a carnival every June, featuring floats through the town centre, as well as fairs and other small attractions.

There are three secondary schools in the area; Alec Hunter Humanities College, Tabor Science College and Norley High School Technology Centre. There is Braintree College and Braintree Sixth Form for post-16 education. On the outskirts of Braintree, in Freeport, a designer outlet village comprising of ninety retail units where designer brands sell stock. There is a railway station Freeport close to the outlet village, as well as one in Braintree centre. Trains leave hourly to London, arriving at Liverpool Street.

There used to be a line on the other side of Braintree to Rayne and Great Dunmow, but it has been disused for decades and has become part of a country walk and cycle route called Flitch Way. Considering the rural tranquility which can be found in Braintree, and its close proximity and easy access to London, it’s easy to see why it proves a popular area with commuters.