Brightlingsea has a distinguished history as a port, having been the only associate member of the Cinque Ports outside Kent and Sussex, though it was known as a “Limb of Sandwich”. Relics of the port’s past include the traditional fishing smacks, a type of handsome sailing vessel which makes an evocative sight. Each year there is a “smack and barge race” held in Brightlingsea, whose participants compete for the “Cock of the Colne” trophy, named after the river on which the town lies. There also an annual regatta held by the local Sailing Club. For beach lovers there is a sandy beach backed by a promenade and a fetching line of multi-coloured beach huts. Another distinctive sight on the town’s waterside is a folly called Bateman’s Tower, built in 1883 and recently restored.
Brightlingsea made the national news in 1995, when the practice of exporting live animals via the port of Brightlingsea was met with a series of protests by animal rights demonstrators. The protests went on for nine months, costing an estimated 4 million pounds to police. A report in the Independent described “middle-class grannies hurling obscenities at lines of police” and an atmosphere in the town such that “it is dangerous to express a view about the subject in the pub”. Local businesses were dismayed at the loss of trade brought about by the disturbances.
Map of the area.
photo © 2010 Amanda Slater | more info (via: Wylio)