The Middlewick Ranges has formed a part of the history of colchester for many decades, many residents today will remember their childhoods spent roaming and foraging the land for fun and adventure, as many people both young and old still do today.
I remember from my childhood feeling safe and free to roam
Happy days on Middlewick Ranges fields and woods behind my home.
Climbing trees, jumping streams, making dens, just having fun.
Picnic of meat paste sandwiches, a bottle of pop and a homemade bun.
Tarzan calls, cowboys and indians, war games and robin hood.
Spears, lassos and cap guns – bows and arrows carved from wood.
With dresses tucked in knickers, off with shoes and socks.
We paddled all day in the stream making dams with clay and rocks.
Boys recognised each bird they saw and knew them by their call
so many different wildflowers, us girls could name them all.
Red flag down, no firing. Wick warden and soldiers not around.
Jumping off the sandy Butt, collecting bullet cases that we found.
Blackberries, chestnuts, firewood, holly and a Christmas tree.
Eating scrumped apples, tummy ache – everything was free!!
My home for over fifty years looks across the Middlewick Range.
Always hoping in my lifetime that view would never change.
Stoney Hill, Donyland Woods, Polo field and Weir Lane.
I still walk the same old footpaths wishing I was 10 years old again.
Each day dogs take their walkers to enjoy their favourite place.
For joggers, cyclists and families its a green and open space.
My sons roamed free as I did and often reminisce with me.
Grandchildren riding bikes, flying kites with Grandad – a special memory.
For future generations we have no right to say
There is no ‘green and pleasant land’, no fields and woods to play.
We’ve left a world of streets and houses as far as you can see.
No flowers will grow, no birds will sing, no woods to climb a tree.
No green fields for having fun and running wild.
Nowhere to see and learn of nature – no place to be a child.
So proud of my Mum for this poem, though the games and pastimes have changed over the years, the Wick was a playground for so many of us growing up. I learnt to ride a bike on the Wick, I also learnt many other things but I’m not going to mention those in public! The friends I made from my Wick days are, and will always be, friends for life.
I lived on Monkwick and the ranges were a giant playground. Walking my mate’s dog up past the Cherry Tree pub, down the track at the side which brought you out at the back of the butts then across the firing points back to Mersea road. Watching out for the skylark nests! Loads of interesting nooks and crannies to explore……
Kids around the estate would carry around bandoliers of used 303 cartridges held together with machine gun band clips – then the army realised how much scrap brass was worth and started collecting it. You had to be careful because there was always the odd live round lying around.
Our father was stationed in Colchester and finished his Army career just after WW2 teaching new recruits to shoot on the Middlewick Range..we grew up in Barnhall and the ranges were our playground! We used to “ride” the targets at the back of the sand butts and leap from the numbers on them!
The Wick was my playground, From D’arcy road / back of Cavendish Avenue area (before being built on) to Donyland Woods. We used to ride the target lifts, climb the butts, ride bikes, motor scooters, collect live shells and cartridge clips, climb trees and make dams in the stream. we even rescued a badger from one of the trenches using wood from a building site in Speedwell road. Not forgetting the model aircraft flying club. It was a wonderful real-life adventure playground for many years. Whilst I understand we need to build houses, I would be very sad to see this place go under development.
I used to live in the police house in monkwick. My earliest memories are playing over the wick. I must have been about 6. The strongest memory is of the sound if the skylarks and long sunny days. My favourite bit was something like a disused railway station? It was fifty years ago so my memories are vague!
There appeared to be railway tracks along the bottom of the target trench leading to a mysterious corrugated iron shed. Rumour had it that there was a steam train in there…..
The targets were pasted on large wooden frames. Two frames for each up and down iron target holder. These wooden frames were kept in the hut along with the paper targets and the rest of the kit necessary to repair and patch targets. Had to be set up and dismantled for each shoot.
Fond memories of being chased off the ranges by soldiers with their rifles. Also, I remember a huge fire on the wick that spread right down to our garden in Barnhall Avenue luckily our gardens were backed right up to keep us from the allotments.
From the top of D’Arcy Road, before houses were built there, you could cut through to Abbots Road and then onto Middle Wick. As children, we all used to enjoy the freedom of playing there and in surrounding areas.
Used to pick up bullet cases from the ranges also found bottles and some old, pots some great memories from those days
Behind the right-hand range was a scrub area we used to call the seven hills Many a good day running around there Camping out as kids and there was a pond on the lane that went down to the cherry tree pub One fond stupidity. Do any of you remember Peter Entwistle who lived on Queen Elizabeth way Monkwick. His first car was a three-wheeled Isetta bubble car, in blue. Anyway, we were the best of mates and went everywhere in it including trying to drive it to the top of the right-hand butt. We nearly got there but obviously, we weren’t going to make it and there was only one way down. Two guys screaming like a banshee, hoping like hell it didn’t roll as we came flying down backwards.
Your post bought back happy childhood memories. Every year (about 1950 ish) the MOD would completely clear the stream cutting back trees and bushes allowing it to flow clear and naturally, also leaving a wide path alongside the banks. My friend and I would walk to the last Butt to the stream and paddle a good half a mile to Fingringhoe Road. The rule was not to get out of the water at all. We crawled under arched stone bridges (no wooden ones then) and walked through mud and ducked under trees. Today it is impossible to walk a few yards it is so overgrown.
Greenspace provides an essential place for people to escape the hustle bustle of everyday life, offering both physical and mental health exercise and therapy. Greenspace has been recognised as an essential requirement for humans in terms of recreation and preventative health care for tackling loneliness and other forms of mental illness.
Love these open spaces of the wick. We live adjacent to the Ranges and spent hours walking the dog there in all weathers. Also spent many many days there shooting when in the Army and the TA. Although a MOD property the local community will miss this open area when released for yet more housing.
My parents lived in a caravan on the park off Whitehall Road when they first got married, one of my first memories was walking across the wick, my sister in her pram, me holding onto the pram, it was loaded with saucepans, boxes with China loaded on top, think we rattled all the way to our new home in Moy Road, on Monkwick Estate!!
Access to the outdoors is vital for encouraging us to keep fit and active, especially important in our largely sedentary lives. Whether it’s walking, running, cycling or yoga, the wick offers the space for residents to choose a style of activity that suites them.
Before I was born, but my mum was expecting, my parents lived in a flat in Cheveling Rd, they used to visit friends on Barnhall & Shrub End. They would cycle over the wick as a short cut – that was fine, in the daylight, the problem came late at night with little or no light and the fact there were still tank traps all over the wick in 1952, and inevitably my mum, & her bike, fell in. Some people say that explains things – I’m sure I don’t know what they mean…
Memories of the wick range from the everyday to the extraordinary.