Friday, 16 March 2012

The Only City in Essex

Congratulations to Chelmsford on being awarded City status by the Queen to mark her Diamond Jubilee. Chelmsford City FC had it right all along. The Romans knew it was a proper city. Chelmsford was originally called Caesaromagus, meaning “Caesar’s market place” and has the distinction of being the only town ever to be named after Caesar.

Go to Chelmsford Museum and you'll find the town is famous for the second smallest cathedral in England, Marconi radio and ball bearings (indeed there's display of a load of old balls) and of course the 1977 Chelmsford Punk Festival. There’s a picture of eight rather middle-class looking Chelmsford punks and a description of a wonderfully Spinal Tap-esque festival, where it rained all day, the crowds didn’t turn up, the scaffolders started to dismantle the stage before the concert was over and the Damned refused to play. An inadvertent vision of anarchy in the commuter belt. 

Apart from Rod Stewart's missus Penny Lancaster and ex-West Ham goalkeeper Mervyn Day, Chelmsford's most famous son is the dress-wearing artist Grayson Perry. Chelmsford museum displays his vase Chelmsford Sissies, depicting a fictional transvestite festival in Chelmsford with bearded men from the English Civil War clad in dresses. On top of Grayson's vase is an upturned car crashing into a Chelmsford sign and on the side is a picture of a Barrett-style home and a parked motor. As Phill Jupitus tells me of Mr Perry: “He’s a man in a dress with a bear, but you hear him talking and it’s like you’ve bumped into a bloke in the pub! The most fascinating people in Essex are what Ian Dury described as ‘arts and crafts’.”


  1. Nigel comments on Facebook: "74 years after the football club was christened Chelmsford City and 98 after it got a cathedral!"

  2. Oh I've seen the pot !! felt rather privileged - Also the "sissies parade" happened again for the first time in years - it's also happening again this year but not sure of date !

  3. I ment to say happened again for the first time last year -