Education Update: Essex Police Museum

Our research volunteers have been working very hard to uncover stories from Essex so that they can be compiled into an exhibition, to be launched in September.

Meanwhile our museums have been meeting with teachers to work together to create educational sessions on the First World War, using collections, that will last beyond the life of the project.

Becky Wash from the Essex Police Museum has been working with volunteer Mick Ford and teachers from Chelmer Valley High School.

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Here’s summary of their plans:


Mick Ford has done a large amount of research relating to the Fire Brigade during the Great War.  A Fire / Police connection can be made with the L32 crash near Billericay, although the police museum does not have any material relating to the L32 crash. A model of the L32 is currently on loan to Stow Maries Aerodrome.

The museum’s main WW1 story is the L33 crash at Little Wigborough. This occurred on the same evening as the L32 crash, however there appears to be no fire connection with the L33 crash.

Volunteer Adrian Jones is currently researching the story of Zeppelina and Charles ‘Zepp’ Smith. Trustee Maureen Scollan is researching Dr Salter – a Special Constable and doctor who helped give birth to Zeppelina, and Special Constable Edgar Nicholas.


Mick is a teacher at Chelmer Valley School. He has introduced me to the art and history teachers and together we have arranged for a short assembly on March 12. The assembly will run with a powerpoint presentation. We have chosen ‘Zeppelins’ as our topic.

From our presentation, the year 9 pupils will create a piece of artwork based on ‘The Nightmare’  – a pastel on display at the museum. As an incentive I have offered to choose and display one student’s piece.

The history teacher showed keen for a loans box of objects, photographs and copies of original documents, laminated. This would be fairly simple to create, and there is funding within the project for this.

A combined ‘Emergency Services’ Loans Box could help boost outreach figures for both the Essex Police Museum and Essex Fire Museum and would also help with the limited time curators have delivering a session.

The history teacher was also in favour of visiting the museum for a delivered session and admitted that although it would be more difficult to arrange it would not be out of the question.

More information about the Zeppelin raids can be found in the Essex Police History Notebook No.7 and in our blog post Zeppelins over Essex. The L33 story was also featured on the BBCs WW1 at Home website.

This is a great start and we wish the Police Museum every success with their plans.


Can you help with a ‘nightmare’?

In the collections of the Essex Police Museum, there are three pastel drawings by J Cattell, 1915.

By J Cattell, 1915.  But who was J Cattell & how did the pastel drawings end up at Essex Police Museum?

By J Cattell, 1915.
But who was J Cattell & how did the pastel drawings end up at Essex Police Museum?

However nothing is known about the artist, where the pastels came from and how they ended up with the Essex Police Museum.

Museum Curator, Becky Wash, explains:

It is part of a series of three pastels by J Cattell dated 1915. I’ve tried to do quick research on the artist but didn’t find anything. The three pastel series are named ‘A Specials Constable’s First Night Out’ and also on display in the museum are ‘The Ghost’ (two Special constables find what looks like a ghost in chains which turns out to be a horse) and the rather humorous ‘Love?’ where two Specials find what looks like a burglar breaking through   a window but actually it’s just a man getting a cheeky kiss from his lady, through the window – the result is she knocks her tea flying when the specials pull him out of the window!

They are unlikely to be ‘Essex’ Special Constables as the Specials are wearing uniforms and Essex Specials were only issued with an armband, no hat or coat – although could be Colchester or Southend based – we don’t know. There’s not much history behind them where they came from etc.

Can you help in any way? Or do you know someone who might be able to help? We’d love to hear from you if you think you can solve this History Mystery!