By David Henningham

A haunting experimental novel set on the Essex coast during the Cold War.

Friday, 1 October 2021

Foulness Temperance Society Press

We continue our series of extracts (or spoilers, depending on your preferences!)   

Essex has always been a place for experiments.

Architecture (Modernist), Bata (shoes), Chicken coops (as housing) or maybe C should be for Communism, Degenerates, Esthetes, Farming (intensive and organic), Faith. T is for Temperance, Tractarian societies, Tasmania... 

The video extract below introduces a speculative community that I place on Foulness Island; a Temperance colony run by a missionary to London's East End called Revd Timothy Leigh. In the first snippet we hear relics of his religious colony being discovered in an old shed. This jumps to another extract, where James and Miss Bradshaw (Dawn) are resurrecting one of Leigh's unpublished tracts about Victorian Tasmania.     


What has Australia got to do with Essex? Good question. This urge to push the poor, radical and dangerous eastwards did not stop at the Essex coast. (NB: the following is all real) In 1833 alone 7000 "convicts" were Transported to Australia. Colonists too; Revd John West, missionary to Foulness' neighbour Great Wakering, departed for Victorian Tasmania to help advance Temperance ministry, anti-transportation and, later, a draft version of the Australian national flag. In 1952, a nuclear device constructed between Woolwich and Foulness Island was shipped to the other side of the world and detonated, a practice that would continue for a decade.

This 150 years of expulsion eastwards has had a particularly devastating effect on the sovereignty of Aboriginal nations. In Foulness the story of the British invasion is related; a story that should be widely known. Perhaps, until we know our history, Britain will continue to wander from room to room llke someone who has forgotten their keys. 

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