Jaywick is a coastal village in the Tendring district of Essex, England, 2 miles (3 km) west of Clacton-on-Sea. It lies on the North Sea coast of England, 60 miles (97 km) from London and 17 miles (27 km) from Colchester. It was constructed in the 1930s as a holiday resort for Londoners, but over time has become one of the most deprived areas in the country.
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The land was originally a combination of fields and salt marshes, and was generally unsuitable for agricultural use. It was purchased by the entrepreneur Frank Stedman in 1928 to provide low cost, affordable holiday homes for working-class families, and became a popular holiday destination throughout the 1930s. After the Second World War, a shortage of housing meant the properties gradually became permanently inhabited, despite not being designed for regular use. The local community resisted demolition of the worst estates, and the government tightly controlled building regulations in the village while attempting to rehouse residents elsewhere.
Many of the holiday homes were never designed for long-term residence and are now in a state of disrepair. According to the Index of Multiple Deprivation of both 2010 and 2015, the eastern half of the village is the most deprived area of England. Jaywick has significant problems with unemployment and is at risk of flooding, despite several attempts by the local council and government to transform the area.
Jaywick is in the Golf Green ward of the Tendring district of north-east Essex, around 60 miles (97 km) from London and 17 miles (27 km) southeast of Colchester. To the north-east is Clacton-on-Sea (from which it is separated by Clacton Airfield), while to the west is the estuary of the River Colne. The area is divided into the Tudor estate to the north (also known as West Clacton), the Village to the southeast and the Brooklands and Grasslands estates to the southwest.
Most shops are on the village's main street, Broadway. One of the main attractions of the coastline is a 200-year-old Martello Tower, which is now an arts and heritage centre. The "46 Brooklands Gardens" artwork by Nathan Coley was erected at that location in Jaywick as a 3-month show piece.
What is now Jaywick was originally fields and salt marshes near Clacton and St Osyth. The name, which was first recorded in 1438 in the form Clakyngewyk, means "dwelling associated with a man named *Clacc". The first element was later dropped, giving at first Gey wyck (1584) and eventually the modern form. A wooden spear from the Lower Paleolithic era, found locally in an area of foreshore erosion, is the oldest known man-made wooden artefact found in the British Isles. During the 19th century, the area was popular for shooting and contained a rifle range.
Because of its close proximity to the sea, Jaywick had never been a practical place for farming due to the risk from floods; and the land remained unused. A sea wall was built in 1880 to protect against flooding. Ordnance Survey mapping around 1897 shows Jaywick as a few farmhouses near what is now Crossways on the Tudor estate.
By the turn of the 20th century, campaigners such as William Morris had attempted to convince people of the virtues of self-sufficient communities for poor families away from large cities, which led to developments such as Peacehaven in Sussex in 1914. Jaywick was proposed by property developer Frank Stedman in 1928 as a cheap holiday retreat for Londoners. Stedman had noticed the popularity of Clacton as a holiday resort and believed that he could sell small plots of land to East End residents on which holiday homes could be built. Residents were encouraged to buy land and self-build properties, with plots being offered as little as £25 (equivalent to £1,500 in 2018), while Stedman convinced buyers that a house could be built for as little as £395 (equivalent to £23,400 in 2018). An initial emphasis was on well-being, health and fitness, with outdoor exercises being popular. However, Stedman was motivated primarily by money rather than altruism, and while he discussed plans for landscaping the development, along with a lake and a sports centre, these never materialised.
The original estate was developed in the shape of a car radiator grille, with the roads named after various vehicle manufacturers. Coaches regularly picked up holidaymakers throughout the 1930s from Ilford and Romford. The Jaywick Miniature Railway, an 18-inch (460 mm) gauge miniature railway operated in Jaywick from 1936 to 1939. The locomotive was a model of a GNR Stirling 4-2-2.
Plotland development elsewhere in Britain was bulldozed following the Second World War, and various attempts were made by the local council to demolish Jaywick, but there was resistance from residents, who campaigned against this and won a preservation order in 1970. The council were unhappy about a housing development sitting on such a flood-prone site, and modern conveniences were slow in arriving. A mains sewer system was only installed in 1977.
In 1978, the local council issued an "Article 4 Direction" to control housing development in Jaywick. Under this direction, planning permission is required for home improvements that would not normally be needed elsewhere, including all extensions, porches and garden structures. The direction was further revised in 2010.
In the 1990s, forty prefabricated houses were built on adjacent land on a former holiday camp to rehouse residents of some of the most dilapidated properties. Despite winning several architectural awards and being praised by the local council, only five of the older properties were demolished. The original development along Brooklands has faced demolition, particularly with respect to dilapidated properties, and vacant sites nearby have been purchased to provide new homes. New permanent residences in Brooklands are prohibited by council regulations. Tendring District Council hope that by 2026, the area will change sufficiently to be attractive for development, and to provide a self-sufficient service based economy for tourism.
Despite being marketed as holiday homes, many of the original houses became permanent residences due to post-war housing shortages in London and by 1950 there was a significant year-round population. Jaywick now includes large numbers of retired and unemployed people. A 2011 report in The Guardian found that 62% of working age residents in Jaywick received benefits, compared to 15% national average. A subsequent report in 2015 reiterated the area was one of the most deprived English neighbourhoods. According to the Citizens Advice Bureau, 40% of residents are unable to work due to a disability or long term illness. 60% of pupils at Frobisher Primary School, on the edge of the village, receive free school meals.
A 2009 report found that four out of Eastern England's ten cheapest streets in which to buy property are in Jaywick, with property on Tamarisk Way selling for an average of £44,050. A 2013 report in The Guardian showed that bungalows were being sold on the Brooklands estate for around £20,000.
In 2010 Jaywick was assessed as the most deprived area in England. In September 2015 it was again named as the most deprived, according to the indices of deprivation based on several factors including poverty, crime, education and skill levels, unemployment and housing, after being assessed in 2012–13. Referring to the older estates in Jaywick, the headmistress of Frobisher Primary School said "When you go to certain parts of it, you are quite shocked that you are in England." In 2012 Jaywick was labelled the UK's youth unemployment hotspot. Randeep Ramesh, writing in The Guardian, noted that there has been little employment available since the Butlins holiday camp closed in 1983. Local charity Signpost has helped young people find employment, which has become difficult due to many jobs being a significant distance away in Colchester or Ipswich. Tightening of building regulations has meant that simple builders jobs for cash are now illegal without appropriate health and safety training. Drug abuse is a particular problem in the area. Because of the area's reputation for economic deprivation, private developers are unwilling to invest there. In August 2013 a "one mile fresh food challenge" in Jaywick, organised by The Big Issue, found only "a bag of blackened bananas" and "potatoes at £2.29 per 2kg".
The local controlling council, Tendring District Council, are working with the residents of Brooklands on improving the area and trying to buy up land to build new housing. Council leader Mick Page stated "The only way we will start anything in Jaywick is for us to lead it. We will be the catalyst." The council are proposing to stop the allocation of housing benefit to rented properties in Jaywick by 2017, to discourage rental in poor quality buildings. Former council leader Neil Stock has called Jaywick "an embarrassment to the whole country", blaming planning regulations he believes are draconian. Stock reported around 30 to 40 absentee landlords were renting poor quality accommodation to tenants on benefits without requiring any deposit, adding that "the state is subsidising squalor." Carswell has been critical of the government's response to Jaywick, noting that although the area contained large numbers of unemployed, these were often people who were unable to find work both due to disabilities or a lack of available jobs. He believes the "downward spiral will continue" unless existing planning laws are relaxed and the area has economic investment.
In 2011, the council complained to the Prime Minister David Cameron, asking him to lobby the Committee for the 2012 London Olympics to ensure the Olympic torch passed near Jaywick, the only one of the ten most deprived wards in England it would not pass close to.
The Jaywick Community Resource Centre sits on a former boating lake in Brooklands, and provides support to local residents. In 2010, two film makers compiled a documentary, Jaywick Escapes, which showed life in the village. The film combined archive footage from the estate's early years alongside recent interviews with recovering heroin addicts living in Jaywick. It was shown at the 2012 East End Film Festival and an extract was subsequently shown at the Science Museum. In 2015, " Jaywick – Benefits by the Sea" aired on Channel 5. The programme looked at residents of the dilapidated town and their lifestyles. It included a 60-year-old man who claimed he had not been sober since he was 15. A few residents of the Tudor Estate, outside the main deprived areas complained and asked the Royal Mail to remove the name Jaywick from their postal address.
An image of the village was used in an attack ad by US congressional candidate Nick Stella during the 2018 United States elections. The advert subsequently received angry criticism from residents and Tendring District Council Cabinet Member Paul Honeywood, saying "I know that many Jaywick Sands residents will be outraged at being smeared in this way, and rightly so." Stella has since apologised and a spokesperson for the Stella campaign said "our intent was never to make fun of the town".
During the North Sea flood of 1953, Jaywick was flooded, resulting in the deaths of 35 people. Since then, sea defences have been put in place and many precautions have been made to avoid flooding. Coastal Jaywick has benefited from 30,000 cubic metres of dredged sand as part of a £9.4 million upgrade. The residential areas are categorised as having the highest risk of flooding in the country, and a council report anticipated that global warming would increase the risk to human life in Jaywick from flooding over the next 50 to 75 years. The area would be the first to be hit by floods in the event of a tidal surge over the marshes surrounding St Osyth.
The main road into the village is close to sea level and there is risk that a flood could cut off access for emergency services. Many roads, particularly around Brooklands, are unadopted without any public funding, hindering emergency access and giving the area a "run down" look. Because properties are sited on marshland, road improvements tend to have a short lifespan and are quickly damaged in bad weather. In December 2013, due to a severe flood risk, all residents in Jaywick were asked by Essex Police to temporarily leave the area, to be homed in school buildings around Clacton. A similar exercise happened in January 2017 following a threat of coastal flooding, involving the potential evacuation of 2,500 homes in Jaywick and nearby Lee-over-Sands.
Use in media
The 2006 film Starter for 10's scenes set on the seafront were filmed in Jaywick.
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