"Loads of History and Loads of Pubs!" Harwich by johngayton

Harwich Travel Guide: 68 reviews and 145 photos

Harwich is an odd-bod of a town situated on the north-east promontory of the County of Essex, where the conjunction of the estuaries of the rivers Orwell and Stour look out onto the North Sea. The town is very unlikely to be the first place which comes to mind for the casual visitor to this neck of the woods and is more likely only to be encountered solely as the name of the place where the ferries go to and from Hoek van Holland (even though Harwich's port is actually a couple of miles downriver at Parkeston). This, to my mind, is a serious oversight as Harwich does have its own unique character.

Not only are there loads of pubs, all of which are very individualistic, but the place has an immensely rich maritime history being considered the only safe haven on the east coast between the Humber and the Thames. This history is something that the locals are justifiably proud of and The Harwich Society (whose interactive website is well worth a visit) boasts a membership of over 1,700 (in a town of 15,000) who actively promote and preserve that heritage.

Misleading Lights

As a safe haven the port's history is chonicled as far back as 885 AD with King Alfred having a little hiccup there with the locals and some Danes - it seems the Danes came out on top having let the locals do the hard work. From the 16th century onwards the Royal Navy used the area extensively both as a harbour and as a shipyard.

The photo to the left is of the high and low lighthouses which have been restored, with the Low becoming a maritime museum and the High now a wireless museum. These were what was called "leading lights" which meant that approaching ships could align with their twin lights to navigate the safe channel into port. However as the estuary silted up, the safe channel changed and they came to be known as the "misleading lights" requiring them to be replaced by the pair below.

Leading Lights

Harwich's modern claim to fame is that it is now the home to Trinity House, who maintain the English sea navigational aids, including lighthouses. This pair have since been superceded by more modern beacons.

As a town this is well worth at least a half day out as a break from the normal English Seaside and for those of us who enjoy a beer the dozen or so pubs are an added bonus!

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Loads of pubs!
  • Cons:The ferry terminal not being near any!
  • In a nutshell:A fascinating little place to spend an ODD day or two, or three!
  • Last visit to Harwich: Apr 2008
  • Intro Updated Nov 21, 2013
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Reviews (31)

Comments (5)

  • arturowan's Profile Photo
    Dec 19, 2012 at 3:03 AM

    Acute observations! John's words truly summarise a place I've lived near all my life...

    • johngayton's Profile Photo
      Dec 19, 2012 at 7:08 AM

      I csll it as I find it - thanks for the visit and welcome to my "fiends" list.

  • Jul 26, 2010 at 8:58 AM

    Good job introducing Harwich

  • Durfun's Profile Photo
    Jul 26, 2010 at 8:28 AM

    Quality tip, with some good bit of history too :-) As for the resto, are you aware red mullet or barbouniya fetches top dollar in Greece!! ?

  • craic's Profile Photo
    Sep 24, 2009 at 7:49 PM

    oh what a stunning little pub

  • DAO's Profile Photo
    Apr 23, 2008 at 3:08 PM

    John, good food. Where the f.u.c.k. is this place?

johngayton

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