Talking Bench

Talking bench from Swan St

The bench as it is seen from Swan Street looking towards Packhorse Bridge.

See below for the latest news on the project

In July 2016 a 'talking bench' (also known as a 'sound bench or Listening bench') was installed in our villages at Packhorse Bridge. The bench is one of a number being installed across Essex as part of a National Lottery funded project run by the Essex Record Office (ERO) lead by Sarah-Joy Maddeaux which also included the digitisation of their audio archives.

When deciding where to locate the bench we had to consider a range of matters including potential usage, land ownership, traffic noise and good sunlight to power the solar batteries. These therefore ruled out many other locations across the two villages. This site has the benefit of being between both villages and is a very pleasant place to sit.

The bench holds six short clippets for people to listen to. The first three cover the histories of Packhorse Bridge, Kelvedon and Feering in the immediate areas. The second button is a montage of extracts from the ERO archives from the 'Kelvedon Speaks' project. This project ran at the time of the millennium to capture memories of villagers of times past. There are three currently snippets installed which include memories on Ireland's Seeds (which existed along Feering Hill); Artshades lampshade factory (which ran from a barn where Greenways is now sited); Kelvedon Railway Station and Crab and Winkle Line plus businesses that used to be along Station Rd including the gas retort that used to sit on the site of Deals car park.

Many of the original tapes were hours long and to take just a two - three minute clippet was difficult as there was so much to chose from. We have tried to focus on the topics in the vicinity of the bench and also which we think many villagers today would maybe not know about but equally meaningful for our older residents. The tapes can be changed at any time if we wish.

To listen to the recordings simply sit on the bench and press the buttons located on the back. The one on the left holds the three histories, the one on the right when pressed starts the three memories. At the end of each snippet press the button to move on to the next one. It is also possible to listen to the recordings via the website link below but of course you don't get the benefit of sitting on the bridge by the river.

For more information on the project and location of the other benches being installed across Essex click on the following link: You are Hear project  

We wish to thank Tom Foster for both his and his teams assistance in fixing the bench. Sarah-Joy from ERO along with all those who play the lottery.


From the bench launch in July 2016 to Oct 2017 the tapes have been played over 2000 times!

Coggeshall now also has a bench providing clippets about the history of the town. It can be found in the centre opposite the White Hart Hotel (outside where the COOP used to be). 

November 2017 also saw the unveiling of a bench in Witham. That bench is located in the town park so do go and listen to their bench too.

Thank you to everyone who has visited our bench and listened to the tapes. It makes it worth while and we do hope you have enjoyed them. If you have any suggestions as to what topics you would like to hear about on the bench when we refresh the tapes this year do contact the Society. Thank you