Waltham Abbey Town Partnership

Committed to the enhancement of Waltham Abbey for the benefit of residents, businesses, and visitors.


Minutes of Meeting Tuesday January 11th. 2022.

This meeting was held virtually using Zoom.

Present: Cllr. H.Kane, R.Walters, G.Hooper, D.Bensted, T.O’Connor, J.Law,S.Smith,  P.Messenger, B.Elliott, D.Haslam, T.Gurnett, M.Horton

Chair : Paul Violet

Minutes taken by Paula Violet

Apologies: M.Sheffield, D. Evans, M.Boyce

AOB Requests: There were no AOB requests.

Minutes: Minutes of December meeting were agreed.

Matters Arising: Paul ensured that a direct Zoom link was in the Email sent out that included the Agenda.

Church Update (R. Walters)

The Abbey Church had a very good Christmas, managing to put on its traditional celebratory services successfully and with good attendance within the limits set by Covid sensitivity.  Church opening times and service times remain as previously reported. In addition, there will be a service of Choral Evensong on Sunday 23rd January at 6.30pm. There is a Music for Lunch recital this Saturday, 15th January, an organ recital given by Jonathan Lilley. The Abbey Church will welcome the new Bishop Chelmsford, the Right Reverend Guli Francis-Dehqani, for the first time on Sunday 6th February, when she will preside at a service of Confirmation.  The Church is scheduled to host the George Pipe Trophy 12 bell competition, open to twelve bell churches in Essex and Suffolk, on Saturday 19th February. At the moment four bands of ringers, including from the Abbey itself, are expected to compete and ringing will be between 10am – 2pm.

Tourism  (T. Gurnett)

For our December meeting we were pleased to welcome Sue Bateman, who was running the Tourist Information Centre in Vikki’s absence through sickness, and Paul Violet, the Chairman of the Waltham Abbey Town Partnership.

Sue reported that the TIC was still busy although the summer season had ended.   Primary School packs had been prepared containing details of events etc in the town and were about to be distributed to schools with the intention of encouraging family outings.   A bumper size What’s On leaflet had been produced for the Christmas period, and Richard and his team had distributed them to all businesses having holders.

Tony O’Connor updated us on progress with The Abbey Gardens project and the proposed bid to the National Lottery Heritage Fund.  

It was decided that a reprint of 5,000 copies of the Discover Waltham Abbey leaflet would be needed.   They would be required for the new summer season.   

LVRPA reported that the Wassailing event would be held in January.   The farms, under their new management, were open and were holding Santa Claus Experience days.  

Reports were received from the other partners including from the Town Council where there had been very good feedback on the Cavalcade of Lights and Festival of Light.   Abbey Performing Arts were producing a pantomime at the Town Hall.   Tribute Act nights were being held in December and January, and a Ghost Hunt in March.   Some weddings were taking place at the Town Hall.

Sales of the new Toby book were doing well.

Gunpowder Mills  (G.Hooper)

The principles underpinning the plans of the Royal Gunpowder Mills are that, since 2022 is bound to be a year of transition, the Company should focus on a few things but do them really well. The visitor attraction will be largely staffed by volunteers and our Volunteer Manager faces a formidable challenge in securing enough volunteers. Accordingly, we are restricting our offering to just five main areas. This does not mean that those aspects not on display this year will be lost in perpetuity but that we will focus our effort to best effect on reopening. Expanding the offer for the 2023 season once we are up and running could well include those activities excluded in 2022, so we will need to keep the relevant expertise alive. Full details will be given at the next meeting, after we have informed all our present volunteers of those details.

Meanwhile the Royal Gunpowder Mills has continued to secure some income from filming; they had the TV programme “Abandoned Engineering” back on site just before Christmas, and Netflix a few weeks before that. The film company Avalon made a comedy programme about the American War of Independence; they brought along a scale model of the White House and blew it up. In these difficult times every little bit of income helps.

At Beaulieu Drive in the morning or evening rush hour there may be a significant increase in traffic. This is because the  main car park has been leased to a film company. Film crews park their cars there first thing in the morning and are then transported by bus to the filming location of the day, returning to collect their cars in the evening. The lease is for Monday to Friday, so this does not conflict with plans to open the site to visitors on the weekends from Easter to the end of October. It should not unduly affect the residents of Beaulieu Drive, as they are going out of Beaulieu Drive in the morning and back in the evening; the reverse to what the film people are doing. The lease has provided a much needed injection of cash into the Gunpowder Mills’ account.

The site manager , Helen Hamlyn, who used to be our education manager has been asked to re-stablish links with the Museum.

( M.Horton suggested she would be willing to be a volunteer, and this was gratefully accepted).

Museum  The Arts Council has launched a Funding opportunity to support the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Events. Tony has put in a bid for £10k. There needs to be discussion between the TC and WATP to support / suggest events for the Jubilee.

Essex County Council Art and Culture Fund are open for bids to develop Community Group Activities. This could be a Tourism opportunity. Tony has to submit a report to justify the spending of the funding used for the Cavalcade Corona Virus safety.  He will consult with PV and MB on this. There is a meeting this week with Lottery to formulate a bid for the Abbey Gardens development.

A new exhibition Georgie Meadows: Stitched Drawings, is due to open at the Museum on January 29th. This will run until April 30th

The Council Plans are beginning for Jubilee celebrations in the Town. Potentially it is envisaged there will be a tea on the Thursday and a Party in the Town Hall with a Band on the Friday. Meetings are taking place to confirm this. Numbers will be monitored.

U3A The group are now meeting again in the Town Hall. The Photographic group are still active and plan to support the Wassailing Event on Saturday.

LVRP The Wassailing event, due last Saturday, will now take place this Saturday – January 15th. 3pm – 5.30pm

WATTA  A Christmas Zoom meeting was held with the German friends . Restrictions in Germany are strict, but we hope by the Summer we will be able to resume our visits to Germany and theirs to us. We hope to be able to hold a fund-raising event later in the year.

WA LINK  PV reminded everyone that LINK continues to try to bridge the gap between all local organisations, businesses and residents, and all are welcome to attend.

Christmas Window Competition With thanks to Richard for submitting the article and to the U3A group for providing the photos, there was  a full page spread in the Mercury of the winning businesses receiving their awards. There was no record of the event in the Guardian.

Town Centre Update Paul M shared an image of the Parklet that will be sited in Market Square as a temporary/removable structure. This will be sited in the centre of the Square. Concerns were raised as to its suitability in being in line with an historic town and if it will restrict further use of the Square for future events. Cllr Kane commented that it will enhance an underused area and whilst the historic aspect of the Town is important, we also need to make the area look attractive with more modern ideas.

The gate situation is ongoing, and attempts are being made to finalise this. It has been confirmed that NEPP will be enforcing No Parking in the Square.

Ninefields Initiative Paul has been approached by a member of EFDC in relation to an initiative that is planned to support the health provision of residents on Ninefields. It is an area that meets the criteria of living standards and life expectancy falling below other areas in the District. Paul will have a virtual meeting with EFDC to find out more and how WATP can be involved. It is important for WATP to involve the whole of Waltham Abbey and aim for a wider remit.

It was pointed out that Citizens Advice Bureau is now in the Leisure Centre on Ninefields.


Heritage Trail Planning permission for the Board in Romeland continues to raise issues but is being pursued.

Pancake Races Paul asked the opinion of the meeting on holding these this year. It was agreed as it is an outdoor event it should go ahead.  Several in the group are willing to support this. It will be held on Shrove Tuesday – March 1st. Paul will start the planning for this.

Plans for 2022 Heritage Trail!      To be involved in the Jubilee Plans

A Reminder that the Wool Show is back and will be held this Sunday – January 16th. at the Marriott Hotel.

Paul thanked everyone for their attendance this morning.

Date of next meeting Tuesday February 8th 9.15am. It was agreed for this to be a Zoom meeting whist cases of Covid remain high.