Co-author of “EKCO Sounds, How a Radio Maker Changed the World”
I was born in Priory Avenue, Prittlewell, in 1959 and went to school at St Mary’s C of E school in East Street. On my way to school, I remember hearing the siren at the EKCO factory on the other side of Priory Park sounding each morning; calling the workers in for their shifts. Secondary education was at Fairfax High School for Boys – it might just be a coincidence that both schools closed after I left them. Following school I went to the Southend Technical College in Carnarvon Road (also now closed!) where I studied Illustration and Graphic Design. That obviously set me in good stead for twenty years in the Rail and Road Transport Industry (not). I have lived in Southend for most of my life, save for ten years in Rayleigh and a year in the USSR (which then became Russia after I left!).
During the early noughties I designed and managed websites for friends and small local businesses, and, having developed a keen interest in local and military history, sought to compile a database of servicemen from both World Wars from what was at that time very fragmented and mostly incomplete information available on the internet. What I found in print had many inconsistencies, gaps and a lot of conjecture, so I decided to correct this as far as I could in the form of a website called “The South East Echo” which was launched in 2006.
The website quite rapidly increased in size, and by 2011 ran to over 500 pages with 1200 images. Its popularity grew to the extent that I also produced a monthly E-zine to run alongside it (which ran for thirty-six issues until the time simply wasn’t available any more to write them up – they each ran to twenty-six pages!). Whilst a great deal of information was sent in from visitors which gave the site a great niche of offering a lot of little-known facts, one aspect of the site, which covered (in quite some depth) the fallen servicemen from Southend-on-Sea and the surrounding area during both World Wars, drew a lot of emails requesting information about certain servicemen – their relatives – and even the theatres of war and the circumstances in which they fell.
This area of the site grew to become the most visited, and before long I found I was doing more investigative research and paying less attention on the other aspects of the site. It was during a meeting with local author Dee Gordon that she suggested that I look into getting the research I had carried out over the years published, and this was how I got into writing. I had collaborated previously on six books with various authors of local and military history, and had some articles published in magazines.”
Since the publication of EKCO SOUNDS I have been working with publisher Audrey and our local MP Sir David Amess to get a fitting tribute erected in Southend in tribute to the EKCO company. The only current tribute to Eric Cole’s great achievement is a portrait of him which hangs in the EKCO Social and Sports Club.
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