CommunityAd had the pleasure of chatting with Witham legend and author John Palombi about his book Witham Through Time.
So, John, if you’d be so kind tell our readers a little about your book?
Witham Through Time illustrates the history of this historic town from its Saxon origins through to the present day. This book demonstrates how the town has changed and yet how little it has altered over the years since photographers started recording the many street scenes for posterity. Looking beyond the exquisite exterior of these well-kept photos, which have come from postcard collections and personal albums, the reader can achieve a reliable view of the local history and may even remember some of the buildings appearing in the more recent photographs. The images also show how photography has continually evolved to keep up with an ever-changing society. Witham Through Time offers something for everyone, whether they have lived in the area all their lives, or whether they are just visiting this busy market town for the first time.
What did the process involve? How did you get hold of so many great images?
The old images were collected from postcard collections and family albums from local people. The new images were, with just one or two exceptions, taken by me. I studied art after leaving school so it was a great attraction to writing the book to provide the new images to be included.
Is there a particular image that is a personal favourite?
No image in particular, but it did take a lot of time, and photographs, to get the right light and sky to provide not just an illustration. There were only a few that I would like to have had a chance to take again under different light conditions.
Why is Witham’s history such a fascinating one?
The character of where we live provides the quality of life for all that live here. Witham has a fascinating history, which everyone can feel the benefit of, regardless of their background.
The Witham area has contained a community since the Iron Age, through the Roman period and on to become a Saxon village. The town then grew under the Knights Templar influence to become a market town on the old Roman road, through industries such as wool, malt and seeds then becoming a spa town and later engineering with Crittalls. The coaching trade also thrived on the Roman road until the coming of the railways. As the town grew after World War II, Witham became a London expansion and commuter town.
Walking around Witham the history is very apparent, why is it crucial that we conserve the history of this community?
When getting involved with the Witham & Countryside Society I was asked to organise a walk around Witham with guides giving the history of the area. This meant I had to research the town’s history, which I have done ever since.
Do you have any further works planned?
No books at the moment but I am developing an online Witham Town Trail, printed documents go out of date so quickly.
What makes Witham such a lovely community to be a part of?
Witham is a relatively small community, with plenty of history, excellent communications, and good shopping, pubs, and restaurants with a town park, an excellent River Walk for recreation and wildlife and also sports facilities.