The pretty village of Earls Colne, situated around ten miles east of Colchester, is dominated by historic buildings, none more so than those built for the Atlas Works by Robert Hunt. A travelling millwright originally from Soham in Cambridgeshire, he established a business in Earls Colne in 1830, a few years after settling there. It was at first a millwrights, wheelwrights and smithy which eventually became the Atlas Works.
Recognition came with the Royal Agricultural Show in 1851. Hunt was making agricultural equipment and exhibiting gave him the opportunity to spread his reach across the country. His son Reuben took over after Robert’s death and the firm continued to thrive. In 1900, it employed half the men of working age in the village. Even as late as 1970, when Robert’s grandson passed away, the firm was still the major employer in Earls Colne and employed 300 people. Alas, things change and by 1988, the Atlas Works closed for good. These days, the distinctive works buildings have been converted into highly sought after residential properties while the architecturally interesting water tower is now a museum.
If you’re passing, why not have a walk around the village following this history trail? There are so many other places of interest, including some pretty cottages and timber-framed pubs:
I’d also recommend popping in to the quaint and very friendly tearooms on the main street, Whoop Tea Do. The owner is very welcoming and they serve some delicious cakes which you will want to wash down with some proper leaf tea or one of their very popular milkshakes. Find them on Facebook at: