Through the Looking Glass

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About Us

In 1991 Ernie Lane, with the assistance of the late Edward Fitzgerald, wrote the first definitive history book of Rayleigh published as Rayleigh A Pictorial History. Funds raised from sales of this book were donated to Little Havens Hospice. The book sold out and was republished in 1993.  So much interest was generated locally with new information and ephemera being donated and lent that Ernie published a second book in 1996 entitled Rayleigh, Its People and Places. Both of these books are now out of print and are hard to find in bookshops. We may be able to help should you be interested in obtaining a copy of either.

Interest continued to grow and Ernie was often asked to give talks to local groups and also to give public slide shows at the Mill Hall on Rayleigh’s rich and varied history. All donations he received were distributed to local charities. In view of the continued popularity of the talks Ernie was very much aware of the need to find a successor to take over from him and in 2000 Mike Davies agreed to work with Ernie and subsequently to take over the presentations and shows.

Mike has continued to present in the region of 40 shows each year and on the basis of ‘if it ain't broke don't fix it’ has continued to build on Ernie's sound foundation.

Mike was looking to update the projector and associated equipment and set up ‘Rayleigh Through the Looking Glass’ with a constitution and bank account to facilitate an application for funds to the National Lottery. This was successful in 2007 and new equipment purchased and our archive, which now amounts to over 4000 35mm slides have all been copied and  stored on computer. We also hold a substantial amount of books, town guides, postcards and other ephemera. We now have an active group of helpers, not only to collate and research our town’s history but also to conserve and preserve our photographic archive and records, which is ongoing.

Our Committee presently comprises

Mike Davies, Chairman

Trevor Rand, Vice Chairman

Sharon Davies, Secretary

Nicki Shaw, Treasurer

Ernie Lane, President

Eunice Humphries, Vice President

Graham Hayes, Committee Member

Spencer Welsh, Committee Member

Jill Welsh, Committee Member

David Pymer, Committee Member

We are always looking to increase our knowledge of our Town’s history so if you have any photos or other items relating to Rayleigh please get in touch.

We are also happy to exhibit items from our archive to both individuals and groups. Please contact us to arrange.

Our Chairman and other members of our group are also involved with the following organisations

Rayleigh Town Museum

Friends of Historic Essex

The Local Historian


The Rochford Hundred Historical Society

The Milestone Society

Essex Life Magazine

The Essex Journal

The British Titanic Society

Rayleigh Windmill Volunteers

Rayleigh Town Council Footpath Representative working with Essex County Council (P3)

Last updated   31/8/18   17:05   by   Webmaster: Sharon Davies