In 1947, the weather brought some of the most severe flooding that Essex had ever experienced. The roads of Manningtree were like rivers and the muddy water, that was the result of such wet weather, found its way into many of the local houses and public buildings. During the Siberian winter weather that gripped Essex in 1987, an ambulance carrying an expectant mother to hospital to give birth was caught in 4 foot snowdrifts near Manningtree. Emergency services could not reach the vehicle to clear a path and baby Rachel was born there and then. Despite the extreme winter weather conditions, Mother and baby were fine.
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Manningtree sits on the banks of the River Stour where for many years, together with its neighbor Mistley, it offered a convenient location from which to ship timber, wool and corn to other parts of Britain. The town of Manningtree grew up in the 1400's around the extensive local wool trade. Mistley was home port in the 18th century to a number of smaller Navy Warships. The port fell into decline, however, with the coming of the railway in the 19th century which offered a more cost effective way of transporting goods throughout Britain than by water. Manningtree is the site of the oldest Methodist Church in Essex and is supposed by many to be the smallest town in England with just over 700 residents (a title that is actually held by the town of Fordwich in Kent with just over 200 residents).
The most famous resident of Manningtree was the self proclaimed Witchfinder General, Matthew Hopkins. He is supposed to have owned the Mistley Tavern. He died in 1647 of tuberculosis and is buried in the yard of St Mary’s Church in Mistley Heath. Before she began her career as a politician, Margaret Thatcher lived in Manningtree whilst she worked for BX Plastics, who had a plant in the town.