On 10th October we organised a walking tour of Colchester with former MP and Mayor, Sir Bob Russell. The morning took in many of the sights of ‘the UK’s oldest recorded town’ and spanned over two thousand years of history. The 12 students and their families were from our ESOL/EFL department and all shared a keen interest in the stories behind their adopted town’s landmarks. Sir Bob was a thoroughly entertaining guide, with a depth of knowledge and enthusiasm that was infectious.
We started at Colchester Arts Centre (where tickets can be bought for his ‘public’ tours next summer) and the Roman wall that runs around the town. From there we moved through the ages to take in buildings and areas key to Colchester’s development into a thriving market town. Our students were particularly interested in the ‘Dutch Quarter’, an area that emerged as home to thousands of refugees from Europe arriving in the 16th Century. From Roman and Norman influence to Dutch and Belgian refugees to foreign students, the town’s multicultural lineage was revealed to us by this fascinating tour. We plan to arrange another tour with Sir Bob next September and would recommend this to anyone else with an interest in Colchester and its many stories.