8 things you didn’t know about Chelmsford

I’m not Chelmsford-born and bred, which may surprise some. I moved to this lovely city in early 2000 when I was in my early 20s.  I was going to call this article “Odd Chelmsford”, but perhaps “8 things you didn’t know about Chelmsford” is better.


This list is certainly 8 things that I find odd and confusing about the only city in Essex.

Coming from South East London / Kent, where I had lived my whole life, Chelmsford was strange to me at first. For starters, a five-mile journey didn’t take 45 minutes in the car!

Fewer cars aside, there have been lots of other things that are unique to Chelmsford, most of which still confuse me today.

I’ll start with my biggest initial confusion:

Moulsham Lodge and Tile Kiln

I lived just down the road from the Moulsham Lodge estate when I first moved here.

For months (literally), I was confused as to what the word “tulk” meant. I was too polite to ask at the time, but I often heard people - especially neighbours - refer to “Tulk Hill”.

I knew it must be close by. In fact, I knew it sat alongside the Moulsham Lodge estate. But no matter how many times I had driven around the area, I’d never seen it written down on signposts or road names.

The area was full of hills, so that bit made sense, and in the early days of the internet (practically pre-Google, in case you wondered) search engines revealed very little, so I spent my early life in Chelmsford assuming that the hills were named after a family called Tulk.

It was only when I saw it written down that I realised my mistake. It was “Tile Kiln” rather than “Tulk Hill”.

Tile Kiln and Moulsham Lodge

Try saying “Tile Kiln” and “Tulk Hill” in an Essex accent. They sound the same!

That wasn’t the only confusion that the area brought me.

My local parade of shops was the Moulsham Lodge set of shops. They’ve changed a bit now - there’s no butcher, pet shop or tv repair shop, for starters, and I still believe that an Estate Agency would work well there.

What I found odd was the way that the flats above the shops were built.

In case you’re not overly familiar with the area, all of the shops that make up Moulsham Lodge have two-storey flats above them. The exception is the Co-op Food store, which is massive compared to neighbouring shops, which may have something to do with it, and as a result doesn’t look out of place being flat-less.

But where the two rows of shops meet, above the Golden Fry chip shop and the Coral betting shop, there are no flats.

I’ve no idea why, but I still see it to this day and it strikes me as looking odd.

Missing flats at Moulsham Lodge shops

It makes it look as though the other flats are 2 dimensional.

Parking in Chelmsford

This is a pet peeve of mine, and as I’ve said many times: parking in Chelmsford can be a pain sometimes.

But the oddest piece of parking restriction in Chelmsford is the double yellow lines at the junction of Parkway and Moulsham Street.

They’ve been there for years, and I can guarantee that many people have paid no attention to them.

What’s so odd about it? The double yellow line - aside from the fact it’s on the bend of a major junction where you’d hope nobody would park anyway - is only about 2 feet long.

The tiny double yellow lines at Parkway and Moulsham Street Chelmsford

Just to make sure nobody parks there… Though presumably, it’s fine to park on the part without yellow lines next to it?

Chelmsford City Centre - Twin towns and Friendship Bridge

Chelmsford officially has two twin towns.  Backnang, who twinned with Chelmsford back in 1967, and Annonay, who joined up in 1999.

If you look around Chelmsford City Centre, you’ll see signs of these partnerships scattered about. We have Backnang Square and Annonay Walk, which sit either side of the River Chelmer which runs at the back of The Meadows Shopping Centre.

The bridge that crosses the river between Wildwood restaurant and The Slug and Lettuce has an official name - Friendship Bridge - which relates to the twin towns.

Not that many people know what the bridge is called.

For some reason, whoever chose to paint the bridge in the odd turquoise colour that it’s been for as long as I can remember, also chose to paint over the sign that adorns the bridge.

It can’t be hard to arrange to have the words painted a different colour, can it?

Hey, perhaps we could even push the boat out and paint the little shields that sit alongside the epitaph too?

Friendship Bridge in Chelmsford

Would it really be so hard to paint the letters a different colour?

Sticking with the twin town theme, if you check out the black signposts all around the city, you’ll see signs pointing to Backnang.  There don’t seem to be any directions to Annonay though.Why there is a sign pointing to Backnang but not Annonay?

I know that we got twinned with Backnang first, but Annonay have been twinned for 16 years now, surely we could have put a sign up somewhere?

Hopefully, the new signage that is coming to the city soon will resolve this issue.

Where is Annonay? - Chelmsford sign

The city is twinned with Annonay and Backnang, so why is there only a sign pointing to Backnang? Where is Annonay?

Parkway architecture and city planning

Back in 2012 the city announced that they were starting an experiment on Parkway.

That experiment was to prevent cars approaching from the Army and Navy roundabout being able to turn into the Meadows Multi Storey car park by using the Odeon roundabout.

It was designed to ease traffic.  (It hasn’t worked).

It was also called an experiment, even though I had confirmation in writing sometime in 2013 from someone in charge of the works that they were here to stay.

If you don’t believe me, the sign is still there today (and you can see it on Google Streetview too).

So, quite simply, my confusion here is either 1) If it wasn’t an experiment and was always going to be kept as it is now, then why was it called an experiment?  or 2)  If it was an experiment, when does it and will we see a conclusion?

That’s not the only poor planning on Parking.

When the Army and Navy pub was demolished and rebuilt as the parade of shops and flats as it is now, they didn’t think too clearly about the illuminated sign that adorns the side of the Travelodge.

If you ever drive past the hotel and restaurants when it’s dark, it’s hard to miss the backlit letters which clearly spell out “Y & NAVY” down the side of the building.

That’s right.  “Y & NAVY”.

Because for several years, the “ARM” part has remained in darkness.

Some say it’s laziness on part of the management of the complex.  Others say that the first three letters were distracting to those coming over the flyover (though the vast majority of traffic that uses the Army and Navy flyover in darkness is heading out of Chelmsford and therefore not facing the sign).

Whatever the reason is, it was fully lit once, but not any more.

Army and Navy Chelmsford at night

Taken back in 2009, the sign was fully illuminated once upon a time. (Image taken from Rob P of Flickr, with thanks. https://www.flickr.com/photos/underthepink_uk/)


I can’t be alone with this one.  Why everyone seems to spell Chelmsford as ChelSMford when they type quickly, and also how often that spelling error isn’t picked up!

The amount of times I have seen Chelmsford spelt as Chelsmford is amazing.

Granted, usually, it’s only local errors made on hastily-written Word documents, but every now and then it gets past the spellcheck stage.Why everyone seems to spell Chelmsford as ChelSMford when they type quickly, and also how often that spelling error isn’t picked up!

When JD Sports were renovating in High Chelmer a few years ago, they suffered from the Chelsmford typo.  Even as recently as a couple of months ago I saw a local company launch their Twitter name with the same typo (which has now been corrected, I should add).

JD Sports Chelmsford sign typo Chelsmford

That’s Chelmsford. C-H-E-L-M…, No, M! Ahhhh, spell it however you like then!

by DannyUK


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