Secret Colchester

It is so easy to overlook the interesting things we walk past every day,

For instance, the pillar box just outside our shop is really a rather special large capacity, double aperture George V model!  One of a good many rare pillar boxes amongst the 107 located around Colchester.

During the last war London’s first line of defence against a possible invasion force centred on Colchester. Known as the Colchester Stop Line, the town became a heavily fortified anti-tank ‘island’. Many of the defences can still be seen. There are concrete blocks peeping from the shrubbery of front gardens in Old Heath Road and others clearly visible beneath the trees in Castle Park.

Look up at Jumbo and see 15 bricks carved with the initials of the Water Works Committee members. They are 30 feet high as a result of a badly organised and much delayed foundation stone laying ceremony!

In the rocks of the roman wall there are some ammonite fossils dating from the Jurassic period 100 million years ago.

Packed with pictures, this book highlights Colchester’s fascinating hidden secrets and should set you off on a fresh exploration of our town’ s rich history.

Amberley paperback, £14.99

Colchester’s Secret Roman River

From its source in Willow Wood, Great Tey to Fingringhoe where it joins the River Colne, Roman River flows through 12 miles of flatlands, carving a narrow, deep sided valley. Stone age axe heads and tools show how long the area has been inhabited. Later, fortified with earthen dykes, it became the stronghold of Cunobelin and the most significant settlement in pre-Roman Britain.

The book is wide ranging. How otters, once almost extinct, have returned to the river, helped by habitat improvements. How local Civil engineer, Peter Bruff built the monumental Chappell Viaduct – with 32 arches and over 7 million bricks.

Ken Rickwood has been exploring Roman River for over 50 years. He is the perfect guide, always exploring to rediscover some long overgrown boundary stone or carved OS bench mark. He brings great love for our local countryside and enormous historical knowledge to describe the course of this small but important river.

David Cleveland paperback £10.00

Inspired by Colour

an exhibition by Jo McGilloway

We are delighted to be showing this wonderful collection of paintings, collage and monopints from Colchester artist, Jo McGilloway.

The Blue Shed, collage and monoprintGiclée print

Artist’s Statement 

Jo McGilloway is an artist and printmaker. She lives in Colchester and draws her inspiration from the countryside, everyday objects, plants and flowers as well as her garden and allotment. She has always loved drawing and painting from a very young age with some of her earliest memories being of painting. Over the years she has worked in various mediums, but always seems to come back to watercolour and pastels, loving the freshness of watercolour and the texture of pastels. However, she enjoys experimenting with a variety of media to create whatever effect she is trying to achieve in her work. More recently she has developed a passion for monoprinting, a one-off printing technique often favoured by painters. She sometimes includes collage to her monoprints, using textured papers that she prepares herself. Sketching outside and direct observation from real life is very important to her, feeling that it giver a vitality and energy to her work.

Meet the Artist

There will be an informal ‘Meet the Artist’ private view on Saturday 8th February 2pm – 3pm

The exhibition runs from 1st – 29th February.


Seas and Fantasies

an exhibition of paintings by Allan Price

“Seas and Fantasies” is the second exhibition from Allan Price, which brings him back to Red Lion Books.

Allan was born in Cheshunt and grew up in Birmingham where he embarked on his career as an engineer. He had always enjoyed art (both seeing and doing), but only in recent years has he picked up his paints and brushes as a committed, if part-time, artist. He prefers to work with acrylic or watercolours.

Allan has lived in Colchester since 2015, and is married to local radio presenter/producer, Liz Mullen. The proximity of Mersea Island soon proved an inspiration, but so have other watery locations, from the Firth Of Clyde to Norfolk, Northumbria and Northern Ireland. This exhibition also includes the second in his occasional series of wrecked rowing boats: “Abandoned – Reclaimed”

Allan has benefitted from the support of artists Angella Horner (founder of Colchester’s CO3 Gallery) and Sally Delaney – whose life drawing classes at Firstsite have also helped to improve his techniques and expand his horizons. As Engineering & Facilities Manager of a pharmaceutical company, Allan brings an engineer’s eye to his more draughtsman-like fantasies, nicknamed Geo-Doodles.

Yet again, Allan is enormously grateful to Jo Coldwell and Red Lion Books for giving him this opportunity.

There will be a Private View of the exhibition on Saturday 18th January from 2 – 3 pm. All are welcome to this opportunity to meet the artist.

The exhibition will continue through to the end of January.