Show History

After a number of successful previous years at Tilbury Fort, we were dealt a severe blow, when, due to the declining condition of the Tilbury Fort site, English Heritage were unable to allow us to continue to host our show there. After a short period of moving venues, we held our first small scale Essex MVT area show at Damyns Hall, with just a dozen vehicles in 2006.

The show has gained in popularity and size, that now plays host to over 300 vehicles with thousands of visitors and participants. This affords us the opportunity to show the public our vehicles, living history displays and what we do for our community. In addition, The Echoes of History show is also the charities main fundraising event.

Towards the end of 2013, the MVT suggested that we run the show as a separate organisation. To secure the future and success of further shows and to expand our public benifit, a new independent Charity was formed early in 2014, called the Essex Historic Military Vehicle Association, Registered Charity No. 1155705 - or the Essex HMVA for short.

In 2017, we moved once more to a site near Maldon. The maritime town of Maldon and the surrounding area is a picturesque and historic area, with a rich and important military history, it has seen more than its fair share of conflict throughout the ages, including the Roman, Viking and Dane eras. Famously, the Battle of Maldon in 991 CE occurred during the reign of Æthelred the Unready. In WW1, motor torpedo boats were based at Osea Island - the connecting causeway of which is near our show ground. During WW2, the area around Maldon saw many small ships used to assist in the evacuation of troops from Dunkirk, and later on these boats were also used in the D-Day invasion. Maldon and the surrounding area is also home to serveral military museums as well as WW1 and WW2 airfields.

Following the success of the 2017 show, we had planned to continue at the same venue for 2018. Unfortunately, we were unable to secure the site for the dates we required and took the reluctant decision to rest the show for 2018. We very much wanted to stay near the Maldon area, so we undertook an extensive hunt for a new venue.

Following discussions with the new site land owners, we ran a new event called: ’Echoes of History’. The change in venue also presented an occasion for us to take the best bits of many previous shows, merging them into a fantastic event, allowing us the opportunity to promote multi-period living history as well as military history through the ages and of course the historic military vehicles that are so much of a special feature of our show.

The next show will take place on the 7th and 8th August 2021 at the Purleigh Halt Showground, Barons Lane, Purleigh, Essex CM9 6PF. - Please note: this is NOT a postal address for correspondence.

The new event will continue to be run on a charitable basis by a team of unpaid volunteers, with all profits going directly to fund our charitable work.

Purleigh Area History

Purleigh is just south of Maldon, Essex, and can note its charter as far back as 998 where it appears as Purlea. At the time of the Domesday survey of 1086, the manor of Purleigh was held by Eustace II, Count of Boulogne. He fought on the Norman side at the Battle of Hastings of 1066, and afterwards received large grants of land forming an honour in England. To the edge of the showground, is the path once taken by the Woodham Ferrers to Maldon railway, with a Halt for the villagers of nearby Purleigh. The line was closed to passenger traffic in 1939 as part of the wartime economy measures and to freight in the 1950s, but during WW2 it was used for storing spare rail stock and also for coaling locos away from marshalling yards, which could be an easy target for bombers.

The ancestors of the Washington family came to England in 1066 with the Norman Invasion and settled in the far north of England. A pubic house at the edge of the village, known as The Purleigh Bell dates back to the 14th Century and was the home of George Washington’s great-great-great grandfather who was the rector of the village from 1634. This rural setting is ideal for our displays, with the woods, hedges and grassland reminiscent of scenes from D-Day holding camps through to Operation Goodwood.

2021 show

As always, we will have hundreds of military vehicles across all eras and nationalities - from push bikes to massive trucks that even make the tanks look small!

We have an amazing turn out of living history displays with many re-enactors depicting military life from many periods and nationalities. These historical re-enactors go to massive lengths to represent history as accurately and authentically as possible and are always happy to answer your questions or demonstrate equipment so don't be afraid to ask! This is a fantastic opportunity to see how the soldiers and people of different nationalities and time periods lived and to get close to the weapons, equipment and atmosphere of the time.

There will be Arena activities during the day, The vehicle parade allows you to get close with a convoy of trucks and armoured vehicles, see and hear them roaring around the arena and learn a little about their history. As always, there will be battles and fire power demonstrations!

There's so much more for the kids to get involved in and watch, what better way is there for the younger generation to learn about our history than to hear about it from those who made it - our wonderful veterans are always happy to tell their own story. Back by popular demand will be our live 'wartime' entertainment in our huge marquee all day, including music and a '40s fashion show.

Where else would you be able to get up close and personal to your past?