The 1st day of Janury 2000

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This is a portrait of the village of Stock in the county of Essex, England, on Saturday January 1st 2000 and Saturday January 8th 2000.

Stock is village of between 1500 and 2000 people situated 30 miles or 50 kilometres east of London. It is 6 miles or 10 kilometres south of Chelmsford and 3 miles or 5 kilometres north of Billericay. It is, at its highest point 318 feet or 100 metres above sea level.

At one time it was a largely rural and agricultural village, but is now suburban and residential. A large number of the inhabitants are office workers in either London or one of the surrounding towns.

Stock was not mentioned in the Domesday Book for Essex (1086) although the neighbouring Parish of Buttsbury and the Manor of Fristling was. Both Stock and Buttsbury are mentioned in The Buildings of England - Essex (1954) by Sir Nikolaus Pevsner.

What follows is a personal portrait of the village at the beginning of the year 2000. As to whether it is the beginning of the 21st Century is another matter. According to the Daily Mail for 1st January 1901 the 20th Century began on that day. According to the Daily Mail for 1st January 2000 the 21st Century began on that day.

I decided to photograph Stock at the beginning of the year 2000 as my personal 'Year 2000 Project'. I decided to show the village firstly as it was on the actual first day of the year, which was a bank holiday, and secondly one week later which was a normal Saturday.

On New Year's Eve there was a candle lit procession from Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church to All Saints' where a time capsule was buried. Parties were held in the Cock and the Bear public houses and in the Rectory Hall.

At the actual moment of midnight the bells of All Saints Church rang out and fireworks were let off.

The next morning the village was quieter at 7.30 a.m. than 1.30 a.m. on a Sunday morning. It was not much busier during the rest of the day. The village shops were open for part of the day, but there were no buses. I admit to having bought copies of The Daily Mail, The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, The Guardian and The Times for 1st January 2000.

The weather that day was initially grey and overcast, but it later became bright and sunny before becoming grey and overcast again.

There was a curious atmosphere in the village that day. People walking around as if they were tourists in their own home. The brave new world of 2000.

On 8th January the weather was bright and sunny throughout the daylight hours. Unfortunately the traffic was rather busier. But you could get a bus.

In the photographs which follow I have tried to show as much of the village as possible. I have tried to be as accurate as possible with historic details. I hope the portrait is enjoyable to you the reader.