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Thundersley, Essex - St.Peters Church.jpg
St Peter's Church Thundersley
Grid reference: TQ800887
Location: 51°34’12"N, 0°35’24"E
Population: 15,600  (2001)
Post town: Benfleet
Postcode: SS7
Dialling code: 01268 & 01702
Local Government
Council: Castle Point
Castle Point

Thundersley is an ancient parish in south-east Essex, about six miles west of Southend-on-Sea.


Thundersley derives from the Old English Þunres lēah = "grove or meadow [perhaps sacred] belonging to the god Thunor or Thor". It has also historically been known as Thunresleam.[1] The place-name is first attested in the Domesday Book of 1086, where it appears as Thunreslea.[2]

The place-name is historically significant as rare evidence of England's pre-Christian, that is to say pagan past.


The area is relatively hilly for Essex, a typical height for the central and eastern part of (old) Thundersley is about 200 ft above sea level. The district is partly rural, with large woods and commons; including Thundersley Common (a Site of Special Scientific Interest), Shipwrights Wood (12 hectares) and Thundersley Glen all owned and managed by the council; West Wood (22½ hectares acres) owned by the council and managed by Castle Point Wildlife Group; Tile Wood (16 acres) and Pound Wood (55 acres) are owned by the Essex Wildlife Trust; Starvelarks Wood and Wyburns Wood are both part of Little Haven Nature Reserve (92 acres) which is owned by Havens Hospice Trust and leased to Essex Wildlife Trust; Coombe Wood is under mixed ownership and much of it has Village Green status. Thundersley is partly suburban, with large areas of housing and small industrial parks. The area has the largest proportion of owner-occupied homes in Britain.

Schools and colleges

There are three secondary schools in the district – The King John School and Sixth Form, The Deanes School and The Appleton School and sixth form college. Five primary schools are Thundersley, Westwood, Kingston, Montgomerie, and Robert Drake. The main campus of SEEVIC Further education college is also in the district.


Thundersley is bounded by the A127 road to the north, where it borders Rayleigh, the A130 road to the west where it borders Basildon, the A13 road to the south (bordering South Benfleet), plus a triangular salient further southward as far as Benfleet Road and Thundersley Glen, and eastwards beyond the A129 road bordering through Daws Heath, Belfairs Park in the Leigh-on-Sea district of Southend-on-Sea, and Hadleigh. The nearest railway stations are Benfleet railway station and Rayleigh railway station. The London Tilbury and Southend LT&SR 79 Class 4-4-2T No. 80 locomotive Thundersley was named after this area, and it is on exhibition at Bressingham Steam and Gardens in Norfolk, on loan from the National Railway Museum. The district has no fixed speed enforcement cameras, but mobile ones are sometimes observed in Daws Heath Road about 0.5 miles east of The Woodmans Arms junction.

Thundersley Rovers Sports Club

Thundersley Rovers Sports Club was formed in 1963 by local football fan Keith Walker. The Club was a founder member of the Thundermite League in 1966 and it is from the club that the league took part of its name. From those early beginnings the club grew exponentially and within a decade Rovers boasted no less than three senior teams (two Saturday and one Sunday) plus six youth teams (under 10s through to under 15s), all of whom played in the Southend Junior League.

In 1977, the club found a permanent home at Thundersley Common having played at various venues (including Woodside Park, the John Borrows Ground, Benfleet Rec., Dark Lane and Scrub Lane). The Common, now synonymous with the club, has remained the club's home ground ever since. Since the beginning of the 2012/13 season, it has been the home venue for both junior and senior Thundersley Rovers teams.

Although officially named Thundersley Rovers Sports Club, the only sport the club has participated in thus far is football. In 2013, the club celebrated its 50th anniversary.

Greeves motorcycles

Greeves motorcycles were produced in a purpose-built factory at Thundersley from 1953 to 1976. Initially the bikes were an offshoot of the Invacar company, which produced invalid cars and needed to diversify its products.

The bikes were exclusively two-stroke powered, using proprietary engines from Villiers and British Anzani initially and always for the roadsters, but by 1964 they had developed their own engine for competition use. For a few years, Greeves were successful in competition, with wins in the European Motocross Championship, the Manx Grand Prix, the European Trials Championship and the Scottish Six Days Trial, and with Gold medals in the ISDT and the ACU 250 cc Road Race.


The Parish of Thundersley has three Anglican churches: St Peter's, Thundersley, St George's, New Thundersley and St Michael's, Daws Heath (The original St Michaels Church, which was an old wooden-hall-type building, has now been demolished and replaced by the new timber church, which was consecrated by the Bishop of Bradwell on 1 December 2012.[3] There are several other Christian churches including Thundersley Congregational Church, Thundersley Gospel Hall, Daws Heath Evangelical Church and Thundersley Community Church at Cedar Hall School. Thundersley also has its own Air Training Corps Squadron - (1341). The first ever movie memorabilia Barber Shop in Essex, possibly the world, Simon Foxen Barber Shop can be found in Hart Road in Thundersley.

Celebrity connections

Chessplayer, journalist and author James Mason (1849-1905), who became one the world's best half-dozen chess players in the 1880s,[4] is buried in Thundersley churchyard.

Novelist Fergus Hume (1859-1932), author of The Mystery of a Hansom Cab, spent the last 30 years of his life in Thundersley and is buried there.

The writer Bernard Cornwell (b.1944), author of the Sharpe novels, grew up in Thundersley.


  1. Cornwell, Bernard (2007). Sword Song. Hammersmith, London: HarperCollins. pp. 366. ISBN 978-0-00-721971-1. 
  2. Eilert Ekwall, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place-names, p.471.
  4. Hooper, David; Whyld, Kenneth (1992). The Oxford Companion to Chess (2nd ed.). Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. p. 250. ISBN 0198661649. 

Further reading

  • Terry Babbington. (1993). Thundersley - A Pictorial History. Phillimore. ISBN 0-85033-872-7.
  • John Greig. (1818). Antiquarian and Topographical Cabinet, Containing a Series of Elegant Views of the most interesting objects of curiosity in Great Britain Vol III. Thundersley, Essex. Published by J. Murray [etc.] page 202, plate 98.

Outside links