The very hot summer weather of 1898 led to such a wet October that one observer commented that it had caused the grass to grow faster than ever before. Another scorching summer occurred in 1911 when the weather was so hot that fires were reported all over Essex. The famous Upminster Windmill was threatened by a sudden blaze and it was only the timely intervention of the Westcliff Scout Group, who put out the fire, that prevented a disaster. The early 1990’s brought some of the hottest weather on record and led to severe water shortages and drought. In August 1991, Upminster hosted an Open Day at the railway station where trips were offered on a 92 year old steam driven Metropolitan line locomotive, between Upminster and Upney. What was not foreseen was the danger caused by the dry weather and the flying sparks from the fire box of a steam engine. As a result of the locomotive's journey, 30 garden sheds were burnt to the ground and 60 acres of embankment were set ablaze before the engine was halted in order to prevent further damage.

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Upminster History

In the 1st century, the area that is Upminster was nothing more than a farmstead. It is mentioned in the Domesday Book and in the 12th century the woodland that was in the area was cleared to make way for more extensive arable and, later, livestock farming. A Tithe Barn, built in 1450, still stands in Upminster and is used as a museum. In the 18th and 19th centuries, a series of windmills were constructed to serve the farms in the area. Only one working windmill remains and, built in 1803, is called, logically enough, Upminster Windmill. With the arrival of the railway in 1885 and the Metropolitan Line of the London Underground in 1902, Upminster began to move away from its historic farming and market gardening roots and was, instead, favored as a town from which to commute into the city of London.

William Derham, Rector of Upminster between 1689 and 1735, used the tower of St Laurence Church to conduct his experiments. From his lofty venue he became the first man to calculate the exact speed of sound by use of his method of triangulation. Influential singer and song writer, Ian Dury, grew up in Upminster. Pop singer Frankie Sandford, of S Club Juniors and The Saturdays, was born in Upminster.