Essex University Helps UK Local Government Spearhead the Internet Revolution

If you live in Wivenhoe you might be interested to learn that the “East Anglian Daily Times” (Thurs February 22nd 1996) reported that Wivenhoe was the first town in Europe and second town in the world to go onto the World Wide Web, beaten only by the town of Los Gatos in California (see copy of article “European First For Council Enterprise“). Wivenhoe’s presence on the web came about thanks to  a meeting between Councillor Cyril Liddy and Essex University’s Prof Vic Callaghan (a then Wivenhoe resident). The two not only created the first website for Wivenhoe (which was hosted by Essex University) but embarked on a campaign to persuade local businesses that this would be an opportunity for them. One notable meeting was with the Coop where they pointed out that the Coop milk delivery service could double up as a home delivery for an online ordering service. Way back in those days that message was lost in disbelief that such a concept would ever come to fruition or be significant. In the same year (1996), Wivenhoe Town Council and Essex University established a working group (Councillor Cyril Liddy, Councillor Len Horner, Councillor Geoff Langsdon (Mayor), Prof Vic Callaghan, Dr Anthony Vickers) which created a facility, TACTIC in the ground floor of the Wivenhow Town Council offices that aimed to introduce residents to the Internet and show them what it could do for them (see the original web page – note the crude graphics of those times). The room housed 6 Internet connected to the Internet, plus a printer and was protected by iron bars on the windows (if you ever wondered what those iron bars were there for, now you know!). How times change with most homes owning their own PCs and business now fully on-board and supported by excellent web sites such as Peter Hill’s WivenhoeFirst ! Of course, in those days, the Internet was new and its future was unclear but, to the credit of Wivenhoe Town Council, they were one of the earliest government pioneers of this new technology!