Essex: Thatcher's County Connections

The former Prime Minister was no stranger to Essex.

After graduating from Oxford University in 1947, Baroness Thatcher, then known as Miss Margaret Roberts, lived in Colchester.

She lived in lodgings in the town for two years from 1948 until 1950 while working as a research chemist at the BX Plastics Company in Brantham near Manningtree. The future Prime Minister would catch the bus from Colchester to Brantham every morning.

She was active in the Colchester branch of the Young Conservatives until the end of 1950 when she to Dartford following her adoption as the Conservative candidate in February 1951.

But a family connection remained in Essex. Baroness Thatcher's elder and only sister lived in the county until her death at the age of 83 in 2004. Unlike her sibling Margaret, Muriel Cullen eschewed political limelight, opting instead to work on building up a 900-acre farm in Harwich with her husband. It was Margaret that first introduced Muriel to her future husband at a Conservative dance in Colchester.

Away from family, Baroness Thatcher was to be a frequent visitor to Essex on numerous election campaigns including a return visit to Colchester in April 1997 when a protestor tried to grab her bouquet of flowers during a campaign walkabout in the town centre (pictured).

There was more trouble on the 1997 campaign trail when Thatcher tried to buy some British beef at the Maldon branch of Tesco's.

The Baroness ran in to some trouble paying, however, when the check-out girl refused her cheque, because she had no cheque guarantee card.