A Personal Tribute
MARLENE Scanlan Brooks, one of Harlow’s most passionate lovers of the area’s history has died, aged 70, after a short illness.
Marlene was very much the keeper of the flame of local history in Harlow.
Marlene kept the spirit alive with organisations such as the Harlow History Society but also on-line with the 16,000 strong Facebook group, Photos of Harlow, Old and New.
Marlene was the “go to person” for those important pieces of historical information that would help greatly.
You take the story of Hester Woodley. In short, it appears that the last slave in England is buried in Little Parndon church. Hazel Lake wrote the book but it was Marlene who told me about it and had contacts with family, still alive today.
While others may go off to university to study Reform Acts and the Schleswig Holstein problem, local historians like Marlene kept Harlow’s history in the limelight. These may have been quiet meetings at St Mary of Latton church on a Wednesday evening but that is how local history is kept alive. They were and are vital.
It is important to know that Great Brays named after Richard De Brae or the role of the Arkwright family in the area. If it wasn’t for Marlene, I would not have known that the niece of the three Riley Brothers, who died in WW1, lives in Canada.
The last time I saw Marlene, she was helping the team at the Burnt Mill exhibition at Harlow Museum. She was seated and taking people through some slides. The people were saying: “You know, I never knew that”.
She was very strict with the Photos page on Facebook. No politics, no adverts, just memories.
There is a responsibility on the shoulders of people such as Barry Lawrence, Jamie Fowler and the team on FB to keep the history of Harlow alive.
They should name a room in Harlow museum after Marlene. That would be a fitting legacy.
Our thoughts are with Marlene’s family.
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