Olympic Flame arrives in Essex tomorrow
TOMORROW the Olympic flame will brightly burn its way through Essex, bringing thousands of people onto the streets to greet it.
Here, the Essex Chronicle's step-by-step guide will help you plan where to see the torch and the inspirational Essex bearers chosen to run the two-day relay.
And although he won't be in Essex to see the flame pass near to his home village of Mayland, Steve Stripe, the creator of the light gold-plated torch, is hoping its journey through Essex will go smoothly.
Sworn to secrecy until now, he spent eight months working late at night to produce several prototype torches made from various metals, which then had to be thoroughly tested by the Olympic committee.
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He told the Chronicle: "Back in 2010, one of my customers told me he was involved with the Olympic committee and asked whether I would be interested in a job they needed doing.
"I said 'yes' and three days later I was in London, sitting round a table with the designers of the torch."
Steve, who was a Ford engineering trainee in the 1970s, spent many hours at his studio in Cock Clarks, tweaking the torch to ensure it would not go out if held at various angles, was light enough for a child to carry, yet was tough enough to withstand the 700-degree heat of the flame.
Owner of metal fabrication company; X Workss Ltd, he said: "The design has always been the same, but we had to make it in different metals.
"Whatever they wanted I made for them. I would do a prototype, send it back to them and then wait for their next instruction.
"On one occasion last year, when we had snow, they came down here and were running around with the lighted torch out the back to check what it was like in low temperatures."
Plenty of street parties and celebrations are expected throughout the county during the festivities and the culmination of the Sparks Will Fly festival will be performed to more than 15,000 people at Hylands House tomorrow, from 4pm.
Are you doing anything special for the torch relay? Upload your pictures to www.thisistotalessex.co.uk
Click the link to the right to see our interactive map of the torch route.