Earliest evidence of human occupation is at Hullbridge, where Neolithic people eked out a living on the banks of the Crouch. As they developed agricultural skills they climbed the wooded valley sides and founded the communities that became Hockley and Hawkwell. Hullbridge, meanwhile, grew in importance as a river crossing, first a simple ford then a ferry service began. In Hockley a medicinal spring was discovered in 1843 and a pump room and hotel were built. Meanwhile Hawkwell's tranquil countryside attracted day trippers from both London and Southend.