The traditional Essex accent is dying out and could soon be consigned to history.

For many who might associate an Essex accent with so-called Estuary English or even scenes from The Only Way is Essex television show, hearing the traditional Essex accent may come as quite a shock.

Recordings from the Essex sound archive show it was instead much more rural sounding and similar to those in Norfolk and Suffolk.

Sound and video archivist Martin Astell, who is based at the Essex Records Office in Chelmsford, spent hundreds of hours compiling a cd of Essex accents dating from the early 20th century.

The earliest recording dates back to 1906 and the cd features almost 150 people from across the entire county, who would have been born in the late 19th or early 20th century.

Some are also singing songs and ballads such as Mr Cutmore of Halstead who was recorded signing A Little Bit of Cucumber in the 1960s as an audio Christmas greeting.

See this week's Times for the full feature.