Families from Witham and Braintree swelled the ranks of Haffield Peverel residents when the torch set its first foot in a rainsoaked mid-Essex.
Hundreds of mums and dad shepherded hundreds more umbrella - toting children to vantage points near the Wellington pub where a stream of hot coffee flowed out to the wet and waiting.
Families with children, given until lunchtime off school so as not to miss the once in a lifetime event, started pouring into the village at around 7.30am and by 8.15 about 5,000 people lined both sides of The Sreet near the A12 junction and several hundred feet along Maldon Road.
Many people came more than prepared for the rain and set up gazebos so they were protected against the downpour that came as sleek athlete Helen Davis took over the Olympic flame and began her once in a lifetime run to loud cheers.
by Peter Baker