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Essex is a county of south-east England, lying immediately north-east of London. The south of the county, lying on the north side of the estuary of the River Thames, is largely suburban and industrial, and much of the planned future growth of London will occur in this district; the north of the county is more rural and agricultural. Major towns include Colchester, a pre-Roman and Roman centre which is the oldest town in the United Kingdom, Chelmsford, the county town, and Southend-on-Sea, a major coastal resort.