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Shop Closures and Changes in Basildon Town Centre
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Town Centre Locations
Town SquareEast Walk Market SquareEastgate
East SquareSouth Walk Market PavementWestgate
Nether PriorsSouth Gunnels FodderwickSouthernhay
Great Oaks   North Gunnels   High Pavement

South Gunnels

Situated between Town Square and East Walk South Gunnels was originally created as a paved precinct linking Town Square with South Walk through a short covered exit.

In 1959/60 4 permanent shop units were constructed as part of Block I, a large block known as Waterloo House. These were given numbers 1, 3, 5 and 7. A single unit to the rear of Waterloo House was named No. 9 and in use, possibly until the 1990s, by Timpson as a footwear repair shop.

In April 1969 Rentaplay Ltd. - playground equipment manufacturers - based in Bentalls opened a Day Nursery for around 100 children incorporating an adventure centre. A demountable style building was later constructed and in use as a temporary rent office for corporation tenants until Church Walk House was opened in 1977. This was subsequently used by Radio Basildon as an office and public address. A small childs playground was also created which survived to the late 1970s or early 1980s when phase II of Eastgate was built over the undeveloped portion of South Gunnels.

In 1960 a 206 space public car park (designated car park 6 and accessed via Market Pavement) and service road were completed; part of which ran alongside the western line of the pathway. That part of the service road along with the car park were also built over during phase II of Eastgate, becoming Allders (now Debenhams) department store when the project completed in 1985. An entrance/exit to Eastgate from South Gunnels was another feature of the phase II Eastgate development.

North Gunnels

The first development in North Gunnels was the towns' tower block Brooke House, completed in 1962. Further development did not commence again until 1969 and involved the construction of a cinema, public house, Great Oaks House, a large supermarket and various other buildings. These were officially known as Blocks P and Q.

The first building completed was the cinema, which opened as an ABC in September 1971. A large single unit built directly below the cinema then opened as a Tesco supermarket in November 1971 though this was given a Great Oaks address as was Great Oaks House following its completion around 1972/3.

Due to the amenities being built above ground level, and to make the area more accessible, when the newly completed multistorey car park in Great Oaks opened in 1972 a direct link was provided via two pedestrian bridges on level 6.

Linking Great Oaks House with the cinema are two single storey buildings. One saw use as an unemployment benefit office until the mid 1980s when a temporary office opened on a vacant plot at the western end of Great Oaks adjacent to the Broadmayne pedestrian subway. The other became a Jobcentre. Both services were later moved to Regent House, The Gore.

The public house first opened as The Painted Wagon later becomming the Jolly Wagonner before a final name change to The Oasis which it closed as around 2000 and has remained empty until 2016 when it became a diner.

In 1999 the cinema, by then part of the Robin's chain, closed, seemingly for good. Later plans to develop the empty building into a 125 bed hotel failed to materialise and in 2011 British Heart Foundation opened a charity furniture and electrical store where the former third cinema and cafe used to be. Another part of the building was converted into six flats and given the address Robins House.

The name Gunnel does have ties to the area having been used in part as a local field name though whether its town centre use is derived from this is unknown.

Text researched and written by William Cox, 2012.
Copyright © 2012, B. Cox - Basildon History Online. All rights reserved.

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North Gunnels South Gunnels
Unit NumberShop Name BusinessOpen
approx
Closed
approx
1Martin the Newsagent
High Tension Discount Record Shop
Newsagent
Record Store
1960s
1980s
1980s
--
3Rowland Reid (merged with D&A /03/1969)
Dollond & Aitchison (relocated: 1-3 East Walk)
Moss Bros Hire - The Suit Company
Opticians, Contact Lens Centre
Opticians (merged: Rowland Reid)
Suits and formal menswear
/06/1962
03/03/1969
c.1990s
03/03/1969
--
2000s
5Toni'sCafe & Ice Cream Parlour 1960s--
7Cramphorn Ltd.
Peters
Casal
Pet & Garden Centre
Gents Hairdressers (Salon)
Ladies Hairdressers (Salon) (1st floor)
1963
1960s
c.1981
1960s
c.1981
--
9TimpsonShoe repairs, handbags & travel goods /10/1961c.1990s
11Charles Phillips FoodtownSupermarket (Main entrance at 8-10 East Walk) c.1963c.1965
13BermansToy shop (Main entrance at 14-20 East Walk) 1960sc.1980s
15Basildon Development Corporation (relocated: Church Walk House, Church Walk)Housing Department & Rent Office
Note: Demountable style building later removed
1970s1977
 Rentaplay Day Nursery
Rentaplay Adventure Centre
Children's play area + centre (brick built) /04/19691970s
South GunnelsNorth Gunnels
Unit NumberShop Name BusinessOpen
approx
Closed
approx
 ABC (Associated British Cinemas)
Cannon
Robins
Cinema
Cinema
Cinema
05/09/1971
1986
1994
1986
1994
/12/1999
 The Painted Wagon
The Jolly Wagonner
The Oasis
Roadhouse - The Diner
Public House
Public House
Public House
American themed diner
1971
1980s
1990s
07/05/2016
c.1970s
1990s
c.1999
16/07/2017
 The Job CentreEmployment Agency ----
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Page added: 2002
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Text researched and written by William Cox, 2002 with revisions and additions 2006-2015.
Copyright © 2002-2015, B. Cox - Basildon History Online. All rights reserved.
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