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A Basildon Chronology
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1850   1899
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1851

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30th March

Census population of Basildon, Laindon, Pitsea & Vange now stands at 950.

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1852

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17th June

London, Tilbury and Southend Extension Railway Act 1852 receives Royal Assent. This Act authorised an extension to the existing railway line between Forest Gate and Southend via Tilbury. The new line, which was completed in March 1856, passed through Pitsea where a station opened in 1855.

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1855

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1st July

Pitsea Railway Station opened. The new railway line, linking Southend with London, was constructed in various stages being jointly promoted by the Eastern Counties and London & Blackwell Railways, following an Act of Parliament passed in 1852. The original route reached Pitsea via Barking, Tilbury and Stanford-le-Hope, and in order for the line to pass through Pitsea some land belonging to Pitsea Hall was purchased. It was here that the first station was constructed. The original plans had proposed a station at Vange on a site close to the Five Bells Inn. From 01/06/1888 a direct link from Barking via Upminster and Laindon opened and Pitsea station was rebuilt to accommodate the new line.

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1856

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The Crown Inn is built at Langdon Hills. The building, which stands in the High Road at the summit of Crown Hill, was operated by the Ind Coope brewery chain (from 1934 Ind Coope & Allsopp) and included a beer garden and a meadow on the opposite side of the road. The meadow, which included a pavilion, later became the home ground for the Langdon Hills cricket team. It was known as the Crown Hotel from at least the late 1890s though the name had been shortened to the Crown by the 1990s when it became part of the Harvester chain of public houses/restaurants. In addition to the public house and within the grounds was a small function hall, built in 1923 to the rear of the main building, which survived until around 1994 when it was removed as part of the conversion to a Harvester. Although much altered in recent times, it remains open and following another name change by owners Mitchells & Butlers in March 2017 is now called Miller and Carter Steakhouse.

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1858

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The first School in Vange was built in London Road. Situated near the site of the former Vange Zoo, the building still survives.

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1859

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The Railway Tavern public house in High Road, Pitsea opened. It was built in response to the recent construction of the London, Tilbury & Southend Railway, which opened a station at Pitsea in 1855. In 1927 a new larger public house called the Railway Hotel opened nearby and the public house, by then known as the Railway Hotel, was then converted with a new frontage into three shops, one of which became the Post Office. It was later demolished to make way for the Broadway North shopping parade which opened in the early 1960s.

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The church of St. Peter's at Nevendon is restored. The church, parts of which are believed to date back to the 13th century, had been in poor condition for some time. The Rev. John Marius Wilson's Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales from 1870, states it had recently been in disrepair, so the restoration work was obviously much needed to ensure its future. Church accounts record the rector William Mignoth Kerr donating £100 towards the overall costs, which included £10 10s 11d to the scottish architech Joseph Peacock, A.R.I.B.A.

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1860

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A school is built in Langdon Hills at the summit of Crown Hill on a stretch of road (now High Road) approaching South Hill. The school was governed by the National Society until 1903 when the Church of England took over its running. It closed in 1911 when a new Council school was built opposite Alexander Road in the High Road. The building had a thatched roof until 1962 and is referred to as the old school house. It is now a privately owned residence.

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1865

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Southend Waterworks Company founded. The company was formed by the civil engineering contractor Thomas Brassey to supply water for the London Tilbury and Southend railway's locomotives. The company's first bore hole in Southend also provided water to the surrounding area leading to the construction of storage reservoirs, of which one was later built in Vange. In the early 1900s further bore holes were sunk and these included some at Vange, Pitsea and Nevendon. The company's range of supply went as far as Thurrock to include Langdon Hills in a total coverage area of around 160 miles. In 1970 the company merged with its main rival, South Essex Water Company, to form Essex Water Company and later in 1994 became Essex and Suffolk Water, which it remains today.

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1869

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The old Basildon Rectory is built. Situated in Rectory Road, Basildon, it survived to 1962 when it was demolished to make way for the new Ford Tractor Plant in Cranes Farm Road. It replaced an earlier Rectory that stood close to the original entrance to Honeypot Lane.

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1870

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17th February

Elementary Education Act, 1870 legislation receives Royal Assent. The new Act introduced an elementary education for children aged 5-12 with school boards providing funding for the poor.

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1871

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15th October

St. Michael's Church in Pitsea rebuilt. A church had stood on the hill top at Pitsea from at least the 16th century; the tower is believed to date from this period, although the church from which the rebuild replaces may not have been as old as the tower. The architect of the new church, which was a partial rebuild involving a new Nave and Chancel but retaining and restoring the tower, was London born Arthur William Blomfield (later Sir). The cost was around £1,250, much of which was raised by public conscription. Messrs. Harcourt Runnacles, builders of Halstead in Essex carried out the work.

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1873

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10th June

The church of St. Mary the Virgin in Dunton is reopened following an extensive restoration. The restoration cost was put at around £1,500, which was raised by subscription.

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26th November

A School Board, consisting of five members, for the United District of Laindon, Basildon and Lee Chapel was formally constituted. George William Scholding from Crays Hill was appointed clerk to the Board and attendance officer.

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1875

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Harold George Howard, landowner, farmer and founder of Howard's Dairies born. Beginning in the 1920s he transformed the look of Pitsea with a number of mock Tudor buildings, many of which survive to this day. He also bore the cost of the war memorial and in 1945 gifted the town a park as a Victory in Europe memorial. His business, which had its headquarters at 265 London Road, Westcliff-on-Sea, had shops throughtout the Basildon area and beyond. He lived for many years at Blue House Farm in Pitsea and died on 7th June, 1961 aged 86 and is buried at St. Margaret's churchyard, Bowers Gifford in a shared grave with his wife Rose Ethel.

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1877

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2nd July

St. Mary's and All Saints church in Langdon Hills opened. The new church, situated in the High Road at the summit of Crown Hill, was built to replace a much earlier church called St. Mary and All Saints which stands in nearby Old Church Hill. The new church was formally consecrated by the Bishop of St. Albans; Thomas Legh Claughton, with the Ven. Archdeacon of Essex; The Venerable Carew Antony St John-Mildmay also in attendance. The Rector, the Rev. Easeby Digby Cleaver was the main financial contributor to its construction though the older church did continue to hold irregular services for many years after.

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2nd August

Laindon Board School in Church Hill, Laindon opened. The new school was built to replace a small school run by the Puckle's Charity in the Priest's House at the west end of St. Nicholas Church. It later became a Council school when Board schools were abolished in 1902. It was later renamed St. Nicholas Lane Council School and then St. Nicholas Lane County Primary until 1957 when it became Laindon Park County Primary which it remains today. Mrs Harvey was the first Headmistress.

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1878

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2nd May

Pitsea Cricket Club plays its first match. The game, played as an 8 a-side, was a two innings match made up of players from within the club.

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1879

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6th June

Leslie Patrick Abercrombie (later Sir), 06/06/1879 - 23/03/1957, born. Patrick Abercrombie was a town planner responsible for the County of London Plan (1943) and the Greater London Plan (1944). These plans, known as the Abercrombie Plan, laid the foundation for the New Towns Act, 1946 which enabled government to appoint development corporation's to create new towns, one of which became Basildon. He was knighted in 1945.

1880

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Robert Leabon Curtis acquires the manor of Vange Hall. The purchase came with around 350 acres of land to the north and south of the Tilbury rail route. Mr. Curtis from West Ham, who was lord of the manor and later Mayor of West Ham, established the Vange Brickfields and had a 750 ft well sunk and a pit dug on the Vange Hall estate. The brickworks, which was built to the south of the railway line, produced up to 700 million bricks a year which were loaded onto barges at a specially constructed wharf on Vange Creek. The brickfields had a depot at Stratford and an office in the Broadway, Plaistow, Essex, shared with Curtis (G.E.) and Sharp, auctioneers. The works eventually closed and the hall was later demolished. The Vange Hall pit is now to the centre of Basildon Golf Course. A short length of Brickfield Road remains, which before the A13 bypass led to the works over its own level crossing.

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1882

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24th July

London, Tilbury and Southend Railway Act 1882 receives Royal Assent. Amongst the proposals contained in the new Bill is an extension to the existing railway from Barking to Pitsea via Upminster. The new line, which was double track throughout, was completed in June 1888.

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1883

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30th January

St. Nicholas Church in Laindon re-opened to services following a restoration. Right Rev. the Lord Bishop of St. Alban's, Thomas Claughton conducted the re-opening service with Rev. Canon John Matthew Proctor, Rector of Laindon-cum-Basildon.

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11th October

The cutting of the first turf of the planned direct Barking to Pitsea extension of the London, Tilbury & Southend Railway. The new line opened in stages: Upminster (1885), East Horndon (1886) and Laindon and Pitsea in June 1888 when the route was completed.

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1885

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30th September

Pitsea Mission Chapel opened. Reverend Albert M. Carter from Upminster Congregational Church gave the opening sermon. This chapel, built in London Road at a cost of £417 5/- 8½d, is believed to be the first permanent meeting place of the congregational church within the Pitsea area. Prior to this services were held in a small wooden building near Eversley Road. The church went on to hold yearly anniversary celebrations which continued well into the 1900s. Around 1927 a new church with seating for 500 was constructed at Rectory Park Drive which survived to 1959. The church then moved to another new building at Honeypot Lane in Fryerns where in 1972, following a union with the Presbyterian Church of England, it became the United Reformed Church which it remains today. This church is now the Pitsea branch of the Elim Pentecostal.

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24th November - 18th December

William Thomas Makins elected to serve as Conservative member of parliament for the new Essex South Eastern parliamentary constituency - including Basildon (Redistribution of Seats Act 1885). Majority 207. The general election of November/December 1885 produced a hung parliament. The Liberal party won the most seats the result of which produced a coalition government with the Conservative party with the balance of power held by the Irish Parliamentary Party. The new constituency, created from parts of the former South Essex division established in 1832, covered a wide area from Thurrock to Shoeburyness. It was abolished in 1950 having lost some areas to new constituencies like Southend and Rochford.

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December

Vange Board School in London Road opened. The new school complete with offices was built by Mr. Francis Edward Woodhams of Sutton Street, Southend who submitted the lowest tender earlier in the year. The architect was John Young of 3 Great Winchester Street, London, E.C.2. The school was enlarged in the early 1900s when it became a council school. It is now Vange County Primary School.

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1886

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Nevendon School in Nevendon Road, Nevendon opened. The small school for around 30 children was run by the National Society. It survived until 1927 when the new enlarged Nevendon Council School opened closeby in Burnt Mills Road. The school was then renamed Old School House and became a private residence until 1972, when it was demolished and the grounds were then left to nature. Prior to its opening, the Reverend William Mignoth Kerr, who in 1850 took over at St. Peter's Church, established a school in the 17th century Tithe Barn in Nevendon Road.

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1st July - 27th July

Frederick Carne Rasch elected to serve as Conservative member of parliament for the Essex South Eastern parliamentary constituency - including Basildon. Majority 842. The General Election of July 1886 produced a win for the Conservative party in an informal coalition with the Liberal Unionist Party who remained on the opposition bench for the duration of government.

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October

Vange Mission in Bells Hill Road, Thurrock opened. This small church, built in part from corrugated iron, was built and funded through the efforts of Mr. William Belcham, a Rayleigh man who moved to Bells Hill Road, and many of the locals. It is run as a Free Church being undenominational and Mr. Belcham became the first Superintendent. In 1912 the Mission was licensed to carry out weddings. A Sunday school was also established.

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1888

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Holy Cross Church in Church Road, Basildon restored by Joseph Peacock.

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A well was bored 444 feet (135m) below Laindon Railway Station of which the first 342 feet (104m) was found to be London Clay.

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16th May

County Electors Act, 1888 legislation receives Royal Assent.

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24th May

An inspection was carried out over the newly completed section of the London, Tilbury & Southend Railway between East Horndon (renamed West Horndon in 1949) & Pitsea. The original London (Fenchurch Street) - Tilbury - Southend Railway (LTS) was constructed via Tilbury in the mid 1850s. A more direct route between Barking and Pitsea via Upminster and Laindon was begun in 1883 and completed when the line reached Pitsea in May 1888. At the same time a new station was constructed at Laindon, while at Pitsea the existing station was rebuilt with two additional platforms. The original terminus at Southend was extended to Shoeburyness, where a station was opened on 1/2/1884.

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1st June

Laindon railway station opened as services on the new route begin.
In 2013 the 'direct' route celebrated 125 years of service and is now operated by C2C.

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13th August

Local Government Act, 1888 legislation receives Royal Assent.

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1889

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The Bull Inn public house in London Road, Pitsea rebuilt. The new public house replaced an earlier inn of timber construction that may have dated from the 18th century. Sometime in the 1980s the name was changed to the Prohibition but has since reverted back to the Bull.

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1st April

Essex County Council formed. County councils were created by the Local Government Act 1888 with elected councillors, chosen by the electorate, and County Aldermans, chosen by those elected. Prior to the Act various administrative functions were the responsibility of the unelected county courts of quarter sessions. The council regularly held its meetings in London and has since the late 1930s met at County Hall, Market Road, Chelmsford.

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1890

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Members of the Campbell family establish a coal merchants business at Pitsea. The family, who originated from Ireland, operated from a coal yard at Pitsea Station wharf and later expanded to include removals and transportation of sand and ballast. In the 1920s John Campbell established a local passenger bus service from the family home at Primrose Villa in Station Lane. In 1933 following his death the business became J.W. Campbell & Sons Ltd and run by three of his sons, Richard, Jack and Albert. Campbell's Motor Service, as they were known, also provided coach tours and a schools service. The company was eventually bought out by Eastern National Omnibus Co. in 1956 but continued its coach tour business until 1971.

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1891

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The British Explosive Syndicate establish an explosives factory at Pitsea. The factory, created on former Pitsea Hall estate farmland, was in operation until around 1919 by which time it was managed by the Nobel Explosives Company. It employed, amongst others, members of the local population and was most likely the first factory in the area. The site is now owned by Basildon Council who established Wat Tyler Country Park there in 1984.

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1892

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4th July - 26th July

Frederick Carne Rasch elected to serve as Conservative member of parliament for the Essex South Eastern parliamentary constituency - including Basildon. Majority 542. The General Election of July 1892 produced a hung parliament. The Conservative party won the most seats but following a vote of no confidence in August the Liberal Party formed a minority government with support from the Irish Parliamentary Party.

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12th July

An auction of freehold building land on the Laindon Station Estate was held. Bidding for the land, which was described as undulating and comprised the 'North and Billericay section' including frontages to the High Road, took place on the estate in a specially erected marquee where buyers were offered a 5% discount if they paid cash within 2 months. Two more auctions were held on July 26th & August 9th bringing the total overall plots sold to more than 1,000.

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1894

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5th March

Local Government Act, 1894 legislation receives Royal Assent.

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December

Billericay Rural District Council formed following the introduction of the Local Government Act 1894. The council consisted of a chairman and councillors elected on a three year term. It would survive until 1934 becoming the Billericay Urban District Council catering for an ever increasing population, particularly in Laindon, whose affairs were then administered by the council. The rural district contained the following parishes: Basildon, Brentwood (1894-99), Bowers Gifford, Childerditch, Downham, Dunton, East Horndon, Great Burstead, Hutton, Ingrave, Laindon, Lee Chapel, Little Burstead, Little Warley, Mountnessing, Nevendon, North Benfleet, Pitsea, Ramsden Bellhouse, Ramsden Crays, Shenfield, South Weald, Vange, West Horndon and Wickford.

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December

Orsett Rural District Council formed following the introduction of the Local Government Act 1894. The parish of Langdon Hills fell within its boundarys until 1934 when some parts transferred to the new Billericay Urban District. Orsett R.D. survived to 1936 with some parishes becoming part of a new Thurrock Urban District including the remainder of Langdon Hills.

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1895

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Charles Edgar Lewis is appointed Clerk to the Billericay Rural District Council. Mr C. Edgar Lewis held the post until 1934.

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Marsh Farm Farmhouse in Vange built. The house is located in Brickfield Road on the south side of the original Shoeburyness to London rail route. Acess is from a level crossing off the A13 London bound carriageway.

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1st January

The first meeting of Billericay Rural District Council. Rev. David Jones Davies is elected chairman and Mr. William Squier as vice-chairman. Rev. Davies was previously chairman of the Billericay Board of Guardians, on which Mr. Squier also served, and rector at All Saints church in North Benfleet. He remained in the post to 1906 also serving as a Justice of the Peace.

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3rd January

The first meeting of Orsett Rural District Council. Mr. Samuel Westwood Squier is elected chairman. He was also a serving county councillor and Justice of the Peace.

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13th July - 7th August

Frederick Carne Rasch elected to serve as Conservative member of parliament for the Essex South Eastern parliamentary constituency - including Basildon. Majority 1,940. The general election of July/August 1895 produced a win for the Conservative party in coalition with the Liberal Unionist Party.

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1896

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The Laindon Hotel in High Road, Laindon built. Seabrooke & Sons brewers of Grays provided the ale until Charrington's took over in 1929. It closed in the late 1980s by which time it had become The Laindon and following a fire was demolished in April 1991. Following demolition the site was left to nature for over 21 years but was cleared in 2012 in preparation for a future development.

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30th June

A sale of freehold land for use as building plots on the Laindon Station Estate is held. This sale, which comprised 150 plots, was for the remaining unsold plots on the 'middle section' of the estate adjoining a proposed Essex racecource.

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1897

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First post office and telegraph office at Pitsea opened by Herbert John Cook. The office's were both housed within Mr. Cook's outfitters and drapery shop in the former Bedlam Row in Broadway on the south side of London Road. In the early 1900s the timber clad shop frontage was greatly enlarged as the business expanded and included a V.R. post office letter box set into its outer face. Sometime around the 1920s the post office moved to the north side of London Road into Arthur Long's stores where it remained until the 1930s when that store relocated to the former Railway Hotel public house. By the 1960s the post office was transferred to the new Broadway North building where it remained until the early 1990s when it moved again to its present location within the Tesco superstore at Hazelmere off Station Lane.

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Hope Hall Baptist Chapel in Timberlog Lane, Vange built. The small hall of wooden construction stood close to Gordon Hall.

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Pitsea Athletic Football Club founded. The club, which was formed by employees at the Pitsea factory of the British Explosives Syndicate, played its opening fixtures in September. In 1898 the club gained affiliation to the Essex County Football Association and is known to have participated in the South Essex League in the early 1900s to at least 1910. A later team called Pitsea United is known to have formed around 1920 but is not thought to be associated with the explosives factory.

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18th October

An auction of freehold land in Langdon Hills was held. To promote the event free railway tickets, valid from Fenchurch Street to Laindon including the return journey, were given away by local estate agents. Plot prices ranged from £11.10s to £70.10s. Various other auctions took place that year; including some at Pitsea.

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1898

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A well at Hovells Farm, Fobbing is sunk by its tenant Mr. King. The well's water, it was later discovered, had medicinal qualities and the land on which it was dug was later purchased by a publican called Edwin Cash. From 1919 he created a briefly successful commercial enterprise from it, where it was sold as Farmer Cash's Famous Medicinal Vange Water, despite the well not actually being in Vange, although it was on the Vange Hall Estate.

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Fairview Hall in Timberlog Lane, Basildon built. The large tall standing hall complete with a short spire stood on the west side of the road between the Basildon railway overbridge and Fairview Road. It was used for many activities and survived to around 1920.

 
Text researched and written by William Cox, 2001 with revisions and additions 2002-2017.
Copyright © 2001-2017, B. Cox - Basildon History Online. All rights reserved.

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