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A Basildon Chronology
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1920   1921   1922   1923   1924   1925   1926   1927   1928   1929
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1920

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The Laindon, Pitsea and Stanford-le-Hope Advertiser and Railway Time Table launched. The monthly publication was printed and published by E.J. Baigent and Son (later Sons) from their 'Laindon Press' in the High Road. Priced at 1d it ran to over 150 editions featuring advertisements, news stories, parish council meetings and in the 1930s the Picture Theatre's film programme, by which time the front banner had changed to Laindon Advertiser and Railway Time Table. Although surviving examples are rare a November 1923 copy numbered 40 suggests, if the monthly editions ran unbroken, that the 1st edition would be dated August 1920.

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1921

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Theodore Rowe purchased a dairy and milk delivery round at London Road, Vange. The Rowe family, who originated from Poplar in east London, ran the business until 1952 when it was sold. The family name then continued in business by opening grocery shops at Bull Road, Vange, and later in 1962, Butneys on the Ghyllgrove housing estate, and into the 1970s with a shop at 45 Ballards Walk in Lee Chapel North, run by his son Arthur.

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Vange Water Company Limited incorporated. The company, with offices in London at 2 Foster Lane, Cheapside, EC2, was founded by Edwin Cash, a local farmer and former publican, whose well in the parish of Fobbing was said to contain medicinal qualities. It was branded 'Farmer Cash's Famous Medicinal Vange Water' and sold for 2s 3d (12p) a bottle. The original well, which dated from 1898, was joined by another four, all sunk within close proximity of each other, with the fifth being enclosed in a concrete temple like structure. Although the wells wern't actually in Vange, they were on the Vange Hall Estate. Unfortunately, for reasons never fully resolved, the venture appeared to run into problems around 1924 and by 1926 the entire site had been put on the market and the company dissolved. The decaying concrete 'temple', which now stands in the One Tree Hill Country Park, and some hard standing are now all that remains.

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Bill Watson and Fred Hinton own the first bus in Laindon when they purchase a second hand open top double dekker. The first service, possibly begun in 1922, was to Billericay Hospital via Noak Hill. A second bus joined the fleet, which had become known as Hinton's Laindon & District Motor Services, but by 1924 they had sold out to Tom Webster of Old Tom Motor Services.

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Tom Webster establishes a bus service from Laindon Station to Wash Road. Old Tom Motor Services, as his business became known, operated from premises at Manor Road in Laindon until 1936, when he sold out to 'New Empress Saloons Ltd' - operators of the City services.

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19th June

1921 Census statistics for Basildon district now stand at 4,489.

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1922

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November

Vange Crystal Well Company finds success with its 'Vange Natural Medicinal Water', which it claims 'sells itself' and is in 'phenominal' demand. The bottled water was drawn from a 350 foot deep well known as 'The Wonder Well' at Luncies Farm in Luncies Road, Vange. The well it was claimed, was on the main underground medicinal stream. The water was sold in blue labelled bottles at High Street chemists who purchased 12 to a case for 19/- to sell individually at 2s/3d a bottle. The company, which has its head office at 1 Wakering Road, Barking, Essex, claimed the mineral water had been famous locally for over 50 years. Its success prompted an advertising campaign that was extended to all parts of the country with a boast, clearly aimed at local rivals like Edwin Cash from Fobbing, that it was the only water taken direct from the only medicinal well actually situated in Vange, Essex. Despite all the claims and reported sales the venture was wound up the following year and the farm's tenant, Mr. Charles King, filed for bankruptcy in April 1925. The farm itself, which survived until the 1950s, was later acquired by Basildon Development Corporation and now the site of St. Basil's Roman Catholic Church.

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15th November

Mr. Frank Hilder elected Conservative MP for the Essex South Eastern parliamentary constituency - including Basildon. Majority 2,063. Conservatives win General Election.

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26th November

Vange War Memorial in Paynters Hill unveiled. High Sheriff of Essex, Col. Francis Henry Douglas Charlton Whitmore, C.M.G., D.S.0., J.P., of Orsett Hall, carried out the Sunday unveiling and the 1st Bishop of Chelmsford, The Rt. Rev. John Edwin Watts-Ditchfield undertook the dedication service to the 21 men from the district who fell in the Great War (1914-18). The service was attended by relatives and friends of the fallen. The memorial was made from Cornish granite and took the form of a wayside cross. The names of the 21 men are inscribed on its leading face. It was later removed to the front of St. Chad's Church in Clay Hill Road where it remains to this day.

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1923

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1st April

The Ministry of Transport publishes the definitive list of Class I and Class II roads. The process of designating Class 1 (A routes) was completed during 1922 and Class II (B routes) by February 1923. Road A13, London to Shoeburyness, was included in the list along with road B1011, Pitsea, Nevendon to Wickford and County Surveyors were then tasked with the job of erecting signposts bearing the new numbers.

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6th December

Mr. Philip Christopher Hoffman elected to serve as Labour member of parliament for the South-East Essex parliamentary constituency - including Basildon. Majority 1,600. The General Election produced a hung parliament. The Conservative party won the most seats (258) but the first ever Labour government was formed which lasted until October 1924. In winning the seat Mr. Hoffman became the first Labour candidate to represent this constituency in parliament.

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1924

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Gifford House, a large residential home is built in London Road, Bowers Gifford. The property, built originally for the Rector of Bowers Gifford, John Shaw Bryers and standing in one acre of land, would later acquire singular importance in the Basildon New Town story following acquisition, through a compulsory purchase order, and occupation by Basildon Development Corporation in 1949. Rev. Bryers, who was married with a daughter, lived there until his death in January 1945 aged 70. During the Second World War it was used as a military hospital and prior to the corporation's ownership had been unoccupied after the Council had evicted squatters. During the corporation's occupation it was much altered and housed over 150 of their workforce. It remained their headquarters until 1984 and was further used by their successor the Commission for The New Towns through to 1995. The house was demolished in 2002 and is now the site of Bowers Gifford Care Home.

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1st Pitsea and Vange Scout Group formed. They are now based at 1970s built Riverton Hall in Bardfield, Vange and also acknowledged as the oldest scout group still in existence in the Basildon area.

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Langdon Hills Women's Institute formed. The Langdon Hills branch of the Women's Institute began their activities at the "Hut Club", a wooden building in Samuel Road used for social events. In 1933 they moved to new headquarters at the former Baptist church at Nightingale Parade, High Road, which they intended to purchase. This appears not to have happened and by 1935 they were once again meeting at the Hut Club where they remain to this day.

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A Post Office is established at Henderson's General Stores in Lower Dunton Road, Dunton, between First and Second Avenues. Run as a family concern, a further store & cafe opened at the grassed junction of Hillcrest Avenue and First Avenue in a house called 'Everest'. Although both had closed by the mid 1960s, Everest, which stood on the Dunton Hills estate, was among the last properties to be demolished (following a fire), during the final wave of Development Corporation compulsory purchase orders issued in 1984.

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March

The first Vange telephone exchange entries begin appearing in the Southend Group section of the General Post Office's south east England edition. Rev. Bryers, Bishop's garage of London Road, Campbell's of Station Lane and Saunders bakery were some of the first to get a Vange number.

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3rd July

An auction of plots on the Dunton Hills Estate off Lower Dunton Road is held. The auction, conducted in a marquee on the estate, was for the first portion of 183 plots. These were being offered as choice freehold building land on former agricultural farmland. A typical plot measured 120 x 20ft with frontages to First, Second and Hillcrest Avenues.

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18th September

First edition of the Laindon Weekly News newspaper appears. Priced at 1d, it is believed to have only lasted 3 or 4 editions. The proprietors, E.J. Baigent and Son of High Road, Laindon, also produced the monthly Laindon Advertiser and Railway Time Table.

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14th October

St. Michael's Church Hall in Rectory Lane (now Rectory Road), Pitsea, opened. The new hall, which stands on the north west corner of Wickford Avenue, was built under guidance of the Rector, Rev. Ernest William Grevatt and financed in part by local fund raising events. The Bishop of Chelmsford, (Frederic Sumpter) Guy Warman performed the opening ceremony. It survived to at least the 1980s before being replaced with a single row of terraced housing.

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29th October

Mr. Herbert William Looker elected to serve as Unionist member of parliament for the Essex South Eastern parliamentary constituency including Basildon. Majority 5,911. Conservatives win general election.

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4th December

The number of children enrolled in education within the parishes of Bowers Gifford, Dunton, Laindon, Pitsea and Vange as of 4th December is as follows, (maximum accommodation is shown in brackets): Bowers Gifford (70), 62; Dunton (40), 47; Laindon (138), 126; Pitsea (264), 336 and Vange (181), 198. The figures for Langdon Hills are currently unknown.
(Source: Annual Report of the Medical Officer of Health, B.R.D.C., 1924.)

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1925

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The 'new' Fortune of War Hotel public house opens. This public house, sited at the Laindon crossroads on the Southend bound carriageway side of the A127 London to Southend Arterial Road, was built to replace an earlier building known as the 'Fortune of War Inn' that still stands (though no longer a public house) at the northern end of High Road in Wash Road West, Laindon. During the 1980s it had a name change to The Hustlers before spending its final years as 'The Fortune'. It closed in August 2003 and was demolished during September/October 2003. The site now comprises residential homes and flats. In 1939 the Laindon crossroads was replaced with a roundabout which became known as the Fortune of War. In 1995 the roundabout was closed to right turns but the junction still bears the name of the former public house.

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Essex County Council begin monthly clinic and treatment sessions at Manor Hall in High Road, Laindon. These are attended by a Health Visitor, School Medical Officers and district Nurses. In 1932 a permanent Combined Treatment Centre was built in Langdon Hills which came directly under County Council control in 1936.
(Source: Annual Report of the Medical Officer of Health, B.R.D.C., 1926.)

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The first Pitsea Market is opened on land at Station Lane. The market survived at this site until 1969 by which time it had grown to 200 stalls and a hire charge of 10/- (50p) a stall per day. During this time it was operated by Basildon Development Corporation who moved it in February 1969 to the former Howard's field on the south side of the High Road where it remained until the late 1970s when it was moved again, this time to Northlands Pavement to the rear of the Railway Hotel public house and Broadway North shops on land abounding the former Northlands Park Drive. Ownership was later transferred to the Commission For The New Towns who in 1994 sold it to a private company. In 2014 as part of a second Pitsea town centre regeneration it was moved to a fourth location called Market Square, on the site of the former Railway Hotel public house demolished the previous year.

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25th March

London to Southend A127 Arterial Road opened by H.R.H. Prince Henry. Work on building the new purpose built road, the first of its kind in England, began in 1921 and opened in stages. It was considered the longest length of road constructed since the Roman occupation and its cost was put at around £1¼ million. The Prince began the open day route at the Essex county boundary at Lea Bridge and ribbon cutting ceremonies were then held at Red Bridge, Wanstead; Harold Wood railway bridge and another at Rayleigh Weir where the Prince, 3rd son of King George V, then departed for Southend to conclude the event. Initially single carriageway through Basildon, it was later duelled and a cycle path added around 1937. In 1936 it became a Trunk Road as defined under the new Trunk Roads Act 1936. A realignment of the section between the Dunton Wayletts junction and the Nevendon A132 junction was proposed in the 1990s, but was rejected on a number of issues.

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April

Roman Catholic Church of the Sacred Heart in London Road, Vange opened. The Bishop of Brentwood, Right Rev. Arthur Doubleday dedicated the new church which was largely built due to the efforts of Rev. Father Snell, priest-in-charge. It was located on the south side of London Road on the corner of Woodleigh Avenue. The properties of Ryedene Close now cover the site where the church once stood.

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November

St. Teresa's Church in High Road, Langdon Hills opened. This small Roman Catholic church built mainly of timber and painted white stood between Alexander Road and St. Davids Road. The chapel had been used for daily Mass at the British Empire Exhibition of 1924-1925 at Wembley before being transferred to Langdon Hills. It survived until 1991 when a new church - known as the Church of St. Therese of Lisieux - was opened at Florence Way, Langdon Hills. Prior to its construction, from around 1915, Mass had been celebrated in a family home in Laindon by the Parish Priest of Billericay. The gardens of detached houses in Alexander Road now cover the site of the former church.

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1926

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3rd April

Manor Mission in Manor Road, Laindon, opened. The Mission, which was founded after the First World War as an undenominational church, had secured the site the previous year from a local landowner. It was built at a cost of around £600 by A.M.A. Portable and Permanent Building Works Ltd of Laindon. Prior to opening, services had been held at Manor Hall, a small building in the High Road. County Councillor Alfred Brooks, J.P., of Goldsmiths, Langdon Hills performed the opening ceremony.

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2nd August

Langdon Hills Recreation Ground in New Avenue, Langdon Hills opened. The Lord Lieutenant of Essex, Lord Lambourne carried out the opening ceremony. The park, which is owned and maintained by the local council, was later expanded with the addition of tennis courts on land that had been dense woodland. A later feature, added in 1948, was a child's paddling pool and fountain, though this would be filled in sometime in the 1980s.

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December

The number of new houses recorded in each parish for the year ending 1926 was 410. Each parish taken individually is as follows: Basildon, 20; Dunton, 17; Laindon, 164; Lee Chapel, 43; Nevendon, 6; Pitsea, 93 and Vange, 67. The statistics for Langdon Hills are currently unknown.
(Source: Annual Report of the Medical Officer of Health, B.R.D.C., 1926.)

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1927

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The Jolly Cricketers public house in Nevendon opened. It replaced an earlier pub of the same name that once stood in Nevendon Road. It was resited to take advantage of the recently opened A127, Southend Arterial Road. Its direct position facing the London bound carriageway of the A127 changed in the early 1970s when the Nevendon flyover was constructed though for many years could still be accessed via Nevendon Road. It remained open until 2002 and was later acquired for redevelopment. A fire in 2003 destroyed much of the building which was demolished soon after in September 2003. Business units have now replaced the former pub.

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Phoenix Hall in High Road, Laindon known to have existed. The hall, which was capable of holding over 100 people, was available for the private hire of concerts and dances, and had a Lending Library attached. The women's section of the British Legion were regular users among other local organisations. The hall had a secretary which suggests there may have been a committee but little else is known about it including its location in High Road. It may only have have stood for a few years and is believed to have been destroyed in a fire.

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Nevendon Council Primary School in Burnt Mills Road opened. The new school replaces an earlier National Society school opened in the 1880s that stood in Nevendon Road. Building contractor T.J. Bailey of Chelmsford was awarded the building contract.

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The Railway Hotel public house in High Road Pitsea opened. The Railway Hotel was built as a larger replacement for an earlier pub, also called the Railway Hotel, which dated to 1859 and stood further east. Local landowner and founder of Howard's Dairies Harold Howard provided the site and the public house, which was built in a mock tudor style, was opened by brewers Ind Coope & Allsopp. Its facilities included a banquet hall and from August 1928 a bowls green. It closed in 2006 and remained empty until 2013 when it was demolished to provide a new site for the market as part of another Pitsea regeneration.

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12th March

The Laindon and Lee Chapel Hall officially opened. Herbert Looker, Unionist M.P. for the South East Essex constituency was guest of honour and performed the opening ceremony. The idea for a new hall, to commemorate the safe return of Laindon men from the Great War (1914-1918), began in 1919 with the eventual aim to place a stone within the grounds in rememberance of those that didn't return.

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6th June

A Laindon carnival is held. The carnival, which was organised by the Laindon Philanthropic Society, may have been one of the earliest carnivals to take place in Laindon. Prizes were given for the best fancy dress and original dress and to those with the best decorated vehicle and one-horse tableau, and for the best original vehicle. Mothers also received an award for the best looking baby. The days activities also included sporting events and a concert. The Laindon carnival would become an annual event, excepting the period 1940-1950 which included the war years, until being superseded by the Basildon Carnival, which launched around 1957.

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July

Vange and Pitsea Working Men's Social Club at High Road, Vange opened. The site, which was purchased the previous year, was once part of the former Kiln Farm. The president of Aveley Working Men's Club, Mr. A. Sack, performed the opening ceremony which was followed by a concert and a game of billiards. The club is still active and a notable venue for live entertainment.

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26th October

A purpose-built Sanatorium for children suffering from tuberculosis opens at Dry Street in Langdon Hills. The new health facility known as West Ham Sanatorium was opened by the Mayor of West Ham, Alderman Ernest James Reed, whose council had purchased the 100 acre site, including a large farmhouse. Years later in the 1950s the hospital closed and from the early 1960s to the 2000s the buildings found a new use - this time for dogs - as the privately owned Wootton House Boarding Kennels. In 1964 much of the grounds were purchased by Essex County Council for conservation.

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1928

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Edward George Hickley establishes an electrical business from Hebron, Chestnut Road, Pitsea. The business would later become Hickley & Sons and expanded into motor repairs and garage services at their Elmcroft Works at Bridge Parade in High Road, Pitsea. The electrical business, which for a time was at Kiln Road, Thundersley, was in an adjacent shop offering radio/television sales and repair. Around 1960 further household electrical shops opened at 60 High Road, Vange and 2 Broadway North. The electrical outlet also later took over Unit E at the former Basildon Development Corporation/Commission for the New Towns housing maintenance premises & area rent office off Great Knightleys at Lee Chapel North when they vacated in the early 1990s. They survived until at least the mid 1990s. The former maintenance depot was later demolished and a small development of 7 residential houses named Swan Close was built in its place.

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Laindon High Road council school opened. The school, situated in the High Road, Laindon, originally took pupils of all ages until 1933 when a new primary school opened at Markhams Chase. The school became a secondary modern until the reorganisation of secondary education which changed its status to comprehensive from September 1968. The first headmaster was Mr. George Radford who remained in charge until retiring in 1949. The school closed in August 1998 and for two years became the site of the James Hornsby High School. When that school moved into the refurbished former Nicholas School the majority of the school remained unused and was finally sold by Essex County Council and demolished in May 2007. A housing estate built by Bellway Homes and named Radford Park now stands on the site of the former school.

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22nd March

The War Department purchase land at Marsh Road, Pitsea. The land, which included a wharf at Vange Creek and buildings previously used by the British Explosives Syndicate (later Nobel Explosives Company), would be used as a Sea Transport Supply Depot. The site was later purchased in the 1960s by Basildon Urban District Council who by 1984 had transformed the land into Wat Tyler Country Park.

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28th July

Laindon Park Country Club opened. Local M.P. Mr. Herbert Looker officially opened the club, situated in Basildon Road, Laindon, which had a membership of around 200. The premises comprised a ballroom, provision for billiards, a verandah on three sides and a licensed bar. It was intended to open from 11:00am through to midnight including Sundays. Around 1936 the club had its first change of name becoming Basildon Country Club and a further change to Essex Country Club took it from the 1940s into the 1960s. In November 1968 it become the Irish Club through to the 1980s and possibly the 1990s when it reverted back to Essex Country Club and remained so through to closure and subsequent demolition for private housing sometime around the late 1990s. To the rear was a large field enclosed on three sides by thick woodland which was used by Laindon Cricket Club and as a football pitch and training ground.

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18th November

The Pitsea War Memorial unveiled. It was presented to Pitsea by dairy farmer and landowner Harold George Howard, who also bore its cost, and sited on its own island in the centre of Station Lane at its junction with the High Road. The unveiling ceremony and dedication service was performed by guest of honour Sir Ernest Beachcroft Beckwith Towse V.C., K.C.V.O., C.B.E., (23/04/1864 – 21/06/1948) and the Rector of Pitsea, E.W. Grevatt. Erected to the memory of the men from Pitsea and Bowers Gifford who fell in the Great War, it takes the form of a figure representing life holding a torch of truth and carrying an olive branch in the other hand. The column on which the figure stands is of Cornish granite and the torch, held in the right hand, was illuminated at night. The memorial was one of a number of choices proposed that included a clock tower or monument and a recreation ground. The War Memorial was later moved in 1969 to Howard Park where it remains to this day.

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1929

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A police office at the new Arterial Road at Laindon known to have existed. Sometime in the mid 1930s an office opened at Victoria Road which was later enlarged when a permanent station was built around 1939/1940. This would survive to November 1967 when it closed following centralisation of operations to Great Oaks in Basildon.

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Dunton Council Primary School in Lower Dunton Road, Dunton opened. The new school replaced an earlier one - also in Lower Dunton Road - dating to 1843 that was considered no longer fit for purpose. It was built at a cost of over £4,000 by Messrs. T.J. Bailey of Chelmsford, who had earlier built Nevendon Council School. The school, which soon became a 'County Primary', survived to 1977 when falling pupil numbers forced its closure. It is now a private residence called Dunton Grange. The original school was later sold and is now a private residence and appropriately called 'The Old School House'.

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Langdon Hills resident Joseph Toomey opens a new business selling motor cycles called Laindon Accumulators. In 1932 this had become the National Accumulator Service Station which was based in the High Road. From the same location the business expanded and on 1st January 1938 J. Toomey Motors Ltd became a registered company and later a main agent for Vauxhall and Bedford vehicles. The company, now one of the oldest family run businesses in Essex, is now based at West Mayne and part of the Laindon Holdings group of companies.

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28th February

Eastern National Omnibus Company Ltd. registered as a limited company. The bus operator, which took over routes previously operated by National, first began introducing routes within Basildon in 1954. Earlier in 1951 a small depot for around 25 buses opened in Bull Road, Vange followed in 1961 by a new larger purpose built garage at Cherrydown (now Cherrydown East). In October 1986 the services routes were deregulated and the company withdrew from Basildon in 1990. A new company, Thamesway, then took over the Cherrydown depot and service routes.

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March

The Laindon Picture Theatre opens in High Road, Laindon. Later renamed the Radion, it provided seating for 680 and a stage where variety shows would often take place. The cinema would remain open until 1969 when the building was demolished to make way for a new High Road dual carriageway. It is now the site of Laindon library.

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30th May

Mr. John "Jack" Richard Oldfield elected to serve as Labour member of parliament for the Essex South Eastern parliamentary constituency - including Basildon. Majority 626. The general election produced a hung parliament. The Labour Party won the most seats (287) and a second minority Labour government was formed. This election was also notable as the first instance that women between the ages 21–29 were allowed to vote.

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23rd October

Wesleyan School Church in Brackendale Avenue opened. The laying of the foundation stones, thirteen in all, took place on Wednesday May 22nd where the Rector of St. Michael's, Rev. E.W. Grevatt appealed for unity among the various bodies of the Christian Church. From 09/12/1930 the church was registered for the solemnisation of marriages. Around 1979 the church, now known as Pitsea Methodist, relocated to Oakdene Road (becoming Felmore Methodist Church) and from 09/06/1980 the church was no longer certified as a place of worship. The building is now Pitsea Mount Community Centre.

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November

St. Nicholas' Church Institute in Nicholas Lane, Laindon opened. The small hall stood on the south side of Nicholas Lane close to the junction with High Road. The opening was performed by the Archdeacon of Southend, the Venerable Percy Baynes in a service conducted by the Rector of Laindon-cum-Basildon Rev. Michael Lake. In 1934 a small church was built on the opposite side of Nicholas Lane called St. Peter's and the hall became known as St. Peter's Hall. It survived to the 1960s and was used for a time as the Laindon Sub-Office for registering births, deaths and marriages.

 
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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