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A Basildon Chronology
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1955   1956   1957   1958   1959
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1955

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The first tenants begin moving into houses on the Pound Lane Estate at Laindon. Building work began on the new housing estate around 1953/54 on behalf of Billericay Urban District Council. The estate, which is the second large scale project undertaken by the council in Laindon, consists mainly of 2, 3 and 4 bedroomed properties arranged in terraced rows. The streets, comprising Beecham Court, Boult Road, Byrd Court, Dowland Walk, Elgar Close, Fonteyn Close, Holst Avenue, Kathleen Ferrier Crescent, Pound Lane, Purcell Close, Tallis Road, Vaughn Williams Road and Walton Court, with the exception of Pound Lane - which pre-dated the estate - take their names from English classical composers, conductors, musicians and singers. In 1960 an addition to the estate, Arne Court, was built and named in keeping with the existing musical theme.

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The Jolly Friar public house in Whitmore Way, Fryerns opened. It was designed by London architects Stewart and Hendry and run by the Mann, Crossman & Paulin brewery company. The buildings design incorporated living accommodation and an off-licence. For many years a large Manns sign adorned an outer wall. In 1972 the saloon and lounge bars were combined to form a larger lounge bar by which time the pub had become a Watney Mann House and part of St. George's Taverns pub chain.

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Basildon Amateur Athletic Club founded. During discussions with the local council Frank and Elizabeth Cocker were asked to form a club for the benefit of the growing town. In the 1960s a grass track was established at Gloucester Park which would become their permanent home. The facilities there were later greatly improved by the creation of a proper 'arena' with undercover seating and floodlights. A long serving coach and former chairman is Bob Hawthorne.

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Luncies Farm in Luncies Road, Vange demolished. The farm house, which stood to the north side of Luncies Road, may have dated from the 17th century as the name Luncies is recognised in the Nevendon church register. It was acquired, along with its fields, by Basildon Development Corporation for the Barstable East developments that were ongoing in that area of Basildon. St. Basil's Roman Catholic Church now stands on or near the former farm. During 1922 and early 1923 the then occupier Charles King was involved in a commercial enterprise selling bottled water from a mineral well, sunk within the farm grounds. The venture, known as the Vange Crystal Well Company, briefly prospered, mainly off the back of a rival company operating at Hovells Farm in the parish of Fobbing. The water, it was claimed, had been benefiting the locals for 50 years with its apparent medicinal qualities. It came to the attention of the sanitary authorities who deemed it unfit for human consumption, bringing a close to the flourishing business.

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Basildon R.F.C. (Rugby Football Club) founded. The club was founded by Rev. Norman Woodrow of St. Michael's Church, Pitsea. Around 1961 the club found themselves a permanent base at a house in Church Hill, Laindon called Drumcondra. In the late 1960s the club moved to playing fields adjacent to the Murryfield pavilion in Gloucester Park, and then in 1974 moved again to Gardiners Close where they remain today. Regeneration plans for the area will probably mean the club relocating again.

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February

Westley Cricket Club formed. For their opening season the club's home fixtures were played at Langdon Hills Recreation Ground. In 1956 the club took over the former German POW camp field in Dry Street where they remained until 1969. They have played at various grounds since and remain active into the 2000s.

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10th February

Phase I of the Nevendon Sewage Treatment Works off Nevendon Road (now Courtaud Road) becomes fully operational. Work on laying the trunk sewers and plant works, which was carried out by contractors on behalf of Basildon Development Corporation, began in 1952 following a public inquiry held on 8th April, 1952. After treatment the purified effluent is discharged two miles away into Pitsea Creek. The first use of the Works occurred on 1st February followed on the 10th by an informal opening ceremony performed by the Corporation's Chairman Sir Humfrey Gale, who brought the whole plant into operation. An official opening ceremony was later held on 13th May performed by the Rt. Hon. Duncan Sandys, MP., Minister of Housing and Local Government. In July 1959 work began on a major extension which was completed in 1961. From 01/04/1974 following the Water Act of 1973 a new company called Anglia Water Authority took over responsibility for the main sewage disposal works.

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March

G & R Wrenn open a new toy manufacturing factory at 9 Bowlers Croft, Honywood Road, Basildon. The family run business Partnership, which specialises in the design and manufacture of die cast models for the '00' gauge model railways system, moved to the Nevendon industrial estate in Basildon from Lee Green in south east London. It was founded in 1950 by the Wrenn brothers George and Richard. The business became a limited company in 1957 and soon expanded into neighbouring units 7 and 11. Wrenn's survived at Basildon until October 1992, when it ceased trading and was then acquired in 1993 by Dapol Model Railways of Cheshire.

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2nd March

Shops at the Barstable neighbourhood centre at Timberlog Lane begin opening. The 16 shop units comprising 13 in Timberlog Lane and 3 in Long Riding is the second large scale shopping development undertaken by Basildon Development Corporation. Work commenced on its construction the previous year and included a mix of two-storey maisonettes and three storey maisonettes/flats above each Timberlog Lane shop unit. Among the first to open were Stewards radio, tv and electrical on 2nd March at No.223, Martin's newsagents at 219, Cox Bros butchers at 211 and a Crown post office at 199-201.

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19th March

The second New Town community hall is opened. The new hall in Luncies Road on the Barstable East estate was built in part by local residents and completed by Basildon Development Corporation, whose chairman, Sir Humfrey Gale, performed the opening ceremony. To save on costs it is of a timber construction.

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31st March

Basildon Urban District Council's residential property ownership for the Laindon, Pitsea and Vange areas totals 868. The total broken down is as follows: Laindon; 478, of which 298 are houses, 148 are flats and 32 are bungalows. Vange; 278, of which 138 are houses, 116 are flats and 24 are bungalows. Pitsea; 112, of which 104 are houses and 8 are bungalows. The majority of these properties comprise the King Edward Road and Pound Lane estates at Laindon, both built within the last 10 years, and an estate at Moss Drive in Vange and developments in the Crest Avenue/Kenneth Road area of Pitsea.

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April

Greensted County Infants' & Junior School in Kirby Road, Barstable opened. Mrs. E.M. Cole and Mr. J.E. Stanger were two of the respective headteachers in the schools' long history.

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1st April

With the consent of Essex County Council the name of Billericay Urban District Council is changed to Basildon Urban District Council.

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May

Brian Edwards, conservative councillor representing No.1 Ward Billericay and Buttsbury, is elected as the first Chairman of Basildon Urban District Council.

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26th May

Mr. Richard Body (later Sir) (24,327) elected Conservative M.P. for the Billericay constituency including Basildon. He won with a majority of 4,206 over Labour candidate Brian Clapham. His victory was achieved at the 4th attempt after standing in two previous general elections; Rotherham in 1950, and Leek in 1951, as well as the 1950 by-election for the welsh seat of Abertilley. He won the candidacy after the previous M.P., Bernard Braine, stood down to stand in the re-established South East Essex constituency. Conservatives win General Election. The count, held at Archer Hall in Laindon Road, Billericay, took just 67 minutes after the polls closed at 9.00pm and was the first to be declared nationally.

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4th July

All Saints Church in London Road, Vange is listed on the Ministry of Works buildings of historic interest list. It has since been designated a Grade II* listed building.

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4th July

St. Mary the Virgin Church in Church Road, Dunton is listed on the Ministry of Works buildings of historic interest list. It has since been designated a Grade II listed building.

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4th July

Laindon Ponds farmhouse in Wash Road, Laindon is listed on the Ministry of Works buildings of historic interest list. It has since been designated a Grade II listed building.

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12th December

The number of councillors elected to serve on Basildon Council is also increased from 24 to 26. This was to enable Ward 4 (Basildon/Vange) to elect two additional councillors, one of which was Alf Dove who went on to serve for 43 years. (County of Essex (Basildon Urban District Wards and Councillors) Order, 1959). The first elections took place on 12th May 1956.

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1956

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The first new recreation ground to open since Basildon became a New Town is Holy Cross at Church Road, Fryerns. Although initially created by the development corporation it soon came under the local council's control who then laid out football pitches and a cricket square. A sports pavilion was also built and opened in 1958.

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Manor Infant and Junior School in Church Road, Fryerns opened. A swimming pool was later added in the 1960s and opened by GBR Commonwealth Games swimming medal winner Elizabeth "Liz" Long. In January 2002 the school was renamed Willows Primary School which it remains today.

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19th February

Campbell's Motor Services, bus operators of Station Parade, Pitsea, acquired by Eastern National Omnibus Co. Campbell's had provided local services since the early 1920s from their headquarters at Primrose Villa, Station Parade. The building remained empty for many years, though recently during 2005/6 renovation work was carried out which included a retiled roof.

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13th May

Tower Sports Ground on the site of the former German POW camp at Dry Street, Langdon Hills opened. Westley Cricket Club, who formed the previous year, leased the ground from South Essex Waterworks Company for their home fixtures after clearing the remains of the former POW camp. Trevor Bailey, the Essex and England all-rounder and future honorary Vice-President of the club officially opened the ground which the club then used for the next 14 seasons. The name of the ground relates to a landmark water tower which stands nearby overlooking the ground. In 1969 before the season had begun the club were given notice to quit by April 1970 as the owners wished to sell the field. The club then moved in 1970 to Holy Cross in Fryerns and the field was later incorporated into the Langdon Hills Country Park.

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23rd May

St. Andrew's Church in The Fremnells, Fryerns, opened. The service of Dedication was carried out by the 4th Bishop of Chelmsford, Rt. Rev. Falkner Allison, and attended by an estimated 600 people. The new dual-purpose church and hall was built at a cost of £15,000 and the first Church of England church to be built in Basildon. The previous year on 15th October Sir Humfrey Gale, Chairman of Basildon Development Corporation, laid the foundation stone in a special service and ceremony. Rev. John K. King was the priest-in-charge at the time of opening.

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30th May

Basildon Development Corporation's proposed plans for the creation of the main town centre receive approval from the Rt. Hon. Henry Brooke, M.P., Minister for Housing & Local Government. Work on the first block of shops comprising parts of Town Square and Market Pavement, Market Square and Fodderwick began in December 1956 with the first shop open for business in 1958.

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27th June

Laindon general post office (G.P.O.) telephone exchange opened. The new single-storey exchange was built to the rear of the former exchange located within The Ferns, a detached house in High Road, Langdon Hills. Access to the exchange is from Vowler Road. It remained in use to around 1968 when a purpose built exchange opened at Northumberland Avenue, Laindon which is still in use today. Following closure the building, although empty and derelict, was finally demolished sometime around 1976 and replaced with a private residential property.

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August

Shopping block at Kathleen Ferrier Crescent on the Pound Lane estate in Laindon completed. The three shops, odd numbered 81 - 85, were built to serve the new Basildon Urban District Council estate, begun under the previous Billericay administration a few years earlier. The small development included maisonette accommodation above each shop. Forbuoys newsagents at No. 81 and a Wavy Line supermarket at No. 83 are just two of the traders to have occupied a unit there.

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September

Fryerns Grammar and Technical school in Pattiswick Square is the first all new secondary school to open in Basildon. Mr Cyril Baggs is appointed the first Headmaster. In September 1968 the school merged with nearby Craylands to become Fryerns Comprehensive. The school closed in 1999 having been renamed Fryerns Community School in 1994.

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8th September

Langdon Hills Methodist Church in High Road opened by Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone. The new church, with increased seating and detached manse, is built to the rear of the former church which faces the High Road. The former church, which itself had been enlarged in the 1930s, opened in 1907 as Nightingale Mission and became a Wesleyan Methodist in 1919. This is now a church hall. A foundation stone was laid earlier in the year on January 7th.

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7th October

St. Basil the Great Roman Catholic Church in Luncies Road, Barstable East, opened. The Bishop of Brentwood, Bernard Patrick Wall performed the blessing. The previous year on 23rd July the foundation stone was laid by George Andrew Beck, the 3rd Bishop of Brentwood. The church, which becomes the fourth new one to open within the town, is designed in the modernist style with seating for 450. The architects were the respected team of David R. Burles and Alexander John Newton of Burles, Newton & Partners. A presbytery, convent and Roman Catholic school were also built on the 5 acre site.

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1957

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Timberlog County Secondary School in Timberlog Lane opened. The first appointed Headmaster was Mr. Vivian Robson who formerly taught at Rayleigh Technical & Secondary Modern. It was designed by the established team of architects C.S. Mardall, F.R.S. Yorke and Eugene Rosenberg. In September 1968 the school merged with nearby Barstable, with the Timberlog site becoming Barstable lower school. The school was later demolished in the 1990s and replaced with residential housing comprising Ascot Grove, Chalice Close, Mopsies Road and Vine Close.

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Nether Mayne South West 'feeder' road linking the A13 at Vange with Roundacre roundabout completed. Construction began around late 1956 or early 1957 and involved the complete rebuild of the Woottons Lane railway overbridge (Bridge 85). The road, since designated A176, was known as Road 4 on the development corporation's area plan.

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Clay Hill Road 'feeder' road linking Vange with Basildon town centre completed. Construction began during 1957 and involved the realignment of the existing course to a new junction at Southernhay, completed the previous year. The realignment involved the complete rebuild of the former Shelley Road railway overbridge (Bridge 87). The road was known as Road 10 on the development corporation's area plan.

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Long Riding, Barstable shops completed. The two shops with upper floor maisonette accommodation at 303 and 305 Long Riding were built to serve the Barstable West housing developments. Various newsagents would trade at 305 including Newswell during the 1970s.

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Ilford Limited open a photographic colour processing plant at Paycocke Road, Basildon. The company, founded in 1879 by Alfred Harman in Ilford, Essex, were early pioneers in the development of photographic reproduction methods; establishing themselves as one of the leading film developers in the United Kingdom. The factory, on the No. 1 industrial estate at Nevendon, was designed in part by Anthony B. Davies, an employee of Basildon Development Corporation and soon to be their chief architect planner. A prominent feature of the factory site, which employs a workforce of around 1200 people, is a tall landmark chimney, finished in white and emblazoned with the companys' name in black vertical lettering.

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The Winged Horse public house in Luncies Road, Barstable, opened. The name was chosen by Mr. N.L. Duckworth of 12 Claydon Crescent, Basildon who won a £25 prize in a "name your new pub" competition organised by owners Taylor Walker Brewery Co.

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January

St. Teresa's Roman Catholic Primary School in Elsenham Crescent, Barstable, opened. The new school, the first of its kind in Basildon and opened by the Irish Sisters of Charity, had a capacity for 280 children. Sister Joseph Rita was appointed as the first Head Teacher. The school and a convent on the same site was blessed on 23rd May by the Bishop of Brentwood, Rt. Rev. Bernard Wall. It is now voluntary aided and under the Trusteeship of the Brentwood Diocese.

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April

The Ford Motor Company open a radiator factory in Honywood Road on the No.1. Nevendon Industrial Estate. This was Ford's first entry into the town and the company would continue to invest heavily in the area throughout the 1960s and '70s. The factory became the Visteon Radiator Plant in 1997 (US automotive parts supplier Visteon becoming a Ford subsidiary until 2000) but closed down in March 2008 when owners Visteon UK went into administration.

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26th June

Basildon town centre's first road Southernhay and Gloucester Park open space are formally opened by the Duke & Duchess of Gloucester who gave their name to the park. The Duke of Gloucester (Prince Henry) was the 3rd son of King George V and uncle to Queen Elizabeth II and the Duchess (Princess Alice) was born Lady Alice Christabel Montague Douglas Scott.

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September

Hanningfield Reservoir, near Downham, formally opened. Work on creating the 870 acre reservoir, the second largest in Essex after Abberton, began in 1951 following the Hanningfield Water Act 1950 with the aim of providing water for the new town of Basildon and other parts of Essex. The reservoir, a joint construction by the Southend Waterworks Company and South Essex Waterworks Company, when full holds 27 billion litres of water. W & C French of Buckhurst Hill, Essex were the main contractors tasked with its its construction, which was put at around £6 million. It has an average depth of 25 feet (maximum 55 feet) and is fed from the rivers Blackwater and Chelmer. A 16th century manor house at Downham called Fremnells was demolished as part of the development which mainly covers farm land in what was known as the Sandown Valley in the ancient parish of Peasdown. The Right Honourable Henry Brooke, M.P., Minister of Housing and Local Government, performed the opening ceremony. It is now in the ownership of Essex and Suffolk Water Company who maintain it in partnership with Essex Wildlife Trust.

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5th September

Kingswood County Infant & Junior School in Clay Hill Road, Kingswood, opened. The Headmaster at the time of opening was Mr. John Emrys John. The School was initially established in the infant block while the junior school was being completed. In 1960 Miss D.E. Barber became the first infant Headmistress when the schools separate identities were finally established.

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9th November

Stewards, a developing local shop chain run by businessman Jack Shepard, hold a firework display at the headquarters of Basildon Town football club in Timberlog Lane.

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December

Langdon Hills Sanatorium at Dry Street closes. Opened in 1927 on land purchased by West Ham Borough Council the purpose built hospital was provided with living accommodation and a school room for children suffering with tuberculosis. In 1948 it fell under the control of South East Essex Management Committee who converted it to an adult male intake in 1950. Following closure the grounds were at one time considered as a possible site for the future Basildon Hospital but were eventually sold in 1964, in part to Essex County Council as an extension to its One Tree Hill site, and the rest into private ownership where the Wootton boarding kennels were established, lasting through to the 2000s. The remaining land and Wootton House, which had been used as the Nurses' quarters, remain in private ownership.

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1958

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Laindon Link, road No.5 on Basildon Development Corporation's Master Plan for Basildon, is completed. In the early 1970s following the completion of Hatterill the road was closed off close to the footpath to Albert Drive and later re-opened for buses only in 1978.

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Shops at the main neighbourhood centre at Whitmore Way in Fryerns begin opening. The 18 units, even numbered 402 - 436, was the third large scale shopping development undertaken by the development corporation. Stewards radio & tv at 402, Garon's bakers at 408 and Jeffrey's Hair Fashions next door at 410 were three of the first traders to move in.

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Shops at the main neighbourhood centre at Clay Hill Road, Kingswood begin opening. The 8 main units, odd numbered 243 - 257, were under construction from late 1956. An additional detached shop was also constructed to the rear of the main parade. The centre when completed included a public house and first floor community centre. Hays grocery store, which had previously traded in Laindon and in a temporary converted garage in Witchards, was one of the first to open. In 1963 the units were renumbered to even and in reverse to 140 - 154 when Clay Hill Road was extended to London Road, Vange.

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Anthony B. Davies, A.R.I.B.A., A.A. Dipl., succeeds Noel Tweddell as Chief Arichitect Planner to Basildon Development Corporation. Noel Tweddell, who resigned, had held the post since the inception of the Corporation in 1949 and was responsible for the preparation of the Corporation's first 'Master Plan', which received Government approval in 1951. His successor Anthony B. Davies had previously held the Deputy Chief Architect Planner post with the same corporation.

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The Duke of Gloucester on his second visit to Basildon visits Timberlog and Berry Boys Clubs.

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Christadelphian Church at Basildon Drive, Laindon opened. The church was later registered for the solemnisation of marriages from 28/03/1963.

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February

Essex County Council open a temporary clinic at 119-121 Honeypot Lane, Fryerns. The clinic, located close to the town centre in two recently completed houses hired from Basildon Development Corporation, would serve the new town until March 1964 when a purpose built replacement opened at Great Oaks, Basildon.

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14th February

Basildon Police opened a small section station at a bungalow in Church Road, Basildon near the railway bridge.

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20th February

The New Towns Act, 1959 given Royal Assent. The new Act absolves the Comptroller and Auditor General of presenting the corporations' annual accounts to Parliament. It is now obligatory for the corporations to include their accounts in their annual reports compiled each year on 31st March.

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31st July

Basildon Urban District Council holds its monthly councilllors meeting for the first time in Basildon. Councillors, who normally attended meetings at the council's chamber at 94 High Street, Billericay (leased from Essex County Council), met in the main hall at Timberlog County Secondary School in Timberlog Lane, Barstable. From April 1st 1960 the arrangement became semi-permanent with some meetings during 1960 being held in the main committee room (Room 221) at Keay House, Town Square, Basildon. On 11/10/1962 Wickford Junior School at Market Road provided another venue.

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4th August

The first Basildon Carnival event held. Organised by local businessman Jack Shepard, the event, which was held on a Monday at Gloucester Park, attracted an estimated 10,000 people. Joan Birtle was the carnival queen.

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16th August

The first shop to open in Basildon town centre is Henbest at 65-67 Market Square. Henbest's were already well known locally through their mens outfitters and drapery shops in High Road, Laindon. Another early town centre trader from 1958 was Charsleys, who in September opened the towns' first shoe shop, and had also originally begun their business in the Laindon High Road. They would later become one of the first shops to open in phase one of the Eastgate Shopping Centre after its completion in 1980.

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1st September

Moat House School in Church Road, Fryerns, Basildon opened. The first Headmaster appointed is Mr. Idris A. Foulkes who moved to Basildon from his previous Headmasters post at Gloucester. The new school, with places for 160 children, is the first of its kind in Basildon to cater for children with special needs; drawing its numbers from the south east Essex Divisional area, and children mainly arrive by coach. By 1963 there were 132 children on the school's roll.

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1st September

Woodlands County Secondary School for Boys' and Girls' in Kingswood, Basildon opened. The two schools were built on a large 27 acre (10.9 hectares) site that had previously been arable farmland, possibly once belonging to the former Woodlands Farm that stood nearby in Bells Hill Road and from which the school took its name. Located at Takely End (boys) and Gobions (girls), they operated separately until a gradual merge took place in the 1970s. The first Headmaster of the Boys' school was Mr. Bernard Benjamin. In 2011 Essex County Council granted planning permission for a new school to be built along side this one over part of the playing field and the school, which had been considered outdated by modern standards, was then later demolished and the site landscaped. The new school, now addressed as being in Woodlands Approach, opened in February 2014.

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5th September

Basildon is hit by an exceptional storm which caused extensive flooding over a wide area. Nearly 3 inches of rain fell in little more than an hour.

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6th September

The new 50 stall Basildon market opens. Operated by the Development Corporation, the market layout is in two sections combining a mix of fixed stalls and mobile shops. 44 of the 50 stalls are fixed and clad in coloured canvases. The remaining six are mobile and include ironmongers T.E. Collins of Laindon. Opening days are Tuesday, Friday and Saturday. From 1st April 1965 Basildon Council took over administration with little change until 1983 when a second hand Monday 'Flea Market' opened in January, followed in April with the addition of Thursday for the main traders. Also on this day, 06/09/1958, saw the opening of the public conveniences building situated opposite the market. Basildon Town Centre Management now control the market.

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4th October

Kingswood Baptist Church in Codenham Green, Kingswood opened. The new baptist church and youth hall was built at a cost of just over £18,000 which included a Manse and site fees. The opening was performed by Mrs. E.B. Walling in the presence of Rev. F.C. Rusbridge, the churchs' first Minister. Rev. J.H.G. Adams, the Area Superintendent, conducted the service of dedication. On 30th November the church held the first baptisms in a service involving total immersion in water for those being baptised. Prior to opening, services and Sunday School activities were held in Kingswood School followed by the church's own Manse in early 1958. The foundation stone laying ceremony was held earlier in the year on 10th May.

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7th October

Carson Brothers (Productions) Ltd. officially open their new factory at Honywood Road on the No.1 Industrial Estate at Nevendon. The company, which makes office furniture, was founded in 1949 in Shoreditch, London by brothers Michael and Alex Carson and has around 80 members of staff. Celebrity Stephanie Vos performed the official opening. The factory premises, known as Desk House, would later prove too small for the company who relocated in 1966 to a much larger site at the eastern end of Cranes Farm Road at its junction with East Mayne. The large roundabout adjacent to the factory subsequently became known colloquially as Carson's roundabout.

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November

An underground monitoring post is constructed at Vange. The underground bunker, constructed of concrete on high ground at Vange, was one of over 1500 built nationwide for use by the Royal Observer Corps as a defence initiative against a nuclear threat during the 'cold war' period. It remained operational until October 1968 when the threat of conventional air attack was considered minimal. The shelter, although still extant and now part of Basildon golf course, has been vandalised and is now fenced off and the ventilation shafts sealed with concrete caps.

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4th November

Changes to local elections are introduced which include an increase and renaming of voting Wards from 6 to 9. The number of councillors elected to serve on Basildon Council is also increased from 26 to 28. (County of Essex (Basildon Urban District Wards and Councillors) Order, 1959). The first elections took place on 9th May, 1959.

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8th November

Stewards, a developing local shop chain, hold their second annual firework display in Basildon Town Centre. Admission was free. The event was later taken over by Basildon Round Table who continue to run it to the present.

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17th December

St. Chad's church in Timberlog Lane (now 782 Clay Hill Road) dedicated. The C of E church, with seating for 225, is named after St. Chad, d.02/03/672, the first bishop of Mercia and Lindsey at Lichfield. His brother Cedd is said to have had associations with Essex. Lady Whitmore, wife of Sir Francis Whitmore, had previously laid the foundation stone on December 15th, 1957 in the presence of Lord Bishop of Chelmsford, Dr. Sherard Falkner Allison, who also later consecrated the church on November 17th, 1959. The architects were Humphrys and Hurst of Dorset Street, London. Next to the church is a new Vange rectory, replacing the 19th century one at London Road.

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1959

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The Long Riding public house in Long Riding, Barstable, opened. Stanley and Margaret Green are the first publicans to take charge.

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The first tenants begin occupying properties on the Lee Chapel South No.1 housing area. The new estate, situated off Nether Mayne, was built on behalf of Basildon Development Corporation. It would eventually comprise 4 housing phases including an area designated for privately owned dwellings. New street names included in the development were The Knares, Great Gregorie, Ingaway, Cross Green and Wetherland.

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Cranes Farm off Cranes Farm Road, Nevendon demolished. The farm had existed at Nevendon since 1272 when Hugh le Crane is said to have been its first occupant. It had stood in Basildon Road (later renamed in the 1950s to Cranes Farm Road) and sometimes known as Great Spenders. The last occupants were the McCheyne family, who sold the farm and grounds to Basildon Development Corporation.

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Co-operative Wholesale Society open a milk distribution depot off Southernhay (later Bluehouses and now Time Square) in Basildon town centre. The milk delivery service was run by Grays Co-operative Society, later to became London Co-operative Society (L.C.S.), and had a large department store in the main Town Square. Their battery powered milk floats and green milk crates carrying bottles, in either gold top, red top, silver top or steralised, soon became a regularly seen sight around the town. A Co-op funeral directors was also established and although the milk depot later closed the directors, now known as Co-op Funeralcare, remains open for business.

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The first tenants move into maisonettes above the Southernhay and Nether Priors shops in Basildon town centre. The fifteen maisonettes, in blocks of three and one block of six, were constructed above shop units 59, 69, and 79 Southernhay and 1,3,5,7, and 9 Nether Priors. They were built on behalf of Basildon Development Corporation and are the first residential properties within the town itself. Following Brooke House's construction in 1962 it would be another 46 years before another purpose built residential building appeared within the town, this being The Icon in Southernhay, completed in 2008.

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Two 'pantry' style shops at Luncies Road, Barstable completed. The two shops numbered 51 and 53 with upper flat accommodation, were built by the development corporation to serve the existing housing development in the Luncies Road area. The design was very similar to that used at Whitmore Way, Fryerns. Martin's newsagents and W & D Crook grocery store were some of the first to open.

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Fryerns neighbourhood Sub-Centre shops extension at Whitmore Way and Battleswick completed. The 5 shop units, even numbered 86 - 90 in Whitmore Way and odd numbers 1 and 3 in Battleswick, is a continuation of the existing parade of shops originally completed in 1953. Work commenced on its construction, which was at an angle to the existing structure, the previous year and included two-storey maisonettes above each shop unit. Among the first to open were Nelson and Ford motorctcles and accessories at No. 90, Gerald's Hair Fashions at No. 86 and the Battleswick fish bar at No. 3.

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Cigarette manufacturers Carreras Rothmans relocate to a new purpose built factory at Christopher Martin Road on the No.1 industrial estate at Nevendon. The company, founded in the 19th century by Don José Carreras Ferrer, moved to Basildon from Camden, NW1, following a merger with Rembrandt-Rothmans Group the previous November. The Carreras factory and six storey office block occupies a 12 acre site and would in 1960 became the world's first fully automated cigarette manufacturing plant when the Duke of Edinburgh, on a special visit in March, switched on the final item of plant to complete the automation. The factory survived to 1984 when the company closed it down amid a down turn in cigarette sales. The office block, complete with landmark exterior clocks, was later renamed Phoenix House, which it remains today.

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Swift Motorcycles established. The business was founded by Gordon Swift who set up a motorcycle sales, spares, servicing and m.o.t. centre in Church Road, Laindon. In the early 1960s a second venture, Gordon Swift Motors, was established at 8 Gibcracks, Basildon offering the same service less sales. The motorcycle business is now over 50 years old and still based in Laindon.

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The first tenants begin occupying properties on the Ghyllgrove housing area. The new development corporation estate was built in two phases from around 1958; being completed in the early 1960s. A third housing area off The Gore was later completed in 1962.

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Kingswood Community Hall at 142B Clay Hill Road opened. The community hall, located on the first floor above the neighbourhood shopping centre, was built by the development corporation to serve the recently completed Kingswood housing development. It was designed by corporation employees William Crabtree, F.R.I.B.A. in conjunction with Anthony B. Davies, A.R.I.B.A. and chief architect planner. Kingswood Community Association, formed later that year, then managed the building which since 1994 has been in the ownership of Basildon Council.

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10th January

Roundacre roundabout in Basildon becomes fully operational to vehicular traffic. Work on the new 6 junction roundabout began the previous year after the completion of the Nether Mayne railway underbridge. Two roads, Upper Mayne and Broadmayne were not yet connected to it though both would be completed by 1961. Initially there were two pedestrian subway entrance/exits which in the 1960s was increased to four. Its size was reduced over the years due to increased traffic, and though plans in the 1970s to create an upper level never reached fruition, it was finally replaced in the 1980s with a double roundabout and duel carriageway link road called Roundacre.

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February

The first new vehicle service station and car dealer opened at Long Riding, Barstable. E.D. Autos Limited, a Vauxhall and Bedford dealership, were the first to occupy the site which they later branded E. & D. Knight. The petrol station side of the business - selling Esso - had already opened the previous year in September while the remainder of the site was still under construction. In the 1970s Clayton Car Sales took over when it became Basildon Motoring Centre followed by Longman's Motors, who traded in the High Road at Laindon in the 1960s, and continue to run it to this day. There is no longer a petrol forecourt service having been discontinued sometime in the 1980s or earlier.

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14th March

Laindon Community Centre in Aston Road opened. The hall, built at a cost of £25,000, had been many years in the planning being jointly funded from private sources, the council and Basildon Development Corporation. President of Laindon Community Association, Mr. George J. Sibbons, who in 1952 donated £4,000 towards its construction, carried out the opening duties. The hall held up to 400 people and was used extensively up to 1985 when it was destroyed in a suspected arson attack. A new community centre was built close by and also in Aston Road.

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29th July

The New Towns Act, 1959 given Royal Assent. Provision within Part II of the Act for the creation of a successor to the development corporation's led to the formation of the Commission For The New Towns in 1961.

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5th August

Prime Minister of the day, Harold Macmillan, visited Basildon. After a tour of the town centre he attended a reception and press call at Kingswood Community Centre. This is thought to be the first instance of a Prime Minister making an official visit to Basildon.

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1st October

Langdon Hills Water Undertaking acquired by Southend Waterworks Company. The undertaking was established in the 1930s by Billericay Urban District Council; being subsidised by a small charge on the general rates. The water, which served over 800 properties, was supplied in bulk from South Essex Waterworks Company. The cost of the acquisition was put at £6,500.

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8th October

Mr. Edward Gardner (later Sir) (29,224) elected Conservative member of parliament for the Billericay constituency including Basildon. The Preston born politician and barrister - he became a Q.C. in 1960, won with a majority of 4,822 over Labour's Rita Smythe. This was Mr. Gardner's second general election contest, the first being in 1955 when he fought the Kent constituency of Erith and Crayford; losing to Labour's Norman Dodds by 8,618 votes. He won the candidacy after the previous incumbent, Richard Body, stood down to concentrate on his career as a barrister. Conservatives win the general election. The declaration count, which took place at Archer Hall in Laindon Road, Billericay, broke the 10pm barrier coming in at 59 minutes, which stood as the record until 1997 when it was beaten by Sunderland South in a new time of 46 minutes.

 
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.

Acknowledgements and Bibliography

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