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Keay House in Town Square, Basildon opened. The office block, named after the 1st Chairman of
Basildon Development Corporation, Sir Lancelot Keay is located at 88 Town Square in three storeys
above shop units 78-104. It became home to various solicitors and there has been a dental practice there
since 1960. For many years Basildon Council had some departments there which would later
relocate to the Basildon Centre. A Town Square regeneration project; begun in 1996 to create a
more open plaza, involved the demolition of part of Keay House that overhung the square. This
also involved the removal or destruction of the west facing coloured mosaic wall mural adorning
an outer wall. This may still exist in one form or another. The building was then renamed Southgate
Lourdes Hall in Whitmore Way, Fryerns officially opened. The multifunctional hall, which was built
on behalf of the Catholic Church, was also licensed and for many years the home of St. Basil's Catholic
Social Club. In the mid 2000s the Catholic Church sold the site to a property developer who demolished
the hall in 2006. Planning permission was eventually granted for a residential development of 17 houses.
A petrol filling station at Whitmore Way, Fryerns opened. In 1961 a vehicle repair garage on the
same site was completed. For many years it was one of two garages run by Holmes and Smith, the other
being in Great Oaks, Basildon. Years later the station closed for a number of years but reopened sometime
in the 1990s, though not the repair garage, and has remained open ever since. It is now a Murco
petrol station with Costcutter Express foodstore. A car wash also operates on the same site.
Pitsea and Basildon Congregational Church Hall and Manse officially opened. Built at Honeypot
Lane at the junction with Whitmore Way, the new church hall and manse cost nearly £18,000
of which part was raised through the sale of their previous building in Rectory Park Drive,
Pitsea. Officiating at the opening service was newly appointed minister Rev. E.W. Southey. The
hall was multi-functional sharing the church's social activites with services. In 1972 a union
between the Congregational Church in England and Wales and the Presbyterian Church of England
resulted in the formation of the United Reformed Church which it remains today.
H.R.H. The Duke of Edinburgh visits Basildon to officially switch on a new piece of automated
machinery at the new Carreras Rothmans cigarette making factory in Christopher Martin Road on
the Nevendon Industrial Estate No.1. The duke piloted his own helicopter and was met by the Lord
Lieutenant of Essex, Sir John Archibald Ruggles-Brise. After switching on the machine, an automated,
pneumatic tobacco feed system, he left the factory for a tour of Basildon town centre with B.D.Corp.
Chairman Sir Humfrey Gale.
Basildon Urban District Council vacate some of their departments in Billericay to Keay House,
Town Square, Basildon. The Clerk's, Treasurer's and Engineer's departments made the move to
Basildon where the council have occupation of the 2nd and 3rd floors in accomodation that includes a
committee room. Some departments would remain there until the early 1990s.
Trinity Methodist Church in Clay Hill Road, Vange opened. Services had previously been held at nearby
Gordon Hall when the New Town Methodist Church merged with the Free Church in 1954. Rev. Percy D.
Beckwith, Chairman of the London N.E. District performed the service of dedication.
Laindon County Secondary School swimming pool opened. The open-air pool was built at a cost of
around £4,000, part of which came from fund raising events held during the preceding years. Alderman
William Bennett, C.B.E., Vice-Chairman of Essex County Council performed the opening duties. The
pool was eventually roofed over in 1972 and survived to closure of the school (as James Hornsby High)
in 2000. It was then demolished along with the rest of the school in 2007.
The first new library to be built and opened is Fryerns in Whitmore Way.
Fryerns Community Centre in Whitmore Way opened.
Nevendon Service Station in Honywood Road, opened. The garage on opening sold Shell petrol and on-site
Arne Court, Laindon, old people's accommodation opened. The new Council run complex off Holst
Avenue was opened by the Council's chairman W.H. Davies, J.P. The accommodation consists of a
two storey block of 24 bed sitting rooms and a single storey block of 7 bed sitting rooms for
aged couples - linked by a lounge and communal rooms with an upper floor warden flat.
complex is now used as temporary housing for a wide variety of needs.
York Shipley open a refrigeration plant at Gardiners Lane (later Gardiners Lane South) on the No.1
Industrial Estate at Nevendon. York Shipley, whose name originated from York, Pennsylvania, have
since 1956 been part of the Borg-Warner International Group. Employing over 1000 people much of
the workforce has relocated to Basildon from their North Circular Road factory in London, N.W.2. The
factory was later modernised with additional buildings but was eventually closed and demolished in 2007.
Fairhouse County Junior School in Long Riding opened. Miss P.M.B. Green is the first appointed
Headmistress. The school is now known as Fairhouse Community Junior School.
The Staneway railway bridge linking Laindon Link with Lee Chapel South opened. The bridge, officially
designated 83A, over the British Railways run Fenchurch Street to Shoeburyness rail route was built of a
special design with electric heating to reduce the effects of winter and other considerations
given the ongoing electrification work being undertaken at the time. An unmanned occupation
crossing at Green Lane had its 'right of way' extinguished around this time. Work on Phase II of
the continuation of Staneway (Road 35) beyond The Knares junction to provide a direct feeder link
to the High Road at Langdon Hills was completed in 1966. From the 1990s the bridge crossing
became the starting point for a new road called Mandeville Way.
The Bull public house demolished. This pub and building dated from the 19th century and stood in
Bull Road, Vange (later renamed Clay Hill Road in 1963) and run by brewers Mann, Crossman and
Paulin. It was replaced by a new public house, also called The Bull and run by the same brewery
company which was built about 50 yards to the east on the corner of the new junction with Timberlog
F.W. Woolworth & Co Ltd. open a shop at 23 Town Square, Basildon. Prior to opening, from 1958 the
chain store, later branded as Woolworths, offered its goods in a self-service mobile shop adapted
from a London County single dekker bus, painted red and often parked in Market Square. In the 1970s
a stairway at the rear of the shop was built to link the store with the new multi-storey car park. In
2008 with the country in recession Woolworths went into administration and the store closed for business
on Saturday 27th December, 2008. The shop was then divided into two units with Poundland relocating
from 50-52 Town Square into the larger of the two in 2009.
The Mecca Ltd run Locarno Ballroom in Blenheim House, Market Pavement, Basildon opens. With a
standing capacity of around 850 the venue quickly establishes itself on the live entertainment
circuit with bands like The Who, Hermans Hermits, The Kinks, Manfred Mann, The Move and the Dave
Clark Five, who had a weekly Sunday residence for much of 1963, all playing there. From 1970 the
nightclub was renamed Tiffany's through to April 1974 when it re-opened as Raquels where in 1981
Basildon's own Depeche Mode made two appearances. It closed as Club Uropa in January 1998.
Basildon bus station in Cherrydown (now Cherrydown East) is formally opened. The old depot at
Bull Road, Vange is demolished to make way for the new neighbourhood shopping centre redevelopment.
The 12:25 pm Fenchurch Street to Shoeburyness rail service was derailed between Laindon and Pitsea resulting in two
fatalities and injuries to forty six others. The eleven coach train carrying around 150 passengers
and hauled by a Class 'B' steam tank locomotive was travelling on the Up line in the Down direction when
it derailed about 1000 yards from Pitsea station. The locomotive, No. 80075, was left on its side
and four of the eleven carriages also left the track during the accident, which occurred at 1:34 pm
during a period of single line operation necessitated by ongoing engineering work to convert the
line to overhead electrification.
Population Census for Basildon district; 48,047.
Mrs Christina Gadsdon, J.P., becomes the first elected woman to serve as Chairman of Basildon Urban
District Council. Mrs Gadsdon, who moved to Wickford in 1937, became a conservative councillor in
1955 representing the No.2 Ramsden/Wickford Ward and was Vice-Chairman for the previous two years.
A temporary Police Station was opened on land adjacent to the present building in Great
Oaks. The beat house at Arterial Road, Nevendon was closed and amalgamated with the Basildon
section here. Later, on 26th March 1963, Pitsea's administrative staff would transfer here
during construction of the new headquarters.
The first traffic lights in Basildon become operational at the Broadmayne junction with Southernhay
and Ghyllgrove. For the early years of Broadmayne's existence the road terminated at a T-junction
which was then extended and duelled to join Roundacre roundabout. The lights were installed at the
completion of the extension, which also included a subway to the Ghyllgrove neighbourhood and a short
length of road that merged with the existing single carriageway in the direction of Pitsea. The
lights remain in operation to this day.
The new Bull public house in Bull Road (now Clay Hill Road), Basildon opened. Arthur and Teresa
Goldstone are the first licencees having previously lived in the 'old' Bull just yards away. It was
built on behalf of brewers Mann, Crossman and Paulin who positioned a large 'Manns' sign on an outer
wall. The new Bull has two bars and an off licence. Live entertainment on the saloon bar's stage
was a regular feature for many years. It remained open until 1998 by which time it had been renamed
The Powerhouse. After remaining empty for a number of years the building and adjoining car park,
(believed to be subject to a covenant), was fenced off and demolished in August/September 2002 and
replaced with a residential development of flats.
The Commission For The New Towns (CNT) established under provisions in Part II of the New Towns Act,
1959. They were created as a successor to the New Town development corporations and undertook all responsibilities for the management of housing stock and other assets, including disposal. They were wound up in May 1999 following a merge with the corporate functions of the Urban Regeneration Agency, out of which saw the creation of English Partnerships.
Following British Railways electrification of the London, Tilbury & Southend railway line,
the first electric trains (class 302) begin running on off peak services. These new trains
operating on a 25k V ac overhead power system would very soon replace all steam powered
services; signalling the end of over 100 years of steam services on this line.
Homes for Today and Tomorrow a report of a Sub-committee of the Central Housing Advisory
Committee published. The report, which set out minimum living space requirements for new build homes,
would lead to the Parker Morris standards, later implemented by the development corporation in
1967 and all local authorities from 1969.
The first shops open at Kibcaps, off The Knares at the Lee Chapel South neighbourhood centre.
The Double Six public house in Whitmore Way, Fryerns opened. In the 1980s it became the Flying
Childers but later reverted back to its original name which it remained until closure in the early
2000s. In 2003 the pub was demolished and the land sold for a new residential development of flats.
The Commodore public house in Timberlog Lane, Barstable opened. The pub, which opened as a Free
House, later became part of the Mann, Crossman & Paulin brewery chain. Among its attractions
is an air conditioned restaurant and live entertainment in the form of Saturday dinner dances. For
many years large Manns letters adorned the public bar's upper outer wooden facia cladding later
being replaced with a large circular Watney Combe Reid sign. The Commodore closed in the 1990s
and was replaced with a residential development of flats named Commodore House, after the former public house.
Ingaway Chapel in Ingaway, Lee Chapel South opened. The chapel was built to replace the undenominational
Ebenezer Gospel Hall which formerly stood in Elizabeth Drive (now Wickhay), Lee Chapel (now Lee
Chapel North) and to which had been issued a Basildon Development Corporation compulsory purchase
order prior to the creation of the Lee Chapel North housing development. In the 2000s the chapel
became Ingaway Evangelical Church.
Basildon Bowling Alley opened. The 26 lane purpose built alley in Southernhay was run by
TransWorld Bowling and called Basildon Bowl. Interior features included a cafe, juke box and
licensed club room. B.D.C. Chairman, Sir Humfrey Gale carried out the opening ceremony. By
1965 it had became Ambassador Bowl, but later in June 1975 was taken over by Basildon Council,
reduced to 10 lanes, and renamed to Basildon Bowl again. The remainder of the building was
refurbished and taken over by Coral Social Clubs Ltd. for use as a bingo hall. During the 1980s the
facility closed and the bingo hall was extended to encompass the remainder of the building. It
is still a bingo hall and now called Gala.
Fairhouse County Infant School in Long Riding opened. Mrs C.M. Kirby is the first appointed Headteacher. The
school is now known as Fairhouse Community Infant School.
Springfield County Infant and Junior School in Honeypot Lane opened. The school was built as a
temporary one and closed in the 1980s. The first Headmaster of the junior school is Mr. K.H.
Duckworth and Mrs. F. Patis is the first Headmistress of the infant school. The school was
demolished soon after closure. The site remained empty for a number of years until the 1990s
when an older persons residential development called Ghyllgrove Close was built.
Barstable Grammar and Technical School in Timberlog Lane (now Timberlog Close) opened. The
new school for 750 pupils was the second and last grammar school to open in the new town. The
first Headmaster was Mr. Geoffrey Whitehead. In September 1968 the school merged with nearby
Timberlog Secondary Modern to become Barstable Comprehensive. Following the merger the
Timberlog building became the lower school until the original Barstable site was enlarged,
allowing the lower school to be sold off for a housing development during the 1990s. On 30th
March, 1993 the main block became a Grade II listed building. In 2005 the school became Federated
with Chalvedon and from 1st September, 2009 became the Basildon Lower Academy accommodating
students between the ages 11-14.
Basildon Fire Station in Great Oaks officially opened. Chairman of Essex County Council, Alderman
George F. Chaplin, C.B.E., J.P., conducted the ceremony. Also in attendance was local U.D. Council
Chairman, Mrs. Christina Gadsdon, J.P., and representatives of the development corporation. The
Essex County Fire Brigade station was built at a cost of around £50,000 and manned by nearly 40
fireman. A new fire engine with turntable ladder was also provided. The station had become operational
from 8th December 1961 when the Laindon building was formally closed and the appliances transferred
The last steam train to run between London and Southend was the 18:10 Fenchurch Street to
Thorpe Bay service.
All services on the London, Tilbury & Southend railway are now solely operated by electric
trains following the withdrawal of steam locomotion.
The Mother and Child water fountain sculpture in Town Square, Basildon unveiled. It was commissioned
in 1959 by the Development Corporation to symbolise the growth of Basildon as a New Town. The
design was by Paris born sculptor Maurice Lambert R.A. (25/06/1901 - 17/08/1964) and finished in
bronze. It was later adopted in 1974 as the symbol to represent Basildon Council and now has Grade
II listed status.
14 Storey, 84 flats, residential tower block, Brooke House in North Gunnels, Basildon Town Centre opened. It
was named after then Conservative Minister for Housing, Henry Brooke, MP., (09/04/1903 - 29/03/1984),
and stands 161 feet tall and 48ft wide. It is supported by sixteen, twenty seven feet high,
V-shaped angled stilted reinforced concrete columns (in pairs of two) which merge together to
form eight piloti at ground level each continuing on to a 45 feet pile foundation. The accommodation
features four single-bedroom and two double-bedroom flats to each floor, all with underfloor heating,
a basement garage for 53 cars and two high speed lifts. It was designed by Anthony B. Davies, F.R.I.B.A.,
chief architect and planner to Basildon Development Corporation, (consulting adviser: Sir Basil
Urwin Spence, (13/08/1907 - 19/11/1976)), in a Modernist style and constructed by Holland, Hannen
and Cubbitts at a cost of £283,000. Sir John Ruggles-Brise, Lord Lieutenant of Essex performed
the opening ceremony. Three shop units numbered 29, 31 and 33 Town Square, also formed part of
the overall development, then known as Block K3, and completed by the same construction company. On
22nd December 1998 Brooke House was given Grade II listed building status by English Heritage.
Lee Chapel South Community Hall in The Knares opened. The new hall proved very popular with varied
entertainment for everyone including a childrens' Saturday morning film club.
Ghyllgrove County Junior School in The Gore, opened. The first appointed Headmaster was Mr. Eric Rand, who previously
held the post at Laindon Park Primary School. The school is now known as Ghyllgrove Community
Infant and Junior School.
Cranes Farm Road is opened to through traffic. The new 'feeder' road linking Upper Mayne with Timberlog
Lane (now East Mayne) was built to serve the two industrial estates and the future tractor plant site. The first
section to Gardiners Lane (now Gardiners Lane South) had been completed in 1959. The road was later
The first tenants move into Brooke House tower block in Basildon town centre. Myles and Janette
Godfrey are the first to occupy the block at No. 53 in a two bedroomed flat. Mr Godfrey is the son
of the Godfrey chemist chain founder.
An experimental housing scheme involving 18 homes began at Knights on the Lee Chapel North housing
development. The system built homes were designed by the chief architect planner to Basildon Development
Corporation Anthony B. Davies, A.R.I.B.A. as a pilot scheme involving a new swedish developed building
material called Siporex. The homes were assembled on-site using pre-cast sections manufactured in
Scotland by the Costain Concrete Co. Ltd, a subsidairy of Richard Costain the main contractor employed
in their construction. The small estate was completed in August 1963 and the following year work
commenced on the 950 home Laindon 1,2 and 3 estate which was built to the same methods.
The first tenants move into Brooke House tower block in Basildon town centre. Myles and Janette
Godfrey are the first to occupy the block at No. 53 in a two bedroomed flat. Mr Godfrey is the son
of the Godfrey chemist chain founder.
Church of St. Martin-le-Tours in Pagel Mead, Basildon officially opened. The Bishop of
Chelmsford, Rt. Rev. John Tiarks, conducted the consecration service. It was designed by Billericay
architect Trena Cotton and cost £40,000 to build. A foundation stone had earlier been laid
on 15/10/1960 by then Chairman of Basildon Development Corporation, Lt Gen. Sir Humfrey Gale. Pagel
Mead was later renamed St. Martin's Square.
The Van Gogh public house opened. Situated in Paycocke Road on the Nevendon Industrial Estate
the new public house and restaurant is unusual in that is on the first floor above lower business
premises. Film, radio and television star Richard "Stinker" Murdoch was amongst the guests on the opening
night. It is named in part after the 19th century dutch painter Vincent Willem van Gogh. Live
entertainment was a regular feature which peaked in the late 1970s with a weekly Thursday evening
promotion called "Upstairs at Turkans". Future stars Alison Moyet and Martin Gore were regulars
in their respective bands, namely The Vandals and Norman and the Worms. The first proprietor of
the new Free House is Mr. Johnny Blake who also serves as a town councillor for the Barstable
Ward. From around 1984 the venue went through a succession of names begining with The Factory (Discotheque) which
then became Hats Nightclub followed in the 1990s by Monroes and finally Piccadilly Night Club to closure
around the early 2000s.
Southend Waterworks Company open a new reservoir at Staneway, Lee Chapel South. The covered
reservoir, located off the course of the former Green Lane, was the first of two in the area,
the second being built on an adjacent field in the early 1990s, and is now owned and operated
by Essex and Suffolk Water.
Lee Chapel County Infant and Junior School in The Knares, Lee Chapel South, opened. Miss Sylvia
Lowing is appointed Headmistress of the infant school and remains in charge until April 1981. Mr
W.H. Bell is appointed Headmaster of the junior school. In 1981 the two schools merged to become
Lee Chapel Primary which it remains today. Part of the original school building is now occupied
by the South West Area Education Office.
Bull Road, Vange and a section of Timberlog Lane between Basildon Bridge (Gales Corner) and the
junction with High Road/London Road, Vange is renamed Clay Hill Road. Clay Hill Road prior to
the change had ended at its junction with Church Road.
Basildon Boys Club founded. The clubs' headquarters in Fairview Road was built at a cost of
£10,000 and formally opened by the local MP. Edward Gardner, QC., on 7th January 1964. Table tennis,
billiards and boxing equipment were some of the activities available at the new hall which was also
used by the Basildon Drum and Trumpet Corps for their rehearsals. The club is still active though
now based at Barleylands where football has become their predominant activity.
Great Oaks Clinic in Great Oaks, Basildon opened. Prior to opening a Basildon Clinic had existed
at 119 Honeypot Lane, Fryerns.
Her Majesty's Stationary Office, (H.M.S.O.) in The Gore, Basildon opened. The new offices and block
was constructed by Richard Costain Ltd. Prior to opening from around 1958 the office had been at
Bowlers Croft on the Nevendon industrial estate.
The Owl and Pussycat public house in Clay Hill Road opened. The new public house and off licence
was built alongside the neighbourhood centre and serves the Kingswood area of Basildon. In the 1980s
it was renamed Lears after the English artist, author and poet Edward Lear (12/05/1812 – 29/01/1888) who
in 1871 published a nonsense poem called The Owl and the Pussycat from whose title the pubs original
name derives. The change though was shortlived and the pub reverted back to its original name.
The Basildon Players amateur dramatics group formed. Still active today, their roots can be traced
back to the Langdon Players. Founder member Jack Lockheart later became chairman in 1970.
The first Essex County Council run Day Nursery opened. Situated at the main shopping centre at
Fryerns the new nursery building cost £25,000 and has places for up to 50 children under the age
of five supervised by 14 members of staff.
Great Oaks Service Station in Great Oaks, Basildon opened. The new petrol filling station, vehicle service
centre and car showroom was operated by Holmes & Smith as a Basildon division of the main business based at London
Road, Southend-on-Sea. The company, which was also a main dealer to the Rootes Group (Hillman, Humber, Sunbeam) and
later Chrysler organisation, would remain at Great Oaks until the 1980s. They also operated a second garage at Whitmore
Way offering similiar facilities.
Mundy House, residential care home for the aged and infirm, at Church Road, Fryerns is officially
opened. The Essex County Council run retirement home is set in two acres of extensive grounds
and has accommodation for around sixty people. It took in its first residents in 1962 and has a
permanent on-site warden. Government Health Minister, Enoch Powell, MP., was the guest of honour
at the opening ceremony. It is named after Edgar Arthur Mundy who lived at Hadleigh and served
for years as an Essex County Councillor and County Alderman.
Holy Trinity Catholic Church Hall at Roundacre, Laindon Link, Basildon opened. The new building,
for use as a temporary church with seating for 300 and built at a cost of around £14,000, is
situated on the fringe of Lee Chapel North adjacent to Long Lynderswood. The Bishop of Brentwood,
Bernard Patrick Wall officiated the dedication service and the Very Rev. Canon Michael John Mckenna
took the first Mass service. A regular Sunday service began in May, having previously been held
at Kingswood community hall, and this lasted through to 1972 when a new church hall was built in
nearby Wickhay. In 1980, and on the same site, a new church and presbytery was completed and now
called the Most Holy Trinity. The former church hall at Roundacre remained unused for a number of
years and suffered neglect and vandalism and possible demolition before being taken over by Basildon
Council and renamed Roundacre Youth House. During this time it was used as an entertainment venue
for live bands, stage productions, youth discos and various other activities. It is still in use
and now called S.P.A.C.E. for young people.
Basildon Swimming Club founded. Basildon Sports Council initiated an inaurgural public meeting
at Timberlog County Secondary School where An Acting Committee was formed. Gwyn Thomas was appointed
Acting Chairman and membership, although small on the night within three weeks and further public
meetings had risen to over a hundred. The sports council also gifted the club with £5 to assist
with initial administrative expenses. From 1968 the club were based at Gloucester Park swimming
pool until it closed in 2011. In 2010 they amalgamated with another Basildon swimming club called
Phoenix to become Basildon & Phoenix Swimming Club. The club is now based at the Basildon Sporting
Village in Gloucester Park, Basildon.
Manor Junior School swimming pool opened. The new pool which was built at a cost of £1,300 has
a depth of 3ft and was many years in the planning. 1962 British Empire and Commonwealth Games bronze
medalist swimmer Elizabeth (Liz) Long was the special guest invited to perform the opening ceremony.
Craylands County Senior School swimming pool opened. The open-air pool, situated in the quadrangle, was
opened by the Headmaster Mr. Edward Haynes. It still appeared to be in use in the late 1970s but
at the time of the schools' closure had been filled in.
Basildon town centre Crown Post Office in East Square opened. The new purpose built building
cost around £190,000 and was formally opened by the Assistant Postmaster General, Raymond Llewellyn
Mawby, MP. The main building also initially housed Inland Revenue on three of its five floors. A
temporary post office, located in an East Square shop unit, had prior to opening been in use from about
1960. The main Crown post office in High Road Laindon had been Basildon Head Post Office since
1954 and on opening reverted back to its original Laindon name.
South Essex Motors service station opens in Cherrydown, Basildon. The Ford main dealer
complex includes an Esso petrol station, car showroom, workshops and parts department. The
dealership was later renamed Essex Ford. In the late 1960s a seven storey office block was
added to the site. This new building remained unoccupied for many years until being given the
name Essex House, and was home to among others Social Services, before being demolished in the
Nicholas County Secondary school in Leinster Road, Laindon opened. First Headmaster appointed
is Mr John Goodier. An indoor swimming pool was a later addition, which opened on 1st October
1968, as was a long rectangular three story block, completed in the late 1960s. The school would
survive in name to August 1998. After an extensive refurbishment programme the school reopened
in September 2000 as the James Hornsby High School.
The Castle Mayne public house opened. The new pub, sited at The Knares in Lee Chapel South was
designed by noted architect Ernest Brander Musman of Musman and Cousens. Its name originates
from a crenallated farm house, occupied and in use as a dairy farm until the 1950s by Mrs. Mary
Ellen Chattaway, that once stood close by. The opening ceremony was attended by members of the
Whitbread Brewery Co. and the General Manager of Basildon Development Corporation, Charles
Boniface who unfurled a Union Jack to reveal the pub's forecourt sign. The brewery company
chose the name from a number of suggestions submitted by Tom O'Connor, senior engineer of the
development corporation. Incorporated within the building was an off-licence. The Lounge bar
has a stage which regularly features live entertainment throughout the year.
Basildon Police Station in Great Oaks becomes operational. Construction company Costain were
involved in its construction. Prior to its opening a small temporary single storey station was
constructed in Great Oaks and in use from the early 1960s. In 1984 a mobile police station was
placed in Town Square adjacent to Market Pavement and this later moved to the East Square steps
where it remained until the mid 2000s.
Basildon Urban District Council transfer some of their departments to temporary demountable style
buildings at Fodderwick in the town centre. The site, which was later expanded, would remain in
council use until the 1990s when it was finally cleared for the Westgate Shopping Park development.
Television manufacturer and broadcasting company Rediffusion London Ltd begin installing a cable
and piped television service into all Basildon Development Corporation homes. This new 'aerial
less' service utilised the basement of the town centre tower block Brooke House which also
provided the necessary height for the aerials which were erected on the roof. The system was
designed to eliminate the appearance of "unsightly" television aerials and thus giving the new
housing estates a less cluttered look and was still being installed in new homes well into the
1980s. The system, which was relayed to a wall mounted channel selector box marked A to L, proved
very popular being extended to Urban District Council tenants from 1967. The service also included
BBC radio stations and, from 1978, Radio Basildon. The selector box choice was as follows: A-BBC1,
B-BBC2, C-ITV (London), D-ITV (Anglia), E-G (BBC Radio (from 30/09/1967 Radio 2, 3 and 4)). By
the late 1970s this had become A-Radio Basildon (later Sky 1 TV), B-BBC2, C-ITV (Southern) and from
1982-Channel 4, D-ITV (Thames + LWT), E-BBC1, F-ITV (Anglia), G-Radio 4, H-Radio 2 and I-Radio 3. In
the late 1980s the service was taken over by Metro Cable followed around 1995 by CDA Communications,
based at Bentalls, but by the early 2000s with the advent of underground cable networks, satellite communications and
a relaxing of aerial rules had all but rendered the service obsolete.
The Five Bells roundabout at Vange becomes operational. The existing course of the road, which
forms part of the A13 route, was retained and a new Fobbing junction created off a new straight
section linking London Road to Southend Road. By virtue of the two straight lengths the roundabout
was oval in shape with an open water culvert running diagonallly through the majority of the centre
land. In the early 1970s an additional junction was created when the A13 Vange and Pitsea bypass
opened. Another A13 bypass completed in May 1993 saw the road re-routed west of the Five Bells from
Morley Hill and an underpass and three smaller roundabouts were created which replaced the existing roundabout.
The Play Leadership Scheme for children up to 14 introduced by Basildon Council. The first centre
opened at Fryerns and soon sites at Ghyllgrove, Laindon and Wickford were operating. The schemes
popularity later prompted the council to build permanent centres at Clay Hill Road (Kingswood),
Laindon Link (Markhams Chase), Roodegate (Gloucester Park), Worthing Road (Laindon), Kent View Road
(Vange) and Mill Green (Chalvedon). It continued to run well into the 1980s but was later replaced
with a new Playweb children's holiday club scheme for those aged between 5 and 12.
Basildon Ambulance station in Great Oaks opens. The opening ceremony was performed by the Chairman
of Basildon Council, Councillor Alf Dove. The station had previously been attached to the area clinic
adjacent to Craylands County Secondary School in Timberlog Lane (later Craylands).
Ford Motor Company open their new Tractor Plant factory in Cranes Farm Road on a 100 acre
site. Tractor production began later in the year and the plant was officially opened on 27th
April 1965. Its 125ft "onion" shaped water tower, holding 200,000 gallons, has since become a local
landmark. Prior to opening, the company's Dagenham site had been home to tractor plant
production since 1933. In 1986 following an amalgamation with New Holland the operation became
Ford New Holland and from 1991 Fiat New Holland when Ford sold off the remaining interest in
their tractor division. Today it is owned by Case-New Holland (CNH) after a business takeover
of Case Corporation in 1999.
Basildon Central Library opens in Fodderwick. The new library provided by Essex County Council
opened in a temporary building attached to other temporary demountable style buildings for use as
offices by Basildon Council. Mr. N.D. Humphries was appointed as chief librarian. The library
later moved to a new temporary detached building, also located in Fodderwick, before moving again,
this time to a permanent location in the newly completed Basildon Centre in Pagel Mead (later St.
Martin's Square) in 1989.
Sir John Stuart Macpherson, G.C.M.G. succeeds Sir Humfrey Gale as Chairman of Basildon Development
Corporation. Sir Humfrey retired on 31/03/1964.
Basildon councillors hold their first meeting in the new temporary council chamber at Fodderwick
in the town centre. Meetings were previously held at Keay House (later renamed Southgate House)
in Town Square. Although temporary this arrangement lasted for 25 years to the opening of the Basildon
Centre in 1989.
The Plough and Tractor public house at 186 Great Knightleys, Lee Chapel North opened. In attendance
at the official opening was Major A.G. Mann, managing director of the brewery company Mann, Crossman &
Paulin. A large "Manns" sign adorned an outer wall for many years. It was built by J.M. Hill
& Sons Ltd of either Wembley or Ampthill. Included in the design was a stage for live attractions, an upstairs
'Hayloft Bar', and an off licence, which later closed in the early 1980s. For a time in the
1980s the main saloon area was halved, creating an extra bar, and around 1987 the pub had a
name change, becoming The Stores for a number of years into the early 1990s, but has since
reverted back to its original name. Mr. & Mrs. Gerry and Joan Stovell were the first publicans.
15th Century farmhouse Laindon Hall in Church Hill destroyed by fire. The building was empty at
the time and listed on the Ministry of Works buildings of historic interest list.
Prime Minister of the day, Sir Alec Douglas-Home visits Basildon town centre. He was escorted
around the town by Council Chairman, Percy Saunders, local MP. Edward Gardner, Q.C. and
Development Corporation Chairman, Sir John Macpherson.
The Bull's Eye public house in Southernhay, Basildon opened. Run by brewers Cope's Taverns the
pub features two ground level bars and an upper level ballroom capable of holding 250 people. The
upper ballroom also doubles as a 200 seat dining hall. The upper level was later extended and
the restaurant was run as a Mr Toby Carvery. The name of the pub was suggested by Norman Hack of
St. Michael's Avenue, Pitsea who entered it in a name-that-pub competition held in March 1963 by
brewer's Charrington and the Basildon Recorder newspaper. Around 1999 it was renamed The Beehive,
coincidentally one of the suggestions in the original name-that-pub competition. In 1999 the upper
bar area became Colors Nightclub.
The Church of Saint Gabriel opens in Rectory Road, Pitsea. The new Church of England church was
built as a replacement for St. Michael's Church on land that once formed part of Shophouse Farm. It
was designed by Southend architect Donald M. Corder, A.R.I.B.A. and features a steel spire clad
in fibre glass reflecting the three points of the trinity. Pinewood pews to seat 350 were obtained
from a disused north London congregational church in Harlesden and a bell, cast at Whitechapel in
1866, was another additional find. Its unique 12-sided design are said to represent the 12
apostles. A foundation stone was laid the previous year on 21st September by Rev. E.W. Grevatt,
the former Rector of Pitsea who purchased the land in 1928 on which the church was built. The
service of consecration was carried out by the Bishop of Chelmsford, Rt. Rev. John Tiarks in the
presence of Rev. Arthur Harvey, Rector of Pitsea. Rev. E.W. Grevatt was amongst the congregation. A.D.
Jackson and Son were the contractors used in its construction. The first wedding took place on
Blessed Anne Line Roman Catholic Primary School in Wickhay opened. The school, built in Lee Chapel
North at Wickhay, is named after the English martyr Anne Line who lived (c.1563 – 27th February 1601). The
school was later extended when a separate infant school opened in 1968. The first Headmaster was
Mr James J.V. Fox, a former history teacher from nearby Woodlands secondary, who remained in charge
until his retirement in 1988. The schools' name was later changed to St. Anne Line when Pope Paul
VI granted permission for forty martyrs from England and Wales to be canonised on 25th October 1970.
A new scout campsite is established called Kingston Ridge off Lee Chapel Lane, Langdon Hills. It becomes
the new home of Basildon Scouts who previously, from 10/09/1961, had used a site in Pipps Hill Road,
Laindon. The site of around 7 acres was acquired in 1963 through Basildon Development Corporation
and initial occupation was on a three-year lease which was then extended. The area - much of it
dense woodland and scrub - was cleared by members of the Local Association of scouts. Tom Parrinder,
International Commissioner for Essex, officially opened the site on a special weekend attended by
various scout and cub groups including Holy Cross. Others in attendance included council chairman
Bert Saunders and the president and chairman of the Local Association of scouts Elizabeth Gregory
and Derek Spurging. The site is still in use today.
Markhams Chase County Infant' & Junior School renamed Janet Duke in honour of the former headmistress's
31 years service.
The Lee Chapel North Community Centre officially opened. The new facility at Ballards Walk
attracted a large gathering which included recently retired headmistress of Markhams Chase
primary school, Janet Duke, who gave out prizes. Basildon Development Corporation chairman
Sir John Macpherson carried out the official opening ceremony. The hall soon proved popular with
all age groups who enjoyed a varied programme of activities that included the senior citizens Darby and
Joan Club afternoons and an early evening disco for the under 16s called Tuesday Club. A children's
Saturday morning film show was another popular attraction which ran until September 1971 when the
ABC cinema opened in the town centre.
Mr. Edward Gardner Q.C. (later Sir) (35,347) re-elected Conservative MP for the Billericay constituency
including Basildon. Majority 1,592. Labour win General Election.
H.R.H. The Queen Mother opens Southwood Court in Great Spenders, Basildon as retirement homes for
the Printers Pension Corporation. Also in attendance was the president of the charity, the
late Sir Billy Butlin, founder of Butlins holiday camps.
Joe Morgan, Labour councillor for the Barstable Ward, is
appointed as the first Leader of Basildon Council.
Standard Telephones and Cables (S.T.C.) open a
purpose built factory at Miles Gray Road on the Industrial Estate No. 2. The governments Postmaster
General The Rt. Hon. Anthony Wedgewood Benn MP. carried out the opening duties at the new factory
which was built at a cost of £2½ million. The company, which began as Western Electric in
1883, moved to Basildon from Henley Road, North Woolwich where they had occupied a factory since
the turn of the century. They became S.T.C. in 1925 following a takeover by ITT. In the 1990s the
site was levelled and the Argos distribution centre now stands in its place.
The Who (pop group) perform at Mecca's Locarno Ballroom in Market Pavement. They appear again
there in 1966 on 18th March and 2nd September. The Kinks had played the venue in 1964, and much later in 1982, Culture Club,
fronted by Boy George, would appear there, by which time the venue was known as Raquels.
The New Towns Act, 1965 receives Royal Assent. This Act
is a revision of the original 1946 Act.
Kingdom Hall in Tylers Avenue, Laindon
dedicated. The new hall, costing £2,500, was built and funded by voluntary contributions from
local members of the Jehovah Witness congregation. Previously meetings were held in a hall in
Laindon High Road.
Bluehouse County Infants' and Junior School at
Leinster Road, Laindon opened. Mr. H.C. Goodwin is appointed Headmaster of the junior achool
and Mrs. J.L.G. Wilson is the infant schools' first Headmistress. In 2003 the school closed and
reopened as The Phoenix Primary.
Chalvedon County Comprehensive school in
Wickford Avenue, Pitsea opened. Chalvedon is the first Comprehensive school to open in the
Basildon District. Mr. Robert Ford is appointed the school's first Headmaster.
Basildon Round Table hold their first charity
Firework Fiesta on a site adjacent to Laindon Link in Lee Chapel North. The display attracted
around 2,000 people who saw around £50 worth of fireworks set off. The event would continue here
through to the early 1970s before transferring to Markhams Chase Recreation Ground and then finally
moving to Gloucester Park, where it remained until 2013 when due to building work it was held at
Northlands Park, Pitsea.
Alma Hatt is appointed as the first Town Manager
of Basildon Urban District Council. His appointment, the second of its kind in local government,
followed many years as Clerk of the Council after succeeding Mr. A.D. Cheshire in 1944 but was cut
short when he suffered a heart attack at work and died shortly afterwards in December at a London
hospital. He is remembered in Billericay where a pedestrian pathway linking High Street with Chapel
Street was named Alma Link.
The Basildon town centre clock unveiled. Costing £4,800, the modern and possibly unique clock
sits around 20ft high atop a polished tubular column. The stainless steel sphere has four faces
making it visible from all points of the compass. It was designed by clock specialist John
Vernon. Unfortunately the clock has proved problematic with all four faces often out of synchronisation,
and had rarely, if at all by the 2000s, told the time. It was also fitted with chimes but the
mechanism may have been disabled due to technical faults as it hasn't been heard in years. In late
August early September 2007 the clock was taken down as part of a refurbishment of Town Square
that also saw the removal of the High Pavement escalator. It was then sent away for repair and
returned to the town centre on Tuesday 30th March, 2010 at its new location in St. Martin's Square.
David H. Taylor is appointed as the second Town Manager of Basildon Urban District Council. He succeeds
the late Alma Hatt who briefly held the post to December, 1965.
Eric Moonman (40,013) elected Labour MP for the Billericay constituency including Basildon. Majority
1,642. Labour win General Election.
Laindon Traffic Police building opened at Chaplin Close, Laindon. The previous headquarters at Arterial Road were considered cramped and out-of-date compared to the new £68,000 purpose built building.
Graham Bonney becomes the first Basildon pop artist to have a hit record. His recording of the
song 'Supergirl', released by Columbia records on 18th February, spent five weeks in the UK
top 40 peaking at No.19. His subsequent releases failed to chart, but the former Basildon boy,
born Graham Bradley, who once lived at Beeleigh East on the Fryerns estate, continues to be successful on the continent, particularly in Germany.
Basildon Development Corporation revised Master Plan
for a Basildon population of 140,000 is submitted to the Minister of Housing and Local Government,
Mr Anthony Greenwood. It was prepared by the corporation's chief architect planner Douglas Galloway
in association with the chief engineer Mr. H.F. Bryant and the chief finance officer, Mr G.R. Rawes.
Chowdhary County Infant School in Markhams Chase, Laindon opened. Mrs. V.P. Griffiths is appointed
as the schools first Headmistress. The school is named after a popular local doctor Dharm Sheel Chowdhary (1902-1959), who for over 25 years kept a practice at
High Road, Laindon. In 1979 the infant and junior schools merged becoming Chowdhary County Primary.
Bardfield County Primary School in Clay Hill Road, Vange, opened. Miss I. Whenn is the first
appointed Headmistress at the school which has two infant and two junior classes for the 117
children, many of whom transferred from Swan Mead and Pitsea schools. For many years the school
was run as an infant and junior until January 2002 when the school became a primary again after the
infant and junior schools amalgamated.
G.P.O. purpose built automatic telephone exchange at Long Riding, Basildon opened. On opening
the exchange handled 3,500 lines which had increased to 10,000 by 1972. The three-storey building
was later refurbished and an additional storey was added around 1980. The new exchange was built
as an addition to the manual exchange at Winstanley Way, Basildon which employed telephonists
for all directory enquiries, service faults and emergency service calls.
Parker Morris Standards of minimal living space in new build homes within all United Kingdom 'New
Towns' becomes mandatory. This was extended in 1969 to include council housing.
Bader House in Witchards, Kingswood opened. This special occupational day centre for the physically
handicapped was named after Douglas Robert Steuart Bader, a disabled World War Two R.A.F. fighter
pilot. Council Chairman Arthur Baron Burn officiated at the opening ceremony.
The revised 1965 Basildon Development Corporation Master Plan public inquiry begins. This inquiry
held at Laindon Community Centre, Aston Road lasted 9 days. It was held by T.F. Thomson, Esq., L.R.I.B.A., Dist.T.P.,
M.T.PL, F.I.L.A., a Department of the Environment Inspector.
British Rail withdraws the goods service from Laindon Station. A goods yard had existed at the
station since the line opened serving a number of local businesses with coal and building
materials. Following closure most of the track in the sidings was lifted though the original goods
shed remained, albeit in derelict condition, until the late 1980s when a permanent car park was created
wiping away all traces of the former goods yard.
Basildon Golf Course off Clay Hill Lane in Kingswood is officially opened. Chairman of both the
council and the development corporation, Arthur Baron Burn and Sir John Macpherson respectively were
in attendance. The 164 acre par-72 municipal course is also home to the privately run Basildon
Golf Club. The course had actually opened on 10th May with Chairman of Basildon Council, Arthur
Baron Burn, making the first drive, and Sir Richard Bonallack taking part in the first game.
Basildon junior football club Armada Sports renamed Basildon United. First game is a pre-season
friendly on August 19th against Bowers United at The Gun ground in London Road, Bowers
Gifford. Home matches until 1970, when United acquired their own ground at Gardiners Close,
were played at Gloucester Park Bowl.
Chowdhary County Junior School in Markhams Chase, Laindon opened. Mr. Peter Jones is appointed
as the schools first Headmaster. In 1979 the school became a primary after merging with the infant
school but closed in 1996 following a gradual fall in pupil numbers.
The George Hurd Day Centre in Fauners, Basildon opened. The new purpose built centre, which cost
£40,000, was built and eventually run by Basildon Council. Services provided include subsidised
hot meals and a wide range of social and recreational activities for the district's senior citizen's. The
centre is named after the former Vange resident and Labour councillor George Hurd (d.1966 aged 78),
who held a seat in Pitsea from 1963 to 1966 and had been chairman of Vange & Pitsea Old People's
Welfare Committee. In 2008 the centre was rebuilt in Audley Way off Ghyllgrove.
Ford Motor Company open a Research & Engineering Centre on 268 acres of land at
Dunton. Costing over £10 million to complete, Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson, as special
guest of honour, carried out the opening duties. The new centre, built where Southfields Farm
once stood, even has its own test track facility. It brought together some 2,500 engineers
and technicians who had previously worked at scattered locations. On 24th July, 2007 H.R.H.
Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, was guest of honour at a ceremony to mark 40 years of
Kingswood Squash Club at Clay Hill Lane, Kingswood opens. Government Minister for Sport, Denis
Howell, carried out the opening ceremony in the new £60,000 building which was designed by Ronald
Cox, A.R.I.B.A. A.W. Hardy & Co. Ltd. of 714 London Road, Leigh-on-Sea were the main contractors involved
in the construction. The club is now known as Club Kingswood and offers a variety of health and
fitness activites from squash to swimming.
The General Post Office (GPO) expand Basildon area code telephone numbers to include Laindon and
Langdon Hills. A new telephone exchange in Northumberland Avenue becomes operational and the Laindon
exchange in High Road (vehicle access from Vowler Road) Langdon Hills is closed and later demolished.
Laindon Police Station in Victoria Road and Pitsea Police Station in Rectory Road both close with
all operations now centralised at Great Oaks in Basildon. The Laindon building was later demolished
when Victoria Road was slightly shortened to accommodate a new roundabout at the junction with St.
Nicholas Lane. The Pitsea building was also later demolished, though years later a new police station
opened on the same site.
Two 10 & 8 storey tower blocks in Laindon named Royal Court opened by Basildon Urban District
Council. Originally conceived as three blocks, the plan was later revised to provide 18 three
bedroomed flats and 36 two bedroomed flats with the smaller block having 14 three bedroomed
and 28 two bedroomed flats. An enclosed play area and underground garages were also part
of the development. Later a shop opened (Dunnies) and the flats become known as Block A and B. Basildon
Council also established a Laindon/Lee Chapel North area office; active in 1991 and probably
earlier. In the late 2000s following years of antisocial behaviour and general bad feeling
towards the blocks a new development scheme to replace the two blocks with new housing was given
the go ahead and by December 2010 the last residents of Royal Court had vacated. Demolition,
though initially set for mid 2011, finally began in October, 2011 with both towers removed
from the skyline by December.
Link, Basildon District Council's free quarterly information newspaper begins distribution. The
first edition is delivered to around 37,000 homes in the district. It was soon produced every
month but cuts in the 1980s reduced this to 9 editions over the year by which time circulation
had increased to 65,000 homes. In the 1990s Link was replaced with the District Diary which in
December 2010 became the Borough Diary reflecting the council's new status as a borough.
Basildon Development Corporation's revised Master Plan for 134.000 population gets Government approval.
Millhouse Junior School in Tavistock Road. Laindon opened.
Northlands Infant School in Winifred Road, Pitsea, opened. Mrs. Gladys Stewart is appointed the
first Headmisress, a post she remained in through to her retirement in August 1979.
Mr. William M. Balch, F.R.I.C.S. succeeds Sir John MacPherson as Chairman of Basildon Development
Corporation. Sir John retired on 31/12/1967.
A new 33⅓ metre Championship size swimming pool at Gloucester Park in Broadmayne opens. Built
to a depth of 12½ft and featuring 3 diving boards, the facility also includes a second teaching
pool, spectator gallery and a 1st floor cafe. Public toilets serving the park were also incorporated
into the design. The official opening was held in June by which time over 100,000 had used the
new facility. In the 1990s the cafe was moved downstairs and a gym called The Pulse Fitness Centre
eventually opened on the 1st floor. The pool closed on Sunday 24th April, 2011 when the Basildon
Sporting Village, which included a new 50metre swimming pool, was completed opening the following
weekend 30th April, 2011.
The Murryfield sports pavilion in Gloucester Park officially opened. The pavilion, which was built
at a cost of around £30,000, was a joint venture between Basildon Council and the Murryfield Real
The Basildon Hebrew Congregation Synagogue at Park Lodge in High Road, Langdon Hills opened. The
Congregation had previously held services in various local halls over a 12 year period. In attendance
was local labour MP. Eric Moonman and the Chairman of Basildon Council Coun. Arthur Baron Burn. The
house was registered as a place of worship until 02/07/1976 when the congregation transferred services
to a house called "Whiteways" in Basildon Road, Laindon until approx. 1994 when they merged with
Southend and Westcliff Hebrew Congregation.
St. Paul's Methodist Church in Ballards Walk, Lee Chapel North officially opened &
dedicated. The methodist movement in Lee Chapel North began in 1962 when a small congregation
formed during the early years of the estate's construction under the title St. Paul's House. A
youth club, Sunday School and mid-week fellowship were soon established and Sunday services were
held in constructor's Gilbert Ash's canteen. A Methodist Meeting House was also established at
17 Delimands. The foundation stone, seen to the left of the front entrance, was laid on 7th October,
1967 by the Chairman of the London North East District of the Methodist Church, Rev. Frank C. Eden
and Rev. John Tiarks, Bishop of Chelmsford.
Gloucester Park Swimming Pool officially opened. Chairman of Basildon Council Arthur Baron
Burn carried out the opening duties. The championship size pool was designed by Council
architect Kenneth Cotton.
Basildon Natural History Society established. The Society, formed by a group of voluntary enthusiasts
dedicated to the study of the areas fauna, flora and green issues, hold regular meetings and have
undertaken many projects where the aim is the conservation and preservation of woodland for future
generations to enjoy. The initial idea for the Society came from founding member and secretary
Peter Baldwin. Another founding member is Harry Peck whose surname was later given to an artificial
pond created at the Marks Hill nature reserve in Langdon Hills. Mr. Vic Wiseman was the Society's
first Chairman, which in 1983 became a registered charity.
Millhouse Infants School in Tavistock Road. Laindon opened. The new school was built to serve
the growing population on the north side of Laindon and as a replacement for Laindon Park where
pupil numbers were just 60 at the time of opening. The council intended to reduce pupil numbers
at Laindon Park with the eventual aim of demolishing it. In the event Laindon Park remained
open. The first appointed Head Teacher was Mrs. E.M. Cockshaw. The schools' playing field was
laid out over a previously residential road called Ashleaves Avenue.
Local reorganisation of secondary education along comprehensive lines introduced. Two immediate changes implemented are the mergers of Barstable Grammar & Technical School and Timberlog County Secondary School to form Barstable Comprehensive, and Fryerns Grammar & Technical School and Craylands County Secondary School to become Fryerns Comprehensive School.
Northlands Junior School in Winifred Road, Pitsea, opened. Mr. Leslie Inman is appointed the
Blessed Anne Line Roman Catholic Infant School opened. The first Headmistress was Miss Brenda Doherty
who remained in charge until the early 1990s when she retired. Her successor was Gillian
Durnian. Sometime in the 1970s the schools' name was shortened to Anne Line and changed again to
St. Anne Line which it remains today. In the 2000s a detached classroom was added which from
January 2007 became a nursery. A small addition to the infant block was also completed in 2008.
The Arts Centre in Towngate, Basildon opened by Chairman of the Arts Council of Great Britain, Lord
Goodman. The days opening entertainment began with a production of Susan Glaspell's "Trifles",
performed by the Basildon Players, followed by a performance by the Basildon Choral Society. Basildon
Operatic Society also performed and the first film screened was Czechoslovakian director Zdenek
Podskalsky's "Never strike a lady". Built as a temporary theatre at a cost of £100,000 with
seating for approx 500, it became the Towngate Theatre and Arts Centre in January 1976 and lasted
until the new permanent Towngate Theatre opened in April 1988. It was operated by the council
and designed in house by a team of council employees including Ken S. Cotton, A.R.I.B.A. Vin Harrop
was appointed as the first manager. Additional features included a fully licensed restaurant and
an upstairs bar and a Towngate 2 facility with workshop and a stage for live performance.
H.R.H. Katharine, Duchess of Kent visits St. Martin's Church in Basildon to officially dedicate the
porch and modern sculpture of Christ by the artist Thomas Bayliss Huxley-Jones. It was his last
completed work. The Duchess also visited the newly opened Arts Centre where she signed the visitors book.
The Irish Club in Basildon Road, Laindon opened. The new club, created to serve the local Irish
population, was formally opened by Councillor John Costello, the club's President, in surroundings
previously known as Essex Country Club. Special guest at the opening was local constituency M.P.,
Eric Moonman. The building, which dates back to 1928 when it first opened as Laindon Park Country
Club, was later taken over by Basildon Development Corporation who then rented it back to the club
in the knowledge it would eventually be demolished.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Michael Ramsey visits Basildon. Dr. Ramsey addressed a large
congregation at St. Martin's Church in the town centre. To date this remains the first and only
time that an Archbishop of Canterbury has visited Basildon.
The first shops at the new Laindon Shopping Centre begin opening. The complex would later
include a public house, and also house the local library until the early 2000s.
Pitsea War Memorial at the Station Lane junction with the High Road is moved to Howard Park. It was
unveiled in November 1928 to the memory of the men from Pitsea and Bowers Gifford who fell in the
The Salvation Army building in Fauners, Basildon opened. The new centre was built at a cost of
around £25,000 and included an officers' quarters and a large lounge with television. At the
opening ceremony builder Mr. J. Wiggins cut the tape aided by George and Amy Mansfield who helped
run the old S.A. Laindon hall in Northumberland Avenue. Among others present were Council Chairman,
Terry Chapman, Rural Dean, Rev. Arthur Dunlop and the Hadleigh Salvation Army Band.
The Radion cinema (formerly Laindon Picture Theatre) in High Road, Laindon closes. The final
film is the thriller 'Wait until dark' starring Audrey Hepburn. The building, which was
situated on the corner of New Century Road and owned by former chairman of Basildon
Council Bert Phelps, was then used for Bingo sessions before being demolished during 1969 as
part of a road widening project that saw the creation of two roundabouts and a length of
duel carriageway between Laindon Link and St. Nicholas Lane.
The new Pitsea Market opens. Situated on the southern side of the High Road, the new 172 stall
market, housed in four 30ft high domes marked A to D, replaces the original market site which was
required to allow the new South Mayne A132 feeder road to link with Pitsea. The Wednesday and
Saturday market was initially held solely within the domes until permission was given to allow
traditional outdoor stalls to be used as well. The move to the new site was a temporary one
which lasted to January 1978 when the market moved again, this time to the rear of the Railway
public house and Broadway where it remains today.
The Evening Echo newspaper launched. Covering daily news stories from the Southend, Canvey Island,
Rayleigh and Basildon areas of Essex, the 'Echo', initially available in broadsheet, switched to
tabloid size in 1984, and has continued to provide local news right up to the present. The paper
is produced at owners John H. Burrows & Sons purpose built printing works at Newspaper House, Chester
Hall Lane, Basildon. In the 1990s a Basildon edition became available, which from 29th November 2004 had
become 'Basildon Echo' having lost its evening prefix as a result of being sold earlier in the
day. From June 12th, 2006 its front banner changed again, this time to Echo, though from 17th May,
2010 the word Basildon in small light black capital letters returned and the paper now includes news
from the Thurrock district. From 10/08/2009 its tabloid size was slighly reduced. The Echo, which
is now published by Newsquest Essex, also launched its own website in the 2000s offering on-line
news stories and an archive as well as many other interactive features.
Text researched and written by William Cox, 2001 with revisions and additions 2002-2011.
Copyright © 2001-2011, B. Cox - Basildon History Online. All rights reserved.
Acknowledgements and Bibliography