A Basildon Chronology|
1980 1981 1982 1983 1984|
Kelting House in Southernhay, Basildon completed. Five-storey office development named after
Arthur Kelting, former chairman of Basildon Development Corporation 1971-1979.
The first tenants begin occupying properties on the Laindon 9 housing development off Durham Road. The new development corporation housing estate
comprising rented accommodation is a continuation of the Laindon 8 project begun in 1977. As with the Laindon 8 development, many of the residents
were displaced tenants of the Laindon 1, 2, 3 (Siporex) estate which was undergoing extensive refurbishment. The estate, comprising Rowenhall, Paxfords
and Blackmores, included a mixture of two, three and four bedroomed houses and ground/upper floor flats. It was completed by 1982.
SavaCentre, a joint enterprise between J. Sainsbury and British Home Stores, opens as part of phase
one of the Eastgate indoor shopping centre. The new store, built along the hypermarket concept,
was the third of its kind to open in the UK and offered 71,000 square feet of floor space, an upper
floor restaurant with seating for 380, 36 checkouts and parking for 980 vehicles. The buildings
elevated design concealed a below store car park with additional space bordering a realigned
Southernhay. A petrol station, the fifth to open in the main town area, and tyre/exhaust centre
completed the package. Many of the staff were transferred from the existing shop at 25 Town Square,
opened as J. Sainsbury in 1960 and closed when Savacentre opened. In the 1990s a 500 space multi-storey
car park was built on the site of the outside parking area. Unusually from the early years of opening
the store was closed on Monday's.
The Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Wickhay, Lee Chapel North opened. The new 300 seat church
and presbytery were built opposite St. Anne Line catholic school on a site acquired through the
development corporation in the 1960s. In 1972 services transferred to Wickhay when a large multi-functional
hall was completed which replaced the smaller Roundacre church hall in use from 1963. In September 2011
work to enlarge the church commenced which was completed in May 2012 and included a new altar, granite
font and lectern. The consecration of the church and new permanent altar was performed by the Bishop
of Brentwood, The Right Reverend Dr. Thomas McMahon on 30/10/2012.
Little Coopers Farmhouse, Takeley is designated a Grade II listed building. The farmhouse was
later taken down and rebuilt in Wat Tyler Country Park, Pitsea. It is now known as Little Coopers Cottage.
Eastgate Indoor Shopping Centre in Basildon town centre opened. The new complex, work on which commenced in September
1978, comprised of 13 shop units, a five storey office block called Kelting House and the already opened SavaCentre, was the
completion of the first of a proposed two phase indoor shopping development. Five additional shops,
formerly in Nether Priors, were also incorporated into the project. Mothercare, Kelleys, Evans,
Harris Furnishing, Thomas Cook and Charsley were some of the first to trade in the new shops.
St. Mary the Virgin church in Church Road, Dunton formally becomes redundant. The remote church, which once served
the former parish of Dunton and had closed to services in the 1970s, is now a private residence.
Pitsea Library at Rectory Park Drive opened. The Essex County Council run facility occupies two
floors in a newly completed complex that includes Pitsea Leisure Centre. A library serving Pitsea
and Vange had previously existed at Woodfield Hall in Woodfield Road (later Grapnells) off the High Road.
Dame Elizabeth Coker, D.B.E., D.L., succeeds Sir Reginald Goodwin as Chairman of the Basildon Development Corporation. Formerly Chairman of
Essex County Council (1971-1974) and deputy chairman of B.D.Corp., Dame Elizabeth would remain in the post through to the winding up of the
Development Corporation in 1986.
Basildon band Depeche Mode release their first single "Dreaming of Me" which charts at number 57. The
band, formed the previous year by Vince Clarke, Martin Gore, Andrew Fletcher and Dave Gahan, all
lived within the town and first played together as Composition of Sound at Nicholas County Secondary School in Leinster Road, Laindon
on 14/06/1980. They are noted for their distinctive synth-pop sound, though sometimes guitar based,
and went on to achieve worldwide success. Nearly thirty nine years later and with three of the original
members still in the line-up they have now achieved more than 226 weeks on the British charts from
48 hit records and are still going strong.
The 1st house on a new housing development at Daltons Fen in Pitsea is opened by Mr. John Stanley, Conservative MP and Minister (Department of
the Environment) (Housing & Construction). The houses were constructed by Potton House Development off Rectory Road on land cleared for
development by Basildon Development Corporation.
Population Census statistics for Basildon district; 94,232.
Marks Hill Nature Reserve in Langdon Hills officially opened. The 43 acre site was created in
the mid-to-late 1970s on land owned by Basildon Development Corporation. In 1976 Basildon Natural
History Society were granted a licence to run the area as a nature reserve and this arrangement
has continued since ownership of the land passed to Essex Wildlife Trust in 1989. A feature of
the landscape is an artificially made pond called Pecks, created in the once residential Albemarle
Crescent. The official opening was carried out by wildlife artist, broadcaster and author Gordon Beningfield
at the Triangle Community Centre.
Street parties were held throughout the town to mark the occasion of the royal wedding of Prince
Charles and Lady Diana Spencer on Wednesday 29th July.
Pitsea Leisure Centre in Rectory Park Drive opened. The new three-storey Basildon Council run facility
was built at a cost of £1.5 million and includes a large hall and stage, meeting and games rooms,
a licensed bar, dining room and day facilities for older people. An Essex County Council library
is also housed within the complex. In the 1990s it was renamed Pitsea Welcome Centre but later reverted
back to its original name until February 2012 when it became The Place.
Basildon south-west area nature trail opened. The new route of bridleways and footpaths was provided to link up with the existing country parks
at One tree Hill and Westley Heights in Langdon Hills. Car parking with picnic areas, including one at The Chase off Dry Street, were provided
as well as seating and bridges at various points along the trail.
The Cats Cradle Pussiwillow III Clock in Eastgate Centre, Basildon inaugurated. The clock was
commissioned by Basildon Council and designed by cartoonist Frederick Rowland Emett, O.B.E. It
chimes every 15 minutes and gives a moving performance each hour where cats and butterflies are
seen to spin and rotate to the accompaniment of music. Its ornate circular water fountain feature
divided into eight equal segments proved popular with the public who deposited coins into it which when collected
are donated to charities. Film and Television comedy actor, writer and ex-Goon Michael Bentine performed
the inauguration ceremony in the presence of its creator. The clock, minus its circular water pool, was later moved from its
original location in front of Savacentre (now Asda) to the upper mall during the 1995 refurbishment of Eastgate.
The Church of St. Mary & All Saints in Old Church Hill is designated a Grade II listed building.
Lee Chapel County Infant & Junior School in The Knares merge to become Lee Chapel County Primary School. The schools' first
appointed Headteacher is Mr. John McGeachie who previously taught at Bryn County Junior School in Church Road, Fryerns.
The New Towns Act, 1981 receives Royal Assent. This Act is a revision of the previous 1965 Act,
itself revised from the original New Towns Act of 1946.
Langdon Hills Hall Farmhouse in Old Church Hill is designated a Grade II listed building.
Hall Farm Cottage in Old Church Hill is designated a Grade II listed building.
Depeche Mode play Raquels nightclub in Market Pavement, Basildon Town Centre. The Basildon band featuring Dave Gahan, Martin Gore, Andrew
Fletcher and Vince Clarke were making their second and final appearance at the club, and to date, last appearance in Basildon. The band, formed the
previous year, had already played in the town centre at Sweeney's discotheque back in April following the release of their first single "Dreaming of Me" and
had so far achieved a hit album and three chart hits including "Just Can't Get Enough" in a career that continues to the present.
Festival Hall in Pipps Hill Close, Basildon opens. Seating
1,500, the hall, which was one of the largest in South East Essex, opened on the site of the former Aquatels Zoo and Ecology
Centre (Basildon Zoo). A wide variety of events including presentations, pop concerts and boxing contests were staged
there. The hall was demolished in 1996 to make way for the Festival Leisure Park entertainment complex.
H.R.H. Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh visits the Basildon Enterprise Centre at Burnt Mills,
Basildon. The enterprise centre at 33 Nobel Square on the Burnt Mills Industrial Estate (now Burnt Mills Enterprise Park) is run by Essex County Council
as a specialist support service for start up or growing businesses. The visit marks the second occasion that the Duke had visited Basildon, the first being
in 1960 when he visited Carreras Rothmans tobacco factory at Christopher Martin Road, Nevendon Industrial Estate.
The first properties on the Presidents and Commonwealth housing estates
off Durham Road in Laindon West are completed. These new housing estates, in part covering the formerly residential unmade portions of
Worthing Road and New Century Road, was the second large scale development in Laindon for private ownership. It was named
after former American Presidents and Australian Prime Ministers and built by Globe Construction Company of Felsted, Essex, who
were also responsible for other earlier housing developments within Basildon including the nearby Counties Estate off Cumberland Drive.
Vince Clarke and Alison Moyet achieve success
as the pop duo 'Yazoo' with their first release "Only You", which made number 2 in the national
charts. The song was written by Vince Clarke, who until his departure had been principal
songwriter and member of Depeche Mode.
Bryn County Primary School in Church Road, Fryerns closes. The school first opened in the
1950s in the early days of Basildon new town but in recent years a fall in numbers had prompted the closure. Mrs Hewitt was the final
headteacher. The school then became the Bryn Centre for the elderly until 1992 when it closed and the former school was then demolished and
sold to make way for a housing development. A former poultry farm that stood in Church Road long before the school opened is remembered in
the street name Bryn Farm Close, whose properties now cover the former school site.
Noak Bridge County Primary School in Coppice Lane,
Noak Bridge opened. The school was built to serve the development corporation's Noak Bridge housing
estate, parts of which were still under construction.
Basildon band The Pinkees reach No.8 in the national charts with their single
release "Danger Games". The song, which was their second release, spent a week at No.8 in a six week chart run. The group,
comprising Paul Egholm (lead vocals, guitar), Andy Price (occ. lead vocals, guitar), Max Reinsch (lead guitar), Nevile Kiddier
(bass guitar) and Paul Reynolds (drums), were formed around the late 1970s and regulary performed around the town. In a short
career they released 4 singles, all written by Andy Price, and one self titled album on the Creole record label. They also made
various tv appearances including Top of the Pops and Pebble Mill at One. The group broke up around 1984 after
various line-up changes, including the departure of main vocalist Paul Egholm. Their last major local performance was headlining the 1983 CND
Gloucester Park Peace Festival in Basildon, which also included a guest appearance from Paul Egholm singing the Beatle cover "I saw her standing
there". Prior to their success, one of the members, Andy Price, had already appeared on television in the band Glyder, who had a
single released in 1975 called "Pick up and Go" on the Warner Bros label, but it failed to chart. Later in the 1980s Paul Egholm
formed The Perkees for occasional live work, including a headline at the Roundacre Town House in Basildon, where his Pinkees
originals were among the set list. He died on 28/04/2017 aged 68.
H.R.H. Katharine, Duchess of Kent visits the Marconi
Avionics factory at Christopher Martin Road. This was her second engagement of the day having
earlier opened the new regional Burns Unit at St. Andrews Hospital in Billericay. The Duchess
had previously visited Basildon in October 1968 to dedicate the porch and 'Christ sculpture' at
St. Martin's Church in the town centre.
Ilford Limited relocate their office headquarters and photographic colour processing factory to Mobberley in Cheshire. The factory, built at the western end
of Paycocke Road on the No. 1 industrial estate at Nevendon, first opened in 1957 when the company relocated from Ilford to Basildon in the early days of
the new town. In 1975 the company consolidated their Basildon presence when they transferred their office headquarters to a new block on an adjacent
site at Christopher Martin Road. In the years following Ilford's departure, the factory site, in reduced form and minus the landmark chimney, later became
the Ilford Trading Estate, which it remains today. Their former headquarters office block was later taken over by the credit card processing company
Access but was demolished around 2011 and is now the site of Costa Coffee's Roastery plant.
A new second hand 'flea' market begins every Monday at the Basildon Council run site in Basildon. 60
of the available 88 stalls were rented out at £5 a time. In summer 2006 the Monday market was
closed with some stallholders now transferring to Tuesday's market.
Basildon Sports Centre at Nether Mayne opens. Run by Basildon Council and sited close to Basildon
College, the new centre offers a wide range of indoor sporting activities and privately
St. Michael's Church in Church Path, Pitsea is officially confirmed as redundant. The church, which
dates from 1871, had been in very poor condition for many years; regular services having transferred
to St. Gabriel's in the 1960s, and was not considered worthy of an expensive restoration. In 1998
having been fenced off from the public, the church, by now in a ruinous state, was dismantled with
the exception of the 16th century tower, which was restored by the communications company Orange
as a location for a mobile phone mast.
David Amess (later Sir), (Conservative) (17,516), elected member of parliament for the new Basildon constituency. Following boundary changes the
former Basildon seat, which had existed since 1974, saw Billericay and a Laindon Ward break away to form a new Billericay constituency. The remainder
then made up the new Basildon seat. He won with a small majority of 1,379 over labour candidate Julian Fulbrook. Mr. Amess, who also held a seat on
Redbridge Borough Council, was standing in his second election after winning the Conservative nomination to replace Harvey Proctor, who stood down
to stand in the new Billericay seat. His previous attempt, in 1979 in Newham North West, saw him lose to Labour opponent Arthur Lewis.
(Keith) Harvey Proctor (Conservative) (17,516) elected member of parliament for the new Billericay constituency. Mr. Proctor had won the former Basildon
seat, which had included Billericay within its boundary, in 1979 but stood down for this election choosing instead to stand in the new Billericay seat. He won
the seat with a comfortable majority of 14,615 over the Liberal / Social Democrat Party Alliance candidate Patrick Bonner. Conservatives win General Election.
B148 West Mayne linking Laindon to the A127 at Dunton Wayletts completed. Construction on the new
single carriageway road began in 1977 and was completed in various phases. In its creation a portion
of Victoria Park was lost and Railway Approach was divided by a pedestrian/cycles only overbridge.
Nevendon County Primary School closes. The school,
located in Burnt Mills Road and open since 1927, closed as a result of falling pupil numbers. In
the early 1950s pupil numbers at the school had increased when the first development corporation
estates were built at Fryerns, but fell again following the provision of new schools. The former
school is now in use as an adult education centre
Unemployed Workers Centre in The Gore, Basildon opened. The triangular building, based on a
Scandinavian design, was built on a previously unused parcel of land. It is now known as the
Basildon Community Resource Centre and from 2000 a registered charity. Carrying out the opening duties
was the Rt. Hon. General Secretary of the T.U.C. Len (later Lord) Murray.
A mobile portakabin for use as a police office is placed in Town Square, Basildon. The portakabin,
painted blue and positioned adjacent to the town clock, served as an additional crime reporting
office amongst other uses. It was later moved to a new location adjacent to the East Square steps
where it remained until the mid 2000s when it was removed from Town Square.
Bulk D.I.Y & Builders Superstores Limited open a retail outlet at Hazelmere, off High Road, Pitsea. The new purpose built store and car park
was built over previously residential land and shops that fronted the High Road as well as land off the former Pollard Road. British judo
sportsman and 1972 Olympic Games bronze medallist Brian Jacks performed the opening ceremony duties. It was later taken over by
another D.I.Y chain Texas Homecare who would sell out in 1995 to the Sainsbury's run Homebase branding, who ran it until 2009. It is
currently a 'Go Outdoors' store specialising in camping and climbing equipment and outdoor clothing.
Carreras Rothmans close their cigarette production factory in Christopher Martin Road. The company's
factory, which opened in 1959, employed around two thousand people on a large site at the No.1
industrial estate at Nevendon. They also also ran a sports and social club in Nevendon Road which
was later sold along with a large sports field to become a new Sainsbury's superstore. The main six storey office block with its two large clocks
mounted to the left and right side of the sixth floor outer walls, remains a local feature having since been renamed Phoenix House and now home
to a number of different businesses.
Wat Tyler Country Park in Pitsea opened by the Rt.
Hon. General Secretary of the T.U.C. Len Murray. The 125 acre park at Marsh Road (since renamed Wat Tyler Way and now
Pitsea Hall Lane), was named after the 1381 Peasants' Revolt leader Walter "Wat" Tyler. In the early 1990s it was renamed Pitsea
Hall Country Park but from around 1997 reverted back to its original name. It had previously been
part of the Pitsea Hall estate and used as farmland for much of the 19th century. In 1891 an explosives
company called the British Explosives Syndicate leased the land and various buildings were erected
for the purpose of manufacturing and storing their products. The Nobel Explosive Company then took
over the concern through to around 1919 when the site effectively closed. In the 1920s the War Department
became the new owners, later establishing a Sea Transport Depot. Various new buildings were built
including pill boxes during the Second World War which still exist today. In 1969 Basildon Council purchased the site and
following a period of industrial use the land became derelict and was then transformed by the council during the
A plotland museum is established at Dunton in a property saved from demolition by Basildon Development Corporation. The detached bungalow in Third
Avenue, known as The Haven, was built in the 1930s and is the only property to be spared demolition in a formerly residential area re-designated as 'open
space' and now part of a nature trail. Corporation chairman, Dame Elizabeth Coker, D.B.E., D.L., carried out the opening ceremony. The Haven had been
the property of the Mills family who purchased the plot on the Dunton Hills Estate for £40 in 1933. It was intended to be a summer or weekend home but
eventually the family moved in permanently, even buying another plot on the opposite side of Third Avenue. Around £2000 was spent preparing the museum
for opening, which would be restricted to Sundays only and mainly during the summer season. Admission was set at 50p.
The Liberty Shopping Hall in Great Oaks, Basildon town centre officially opened. The 32,000 sq
ft indoor arcade, housed in the former Tesco supermarket, had around 70 shops offering a wide
range of retail goods. It closed in the 1990s and is now a QD store. T.V. celebrity Henry
Kelly, from London Weekend Television's "Game for a laugh" show, performed the opening
duties. The name Liberty Hall originates from a former residential property, long since
demolished, that stood in Hotwater Lane, which once ran on or near the Great Oaks location.
Labour party leader Neil Kinnock makes a whistle stop visit to Pitsea. The visit, which was timed to coincide with the local council elections held the
following day, took place at Wat Tyler Country Park, where he was taken on a guided tour.
The final dwellings built on behalf of Basildon Development Corporation are completed at Felmores in Pitsea. These were 37 sheltered accommodation
dwellings for the elderly in Phase II of the Felmores 16 scheme. Over the period of 34 years the development corporation were responsible for the
construction of 24,839 dwellings of various types.
Tanqueray Gordon's gin bottling plant on the Southfield's Industrial Estate in Laindon opened. Built at a cost of £48 million the new purpose built distillery
and five storey office block occupies a 26 acre site at Fenton Way off West Mayne in Laindon. The company, which markets its product in distinctive
green bottles, was previously based at Goswell Road, Clerkenwell, London. Work on the site, which was built in part over the former unmade up western
end of Victoria Road, began in 1982 with the main building contract being awarded to John Laing Construction. In 1998, after only 14 years in Laindon,
the company began a closure programme to relocate to Scotland to a new distillery at Cameron Bridge, Leven, in Fife. This move was completed by
2000. A later company product, Tanqueray No.10 introduced in 2000 to mark ten years at the former Basildon site, is still available today.
A Basildon Marathon is held. The 26 miles and 385 yards race was held to raise money for disabled
athletes and run under AAA and WCAAA laws. It involved a two lap course starting in Cranes Farm
Road taking in St. Nicholas Lane, High Road, Laindon, Laindon Link, Great Knightleys, Southernhay,
Clay Hill Road, High Road, Vange, London Road, Pitsea, Pound Lane, Burnt Mills Road, Whitmore Way,
Ghyllgrove, Cranes Farm Road and finishing at the Gloucester Park athletics track. It was promoted
by Basildon Athletic Club, Basildon Sports Council and the local council. 141 people entered the
event of which 108 finished and runners included future world champion boxer Terry Marsh, who
finished 18th. The race was won by David Cox from Woodford Green in a time of 2:28:36.
The Knares on the Lee Chapel South estate is closed to right turns either into or out of its junction
with Nether Mayne. The District of Basildon (The Knares/Nether Mayne, Basildon) (Prohibition of Right Turns) Order 1984.
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