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A Basildon Chronology
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1980   1981   1982   1983   1984
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1980

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Kelting House in Southernhay, Basildon completed. 5 storey office development named after Arthur Kelting, former chairman of Basildon Development Corporation 1971-1979.

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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.

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18th March

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.

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31st May

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.

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20th June

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.

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August

Eastgate Indoor Shopping Centre in Basildon town centre opened. The new complex, 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.

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1st August

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.

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1981

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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.

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January

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.

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20th February

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 five 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.

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April

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.

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5th April

Population Census statistics for Basildon district; 94,232.

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21st May

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.

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July

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.

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August

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.

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7th August

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.

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28th August

The Church of St. Mary & All Saints in Old Church Hill is designated a Grade II listed building.

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September

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 transferred from Bryn County Junior in Church Road, Fryerns.

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30th October

The New Towns Act, 1981 receives Royal Assent. This Act is a revision of the previous 1965 Act, itself revised from the original Act of 1946.

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10th November

Langdon Hills Hall Farmhouse in Old Church Hill is designated a Grade II listed building.

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10th November

Hall Farm Cottage in Old Church Hill is designated a Grade II listed building.

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10th November

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 discoteque 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.

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1982

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Festival Hall in Pipps Hill Close, Basildon opens. Seating 1,500, the hall, 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 from pop concerts to boxing contests were staged there. The hall was demolished in 1996 to make way for the Festival Leisure Park entertainment complex.

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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.

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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.

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17th April

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.

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31st August

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 before being demolished for a housing development where the poultry farm that preceded the school is remembered in the street name Bryn Farm Close.

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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.

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17th October

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.

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3rd December

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.

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1983

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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 Ilfords 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.

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24th January

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.

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12th March

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 hired functions.

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16th March

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.

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9th June

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.

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9th June

(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.

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July

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.

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31st July

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

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1st November

Unemployed Workers Centre in The Gore, Basildon opened. The triangular building, based on a scandinavian design, was built on a previously unused piece 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.

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1984

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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.

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April

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.

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14th April

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 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 early 1980s.

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May

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.

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May

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.

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2nd May

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.

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June

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.

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June

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.

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22nd July

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.

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24th August

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.

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