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A Basildon Chronology
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1985   1986   1987   1988   1989
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1985

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Pitsea Police Station at 8 Rectory Road opened. A previous station had existed at the same location but had closed in November 1967 when operations were centralised at Great Oaks, Basildon.

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14th February

Laindon Community Centre is destroyed by fire. The hall, which was built in Aston Road in the 1950s, was thought to have been the victim of an arson attack. A new community centre was built by Basildon Council on an adjacent site which opened in 1988.

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11th March

New Towns and Urban Development Corporations Act 1985 receives Royal Assent.

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May

Mrs Eileen Gelder becomes the first elected woman Chairman of Basildon District Council. Mrs Gelder, who represents the Nethermayne Ward, is also the first female Labour councillor to hold the title which can be traced back to 1894 when Billericay Rural District Council was formed. Four more women served as Chairman or Chairperson before the title was replaced with that of Mayor when Basildon became a Borough in October 2010.

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13th May

Basildon Bowl in Southernhay, Basildon closes. Opened in 1962, the 26 lane alley had been reduced to the first 10 lanes from June 1975 when Basildon Council took over from former operators Ambassador Bowling. Following the takeover the building was divided into two and converted by Coral Social Clubs Ltd. to a Coral bingo hall which then expanded to the whole building following the closure, and continues today under the name Gala Bingo.

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June

36 new flats and bungalows for retired people at Bridgecote Lane on the Noak Bridge village development are completed. The new homes, known as the Noak Bridge 9 (Bridgecote) scheme, were built by Woolwich Homes in partnership with Basildon Development Corporation. The Government Housing and Construction Minister, conservative MP for Eastbourne Ian Gow, performed the opening ceremony.

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31st August

Springfield Primary School in Honeypot Lane, Fryerns closes. The school, which was the second of three temporary schools built during the early years of the new town, first opened in 1962 as separate infant and junior; later becoming a primary in the 1970s due to falling pupil numbers. Ghyll Grove Nursing and Residential Home and a number of residential homes in Ghyllgrove Close now cover the site of the former school.

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September

Toys "R" Us superstore opens in Southernhay. The store and multi-storey car park was amongst the first five of its kind to open in the UK. It was built partly on an undeveloped green, dating from the towns inception and once earmarked in the 1960s as a potential cinema site, some of which had been used for a small temporary car park, and a short closed section of Long Riding which was shortened when Southernhay was realigned during the construction of the first phase of the Eastgate Centre in the late 1970s. In the 1990s the store had its floor space reduced and a new unit created for use by sportswear retailer JJB Sports and now occupied by SportsDirect.com.

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9th September

Phase II of the Eastgate International Shopping Centre completed. The indoor shopping complex comprising 70 shops on two levels, with 42 additional shops on an upper gallery and an open 1st floor food court with seating for 200, was built on a seven acre site that formerly comprised car parking, open land and a small stretch of Southernhay, which for motorists no longer linked to Broadmayne. 39,100 sq. metres of retail space was created in the new development; the centrepiece of which was an Allders department store with entrances on each level. John Laing Constructors Ltd. were awarded the contract for its completion and work began on the £25 million project, titled Eastgate Phase II, in early 1982. During construction local newspaper Evening Echo deposited a time capsule 3.0 metres below the surface close to the main Allders (now Debenhams) entrance on 14/2/1982. Also part of the development is the Eastgate Business Centre and a nine storey office block which owners Norwich Union Life Insurance Society, who also funded the project, took occupation of shortly after completion.

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18th October

Essex Police open a small section police station at 11a Worthing Road, Laindon. The station, which formed part of the Basildon Sub Division, is housed in a formerly residential detached bungalow owned by Basildon Development Corporation as one of their miscellaneous properties. Two Laindon residents, Mr. R.F. Holman and Wayne Carpenter, performed the "ribbon cutting" ceremony in the presence of many local dignitaries including the chief Superintendent Alan Gilling, Mrs. Eileen Gelder, chairman of Basildon District Council and Canon Lionel Webber, representing St. Martin's Church, Basildon, who blessed the building. The section station had become operational from 23rd September but proved temporary when another temporary station opened in 1991 in New Century Road at its junction with High Road. A permanent police station had previously existed in Laindon at Victoria Road but this closed in November 1967 when operations were centralised at Greak Oaks in Basildon.

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November

Alison Moyet and Rod Hull and Emu are the special guests to switch on the town centre's Christmas lights. Basildon singer Alison, or "Alf" as she was known to friends, had come to fame in 1982 in the successful duo Yazoo along with Vince Clarke, also from Basildon. The duo broke up in 1983 and she then embarked on a solo career that has so far produced a No.1 hit album and 4 hit singles.

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1986

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J. Toomey Motors Ltd moves to new purpose built premises on the recently opened Southfields industrial development at West Mayne, Laindon. The family run company, founded by Joseph Toomey as Laindon Accumulators in 1929, were previously based in the High Road where they established a Vauxhall dealership, garage workshop and petrol filling station. Their new headquarters was also named Service House, just as it had been at the former High Road site.

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The National Motorboat Museum opens at Wat Tyler Country Park in Pitsea. Later known as the Motorboat Museum and run by Basildon Council, the museum displays boats from the 1800s to the present. It is housed in a former Anti Aircraft Ordnance Depot erected by the War Department during the Second World War. The museum closed on Friday 4th December, 2009 following the council's decision to create a Green Centre as part of a large scale refurbishment. At the time of closure the collection stood at nearly 50, of which many have already been returned to their owners.

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Fairhouse Court residential complex completed. Located at Long Riding in the Barstable East area of Basildon this new Basildon Council owned sheltered housing development for old aged pensioners consists of 31 one bedroomed flats and is warden controlled.

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31st March

Basildon Development Corporation is wound up after 37 years and replaced by the Commission For The New Towns (CNT). Basildon Development Corporation (Transfer of Property and Dissolution) Order 1986: New Towns (Statutory instruments: 1986: 502)

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1st April

The Commission For The New Towns (CNT) succeeds Basildon Development Corporation. The Commission inherited all existing development corporation responsibilities within the designated area of the new town.

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1987

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Basildon Council run refuse tip for household waste at Pitsea marsh is closed. The site off Pitsea Hall Lane, which covers around 13 acres, is situated adjacent to the existing sewage treatment works, opened by in the 1930s by Billericay Urban District Council. The main tipping area, which is bordered by Timberman's, Pitsea and Vange Creeks, all of which are tidal, was used from July 1948 by the Council's dustcarts and by Basildon Development Corporation contractors, depositing spoil from the new town housing estates, then under construction. The area, some of which due to tipping is reclaimed marshland, has now been landscaped but remains closed to the public for the foreseeable future.

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Hotel Campanile at Burches, Pipps Hill, Basildon opened.

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An auction of Lots relating to commercial property and land assets in Basildon town centre was held in London. The ownership of these had been with Basildon Development Corporation whose successor, the Commission for the New Towns, had been tasked with the job of disposal. The sale resulted in 16 different private landowners.

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February

The very first U.K. Travel Inn (Hotel), opened adjacent to The Watermill (Beefeater) at East Mayne, Basildon.

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4th March

Basildon boxer Terry Marsh, 29, known as the 'fighting fireman', wins the International Boxing Federation (IBF) World Light-Welterweight title after defeating current American champion Joe 'Louis' Manley from Lima, Ohio. The fight, staged in a 'Supertent' on the Pipps Hill Close original Basildon Festival Hall car park, ended with a knockout in round 10.

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11th June

David Amess (later Sir) (21,858) re-elected Conservative member of parliament for the Basildon constituency. He won the seat with an increased majority of 2,649 after defeating Labour candidate Julian Fulbrook for the second time.

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11th June

Teresa Gorman elected Conservative MP for the Billericay constituency which includes Laindon Ward. She took the seat, previously held by Harvey Proctor who had stood down in the wake of an impending court case, with an overwhelming majority of 17,986 over Michael Birch, who was standing for the Liberal Social Democrat Party Alliance. She had previously, as Teresa Moore, stood unsuccessfully as an Independent at Streatham, south London in 1974, where she polled 210 votes. Conservatives win General Election.

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1st July

Basildon World Champion boxer Terry Marsh successfully defends his title won in Basildon on 4/3/1987 against the Japanese contender Akio Kameda, from Sano, Tochigi, at the Royal Albert Hall in London. The bout ended when his opponent retired on doctors' orders at the end of round 6. This was Marsh's final professional fight before retiring. At the time of his retirement he was undefeated having drawn only one of his 26 professional contests. He remains the only English boxer to retire as undefeated World Champion.

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19th September

Eversley Centre in Crest Avenue, Pitsea opened by World Light-Welterweight boxing champion Terry Marsh. Situated within Eversley Recreation Ground the new Basildon Council run facility offers a wide choice of leisure activities. Around 1988 it was renamed Terry Marsh Centre and featured a large tiled mural of the Basildon based boxing champion, though in 1993 the centre reverted back to its original name. In 2011 Sport and Leisure Management Ltd (SLM) under the brand name Everyone Active took over the everyday running of the centre.

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1988

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Great Berry Primary School in Forest Glade, Langdon Hills opened. The new school was built over the former fields of Great Berry Farm and close to the original Forest Glade footpath and unmade road that once linked Berry Lane to the plotland estates at Berry Park and Highbank.

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Springfields licensed restaurant and public house at Victoria Road, Laindon open. Facilities include a beer garden and function rooms. Sometime in the 1990s it was renamed Four Seasons and is now part of the Hungry Horse chain of public houses.

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Wat Tyler minature railway opened. The minature railway, located at the Basildon Council run Wat Tyler Country Park in Pitsea, is 10.25 gauge, diesel operated and running to a length of 1200 yards. The locomotive, Western Courier, dates from 1969 and had previously been in service at Basildon Zoo. In 2012 an 845 yard extension was opened for the summer season.

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23rd April

Gala opening of the new Towngate Theatre in Pagel Mead (now St. Martin's Square). The first production, William Shakespeare's As you like it, starred T.V. and stage actress Kate O'Mara who also unveiled a plaque commemorating the event. Built at a cost of around £8 million, the main auditorium design was based on a classic Georgian playhouse with seating for 550. The smaller Mirren Studio, named after actor Helen Mirren who has strong ties with Essex, has seating for 188. Other features include the Towngate licenced bar and an 8 track recording studio. Owned and operated by Basildon Council it replaced the previous temporary Towngate Theatre (formerly Arts Centre) which first opened in 1968 and stood in Towngate.

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30th April

The new Laindon Community Centre in Aston Road opened. This second centre was built to replace the original centre which had stood at the end of Aston Road before being destroyed by fire in 1985. Alice Jackson, Bert Washington and George Saunders performed the opening duties. The new complex complete with large car park and outside nursery play area is substantially bigger than the original being built in part where bungalows in Brimsdown Avenue once stood. During the early 1990s a council community charge (poll tax) payment counter was established as well as a housing rent office though this would later transfer to Clock House at the Laindon Centre.

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29th October

Sweeneys discotheque at 7 High Pavement, Basildon closes. The popular nightclub held a special farewell party after its leaseholders reached an agreement with owners TOPS Estates to end its lease early. The discotheque, which first opened in 1973, had 4 years of its lease remaining but was seen by TOPS as an obstacle to its plans to 'roof over' a portion of Town Square. It had been run by business partners John Braden and Brian Greenan, who had previously held a financial interest in the town centre's other nightclub Raquels. Tops Estates, founded by millionaire Everard Goodman, had bought into Town Square some years earlier but despite a lot of interest, the ambitious plans came to nothing and the former discotheque is now incorporated into the Basildon branch of Palmers solicitors.

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1989

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Essex Wildlife Trust purchase the former Dunton Hills plotland estate. The estate, mainly comprising the four avenues, first, second, third and fourth along with Hillcrest Avenue was bought from owners Commission for the New Towns. A visitor centre and Warden accommodation was later established at Third Avenue.

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The A127 Nevendon boot sale established. Held between early March and November on Sundays, Bank Holidays and from 2004 mid-season Thursdays at Stevenson's Farm adjacent to the A127 Nevendon flyover, it is known locally as "The Big One" and has often featured on the television show "Boot Sale Challenge". It has never missed a season and is now in its 22nd year of operation.

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A new double roundabout and duel carriageway link road to replace Roundacre roundabout becomes fully operational. The original roundabout was opened in 1959 but had become a congestion blackspot despite being gradually reduced in size to allow greater roadspace. All four original subways were replaced with a wider design and the addition of a fifth subway linking Laindon Link with Nethermayne. A small portion of Gloucester Park was lost to the new road layout as both Broadmayne and Upper Mayne required realignment. The former roundabouts name was preserved when the short link road was named Roundacre.

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John Rosser is appointed as the fourth Town Manager of Basildon District Council. He succeeds Robert Mitchinson who held the post from April 1974.

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7th January

Markhams Chase Sports Centre in Markhams Chase, Laindon opens. Basildon born international long distance runner Eamonn Martin carried out the opening duties. The council run facility offered a wide range of sporting activities and the main hall was often hired out for events such as computer fairs. In the 2000s Basildon Pentecostal Church used the facility for their Sunday services. It closed on 27th March, 2011 amid much controversy following Basildon Council's decision to build a "Sporting Village" in Gloucester Park. It was sold to property developer Bellway Homes who after its demolition built a residential development called Hawks Park. Known over the years as either Markhams Chase Sports Centre or Markhams Chase Leisure Centre, at the time of closure its nameboard read simply Markhams Chase Centre.

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February

The Armillary Sundial set in the centre of the paved walkway in the new Southernhay/Laindon Link/Nether Mayne roundabout unveiled. Sir Gordon Roberts CBE. J.P. representing the Commission For The New Towns performed the unveiling. The sundial, which stands around 3 metres high, is made from Stainless Steel and designed by renouned artist Wendy Taylor, CBE. She was also responsible for the Animal Frieze in concrete that adorns the two inner walls of the subway link to Gloucester Park.

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23rd May

HRH The Princess Royal, making her first visit to Basildon, is the special guest of honour at the Ford New Holland Tractor Plant, which is celebrating 25 years of production at the Cranes Farm Road site. The plant, which covers a 100 acre site, was originally a solely Ford enterprise but was renamed following a takeover of Sperry New Holland in 1986.

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7th July

HRH Prince Edward visits the Eastgate Business Centre in Basildon. His visit, on behalf of the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, was organised by owners Norwich Union and included a tour of the centre where he unveiled a commemorative plaque to mark the occasion.

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14th November

The Basildon Centre in Pagel Mead (now St. Martin's Square) is officially opened. The Rt. Hon. Dr John "Jack" Cunningham, Labour MP for Copeland carried out a commemorative plaque unveiling ceremony. Council staff vacated offices at Keay House in Town Square, Church Walk House and Fodderwick as part of the move.

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16th November

Basildon is officially twinned with the German town of Heiligenhaus. The town of Heiligenhaus is in the district of Mettmann, in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It lies between Düsseldorf and Essen. This completes the association between the two towns which dates back to 1964. Heiligenhaus is also twinned with the English town of Mansfield in Nottinghamshire.

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5th December

The new Basildon Library is opened by the Chairman of Essex County Council, Councillor Paul White (later Lord Hanningfield). Now permanently housed within the new Basildon Centre, the central library, as it was known, was previously housed in two separate locations in temporary buildings at Fodderwick dating back to 1964.

 
Text researched and written by William Cox, 2001 with revisions and additions 2002-2017.
Copyright © 2001-2017, B. Cox - Basildon History Online. All rights reserved.

Acknowledgements and Bibliography

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