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A Basildon Chronology
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2000   2001   2002   2003   2004
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2000

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7th July

The James Hornsby High School's final day at the former Laindon secondary school site at High Road, Laindon. The school, formed by amalgamating Nicholas and Laindon, had used the site since its formation in September 1998 while the Nicholas site underwent extensive refurbished for eventual occupation in September 2000. The final day was brought forward to allow the transfer of equipment to the Leinster Road site. From its opening in 1928 as a mixed school for children of all ages this day marked the end of just over 72 years of child education at the High Road site. Following closure the former sixth form area was used by a pre-school playgroup who vacated around 2006. The school was then demolished in 2007 to be replaced with a new housing development called Radford Park, named after the first Headmaster of Laindon High Road.

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22nd/23rd July

The 5th annual Basildon Festival held at Wat tyler Country Park, Pitsea . The yearly summer event, known as "Basfest" and promoted by Basildon Council, was the last to be held at Wat Tyler Park. This was due to an increase in the numbers attending coupled with the restricted size of the site. For the following year, 2001, the festival was relocated to a larger site to the rear of Gloucester Park Swimming Pool in Basildon.

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5th September

James Hornsby High School relocates to the former Nicholas comprehensive school site at Leinster Road, Laindon. The first day of the new term is for Year Seven pupils only - Years Eight to Eleven attending the following day. The existing buildings were extensively refurbished and new ones added at a cost of over £5 million. The official opening, attended by the High Sherriff of Essex, John Giles Selby Coode-Adams, was held on 12th October.

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October

Discount supermarket chain Lidl open a new store in Manor Road, Laindon. The new supermarket is the second in the town for the german based company; the first opened in the 1990s at the old market retail park, Pitsea, and was built on an overgrown site cleared in the late 1980s of pre-new town bungalows. On 6th January, 2006 the store suffered a fire which caused extensive damage forcing it to close temporarily for refurbishment.

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2001

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January

Progression, a sculpture by Rochford born artist Michael Condron, is unveiled in Town Square, Basildon. The three figures, made from electro polished stainless steel and inscribed December 2000, formed the centrepiece attraction of a large square raised green. The leading figure stands 5 metres high upon a plinth and carries an illuminated sphere. No formal ceremony took place though the artwork was completed and brought to the town in December 2000 but kept covered while the site was being prepared. An earlier design, submitted by a different artist and uncompleted due to the artists death, had been planned for the plinth. The sculpture, commissioned by Basildon District community arts project to mark 50 years of the new town, formed part of a Town Square regeneration project; begun in 1996, that included the erection of two large pavilions named east and west, now occupied by Costa Coffee and Toni & Guy, hairdressers, and the demolition of part of Keay House (since renamed Southgate House), to create a more open plaza. In 2004 following concerns over safety a council vote deemed it a health hazard and the statue was moved on 28th July to Wat Tyler Country Park in Pitsea into storage and later resited in front of the Motorboat Museum (now Green Centre) where an unveiling ceremony conducted by council chairman Sandra Hillier was held on 25th February, 2005. The raised green was also removed in 2004 and tarmaced in possible preparation for a 3rd pavilion, which has yet to materialise.

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February

Army Cadets Forces new headquarters in Cherrydown West, Kingswood, Basildon officially opened. The new headquarters replaces the original wooden pitched roofed hall that dated back to the 1960s when the ACF took occupation of the site. This was destroyed by fire following an arson attack in January 1999. The new hall, which cost £250,000, is flat roofed has two lecture rooms and a drill hall. Prior to its completion the cadets had met in the Air Training Corps headquarters, which shares the same site. The Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Essex Charles Sparrow performed the opening duties, the ceremony of which was attended by the cadets' platoon commander Dave Hind along with colonels and majors and parents.

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2nd February

Retail chain Woolworths reach 40 years of trading at their store at 23 Town Square, Basildon. The chain store selling clothes, household goods, electrical, records/tapes/cds/dvds and sweets, opened as F.W. Woolworth & Co. Ltd in February 1962 but since the late 1970s had traded as Woolworths.

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28th March

Essex County Council's new Laindon Library opened. The new library at 5-7 New Century Road was built at a cost of £470,000 on a site, with the exception of a temporary police station in the 1990s, that had remained undeveloped since the Radion cinema was demolished in 1969. Years earlier the library was located at 3 High Road in a parade of shops near the railway station but had relocated to the then new Laindon Centre in 1970. The county council announced plans to relocate in 1999, citing high rents and poor facilities at the former site. The new building is a third bigger, has a public toilet and a small car park. Work on the building had begun the previous May when Billericay MP Teresa Gorman was invited to cut the first sod. Councillor James Gordon and popular Essex author Martina Cole performed the opening ceremonies.

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29th April

Census statistics for the Basildon district; 165,661. Basildon Town; 102,400.

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7th June

Angela Smith (later Baroness Smith of Basildon) (21,551) re-elected Labour MP for the constituency of Basildon and East Thurrock. She successfully defended the seat, won in 1997, with a majority of 7,738 over conservative rival Dominic Schofield.

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7th June

John Baron (21,608) elected Conservative MP for the Billericay constituency seat which includes Pitsea and areas of Laindon. In his first election success since being defeated by labour's Angela Smith in 1997, Baron won with a majority of 5,013 over nearest rival Amanda Campbell, representing the labour party. The seat was previously held by Teresa Gorman who had elected to stand down in 2001. Labour win General Election.

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1st August

Basildon College of Further Education merges with Thurrock College to become Thurrock and Basildon College.

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September

Travelodge Hotel at Festival Way off Cranes Farm Road, Basildon opened.

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November

Basildon Zoo closes. The Zoo, based in London Road, Vange, was home to a number of Mammals, Birds and Reptiles, but had faced a series of complaints relating to adverse conditions. The Zoo originally opened in 1973. A pet shop and garden centre on the same site remain open.

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2002

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Gifford House in London Road, Bowers Gifford, once headquarters of the Basildon Development Corporation, is demolished. The Corporation were based there from October 1949, and their successor the Commission For The New Towns (CNT) were the last occupants when they vacated in 1995. The site, later owned by English Partnerships, lay undeveloped for some years until completion of a new purpose built residential care home for the elderly opened in December 2006.

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International Financial Data Services (IFDS) take over occupation of the former Basilica building in St. Nicholas Lane, Laindon for use as their European headquarters. The building, now renamed IFDS House, was originally constructed in 1998 on behalf of Barclaycard who planned to use it as their new life assurance headquarters before eventually choosing a different location. It was designed by Fitzroy Robinson.

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1st January

Swan Mead County Infant & Junior School in Church Road, Vange is renamed Cherry Tree Primary School.

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1st January

Manor County Infant & Junior School in Church Road, Fryerns is renamed Willows Primary School.

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1st January

Bardfield County Infant & Junior School in Clay Hill Road, Vange is renamed Bardfield Primary School and Nursery.

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1st April

Noak Bridge parish council constituted. The new parish, constituted in the Basildon Parish (Order) 2001, elects seven councillors. The parish council was formed as a result of the Local Government and Rating Act 1997 which gave local councils the power to establish new parish councils. The Order was made on 21st September, 2001 coming into force on 15th October the same year. Noak Bridge was the sixth new parish council to form in the Basildon district since the legislation change. The others being: Great Burstead and South Green, Billericay Parish (later renamed Billericay Town), Little Burstead, Ramsden Crays and Ramsden Bellhouse.

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28th May

The main structure of Gloucester Park's bandstand is demolished. The site is completely cleared and grassed over. The bandstand built in the 1970s was the scene of many summer events with Erasure and Bad Manners among the many bands to grace the stage. The Concord Skateboard park, opened in July 2005, now occupies the site and its former concrete frontage.

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1st September

Felmore County Primary School opened. The school, situated in Davenants, Pitsea, opened as a county primary and later becoming separate infant and junior before amalgamating following the end of the summer term. The school can accommodate up to 525 mixed children from ages 4 to 11. Janet Guertin is appointed as Headteacher having previously held the same post at the infant school and acting Headteacher of the junior school.

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1st September

Briscoe Primary School and Nursery opened. The school, located at Felmores End, Pitsea, had originally opened in the 1970s as separate county infant and junior but was amalgamated to improve the standard at the junior school which had been in special measures since 1998. Melissa Eades is appointed as Headteacher having previously held the same post at the former Briscoe Infants' School.

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2nd September

The Powerhouse public house at 469 Clay Hill Road, Vange, which had stood empty since closure in 1998 is finally demolished during this week. A new housing development of 2 bedroom flats was erected on the site. The pub, once known as The Bull, opened in the early 1960s and replaced an earlier pub of the same name that was demolished in 1961. It became The Powerhouse on 7th June, 1985 but closed following a violet incident in February 1998 that ended in a fatality.

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6th November

Pembury Community Hall in Clayburn Circle, Barstable East destroyed by fire. The detached hall, which stands in a large plot adjacent to neighbouring houses, was completely gutted in the blaze resulting in its demolition early the following year. The hall, which originally stood in Fairview Road, was built in the early 1960s by locals as a headquarters for Basildon Boys' Club and to serve the new Barstable housing development. A new residential development comprising 4 three-storey blocks known as Pembury Place was later built on the site of the former hall.

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2003

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11th April

The Jubilee Wing at Basildon Hospital is formally opened by HRH Princess Anne, the Princess Royal. The £17 million three-storey building has 12 wards with accommodation for 321 beds and was named in honour of the Queen's 50 year reign. It was built by construction group French Kier Anglia.

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May

Whife and Sloper Dairies Ltd. of Laindon close. The milk delivery business was based at Hazeldene, a semi-detached bungalow in Markhams Chase. It was founded in founded in 1969 following a merger. The name Sloper had a long association with Laindon going back to the early 1900s, which also included shops in the High Road. Whife's, which was founded by Alfred Thomas Whife in the 1930s, though at one time a rival to Sloper, had provided the base for the new company. Their vehicles, finished in blue and white livery, included a Morrison Electricar. The customer base was sold to Dairy Crest, who in 2000 had acquired the Unigate home delivery service based in Bluehouses (now Time Square), Basildon. In 2007 work began on erecting a semi-detached property on the main dairy site along with a second semi-detached house on land adjacent to one of the few remaining pre-new town bungalows left in Markhams Chase. These were later numbered 128, 130, 136 and 138 and in occupation by 2009.

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June

Evelyn May House residential care home opened. The three-storey 58 bedroomed care home in Florence Way, Langdon Hills was built on an empty plot that was once Rosemary Lodge, a large house formerly occupied by the local GP. Dr. Shannon which was demolished in the early 1970s. The care home is owned and run by Runwood Homes Ltd. Some of the first residents were vacated from the Woodards care home in Tavistock Road, Laindon which was then demolished and rebuilt as Woodlands.

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20th June

The People's Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) open the Coco Markus Centre at High Road, Vange. The hospital cost £900,000, has six consulting rooms and two operating theatres and is the 46th PDSA to open nationally. The centre was previously the site of Vange service station.

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July/August

The Woodards residential care home in Tavistock Road, Laindon demolished. The care home, built and opened around 1972/73 by owners Essex County Council, had accommodation for around 40 residents but its layout and facilities were considered too small and a new larger complex named Woodlands (now called Woodbury Court) was built in its place.

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25th August

The Fortune (formerly Fortune of War) public house at Laindon closes for business. The site was redeveloped with a new housing complex marketed as Saxon Walk by property developer Barrett Homes.

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1st September

Bluehouse County Infants' & Junior School in Leinster Road, Laindon becomes The Phoenix Primary School and Nursery.

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1st September

Pitsea County Infant School is renamed The Len Wastell Infant School in honour of the long serving school governor.

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1st September

Pioneer School opened. The school is Essex County Council's Local Education Authorities (LEA) first New Model Special School for special needs children with learning difficulties and is an amalgamation of the former Moat House and Elmbrook schools. In January 2009 the school relocated to Ghyllgrove where a new building opened on an area of former playing field that was once part of De La Salle Catholic School. The former Moat House site in Church Road, Fryerns is awaiting fresh development.

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1st September

Lincewood Primary School in Langdon Hills opened. The new school is the result of a merge of the former Lincewood infant and junior schools and occupies the same Berry Lane site. Mr Tim Eastwell, former headteacher of Lincewood junior, is the first appointed headteacher. A special opening ceremony was held on 12th September attended by local MP Angela Smith.

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6th September

The Toomey Clock unveiled. Positioned in the centre of a roundabout on the B148 West Mayne adjacent to the Toomey car and van dealership in Laindon, the 4 sided cast iron pillar clock stands approximately 12ft tall on an ornate brick plinth and is protected by a circular crash barrier. Finished in black and gold it also has a chime which on the hour is followed by a musical rendition of the popular children's nursery rhyme "Polly put the kettle on". It was presented to the area as a gift to their customers. In April 2005 an identical clock costing £20,000 was unveiled at the Victoria roundabout in Hadleigh as a memorial to the former Castle Point MP Lord Bernard Braine who died on 5th January 2000. The Conservative peer first became an MP in 1950 representing Basildon as part of the new Billericay constituency. He held the seat until May 1955 when he stood successfully in the new South East Essex constituency.

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7th September

The Jolly Cricketer's public house at Arterial Road, Nevendon is partially destroyed following a fire. The pub had closed for business earlier in the year and had stood empty awaiting demolition after being sold to a property developer. The fire, the result of a suspected arson attack, destroyed much of the roof and upstairs rooms. It was demolished later during September and replaced with a number of business retail units.

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6th November

Labour leader Tony Blair makes his second visit to Basildon and first as prime minister. He visited Craylands Community Hall in Norwich Walk to examine local authority and police initiatives aimed at combating anti-social behaviour, which had become rife on the Craylands housing estate. Local MP. Angela Smith was amongst the guests attending the event. Mr. Blair's previous visit had been in April 1997 during the run up to the general election, when as labour leader he attended an event in support of labour parliamentary candidate Angela Smith.

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2004

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Bowers & Pitsea Football Club founded. The two clubs, previously known as Bowers United and Pitsea United, play their home games at the 2,000 capacity Len Salmon Stadium in Crown Avenue, Pitsea. Their first competitive league season was 2004/2005.

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Redevelopment of the Five Links estate in Laindon begins a new phase with the demolition of maisonettes at Brendon, Handley Green. Hatterill is closed to through traffic during this time from the 26th August.

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August

Woodlands Care Home in Tavistock Road, Laindon opened. The new two-storey residential care home with 93 bedrooms was built to replace the Woodards which was considered too small and outdated. It is owned and run by Runwood Homes Limited. Around the end of 2006 it was renamed Woodbury Court which it remains today.

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2nd September

Laindon Neighbourhood Nursery at Leinster Road opened. The new purpose-built nursery, located on a former playing field used by the James Hornsby High school, offers daycare for up to 50 children from three months old to the age of five. It is run by the Pre-school Learning Alliance. The nursery is now known as the All About Children's Centre.

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11th November

Katz gentleman's night club at Time Square, Basildon officially opened. The new club in Time Square (formerly Bluehouses) will feature lap dancing and have a capacity for 500 people.

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25th November

Northlands Park Children's Centre in Davenants, Pitsea opened. An opening commemoration plaque reads: Northlands Park Children's Centre opened by Emma & Paige The First Sure Start Family 25th Nov 2004.

 
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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