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A Basildon Chronology
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2015   2016   2017
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2015

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17th March

HRH Prince Edward visited the Case New Holland tractor plant at Cranes Farm Road, Basildon.

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April

The Barge public house at High Road, Vange closes for business. A public house or beer house is thought to have existed here from at least 1840 being known for many years as the Old Barge Inn. The present building is believed to date from the mid 1800s. The outcome of its future is yet to be decided.

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4th May

Basildon sportsman Stuart Bingham wins the World Snooker Championship. Basildon born Bingham, 38, from Vange, defeated former 2005 winner Shaun Murphy 18-15 in the best of 35 frames at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield, England. He reached the final after beating Judd Trump in the deciding frame of their semi-final match 17-16, having already seen off tournament favourite and 5 times world champion Ronnie "The Rocket" O'Sullivan 13-9 in the quarter-final. He finished the tournament ranked second in the world rankings having started it ranked tenth. The following year, along with fellow Basildon gymnast Max Whitlock, saw them both became the first individuals to be awarded the Freedom of the Borough.

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7th May

Stephen Metcalfe (Conservative) (19,788), re-elected as the member of parliament for the Basildon South and Thurrock East constituency. He retained the seat with a majority of 7,691, up 1,919 on the 2010 result.

7th May

John Baron (22,668) is re-elected Conservative MP to serve the Basildon and Billericay parliamentary seat. He won the seat with an overwhelming 12,482 majority over his closest rival Ian Luder of Ukip. The results, and that of the local council elections held the same day, were declared the following day at Basildon Sporting Village, the first such occasion that this venue had been used for an election count. The Conservatives win general election.

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28th May

Don Morris is appointed Mayor of Basildon. The conservative councillor for the Wickford Castledon ward replaces Mo Larkin who stood down earlier in the year after holding the position since 2010 when the district became a borough. Deputy mayor is the ward councillor for Nethermayne Danny Lawrence who succeeds Nigel De Lecq Le Gresley.

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June

Waymade Healthcare pharmaceuticals factory in Miles Gray Road, Pipps Hill, Basildon shuts down production. The company, founded by Kenyan brothers Vijay and Bhikhu Patel, began in 1984 and employed over 200 workers at the Sovereign House factory. Much of the company had recently been sold to B&S Group and it is expected that some of the workforce will transfer to the company's other plants at Ruislip and Perivale in north west London. The site at Miles Gray Road, which dates from the 1960s, had previously been a munitions factory.

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1st September

Kingswood Primary School and Nursery in Clay Hill Road, Basildon opened. The new school, which serves the Kingswood area of Basildon, was formed from an amalgamation of Kingswood Infant School and Nursery and its respective junior school. Luke Bulpett is appointed as Head Teacher.

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1st September

Maple Grove Primary School in High Road, Pitsea opened. The new primary school was created following an amalgamation of Pitsea Junior and Len Wastell Infants, both of which were located on the site of the present school. Sasha Furze is appointed as Head Teacher.

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1st September

Northlands Primary School and Nursery at Winifred Road, Pitsea opened. The new primary school was created following an amalgamation of Northlands Junior School and Northlands Infant School and Nursery. Jane Young is appointed as Head Teacher.

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4th September

Basildon Bowl and Quasar Centre closes. The 20 lane tenpin bowling centre at 3-4 High Pavement, Basildon closed suddenly following a dispute over rent with the final public bowling session being the previous day. Opened in the 1990s in a former bingo hall, it was the town centre's second bowling alley, the first having closed in the 1980s, with the added additions of a Quasar Centre, pool tables, cafe and a gaming arcade.

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20th September

Longwood Equestrian Centre at Dry Street, Langdon Hills closes. The riding school, stables and associated land, which first opened in 1974, was leased from the Government controlled Homes and Community Agency who sold it to property developers Redrow for their Westley Green luxury housing development. The development is part of a larger 700+ home scheme controversially approved by Basildon Council that involves the relocation of Basildon College to a town centre site currently occupied by Basildon Market. The equestrian centre later reopened at a new location at Whites Farm off Barleylands Road having been renamed to Barleylands Equestrian Centre. Former Mayor Mo Larkin performed the ribbon cutting ceremony there on 16th September, 2016.

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27th November

New shopping centre at The Triangle in Langdon Hills officially opened. The council owned complex, built at a cost of £2.1 million, consists of six shop units with upper flats accommodation known as Lincewood Court. The new centre replaced the original buildings first erected in 1976 and completely gutted following a fire on 03/01/2013. Mayor of Basildon Don Morris and constituency MP Stephen Metcalfe performed the opening duties.

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2016

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Basildon Jobcentre Plus moves into the Basildon Centre in St. Martin's Square. Jobcentre staff and around 150 staff from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) formerly based at Regent House in The Gore, moved into the Council's office building where the ground floor is being transformed into a Community Hub. The former H.M.S.O. (Her Majesty's Stationary Office) building had been home to the Jobcentre since the 1980s but is being cleared ready for conversion to 98 residential flats. The DWP made their move on November 7th.

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Tenants in the converted Trafford House office block in Cherrydown East, Basildon begin moving in. The eight storey E shaped building, built as Station House in the 1970s, had stood empty since 2010 after former occupants Ford had completed vacating their European Truck Division to Dunton. It was bought by real estate company and property developer Colonnade MMH (Trafford House) Ltd. who successfully applied for planning permission for the conversion to flats but then declined to act, instead marketing the building which was bought for around £15 million in July 2014 by Criterion Capital Ltd. from the same developer, now known as RMD Trafford House 2000 Ltd. A revised application for 384 one and two bedroomed flats with parking provision gained approval in November 2014. Work began in February 2015 following the removal of a large group of squatters. Lettings are being handled by estate agents Balgores Property Group, where rents are said to be around £850 per calendar month for a one bedroomed flat and £1,000 for a two bedroomed flat.

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February/March

The Bull public house in London Road, Pitsea is demolished. An inn had stood on the site from at least the 18th century with the present building dating from 1889. A name change to the Prohibition occured sometime during the 1980s until around the late 1990s when the public house reverted back to its original name. Although located within the Green Belt a new residential development called Bull Mews was given planning permission and properties erected soon after.

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12th April

Basildon sportsman Stuart Bingham and Max Whitlock awarded the Freedom of the Borough. The two sportsman were nominated for the honour by councillor Danny Lawrence at an extraordinary meeting held on the 11th February in recognition of their outstanding sporting achievements. Locally born Bingham, 39, from Vange, was the current world snooker champion having won the title in May 2015 and Whitlock, 23, from Hemel Hempstead, is a gymnast and 2012 Olympic Games bronze medal winner and member of South Essex Gymnastics Club, who train at Basildon Sporting Village. The pair become the first individual recipients since the Council became a Borough in 2010, and only the second such occasion in the boroughs short history. The first being being in 2011 when the Royal Anglian Regiment were honoured. Basildon Mayor Don Morris presented the sportsman with commemorative scrolls at a special ceremony held at the Basildon Centre. Also in attendance were the Deputy Mayor Cllr Danny Lawrence, former Mayor Mo Larkin, Leader of the Council Cllr Phil Turner and former Leader of the Council Tony Ball.

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7th May

Roadhouse The Diner open at the former Oasis public house in North Gunnels, Basildon. The american themed diner, which until 01/05/2017 had been located on the southbound carriageway side of the A127 Arterial Road at Hovefields service station, moved into the former public house which had stood empty since around 2000. The premises required extensive renovation having last been occupied at least 16 years earlier following its closure as the Oasis public house. The single storey building was first opened in 1971 as the Painted Wagon as part of the ABC cinema complex, later becoming the Jolly Wagonner and finally Oasis through to closure around 2000. Roadhouse diner survived to July 2017 citing high rents and business rates as the main cause of closure.

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26th May

David Harrison is appointed Mayor of Basildon. The Wickford Independence Party Councillor representing Wickford Park ward replaces Don Morris who held the position for the previous municipal year. Deputy Mayor is Stephen Ward, Ukip Councillor for Pitsea-South-East ward, who replaces Danny Lawrence.

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11th June

St. Nicholas Mews, Lee Chapel North "Show Home" officially opened. The detached 4 bedroomed show home, built in the Shaftesbury style, will form part of developer Redrow's Heritage Collection of homes that includes other names like The York, The Ludlow, The Oxford, The Cambridge, The Stratford and The Harrogate. The 110 home estate, of which 25 are to be taken on by Basildon Council's new housing management company Sempra Homes as affordable housing, is being built by property developer Redrow Homes (Eastern) Limited, who purchased the land from Basildon Council for £7.5 million. The council sold the land with planning permission for future housing to Redrow in 2014, with the money going towards the cost of the Sporting Village, opened in April 2011. The 15.5 acre site off Ballards Walk had a long history as 'open land' having never been developed during Basildon Development Corporation's house building programme (1949 - 1986), or by subsequent owners. The decision to sell 60% of this, following a conservative led council vote in favour in 2013, attracted much controversy as it was popular with dog walkers, had children's park equipment, benches and a recreation field with a goal, as well as areas of dense natural woodland that was home to squirrels. Work on the estate began on 28th October 2015 with the felling of trees, the site having been fenced off since June 8th, though this was breached by a group of travellers who left in August. The street names will be Sellars Way, Mundells Drive and Finches Chase, the first two relating to local farms at Dunton Road and Wash Road. The new estate has proved very popular with 15 sales already achieved, including 10 at a special launch held on March 19th. House prices for the three and four bedroomed semi-detached and detached homes will start at £347.995, with the show home being priced at £469,995. They are being marketed through estate agents Temme English and it is expected that the first occupants will have moved in by November. Mayor of Basildon, Cllr David Harrison was the special guest performing the opening duties.

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15th July

The Range officially opens a new store in Pitsea town centre. The new home, leisure and garden store in Northlands Pavement is on two levels and will provide up to 80 full and part time jobs. The British based company, which have nearby stores at Lakeside and Southend, have a lease covering 54,000 sq ft of the 75,000 sq ft total floor area. The building was built as the main feature of an ongoing Pitsea town centre regeneration by landowner London and Cambridge Properties and in part covers the site of the former Aldi foodstore, which was rebuilt on an adjacent site. Mayor of Basildon councillor David Harrison and his deputy councillor Stephen Ward performed the opening duties outside the giant superstore which had originally been earmarked for the food store chain Morrisons, who abandoned plans to move in in December, 2015. Range founder and billionaire Chris Dawson was also present at the opening, which was one of a planned 40 between 2013-2016. A large car park is also part of the new development.

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September

Basildon Air Training Corp and Army Cadets Forces Centre at Cherrydown West, Kingswood officially opened. The new brick built centre replaces three wooden buildings, one of which dated back to around 1962 when the centre was established, and another from 2001, which itself had replaced a pitched wooden building destroyed by fire in January 1999. Lord Lleutenant of Essex, Lord Petre, KCVO, was the special guest to perform the opening ceremony along with Rev. Esther McCafferty of St. Martin's, who blessed the new building.

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1st September

Millhouse Primary School and Nursery in Tavistock Road, Laindon opened. The new school was formed following the amalgamation of Millhouse Infant School and Nursery and Millhouse Junior School, which both closed officially on 31st August. Millhouse has occupied the site since 1968. The school can enrole up to 630 pupils plus an additional 52 within the nursery. Gareth Allen is the first appointed Headteacher, a post he previously held at the former junior school. A special official opening was held on Friday 2nd September.

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1st September

Fairhouse Primary School in Long Riding, Barstable opened. The new school was formed following the amalgamation of Fairhouse Community Infant School and Fairhouse Community Junior School, which both officially closed on 31st August. Fairhouse has occupied the site since 1960. The school has places for 400+ pupils and takes its name from the former 19th century Fairhouse Farm which stood in nearby Church Road either on or close to the school site. Jennifer McCutcheon is the first appointed Headteacher, a post she previously held at the former junior school.

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13th September

Berry Boys Amateur Boxing Club closes. The club, which has its headquarters and gym at Valence Way in Langdon Hills, was founded in 1946 by Fred Nunn and was the oldest in Basildon. The closure was the result of falling membership which had dropped to just twenty five with only four able to compete at a competitive level. Berry's youth football teams were unaffected by the closure.

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29th September

The Beech Community Centre in Basildon is officially opened by the Leader of Basildon Borough Counci, Councillor Phil Turner. The centre in Austen Road was built by Swan Housing in partnership with Basildon Council and the Homes and Community Agency (HCA) to serve the Beechwood Village housing development regeneration of the Craylands estate. The regeneration had been ongoing since 2007 and included the demolition of the former Fryerns Community School to provide additional land for housing.

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October

The S.P.A.C.E. for young people building located in the former Roundacre Town House in Long Lynderswood, Lee Chapel North is demolished. The building, which originally opened in 1963 as Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church, was acquired from Essex County Council by Basildon Council in 2015 as a site for residential development. It had remained empty following the closure of S.P.A.C.E. in 2013. A planning application for 20 flats and associated car parking spaces was later approved by the council on 10th January. These will be managed by Sempra Homes.

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4th October

Street names on the Five Links housing estate in Laindon are renamed and properties renumbered. The renaming, which Basildon council had insisted on to simplfy the estates layout, had been due to take place by 14th November 2014 but had been put on hold due to bitter, costly and lengthy court proceedings, brought by some of the residents. The case was initially won by the residents but overturned after the council appealed the decision. The new street names, which affect 533 properties in Phase III of the estates redevelopment, replace Mellow Purgess, Newberry Side, Somercotes and Somercotes Court, which all date from the estate's construction in the late 1960s to early 1970s. They were chosen by local school children and all have a flower and herb theme. They include Arabis Place, Begonia Drive, Bellflower Mews, Camellia Place, Gardenia Court, Labelia Mews, Orchid Place, Sorrel Court and Wisteria Court. This is the second time street names on the estate (once dubbed Alcatraz) have been renamed, the first was back in the early 2000s when the surviving properties from the estate's original layout at Brendon and Handley Green were renamed to Bostocke Close and Crosse Courts respectively, in Phase II of the estates ongoing redevelopment. The new name plates, in some instances, and all of the new numbers have been affixed over the original names / numbers which are on ceramic tiles embedded on walls and in the brickwork of the properties.

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2017

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3rd January

TSB Bank at 1-2 Laindon Centre, Laindon closed down. The bank, which had until September 2013 previously operated as a Lloyds TSB, was one of a number of branch closures announced the previous year by TSB, who cited a downturn in customer usage and an increase in online banking. It is also the latest in a long line of shop closures to hit the centre, which is due to be replaced with new shops and housing following its acquisition by Swan Housing in May 2015. The origins of the Laindon bank can be traced back to a small branch of Lloyds, opened in 1951 in a mock tudor fronted house that stood on the west side of High Road between Manor and Victoria Road. All shops and other properties along this stretch of High Road were displaced, mainly in the 1960s, during the redevolpment of High Road and subsequent opening of the Laindon Centre in late 1969. It was to the Centre that Lloyds transferred to, in the same unit later occupied by TSB, along with two other banks, Barclays and Midland, who both had branches in other High Road locations. At its peak the Centre could boast of having 5 banks but following a succession of closures beginning with the National Westminster, Midland, and Abbey National (originally a building society) (1998) followed by Barclays in 2003, left the TSB as the last bank anywhere in Laindon. Its closure has left Laindon without a bank for what is possibly the first time in 88 years, when Barclays first opened a sub-branch around the turn of 1928.

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February

The Joker public house located within Laindon shopping centre closes. The public house, which first opened in December 1970 by the Truman brewery company, is due for eventual demolition by centre owners Swan Housing as part of a Laindon Centre Regeneration plan.

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22nd February

HRH The Princess Royal visited the new Citizens Advice Bureau office located in the Community Hub on the ground floor of the Basildon Centre. Anne, Princess Royal, who is patron of national Citizens Advice, marked her fourth visit to Basildon with a guided tour of the office and Community Hub.

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13th March

Coffee producer Costa Coffee's new purpose built Roastery in Christopher Martin Road, Nevendon becomes operational. The new roasting plant, called Paradise Street and covering over 85,000 square metres, was built at a cost of £38 million on the former factory site of automotive parts supplier Visteon UK, who went into administration in 2009. It will have the capacity to produce 45,000 tonnes of ground coffee a year. The multinational company, which was founded in 1971 in Lambeth, London by the Costa family, already have a presence within the town having opened a retail coffee shop in the east Pavilion unit in Basildon town centre following its completion in 1999.

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29th April

LT Carpets announce the closure of its original store at Timberlog Lane, Basildon. The carpet retailer had occupied the bungalow site in Barstable at 198 Timberlog Lane for its entirety but is moving to its Carpet Sense unit at High Road, Laindon due to high maintenance costs associated with the premises. The business is named after Len Thipthorpe who founded it in 1942 at the family's home - then called Woodview and later numbered 198 - and following his retirement in 1992 was taken over by brothers Darren and Gary Laver. Their Cranes Farm Road store is unaffected by the closure.

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May

Citizens Advice Basildon celebrates 60 years of local service. The Basildon branch, which for much of its life was known as Citizens Advice Bureaux, is based in the Basildon Centre where a team of volunteers and paid staff offer advice and guidance to anyone living within the borough. From its beginnings in the 1950s the organisation has been based at many different locations around the town. These include the Congregational church hall in Honey Pot Lane, Fryerns, followed by Enderley, a bungalow in Church Road, Basildon, shared with the Women's Voluntary Services, and later from around 1968 an office in the council's temporary portacabins in Fodderwick followed by another move, this time to Church Walk House and finally to their present home in St. Martin's Square.

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1st June

Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbyn MP visits Pitsea in the run up to the June 8th general election. The Labour leader attended an afternoon event at The Place (formerly Pitsea Leisure Centre) where he addressed a private gathering of labour supporters. He was joined by three members of his shadow cabinet; Emily Thornberry, Keir Starmer and Barry Gardner.

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8th June

Stephen Metcalfe (Conservative) (26,811) , is re-elected as the member of parliament for the Basildon South and Thurrock East constituency. He retains the seat with a majority of 11,490, an increase of 7,023 on the previous 2015 general election result.

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8th June

John Baron (Conservative) (27,381), is re-elected as the member of parliamernt for the Basildon and Billericay constituency. He won the seat for the third time with an increased majority of 13,400 over his nearest rival, Kayte Block of Labour. The General Election produced a hung parliament just seven years after the previous one. The Conservative party won the most seats (318) and formed a minority government with the support of the Democratic Unionist Party in a formal confidence and supply deal. The results were declared the following day at Basildon Sporting Village in Gloucester Park.

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14th July

Lee Chapel Primary School's swimming pool officially opened. The 25 metre pool, which cost £1.62 million, was the ambition of headteacher Sue Jackson who with others organised fund raising events over a decade towards its overal cost. The school, located at The Knares, Lee Chapel South, will run it in partnership with a company called Aqua Aim who plan a swimming lesson programme for evenings and weekends. Stephen Metcalfe, MP for Basildon South and Thurrock East, performed the opening ceremony.

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31st July

The Town Centre spherical clock is returned to Town Square, Basildon. The clock, which dates from December 1965, was originally removed from Town Square in 2007 and resited from March 2010 in St. Martin's Square. It was removed from St. Martin's Square on 28th April this year due to ongoing work relating to the town's market relocation. During its removal it was given an overhaul and will stand to the centre of a new square plinth.

 
Text researched and written by William Cox, 2015 with revisions and additions 2016-2017.
Copyright © 2015-2017, B. Cox - Basildon History Online. All rights reserved.

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