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Laindon
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Five Links Housing Estate


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Brendon, Laindon Brendon, Laindon Brendon, Laindon
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Location: Brendon
Photographer: Bix
Year of photo: 15/10/2002
Copyright: Basildon History Online
Comments: Empty maisonette in Brendon, later demolished in 2005.
Location: Brendon
Photographer: Bix
Year of photo: 23/10/2002
Copyright: Basildon History Online
Comments: Empty and occupied maisonettes in Brendon, later demolished in 2005.
Location: Brendon
Photographer: Bix
Year of photo: 23/10/2002
Copyright: Basildon History Online
Comments: Empty maisonettes in Brendon, later demolished in 2005.
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Newberry Side, Laindon Handley Green, Laindon Mellow Purgess, Laindon
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Location: Mellow Purgess
Photographer: Stuart Wilson
Year of photo: 27/08/2006
Copyright: Stuart Wilson
Source: Stuart Wilson
Comments: Mellow Purgess.
Location: Handley Green
Photographer: Stuart Wilson
Year of photo: 27/08/2006
Copyright: Stuart Wilson
Source: Stuart Wilson
Comments: Handley Green.
Location: Mellow Purgess
Photographer: Stuart Wilson
Year of photo: 27/08/2006
Copyright: Stuart Wilson
Source: Stuart Wilson
Comments: Courtyard at Mellow Purgess.
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Newberry Side, Laindon Somercotes, Laindon Hatterill, Laindon
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Location: Newberry Side
Photographer: Stuart Wilson
Year of photo: 27/08/2006
Copyright: Stuart Wilson
Source: Stuart Wilson
Comments: Courtyard at Newberry Side.
Location: Somercotes
Photographer: P.G.C.
Year of photo: c.2004
Copyright: Basildon History Online
Comments: Somercotes maisonettes empty awaiting demolition.
Location: Hatterill
Photographer: P.G.C.
Year of photo: 11/10/2004
Copyright: Basildon History Online
Comments: Handley Green service road.
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The Five Links housing estate was originally constructed during the late 1960s as part of Basildon Development Corporation's transformation of Basildon into a new town. It was the second estate to be constructed in Laindon and was built on former residential land, which required in some cases, compulsory purchase orders, before the site could be cleared and ready for work to begin. Tyler Avenue and Albert Drive were the only exceptions, although Tyler Avenue was slightly shortened and closed off at one end to create a car park, and lengthened at the other for vehicular access to Laindon Link.

The 1300+ dwellings were all given new street names, these being: Brendon, Handley Green, Laindon Link, Mellow Purgess, Newberry Side and Somercotes. Laindon Link, though created in the 1950s, had no residential properties before Five Links was constructed. None of the original names were retained in the new development, which at that time was officially called Laindon 5.

Some of the first completed homes were in Somercotes when the first tenants began moving in during May/June 1970, and it was finally completed in its original form in the early 1970s - the last houses finished being in Mellow Purgess. The construction group Thomas Bates & Son Ltd, C.S. Wiggins & Sons Ltd. and Gilbert Ash (Eastern) Ltd. were among the contractors used in its construction. A wooden Bates sign in Hatterill, positioned to be seen from the railway, remained in place years after the estate's completion.

The development corporation's Chief Architect Planner, Douglas Galloway and a design team comprising; D. Brewster, J.L.C. Byron, M.W. Naughton and C.C. Plumb were responsible for its design. The exterior bricks were supplied by Redland Bricks Ltd. 1,364 properties of all types were built at a cost of around £2 million.

In anticipation of development commencing in Laindon and Lee Chapel North a major new road (road No. 5) was constructed which opened to traffic in 1958. This was called Laindon Link and provided a direct route to Basildon. During construction of the Five Links estate a new road, Hatterill, was constructed, and around 1971 Laindon Link was closed off* at a point close to Albert Drive to all traffic. It remained closed for a few years but was then re-opened from 10th April, 1978* as a bus only route, which it remains today.

The majority of the houses were built in linked courtyards, and a large central green provided a safe playing area for children. At one end, a small adventure park was constructed featuring two large grassed over concrete tunnels, a short aerial zip wire slide and a tree-to-tree walk using a specially constructed bridge. Near the centre of the green amongst some trees was a pond with seating, though this was later concreted over, and much woodland was retained during the redevelopment.

Shopping amenities were provided some years after the first tenants moved in. These being at Somercotes on a piece of ground that had become something of a wasteland. One of the first to move in to the new units was Jill's hair stylist in 1973 followed by a V.G. Foodstore. A warden controlled old persons complex was built on the remainder of the land and given the name Somercotes Court.

For such a large estate, and not in keeping with previous development corporation estates, no social facilities were provided until 1972 when the Bluehouse Community Centre in Laindon Link opened. No public house was ever built within the estate itself. A year earlier in March 1971 two public telephone boxes were provided at Somercotes and Laindon Link.

Despite winning a design award*, the estate, with its many alleyways and dark areas, came in for criticism and from the very start became known locally as 'Alcatraz'** after the former island prison in San Francisco Bay, America.

In line with other estates built locally, all properties had a television channel box linked to a local cable network provided by Rediffusion. Electric underfloor heating was provided for most properties, whilst some flats had electric ceiling heating. These would prove expensive over time and more economical Gas fired central heating would later replace these systems. Properties in Laindon Link were later fitted with security doors to restrict unwanted access.

During the 1980s some properties were underpinned as a result of 'clay heave' which caused cracks to appear. A number of walls enclosing the many service areas were blown down following the 1987 hurricane. Many were never replaced. Two concrete garages, built when the estate was constructed for use as a storage facility by the council for their electrically operated refuse carts, were also demolished around the early 1990s. Two bench type seats were then placed upon their hard standings.

In 1996, phase 1 of a regeneration programnme commenced which saw the demolition of flats, maisonettes and underground garages in Laindon Link and Brendon. A subway under Hatterill was no longer needed and this was filled in and landscaped. New housing with vehicular access replaced those properties in roads now known as Armada Close, Elizabeth Way, Raleigh Drive and Clifford Close. A new access road with parking facilities was also built through the centre of the main central green. The two pathways crossing the green were also given the names St. Osyth Path and Elmdon Path.

Phase 2, begun in 2004, saw flats in Handley Green and Somercotes demolished and replaced with new housing. Hatterill was closed to through traffic during this time and Tyler Avenue was opened at the top end for access to Somercotes. At the same time, two more subways, one crossing Hatterill, the other under the Handley Green access road, were filled in. Basildon Council also implemented new names from August 2006 to replace Brendon, Handley Green and Somercotes, despite opposition from residents. These being: Beeston Courts, Bostocke Close, Crosse Courts, Gower Chase, Southwell Link and Turner Close.

A later phase in the redevelopment saw the pedestrian overbridges linking the estate with Little Oxcroft and the Laindon Shopping Centre removed and the final original subway at Newberry Side to Great Oxcroft infilled.

The council has also intimated that the Five Links name itself could in the future be renamed the Armada Estate.

Page added: 2003
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Text researched and written by William Cox, 2003 with revisions 2007,2010.
Copyright © 2003, 2007, 2010, B. Cox - Basildon History Online. All rights reserved.

Notes:
(1) In November 1972 the properties in Handley Green won second place in the Department of the Environment's "Good Design in Housing".

(2) In May 1970 Joe Morgan, then councillor and Labour Group Leader, dubbed the estate Alcatraz.

(3) One-way traffic arrangements off Hatterill for the service roads serving Newberry Side, Handley Green and Brendan came into operation on 28th September, 1970. The Urban District of Basildon (Laindon Housing Area 5) (Traffic Regulation) Order 1970. This arrangement survived to the 2000s, changing during the first regeneration phase.

(4) The proposal to cut Laindon Link dates from 1965 when Basildon Development Corporation published an updated Master Plan for a 140,000 population. This received government approval in December 1967.

(5) The District of Basildon (Laindon Link, Basildon) (Prohibition of Driving) Order 1978. Excepting buses, pedal cycles and emergency vehicles over a distance of 250 metres.
(Source: London Gazette, 07/04/1978, Supplement No. 47506, p.4285.)

(6) During the 'stopping up' years to ensure against vehicles attempting to pass either side of the road barrier white painted additional crash barriers were installed on the southern side and between the pedestrian pathway and Bluehouse infant and junior school's playing field fence. This barrier remained for some years after the road was brought back into use.

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