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Laindon
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Fortune of War Roundabout


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Fortune of War - Laindon Fortune of War - Laindon Fortune of War - Laindon
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Location: Arterial Road, Laindon
Photographer: Bix
Year of photo: 24/10/2002
Copyright: Basildon History Online
Comments: The roundabout now no longer in use.
Location: Arterial Road, Laindon
Photographer: Bix
Year of photo: 27/11/2002
Copyright: Basildon History Online
Comments:
Location: Arterial Road, Laindon
Photographer: Bix
Year of photo: 27/11/2002
Copyright: Basildon History Online
Comments:
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Fortune of War - Laindon    
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Location: Arterial Road, Laindon
Photographer: Unknown
Year of photo: c.1950s
Copyright: N/A.
Comments:
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In 1925 the A127 London - Southend Arterial Road opened.

Initially built as a single carriageway, the new route proved popular and from 1936 the road was dualed to accommodate the increase in motor traffic. The same year saw the introduction of the Trunk Roads Act of 1936, and the A127, along with the A11 and A12, were the first three roads to be defined in Essex under the new Act.

In 1925 the new Fortune of War Hotel public house opened on the Southend bound side of the Laindon crossroads, and the spur became very popular with charabanc (coach) day trippers stopping off on their way to Southend. Traffic police were often used to direct the flow and for some years a Royal Automobile Club (R.A.C.) officer stood on duty complete with sentry box and telephone service, until the construction of a roundabout which become known as the 'Fortune of War'. The exact year that the roundabout became operational is still to be determined but it was certainly under construction between July 1939 and August 1940 when reported traffic offences were committed at the Laindon crossroads.

Another feature of the roundabout location for many years has been the roadside cafe. From the 1930s and possibly earlier it was known as Enefer's, after the proprieter, and later becoming a Happy Eater and is now a McDonald's. On the London bound carriageway is a BP petrol station which in the earlier years of the road was a Parkinson garage. Another addition to the roundabout was the pedestrian footbridge, added around 1968 at a cost of £13,857.

As the development of Basildon progressed it brought a significant increase in road transport which left this stretch of road very congested. In June 1972 local conservative mp Robert McCrindle questioned the Secretary of State for the Environment as to whether he would consider abolishing the roundabout and was told that there was a scheme in preparation to replace the roundabout with a restricted access junction and upgrade the A127 to duel three-lane carriageways. Unfortunately the scheme failed to materialise and some years later in an attempt to alleviate the congestion, traffic lights were installed. This didn't solve the problem. When development of a new residential housing project called Steeple View got underway a new road - Willowfield (Road 99 and under construction during 1988) - and overbridge were built linking each side of the High Road (B1007). The roundabout was no longer considered necessary and from 6th April 1995 an experimental traffic Order* was then implemented, the result of which saw the roundabout closed off and the traffic lights removed. The Order was made permanent the following year.

This improved traffic flow but following a spate of accidents, mainly involving lorries overturning, a 20 Mph speed limit was imposed on the A127 either side of the roundabout's approach. Gatso speed cameras were also installed in the 2000s as another deterrent to keep speeds down.

Although the permanent traffic Order continues in effect after more than 17 years the roundabout still remains provoking regular calls from concerned parties for its removal. A decision over its future has no doubt been delayed in part, by the consideration and planning involved in re-routing the various cables and pipes believed to lie beneath the former roundabout.

In November 1995 a Highways Agency proposed scheme to widen the A127 from the M25 to Rayleigh Weir was withdrawn from the trunk road programme due to a high level of opposition. This could have lead to a new section of A127 between the Dunton Wayletts junction and A132 Wickford interchange, thus completely by-passing the Fortune of War. Earlier still, in November 1950, the draft Master Plan for the development of Basildon as a 'New Town' was unveiled to the public by Basildon Development Corporation. Amongst its many proposals was the removal of the roundabout. This detail of the draft plan, which was available to view at St. Mary's Church Hall in Langdon Hills, did not appear to offer an alternative route to the A127 and was not adopted in the revised Master Plan which was given approval in August the following year.

For many years an attractive feature of the roundabout was a centrally mounted cast iron signpost. This probably stood no more than 4 feet high and survived well into the 1980s.

In August 2003 the public house which had given the roundabout its name closed and was demolished and a residential housing development called Saxon Walk now occupies the site. Despite this the High Road junction and former roundabout is still referenced as the Fortune of War.

Page added: 2002

Other points of interest
(1) Keith Speed, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Department of the Environment.
(Source: Hansard, 19 June 1972 vol 839 cc20-1W 21W.)

(2) The A127 Trunk Road (Fortune of War Roundabout, Laindon) (Prohibition of Various Traffic Movements) (Experimental) Order 1995. The Order, which was authorised by the then Secretary of State for Transport Brian Mawhinney, was experimental and prohibited all right turns from the High Road (B1007) and the A127 for a period not exceeding 18 months.
(Source: London Gazette, 05/04/1995, Issue No. 54000 p. 5144).

(3) The A127 Trunk Road (Fortune of War Roundabout, Laindon) (Prohibition of Various Traffic Movements) Order 1996. This permanent Order, with the same conditions, made by the Secretary of State for Transport on 2nd September, 1996 came into effect on 6th October, 1996 superceeding the previous experimental Order which expired on 5th October, 1996.
(Source: London Gazette, 12/09/1996, Issue No. 54523 p. 12147).

Text researched and written by William Cox, 2002 with revisions and additions 2002-2007.
Copyright © 2001-2007, B. Cox - Basildon History Online. All rights reserved.

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