Progress on the development of Basildon new town, had until
the early 1960s, been largely concentrated on land within the designated area that required
little upheaval in respect of existing settlements.
Until development began on the first
new housing estate at Laindon in the early to mid 1960s, Laindon had remained relatively
untouched, with the exception of the new Laindon Link direct road to Basildon, which opened in
the late 1950s.
By the late 1960s the Basildon Development Corporation had begun clearing
the area that would become the Five Links housing estate, and were at that time also responsible
for providing amenities to serve the new communities. Considerations for a centralised shopping
centre in Laindon (then referred to as Laindon Main Centre) had been in the pipeline for some
years, with work finally beginning in September 1967, and within 2½ years the first shops began opening
in late 1969. The total cost of the new complex, which consisted of 44 shop units of varying dimensions, was put at around £1,000,000. Building
contractors Thomas Bates & Son Ltd. were responsible for its construction
and that of the Laindon health Centre, opened in 1971.
A three-storey office block called Clock House with 18,000 sq. ft. of floor space
was also built as part of the complex, complete with a clock face and large bell that clangs every quarter. A split level public house
called The Joker and operated by the Truman brewery chain, opened in late 1970, was also
provided, as was the new Essex County library, previously at 3 High Road.
The complex was built 18 feet higher than the High Road which enabled a service road and unloading area to be constructed directly below
the shop units. Its height also also led to the construction of two pedestrian bridges - at High Road and Laindon Link - and a sloping path to ground level for
anyone approaching from the southern end.
From the beginning Wednesday was established as early closing day with many shops
shutting their doors at 1:00pm.
The shopping centre has been in the hands of private owners since being sold by the
development corporation in June 1972.
In 2008 as part of a regeneration of Laindon shopping centre Clock
House and the library were demolished and the clock (which had not struck for years) was put into storage at Wat Tyler Park in Pitsea.