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Langdon Hills: Recreation Ground


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Recreation Ground - Langdon Hills Recreation Ground - Langdon Hills Recreation Ground - Langdon Hills
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Location: Recreation Ground
Photographer: Bix
Year of photo: 07/11/2002
Copyright: Basildon History Online
Comments: The pathway leading to Forest Glade.
Location: Recreation Ground
Photographer: Bix
Year of photo: 07/11/2002
Copyright: Basildon History Online
Comments: The toilet block, closed for many years but recently given a new roof.
Location: Recreation Ground
Photographer: Bix
Year of photo: 07/11/2002
Copyright: Basildon History Online
Comments: Ford Granada Mk3 parked in the car park.
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Recreation Ground - Langdon Hills Recreation Ground - Langdon Hills Recreation Ground - Langdon Hills
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Location: Recreation Ground
Photographer: Bix
Year of photo: 12/03/2007
Copyright: Basildon History Online
Comments: The 1960s built pavilion. A plain design, functional & nearly 40 years old.
Location: Recreation Ground
Photographer: Bix
Year of photo: 12/03/2007
Copyright: Basildon History Online
Comments: The enclosed childrens play area as it looked before the 2011 make over.
Location: Recreation Ground
Photographer: J.C. Photography
Year of photo: 27/03/2012
Copyright: Basildon History Online
Comments: Work commencing on the pavilions new pitched roof.
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The recreation ground at New Avenue, Langdon Hills was first established in 1926.

Set in 15.5 acres*, the 'rec', as it is known locally, has tennis courts, football pitches, a cricket square, an enclosed children's play area and open space for other recreational activities. Main access is from New Avenue where a car park is provided.

In the 1920s plans to establish a recreation ground in Langdon Hills had taken on some importance and a recreaton ground committee was formed in which parish councillor Harry Bebington was appointed Chairman. Sometime around September 1925 the Langdon Hills Parish Council borrowed £350 through the Public Works Loan Board** in order to purchase the field which was being offered at less than cost price by the Wheaton family who had just purchased Hall Farm in Langdon Hills.

The main opening ceremony, held on Monday 2nd August, was attended by some of Essex's most decorated dignitaries*** as well as the Rector of Langdon Hills; Rev. Frank Clayton.

The Lord-Lieutenant of Essex, Lord Lambourne officially opened the park and he was joined on the platform by Sir Francis Whitmore, Sir George Denton, Mr. Alfred Brooks, J.P., C.C., Mr. Alfred Wheaton, Mrs. Rose Wheaton and Miss Louisa Wheaton, Mr. Harry Bebington (chairman of the recreation ground committee) and many others.

The future useage of the ground was centred around a number of proposals put forward and these included tennis courts, football and cricket pitches, a bowling green, bandstand and an uncovered swimming pool.

In 1934 just prior to the abolition of Langdon Hills Parish Council parts of the parish were transferred to a new Billericay Urban District Council who then took over responsibility for the recreation ground from their inception to the 1955 change of name to Basildon. In later years signboards read Basildon Urban District Council which then changed as the council's name changed. As of 2010 Basildon Borough Council are the current owners.

Some of the many proposals at the time of opening would take many years to reach fruition, not least the three tennis courts which finally opened around 1965 on a piece of land that had once been thick woodland. This land may have formed part of the original acreage but left as woodland or even been an undeveloped plot or plots off Lincewood Park Drive dating from the "plotland" days and possibly acquired by either the corporation or the local council for use as tennis courts and additional recreational land.

In the late 1950s or early 1960s a small detached wooden building on a concrete base was built for use as a refreshment kiosk but this appears not to have been in use for that purpose since the 1970s. Sometime after the war a putting green was also established though the local newspaper reported in July 1952 that the council were disappointed that takings for the year were only £2 and transferred the equipment to Lake Meadows at Billericay. The green did however see use again possibly into the 1960s before being discontinued, this time for good.

Some interesting facts
From the 1950s Laindon Athletic F.C. played their home matches here.
From the 1930s to the 1950s and possibly into the early 1960s Langdon Hills primary schools' annual sports day was held there.

During June/July 1961 the swings and roundabout were moved closer to the pool. This was to create a more compact play area and for the first time an asphalt surface was laid for the equipment to stand on.
In the late 1960s a new changing pavilion facility was built to replace the original wooden structure that once stood on higher ground.
In the 1970s Laindon Cricket Club played their home matches here, and in recent times Westley Cricket Club have used the facilities for their Sunday fixtures. It is currently used by Basildon and Pitsea Cricket Club.

Paddling Pool
A feature of the ground for many years was the paddling pool and hexagonal shaped fountain. A natural swimming bath had been proposed at the time of opening but it was not until 1948 that owners, Billericay Urban District Council, were finally able to construct the pool, along with another one at Lake Meadows in Billericay. Photographs taken in 1948 confirm it in use for the summer season. The pool, finished in blue with a three step fountain, had a sloping floor and a maximum depth of between one and two feet (probably 18"). It was regularly cleansed and chlorinated during the summer months. It survived into the 1980s but was later filled in and grassed over. The two oak trees planted just beyond the pools deep end survive to this day.

Demountable Building
Sometime towards the late 1970s a large demountable building was placed on the grass close to the main gates. This was used for a variety of activities including live musical entertainment and children's recreational games. Early in 1982 it was dismantled and transferred on behalf of the development corporation to Hoover Drive on the then under construction President's and Commonwealth Estate's at Laindon West for use as a community centre. Another development occurred in the 1980s when the car park was extended to the left of the main gates.

Development in the form of private housing has over the years greatly changed the view around the ground. Beginning in the mid 1960s the first new development off New Avenue at Welbeck Drive, with a mix of bungalows and houses, and then in the late 1980s on a field bordering Great Berry Farm Road and the rear of New Avenue and Berry Lane properties and also on the site of the former Great Berry Farm around the west side of the ground, while on the eastern and southern sides dense woodland now forming part of a nature trail borders the boundary where once were the gardens of former 'plotland' type dwellings in Lincewood Park Drive and Egerton Drive, mainly demolished in the 1960s.

In 2011 the enclosed childrens' play area was extended to the tennis court fence during a £275,000 refurbishment carried out by Basildon Council. The play facilities were updated and a sand pit added. The official opening was held on June 14th. The following year (2012) saw further improvements in March and April when the cricket pavilion was completely refurbished with new timber cladding to the main structure and the addition of a pitched roof in place of the former flat one which had been prone to leaks.

Notes:
**The Public Works Loan Board is a non ministerial government department created in 1793 for the purpose of lending money, in the form of a grant, to public bodies. It issues an annual report and has, since April 1968, managed the National Loans Fund.

***Lieutenant-Colonel Amelius Richard Mark Lockwood, 1st Baron Lambourne P.C., G.C.V.O., J.P., D.L. (17 August 1847 - 26 December 1928) who served as Lord Lieutenant of Essex from 11th February 1919 – 26th December 1928.

***Colonel Sir Francis Henry Douglas Charlton Whitmore, C.M.G., D.S.O., of Orsett Hall, Orsett who in the 1950s gave his name to the Whitmore Way road in Fryerns.

***Sir George Chardin Denton, K.C.M.G., J.P., (22 June 1851 - 09 January 1928). Govornor of The Gambia (West Africa) from 11 January 1901 - 21 December 1911.

*Basildon Urban District Official Guide: Editions 1954-1966.

Basildon District Council Information Book - June 1982.

Page added: 2002
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Text researched and written by William Cox, 2005 with revisions 2005-2007,2012.
Copyright © 2005-2007,2012, B. Cox - Basildon History Online. All rights reserved.

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