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Pitsea Broadway
Pitsea Broadway - 2002

Pitsea: A brief history

The name Pitsea can be traced back to the Domesday Book of 1086 where it was recorded as Piceseia and geographically within the Barstable Hundred. It is believed the name is of Saxon origin and dates to the time of the Anglo-Saxon occupation of south east England from the mid 5th century AD. Later spellings include Pitfey and Pitsey. The present spelling predates the coming of the railway in the mid 1850s.

In 1855 a railway station opened at Pitsea when the London to Southend extension was given government approval. This line, linking Pitsea with London via Tilbury, reached Southend in 1856 and would later be extended further to Shoeburyness by 1884. A second line linking Pitsea with Upminster was completed in 1888.

Following the arrival of the railway Pitsea began to develop and by the early 1900s the High Road had a number of shops and small businesses serving a rapidly expanding community. Plotland developments began around the same time and a number of land auctions, offering substantial size plots, took place.

Government plans for the creation of several 'new towns' to alleviate London's housing problems were approved in 1949 and Pitsea, along with Vange, Laindon, Langdon Hills and parts of Dunton and Nevendon were absorbed into a new town, which was given the name Basildon, as Basildon, though only a small hamlet, was the most central in the planned designated area.

In 1925 the first market opened on land adjacent to Station Lane. It would remain there until 1969 when the site was required to allow for the completion of the A132 South Mayne to connect to a new roundabout planned for Station Lane. The market then moved opposite to a former field on the south side of the High Road where it remained until the late 1970s when it moved to the rear of the Railway public house adjacent to Rectory Park Drive. It was later resited again in 2014 to where the Railway had stood during the second 'Pitsea Regeneration'.

During the 1970s the Pitsea skyline was transformed when the controversial Pitsea flyover was completed in the early 1970s. Basildon Development Corporation plans for the realignment of the A13 had been a high priority since its inception and as the town developed the original route was unable to cope with the increase in traffic. Original plans show the proposed new route crossing the Pitsea/Tilbury railway, passing over Vange marsh, continuing through what would later become Wat Tyler Park, crossing back over the railway and thus avoiding Pitsea altogether. These plans were never adopted and the road was realigned and duelled from the Five Bells roundabout to join with its original course just beyond Rectory Road. Station Lane, which linked the High Road with the railway station, was truncated as part of the development and in the 1980s the A13 was realigned again as a continual duel carriageway to the Sadlers Farm roundabout. The former route between London Road, Vange through Pitsea and Bowers Gifford to Sadlers Farm is now the B1464.

Two of the towns oldest buildings are in Pitsea. Cromwell Manor in Pitsea Hall Lane dates from the 15th century and was once known as Pitsea Hall, and Great Chalvedon Hall in Tyefields, which was built sometime in the 16th century. St. Michael's church was built much earlier but the present remains (the tower) date from 1870 when the church was last rebuilt.

In 2013 the planned regeneration of the Pitsea market site and adjacent land got underway with the demolition of the former Railway Hotel public house which had stood empty since 2006. Pitsea swimming pool was also demolished along with the former Sainsbury's building which had been occupied by budget supermarket chain Aldi who relocated in 2014 to a new location on part of the third Pitsea market site. A Morrison supermarket, set to open in 2015, was then built on part of the existing car park.

Text written 2008 with revisions 2009-2014.
Copyright © 2008-2009, 2014, B.Cox, Basildon History Online. All rights reserved.
Page added: 2001
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