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
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,
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.