PART I. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND.
1. In early times "Basildon" was the centre of a large area bordering the Thames; Basildon
or Barstable Hall links this name with that of the Old hundred of Barstable within which the designated area lies. More recently
Fobbing has been the only good sized village in the locality. Strategically placed on high ground overlooking the marsh and at
the head of a creek, it lay on better class agricultural land than that to the east, and was, at that time, considerably larger than the
four small settlements of Pitsea, Nevendon, Basildon and Laindon.
2. Until the end of the nineteenth century the whole of this part of Essex was typical farming
country, populated by those who worked on the land or in ancillary trades. With the coming of the direct railway from London
to Shoeburyness in 1888 there was a change. People from the East End of London began to migrate to the area. First comers were
among the better off and built themselves substantial two storey brick villas, but these were not related in any way to the existing
3. Agriculture was depressed at this time and in 1890 Viscount Down sold Pitsea Hall
Farm, which had become derelict, to the Land Company. The land was divided into plots between 1901 and 1903 and
"champagne sales" were held. The Company issued free rail tickets from East Ham to Pitsea and gave travellers a free lunch with
champagne. Plots were sold afterwards for between £5 and £20. Many purchasers built their houses with their own hands
(chiefly for weekend use), but large numbers of plots were never built upon, and are still lying waste. It is reported that some
owners did not realise that they had purchased plots!
4. By 1930 the Land Company was out of business, but by then much other land had been
divided up in similar manner. Between 1921 and 1941 the population of Billericay Urban District Council nearly trebled itself, and
there is no doubt that a much greater increase took place at Pitsea and at Laindon than at Billericay or Wickford. Out of a total
population of 42,500 within the Urban district 25,000 people now reside within the Designated Area of the New Town.
5. The great invasion from the East End of London took place after the 1914-1918
war. People had become unsettled; there was a housing shortage; there was a hunger for land; thousands who had no
agricultural experience whatever dreamed of making a living off their own plots; returning soldiers settled on small-holdings; old
people retired to the country; young people were glad to escape from the East End of London, many for weekends or in summer
only, others permanently even at the price of a considerable daily journey to work. Small dwellings grew up over much of the
Designated Area and beyond. The land had never been first class quality and the farmers sold up their holdings piecemeal in
competition with the small estate companies by some of whom the attractions of the locality were most imaginatively
6. Unfortunately none of the land speculators concerned themselves with the
development resulting from their sales. Field after field was subdivided on paper into 20 foot plots on a grid road pattern. Land
was cheap and most owners bought quite large frontages; but no roads or sewers were constructed. Outside each man's fence
remained the heavy Essex clay churned into an impassable quagmire in winter where use as a road was attempted. Development
was sporadic. Many of the plots sold for building were not built upon so that it was uneconomic to provide roads and
sewers. Public utility services came very slowly. Much of the building was very poor indeed.
7. It must be admitted that, at that time, many little dwellings were intended for occasional
use only and the owners did not feel the need for paved roads or for main drainage. Unfortunately the acute housing shortage
caused by the recent war has caused nearly all of these dwellings to be permanently occupied.
8. Shopping centres have grown up at Laindon, Vange and Pitsea, together with
innumerable small stores scattered throughout the area. There are a number of small halls and several flourishing clubs. The
area is no longer agricultural; it has become a dormitory suburb of London with a very poor standard of physical development
and little local employment.
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