In 1925 the A127 London - Southend Arterial Road
Initially built as a single carriageway, the new route proved popular and from 1936
the road was dualed to accommodate the increase in motor traffic. The same year saw the introduction
of the Trunk Roads Act of 1936, and the A127, along with the A11 and A12, were the first three
roads to be defined in Essex under the new Act.
In 1925 the new Fortune of War Hotel
public house opened on the Southend bound side of the Laindon crossroads, and the spur became
very popular with charabanc (coach) day trippers stopping off on their way to Southend. Traffic
police were often used to direct the flow and for some years a Royal Automobile Club (R.A.C.) officer stood on duty
complete with sentry box and telephone service, until the construction of a roundabout which become
known as the 'Fortune of War'. The exact year that the roundabout became operational is still
to be determined but it was certainly under construction between July 1939 and August 1940 when reported
traffic offences were committed at the Laindon crossroads.
Another feature of the roundabout location for many
years has been the roadside cafe. From the 1930s and possibly earlier it was known as Enefer's, after the proprietor, and
later becoming a Happy Eater and is now a McDonald's. On the London
bound carriageway is a BP petrol station which in the earlier years of the road was a Parkinson garage. Another
addition to the roundabout was the pedestrian footbridge, added around 1968 at a cost of £13,857.
As the development of Basildon progressed
it brought a significant increase in road transport which left this stretch of road very congested. In June 1972 local Conservative MP Robert McCrindle
questioned the Secretary of State for the Environment as to whether he would consider abolishing the roundabout and was told that there was a scheme
in preparation to replace the roundabout with a restricted access junction and upgrade the A127 to duel three-lane carriageways*. Unfortunately the
scheme failed to materialise and some years later in an attempt to alleviate the congestion, traffic lights were installed. This didn't solve the problem. When development of a new residential
housing project called Steeple View got underway a new road - Willowfield (Road 99 and under construction
during 1988) - and overbridge were built linking each side of High Road (B1007). The roundabout was
no longer considered necessary and from 6th April 1995 an experimental traffic Order* was then implemented, the result
of which saw the roundabout closed off and the traffic lights removed. The Order was made permanent the
This improved traffic flow but following a spate of accidents, mainly involving lorries
overturning, a 20 Mph speed limit was imposed on the A127 either side of the roundabout's
approach. Gatso speed cameras were also installed in the 2000s as another deterrent to keep speeds down.
the permanent traffic Order continues in effect after more than 17 years the roundabout
still remains provoking regular calls from concerned parties for its removal. A decision over its
future has no doubt been delayed in part, by the consideration and planning involved in re-routing
the various service cables and pipework that lie beneath the former roundabout.
In November 1995
a Highways Agency proposed scheme to widen the A127 from the M25 to Rayleigh Weir was withdrawn
from the trunk road programme due to a high level of opposition. This could have lead to a new
section of A127 between the Dunton Wayletts junction and A132 Wickford interchange, thus completely
by-passing the Fortune of War. Earlier still, in November 1950, the draft Master Plan for the
development of Basildon as a 'New Town' was unveiled to the public by Basildon Development
Corporation. Amongst its many proposals was the removal of the roundabout. This detail of the draft
plan, which was available to view at St. Mary's Church Hall in Langdon Hills, did not appear to
offer an alternative route to the A127 and was not adopted in the revised Master Plan which was
given approval in August the following year.
For many years an attractive feature of the roundabout was a centrally
mounted cast iron signpost. This probably stood no more than 4 feet high and survived well into the
In August 2003 the public house which had given the roundabout its name closed and was demolished and a
residential housing development called Saxon Walk now occupies the site. Despite this the High Road junction and
former roundabout is still referred to as the Fortune of War.