The former Laindon 1, 2 and 3 housing estate, often
remembered as the 'Siporex' estate, (named after a new building material developed in Sweden),
or the 'Bluehouse' estate, (after the former farm called Bluehouse which stood close to the
site now occupied by the Bluehouse Farm Community Centre), was the first Basildon Development
Corporation housing estate to be built in Laindon.
The 863 properties of which 802 were 'system built' housing was designed by
the Corporation's chief architect and planner Anthony B. Davies, F.R.I.B.A. It was constructed from late
1964 onwards by joint contractors Richard Costain and W.C. French using new building methods
- but proved over time to be problematic with various structure defects requiring expensive
This estate was not the first in the town to use an industrialised method of building. In 1962
18 houses at Knights on the Lee Chapel North estate were built to this method in a pilot scheme
where pre-cast sections were assembled on-site. These properties had also been designed by Anthony
Main contractor Richard Costain, who also built the
houses at Knights, were involved under licence through their subsidiary; Costain Concrete Company
Ltd. in the development of Siporex as a building material in the UK.
By 1966 many first time
corporation tenants began moving into the properties which were given the street names Rising Grove,
Spurriers, The Lynge, Northey and Danacre.
The estate, which covered around 40 acres, was
completed in 1967 10 months longer than expected. This was due in part to Siporex sections transported
from the Costain cement works at Newmains, Lanarkshire, Scotland which were either damaged in transit
or during the unloading process coupled with appalling on-site conditions brought about by bad
The cost of the estate was put at around £3½ million.
Property layout on the estate was terraced with a predominance of two, three, and four bedroomed
properties in either 2 or 3 storey form. Some three storey houses had an integral garage as did
some properties built on each of the three raised 'decks'. The majority of ground level houses
were built with a wider than average opening to the lounge, which was doorless. Many tenants
would later build their own door frame. The lounge in these properties also had an additional
stable door to the rear garden. There was a level of unorthodox nature to the interior design which included
the upstairs bedroom layout, which in some cases were built over the adjacent property. Also some two bedroomed houses
had an upstairs lounge. All two storey houses had a downstairs toilet and a bathroom/toilet on the first floor. Three storey
town houses had their bathroom on the top floor at the front of the property. Heating was by electric underfloor elements with
an additional electric two bar wall mounted fire mounted on the lounge wall. The electric heating systems proved expensive
to run and were replaced with gas central heating in the 1980s refurbishment. Some houses had a small utility room with
access to the garden in the absence of an outdoor shed.
All properties were connected to the cable television service
provided by Rediffusion.
There were no detached or semi-detached houses
on the estate. Some flats in Rising Grove had an entrance door at ground level with a stairway to accommodation, which
was above garages. Properties on the three 'decks' were 2 storey houses with either a garage and garden
at ground level or just a garden, or neither depending on which side of the deck you
lived. Above these properties were single storey flats accessed from the main deck stairway.
All properties were
designed with a minimum of slope in the roof eradicating the need for a loft enclosure. Given the unconventional nature
of the estates layout the numbering was consecutive.
Single storey accommodation for the elderly was provided which
again was predominately terraced with the odd semi-detached exception. In addition four blocks of 4 storey flats, 2 in Northey
and 2 in Danacre, were also built though of conventional brick and reinforced concrete. One of the Danacre blocks housed a ground floor Doctors' Surgery which
later became a dentist.
Recreational green areas existed within the estate with the largest being in Northey. Large
conifer trees grew there close to a small enclosed electricity building. A large paved park
on the approach to the Laindon Shopping Centre and another one in front of the entrance to
Bluehouse Junior School existed for the life of the estate. Additionally there was a small
green with three small artificial hills between Northey and Rising Grove and various other
small play areas with slides, swings, climbing frames, see saw, sandpit or roundabouts. Some
of these like the see saw and the sandpit were removed for health and safety reasons.
The estate was purposely designed to be as pedestrianised as space would allow with the majority of properties
accessed of a front path and sometimes far from an access road. The abundance of pathways and paved areas created a safe
environment for children although there was an issue which the local council found necessary to act over in the use of bicycles
being ridden on the pathways. (See notes 3a/3b).
For the motorist, garages were provided below the deck properties
and at various locations around each service road. There were also a number of roofed parking bays, mainly in Northey, which
could be hired for a small charge.
A best kept garden award was introduced to encourage tenants to look after the general look of
the estate. In the 1980s in an attempt to improve conditions the landlord, sponsored by The
Wiggins Group PLC., introduced a 'best kept homes' award. The estate was provided with three postboxes; these being
positioned in Spurriers, Northey and Leinster Road near the Rising Grove road junction, and two public telephone boxes at Northey (adjacent to a row of three-storey
houses) and Rising Grove (at the top of the large paved park area fronting the entrance to Bluehouse junior school).
As early as June 1965 and well before completion the design of the houses
and the building methods employed were being criticised by councillors who dubbed them "monstrosities" and "abortions". One
councillor even suggested "a bulldozer should knock the lot down." Four years later in 1969 and just three
years after the first tenants moved in some tenants were being moved out as problems in the design
build began to manifest. Many thousands of pounds was spent on remedial work which in some cases involved creating a raised floor to the upstairs
bedrooms but by the late 1970s the estate continued to be beset with structural issues.
In the late 1970s the development corporation
began constructing a new housing estate - known as Laindon 8
and 9 - bordering an extended Durham Road in Laindon. This was completed in stages through to 1982
and many of the first tenants in these new homes were from the 'Bluehouse' estate, vacating properties
which were then subject to remedial work in the form of a strengthening ceiling support beam, new
window frames and a gas central heating system. This proved to be a temporary solution and the
estate continued to suffer general neglect with some parts, particularly the areas below the decks,
becoming prone to crime and antisocial behaviour. The estate also suffered two serious fires, both involving houses in The Lynge. The first, around 1977,
was the less serious of the two, but the second, around 1989, completely gutted the property and the resulting inquest drew strong criticism of the downstairs 'open
In the 1990s following years of indecision Basildon Development Corporation's
successor, the Commission for the New Towns, transferred ownership of the estate over to Basildon
Community Housing Association (BCHA) in order to demolish the estate and start again and in doing
so this also meant buying back properties sold following the 'right to buy', introduced in the
1970s. The CNT were also liable for a large percentage of the redevelopment costs which, phased
over seven years, amounted to £32.7 million.
Demolition of the estate began in
stages from autumn 1994 onwards and replaced with new conventional housing. The first of the new houses were accepted by BCHA on 30th March,
The four blocks of 4 storey flats, which were all retained during the redevelopment programme, are
now all that remains of the former estate as even the street names, with the exception of Danacre,
were overlooked in favour of new church themed ones.
The housing estate is now known as Church View.
1) Davies, Thomas Anthony Butler RIBA (elected 1949), A.A. Dipl., A.R.I.B.A., (b.06/06/1921 - d./06/2006), Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. Chief Architect and Planner to Basildon Development
Corporation (1958-1964), succeeded Noel Tweddell (1949-1958), and followed by Douglas Galloway (1964-1979).
2) The former Danacre ground floor doctors surgery is now Danacre Dental Surgery.
3a) BASILDON URBAN DISTRICT COUNCIL - The Urban District of Basildon (Various Footpaths) (Prohibition of Cycling)
Order 1969 SCHEDULE - The pedestrian areas forming Spurriers, Rising Grove, Danacre, Northey and The Lynge,
(Source: London Gazette, 26/09/1969, Edition No. 44943, p. 9883.)
3b) ROAD TRAFFIC ACTS - BASILDON URBAN DISTRICT COUNCIL - The Urban District of Basildon (Various Footpaths)
(Prohibition of Cycling) Order 1969 Notice is hereby given that on the 6th November 1969 the Basildon Urban District Council
made the above-named Order under section 1(1), (2), and (3) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1967, as amended by Part IX of
the Transport Act 1968. This Order, which makes it unlawful to ride or cause to be ridden any pedal bicycle or tricycle on those
lengths of footpath specified in the Schedule to this notice, will come into operation on the 24th November 1969.
SCHEDULE - The
pedestrian areas forming Spurriers, Rising Grove, Danacre, Northey and The Lynge, Basildon.
(Source: London Gazette, 27/11/1969, Edition No. 44974, p. 11520.)
4) The total breakdown of properties was made up of: Rising Grove (229); Spurriers (212); Northey (147) including 30 from 2x
brick built blocks of flats (15 per block); The Lynge; (142) and Danacre (133) including 30 from 2x brick built blocks of flats
(15 per block). Additionally 1x former Doctor's and now Dentist surgery (No.1 Danacre). Total: 863.