Progress on the development of Basildon new town, had until
the early 1960s, been largely concentrated on land within the designated area that required
little upheaval in respect of existing settlements.
Until development began on the first
new housing estate at Laindon in the early to mid 1960s, Laindon had remained relatively
untouched, with the exception of the new Laindon Link direct road to Basildon, which opened in
the late 1950s.
By the late 1960s the Basildon Development Corporation had begun clearing
the area that would become the Five Links housing estate, and were at that time also responsible
for providing amenities to serve the new communities. Considerations for a centralised shopping
centre in Laindon (then referred to as Laindon Main Centre) had been in the pipeline for some
years, with work finally beginning in September 1967, and within 2½ years the first shops began opening
in late 1969. The total cost of the new complex, which consisted of 44 shop units of varying dimensions, was put at around £1,000,000. Building
contractors Thomas Bates & Son Ltd. were responsible for its construction
and that of the Laindon Health Centre, opened in 1971.
A three-storey office block called Clock House with 18,000 sq. ft. of floor space
was also built as part of the complex, complete with a clock face and large bell that clangs every quarter. A split level public house
called The Joker and operated by the Truman brewery chain, opened in late 1970, was also
provided, as was the new Essex County Library, previously at 3 High Road.
The complex was built 18 feet
higher than the land abounding High Road which enabled a service road and unloading area to be constructed directly below
the shop units. The unloading areas height necessitated the construction of three pedestrian bridges - at High Road, Laindon
Link and across the Danacre rear car park access road - as well as a sloping path to ground level for anyone approaching from
the southern end. A somewhat obscuring feature of the pedestrianised area to the front of the shop units were seven large
white painted ventilation funnels incorporated into the service area below.
From the beginning Wednesday was established as early closing day with many shops
shutting their doors at 1:00pm.
The shopping centre had been in the hands of private owners since being sold by the
development corporation in June 1972.
In 2008 as part of a regeneration of the Laindon Centre the Clock House office block and the library were demolished. The
clock (which had not struck for years) was put into storage
at Wat Tyler Park in Pitsea.
Previous owners Lakehill Enterprises announced plans to transform the site with a new
supermarket, twenty one additional shops and 138 houses and flats.
In May 2011 Colonnade, now calling themselves Laindon Regeneration, announced plans to transform the site with a
Morrisons supermarket, additional shops and restaurants and 215 homes. The cost was put at £75 million.
Following the demolition of Clock House and the former library building owner Colonnade were approached by
'Love Laindon', a local group of volunteers, to rejuvenate the run down centre. Weeds were removed,
rubbish bins emptied regularly and this did improve the general look of the centre during its final years. Graffiti artists were
invited to work on the wooden hoarding, parts of the car park walls and the wall of Pints and Litres off licence, various empty
shop fronts and the ventilation funnels. The graffiti was generally well received
though some members of the public claimed it only contributed to the run down look of the centre.
In May 2015 Swan Housing Association took over ownership of the centre and proposed plans to regenerate the area
under the name Laindon Place. Plans were announced soon after.
The secondary car park, accessed off Laindon Link, was closed from 8th August 2018 to allow work to begin on the initial
stage of the redevelopment.
Laindon Shopping Centre
Shops and Clock House History
A history of each shop unit from 1969 - 2019 plus additional information on
businesses that traded from Clock House.