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Pitsea Broadway
Pitsea Broadway - 2002

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 'direct' line linking Pitsea with Barking via Laindon and Upminster was completed in 1888.

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, took place.

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 supermarket building which had been occupied by budget supermarket chain Aldi, who relocated in 2014 to a new building located on part of the third Pitsea market site.

The regeneration's main development, a proposed large supermarket to be occupied by Morrisons, was completed in early 2016 though the company announced they would not be moving in; instead the home and garden chain The Range let a sizeable floor area, opening in July 2016.

The Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales by Rev. John Marius Wilson

The Reverend John Wilson edited these impressive topographical volumes between 1870 and 1872. They included a brief description of Pitsea.

PITSEA, a village and a parish in Billericay district, Essex. The village stands near a creek of the Thames and near the Southend railway, 5 miles W S W of Rayleigh; and has a station on the railway. The parish is mainly peninsulated by creeks, and includes part of Canvey island.

Post-town, Rayleigh, under Chelmsford.

Acres, 2,167; of which 125 are water. Real property, 2,196. Pop., 263. Houses, 57.

The property is divided among a few. The manor was held, at the Norman conquest, by Ulneva, the wife of Phin.

The living is a rectory in the diocese of Rochester. Value, 420. Patron, alternately the Hon. L. F. Dawnay and the Rev. G. Heath-cote.

The church stands on a knoll, commanding a fine view of the surrounding country and the Thames; and it has a tower.

White's gazetteer and directory

In the 1800s the publisher William White of Sheffield produced a small history of Pitsea in his yearly gazetteer and directory.

Reproduced here is the entry information for Pitsea from the 1848 edition.

PITSEA, a village and parish, 5 miles West South West of Rayleigh, and 4 miles North of the Thames, is at the head of a creek which runs up from that river at the west end of Canvey Island. It includes part of that island, and contains 304 souls, and 2048 acres of land, mostly a strong heavy soil.

At the Domesday Survey, it was called Piceseia, and was held by Euda Dapifer, who gave part of it to St.John's Abbey, Colchester.

Pitsea Hall, an old farm house, near the creek, gives name to a manor, which has been held by the Cromwell, Howard, and Cook families, and passed from the latter to that of Moyer.

Another manor, called Chalverton, has been held by the Fitzwalters, Howards, Prescotts, and Blincoes.

The parish now belongs to various owners.

The Church (St. Michael,) stands on a commanding eminence, and is an ancient structure, consisting of a nave and chancel, with a stone tower, containing three bells, and crowned by a shingled spire.

The rectory, valued in K.B. at 16.13s.4d., and in 1831 at 315, is in the alternate patronage of Viscountess Downe and J. Heatbcote, Esq., and in the incumbency of the Rev. Cbarles Hewitt, M.A., of Greenstead, near Colchester, for whom the Rev. L.T. Edwards, M.A., of Nevendon, officiates.

The inhabitants of note are listed as:

Boutell William, wheelwright
Crooks Abraham, blacksmith
Freeman Stephen, builder
Green William, victualler, Bull
Grout Robert, corn miller
Harrod James, baker
Hickford John, shopkeeper
Hide Robert, shopkeeper
Hunwicks William, lighterman
Jarvis Mrs., schoolmistress
Smith Thomas, victualler, Gun


Abrey Daniel
Bulwer Josiah
Darby John
Wright W. and A.
Talbot Robert, Riggs Farm

Source: William White's History, Gazetteer, and Directory of Essex 1848

White's Directories
The publisher William White of Sheffield issued a yearly series of gazetteer's and directories covering the United Kingdom. These began in 1826 in partnership with William Parson, but from 1831 were solely the work of White. William White continued to produce these until 1898 when his company was absorbed into Kelly's (Frederic Festus Kelly) trade directory, which continued into the twentieth century.

Kelly's Directory of Essex, 1894

PITSEA is a parish and village situated chiefly on a peninsula formed by the creeks and on the high road from Grays and Tilbury Fort to Rochford and Southend, about I2 miles from each of the former and 10 from each of the latter places and 33 from London, with a station on the London, Tilbury and Southend railway, in the Mid division of the county, Barstable hundred, Brentwood petity sessional division, sub-division of Billericay, Billericay union, Southend county court district, and in the rural deanery of Rochford, archdeaconry of Essex and diocese of St. Albans.

The church of St. Michael, standing on a picturesque knoll, is an edifice of stone in the Perpendicular style, and consists of chancel, nave, south porch and an embattled western tower containing 3 bells: the church was rebuilt, with the exception of the tower, in 1871: there are 100 sittings. The register of baptisms dates from 1688; burials, 1738; marriages, 1757.

The living is a rectory, average tithe rent-charge 320, net yearly Value 300, with glebe of I6 acres, in the alternate presentation of the Hon. Eusttace Dawnay and the Rev. G. Heathcote, and held since 1861 by the Rev. Henry Hasted B.A. of Magdalene College, Cambridge, and J.P. co. Essex.

The Hon. Eustace Dawnay and Capt. Henry Prescott Blencowe, of Little Chalvedon, hold the manorial rights of Pitsea Hall and Chalvedon Hall, respectively, in this parish; the latter is lay impropriator of 170 tithes.

The Rev. G. Heathcote M.A. 5 Arlington street, London S.W. and the Hon. Eustace Dawnay are the principal landowners.

The soil is stiff clay; subsoil, almogt, yellow clay. The chief crops are wheat and beans.

The area is 1,747 acres of land and 60 water; rateable value, 1,989; the population in 1891 was 235.

Parish Clerk, William Potter.

Post Office.-William Robert Jackson, sub-postmaster. Letters arrive from London & dispatched through Bowers Gifford S.O. Box cleared at 3.30 p.m.; sunday, 8.30 a.m.

South Benfleet is the nearest money order office. South Benfleet is the nearest telegraph office for delivery, & the railway station for collection of telegrams.

The children of this place attend the school at Bowers Gifford.

Railway Station, William Fitch, station master.

Hasted Rev. Henry B.A., J.P. (rector)
Campbell Herbert, coal merchant
Cole John, wheelwright
Crooks Robert, Bull P.H.
Jackson William Robert, grocer & draper, Post office
Sweeting George, police constable
Thorogood Alfred, Railway inn
Willsmer John, baker & miller (wind)
Baker Alfred, farmer, Pitsea hall
Jeffries Seaman, farmer

This article is used in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 UK: England & Wales.

Text written 2008 with revisions 2009-2014, 2017.
Copyright © 2008-2009, 2014, 2017, B.Cox, Basildon History Online. All rights reserved.
Page added: 2001
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