In the late 1800s Laindon was quite sparsely populated but
with the coming of the railway change was evident within a short time. A new direct route linking
Pitsea with Barking was proposed, with the provision for five new railway stations. The planned
course of the new line would pass through the then parish of Little Burstead where its boundary
met that of Lee Chapel parish and it was here that the L.T.S.R. acquired land for a new
station. Although geographically in the wrong location, the Laindon parish boundary being about
a quarter of a mile away, the company chose to call the station Laindon. An Act of Parliament
authorisation the new route was passed on 24th July 1882, and by 1885 the line was open as far
as Upminster. East Horndon, the first of two intermediate stations before Pitsea, opened next
in 1886, followed two years later by Laindon, which opened on 1st June 1888 along with the now
The station layout at Laindon closely resembled East Horndon (renamed
West Horndon in 1949), even down to the down side placement of the station masters house and
booking hall. The two platforms were both provided with a weather canopy, and passenger access
to London bound trains was reached via an ornate overbridge. Sidings were also laid and a goods
shed built. Accommodation for other rail staff was also provided in the form of a single terrace
row comprising eight houses. These were called Railway Cottages; numbered 1-8 and built alongside
the line on the down side approach to the station and close to the signal box. As early as the
1920s, and possibly earlier, passengers could purchase cigarettes and tobacco and various other items
from a Finlay's kiosk.
For many years Laindon remained little altered, the first major
change coming in 1933 when the up platform was converted to an island. This third line allowed
a passing loop, and the new third platform (platform 1) became the new up when the original one
became reversible in 1957. This change, including the renaming of the down (Shoeburyness bound)
platform 1 to platform 3, enabled starter trains to operate from platform 2, which, despite a
withdrawal attempt by rail operator c2c in 2006, continue today. A new signal box was added to
the island platforms, which also had its pedestrian overbridge replaced and extended to the High
Road. New platform buildings were also erected under a longer roof canopy. These were for a
gentlemen's convenience, a Ladies' waiting room & convenience and a general waiting room. The platforms
were also extended to 700 feet. A further addition in the form of a small W.H. Smith & Son kiosk
selling newspapers appeared around this time and built across the platform against the side wall
of the general waiting room. The Finlay & Co. Ltd. tobacco kiosk was positioned lengthways in the
centre of the platforms adjacent to the Smith's kiosk and close
to a weighing machine.
Basildon was designated a new town in 1949, British Railways were in no immediate hurry to provide a
station for Basildon; Laindon and Pitsea were then considered sufficient to serve the
area. Perhaps to reflect this the nameboards at Laindon were changed to 'LAINDON FOR BASILDON'
possibly during the 1960s up to the time of Basildon opening in 1974.
The Goods service was withdrawn on
5th June 1967, though a goods shed remained empty and derelict for
years after. More recently the island platforms saw change when the signal box was taken out of
service on Sunday 4th June, 1995 when the line was resignalled between Laindon and Chalkwell (signalling
from then on being controlled from Upminster). The detached sales kiosk was also removed around
the same time.
Station Approach no longer has direct vehicular access to High Road; Northumberland Avenue
now being the entrance/exit route, and
the cafe, much frequented by bus crews whose services began from the station, was demolished in the 1980s along with
another small building used by various taxi companies like Sidney Farmer's and Basildon Radio Taxis. One
building on the station side still remains, though now in a dilapadated condition. This was used by a number of different
estate agents. These included Harry Bebington, who also had a small office in High Road, Langdon Hills, and from 1968 Watson,
Temple & Waymouth, and more recently Watson, Temple, Talbot & White. It then became a taxi office and following that a
cafe. It has now been empty for many years and faces an uncertain future.
The far end of the goods yard was for many years used by a number of locally
based coal merchants that included Morris & Farmer, A.H. Hall (from 1970) and Hayes Fuels, who all kept a coal
depot there. Another small building in the yard was used by the Evening Standard/News newspaper
group. Opposite the booking office is the Station Gate shopping centre, built partly on the site
of the old goods yard and Berry Boys boxing hall in the 1990s. Around this time, the remainder
of the goods yards was cleared and a large commuter car park created, which from autumn 1990 to
1991 was used for car boot sales. The original up side (London) car park - created in 1966 on a bed of
cinder and accessible via a side road at the foot of the Langdon Hills bridge incline - was
relocated (albeit in reduced size) onto vacant land closer to Valence Way, when Mandeville Way
was constructed in the late 1980s. A new concrete stairway up to the High Road was built to
replace the original steps which had led down to the car park. This car park has since closed
and in the 2000s new residential properties of Marlborough Drive and Milton Green now cover the
site. The right of way pedestrian occupation crossing a few hundred yards or so beyond the
station towards Basildon was closed off in 2012 and a laminated no public right of way notice
was tied to the fence. This crossing was possibly established at the time the line opened, and
beyond that, on the up side buried amongst the undergrowth is the rusted remains of a former
siding, that for some reason was overlooked once the spur to the mainline was lifted sometime
around the early 1960s. The west side footpath over the overbridge, once the route of the B1007,
is no longer used by pedestrians having been cobbled over when a new single span steel footbridge was
put into place in 1993.
The station house is famous locally as the birthplace and first home of the former stage,
screen, radio and television actress Joan Sims. She was born the only child of John and Gladys
Sims on May 9th 1930, her father then being the station master, and lived there from 1930
through to 1952. Educated at St. John's, Billericay, and Brentwood County High, in her early
years she was a member of the Langdon Players and would often take part in local stage
productions. She was perhaps best known for her appearances in the 'Carry
On' films - 24 between 'Nurse', the 2nd in 1959 and 'Emmannuelle', the 29th in 1978 - and a blue circular plaque
commemorating her life, unveiled on May 9th 2005, now adorns the outer wall of the building. Her
autobiography entitled "High Spirits", published 5th June, 2000 (ISBN: 1-85225-280-4), recalls
how she would often entertain the waiting passengers with impromptu routines on the station
platform. She died on June 28th, 2001 aged 71.
The station no longer has a station master, the final one
departing sometime in the 1970s, and the station house has been let to a number of different businesses. Its first new
use was possibly in the 1980s when local estate agents Bricks & Mortar opened an office there. When they vacated,
the house was unoccupied for many years and to let again before being acquired by another local
estate agent Quirk Deakin who opened their Langdon Hills office around February/March 2004. When
Quirk's vacated Second Steps out of school club moved in for a time and it's now a barbers shop
Through the years the station has retained its importance to the area, firstly
with 'eastenders' looking to holiday in the country, and now as a starting point for the local
population who choose to commute each day to their jobs in the city.
Other points of interest:
(1) A Laindon nameboard reading 'Laindon For Basildon' and seen on this page was in 2003 located
in Alberquerque, a city in the american state of New Mexico. Quite how it got there remains unknown. At that
time it was for sale. Laid flat its dimensions were given as 72" (6ft) length by 24 (2ft) width
and a depth of 1 inch. It is not known if it was sold or if it still exists.
(2) William Knight, platform newsagent
vendor. The oldest newsagent in Laindon, est. 25 years in 1932.
(3) Joseph Pettengell, newsagent & stationer,
Laindon Station (1923) and Lending Library, Langdon Hills.
(4) John Henry Sims the father of actress Joan Sims was
station master at Laindon from c.1926 to 15th September, 1952 when he retired to live at Southchurch with
his wife Gladys.
(5) Two former station masters following Mr. Sims were Walter Burch, who was in charge in 1956, and Mr. Hearn, who took over
around the turn of the 1960s.
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