The night I arrived at Laindon was
strange. Three weeks previously in my native Birmingham, I was having a conversation with
Jill, my then girlfriend. She said, "Andy, I don't know if we should carry on seeing each
other, as I have got a job in Essex, and I will be leaving soon. I'm starting to get attached
to you now." This was early December 1982. "Don't you worry Jill, I'll come with
you. Basildon? Isn't that where the writing paper comes from. Basildon Bond?"
Anyway, I didn't have much going on in Brum at that time, and as a mechanic,
was confident of getting a job. I decided to wait a couple of weeks after Jill had moved in, and then caught the
train to Euston, from Birmingham New street. I got to Tower Hill underground to get the Essex
train. I woke up at somewhere called Benfleet, realising I'd over shot by two stations I
caught a train back. As we pulled into Basildon, all the cranes were visible in the building
site called Basildon. Then I got to Laindon and asked directions. I found my way to the flat
in Northey (Spire Close now) on the 4th floor. Jill was pleased to see me, an in those early
days, we only had one fold out to a bed armchair to sit on. It was quite romantic.
On the first Sunday, we went for a walk, and found the 'Plough and Tractor'
pub and had a couple. Basildon seemed new and vibrant in those days. I joined a band with a
strange guitarist who was an amateur historian. His name was James Howard, and is a well known
figure in the town.
Raquels nightclub was the place to be in the town in the 80's, and the
food wagon outside. Basildon did have a bit of a reputation as having a few fights outside the
disco's, but what town doesn't.
We used to perform at Pitsea Working Man's club in the band,
and a few other working mens clubs. The Bull, in Clay Hill Road on the junction with Timberlog
Lane (gone now, flats) and the Castle Mayne pub in The Knares I think, as well as St. Basil's Club
in Whitmore Way and the Ghyllgrove Barnet Centre in Butneys.
I used to go to the Towngate bar a lot with Jill and our
friends, and it was a great bar. When it went into the new town Hall, it lost its charms to
me, but I did go to the new place on Sundays to see a jazz outfit. The 'top of the escalator'
bar was another venue we played and I did quite a bit of busking in my time there, in the
Market Square and even Laindon Shopping Centre.
Ah Happy days. I moved to Vange later, and have now
moved out to Maldon, after nearly 20 years in the town. I like Basildon, and will always have
a soft spot for the old place.
Title: Newby in Laindon by Andy C..
Copyright: © Andy C., February 2008.
Comments: This account was supplied by Andy C. for use on the Basildon History website.