BASILDON: AN INTRODUCTION|
Situated just 30 miles from London in the
county of Essex, Basildon was created as one of eight 'New Towns' destined
for South-East England. This was back in 1949 following the New Towns Act of
1946. These new towns came about mainly due to a need for new housing brought about by
London's long waiting lists following the Second World War and the damage
inflicted on inner London's suburban houses.
The area designated for this purpose comprised some 7,818 acres of land in a rectangular shape
six miles long by three miles wide. Within this area the existing towns of Laindon and Pitsea, though
3½ miles apart, were linked through the creation of a new network of roads serving the many neighbourhood
housing estates which were under development from as early as 1950. Another important aspect of the town was the
positioning of the main town centre which was purposely planned to be geographically central within the designated area.
The two existing towns, Laindon and Pitsea, together with parts of Vange and Langdon Hills, were already well established
by 1949 with shops, schools and other social amenities and, in the case of both Laindon and Pitsea, rail links
to London had existed since the previous century. This is often overlooked or unknown by some who are of the
misconception that Basildon was "nothing but fields" before the coming of the new town and its early
pioneers in the 1950s.
In fact the name Basildon was not new at all, being of Saxon origin meaning
'Beorhtels Hill', but in the late 1940s was little more than a small scattered village close to the site of Holy
Census statistics for the Basildon district comprising Laindon, Pitsea, Vange, Lee Chapel,
Dunton etc. stood at 4,449 by 1921 reaching 12,968 by 1931 and rising still further to 34,000 by
1951; the year Basildon welcomed its first 'new' residents. Today, in the new millennium,
Basildon's population is well in excess of 120,000.
As development of the new town began to take shape it brought great change to the landscape with some
areas undergoing total transformation, leaving little of the past remaining. Hundreds of road names disappeared along with
the demolition of thousands of properties, many of which were substantially built and in some cases obtained through compulsory
purchase orders - as the Government appointed Basildon Development Corporation strove to transform
the area into a modern town.
The story of those day's before the new town, its development, and continuing story, is
brought to you here through a blend of information, past and present photographs and personal
memories - that will also be of interest to former residents
wishing to keep up-to-date with Basildon's progression.
Hoping you can find something of
interest here. Please visit again and check for new updates.
Text written 2001 with revision 2005.
Copyright © 2001, 2005, B. Cox - Basildon History Online. All rights reserved.