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About Basildon

Basildon was originally the name of one of the small rural villages that the Basildon New Town encompassed, when it was formed following the New Towns Act of 1946. The New Town also included the areas of Laindon, Pitsea and Vange together with Lee Chapel, Langdon Hills and parts of Dunton. Located only 30 miles from the capital city, the New Town was established to provide much needed local amenities and overspill accommodation for London residents following the destruction of the Second World War.

Directly prior to this, the area was characterised by the hundreds of bungalows and chalets of the 'Plotlanders'. These havens from the bustle of the city were built primarily as weekend retreats and were built on small plots of farmland that had been auctioned off in the late nineteenth century due to the agricultural depression. The chalets and bungalows were designed and built by their owners and ranged in style from brick built bungalows to timber chalets and sometimes even railway carriages.

The accommodation was very modest, but nearly all had sizeable gardens. They became more frequently used as primary residences during the Second World War as people gravitated to their country retreat to escape the blitz. The timber chalets were often lined with asbestos cement panels and most had basic facilities such as bucket - toilets, but were later improved and extended by their owners to make them more to suitable for permanent inhabitation. The last of these properties were still inhabited in the 1980’s, but the era was abruptly brought to an end when they were compulsorily purchased by Basildon Council. Although the Council first intended this area to provide additional housing land, it has now become an important open space and nature reserve.

As Basildon New Town is now over 50 years old it is argued that it should be able to drop the 'New Town' Label. New development and enhancement is currently underway, but its architectural character is still dictated by its 1950s and 1960s beginnings. From the award winning system – buildings range from those which have not successfully survived the test of time to an undeniably fine collection of 1960's Public Art.

Two of the 1960s constructions, Brooke House designed by Architect Sir Basil Spence and Barstable Grammar House are now designated Listed Buildings. Some of the most recent developments include the Festival Leisure Park and a controversial, five feet tall, Hollywood style ‘Basildon’ sign. These developments along with other current projects have certainly brought the town into the 21st Century and continue to keep its profile high.