Old Images of Basildon, Essex

Old photo postcard of the town centre Basildon Essex

Glimpse history through old images of Basildon, Essex, England.

Flooding 1958

Almost 800 people in the Basildon area suffered damaged homes and furniture as the flood waters swept in following a freak storm in 1958. They included the 18 children of the Harris family whose clothing was soaked or damaged beyond repair, and two old age pensioners who lost most of their furniture because of water damage.

In 1953, Basildon’s residents had provided temporary accommodation to the 10,000 residents of Canvey Island in the Thames estuary, who had fled serious flooding across their community.

Storm Victims Ask For Help (1958) – British Pathé on YouTube

Basildon Market 1969

In 1969, a new flyover was being built over the town’s market site. To compensate for this, the local council built four semi-permanent domes to provide a sheltered market.

This newsreel captured images of the flyover under construction (although no one was actually working on it at the time of filming), the strange new domes (where customers seem to clamber between the scaffolding poles rather than use the entrance spaces), and the old market.

The domes cost £40,000. That would have bought roughly ten small family terraced homes in the area at the time. The plan was to keep them in place for ten years, then move them to a different site.

As we can see from the footage, there was a bus stop over the road, and nearby was a lot of parking space for cars. There also seemed to be a lot of muddy ground surrounding the new market site.

New Market Place (1969) – British Pathé on YouTube

Carreras Factory

The Carreras factory in Basildon opened in 1959, making cigarettes 24 hours a day at Nevendon’s industrial estate No1.

The Basildon History website tells us the Duke of Edinburgh flew in by helicopter to switch on the final piece of plant automation in 1960. I checked some film archives but unfortunately can’t find footage of the event.

Most of this 20 minute film tracks the South American production of tobacco, but you do see Basildon’s factory at work at the beginning and end, along with quite a few of the workers.

River Of Gold – Tobacco (1969) – British Pathé on YouTube

Liberty Shopping Hall

In the 1980s Thames TV broadcast a local news report about the Liberty Shopping Hall rent dispute.

Tesco owned the hall and leased it to a management company, London Orbital, who rented units to 32 indepedent traders. London Orbital went bankrupt, owing Tesco £150,000 in rent and the Council £100,000 in rates.

Looking at Companies House records, I think this must have been London Orbital Projects Limited, registered at Great Oaks House, East Square, Basildon. They were incorporated on 27 April 1983, and wound up through insolvency on 10 June 1987. In that short time the company was registered as Bakerscrown Limited, Dragon Halls Limited, and finally London Orbital Projects Limited.

The traders had invested savings or put up their homes as loan guarantees to get their businesses established. They were now expected to pay London Orbital’s outstanding debts, or face eviction. The case was going to the High Court.

Sadly, an agreement was not found, and the Liberty Shopping Hall closed.

Liberty Shopping Hall, Basildon | Thames News – Thames News on YouTube

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