Basildon’s Worst Case Of Eviction?

Whether or not you are celebrating the 70th Anniversary of Basildon New Town, it may be worth reflecting on the heartbreak and suffering that was caused to many local residents of Laindon and the surrounding district at the time.

Apart from my own parents’ and many other families’ experience of Compulsory Purchase, one case in particular comes to mind. The eviction of four elderly ladies from their long-time home in Pipps Hill Close (formerly Nevenden Road) to make way for the Aquatel development in 1973.

Their large house was called ‘Park Lodge’ which the 1911 Census describes as having 6 rooms. Nine people were living there at that time, Mr Francis Hughes (a poultry farmer), his wife Elizabeth and their seven children Elizabeth, Lily, Mabel, Margaret, Francis, Arthur and Frederick.

Apparently, in later years, younger brother Frederick and his wife Edna lived at ‘Windermere’, Rectory Road.

The 1939 Register shows that Lily was a nurse, attached to ARP ambulances.

At the time of the CPO in 1973, three of the sisters, Lily, Mabel and Margaret, then in their seventies, were still living in the house which had been built by their father in 1896, along with a widowed niece, Mrs E. Hegarty.

Their story is told in the article below. So very sad and cruel that they weren’t allowed to live out their lives in the home their father had made for them.

After the eviction, the plot lay empty for a while until the lovely arboretum that their father had created, became part of the short lived Aquatel’s Zoo and Ecology Centre, which soon changed to become a function room called Festival Hall, used to hold events such as boxing matches – again short lived.

Today, a large self-storage warehouse called ‘Storage King’ stands in Basildon’s Festival Park on the former site of the Hughes family’s beloved house.

'Park Lodge' stood to the right of the Ecology Centre, between Pipps Hill Close and Crane's Farm Road. A tree can be seen marked on the large plot of the former house and garden.
An updated map showing the same area.

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  • I believe the road mentioned in this story was formerly known as Rectory Road and not Nevendon Road.
    When the Tractor Plant was built, the middle section of Rectory Road was built over and the remaining western end was renamed Pipps Hill Close and the remaining eastern end was renamed Gardiners Close.

    By Ray Prince (09/09/2020)
  • Rob Wood, my understanding is that the New York Stock Exchange Servers are in the building on the corner of Cranes Farm Rd and Gardiners Lane South. This site is nearly a mile to the East of where the old aviation fuel pipeline dissects Cranes Farm Road.

    By Ray Prince (01/11/2019)
  • How so much has changed in 70 years, this little corner of our town has so much history too. In that mad rush to build a new town, how interesting that often international events play a part in local decisions. WW2 ended dramatically in 1945 and never again, said the UK Government, was it to be caught on a back foot raw material wise, hence the Government’s decision in late 40s early 50s to build the GPSS oil network on our doorstep with an oil pipeline running from Coryton through the new town centre up Honeypot Lane across Aquatels to Cambridge and Suffolk airfields. It runs directly under the McDonalds’ drive-through today, as seen by the markers either side of any road it passes under. From here it passes across the area, right by the silver warehouse box buildings next to the A127 (see IOT GPSS pipeline). Ironically this is where the backup servers for the New York Stock Exchange are kept ready to use, in case of a “world-wide financial liquidity issue” on which UK oil is traded..I’m told,(see the IOT NTY Tech Basildon).

    Looking back over the shoulder of time, again, in the early sixties came Henry Ford with his tractor factory in the field next door. Henry flew in personally to speak with the Prime Minister who wanted it built up north but Henry had the last word. Back over the fence meanwhile, around the early seventies, in order for a businessman to build a pub and country club and golf range, the poor Hughes sisters, had to go and go they did. The club and pub then came under the ownership of Brent Walker Leisure, the boxing brothers. It was on 4th March 1987 we saw white van man cheer himself hoarse for Terry Marsh’s win against USA’s Joe Manley in a big top tent in the car park of the Festival Hall. A few ideas for a large stadium were muted in the late eighties but alas, cash or lack of it and recession hit leisure time hard. In the mid-90s however, after a long financial winter, eventually the land become ’Viva Bas Vegas!’ which opened around 1997 and saw a stream of clubs, pubs and complexes come and go as quickly as the TOWIE types that cut the ribbon. I wonder what the next chapter for this area will bring?

    By Rob Wood (30/10/2019)
  • Where did the poor Hughes sisters move to. Shame on Basildon Development Corporation.

    Editor:. The Corporation moved them to a miscellaneous house in Dunton Road, Laindon.

    By Linda Poultney (29/10/2019)
  • Unfortunately a lot of people have a short memory or are not bothered because it never affected them, the so called need for development of houses or industrial seems to override everything else.
    Perhaps a complete boycott of these so called celebrations would drive a nail into Basildon Council…..

    By R.F.Howard (18/03/2019)

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