Old Laindon Reunion Saturday 16th March 1996

A gathering for families saddened by the changes in Laindon since the early 50s

Families saddened by the changes in Laindon since the early 50s prompted sisters Rose Wright and Rita Clark (nee Pedrick) to try somehow to get the people of Laindon together again.

Rita and Rose’s father was originally from Devon but with the outbreak of the Second World War he left home in London and to returned to Devon to get away from the bombing, mum with her sister and Rose decided to move to Royston Avenue , Laindon where Rita was born in 1942. Dad later rejoined the family towards the end of the war. The family later moved to Devonshire Road . Rita now lives in Pound Lane .

Rita like many Laindon folk used to feel sad whenever she thought of all the changes that had taken place. She often complained that Laindon had been wiped out as a village, she would say:-‘we are just Basildon , yet Billericay and Wickford managed to survive. Laindon was a community where everybody knew everyone else, now I do not even know my neighbours up the road’.

Like many Laindon folk she was also concerned about the possibility of Laindon High Road School being closed and amalgamating with Nicholas in St Nicholas Lane.(This as we know eventually happened). The High Road was crowded with 136 small shops selling anything from fish and chips to wool and wood. There was also a cinema called the Radion where it was 6d (2.1/2p) to sit in the stalls, or 9d (3.3/4p) to cuddle up in the back row. The Memorial Hall was the other main source of entertainment where dances were regularly held.

Rose on the Left, Rita on the right

They therefore decided to plan a reunion to celebrate Laindon before it became part of the Basildon sprawl. They both spent time discussing the possibility with others and eventually a small committee was formed. The committee of Rose and Bernard Wright, Rita and Charlie Clark and Maude and George Weekly called a meeting and it was decided to hold a reunion at the Laindon Community Centre. The hall was booked 16th March

Tickets were printed and we advertised in the local papers, the phones did not stop ringing, people were telling their friends, tickets soon got sold and  in the end we were turning people down because we could not go over the fire limit of 300 people.

Preparing the Hall

To get as many people involved as possible we came up with the idea of having a roll of wall paper and marked as many shops we could remember along the High Road. On the day we fixed the roll of wallpaper it went the whole length of one of the walls. We also added as many photos of the shops we could find – you can imagine the discussions this created on the day. I still have this roll of wallpaper today.

A few weeks beforehand I phoned my old school mate Joe Cotterill better known as Joe Goodman Comedian – King of the one Liners) and asked  if he would come along. He did not hesitate; he said he would dress up in something so that people would not recognize him. The hall was full with over 300 people when Joe came in with a broom and dustpan and started joking and sweeping the floor. He then took over, reminiscing on where he lived, where he went to school and all the shops he could remembered in the high road.

It was a great success; everybody met either old friends or somebody they knew. There were stories galore.  Sadly another reunion has not been organized because of the problem of finding a venue large enough.

Joe Goodman

This is what the Echo had to say:

Laindon nostalgia day a huge success

More than 300 people from all over the country joined a nostalgia trip to meet old pals who lived in Laindon, the village that died.

The reunion held at Laindon community centre, brought together former neighbours and old school pals from years ago when Laindon was a thriving rural township. But many hundreds more people were disappointed being unable to get tickets for the event said one of the organizers, Charlie Clark.

The event was so successful; another reunion may be organized to invite more guests who were unlucky and others who had to be turned away from the door.

Mr. Clark said, we were overjoyed at how successful this has been and lots of people have asked us to hold another so that more of the old faces can turn up.

Laindon was a successful rural community until the Basildon development corporation, set up by the government to build the new town, blighted private development and compulsorily purchase homes and land in the area. People who had lived there all there lives moved out and the community fragmented. At the reunion a wall tableau showed the old Laindon high road from the Fortune of War to the Crown Hotel at Langdon hills with all the names of all the shops illustrated along it. There were also photographs of key landmarks of the village back to before 1900, when the high road was a mud track.

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  • I believe that Charlie Clark sells old Laindon rather short when he states that the Radion and Memorial Hall were the main places of entertainment. 

    The St Nicholas church hall regularly held Saturday night dances, had gym classes twice a weak, one for girls and the other for boys. There were also cubs and scout meetings and WI. 

    The Country Club in Basildon Rd which had various names, but apart from being a licenced premises had tennis courts and held dances plus performances by the local amateur dramatic groups. 

    The Laindon Park Country Club on the Arterial Rd, next to Parkinsons Garage also held dances. 

    The Hut Club in Langdon Hills had tennis courts and a table tennis club.

    St Peters Hall at the Hiawatha also hosted various club and meeting groups and the British Legion Hall had dancing and were a social club for members. 

    There were a number of sports clubs. Those seeking entertainment were not limited to just a couple of venues.

    By W.H.Diment (26/01/2012)
  • I too find it sad that Laindon village is forever lost, I am a relatively young pup, moving to Laindon from Pitsea prefabs in Nov 64 just before my 6th birthday, into the freshly built Devonshire close.

    Parkinson’s was a regular haunt for me, I loved pocket knives, torches and enhancements for my bikes, and I got my punctures repaired there. I always had a quick look in the window, before queuing up at the Saturday morning cinema, with my brother Trev and our pals the Draycott brothers Jim and Dave!!

    By Terry Steward (24/11/2011)
  • Thank you Charlie for you event. Sadly i was one of many people who did not come to your reunion. I love reunions and this brought a lump to my throat just reading your account to the event. I should have loved to see your mural of shops, houses and businesses that you did. I grew up in the village as my mum used to call it. Born in Laindon in a house called ‘Apna Ghur’ on the High Road. It was next door to the wood yard, and Mr and Mrs Gibbons lived opposite. I have written in my baby book that this trip to Mrs Gibbons was my first outing. Mum and dad’s name being Reg and Vera Boatwright, we all lived together with my nan Grace Pryor, my granddad Arundell known as Tom died just before i was born. You may remember mum’s grandparents better Agnes and Joseph Clifford, they lived in ‘Belgrave’ a bungalow on the High Road not far from the Senior School. Nan (Grace) brother Sid ran the green grocers in Laindon. I too mourn the loss of our village, it should never have happened. We had more shops, decent shops and less people yet we managed. When mum and dad were moved from Apna Ghur to the new ‘prefabs’ on Worthing Road, then later when our family grew, we moved to the brand new housing estate known as Pound Lane. Mum used to shop in Laindon all the time and I often biked down to ‘the village’ to get some odd bits she needed. I danced at the Memorial Hall with Fed and Pearl Penson. Went to the cinema you spoke of many a time and then when the newly built ‘Laindon Community Centre’ on Aston Road was built went to dance classes and New Year’s Eve dances with my family. I even danced with our Ken Porter one time. Though he probably has forgotten it. I do have a picture of his father and my mother having a quick saunter round the dance floor though. Many happy memories its a shame Laindon is now such a mess, and nobody seems to want to improve it quick enough. So much talk but no action.

    By Valerie Kingsley (Boatwright) (06/11/2011)
  • i remember Rose, we knew her as Aunti Rose, she was my mum’s (Eileen Hymas nee Raines) best friend and I remember the many happy evenings at the Community Centre, where every one knew each other. They were fun, carefree days for the youngsters, we didn’t need computers and tv, just plimpsols and a jam sandwich…..

    By Chris Hymas (08/04/2011)

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