Midwives in Laindon (10 of 10)
Some thoughts on the manner in which attitudes can be altered by changing circumstances
By 1965 the effects of the steady encroachment of new development on the Laindon area began to breakdown that special community spirit to which reference has been made earlier in this essay and which had helped to sustain the district through the lean years and those of WWII. The immediately recognisable effect of this breakdown was that many who at first had sort to express dismay at the prospects of being absorbed into Basildon and to be willing to make a stand against being so affected began to find reasons for adjusting their attitude. This was partly due to the fact that were in so instances a resolute householder might hold out against being compulsorily purchased and demolished, the New Town Development Corporation adopted a practice of tending to ignore the fact and, by working around them, left them isolated for lengthy periods in splendid isolation in a sea composed from the mess of demolition and widespread construction with all the inconvenience that this implied. Alternatively, other influences were often brought to bear down upon those Laindon area residents who, only renting the property they occupied, might be tempted to take up residence in a more recent build for a higher rent on the basis of the more modern facilities on offer. In many such cases the resultant vacated property was sold to an independent developer who found it worthwhile to demolish the original building and replace it with multiple new ones. By such means and others “old” Laindon was, with increasing rapidity, inexorably demolished.
As far as Basil Drive was concerned, the optimism that had been sustained and that led to the new “Cranford” being constructed in the 1950 and early 60s began to evaporate. This was probably partly due to the death of Lillian Bathurst but was equally partly due to the demography of Basil Drive itself. Apart from the occupants of “Manderlay” (the Franklands) and “Homemead” (myself and family) no other children existed in the road. Most other residents were either retired or approaching the years of retirement. To many of them and throughout the rest of Laindon it must have been a revelation to them to see so much work being done with aid of machines, work which they, in the past, had done with only hard graft, the aid of a hammer, shovel or wheelbarrow, all that was considered necessary in that period of pioneering backwoodmanship that had created the original Laindon in the previous half of the 20th century. No wonder many must have thought “enough is enough” and, in consequence, gave up all thought of offering resistance against what they were constantly being told was “progress”. In any case, at a more mundane level, it was hard to resist the lure of the inside toilet facilities that was being proffered to those who took up the offer of moving out to a Development Corporation built property!
The resident population of Laindon slowly drained away in dribs and drabs to pastures new in the wider Basildon area. With them went the residue of that old “Laindon Spirit” which, as I have argued, was born of the renowned East-End spirit of an earlier generation. In Basil Drive Stanley Bathurst witnessed first the demolition of his neighbours’ dwellings one by one, then the destruction of “Homemead” when I moved away. Embraced in that move was a deliberate up-rooting of some mature Silver Birch trees that, in the 1930s Stan had planted and nurtured after they had arrived from Sussex as saplings tied to the outside of his brother-in-law’s car. These were replanted in new locations in Kingswood, Basildon, and still survive. So disgusted was Stan to see the off-hand manner in which so much of his own hard was being destroyed that he was not long in moving out himself to Corringham where, before very long, he set about making practical adjustments to the bungalow he bought with the sale to the Corporation of “Cranford”. After the Development Corporation obtained it, “Cranford”, after standing for a mere ten years, was also reduced to a pile of rubble. Stan Bathurst, resolutely, never re-visited Basil Drive again and eventually the road itself was subsumed into part of the Mellow Purgess area of the Five Links Estate.
10 of 10