Midwives in Laindon ( 8 of 10)

Some thoughts on the manner in which attitudes can be altered by changing circumstances

Accordingly, plans for an extension at the rear were rapidly submitted for approval and, despite the severe restriction on the supply of building material that applied at the time, Stan was soon busy digging out the foundations, laying bricks and performing all the tasks that led to addition of a reasonably good sized addition to the bungalow’s sleeping accommodation. The interval that had passed since the initial construction in the early 30s meant that in this later effort, Stan was able to call upon the assistance of his elder son, this essay’s writer, to assist, assistance that was to prove invaluable a few years later. Despite the fact that a degree of uncertainty in the shape of the proposed inclusion of Laindon into the Basildon New Town project coloured the future, Basil Drive and the adjacent Tyler Avenue and Albert Drive were apparently regarded by the Billericay UDC planners as suitable for further development by the individual as an “infilling” of some of the vacant plots left from the ad hoc pre-war development. Long delayed constructions were commenced in Tyler Avenue and Albert Drive at about the same time as the extension was underway at “Cranford”. At the same time the newly-wed Frankland couple chose to build their family bungalow which they named “Manderlay” on a vacant plot on the opposite side of Basil Drive to “Cranford”. Unfortunately, as the passage of time was to prove, the optimism with regard to the future of Basil Drive that these events of the late 1940s engendered was short lived.

In 1955 the writer had need of family accommodation of my own. It was decided that, because Lillian’s health had declined quite severely and David Michael had taken up residence in the Brentwood area with the intent of entering matrimony, I should take over “Cranford” and a new bungalow, more suited to her condition, would be constructed on the adjacent plots next door, plots that since the very first dividing up into building plots of the Station Rise Estate in the 1920s had remained un-developed. To satisfy this new building project plans of my devising were submitted to the planning authorities at Billericay. It was then that we discovered that the optimism that had been encouraged by the post-war experiences might have been a little premature. In the interim, the Basildon Development Corporation, a Government controlled Quango had been granted certain over-riding restrictions on the granting of planning by the elected authority at Billericay. The first of these was related to density at which new constructs could be built and the second related to style and appearance. Although the second of these did not much affect the plan I had devised other than to reduce the proposed roof pitch to below the forty-five degree intended, the density requirement meant that two dwellings of similar size were required on the plot on which permission for only one was sought. This was something of a set back to our intent as, at the initial stage, available funds did not stretch to two buildings and any second construct would have to wait.

The decision was made, however that construction of the first new bungalow should go ahead, the permission for the second held in abeyance pending the necessary funds for its construction eventually being found. At around the time that work began in 1956, the very first of the changes being made to the Laindon landscape made by the Development Corporation also commenced. This was the construction of spine road number five on the Basildon New Town master plan, one of a series of such roads intended to link the various neighbourhoods of the area to the new town’s eventual centre. Spine road number five was particularly important because at the time work commenced upon its construction, the proposed new town centre existed on paper only and the completion of the road itself would facilitate the considerable quantity of building material required in the erection of the centre to be conveyed to site off the A127 at the “Fortune of War” roundabout, via Laindon High Road thence by new spine road number five. To construct the road itself, a number of compulsory purchase orders on property in Laindon and in the parish of Lee Chapel, thus leading to the displacement of a number of families, most of whom were re-accommodated in the Vange and Pitsea area. Five of these first Laindon families to be so moved were from dwellings in Basil Drive, spine road number five linking to Laindon High Road on the east side opposite the existing junction on the west side of Somerset Road, a short distance from the “Radion” cinema.

Spine road number five, after connecting with Laindon High Road and bisecting Basil Drive was then routed across the undeveloped fields of Blue House Farm before swinging in a south-easterly direction over Green Lane (one of Laindon parish’s ancient thoroughfares and also its boundary with adjacent Lee Chapel) to follow approximately along the line of the “plotlands” Elizabeth Drive to eventually link to the north end of Lee Wootens Lane (another ancient thoroughfare of the district) in Fobbing. This latter road, initially a very narrow country lane, was eventually obliterated, re-emerging as a footpath, by spine road number four as part of the linking of the A13 to the A127. Spine road four was re-designated “Nethermayne” and probably represents the most congested road in the Basildon area, badly in need of further improvement as I write. Spine road number five was unimaginatively dubbed “Laindon Link”. When it became operational the Eastern National ‘bus company operated a frequent (20 minute interval) service between the railway stations at Pitsea and Laindon using this road, a service that persisted for a number of years because of the disagreement between the Basildon Development Corporation and British Railways about who should bear the cost of constructing the intermediate station that was so obviously justified. When this dispute was eventually settled and Basildon Station was opened in 1974, the bus became redundant and was withdrawn. This then revealed that much of the route followed by spine road number five (“Laindon Link”) was rather ill-conceived. The schools erected to serve the inhabitants of the intensive housing development (known as “The Five Links Estate) on the south side of the road were all on the north side of the road and it was realised a planning error had occurred possibly due to the fact that those planners who chosen the aforesaid unimaginative names had also devised the unimaginative siting of both dwellings and schools. Accordingly, the Laindon Link was, as a “connecting link”, severed by instituting a “bus only” section between the revised junction with Tyler Avenue and Albert Drive, a section which has suffered subsequent further adjustment and which continues to represent an inconvenience to local residents even today.

8 of 10

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