BASILDON - Birth of a City - Peter Lucas
"Basildon will become a city which people from all over the world will want to visit."
"It will be a place where all classes of the community can meet freely together on equal terms and enjoy common cultural and recreational facilities."
"Basildon will not be a place which is ugly, grimy and full of paving stones like many large modern towns. It will be something which the people deserve, the possible town that modern knowledge, commerce, science and civilisation can produce."
Words spoken by the Rt. Hon Lewis Silken MP Minister of Towns and Country Planning in Clement Attlee's Post-War Labour Govt., when he came to Laindon on a murky night in October 1948 to address a packed public meeting at Laindon High Road School.
Where most local residents secretly hoped it would never materialise there were hundreds of others in the bomb devastated areas of London like East and Westham who prayed for it to go ahead.
Lewis Silken said in an explanatory memorandum to Billericay Council in Aug 1948, he stated that Basildon's primary purpose was to afford an outlet for the excess population in the London area, to bring employment to the area and to provide sadly lacking amenities.
He also said "In Westham one building in every four has been destroyed, a quarter of the place has been laid flat. They have 20,000 on the waiting list for housing and their conditions are so bad as to be desperate. The plight at Eastham is very similar."
The minister went on to give people an assurance, "Many of you," he said "built your own places at great sacrifice. Some of you want to spend the rest of your days in peace and quiet, I sympathise."
"I will give you this assurance:- Our business in coming here is not to destroy but to build. We have no intention of pulling down on a large scale any of the buildings which already exist. But in between the two towns of Pitsea and Laindon there is a large area, and I propose to use it to form the nucleus of the New Town."
It is now part of history that the New Town did arrive - the decision to go ahead being given by the Govt in December 1948 following a public inquiry.
A Development Corporation to mastermind the planning was appointed by the Minister on January 24th 1949 under the chairmanship of Sir Lancelot Keay K.B.E a past president of the Royal Institute of British Architects and Director of Housing in Liverpool.