Essex

Basildon at 70: Events planned to mark town's birthday

Basildon sign
Image caption The iconic town sign - installed in 2010 - has become something of a local landmark

A year of celebrations have been planned to mark the 70th birthday of a New Town.

A popular music festival will return for a one-off event and praise will be heaped on local heroes as part of the anniversary events in Basildon.

The Essex town was among the first to be pioneered by Lewis Silkin MP following the 1946 New Towns Act.

Kevin Blake, Basildon Council's deputy leader, said its 70th birthday would be "an occasion to remember".

Basildon was built in a bid to ease post-war overcrowding in London and the designation order was signed on 4 January 1949.

To mark the milestone, the council has been working with local businesses and community groups to plan a series of events for 2019.

These include "a huge church festival" at the end of January and celebrating "70 heroes of the community" throughout the year.

Image copyright New Town Utopia
Image caption Basildon's Brooke House was originally built to provide accommodation for professionals, such as lawyers and doctors

Mr Blake also said the council would be working closely with the arts and culture community and teased the return of Basfest - a music festival cancelled five years ago to save money.

Basildon, which inspired the 2017 film New Town Utopia, has suffered from an "unfair reputation" in the past but Mr Blake told how plans are afoot to "regenerate the whole area".

Last year, the council was awarded £9.8m of government funding for its town centre "masterplan", which will see a new cinema, restaurants and thousands of homes built.

Basildon facts and figures

  • Historically, the first recorded reference to Basildon was in the Domesday Book, in 1086. It is referred to as "Belesduna"
  • It is thought the name Basildon" may be derived from the Anglo-Saxon personal name "Boerthal" and the Anglo-Saxon word "dun", which means hill
  • About 180,000 people currently live in the town
  • 64% of Basildon is still Green Belt land
  • Basildon's Brooke House was named after the then Minister of Housing and Local Government, Henry Brooke MP
  • The band Depeche Mode and singer Alison Moyet hail from Basildon, as does boxer Terry Marsh, Olympian gold medal-winning gymnast Max Whitlock and snooker player Stuart Bingham
  • People were originally encouraged to move to the town with the promise of an indoor bathroom

Mr Blake, who is also the leader of the Basildon At 70 group, said the anniversary was "a really exciting time" for the "wonderful, wonderful people" of Basildon.

"We want to get everyone involved in celebrating a wonderful year. We know Basildon people are passionate about Basildon so they will want to celebrate being part of it," he said.

"We're committed to working with the community to make Basildon's 70th birthday an occasion to remember."

Image copyright New Town Utopia
Image caption The Grade II listed Mother and Child fountain was created in 1962 and went on to become the symbol of Basildon Council

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