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OUR BASILDON is our way of saying that Basildon belongs to the people of Basildon, a town with both and ancient and a 20th century past.
This 12km permanent, self guided Heritage Trail is the main focus of the project. Through it's creative development the intention is to rouse a deeper sense of personal identity among the townsfolk; to generate awareness of how the built environment and open spaces affect our wellbeing and that of the community, and to create a lasting tourist attraction second to none in south Essex.
Basildon was one of a number of new towns created after the Second World War. In 1948 Lewis Silkin MP declared, "Basildon will become a City, which people from all over the world will want to visit". While, for some town has yet to fully achieve this optimistic vision it has developed into the most important, fascinating and influential town of South East England, one with huge potential for its community and visitors alike, and with a heritage worthy of exploration and celebration.
As you walk the trail, weaving as it does in a figure of eight through the centre of Basildon, with it's broad open spaces, iconic buildings and stunning examples of public art you will discover that this sixty-year-old town isn't short of historical interest for beneath its modern, open streetscape, abundant and bio-diverse green spaces can be found; the remains of previous cultures going back many thousands of years.
The heritage team, a voluntary group of local artists, researched devised and developed the Trail along with two hundred children from five of Basildon's primary schools. These children began by plotting the trail, photographing buildings, parks, woods and the public art that was so important to them and helping them write about what they saw. They discovered, as we hope you will too, that Basildon has some unique treasures ranging from buildings that have served the community for hundreds of years, such as the Grade I listed building, St. Nicholas Church in Laindon, to the site where Basildon Hall stood protected by its moat since before the compilation of the Domesday Book in 1086. The remains of the moat still exist but the building was demolished as part of the new town development that began in 1949.
While there is some deserved criticism of the earlier town planners their innovative commissioning of public art means we have some fine examples of figurative and abstract sculpture around the town. The Mother and Child fountain in the town centre by Maurice Lambert designed as part of the Grade II listed Brooke House development, circa 1960 has proved an iconic symbol of Basildon and forms the central part of the town's crest. Within the design of the same development is Freedom House, built at the same time.
The town's surrounding open spaces were part of the vision for the new town and are one of its identifying features. One such open space is Gloucester Park, set at its northern gateway, was officially opened by the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester in 1957 and was created out of two million cubic yards of surplus soil deposited over a ten year period to make a spectacular rolling open grassland. The whole area teems with wildlife and is home to more than 10,000 different species of animals, plants, and fungi.
The landscape of Basildon is set to change over the coming years as the town expands to take an even greater influx of people, and so it is our intention that the Heritage Trail will also evolve, develop and extend across other parts of the district as the town emerges from its 21st century renaissance.
The 'Our Basildon' project, of which this trail forms a part, is rich and varied, inspiring the creative minds of a wide range of public service organisations and individuals with whom we are continuing to work to bring differing communities and a wide diversity of people together from all walks of life around the heritage of Basildon. Heritage is more than stately homes and museums; it is about discovering people's roots, exploring who they are and appreciating the journey.
This is a free, self-guided heritage trail, although guided tours can be arranged by prior appointment to email@example.com
Parking : with charge
Accessible by Public Transport : Basildon station