The Poplars in Lee Wottens Lane

By Helen Painter

A gentleman at my church has loaned me an old paper regarding his in-laws' bungalow which was in Lee Woottens Lane.

Photo:Basildon Standard 1957

Basildon Standard 1957

Helen Painter

Photo:Basildon Standard 1957

Basildon Standard 1957

Helen Painter

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'The Poplars in Lee Wottens Lane' page

Helen Painter

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'The Poplars in Lee Wottens Lane' page

Helen Painter

This page was added by Helen Painter on 19/03/2015.
Comments about this page (Add a comment about this page)

This is fascinating. I lived in Gobions. it was the row of houses that led to Takely End it was told to me as a boy that a farm used to be at the top of our garden. PS. Has anyone got any photos of Gobions?

By Shaun wade
On 26/11/2016

I remember playing with Mrs Green's daughters Elaine and Andrea many times when we were children in the Poplars. The lovely big garden, full of flowers and vegetables. We used to cross the road and go under the bridge to go to their grandparent's farm. We collected the chicken eggs and sorted and weighed their size out on an egg sized little see saw. She used to keep goats as well. Lots of happy memories. God Bess Mrs Green , Wishing you well.

By Margaret Bryant (nee Lindsey)
On 04/09/2015

Hi Richard. Our friend is the son-in-law and you may know him. His name is Roger. I will show him your comments when I next see him. Kind regards, Helen.

By Helen Painter
On 06/06/2015

Mrs Green is my aunt (or 2nd cousin, to be precise!) and is still living on the site - aged 98 (99 in 3 months time)!! Poplars was demolished quite recently as the council was charging her council tax on it as well as her modern bungalow. As indicated elsewhere, Poplars was certainly not habitable (nor resurrectable!) so it seems it was a 'jobsworth' matter.

I was born a hundred yards from Mrs Green, closer to the bridge, on the West side of the lane, and spent my first 8 years there before we were forced out by compulsory purchase in 1956.

For what it's worth, I believe the Green's first home was called Hope Lodge, rather than Hope Cottage. I visited it several times before their move to Poplars.

I would welcome the opportunity to communicate with Helen Painter and/or John Bathurst, if possible, to talk more widely about there and then.

By Richard Collie
On 03/06/2015

Another look at the old map of the northern part of Fobbing parish reveals that it is necessary for me to make a correction to the entry I posted on the 27/3/2015. In this, I said: “Close to the top of Bells Hill Road was a junction with Dry Street, hard by Kingswood Farm”. This was wrong. The farm to the east of this junction was in fact named Little Vange Hall farm. The present day clubhouse and gymnasium of Kingswood Golf Course more or less now occupy the site of that farm. Further to the north along what was then the western end of Clay Hill Road was Woodlands Farm, on the fields of which was constructed Woodlands School.

By John Bathurst
On 01/04/2015

That is very interesting John. The little girl in the photo is our friend's mother-in-law. She is in her 90's now.  I have printed off all the information which you have written and I will show our friend tomorrow. Thank you

By Helen Painter
On 28/03/2015

I have placed information on this website in the past about Mrs Beatrice Green whose picture appears in the cutting from the old “Basildon Standard” telling of her fight to preserve “The Poplars” in Lee Woottens Lane. My previous entries were mainly about her early years when she was Miss Beatrice Ward. “The Poplars”, as the plan shows, was designed for Mr W Ward, her father who was very much a “go getter” in the area of Lee Woottens Lane, Elizabeth Drive and that part of Lee Chapel. I believe I am right in saying that Beatrice told me that her father delivered mail in the area and also acted as a kind of roving agent for the land developers who were seeking to sell off the plots of land in that district of Laindon.

“The Poplars” was constructed on a site in Lee Woottens Lane about 100 yards south of the railway line just before the lane ran under the railway through a very narrow bridge before reaching the now long demolished Lee Woottens farm (not to be confused with Wootton farm in Dry Street). By the time that Beatrice was old enough to start school her parents, the Wards, were living in another dwelling named “Apple Grove”, also in Lee Woottens Lane, but this time on the north side of the railway, immediately after passing through the narrow over bridge.  My previous entries on this website also tell of the Ward children’s journey on foot to school in Langdon Hills, of the long dispute Beatrice’s widowed mother had with the Essex Education Committee after 1923 when the Council School in Laindon High Road was opened and also there was a note made online, in passing, about the misfortunes of the Ward family during 1941.

In 1949, however, Miss Beatrice Ward had become Mrs Beatrice Green and was living with her husband, Frank, (also pictured on the “Basildon Standard” cutting) in “Hope Cottage”, Hot Water Lane, Basildon.  The Greens were close neighbours of the Townsend family, Walter Townsend having bought “Liberty Hall” just before WW2, developed a smallholding and taken over Cyster’s Greengrocer business in Laindon High Road.  At this time “The Poplars” in Lee Woottens Lane was being lived in by Mr and Mrs Coleman.

Unfortunately, when the Basildon Development Corporation came into the picture, so to speak, the area around Hot Water Lane in particular was, being pretty sparsely populated, designated as the future site for the new town’s centre. The Bas Centre now occupies the site once occupied by “Liberty Hall” so, as well as the Townsends, the Greens were forced to move out to make way for the new town’s centre. Mrs Beatrice Green, quite naturally and understandably, had such a nostalgic attraction for the area that when she discovered that her father’s old bungalow, “The Poplars” in Lee Woottens Lane was not under threat of immediate demolition, she bought it and moved her family in, making the avowal to sit tight whatever happened as declared in the newspaper cutting.

For the record, Beatrice Green was not entirely alone in her stand as there were a handful of other people in the pre-New Town era who stood out against compulsory purchase but it required guts because it often led to a family living for a long time on what was a vast building site. Therefore, Beatrice deserves an accolade for keeping “The Poplars” in existence for so long.

The survival of “The Poplars” involved a stroke of fortune. The old way into the Basildon District from Vange, Fobbing or Stanford-le-Hope was via the narrow Bells Hill Road to the west of the “Five Bells” public house. Bells Hill Road was, in fact, the boundary between the parishes of Vange and Fobbing. Close to the top of Bells Hill was a junction with Dry Street, hard by Kingswood Farm. At this point, what was called “Honeypot Lane” led on down to Basildon and passed under the railway by a small tunnel, only large enough for pedestrians,  before emerging and carrying on towards the north and on to Pipps Hill.  However, at Dry Street, a short turn to the left led to the southern end of Lee Woottens Lane into which a turn to the right led past Fobbing Farm on the crest of the hill (once the site of Fobbing Windmill) before running down the hill and under the aforesaid narrow over bridge. On the south side, just before reaching the railway and its bridge, Lee Woottens Lane did a little dog leg turn towards the east which carried the road out of a direct line of approach to the bridge. It was this “dog leg” that saved “The Poplars” for so long a period.

When the Development Corporation decided to connect the A13 main road to Basildon Town Centre they did so by driving a new main road, the A176 given the name “Nethermayne”, from the roundabout then constructed immediately outside opposite the “Five Bells”, up the hill to the east of the pub and more or less parallel with Bells Hill Road, which original road remains intact.   As the new road breasted the top of the hill, its route sliced across the north end of Bells Hill Road and across Dry Street. The eastern end of Dry Street being obliterated by the new road, it left the southern end of Honeypot Lane to be renamed “Clay Hill Lane” before crossing Sparrows Herne and then taking up the further new name, “Waldegrave”. The new A176, continuing northwards and passing close by Fobbing Farm, then crossed over and obliterated Lee Woottens Lane. A short remnant of the lane still linked to Dry Street is now renamed Fobbing Farm Close (a cul-de-sac). Also, as a further short length of carriageway, Lee Woottons Lane remains linking Sparrows Herne with Nethermayne.  Beyond this point, the original Lee Woottons Lane turned into a footpath, a footpath that not only continued to run on by its old course parallel to the east of “Nethermayne” but also separated from it by the remains of the hedge that had always existed.  Approaching its northern end, this footpath was first bisected by Cherrydown West, a road leading into the Woodlands housing estate, before continuing on and diverging even further eastwards from Nethermayne behind a wide belt of trees. It was at this point that the original lane passed in front of and to the west of the still surviving “The Poplars”. After passing north of “The Poplars”, the original Lee Woottens Lane is completely obliterated, the original narrow railway bridge having been much widened to accommodate the considerable width of the A176.

Beatrice Green found that the creation of Nethermayne had not interfered with “The Poplars” and that, in addition, a new estate road, (a turning off Cherrydown West called “Fauners”) had been created to the east and to the rear of the plot upon which “The Poplars” stood.  This presented her with an opportunity; “The Poplars” plot being large enough, there was room to build another bungalow on what was, in essence, the back garden if the new build was fronted onto “Fauners”. Accordingly, an attractive new bungalow home for Beatrice was built and named very appropriately “Woottens End”. The old cottage “The Poplars” remained, a gesture of defiance in “Woottens End’s” back garden and Mrs Green, an enthusiastic horticulturalist turned it an attractive garden and potting shed that never ceased to excite interest by passersby.

By John Bathurst
On 27/03/2015
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