Parish Boundaries around Laindon Station

By Ian Mott

Photo:Parish Boundaries around Laindon Station

Parish Boundaries around Laindon Station

Ordinance Survey Office

After receiving a comment on an article on Nightingale Avenue regarding the boundary between Laindon and Langdon Hills I realised that I needed to get around to improving the Parish Boundary Map. 

The existing parish map does not clearly show the boundaries especially around the junction of the parishes around the station so I have marked this section of the map up, as a start to assist. I will work on a larger section of the map to provide more information on the boundaries as soon as I have completed it.

This page was added by Ian Mott on 04/11/2012.
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Not wishing to throw further confusion into this very interesting discussion, I just add the following example of how the "Authorities" have over the years created the current confusion. I lived in a section of Lower Dunton Road between Third and Fourth Avenue. 

Our home was initially in the Parish of Dunton, governed by Thurrock Council and the postal address was Bulphan, Upminster. When I left home Dunton Parish had been combined with Laindon, it had been transferred to the Basildon Council and had been given a Romford Post code. 

The point of of my comment is that there is logic in the minds of the individual authorities responsible for each of the changes, but the hope of integration between them is a pipe dream. 

The only way of achieving coordinated logical decisions would be by setting them up and maintaining them through dictatorship. This would however be un-British and would extinguish this discussion.

By Ian Mott
On 19/07/2013

Further to the narrative of John B. 27/06/13. I apologise that my responses are somewhat piecemeal, but this is due to my being at an age when I am unable to assimilate all of the information and opinions in one go and as such I can only reply as and when individual items come to mind. John asks in respect of the naming of areas which is the more official agency, the Home Office or HMSO. While it was the Home Secretary who first introduced the census of the population, the authenticity of the information was derived from source, (the enumerators) and not subjected to further checks and there is nothing to suggest was used to establish local boundaries. The Controller of HMSO is responsible for the collating all of the business conducted in the House of Commons and producing the official record as Hansard. He (she) is a member of the Cabinet Office and has the right to administer Crown Copyright. The Controller is also responsible for the publication and correctness of ordnance survey maps. He (or she) is also the Director of the Office of Public Service Information and as such responsible for the National Archive of Gt.Britain, which is an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice of the UK, which also retains copies of the national census. Given the above, it would seem that the map introduced by Nina Humphrey and which is verified by the Controller of HMSO and appears to have been accepted by the Royal Mail cannot be discounted by boundaries of local origin.

By W.H.Diment
On 01/07/2013

Since John has revived this subject, I notice in his latest submission he appears to state that the censuses for areas such as Laindon were conducted on a basis of parish boundaries Whether this was done in the past it certainly did not apply in later years In 1991, I was the enumerator for part of this area and the area given to me was north of the A127 to include Wash Rd from Pipps Hill Rd, but excluding the Noak Bridge village, but included areas north of Wash Rd. such as Martindale Ave. and Noak Hill Rd as far as the bridge. Then west along Dunton Rd including the Kings Rd, estate and on to include Dunton Wayletts and the adjacent housing. Then south along Lower Dunton Rd. beyond the A127 as far as the railway bridge. This covered areas within the boundaries of the parishes of Laindon, Gt.Burstead, Little Burstead and Dunton.. The question of parishes never arose at the time.

By W.H.Diment
On 29/06/2013

I’m sure many of us are waiting anxiously for the day the 1921 Census is released. However, the 1931 Census was totally destroyed in a fire. More details on the following website: http://www.1911census.org.uk/1931.htm. There was an emergency Census taken early in 1939 due to the forthcoming war. However, it is unknown whether this will ever be released.

By Nina Humphrey(née Burton)
On 29/06/2013

John B. in his latest submission expresses surprise that the discussion of this subject has gone on for so long, yet it appears he is perpetuating the matter. He also expresses puzzlement as what constitutes an official department in the opinion of others. I too am puzzled that he appears to consider that the His (or Her) Majesty's Stationery Office and that the Royal Mail were unofficial entities, when the former at least is a civil service organisation and as such, rightly or wrongly, I believe to be official. Both of these organisations have considered that the area of Laindon to differ from the Parish boundaries. Even John in his extensive narrative helps to confirm this, as he states "whatever else is certain is that by the beginning of the 20th century, Ephraim Collings was a resident of LAINDON living in Denbigh Rd." This would appear to indicate that the Parish boundaries were not necessarily the definitive addresses of where people lived. It would be interesting if a copy of the 1931 census was produced to see how the traders south of Durham Rd. listed themselves and if these were considered incorrect why they accepted by the enumerator. Also, I fail to see how the forthcoming census of 2051 will shed any further light on the subject.

By W.H.Diment
On 28/06/2013

I must confess I am somewhat surprised that this matter has gone on so long. The facts regarding the existence of parishes are as has so far been stated and nothing will alter them. I am also puzzled because I first drew attention to the anomaly as long ago as May2011 and nobody queried the matter then. I had pointed out that the arrival of the railway and the positioning of Laindon station meant that a totally different attitude developed towards the district as a whole and ideas began to change. 

Although Laindon station was actually really on the edge of things with Laindon parish to the north and Langdon Hills parish to the south, a determination grew up among the new settlers in the area that the station should be regarded as the centre of the district and that the road we now all call the High Road, really a country lane connecting isolated farms, became a busy focal location for us all with shops spread along its length from the “Crown” to the (Old) “Fortune of War”. So why has it taken until December 2012 for the matter that was published in my article “Laindon and its Railway or how the Ancient Parish Was Lost” to be refuted? 

I am also puzzled by Mr Diment’s allusion, not for the first time, to what he calls “official departments”. So I must ask him if he thinks there is some official department more official, say, than the Home Office? I ask him this because much that I have written is based on evidence from the various census returns for the area that have been held since the beginning of the Nineteenth century. Every ten years since that time, Parliament gave authority to the Home Secretary to hold a headcount of the population of the UK. While the first few were just that, just head counts, from 1841 the way they were conducted changed and they became a record of the population recorded by virtue of each separate individual by his or her name and where they lived. It is their location that is of interest to us here. In order to conduct each census, people called “Enumerators “ were instructed to visit every dwelling place they could find in their respective area and make a record of the inhabitants they found, be it in palace, country mansion, cottage, cabin, moored boat, hut or even tent! The area to be investigated by the enumerator obviously varied according to the district allocated. In towns and cities, for example, it may have been just a few streets that were known to be overcrowded. 

However, in the Laindon district which was known to have a sparse population, the enumerator was instructed to ensure everybody in a certain parish was recorded. Parishes were chosen simply because, particularly in rural areas, it was the smallest of the administrative districts at the time. The information collected by the enumerator was written up by him or her on what was called a schedule, the completed schedules being all gathered together and eventually collated into the various forms that would eventually be published by the statisticians as the results of the Census. While this final collation is not any longer done in the Home Office because of the considerable size of the task (the job at one stage was passed to the General Registrar) it is now dealt with in the Department for National Statistics yet remains under the strict control of the UK Government. 

It is the eventual general release to the public of the enumerator’s schedules under the 100 year’s rule that the knowledge of how the information was gathered and the importance of the old parish system in the Laindon/Langdon Hills area came to light. So far the schedules written for the censuses of 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901 and 1911 these have all been published and have shown that the parishes each time were the officially imposed limits on the work of the various enumerators and where they had to search. We will have to wait until 2021 to find out if the same delineation applied in 1921 and until 2031 regarding the census of 1931. I suspect that it will prove to be the same. Because no census was held in 1941 we shall have to stick around until 2051 to find out how things in 1951 when the parish boundaries had been abolished following the formation of the Billericay Urban District to replace the old Rural District. 

In his comment of the 3rd June 2013, Mr Diment draws attention to the various businesses clustered near Laindon station that are clearly not in the parish of Laindon but whose owners were happy to trade as though they were. As I have pointed out there was a clear determination to regard the station as the community centre the district hitherto had lacked. The only business that had some degree of legitimacy in using the name Laindon was Churchill Johnson which was a district adjacent to what was called “Laindon Wharf” which was a siding off the Laindon Station goods depot and the means by which the firm obtained most of the building materials they purveyed. The same firm also had a timber yard at Vange Creek that was supplied with its materials by barge. All the other businesses listed were clearly happy to be generally regarded as being “in” Laindon. Included among the businesses named by Mr Diment as being close to Laindon Station yet remaining within the purlieus of Little Burstead parish is the surname Collings. This fact may well have particular significance because, in some respects, there is a strong possibility that “Mr Collings” is virtually to be seen as being synonymous with “Mr Laindon”. According to reports, the name of Elijah Collings is to be found in the district of Laindon as early as 1881. This is seven years before Laindon station was opened and at a time that the area, particularly that part of that was to be seen as the “centre of the future”, was little more than a run-down agricultural slum. 

The farm called Little Gobions or Gubbins, the pastures of which extended northwards in Laindon parish and south and eastwards in Lee Chapel parish were ripe for a speedy sale to both the expanding London, Tilbury and Southend Railway Company and their accompanying land speculators. What is certain is that within a very short while of Laindon Station being opened in 1888, Little Gubbins farm was obliterated. The arrival of Elijah Collings in the Laindon district at a time when the London Tilbury Railway was constructing its direct link between Barking and Pitsea is in a degree in keeping with the little else we know about the man. Elijah was a Devonshire man, born in 1855 who had married a girl (Jane) from Wantage. The three children they had (two girls and a boy) had been born in the Wimbledon area of South West London. This last fact may well have a special significance although we can do little more than speculate about it. 

In the period of the late 1870s and early1880s South West London, like its counterpart north of the Thames, North West London, was undergoing rapid expansion of its housing. The only difference between NW London and SW London was that the former was to later find that it had a champion in the shape of the Poet Laureate, John Betjeman, who sang the praises of the Metropolitan Railway Company who did so much to advance the desirability of living in “Metro Land”. The equivalent factor to the Metropolitan Railway Company’s influence on NW London in South West London was the combined influence exerted by the London and South West and the London Brighton and South Coast Railway Companies. The rapid expansion of their systems encouraged an equally rapid expansion of housing estates, a building programme that attracted the efforts of speculative builders from all over the place. 

The suggestion is that Elijah Collings was one of these while his young family was establishing itself between1878 and 1881. Elijah was later (1901) to declare himself to be a “Builder in his own account” (that is “self-employed”) a fact that strongly hints at the possibility of indulgence in speculative house building. 

By coincidence, the eldest brother of the writer’s grandfather, one Charles Bathurst, was, in the period here under discussion engaged in speculative building in the Wimbledon area, around Tooting, Collier Wood, Merton and South Wimbledon. Cousins have given an insight into what “speculative building” could mean to families when they explained that the continuation of the process for the “small” (under capitalised) man was totally dependent upon the sale of the house just built! It was further explained that, at such times of rapid expansion, prospective purchasers would frequently be granted a fortnight’s free occupancy of the property as a “try-out” and that it was not usual for many to take advantage of the situation and to do a “moonlight flit” just before the trial period was up! My Wimbledon cousins furnished me with many anecdotes about what it meant to grow up in the household of an under-funded speculative builder like Charley Bathurst. Named as a bankrupt on one occasion, the family were compelled themselves to do more than one “moon-light” to escape their dad’s creditors. 

Although it still remains speculation, was this the kind of environment that Elijah Collings, self-employed builder, experienced while raising his family in much the same area? It is possible and the means of escape could well present itself to him in the possibility of indulging in the practice of “sub-contracting” which, although containing its own measure of risk, (is the price offered to do the job too low?) did offer a chance if further work from the main contractor was the result. The opportunity to take on sub-contract work was, in the period of the 19th century often afforded by the continuous determination of the railways to expand. 

The prime movers in the development of the Wimbledon area were, as already explained, the LSW and the B and SC Railways. These two railway companies fostered the Metropolitan District Railway which had already featured as the southern section of the (London) Circle Line, serving as the link between the West End of London via Westminster and the Thames Embankment through to the City and on to East London. The two larger companies encouraged, through subsidy, the District to bridge the Thames at Putney and extend their service as far south as Wimbledon. Could this venture have prompted Elijah to consider, sub-contracting not to this particular project but to places further afield? For the MDR (Metropolitan District Railway) was simultaneously at this time being fostered by the LTSR to expand to the east, initially as far as East Ham and Barking and ultimately as far as Upminster, a station yet to be reached by the “new” proposed “short” route to Pitsea. 

While it is interesting to note in passing that the MDR’s long-time ambition to expand as far as the “seaside” at Southend Central never reached fruition, it remained for years very much an ambition shared by the communities along much of the route, including that of Laindon. As late as 1936, the “Recorder” published an account of enquiries into the possibilities of such a venture being made by a local worthy and council member! The advent of widespread car-ownership has much to answer for. 

The extension of the LT&SR from Upminster though to Pitsea still under construction may conceivably have inspired an ambitious self-employed builder like Elijah Collings to offer to undertake the necessary building work at an agreed price. This would have entailed eastwards from East Horndon station, the bridging of three public thoroughfares (Tilbury Road, Lower Dunton Road and what is now known as High Road), the provision of three “occupation” bridges for the convenience of farmers (two of these still remain in use as footbridges), a row of cottages for the occupation of railway staff, a railway station (Laindon) complete with a house for its Station Master, as well as sundry other features like culverts, siphons etc. Was Elijah involved in the construction of all or some of these? If these were the sort of circumstances that first introduced an astute Devonian like Elijah Collings to the Laindon district he must have quickly realised that it was a district unlike many others that were being similarly provided. Neither Laindon nor adjacent Langdon Hills had anything like a discernible centre unlike, for instance, Billericay, Rayleigh or Rochford, places which the LSTR’s rival, the Great Eastern Railway, was providing with stations on its new branch constructed from Brentwood to Prittlewell. Laindon and Langdon Hills consisted simply of a loose confederation of run-down and impoverished farms with, in the case of Laindon its greatest concentration of population at Laindon Common close enough to Billericay to make the local population think that community its centre. Similarly, in Langdon Hills it was at Dry Street were residents were clustered, again well distant from the new Laindon railway station. 

It is possible that much of the foregoing is just purely speculation and bears little resemblance to what really happened, however what is certain is that by the beginning of the Twentieth century Ephraim Collings was permanently resident in the Laindon area and proving to be a remarkably influential force. He was resident in a street named Denbigh Road which was one of several such prospective “streets” that had been marked out (and mapped) on the now redundant former arable fields of Little Gubbins (Gobions) Farm and now known as the “Station Estate”. This Farm had succumbed rapidly to the depravations of the land developers and their various agents following the acquisition of grounds as the site for the new Laindon Station. Ephraim’s residency in Denbigh Road has, in itself, something of a special significance because it was here, very close to the “Railway Cottages” constructed simultaneously with the Station, that a distinctive terrace (“Denbigh Terrace”) of houses had been erected comprising of five individual dwellings. Of Denbigh Terrace it was always said that it had been constructed in the form they took as intended accommodation for the staff of the projected “Laindon Racecourse” which, as described elsewhere, came to nought due to its failure to attract the financial investment necessary for fruition. Here we must return to a further brief indulgence in speculation. If the proximity of Ephraim Collings, by virtue of his residency in Denbigh Road, links him to the abortive “Laindon Racecourse” project is anything to go by, it is quite clear he was a man of considerable ambition. We know that he certainly was involved in the prospects of providing Laindon with, firstly, its own “Waterworks” Company as well as its own Town Gas Generation plant. 

For many years, in Northumberland Avenue there was, adjacent to the still extant foot crossing over the railway, what was variously called the “Waterworks” or the “Water-tower”, a construction designed to provide pressure to the water that was contained in the large tank atop its brickwork. This was said to have been Ephraim’s brainchild and although now long demolished, in railway circles, the foot crossing is still referenced by the same name! Elijah Collings may well have had some pipe dreams or thwarted ambitions for Laindon that came to nothing but at least one thing is certain. In the end he proved to have successfully provided the basis upon which a moderate commercial dynasty was based. This was to prove to be advantageous not only to his family but to the community as a whole. Such was that dynastic foundation that, well over a century and five generations later, it still remains commercially active in the district. 

Initially, these advantages were achieved by the construction of a short row of shops with living accommodation above along the east side of the main road, previously renamed “Station Road”, but subsequently, and still, called “High Road”. The row commenced at the junction with newly established Windsor Road (aka Windsor Hill) which road was, effectively, the termination of an equally newly established road from Blue House Farm to Laindon Station. The initial terrace of shops stretching northwards along the main road consisted of no more than five commercial units, though such was the enthusiasm of the builders that the corner unit was so devised as to be divisible into two smaller shops. As if anticipating an eager response to the opening of these commercial undertakings, a further two shop units of the “lock-up” variety were created extending into Windsor Road itself. These were never ever used, thus emphasising the speculative nature of the venture. 

However, the initial effort in the main road itself encouraged others to follow suit and further shops either singly or in pairs began to appear further northwards. At the same time a similar parade of shops was created on the west side of the main thoroughfare. It was through his involvement with building of these short terraces or parades of shops that Elijah Collings the self-employed builder was, at last, able to establish that link he so obviously desired with his newly adopted home ground. No doubt with the future of his family in mind, the name Collings appeared on the façade of one of the first shops on the east side of the main road and his daughters ( Kate and Martha) were established as a “Haberdasher and Outfitter”. However, as is clear from an early photograph of the frontage of this shop, commercial viability in an environment which was expanding only very slowly, was called for. From the manner and type stock gracing the outside of the shop in the photo, “General Dealer” might have been a more apt description of what was for sale it seems to foreshadow the kind of emporium the Collings has imprinted on the minds of so many who became so well aware of the family’s later undertakings. 

Later, when two adjacent shops on the west side of the main road had been acquired and one these was opened as “Laindon Station Post Office” with Kate Collings the appointed Post Mistress, the shop next door was opened as T E Collings by Elijah’s son Thomas who following his father’s footsteps as a self-employed builder, reached his majority at the commencement of the new century in 1921. Without a doubt, for well over half a century, T E Collings, trading ostensibly as a Builder’s Merchant, but becoming one of those shops that sold pretty nearly everything it was able to rustle up from stock in the hardware line, and by doing so, catered for household needs in practically every department except food! Known to the district as “The Oil Shop” a staple ingredient that was sold was paraffin, used extensively throughout the district initially for light and heat and, even after the arrival in the area of Town Gas and Electricity, still remained in extensive use as supplementary heating in dwellings to which solid fuel delivery was made difficult by unmade roads. 

The opening of the two small parades of shops in the proximity of the station served as an inducement for the building of further retail businesses, some in further short parades with accommodation above, others single storey lock up shops. Almost exclusively, all remained one-man bands, many with the proprietors living “over the shop”. There were a few who had more than one outlet, like for instance Cottis the Baker who had his main bakery and shop on the south side of the railway and a lock-up shop to the north as well as a further outlet at Billericay. Similarly, Curtis Boots and Shoes, had a branch at East Ham although he chose to make his home at Laindon. Several of the Banks opened small offices as it became worthwhile as business for the retail businesses increased. Only two retail chains both in Grocery (Green’s Stores and Home and Colonial) attempted local branches. One retailer, however, The Grays Cooperative Society, affiliated to the Cooperative Wholesale Society with its HQ at Grays Thurrock opened its own parade of retail outlets consisting of Grocery, Butchery, Greengrocery, Bakery, Tobacconist and Drapery and Footwear Departments. 

In the late 1950s the Basildon Development Corporation began the task of what they and others saw as the “tidying up” of the Laindon/Langdon Hills shopping facility. Never, since its first inception following the opening of the railway station in 1889, the subject of any attempt at planning, the facility consisted of an admixture of small shops and business premises interspersed with individual dwellings and still undeveloped plots many of which had been long neglected. Starting from the initial small parades constructed a short distance from the station built in the last decade of the 19th century by the time of the outbreak of World War Two the shopping “centre” had, in effect, become a “spine” that, stretching from the (old) “Fortune of War” in Laindon to the “Crown” on the summit of Langdon Hills, had almost 150 outlets. 

In much the same manner as the railway had bisected the district as it passed through from west to east largely indifferent to the boundaries of the various parishes it traversed, so the spine road which became known as “High Road” bisected the district from north to south. There was a difference however, while ignoring the parish boundaries in much the same manner, the spine road served to unify the district into virtually a single community, simply because each section of the High Road had something that was of service or attractive to those residents who lived closest to the other half. This sense of a unified community, one melded into a single unit, was greatly assisted by the fact that, throughout the 1920s and 30s, the permanent population in the area had begun to considerably outnumber the more transient population, those who regarded the district solely as a holiday home. This expanded population, largely composed of newcomers to the district, held little regard for the original parish boundaries. Indeed, many had little regard towards differentiating between “Laindon” and “Langdon Hills”, looking on these two communities as one and the same. 

Even the plans of the Land Speculators and their agents who, while waiting patiently for their plots of land to be purchased, cherished the idea that the names of their “estates” would survive as a reminder of their involvement were thwarted with one exception. That exception was the small collection of roads rather remotely placed at the south end of Green Lane which was invariably referred to as the “Primrose Hill Estate”. There was a similar exception with regard to the original parishes that made up the district. This related to that part of Dunton that lay to the south of the railway. In that part of the district the permanently resident proportion of the population remained outnumbered by the temporary residents right up to the outbreak of WW2. As a result the permanent residents adopted the habit of announcing that they were “from Dunton” by way of explaining just how distinctive they were from the remainder of the district. The parish of Dunton north of the railway was a different kettle of fish. Several of the roads that were turnings off Laindon High Road running in a westerly direction traversed the boundaries of Little Burstead and continued westward until they extended almost as far as the Lower Dunton Road. Despite this fact, they were still considered to be “in Laindon” and. In common with most of the residents of the remainder of both Langdon Hills and Laindon, their residents, when called upon to explain where they lived, would invariably to the names of the streets in which they lived. Despite the fact that the general population of the district were reluctant to accede that they were turning their backs upon the long course of history and on the ideas of those who had populated the district before they did, nevertheless there remained a residue of interest of what had gone before. 

In fact this “interest” remained a necessity right up until 1936 for those who wished to involve themselves in the interests of the wider community. This was because as long as the administration of the district remained in the hands of the Billericay Rural District, this only had elected representation in the shape of two councillors covering the whole of Laindon and Langdon Hills and one each for Little Burstead and Lee Chapel. Representation of the individual voices of the community was best heard through the medium of the Local Parish Councils which held regular public meetings in locations like the various schools of the district and places like the Charlton Club or St Michaels Hall in Salisbury Drive. To be elected to the parish councils meant that interested persons attended the Annual General Meeting of each individual council and, after being nominated and seconded, selected by an open show of hands of all present at the meeting. 

In 1934 the appointed clerk for the Laindon Parish Council was given as J M Donaldson of School House, Basildon Road; that for Langdon Hills as H M Lee of Lee Chapel Lane; for Lee Chapel as A E Barratt of Northcote Road and that for Little Burstead as H Ginbey of Railway Approach. This system of garnering the opinion of residents remained in use until 1936. In that year secret ballots were introduced for the election of a series of councillors to a newly formed Billericay Urban District Council and the Parish Councils ceased to matter with several of their representatives securing election to the new council which took effect from the beginning of 1937.

By John Bathurst.
On 27/06/2013

I note John's latest submission that my previous comments are based on incorrect assumption and if so I must accept a great deal of my memories are false. As an example it would seem that many of the Laindon businesses, such as Churchill & Johnson, the Winston Club, Andrews 'Laindon' Post Office, Collings, Coles, Clarkes, Goddens, Knights and Greens Store and all the others south of Durham Rd. were in Little Burstead and not Laindon as I erroneously remembered. Also, as Ian's footnote states he will endeavour to remove incorrect information from the archives, will this not prove to be difficult in the case of Nina's map of Laindon and those official departments which accepted its validity.

By W.H.Diment
On 03/06/2013

In his messages of 31st May, Mr. Diment makes the incorrect assumption when all that has really happened is that he had forgotten that often fresh information comes to light which means that previously held ideas have to be changed. 

He will remember that, in the long discussion that took place on this website about what name should be given to the road running between the Old Fortune of War and the Crown Hotel, “High Road” or” High Street” or, alternatively, “Main Road” as it was shown on the 1900 plot plan for the “Manor Estate”, it was discovered that when 1911 Census was taken the road was being called “Station Road”! As far as maps are concerned, Mr. Diment may have forgotten that the smaller scale versions were often less reliable than others on certain details. 

I recently obtained an OS map for the Thames Estuary area first published in 1922 at the One Inch to the Mile scale. The name “Langdon Hills” does not appear on it at all, only in connection with what it refers to as “Langdon Hill Hall” adjacent to the old church near “Goldsmiths”. The name “Laindon”, however, appears no less than three times on the same map, including at a point adjacent to “Bebington’s Corner” where it appears as “Laindon Hills”. As far as photographs are concerned and in particular that of “Bebington’s Corner” to which Mr. Diment refers in connection with “Lovely Laindon part 1”. I did not post this photograph even though it is attributed to me! I do not have a copy of it although the self-same picture but without the legend appears on page 3 of the book published in 1997 of “Basildon” by Peter Lucas. 

The copy published on the website looks like one of the post-card views that were published by, among others, Barrett’s the Laindon hairdresser or the Francis Frith company, although I cannot imagine Mr. Barrett making such a mistake with the location.

Editor: Many of the photographs that are provided to the archive have details written on them. these were added either by the printer or the owner. 
We are now working our way through the site and removing all the erroneous material but in the early days of the archive my aim was to get information into the public domain and I did not have the time to rectify any such errors.

By John Bathurst
On 02/06/2013

Thank you Ian for your additional information in respect of the parish boundaries, but possibly being in my dotage I cannot understand how an ordnance survey map said published with the authority of the director of H.M. Stationary Office gives incorrect information as to ones area of residence when it would appear that even the Royal Mail accepted this as being correct. If the ecclesiastical names are the more correct designation, why do I believe I moved to Laindon and not Laindon-cum-Basildon which does not appear on my house deeds?

By W.H.Diment
On 31/05/2013

I have looked at all the maps I can find that show the parish boundaries and have found the following that I hope clarify the situation. 

1 The parishes of Laindon and Langdon Hills were separated by little Burstead and Lee Chapel. 

2 The properties at the North end of Raglan Road were in the parish of Langdon Hills with Little Burstead to the east at the bottom of their gardens. 

Just to show how complex the junction between the parishes is in this area I give the following example of the difficulties it caused. 

Patsy has a aunt who was living in a property at the western end of Salisbury Avenue when she got married in 1931. They had to go to Little Burstead Church for the ceremony (It was the norm in those days to marry in the parish of the bride).

Editor: I have replaced the map to make the parish boundaries clearer. The details of the map are as follows Surveyed in 1863-73. Re-leveled 1921. Boundaries revised 1919-20. Roads and buildings added 1938 (note the boundaries marked /   / do not fall in their correct relationship relative to local detail

By Ian Mott
On 31/05/2013

This discussion has moved from the original subject as to whether the home of Alan Davies was ever in Laindon to one of parish council boundaries. Quite simply we are at variance as John states that Raglan Rd. 'was never in Laindon'. Yet an ordnance survey map show it was, but which John is reluctant to accept as he states he has has never seen it. I have never commented upon which Parish it was ever located in, as even this is not clear. Until there is some evidence that the ordnance survey map is wrong I will continue accept it as being factually correct. Ironically, John in his page of 'Lovely Laindon' posts a picture of H.E.Bebbington estate office on the corner of Berry Lane labelled Laindon

By W.H.Diment
On 31/05/2013

In his submission on this posting on 28th May 2013 Mr. Diment says he relies on what he reads and on his memory in forming the observations he makes on this website. Since in his entry on 24th May he makes reference to part of an Ordnance Survey map posted by Mrs. Humphrey that he suggests indicates that Raglan Road was once in Laindon and not, as I have contended, in either Langdon Hills or Little Burstead, I assume he is in this instance relying on what he has read. I have not been able to trace the map to which he refers and do not know at what scale it had been drawn and so am unable to comment further at this stage. 

What I am able to do, however, is to assure Mr.Diment that all my comments made concerning the parish boundaries of the area are based on my study of the various OS maps I have which cover the period from 1804 (when this official manner of mapping first began) up to 1936 when it was decided that parish boundaries were no longer considered to be relevant in the Billericay Urban District. For this reason I would point out that the map drawn at the scale of 6 inches to 1 mile that was posted by Mr Mott on 11th November 2012 was part of the Ordnance Survey made in the 1930s. As this shows Raglan Road and adjacent Beatrice Road are not in Laindon but in either Langdon Hills or alternatively Little Burstead, the latter parish still being extant at the time, any suggestion otherwise is incorrect. Because of the scale of the map and the fact that Mr Mott had highlighted the indicated parish boundaries, it was not easy to detect if the boundary line of Little Burstead bisected any properties constructed in Raglan Road or not.

Editor: I am revisiting the map to correct a missing parish boundary between Laindon and Lee Chapel I will also cover a slightly larger area.

By John Bathurst
On 30/05/2013

Further to John's latest submission, he states "That quite clearly, Raglan Road was never in Laindon" and that the map of parish boundaries confirms this and that the BUDC electoral roll also shows it to be in Langdon Hills. Yet an HMSO Ordnance Survey Map shows it to be in Laindon. It would seem that the dates of the two maps might give some indication as to the apparent conflicting information. 

Also quoting the Billericay UDC records, these would have been after 1937, have the BRDC records also been similarly researched. 

John further states that it would seem that the LT&S railway was later stated to be the boundary between Laindon and Langdon Hills but gives no date as to when this took effect and by whose authority. 

As a person who is not given to extensive research and my opinions based on what I read and my own memory, it would seem to me that Raglan Road was definitely once a part of Laindon, although I would hesitate to say when, as I cannot imagine that the HMSO and the Royal Mail would be in error, as surely they would meticulously confirm the facts before publication.

By W.H.Diment
On 28/05/2013

Quite clearly, the time period involved is of the essence. As the published map indicated, Raglan Road intersected the parish boundary between Little Burstead and Langdon Hills. A map of larger scale is required if the way in which that boundary affected the individual properties in Raglan Road (never more than seven dwellings) is to be established. One thing is quite clear, however. Raglan Road was never in Laindon. 

After 1937 it definitely became part of Langdon Hills. In that year, no doubt to the delight and relief of the Council who must have found the holding of the always lively and noisy Parish Council meetings a trial (according to all the accounts I have read, the members of the public who attended these meetings were always banging on about the poor state of the district’s roads and paths), parishes were abolished. This was because of the upgrading of the Billericay Rural District to an Urban District. This meant that Council Meetings were subsequently only ever held at Billericay, a fact that deterred the folk of Laindon and Langdon Hills from attending due to the inadequate bus service! Ever after, and until its total obliteration by re-development, Raglan Road was always included in the Electoral Roll as being part of the Langdon Hills Ward of the BUDC. 

It would seem that a decision had been made that the boundary between Laindon and Langdon Hills should henceforth be the LTS Railway, thus writing off a thousand years of history just like that!

By John Bathurst
On 28/05/2013

While John's submission of 26/05/13, gives his usual historically correct details with regards to formation of our parishes in days gone by, it does not answer the question as to whether these supersede the later renaming of areas as in Alan's case, presuming he was born in Raglan Road, was he have been correct in assuming he was born in Laindon and not in an earlier naming of the area.

By W.H.Diment
On 26/05/2013

Parish boundaries were set long, long before anybody dreamed up the idea of having anything like a “post office”. In England, parishes came about as the result of the inhabitants adopting the Christian religion. This means that the origin of some parishes goes as far back as the Anglo-Saxon period. The building of a church and the appointing of a priest to officiate in it was the usual reason. In Essex, there are some examples of churches of Saxon origin (e.g. St Peters, Bradwell-on-Sea and St Andrew, Greenstead, near Chipping Ongar). 

In the area of our interest on this website, however, it is not easy to establish how long ago the various parishes were founded although the parish churches give some clues. The church of St Michael, Fobbing, for instance, has two windows of Anglo-Saxon origin although the rest of the church is of later origin and, although Fobbing’s church is well distant from Laindon, its parish boundaries embraced some of the lands of Lee Wootens farm now embraced into the Lee Chapel North estate. 

As soon as a church was built and priest appointed to operate it the problem arose of operating costs for the undertaking. To get round this problem, the area around were the church stood was designated as its “parish” (a word derived from the Greek for “living nearby”). The owners of all the land that fell within the boundaries of the parish were expected to donate to the church one tenth of the income (usually in kind) they derived from that land. This was known as “the tithe” and this system was devised in England by the Saxon King Ethelwulf in the year 855. As a system of general taxation it remained in use until 1836. In consequence the limits of parishes became important and the yearly ceremony of “Beating the Bounds” was often introduced and is still adopted to this day in some places. It serves as a reminder of the fact that the extent of individual parishes became a matter of economic conditions, aggravated by the abolition of the Monasteries, led to a serious increase in poverty, lawlessness and the incidence of begging. In this period the individual members of English society were adjudged to “belong” to the parish in which they had been born and the matter of leaving the area became possible only with the permission of a burgeoning authority. 

It was at this historical period, in 1538, that the initial enactments known as the “Poor Law” began directed at the “impotent poor”. The convenience of the existence of the small social unit, the parish, in the charge of an educated administrator and already blessed with revenue raising powers, was obvious. Thus it was that on the foundation of the parish was, through time, built up the fabric of the modern day Nation State. It was the existence of the parish that enabled the ground to be laid out for the application of the Poor Law that would eventually blossom into the present day Welfare State. 

It was in the parish that the process began of garnering the information that enabled the compilation of the statistics so vital to modern everyday living. It was the existence of the parish that enabled the Established Church and Nation State to remain intertwined and it was the parish that, until 1937, remained a vital democratic link with local government for so many. Even to this day the parish remains for many a vital means of identity of their existence in this urbanised country.

By John Bathurst
On 26/05/2013

Bill Diment raises an interesting point. He asks "Whose designation of areas has the greater claim to correctness, those of the ecclesiastical authorities or those of Whitehall?" Is there a whiff of the centuries old power struggle between church and state in the air here? I am of course relieved to discover that I was reared in Laindon as I was always told. I wonder what address was used by those whose bungalow sat astride the boundary between Laindon and Langdon Hills? Did the postman return mail as "not at this address" if the ecclesiastical address was used rather than the state address? Was the address determined by the parish in which the front door rested?

By Alan Davies
On 25/05/2013

Further to Alan's submission of 05/11/12. While it seems he has accepted that he unknowingly lived in Langdon Hills, the H.M.S.O. Ordnance Survey Map which Nina submitted shows it to be in Laindon and that his postal address was correct. Whose designation of areas has a greater claim to correctness, those of the Ecclesiastical authorities or those of Whitehall?

By W.H.Diment
On 24/05/2013

In my contribution to this website (“Laindon and its Railway") of 5th May 2011 I pointed out that the decision by the London Tilbury and Southend Railway in the 1880s to provide a short cut from Barking to Pitsea via Hornchurch and Upminster did nothing to help the present day local historian seeking to add to the website’s content without creating more confusion over the area’s nomenclature. As the map shows, despite calling their newly built station in 1888 “Laindon” the new booking office and Station Master’s House was in the parish of Little Burstead while the cottages built for the railway staff on the other side of the thoroughfare we now know as “High Road” was in the same parish. 

To add to the confusion, the east ends of the station’s platforms were in the adjacent parish of Lee Chapel and, in fact, on its way from the West to the East of the district, at no point is the railway actually routed through the parish of Laindon! This is because, contrary to the popular opinion held by many of the area’s residents, the districts of Langdon Hills and Laindon are NOT adjacent parishes. There is nothing particularly unusual in this fact as there are many towns or villages in the UK where the station built to serve the community they are named after is a considerable distance away and Laindon’s parish boundary is not more than 200 yards to the north. 

The only mystery that remains is why the railway builders chose to call the station “Laindon” and not “Langdon”, given that, in 1888, both communities had much the same tiny number of residents as each other and the parish boundary of Langdon Hills is only 200 yards to the south. It could be that some purist was aware that the name Langdon Hills involves what is known as a tautology (“don” means “hill”) and confusion has long existed over the similarity between the pronunciation of “Laindon” and “Langdon” as some map entries often indicate.

By John Bathurst
On 24/05/2013

How on earth were the parish boundaries determined? Who determined them and when? 

In the area of the High Road and Vowler Road the bounday between Langdon Hills and Laindon appears to start a few yards south of the intersection with Vowler Road. From there it seems to cut through the middle of a few properties to join Vowler Road about a quarter of its way to Berry Lane. Proceeding along the centre of Vowler Road the boundary then cuts through the middle of other properties, this time on the north side of Vowler Road, and then proceeds along a ditch cum stream that ran at the back of Raglan Road. 

It follows that several families along this tortuous path must have routinely eaten in one parish and slept in another!! Were the rates different throughout the parishes? If so this must have caused some confusion for those families whose property fell in two different parishes. 

I can only assume that the parish boundaries were set up originally by the religious authorities prior to any development and that these same religious authorities later saw no reason to change for the sake of clarity. Or simply refused to.

Editor: Alan the parishes were set up when Laindon was just a small group of hamlets linked by trackways and usually followed farm boundaries. The rates were set by the Local District Council and only in areas where there is a parish council will this have an effect on the cost.

By Alan Davies
On 12/11/2012

Well, well, well! For over seventy years I thought we lived in Laindon. So did everyone else around us including the postman who regularly delivered letters to Lowlands, Raglan Rd., Berry Lane, Laindon, Essex. Now I discover we lived in Langdon Hills. Life is full of surprises!

By Alan Davies
On 05/11/2012
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