Sunday, March 25, 2007

Brentwood Writers' Circle Chairman launches new book



PEOPLE AND PLACES
BASILDON’S RECOLLECTIONS
(By permission of Newsquest Essex}

He’s done it again! Jim Reeve, chairman of Brentwood Writers’ Circle has seen record sales of his brand new book MEMORIES OF BASILDON, which was launched at Christmas. With several signings in Basildon, Billericay and recordings on BBC Essex, he is pleased with its success. Jim’s first book Wickford Memories has also been a favourite with many local folk.
From more than forty people of all ages, the author has collected personal stories which scan more than half a century of the town’s existence in its modern form. Its roots are linked to the decision of the Land Company at the end of the 19th century to purchase land from cash-strapped farmers and sell it on in plots for as little as £7. Many people living in cramped East End housing responded to the posters advertising the benefits of the country and the joys of plotland living.

One of Jim’s contributors, Elsie Hill recollects: "At weekends and school holidays we came down by train from London. On the train there would be lots of week-enders loaded with cases, rexine bags, building materials and short lengths of fishbox wood tied with string. Mum and Dad found it a long haul from Laindon Station to our plot at Old Hill Avenue with two small children, a pram, dog, food, tools and building materials. When we reached our plot, we hoisted our flag to show we had arrived and put the kettle on the fire on the bank outside. The return journey on Sunday night was just as exciting, each passenger loaded with flowers and vegetables from their plots."

Gradually, the occupiers built more substantial buildings but they had no running water, electricity or sanitary arrangements. ‘Bucket and chuck it’ was the order of the day.
Basildon was one of seven ‘new towns’ established as a result of the 1946 New Towns Act introduced by the Labour Government. Jim has now retired from his job with the Basildon Development Corporation but he himself remembers many of the plotlanders and has personally observed the tremendous growth in population, new estates, factories and firms that have generated an enormous supporting infrastructure.

Jim’s collections of anecdotes are funny, poignant and wonderfully entertaining. We learn about the pioneers’ work, education, worship and how folk people enjoyed themselves in this now huge, modern town which is steadily growing. This well-illustrated book offers readers a fascinating view of an Essex town.
Memories of Basildon by Jim Reeve
Tempus Publications £12.99
ISBN NO 0-7524-3819-0

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