Our first bonus door of East of the M60’s 2021 Advent Calendar

Before we open the first bonus door, East of the M60 would like to wish its readers old and new a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. As you couldn’t get enough of this year’s Advent Calendar, it is only fair that we go to the place where Alison Moyet, Vince Clarke and Martin Gore came from.

Yes, Basildon. A New Town which had had a reputation for being as rough as hell. It is also the place where Depeche Mode, Yazoo and one half of Erasure came from as well. Though it received New Town status in 1949, it was mentioned in The Domesday Book as Belesduna.

It is a staunchly working class town. At one point it was deemed by an observer as Britain’s Most Average Town due to its population, academic attainment rates and income. Yet statistics show it as the roughest place in Essex (122 crimes per 1000 people), making it rougher than Greater Manchester (107.9 per thousand).

Back in 1971, things were different. Basildon was hailed as being a world away from London (see also Stevenage, Welwyn Garden City, Milton Keynes, Northampton, etc) yet had good transport links with the capital. In Basildon – Our Town, we have a look at how the old town compares with the new town. It also looks at nearby Billericay.

Instead of being your usual We’ve Got A New Town And We’re Gonna Milk It type of film, Basildon – Our Town was a school project. Seven pupils and a teacher from Woodlands School made the film with a bit of help from Basildon Council’s Public Relations Section. A real coup was getting ATV’s Hugh Johns to do the commentary. (Yes, the Hugh Johns of Star Soccer and ITV Sport fame, back when he provided LWT with the highlights for Midlands games on The Big Match).

As for the school, Woodlands School is now an Academy managed by Takely Education Trust. Hugh Johns passed away on the 27 June 2007. During his fascinating life, he was also a War Veteran and commentated on many non-football related documentaries. At one time he was Sports Editor for the Southend Standard which explains the local ties with his voiceover talents.

Tomorrow, we might have another bonus door for you. You never know…

S.V., 25 December 2021.

Image by A.J Poole, 2018 (Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Generic).

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