The country park to the south of Basildon is worth a visit. It has virtually nothing to recommend it in terms of scenery - as all you get are stunning views of marshes, pylons and, wait fot it ; Canvey Island.
On the other hand there is a Free Powerboat museum, several restored Essex barns and house from other parts of the county, a marina, some craft workshops and a cafe.
Dont be put off by the municipal dump which also shares its approach road.
As the complexion of the local government changes, so does the name of the park. Conservative councils usually call it 'Pitsea Hall park' but New Labour always change the signs back to ' Wat Tyler park'.
So who was Wat Tyler ? (from the BBC website)
By the Late Middle Ages, conditions for the peasant labourers had become intolerable: the population had been severely reduced by the Black Death, and protracted wars had led to economic depression and increased government taxation*.
The revolt of 1381 began in Essex and spread rapidly across southeast England, becoming a massive popular uprising made up of landowners and artisans as well as common workers. Wat Tyler appeared as leader of the rebels in Kent. Tyler and Richard II eventually met face-to-face a confrontation which gave Richard the reputation of a child hero (he was 14)
Sourbugger adds :
So the Poll tax (the first one) was repealed, a key Tyler demand, although Wat died shortly afterwards from a wound inflicted by the mayor of London. I suppose Mrs Thatcher's introduction of a second poll tax in the 1980's accounts for the sensitivity applied to the name of the place.
Despite the wrangles over funding, I was impressed that the Church of England has managed to build a truely striking building in the midst of all the awful 60's concrete. For a town that is renowned for its secular and philistinic culture, it is certainly a turn up for the books !
St Martin's itself is a fairly non-descript 60's church, although it does house some very fine modern stain-glassed windows (see other tip).
The glass bell tower itself, is seperate from the main church (again unusual) and is believed to be only one of its type in the world.
I am grateful to the excellent website Basildon History online for the Photo.
Basildon is what is known as a 'new town' created in the post-war period to relieve the housing shortages of London.
This statue was commissioned in the Late 1950's and is commonly seen as the symbol of the town.
The idea of giving new birth is quite clear, especially when it was unveiled it was estimated that one third of the population were in pushchairs.
When the water flows it is quite a graceful monument, even if it is surrounded by acres of grey windswept concrete.
Some people have rather unfairly suggested that the statue shows all Basildon babies are born to unmarried mums ! I know that there have been moves in the past to add a father, but one has yet to materialise yet.