The 12km permanent Heritage Trail opens over the weekend of 25th and 26th April 2009 in Basildon’s 60th anniversary year and aims to show residents and visitors alike that this 60 year old town has a long and vibrant history.
The ‘Our Basildon’, exploring past, present and future project- previously known as The Basildon Heritage Trail is a creative project for the whole community; encouraging young people, their families and individuals of all ages and backgrounds to look at the town through fresh eyes, to explore its past, celebrate its present and take an interest in helping to shape its future.
As heritage director Vin Harrop explains:
“When I embarked on what has now turned out to be a long and at times arduous route to create a heritage trail for Basildon, I never imagined that I would meet so many fellow travellers en route. For me, this has been a very pleasurable, at times humbling but always a rewarding experience, one that has taught me a lot about humanity and how we quite naturally come together when an idea jells and the community benefit is there for all to see.”
The Our Basildon project is led by the Foundation for Essex Arts, a fully independent community organisation that works with partners across a broad spectrum to develop this innovative enterprise.
It has been made possible with a £50,000 Heritage Lottery Grant and £18,250 from Veolia ES Cleanaway Pitsea Marshes Trust. Additional funding and support from our partners Essex County Council and Basildon District Council makes ours the first of the 32 ‘New Towns’ to have its own heritage trail.
The early Basildon community did not form naturally or organically as with most other towns. The early settlers in the 1950s and ‘60s moved into artificially designed ‘neighbourhoods’ where a lack of inward investment meant inadequate infrastructure and local amenities. This environment lead to a gradual loss of pride in the town that has meant its national image has suffered.
Basildon District Council, Councillor Malcolm Buckley thinks that the Trail will showcase the town in a positive light:
“It is great that Basildon is the first of the new towns to open a heritage trail. Although the town is relatively new, this shows that you do not need centuries of history to have a heritage. We are blessed with some good public art, open space and natural walks, and we are pleased that this trail will be opening and showing it off.”
This project means we can now begin to look at our roots, celebrate our unique heritage, and raise awareness on what Basildon has to offer to people both within and outside Essex.
The launch weekend is a momentous occasion for the Our Basildon project team; we are planning two full days of activity including a mini 2km town trail, live music, a dance battle and an opportunity to participate in creating an artwork* for the new sporting village on Saturday 25th and a guided walk around the whole Trail on Sunday 26th. See attached programme.
*The artwork by artist Lisa Hawker Ltd is commissioned by Basildon Renaissance Partnership, supported by Eastgate with the community element delivered as part of the Our Basildon launch.
Prior to the launch weekend, on Thursday 23rd April we will be presenting the winner of the prize draw from our recent ‘Basildon Through The Lens’photography exhibition at Basildon library, with his prize. Hosted at New Campus Basildon (NCB), students will have the opportunity to converse with Michael Harris and invited guests who have all visited the recent exhibition, to exchange views on ‘what makes Basildon home to you’.
NCB students will also be around the town next week as part of our project evaluation asking the community their opinions for us on a range of subjects from heritage to health.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for our local NCB students to get involved in a community project and see how the knowledge and skills they are learning on their BTEC courses in business and sport and leisure can be put into practice.”
Katy Quinn - Director of Operations at New Campus Basildon
The Trail will remain the focus of the ‘Our Basildon’ project, being the creative catalyst for a whole host of other initiatives that are currently being developed.
We are particularly pleased to announce that NHS South West Essex is funding three new elements of the project, which will be delivered later in the year:
œ Outside exercise stations along the 12km heritage trail
œ An oral history project to preserve the memories of the first members of the Basildon community and to encourage discussion between different generations
œA healthy eating initiative involving restaurants and cafes on the trail.
Dr Neel Bhaduri, Public Health Commissioning Manager at NHS South West Essex, says:
“We are very pleased to be supporting this exciting project. The NHS funded elements will be launched later this year asthey are currently in the planning stages. An important part of our work at NHS South West Essex is encouraging all people in our communities to lead healthier lifestyles and be more physically active, and preventing the development ofhealth problems - these projects will help us achieve these objectives.”
Project manager Lisa Hawker expressed the importance of this partnership:
“We are very pleased that the NHS South West Essex sees the potential of the Our Basildon project in helping to holistically address a broad range of local health needs. The Trail is a unique concept in helping the town’s people to access their roots and explore individual identity. With the NHS funding we will be able to build in three extremely effective health & wellbeing projects and utilise the groundwork already prepared in helping us, as a completely independent organisation, to deliver multiple benefits for the Basildon community.”
The launch of the Heritage Trail has been three years in the pipeline to bring Vin Harrop’s controversial vision to life. From the initial work in five of Basildon’s primary schools with photographer Bob Fisher and author Frances Clamp to the last intense year of planning with Lisa Hawker as project manager the Our Basildon Heritage Trail is preparing for presentation to the public next weekend.