Wickford is a town in the south of the English county of Essex, with a population of more than 32,500. Located approximately 30 miles (50 km) east of London, it falls within the District of Basildon along with Basildon, Billericay, Laindon and Pitsea.
It has become a commuter town, serving the City of London through its direct connection to Liverpool Street through the Southend Victoria line, where a train to London takes approximately 40 minutes. The town can also be easily reached via the road network by the A127 from London and Southend-on-Sea or the A130 from Chelmsford.
Wickford is a fairly small town with a main high street. It includes shops such as Clarks, New Look, Choice, The Cooperative, W H Smith, Adrians, 99p Stores, a bakery, a coffee lounge and others. There is also a swimming pool, a library, an open-air market and a community centre within the vicinity of the town centre.
The town has existed since before 975. There is evidence that the area itself was inhabited in prehistoric probably by a tribe of Britons called Trinobantes, Roman and Saxon times. The name Wickford is of Saxon origin, Wic meaning a village, habitation, castle or dairy farm and Ford being a shallow river crossing.
Wickford was in the Middle Ages known under the names of Wiceford, Wikford, Wygeford, Wicfort and Wincfort, as referenced by the Domesday Book in the year 1086. Before the 20th century Wickford was an agricultural village. At the time of the Domesday Survey, AD 1085, 6 land-holders were recorded. Historically there have been only two considerable estates in Wickford, The Manor of Wickford Hall and The Manor of Stilemans.
It is believed that the Wickford in Washington County, Rhode Island, USA was named after this town, the English birthplace of Elizabeth Reade, step-daughter of Hugh Peters and wife of John Winthrop, Governor of Connecticut.
The Second World War
During the Second World War the edge of town was hit by one of the German doodlebugs, and on December 6th. 1944 a V2 rocket fell in Branksome Ave. about a mile west of the town centre. Around the town, in amongst the hedgerows and fields, there are numerous pillboxes constructed as a part of British anti-invasion preparations.
The flood of '58
In 1958 Wickford town centre was hit by a flood, which made national news headlines. The most striking image of the flood was a double decker bus, left stranded at Halls Corner overnight, partly submerged by the floodwater. A second bad flood in 1960 meant changes to the course of the River Crouch were made. This included turning the river into a concrete channel through the centre of the town, although this may be removed in the coming years, depending on the scale of the Wickford Masterplan (see below).