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South Ockendon shown within Essex
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Post town||SOUTH OCKENDON|
|Ambulance||East of England|
|EU Parliament||East of England|
South Ockendon is an ancient parish. It was a village before the Norman Conquest and had a priest in 1085. It is mentioned in the Domesday Book as Wocheduna, conjecturally named after a Saxon chief, Wocca, whose tribe lived on a hill. The suffix "don" in Old English means a low hill in open country. Until the late 1940s, the village centred on The Village Green, with its Norman Church closely adjoining "The Royal Oak" a 14th-century tavern with a 17th-century northern extension. North, South and West Roads all converge on The Green.
The rail line was built in 1892 as a through line from Tilbury Docks to the Midlands and further north, via Upminster, Romford and on.
In 1912, Mollands Farm to the south of the village was bought for use as a 'rehabilitation' facility for what are now termed 'disadvantaged' or 'educationally challenged' people. It gradually developed into a major mental hospital (known locally as The Colony) or as South Ockendon Psychiatric Hospital. The hospital closed about 1993 and was demolished in 1998 as an indirect result of the devastating "South Ockendon Report" which redefined the borders of bad management of mental patients and led to a nationwide re-appraisal of mental care in the UK. Redevelopment of the former hospital site soon followed. A major housing site comprising 688 dwellings was completed in 2000. This is known as the Brandon Groves estate.
Separately, South Ockendon village became a location for prefabricated houses (prefabs) accommodating bombed-out residents of East London/West Essex in the very late 40's. Much of the original post war construction was undertaken by former German Prisoners of war. The majority of these were demolished in the late-1960s when a sizeable Greater London Council estate, Leca plan "concrete" construction homes – the Flowers' Estate – was built to replace them, once more with pre-fabricated dwellings, albeit of a superior design. There were prefabs along the length of Orchard Road, originally, but they were replaced by more conventional brick houses. Current plans to rebuild a major part of South Ockendon particularly 'the Flowers Estate' are seen by local people of just another attempt to rip apart an established community.
In the 1970s The Ford Motor Company factory at Aveley housed Ford's Advanced Vehicle Operations which built cars such as the RS1600. The plant was wound down gradually from the late 90's but closed entirely in 2004, when the last 150 jobs were lost. The majority of the 150 accepted transfers to other Ford or ancillery sites around Essex. The 'Aveley' plant was situated along and west of the railway line, adjacent to Ockendon station in the part of Ockendon now known as "Belhus". Demolition of the structures remaining on the site started in January 2014 and is expected to take 20 weeks.
South Ockendon's most famous resident is (claimed to be) Michael Stannard, who used to play for West Ham United wearing the number 9 shirt. Others, however, might say that Terry Venables, the original "El Tel", who was born Dagenham, lived in flats in Corran Way and went to Lennards School (partnered with Culverhouse) is a more enduringly famous resident than Mr Stannard.
The most famous resident should be Thomas Bennett Sturgeon, who was responsible for all the merino sheep imported into Australia and New Zealand, forming the entire basis of their wool and lamb economy.
The railway line from Upminster to Grays separates the old village of South Ockendon from Belhus, which has been in continuous development since the early 1950s and has been subsumed, in name at least, into South Ockendon. Belhus effectively divides Aveley from Ockendon. More correctly the M25 motorway makes that division. The railway line itself is a spur between Grays Thurrock and Upminster of the line from Fenchurch Street Station (in London)to Southend and Shoeburyness. This line splits at Barking into the northern track through Upminster, West Horndon, Laindon, Basildon etc. and the southern track through Rainham, Purfleet, Grays, Tilbury, Stanford le Hope and Pitsea. Trains through Ockendon station run mostly at half-hour intervals and take about half an hour to reach Fenchurch St. Local buses join South Ockendon with Upminster, Romford, Brentwood, Grays, Basildon and Lakeside. There are two TFL routes 347 runs from Ockendon Station via Cranham, Upminster and Harolds Wood to Romford while 370 routes by Corbets Tey,Upminster and Hornchurch also to Romford.
The Ockendon Academy (formally known as The Ockendon School, and before that Lennard's Secondary Modern School) has recently been cited for its GCSE results. The latest OFSTED inspection (2008) described it as "outstanding" in the top 5% in the country. The school claims that its "amazing achievements being recognized ... is due to the hard work and dedication of all community partners including students, parents, staff and our wider community". Recently, Mrs Barbara King, Headteacher at the Ockendon Academy, won the award for Best Headteacher in the South-East of England. Ockendon Studio School opened in the area in 2012.
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- Cyril Hart The Early Charters of Essex (Leicester University Press, 1971)
- DB32 Essex |publisher=Phillimore|year=1983|section 57b & section 58a
- Reaney, PH (1969). The Place-Names of Essex. CUP.
- Gelling, Margaret (1997). Signposts to the Past (third ed.). Phillimore. ISBN 0-460-04264-5.
- "The Royal Oak, South Ockendon". Retrieved 11 May 2009.
- Glyn H Morgan Forgotten Thameside (Letchworth Press, 1966, p92)
- "The Green at South Ockendon Panorama". Retrieved 11 May 2009.
- "Twenty Questions on Ford RS". Retrieved 11 May 2009.
- Directory of Essex, 1848, pp 193, 194