The Early Years
The Basildon Recorder newspaper for 5 July 1968 reported that a stamp collectors club had been formed at an inaugural meeting held at Woodlands Boys School. This was at the instigation of a group of employees of Basildon Urban District Council. Early meetings were held at that site, but, after access difficulties, some subsequent meetings were held in the Council Offices.
In 1969, we became affiliated to the Association of Essex Philatelic Societies, the body which forms a focal point for liaison between all the societies in Essex.
Our meetings moved to the painting studio of the then Arts Centre (later the Towngate Centre) in 1970. This provided a good home for the Society within the town centre until demolition without replacement in 1988.
The fledgling Society held its first exhibition in 1971 as part of the Basildon 21st Anniversary celebrations, marked by a commemorative cover issued by the Society. An annual Stamp Day exhibition and fair has been a feature of Spring in Basildon ever since. Originally held at St. Martin's Church Hall, near Towngate, it is now held at the Laindon Community Centre and usually attracts between 200 and 400 visitors from all over Essex and neighbouring counties.
1979 saw the 25th anniversary of Basildon becoming a Head Post Office, and the Society co-operated with the Post Office in the production of a further commemorative cover for the event, marking the start of a continuing close working relationship with the Post Office in Basildon. That year also saw us join the British Philatelic Federation, the national co-ordinating body for philately.
A second annual event, an Autumn Stamp Fair, was also held at St. Martin's Church Hall, but without displays, in 1979. This fair was also held in 1980 and 1981.
By 1981, the exchange packet was flourishing and, following an unfortunate experience, it was decided to join the BPF Exchange Packet Section, as a result of which we obtained new sources of external books for circulation and a means of avoiding "bad risks".
In 1982, Basildon Philatelic Society played host to the annual Autumn Rally of the Association of Essex Philatelic Societies, so, for that year only, the fair was held in the Spring, and Basildon Stamp Day was held in October at Pitsea Leisure Centre, then newly opened.
This event succeeded in attracting additional members from the Pitsea, Stanford-le-Hope and Corringham areas, where membership had hitherto been very sparse, and consequently, subsequent autumn fairs were held at Pitsea Leisure Centre. This event was known from 1985 onwards as Pitsea Stamp Day and included a small exhibition.
Basildon has always been a very active society in county affairs, providing a consistent representation on both the Council and Executive of the AEPS and entering most annual AEPS competitions. After many years trying, Basildon's first county successes were the Quiz trophy in 1984, and the Stokes Cup and Stamps, Postal History and Novices Trophies in 1985.
For services to organised philately in Essex and our Society in particular, our then Chairman, the late Harry Smith, was awarded the British Philatelic Federation Award of Merit in 1985.
The Basildon Stamp Day was transferred to Laindon (St Teresa's Church Hall) in 1986, while the 1987 spring event was cancelled due to the planned venue not being ready in time.
1988 was a problem year for the Society, with the demolition of the Towngate Centre and consequently an enforced change of venue, initially in March to the nearby Unemployed Workers Centre, which proved unsuitable, and then to Laindon Community Centre in July. This led to the pleasant problem of growing attendances outstripping available room capacity! Our AEPS Quiz team brought the year to a successful conclusion with victory for the second time.
Having settled in successfully at Laindon Community Centre, the decision was taken in 1989 to move all stamp days to the same venue, due to falling attendances at Pitsea and consequent dealer reluctance to participate in events there. Although attendances stabilised at Laindon, we have never returned to the high attendances of the 1970s, probably due to the competition from a surfeit of commercial fairs.
Our long-serving Treasurer, the late John Church, became our second recipient of the BPF Award of Merit in 1991.
We hosted at Laindon the AEPS "StampEssex" Stamp Day in 1993 to celebrate our Silver Jubilee and, by coincidence, won the prestigious Stokes Cup at the same time. The same year also saw other Basildon successes in AEPS competitions.
The BPS became one of the first societies in the country to operate an Internet website. This attracted interest from all around the world.
Our society newsletter, “The Basildon Stamp Collector” was launched in January 1996 and was well received.
Two years later, in 1998, we again hosted StampEssex, but this time combined with the inter-federation Dawes Cup competition, for which purpose the title “Home Counties Stamp Day” was coined. The event was also our first “BasPex International” in that the event was graced by a display from our twin town philatelic society in France, Meaux. We had also displayed in Meaux’s regional exhibition earlier in 1998.
A New Millennium
From the start of 2000, we moved from Laindon to the George Hurd Centre, close to Basildon town centre. The improved environment at the new venue resulted in a growth in attendances and gave more flexibility for programme planning.
In 2004 the Association of Essex Philatelic Societies hosted the 5th National Philatelic Exhibition in Basildon. The event was titled Basildon 2004 taking place in the Towngate Theatre and adjacent BasCentre. Several members of Basildon Philatelic Society were involved with this successful event.
2008 marked the society's 40th anniversary. To celebrate the event the society hosted Spring StampEssex. This was repeated ten years later to mark the society's half century.