In 1961, Basingstoke had a population of around 25,000. Twenty years later it had reached 53,080.

During the two decades, Basingstoke had become one of the towns expanded to help London with its huge post-war problems of poor housing.

Firms were encouraged to move their production and premises from London to Basingstoke, bringing with them their entire workforce, who would all be offered homes on the new estates.

The agreement, signed 60 years ago this year, between the London County Council, Hampshire County Council and Basingstoke Borough Council aimed to house 11,500 families from London.

Many families were living in cramped and shared housing in London, and the scheme gave them an opportunity to either move with their job, or to find their own employment in Basingstoke and then to apply to move under what was called the Industrial Selection Scheme.

The Provisional Master Plan was published in 1962 – the old Ordnance Survey map – covered in blocks of colour to show housing, schools and shopping areas, including the brave new design for a shopping centre on stilts!

For some, it was an exciting moment – a welcome new development for a town which needed a boost. For others, it meant losing a home or a business, having to move to a new house, watching the demolition of their town – much unwanted change.

Not all employees wanted rented homes – executives and managers with relocating companies looked to buy their own homes and there was a shortage in the town at that time.

The new council housing estates surrounding the old town were built on farmland, which might have been farmed since the Iron Age. There are farm buildings that still survive at Buckskin, Popley and Viables.

For Basingstoke Archaeological and Historical Society – the abundance of archaeological work to find out about these early settlements led to some wonderful discoveries such as an extraordinary burial at Viables and the discovery of what became known as the ‘nine Saxons’ at Oakridge.

(This is the first of two Flashback articles about the momentous change brought about by Town Expansion. The second part will be published next week)