Leaving St Martin’s bell tower illuminated in a single shaft of light, Basildon Council is turning off all non-essential lighting in the Basildon Centre, St Martin’s Church and Towngate Theatre for one hour from 10pm tonight.

A special vigil will be conducted by Reverend Esther McCafferty marking the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War.

The inspiration for Lights Out comes from a famous remark made on the eve of the outbreak of war by the then foreign secretary, Sir Edward Grey: “The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our life-time”.

Britain declared war on Germany at 11pm on August 4, 1914 ushering in one of the darkest periods in our history.