Shop owners said they feared for their customers' safety after a mass brawl broke out involving a knife at a bus station.

The businesses in South Walk, Basildon near Basildon Bus Station were forced into lock down as the drama unfolded.

Eye witnesses reported as many as 17 youths involved in the fight with police confirming a knife was seized after they rushed to the scene in South Walk, close to Eastgate Shopping Centre.

Shopkeepers locked and barricaded the doors to keep the gangs out and separate from customers.

One said: “We had to close up the shop for safety.

“It was not safe for our customers to go out with the fighting outside.

“It was all pretty shocking and our staff were quite shaken up afterwards.

“It is getting really bad here now with drugs and behaviour issues and we have lost trade over it.”

Witnesses said a young man took a knife out of his pocket during the fighting.

A shopper said: “The lad that was the main one involved pulled the knife out of his trouser pocket and slid it across the floor to another lad,

“I’m not sure where it went after that.

“I would say there were about 16 or 17 youths involved and a few young white teenage girls.

“They legged it up the alley to the back of the shops.

“I was there watching it all ‘kick off’ and it was not nice to see and the elderly woman that stepped in and calmed it down was a very brave lady.”

Another witness added: “A lady with four children took shelter from in one of the shops and they locked the door.

“The gang were hitting each other with the wet floor signs you see about as well as a knife.”

A spokesman for Essex Police said: “We were called to reports of a fight involving a group of men in South Walk, Basildon at around 2.25pm on Saturday, April 6.

“It was also reported a knife was seen.

“We attended and a knife has been seized.

“Our enquiries are ongoing.”

“If you saw or heard anything call us on 101 quoting incident 682 of April 6 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”

Nobody is believed to have been arrested at this stage.