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Southend-on-Sea

Coordinates: 51°33′N 0°43′E / 51.55°N 0.71°E / 51.55; 0.71
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Southend-on-Sea
The High Street
Western Esplanade
Official logo of Southend-on-Sea
Motto(s): 
Per Mare Per Ecclesiam
(By Sea, By Church)
Shown within Essex
Shown within Essex
Coordinates: 51°33′N 0°43′E / 51.55°N 0.71°E / 51.55; 0.71
CountryUnited Kingdom
Constituent countryEngland
RegionEast of England
Ceremonial countyEssex
Admin HQSouthend-on-Sea
Areas of the city
Government
 • TypeUnitary authority
 • LeadershipLeader & Cabinet (Labour)
 • Governing BodySouthend-on-Sea City Council
 • ExecutiveNo overall control
 • MPsAnna Firth (C)
James Duddridge (C)
Area
 • Total16.12 sq mi (41.76 km2)
Population
 • TotalRanked by District 116th
180,915
 • Density11,240/sq mi (4,341/km2)
Ethnicity (2021)
 • Ethnic groups
List
Religion (2021)
 • Religion
List
Time zoneUTC+0 (GMT)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+1 (British Summer Time)
Postcode
Post town
southend-on-sea
Dialling code01702
Grid referenceTQ883856
ONS code00KF (ONS)
E06000033 (GSS)
Websitesouthend.gov.uk

Southend-on-Sea (/ˌsθɛndɒnˈs/ ), commonly referred to as Southend (/sˈθɛnd/), is a coastal city and unitary authority area with borough status in south-eastern Essex, England. It lies on the north side of the Thames Estuary, 40 miles (64 km) east of central London. It is bordered to the north by Rochford and to the west by Castle Point. The city is one of the most densely populated places in the country outside of London. It is home to the longest pleasure pier in the world, Southend Pier.[2] London Southend Airport is located north of the city centre.

Southend-on-Sea originally consisted of a few poor fishermen's huts and farm at the southern end of the village of Prittlewell. In the 1790s, the first buildings around what was to become the High Street of Southend were completed. In the 19th century, Southend's status as a seaside resort grew after a visit from Princess Caroline of Brunswick, and Southend Pier was constructed. From the 1960s onwards, the city declined as a holiday destination. Southend redeveloped itself as the home of the Access credit card, due to its having one of the UK's first electronic telephone exchanges. After the 1960s, much of the city centre was developed for commerce and retail, and many original structures were lost to redevelopment. An annual seafront airshow, which started in 1986 and featured a flypast by Concorde, used to take place each May until 2012.

On 18 October 2021, it was announced that Southend would be granted city status, as a memorial to the Conservative Member of Parliament for Southend West, Sir David Amess, a long-time supporter of city status for the borough, who was murdered on 15 October 2021.[3][4] Southend was granted city status by letters patent dated 26 January 2022. On 1 March 2022, the letters patent were presented to Southend Borough Council by Charles, Prince of Wales.[5][6]

History[edit]

Early history[edit]

Southend was first recorded in 1309 as Stratende, a small piece of land in the Manor of Milton (now known as Westcliff-on-Sea), within the Parish of Prittlewell.[7][8] Its next recorded mention was in a will from 1408, where the area south of Prittlewell was called Sowthende.[9] In March 1665, the British naval ship, The London, blew up while moored just of South-end on its was to fight in the Second Anglo-Dutch War.[10] The hamlet of South-end, a few fishermen's huts and Thames Farm farmhouse stayed this way until the mid 18th century, when in 1758 a large house was built, which by 1764 had become the Ship Inn.[8] The area was further developed by the building of oystermen cottages called Pleasant Row in 1767, and a year later the settlement was recorded in the parishes records for taxation purposes for the first time. The records also recorded a salt works and a lime kiln.[8] A visitor to the settlement in 1780 said "not anything in the worth place notice", but a year later the first bathing machine was brought to the hamlet.[8] By 1785, the Chelmsford Chronicle were reporting that plans were being contemplated to build a hotel with the plan to make South-end,

equal, if not rival any of the watering places to which the genteelest company usually resort; there being nothing wanted but a place of accommodation, where the agreeable distance from the metropolis, and the excellence of the roads, added to the incomparable fineness of the water, have induced so much polite company down these last two summers[8]

Nothing came of the subscription but the Chronicle reported in 1787, "Southend is likely to become a place of fashionable resort, and that there are a greater number of genteel families there this season than was ever known before".[8] By the end of the decade, the number of bathing machines had increased, the hamlet was recorded as containing the Ship Inn and 25 houses and cottages, and reported visitors such as Lord Cholmondley.[11]

The start and fail of New South-End[edit]

In 1790, the local lord of the Manor of both Prittlewell and Milton (now Westcliff-on-Sea) and landowner Daniel Scratton set aside 35-acres of land at the top of the cliffs to the west of South-end called Grove Field and the Grove.[12] The site was split into three leasehold sites with 99 year leases, with development called New South-End, with the original settlement being renamed Old South-end. A new road was created that cut through the development, which would later become the High Street.[12] The Chelmsford Chronicle wrote at the time,

There seems but little doubt of its becoming a place of fashionable resort, and answering the expectations of the proprietors, being only 42 miles from London and two coaches, and the post passes through it three times a week; water carriage is also convenient, being only eight hours sail, with a fair wind, from London[12]

Scratton leased the parcels of land to building firm Pratt, Watt & Louden and John Sanderson, an architect, both of Lambeth. Another site was leased from Scratton by Pratt, Watt & Louden for a brick works for the development. [12] The first house in Grove Terrace was completed by January 1792 and it was reported that the hotel had been roofed and 60 dwellings had been started on. By the summer two public houses, the Duke of York and the Duke of Clarence had opened.[12] However by September that year The Times was reporting that the resort was likely to attract the lower and middle classes, not the wealthy clientele that was being aimed at.[12] At this time, Pratt, Watt & Louden transferred the lease to Thomas Holland, a builder and solicitor from Grays Inn, however his finances were not sound and he was soon selling off building materials.[12] By December 1792, the operators of the Duke of York, brewers Sea and Woolet closed the public house, but still could not sell the site by September 1793.[12] The Grand Hotel, now known as The Royal Hotel opened on the 1st July 1793, and most of Grove Terrace was available to let.[13] Later that year New South-End was listed for the first time by the parish for the annual rate, and by the summer of 1794 the Terrace, Grove Terrace, the Mews and Library had finally been completed.[12] However by February 1795, Thomas Holland was declared bankrupt, with the property not sold by auction until 1797, with the Heygate family purchasing the buildings. John Sanderson, the other developer was also declared bankrupt, with only Grove House built, with his estate not sold until 1802 and much of the site still open land.[12][14] In contrast, Old South-end doubled in size during the same period including two public houses, the Ship Inn and the Anchor and Hope Inn, five shops and the Caroline baths.[15] A large house was built by Abraham Vandervord in 1792 in Old South-end which would later become the Minerva public house.[16]

Growth of the town[edit]

Due to the bad transportation links between Southend and London, there was not rapid development during the Georgian Era as there was in Brighton. Margate, although further away from London than Southend, offered cheaper boat and stagecoach fares and had more to offer the visitor.[17] Development was piecemeal in the early 19th century, with a Theatre being built in Old South-end by Thomas Trotter in 1804.[16] Southend was however mentioned in Jane Austen's novel Emma of 1815. The resort first received Royal patronage in 1801 when Princess Charlotte of Wales visited to sea bathe on the order of her physician.[18][19] Her mother, Princess Caroline of Brunswick stayed at 7-9 The Terrace during 1803, and in 1805 Lady Hamilton held a ball in the hotel assembly room in honour of Lord Nelson.[13] The visit of Princess Caroline boosted Southend's popularity with tourists.[9][20] Travellers would often arrive by sailing boat or later by Thames steamer, which presented problems as boats could only dock during high tide.[21] The Southend coast consists of mudflats that extend far from the shore, with a high tide depth that seldom exceeds 5.5 metres (18 ft). Large boats were unable to port near to the beach and no boats could approach at low tide.[22] Many potential visitors would travel beyond Southend on to Margate or other resorts with better docking facilities.[23] Due to this, local dignitaries lead by the former Lord Mayor of the City of London Sir William Heygate, campaigned in the early 1820s to gain permission from parliament to build a pier.[23] On the 7 May 1829, the House of Lords passed the Bill and it received Royal Assent on the 14 May.[24].[25] By July, Lord Mayor of London, Sir William Thompson laid the foundation stone, and the first section of the pier opened a year later.[24] However, Southend was still a quiet health resort, as the pier did not extend far enough out and visitors had issues disembarking.[26]

In June 1852, after several attempts at building a railway to Southend, Royal Assent was given to build the London, Tilbury and Southend Railway[27] with the line finally opening at Southend in 1856. The line had been planned to terminate opposite the pier, however residents in The Royal Terrace opposed this, and the station was built further back.[27] In 1859, the Grove Field area was leased to Sir Morton Peto, and with a consortium which included Thomas Brassey, the contractors for the railway construction, hired architects Banks & Barry to design Clifftown.[9] The first houses were made available for sale in 1871, with even the smaller properties offering a glimpse of the sea, and eventually the development would include the Clifftown Congregational Church, the Nelson Road shopping parade and Prittlewell Square, Southend's first park.[9] The arrival of the railway did not at first greatly increase visitor numbers, with Southend still being seen as quiet resort and not a noisy fashionable seaside town, with Benjamin Disraeli visiting regularly between 1833 and 1884,[28] Prince Arthur visiting in 1868, while the Empress of France, Eugénie and her son, Louis-Napoléon, Prince Imperial also came to the town.[26][19] However the growth of Southend saw a Local Board of Health be created in 1866,[29] and the large steam powered Middleton brewery was opened by Henry Luker & Co in 1869 to serve a growing population.[30][31] Southend's development as a resort however seem to stall, until the Bank Holidays Act of 1871 with holidays becoming available to more of the population.[26] The growth in visitor numbers due to the new bill saw the Local Board purchase the pier in 1873, construct Marine Parade in 1878, while the cliffs west of the pier were purchased and transformed into tree lined walkways during 1886.[32] In 1889, the Great Eastern Railway opened its station at Southend Victoria, and a new iron built replacement for the pier opened.[9][33] The town was officially incorporated in 1892, with the Local Board of Health being replaced by a municipal corporation,[29] and a year later added the on-sea to the town's name.[9] During 1892, the famous Southend department store Keddies opened its doors for the first time.[34] Between 1871 to 1901 the towns population grew 100 fold from 2,800 to 29,000.[9] Marine Park & Gardens opened during 1894, which in 1901 was redeveloped into The Kursaal amusement park.[35][36][37] In the same year, the Metropole Hotel opened on Pier Hill, which would later be renamed the Palace Hotel,[38] while the town first received both electric street lighting and trams.[39] The Municipal College foundation stone was laid by Lord Avebury in 1901, with the completed building being opened by the Countess of Warwick a year later.[40] In 1903, it was reported that around 1 million people had paid admission to use the pier, while 250,000 passengers had alighted from pleasure steamboats.[33] Further facilities were built for the growing visitor numbers, including extending the esplanade to Chalkwell in 1903,[32] and in 1909 adding the "wedding cake" bandstand at the top of the cliffs, opposite Prittlewell Square, which was one of six bandstands that stood in Southend.[41] Also opening in 1909 was an indoor roller skating rink at Warrior Square,[40] with the facilities not only serving the growing visitor numbers, but also the residents, with the population having grown to 61,268, more than doubling in eight years.[28]

Southend during World War I[edit]

Shortly after the declaration of war, the British government began the internment of German citizens and several thousand were held on three ships, the Royal Edward, Saxonia and the Ivernia which were moored off the pier until May 1915.[42][43] The War Office selected a piece of land north of the town in 1914 for a new aerodrome, with Squadron no. 37 of the Royal Flying Corps moving in a year later.[44] Many soldiers passed through Southend en route to the Western Front. The pier was frequently used to reach troop ships and Southchurch Park was taken over as an army training ground.[45] As the war drew on, Southend also became an evacuation point for casualties and several hotels were converted to hospitals, including the Metropole into Queen Mary Naval Hospital.[46] Arthur Maitland Keddie, from the Keddies department store organised day trips for wounded soldiers from the Queen Mary Naval Hospital to Thundersley and Runwell.[47] The town was bombed by German Zeppelins twice in May 1915,[48] while another bombing raid in 1917 caused more damage and 33 deaths.[49]

Between the wars[edit]

After the war Southend continued to grow in both residents and visitors, with many moving out of London to live in better conditions.[50] Its population in 1921 was 106,050 but by 1925 it had estimated to have grown to 117,000.[51] The Corporation purchased three former German U-boat engines to generate power for the tram network, siting them at Leigh, London Road and Thorpe Bay.[52] The pier head was enlarged in 1929 with the Prince George extension, at a cost of £58,000, to cope with the number of visitors arriving by paddle steamer.[53] In 1935, Southend tried their first autumn illuminations, following on from Blackpool's example set in 1913.[40]

The town's reinvention[edit]

Good rail connections and proximity to London mean that much of the economy has been based on tourism and that Southend has been a dormitory town for city workers ever since.[54] Southend Pier is the world's longest pleasure pier at 1.34 mi (2.16 km).[2] It has suffered fires and ship collisions, most recently in October 2005,[55] but the basic pier structure has been repaired each time. As a holiday destination, Southend declined from the 1960s onwards, as holidaying abroad became more affordable.[9] Southend became the home of the Access credit card, as it had one of the UK's first electronic telephone exchanges (it is still home to RBS Card Services – one of the former members of Access), with offices based in the former EKCO factory, Maitland House (Keddies), Victoria Circus and Southchurch Road.[56] Since then, much of the city centre has been developed for commerce and retail, and during the 1960s many original structures were lost to redevelopment – such as the Talza Arcade and Victoria Market (replaced by what is now known as The Victoria Shopping Centre) and Southend Technical College (on the site of the ODEON Cinema).[57] However, about 6.4 million tourists still visit Southend per year, generating estimated revenues of £200 million a year. H.M. Revenue & Customs (HMRC), (formerly H.M. Customs and Excise), were major employers in the city, and the central offices for the collection of VAT were located at Alexander House on Victoria Avenue. Staff were finally relocated to Stratford in December 2022.[58]

An annual seafront airshow, started in 1986 when it featured a flypast by Concorde whilst on a passenger charter flight, used to take place each May and became one of Europe's largest free airshows. The aircraft flew parallel to the seafront, offset over the sea. The RAF Falcons parachute display team and RAF Red Arrows aerobatics team were regular visitors to the show. The last show was held in 2012; an attempt to revive the show for September 2015, as the Southend Airshow and Military Festival, failed.[59] In 2003, during excavations for a road widening scheme at Priory Crescent, an Anglo-Saxon royal burial was found dating from the 6th century, with a display of the finds displayed at Southend Central Museum since 2019.[60][61]

The formation of the city[edit]

On 15 October 2021, the Member of Parliament for Southend West, Sir David Amess, was fatally stabbed during a constituency meeting in Leigh-on-Sea. On 18 October 2021, the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, announced that the Queen had agreed to grant Southend-on-Sea with city status as a memorial to Amess, who had long campaigned for this status to be granted.[3] Preparations, led by Amess, for Southend to enter a competition for city status in 2022 as part of the Queen's Platinum Jubilee were underway at the time of his death.[62][63] A "City Week" was held throughout the town between 13 and 20 February 2022,[64] beginning with the inaugural "He Built This City" concert named in honour of Amess.[65][66] The concert was held at the Cliffs Pavilion and included performers such as Digby Fairweather, Lee Mead, and Leanne Jarvis.[67] Other events such as a city ceremony and the Southend LuminoCity Festival of Light were held during the week. Sam Duckworth, who knew Amess personally, performed at some of the events.[66] On 1 March, Southend Borough Council was presented letters patent from the Queen, by Charles, Prince of Wales, officially granting the borough city status.[5] Southend became the second city in the ceremonial county of Essex, after Chelmsford, which was granted city status in 2012.[68]

Geology[edit]

The seven kilometres of cliffs from Hadleigh Castle to Southend Pier consist of London Clay overlaid in the Ice age by sand, gravel and river alluvium.[69] The cliffs have been affected by slip planes affected by groundwater, with major slips having occurred in 1956, 1962, 1964 and 1969.[70] In 2001 a small slippage occured, which was followed by a major slippage in November 2002, which irreparably damaged the cliffs bandstand and restaurant. At a later date, a report came to light from a month before the slip which showed there was already signs of a slippage.[70] A £2.8 million cliffs stabilisation programme was completed in 2013.[71]

Governance[edit]

Current administration[edit]

Southend is governed by Southend-on-Sea City Council, which is a unitary authority, performing the functions of both a county and district council. There is one civil parish within the city at Leigh-on-Sea, which has a Town Council that was established in 1996.[72] The rest of the city is an unparished area.[73][74] The city is split into seventeen wards, with each ward returning three councillors. The 51 councillors serve four years and one third of the council is elected each year, followed by one year without election.[75] As of the 2024 local elections a coalition lead by Labour run the Council.[76]

Administrative history[edit]

Southend's first elected council was a local board, which held its first meeting on 29 August 1866.[77] Prior to that the town was administered by the vestry for the wider parish of Prittlewell. The local board district was enlarged in 1877 to cover the whole parish of Prittlewell.[78]

The town was made a municipal borough in 1892. In 1897 the borough was enlarged to also include the neighbouring parish of Southchurch,[79] with further enlargement in 1913 by taking over the area formerly controlled by Leigh-on-Sea Urban District Council. In 1914 the enlarged Southend became a county borough making it independent from Essex County Council and a single-tier of local government. The county borough was enlarged in 1933 by the former area of Shoeburyness Urban District and part of Rochford Rural District.

Southend Civic Centre was designed by borough architect, Patrick Burridge, and officially opened by the Queen Mother on 31 October 1967.[80]

Southend Civic Centre, autumn 2007

On 1 April 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972, Southend became a district of Essex, with the county council once more providing county-level services to the town. In 1990, Southend was the first local authority to outsource its municpal waste collection to a commercial provider.[81] However, in 1998 it again became the single tier of local government when it became a unitary authority.[82]

Upon receiving city status on 1 March 2022, the council voted to rename itself 'Southend-on-Sea City Council'.[5]

Coat of Arms and Twinning[edit]

The Latin motto, 'Per Mare Per Ecclesiam', emblazoned on the municipal coat of arms, translates as 'By [the] Sea, By [the] Church', reflecting Southend's position between the church at Prittlewell and the sea as in the Thames estuary. The city has been twinned with the resort of Sopot in Poland since 1999[83] and has been developing three-way associations with Lake Worth Beach, Florida.

Members of Parliament[edit]

Current MPs[edit]

Southend is represented by two Members of Parliament (MPs) at Westminster.

The MP for Southend West is Anna Firth (Conservative) has served as the MP for the constituency since the 2022 Southend West by-election after the murder of Sir David Amess.

Since 2005 the MP for Rochford and Southend East has been James Duddridge (Conservative). Despite its name the majority of the constituency is in Southend, including the centre of the city; Rochford makes up only a small part and the majority of Rochford District Council is represented in the Rayleigh constituency.

Due to boundary changes, the seats in Southend changed at the 2024 election to Southend East and Rochford[84] and Southend West and Leigh.[85]

Former MPs[edit]

From the creation of the first Member of Parliament seat for Southend in 1918, there has been a history of long serving MPs. Rupert Guiness of the Guinness family was Southend's first MP, and only stepped down when he was given a peerage. His wife, Gwendolen Guinness replaced him in 1927, until she retired and her son-in-law Henry Channon replaced her in 1935, serving until his death in 1958.[86] Because of the Guiness connection, the seat became known in the media as "Guinness-on-Sea".[87]

In 1950, the one seat was split into two, Southend East and Southend West due to the growth in the town.

Sir Stephen McAdden served as the MP for Southend East from 1950 until his death in 1979.[88] His replacement Sir Teddy Taylor served Southend East, then its replacement seat Rochford and Southend East from 1980 until he retired in 2005.[89]

Paul Channon, son of Henry replaced his father as the MP for Southend West from 1959 until he stepped down in 1997.[90] He was replaced by Sir David Amess, who served from 1997 until his murder in 2021.

Demography[edit]

Map of the Southend Urban Area with subdivisions

Southend is the seventh most densely populated area in the United Kingdom outside of the London Boroughs, with 38.8 people per hectare compared to a national average of 3.77. By 2006, the majority, or 52% of the Southend population were between the ages of 16–54, 18% were below age 15, 18% were above age 65 and the middle age populace between 55 and 64 accounted for the remaining 12%.[91]

Save the Children's research data shows that for 2008–09, Southend had 4,000 children living in poverty, a rate of 12%, the same as Thurrock, but above the 11% child poverty rate of Essex as a whole.[92]

The Department for Communities and Local Government's 2010 Indices of Multiple Deprivation Deprivation Indices data showed that Southend is one of Essex's most deprived areas. Out of 32,482 Lower Super Output Areas in England, area 014D in the Kursaal ward is 99th, area 015B in Milton ward is 108th, area 010A in Victoria ward is 542nd, and area 009D in Southchurch ward is 995th, as well as an additional 5 areas all within the top 10% most deprived areas in England (with the most deprived area having a rank of 1 and the least deprived a rank of 32,482).[93] Victoria and Milton wards have the highest proportion of ethnic minority residents – at the 2011 Census these figures were 24.2% and 26.5% respectively. Southend has the highest percentage of residents receiving housing benefits (19%) and the third highest percentage of residents receiving council tax benefits in Essex.

The urban area of Southend spills outside of the borough boundaries into the neighbouring Castle Point and Rochford districts, including the towns of Hadleigh, Benfleet, Rayleigh and Rochford, as well as the villages of Hockley and Hullbridge. According to the 2011 census, it had a population of 295,310.[94]

As of May 2024, The Office of National Statistics have recorded the following employment, unemployment and economic inactivity in Southend-on-Sea.[95]

Area Recorded Southend - Current (%) East of England Rate - Current (%) Southend - Previous Year (%)
Employment rate (16-64 year olds) 75.6 (December 2023) 78.3 75.7
Unemployment rate (16 years +) 5.2 (December 2023) 3.6 2.9
Claimant Count (16-64 year olds) 4.5 (March 2024) Not provided 4.3
Economic inactivity (16-64 year olds) 21 (December 2023) 19.4 23

Economy[edit]

Current industry[edit]

In 2006, travel insurance company InsureandGo relocated its offices from Braintree to Maitland House in Southend-on-Sea. The company brought 120 existing jobs from Braintree and announced the intention to create more in the future.[96] However the business announced the plan to relocate to Bristol in 2016.[97] The building is now home to Ventrica, a customer service outsourcing company.[98][99]

Southend has industrial parks located at Progress Road, Comet and Aviation Ways in Eastwood and Stock Road in Sutton. Firms located in Southend include Olympus Keymed, Hi-Tec Sports[100] and MK Electric. Southend has declined as a centre for credit card management with only Royal Bank of Scotland card services (now branded NatWest) still operating in the city.[101]

A fifth of the working population commutes to London daily. Wages for jobs based in Southend were the second lowest among UK cities in 2015. It also has the fourth-highest proportion of people aged over 65. This creates considerable pressure on the housing market. It is the 11th most expensive place to live in Britain.[102]

Gross value added[edit]

As of 2014, the Office for National Statistics reported that Southend's gross value added to the economy was as follows:[103]

Period Value £m
1997 58
1998 62
1999 73
2000 100
2001 89
2002 100
2003 100
2004 103
2005 95
2006 94
2007 94
2008 83
2009 68
2010 48
2011 72
2012 86

Energy[edit]

Southend-on-Sea County Borough Corporation provided the borough with electricity from the early twentieth century up to 1966 from the Southend power station in London Road. Upon nationalisation of the electricity industry in 1948, ownership passed to the British Electricity Authority and later to the Central Electricity Generating Board. Electricity connections to the national grid rendered the 5.75 megawatt (MW) power station redundant. Electricity was generated by diesel engines and by steam obtained from the exhaust gases. The power station closed in 1966 and in its final year of operation it delivered 2,720 MWh of electricity to the borough.[104]

In 1853, a new company, Southend Gas Company, was set up to build a coal gas works to supply Southend.[105] The works opened on Eastern Esplanade in 1855, and helped with the development of the then fledgling town.[106][107]The company was purchased by Southend Corporation after the First World War,[108] with its own landing pier locally known as Southend Pier Junior.[107] The company was nationalised in 1949 and was transferred to North Thames Gas,[109] who in 1960 added the brutalist Esplanade House to the site as offices. The site stopped producing coal gas in 1968, and the works was demolished.[106] Esplanade House, was taken over by Access credit card operations in the 1980s, but by the 1990s they had moved out and the gas works site remained empty until it was demolished to make way for a Premier Inn in 2014.[110][111]

Shopping[edit]

High Street, looking North on market day

Southend High Street runs from the top of Pier Hill in the South, to Victoria Circus in the north. It currently has two shopping centres – the Victoria (built during the 1960s and a replacement for the old Talza Arcade, Victoria Arcade and Broadway Market)[112] and The Royals Shopping Centre (built late 1980s and opened in March 1988 by actor Jason Donovan, replacing the bottom part of High Street, Grove Road, Ritz Cinema and Grand Pier Hotel).[113] Southend High Street has many chain stores, with Boots in the Royals, and Next anchoring the Victoria.[114]

This was not always the case with many independent stores closing in the 70s, 80s and 90s – Keddies department store (1996), J F Dixons department store (1973), Brightwells department store, Garons - grocers, caterers and cinema,[115][116] Owen Wallis - ironmongers and toys,[117] Bermans - sports and toys,[118] J Patience - photographic retailers[119] & R. A. Jones - jewellers being the most notable.[120] One of Southend's most notable business, Schofield and Martin, was purchased by Waitrose in 1944 with the name being used until the 1960s. The Alexandra Street branch was the first Waitrose store in 1951 to be made self-service.[121]

The longest surviving independent retail business in Southend was Ravens which operated from 1897 to 2017.[122] A Southend business that started in 1937 and is still active in 2022 is Dixons Retail (now renamed Currys plc).[123][124][125]

The city of Southend has shopping in other areas. Leigh Broadway and Leigh Road in Leigh-on-Sea, Hamlet Court Road in Westcliff-on-Sea, Southchurch Road and London Road are where many of Southend's independent businesses now reside.[126] Hamlet Court Road was home to one of Southend's longest-standing business, Havens, which opened in 1901, and the street was once known as the Bond Street of Essex.[127][128] In May 2017, Havens announced that they would be closing their store to concentrate as an online retailer.[129]

There are regular vintage fairs and markets in Southend, held at a variety of locations including the Leigh Community Centre and Garon Park.[130] A record fair is frequently held at West Leigh Schools in Leigh on Sea.[131]

York Road Market[edit]

Demolition of the historic Victorian covered York Road market began on 23 April 2010,[132] with the site becoming a car park. A temporary market had been held there every Friday until 2012 after the closure of the former Southend market at the rear of the Odeon.[133] As of 2013, a market started to be held in the High Street every Thursday with over 30 stalls, with a further Saturday market being started in 2023.[134][135]

Transport[edit]

Airport[edit]

Southend Airport, prior to the runway extension

London Southend Airport was developed from the military airfield at Rochford; it was opened as a civil airport in 1935. It now offers scheduled flights to destinations across Europe, corporate and recreational flights, aircraft maintenance and training for pilots and engineers. It is served by Southend Airport railway station, on the Shenfield–Southend line, part of the Great Eastern Main Line.

Buses[edit]

An Arriva Southend bus

Local bus services are provided by two main companies. Arriva Southend was formerly the council-owned Southend Corporation Transport and First Essex Buses was formerly Eastern National/Thamesway. Smaller providers include Stephensons of Essex.

Southend has a bus station on Chichester Road, which was developed from a temporary facility added in the 1970s; the previous bus station was located on London Road and was run by Eastern National, but it was demolished in the 1980s to make way for a Sainsbury's supermarket.[136] Arriva Southend is the only bus company based in Southend, with their depot located in Short Street; it was previously sited on the corner of London Road and Queensway and also a small facility in Tickfield Road.[137] First Essex's buses in the Southend area are based out of the depot in Hadleigh but, prior to the 1980s, Eastern National had depots on London Road (at the bus station) and Fairfax Drive.[138]

Railway[edit]

Southend is served by two lines on the National Rail network:

From 1910 to 1939, the London Underground's District line's eastbound service ran as far as Southend and Shoeburyness.[139]

Besides its main line railway connections, Southend is also the home of two smaller railways. The Southend Pier Railway provides transport along the length of Southend Pier, whilst the nearby Southend Cliff Railway provides a connection from the promenade to the cliff top above.[140]

Roads[edit]

A127 Kent Elms looking west

Two A-roads connect Southend with London and the rest of the country: the A127 (Southend Arterial Road), via Basildon and Romford, and the A13, via Thurrock and London Docklands. Both are major routes; however, within the borough, the A13 is now a single carriageway local single-carriageway route, whereas the A127 is an entirely dual-carriageway. Both connect to the M25 and eventually London.

Climate[edit]

Seals off Southend

Southend-on-Sea is one of the driest places in the UK. It has a marine climate with summer highs of around 22 °C (72 °F) and winters highs being around 7.8 °C (46.0 °F).[141] Summer temperatures are generally slightly cooler than those in London. Frosts are occasional. During the 1991–2020 period there was an average of 29.6 days of air frost. Rainfall averaged 527 millimetres (20.7 in). Weather station data is available from Shoeburyness,[141] which is adjacent to Southend in the eastern part of the urban area.


Climate data for Shoeburyness, in eastern part of Southend Urban Area, 2m asl, 1991–2020
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 7.8
(46.0)
8.3
(46.9)
10.6
(51.1)
13.5
(56.3)
16.6
(61.9)
19.8
(67.6)
22.3
(72.1)
22.4
(72.3)
19.4
(66.9)
15.3
(59.5)
11.1
(52.0)
8.4
(47.1)
14.6
(58.3)
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 2.7
(36.9)
2.4
(36.3)
3.7
(38.7)
5.4
(41.7)
8.3
(46.9)
11.2
(52.2)
13.6
(56.5)
13.8
(56.8)
11.5
(52.7)
8.9
(48.0)
5.5
(41.9)
3.2
(37.8)
7.5
(45.5)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 43.0
(1.69)
36.1
(1.42)
32.7
(1.29)
36.1
(1.42)
41.6
(1.64)
44.1
(1.74)
41.1
(1.62)
48.6
(1.91)
43.0
(1.69)
57.8
(2.28)
54.0
(2.13)
48.8
(1.92)
526.9
(20.75)
Average rainy days 9.5 8.3 7.8 7.5 7.5 7.8 7.3 7.1 7.5 10.2 10.6 10.7 101.8
Mean monthly sunshine hours 70.5 88.9 136.8 200.4 241.2 243.3 257.0 212.2 162.4 130.0 84.7 56.9 1,884.3
Source: Met Office[142]

Education[edit]

Secondary schools[edit]

All mainstream secondary schools are mixed-sex comprehensives, including Belfairs Academy; Cecil Jones Academy; Chase High School; Southchurch High School; Shoeburyness High School and The Eastwood Academy.

In 2004, Southend retained the grammar school system and has four such schools: Southend High School for Boys; Southend High School for Girls; Westcliff High School for Boys and Westcliff High School for Girls.

Additionally, there are two single-sex schools assisted by the Roman Catholic Church: St Bernard's High School (girls) and St Thomas More High School (boys). Both, while not grammar schools, contain a grammar stream; entrance is by the same exam as grammar schools.

Further and higher education[edit]

The main higher education provider in Southend is the University of Essex which has a campus in Elmer Approach on the site of the former Odeon cinema. It also operates the East 15 Acting School Southend campus at the Clifftown Theatre.[143]

In addition to a number of secondary schools that offer further education, the largest provider is South Essex College in a purpose-built building in the centre of town. Formerly known as South East Essex College, (and previously Southend Municipal College) the college changed name in January 2010 following a merger with Thurrock and Basildon College.[144]

Additionally there is PROCAT, (an arm of South Essex College) that is based at Progress Road, while learners can travel to USP College (formerly SEEVIC College) in Thundersley. The East 15 Acting School, a drama school has its second campus in Southend, while the Southend Adult Community College is in Ambleside Drive. Southend United Futsal & Football Education Scholarship, located at Southend United's stadium Roots Hall, provides education for sports scholarships.

Sport[edit]

Southend – Leisure and Tennis Centre

Southend has two football teams. Southend United is a professional outfit which was formed in 1906. They currently compete in the Vanarama National League,[145][146] after dropping out of the Football League at the end of the 2020-21 season, after 101 years of participation.[147] The other, Southend Manor, plays in the Essex Senior League, the 9th tier in the English football pyramid.[148]

There are two rugby union clubs Southend RFC which play in London 1 North and Westcliff R.F.C. who play in London & South East Premier. Southend was formerly home to the Essex Eels rugby league team. Southend was home to the Essex Pirates basketball team that played in the British Basketball League between 2009 and 2011.

Essex County Cricket Club previously played in Southend one week a season until the club withdrew in 2011 after 105 years.[149] The Southend Cricket Festival was held at Chalkwell Park and Southchurch Park, before moving to Garons Park next to the Southend Leisure & Tennis Centre.[150] The only other cricket is local.

The Old Southendians Hockey Club is based at Warner's Bridge in Southend.

The eight-lane, floodlit, synthetic athletics track at Southend Leisure and Tennis Centre is home to Southend-on-Sea Athletic Club. The facilities cover all track and field events.[151] The centre has a 25m swimming pool and a world championship level diving pool with 1, 3, 5, 7 and 10m boards, plus springboards with the only 1.3m in the UK.[152]

Southend has hosted a half marathon since 1996.[153]

Entertainment and culture[edit]

Southend Pleasure Pier[edit]

Southend on Sea from one mile out along the pier, the world's longest pleasure pier

Southend-on-Sea is home to the world's longest pleasure pier, originally built in 1830 from wood before being replaced in iron. The pier stretches some 1.34 miles (2.16 km) from shore into the Thames Estuary and is a Grade II listed building.[154].[155] Sir John Betjeman, English poet and broadcaster, once said that "the Pier is Southend, Southend is the Pier".[23]

Kursaal[edit]

The Kursaal was one of the earliest theme parks, built at the start of the 20th century. It closed in the 1970s and much of the land was developed as housing. The entrance hall, a listed building, was redeveloped to house a bowling alley operated by Megabowl and casino in 1998. However the bowling alley closed in 2019 and the casino closed in 2020. The building currently stands unused, and in May 2024, The Victorian Society listed the Kursaal amongst their 10 at risk sites that need rescuing.[156]

The Kursaal

Southend Carnival[edit]

Southend Carnival has been an annual event since 1906,[157] where it was part of the annual regatta, and was set up to raise funds for the Southend Victoria Cottage Hospital. In 1926, a carnival association was formed, and by 1930, they were raising funds for the building of the new General Hospital with a range of events, including a fete in Chalkwell Park.[158][159] The parades, which included a daylight and torchlight parades were cut down to just a torchlight parade during the 1990s. The carnival has not run since 2020, although attempts have been made to restart the parade,[160] however the accompanying fair returned in 2023.[161]

Cliff Lift[edit]

A short funicular railway, constructed in 1912, links the seafront to the High Street level of the town. The lift re-opened to the public in 2010, following a period of refurbishment.[162]

Other seafront attractions[edit]

The sunset in Southend, a view of Adventure Island in 2007

An amusement park Adventure Island, formerly known as Peter Pan's Playground, straddles the pier entrance.[163] The seafront houses the "Sea-Life Adventure" aquarium.[164]

The cliff gardens, which included Never Never Land[165] and a Victorian bandstand were an attraction until slippage in 2003 made parts of the cliffs unstable.[166][167] The bandstand has been removed and re-erected in Priory Park.[168] As of May 2024, Southend has four Keep Britain Tidy Blue Flag awarded beaches at East Beach, Shoebury Common, Three Shells and Westcliff Bay.[169]

A modern vertical lift links the base of the High Street with the seafront and the new pier entrance.[170] The older Southend Cliff Railway, a short funicular, is a few hundred metres away.[171]

Festival events[edit]

The Southend-on-Sea Film Festival is an annual event that began in 2009 and is run by the White Bus film and theatrical company based at The Old Waterworks Arts Center located inside a Victorian era Old Water Works plant. Ray Winstone attended the opening night gala in both 2010 and 2011, and has become the Festival Patron.[172]

Since 2021, the city has hosted a Halloween parade in October, while the Leigh Art Trail runs during July. Two events that started in 2022 was Southend City Jam, a street art festival, and LuminoCity, a light festival,[173] however LuminoCity was announced to be cancelled for 2024 due to budget cuts at Southend City Council.[174] The Old Leigh Regatta takes place every September,[175] while Leigh Folk Festival has run since 1992, though will be taking a break in 2024.[176] The Southend Jazz Festival has been run since 2020.[177]

Between 2008 and 2019, Chalkwell Park became home to the Village Green Art & Music Festival for a weekend every July,[178] but has not run since 2019 due to covid.

The London to Southend Classic Car Run takes place each summer. It is run by the South Eastern Vintage and Classic Vehicle Club.[179]

The Southend Shakedown, organised by Ace Cafe, is an annual event featuring motorbikes and scooters. There are other scooter runs throughout the year, including the Great London Rideout, which arrives at Southend seafront each year.[180]

Parks[edit]

Southend is home to many recreation grounds. Its first formal park to open was Prittlewell Square in the 19th century.[181] Since then Priory Park[182], Victory Sports Grounds[183] and Jones Corner Recreation Ground were donated by the town benefactor R A Jones.[184] Other formal parks that have opened since are Chalkwell Park[185] and Southchurch Hall[186] along with Southchurch Park, Garon Park and Gunners Park.

Conservation areas and architecture[edit]

Southend has various Conservation areas across the city, with the first being designated in 1968.[187] Nationally Historic England have 124 recorded listed buildings within the city.[188]

The Royal Terrace, Southend

The Royal Terrace (originally called the Terrace), built between 1791 and 1793, is one of the few examples of 18th century urban housing in Essex, and was called "Exceptional" in the architecture guide The Buildings of England.[189] The Terrace has been Grade II listed since 1951.[190]

St Mary's Church, Prittlewell is a Grade I listed church that has existed since Saxon times and is the oldest building in the city. Professor Stephen Rippon of the University of Exeter noted in a study "stone buildings in this period were extremely rare, suggesting Prittlewell was a "minister" church of some importance", and the church was mentioned in the Domesday book.[191][192]

Southend-on-Sea War Memorial is a Grade II* listed obelisk situated in Clifftown, Southend. The structure was completed in 1921 to designs by Sir Edwin Lutyens.[193] Architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner praised the "remarkably subtly proportioned" base and pedestal of the memorial.[194]

Art, galleries, museums and libraries[edit]

Focal Point Gallery, based in The Forum, is South Essex's gallery for contemporary visual art, promoting and commissioning major solo exhibitions, group and thematic shows, a programme of events including performances, film screenings and talks, as well as offsite projects and temporary public artworks. The organisation is funded by Southend-on-Sea City Council and Arts Council England.[173]

Southend Museums Service, part of Southend on Sea City Council, operates two historic houses, an art gallery and a museum in the city. These include: Beecroft Art Gallery, Southchurch Hall, Prittlewell Priory and Southend Central Museum and Planetarium.[195] The museums service looks after around 50,000 objects including collections of archaeology, natural history, social history, fashion and textile, fine art and photography. Southend Central Museum is the home of the world-renowned Prittlewell Princely Burial artefacts.[196][197][198][199]

Independent museums and archives include the Jazz Centre UK, a jazz cultural centre, that has operated out of the Beecroft Art Gallery since 2016[200][201] and Southend Pier Museum, located on Southend Pier.

The Old Waterworks Arts Center operates on North Road, Westcliff in the former Victorian water works building. It holds art exhibitions, talks and workshops.[202]

Metal, the art organisation set up by Jude Kelly OBE has been based in Chalkwell Hall since 2006.[203] The organisation offers residency space for artists and also organises the Village Green Art & Music Festival.[204] The park is also home to NetPark, which claims to be the world's first digital art park.[173]

Southend has several small libraries located in Leigh, Westcliff, Kent Elms and Southchurch. The central library has moved from its traditional location on Victoria Avenue to The Forum in Elmer Approach, a new facility paid for by Southend Council, South Essex College and The University of Essex. It replaced the former Farringdon Multistorey Car Park. The old Central Library building (built 1974) has become home to the Beecroft Gallery and the Jazz Centre UK.[173] This building had replaced the former Carnegie funded free library, that opened in 1906, and is now home to the Southend Central Museum.[40]

Theatres[edit]

There are a number of theatres in the city proving a variety of entertainment.

The Edwardian Palace Theatre is a Grade II listed building dating from 1912. It shows plays by professional troupes and repertory groups, as well as comedy acts. The theatre has two circles and the steepest rake in Britain. Part of the theatre is a smaller venue called The Dixon Studio.

The Cliffs Pavilion is the largest purpose built arts venue in Essex.[205] Plans for a theatre on the site started in 1935 when the borough council purchased the site to build a 500 seat theatre and concert venue, with work starting four years later on construction but was suspended by the outbreak of World War II.[206][207] After the war, the site was known as Southend's white elephant until 1963, when work was started on building that could host shows, concerts and private functions. The building was opened by the actor, writer and director Sir Bernard Miles in July 1964, with the first show opening the next day starring Norman Vaughan and his troupe of dancers, the Swinging Lovelies.[206] In 1991-92, the council extended the site, with a new Foyer Bar added and a balcony added to the auditorium, increasing the capacity to 1,600.[208][207] The venue hosts a variety of concerts, shows and performances on ice, as well as pantomimes at Christmas. Artists that have performed at the Cliffs include Paul McCartney[209] and Oasis.[210]

The Clifftown Theatre is located in the former Clifftown United Reformed Church and as well as regular performances is part of the East 15 Acting School campus.[211]

Southend once hosted many more theatres. The New Empire Theatre closed in 2009. Unlike the Cliffs Pavilion or the Palace Theatre, the theatre was privately run, and hosted more amateur groups. The theatre was converted from the old ABC Cinema, which had prevously been the Empire Theatre built in 1896.[212] The theatre closed after a dispute between the trust that ran the theatre and its owners. The building was badly damaged by fire on Saturday 1 August 2015[213] and was demolished in 2017.[214] Other former venues included the Floral Hall on Western Esplanade, which hosted G. H. Chirgwin, that burnt down in 1937,[215] while the Sundeck Theatre was at the pier head and hosted acts like Arthur English, until it closed and was converted to the Diamond Horseshoe Showbar before it was destroyed in the fire in 1976.[216][217] The largest lost theatre was the Hippodrome in Southchurch Road, designed by Bertie Crewe, which opened in 1909. The theatre could hold 1,750 on three tiers, but was purchased by Gaumont Theatres and was converted to a cinema in 1933.[218][40]

Cinema[edit]

Southend has one cinema – the Odeon Multiplex at Victoria Circus which has eight screens. The borough of Southend had at one time a total of 18 cinema theatres,[219] with the most famous being the Odeon (formerly the Astoria Theatre), which as well as showing films hosted live entertainers including the Beatles and Laurel and Hardy.[220] This building no longer stands having been replaced by the Southend Campus of the University of Essex. There are plans to build a new 10-screen cinema and entertainment facility on the site of the Seaway Car Park.[221][222]

Southend has appeared in films over the years, with the New York New York arcade on Marine Parade being used in the British gangsta flick Essex Boys, the premiere of which took place at the Southend Odeon.[223] Southend Airport was used for the filming of the James Bond film Goldfinger.[224] Part of the 1989 black comedy film Killing Dad was set and filmed in Southend.[225]

Southend and the surrounding areas were heavily used and featured in the Viral Marketing[226] for the Universal Pictures 2022 American science fiction action film sequel Jurassic World Dominion, with a number of the featured videos on the DinoTracker website filmed in the Southend area[227] doubling for locations around the world. This is due to the fact that local resident and Jurassic World Franchise marketer Samuel Phillips utilised the area for both videos and imagery.[228]

Music[edit]

Venues[edit]

The Plaza Centre

Southend's primary music venues are Chinnerys, formerly Ivy House, and the Cliffs Pavilion. Chinnerys is a 400 person capacity club which has hosted the likes of the Arctic Monkeys, The Charlatans and The Libertines.[229] [230][231] The Plaza, a Christian community centre and concert hall based on Southchurch Road that had previously been a cinema,[232] regularly hosts concert performances.[233]

Former venues[edit]

The city has previously had some well-known venues:

  • For twenty years, the Sunrooms in Market Place, Southend hosted a variety of big name DJs including Scroobius Pip and Nina Kraviz before closing in 2013.[234]
  • Talk of the Town South in Lucy Road, opened in 1972 as a cabaret club and discotheque,[235] with The Stage reporting at the time

It was felt for a long time that Southend had paid too much attention to the younger generation and not nearly enough to the over-thirties and so it was, with this fact in mind, that the designers worked their overtime in an attempt to create decor suitable to marry different generations of people together quite compatibly. In the four months that Talk of the South has been operational, its results have proved so tremendously successful that managing director Manzi now feels sure that the cabaret that has been previously missing from the area has not only been required, but indeed needed, for some considerable time.[236]

The club hosted big names including The New Seekers, Frankie Howerd, Buddy Greco, Des O'Connor and Roy Orbison. The club morphed first into TOTS, then into TOTS 2000 in 1993 before becoming Talk nightclub in 2001.[237] The club closed for the last time on New Year's Eve 2019.[238]

  • The Esplanade pub was once a regular music venue. Situated on Western Esplanade, the building was opened in 1900. In the 70s it ran as a Pub Rock venue, called the Grand Canyon Club with the likes of Dr. Feelgood performing there, while in 90s it hosted bands such as Pearl Jam, Sneaker Pimps, Reef and Catatonia.[239][240]

Southend scene[edit]

Southend has had a nationally renowned rock music scene since the 1960s.[241] The Paramounts had chart success in the early 1960s, before morphing into Procol Harum.[242] During the 70s, Southend was a big part for the Pub rock scene,[243] with Paul Shuttleworth and Will Birch running a pub rock venue at The Esplanade, other venues like The Top Alex,[244] and influential acts like The Kursaal Flyers and Mickey Jupp.[245][246] In 1989, an album The Southend Connection was released to celebrate the roots of the genre in the town.[247] The Kursaal Ballroom during this time became a renowned music venue, hosting acts such as Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Thin Lizzy, Queen and AC/DC.[248][249] Later in the decade, Southend had a big punk rock scene producing notable bands The Machines, The Sinyx and Kronstadt Uprising.[250] Media theorist Dick Hebdige stated that punk originated from "a whole range of heterogeneous youth styles: glitter rock, American proto-punk, London pub-rock, Southend R & B bands, Northern soul and reggae".[251]

In the early 1990s, rock bands such as Understand and Above All had Kerrang! compare the Southend music scene to punk rock meccas New York, LA, Seattle and Washington DC.[252] Between 2001 to 2006, the Southend scene was centered on the Junk Club, which was held in the basement of the Royal Hotel. It was run by Oliver "Blitz" Abbott & Rhys Webb of The Horrors, and the underground club night played an eclectic mix from Post Punk to Acid House, 1960s Psychedelia to Electro. The club was influential and featured nationally in the NME; Dazed & Confused; i-D; Rolling Stone; The Guardian and Vogue.[253][254] Acts associated with the scene included:

Videos and songs[edit]

Southend has been used as the location for several music videos, by artists such as Oasis, Morrissey and George Michael.[258] The city is mentioned in a number of songs including Elton John's track Bitter Fingers,[259] Picture Book by The Kinks,[260] and in Billy Bragg's hymn to Essex, A13, Trunk Road to the sea, a British version of Route 66, where the final line of the chorus is "Southend's the end".[261][262]

Artists and bands[edit]

Southend has had numerous bands and musicians that have originated from the town, including:

Radio[edit]

In 1981, Southend became the home of Essex Radio, which broadcast from studios below Clifftown Road. The station was formed by several local companies, including Keddies, Garons & TOTS nightclub, with David Keddie, owner of the Keddies department store in Southend, becoming its chairman.[276] In 2004, the renamed Essex FM, then Heart Essex moved to studios in Chelmsford. It is now part of Heart East.

The BBC Local Radio station that broadcast to Southend is BBC Essex on 95.3 FM from the South Benfleet transmitter.[277]

On 28 March 2008, Southend got its own radio station for the first time which is also shared with Chelmsford Radio (formerly known as Dream 107.7 FM and Chelmer FM before that), Southend Radio started broadcasting on 105.1FM from purpose-built studios adjacent to the Adventure Island theme park.[278] The station merged with Chelmsford Radio in 2015 and became Radio Essex.

Television[edit]

Southend is served by London and East Anglia regional variations of the BBC and ITV. Television signals are received from either Crystal Palace or Sudbury TV transmitters.[279][280] The area can also pick up BBC South East and ITV Meridian from the Bluebell Hill TV transmitter.[281]

Southend has appeared in several television shows and advertisements.[282] It has been used on numerous occasions by the soap EastEnders with its most recent visit in 2022.[283][284] Southend Pier was used by ITV show Minder for its end credits in season 8, 9 and 10,[285] and since 2014 has been home to Jamie & Jimmy's Friday Night Feast. Advertisements have included Abbey National, CGU Pensions, National Lottery, the 2015 Vauxhall Corsa adverts featuring Electric Avenue, a seafront arcade[286] the 2018 Guide Dogs for the Blind campaign[287] and for the promo for David Hasselhoff's Dave programme Hoff the Record.[288]

In fiction[edit]

Southend is the seaside vacation place chosen by the John Knightley family in Emma by Jane Austen, published 1816.[289] The family arrived by stage coach, and strongly preferred it to the choice of the Perry family, Cromer, which was 100 miles from London, compared to the easier distance of 40 miles from the London home of the John and Isabella Knightley, as discussed at length with Mr. Woodhouse in the novel in Chapter XII of volume one.

In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, after being saved from death in the vacuum of space, Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect find themselves in a distorted version of Southend (a consequence of the starship Heart of Gold's Infinite Improbability Drive). Dent briefly feared that both he and Prefect did in fact die, based on a childhood nightmare where his friends went to either Heaven or Hell but he went to Southend.[290]

Dance on My Grave, a book by Aidan Chambers, is set in Southend.[291] Chambers had worked as a teacher in the city's Westcliff High School for Boys for three years.[292]

In the novel Starter for Ten by David Nicholls, the main character Brian Jackson comes from Southend-on-Sea.[293] The book was adapted into a 2006 film directed by Tom Vaughan.

Places of worship[edit]

There are churches in the borough catering to different Christian denominations, such as Our Lady Help of Christians and St Helen's Church for the Roman Catholic community. There are two synagogues; one for orthodox Jews, in Westcliff, and a reform synagogue in Chalkwell. Three mosques provide for the Muslim population; one run by the Bangladeshi community,[294] and the others run by the Pakistani community.[295][296] There are two Hindu Temples, BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir[297] and Southend Meenatshe Suntharasar Temple,[298] while there is one Buddhist temple, Amita Buddha Centre.[299]

Twin town[edit]

Southend-on-Sea is twinned with:

Notable people[edit]

Freedom of the City[edit]

The following people and military units have received the Freedom of the City of Southend-on-Sea.

Individuals[edit]

Military Units[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]

Preceded by LGC Council of the Year
2012
Succeeded by