Southend-on-Sea facts for kids
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Borough of Southend-on-Sea
June 2008 aerial view of Southend-on-Sea
Per Mare Per Ecclesiam
(By Sea, By Church)
Shown within Essex
|• Total||41.76 km2 (16.12 sq mi)|
|• Ethnicity||93.6% White
1.4% Mixed Race
|Time zone||UTC+0 (GMT)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+1 (British Summer Time)|
|ONS code||00KF (ONS)
Southend-on-Sea, commonly referred to as simply Southend, is a seaside resort town and wider unitary authority area with borough status, in Essex, England, 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. It is home to the longest leisure pier in the world, Southend Pier. London Southend Airport is located 1.5 NM (2.8 km; 1.7 mi) north of the town centre.
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Originally the "south end" of the village of Prittlewell, Southend was home to a few poor fisherman huts and farms that lay at the southern extremity of Prittlewell Priory land. In the 1790s landowner Daniel Scratton sold off land either side of what was to become the High Street, and the Grand Hotel (now Royal Hotel) and Grove Terrace (now Royal Terrace) were completed by 1794, and stagecoaches from London made it accessible. Due to the bad transportation links between Southend and London, there was not rapid development during the Georgian Era like Brighton. It was the coming of the railways in the 19th Century and the visit of Princess Caroline that Southend's status of a seaside resort grew. During the 19th century Southend's pier was first constructed and the Clifftown development built, attracting many tourists in the summer months to its seven miles of beaches and bathing in the sea. 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. Southend Pier is the world's longest pleasure pier at 1.34 mi (2.16 km). It has suffered fires and ship collisions, most recently in October 2005, 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. Southend reinvented itself as the Home of the Access (credit card) due to it having 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. Since then, much of the town centre has been developed for commerce and retail, and during the 1960s many original structures were lost to redevelopment – such as the Talza Arcade & Victoria Market (replaced by what is now known as The Victoria Shopping Centre) and Southend Technical College (now a campus of South Essex College, on the site of the ODEON Cinema). 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), are major employers in the town, and the central offices for the collection of VAT are located at Alexander House on Victoria Avenue.
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 show has not been held since 2012 due to a lack of sponsorship. An attempt to revive the show for September 2015, as the Southend Airshow and Military Festival, failed.
Sopot, Poland, has been Southend-on-Sea's twin town since October 1999.
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 55–64 accounted for the remaining 12%.
The Department for Communities and Local Government's 2010 Indices of Multiple Deprivation  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). Victoria and Milton wards have the highest percentage of ethnic minority population. Southend has the highest percentage of residents receiving housing benefit (19%) and the third highest percentage of residents receiving council tax benefit in Essex.
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 the rest of Essex.
Southend is served by two National Rail lines. Running from Southend Victoria north out of the town is the Liverpool Street line, a branch of the Great Eastern Main Line operated by Abellio Greater Anglia. The services operate to London Liverpool Street via Prittlewell.
The London, Tilbury and Southend Railway, the Fenchurch Street line, is operated by c2c and runs from Shoeburyness in the east of the borough, west through Thorpe Bay, Southend East, Southend Central to Fenchurch Street in London via Benfleet and Basildon or Tilbury and Barking. Additionally, one service from Southend Central each weekday evening terminates at Liverpool Street.
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.
Two A-roads connect Southend with London and the rest of the country, the A127 (The Southend Arterial Road), via Basildon and Romford, and the A13, via Tilbury and London Docklands. Both are major routes, however, within the borough, the A13 is a single carriageway local route, whereas the A127 is entirely dual carriageway. Both connect to the M25 and eventually London.
No To Mob patrols warn motorists of the presence of active council parking enforcement CCTV vans.
Local public transport is provided by two main bus companies, Arriva Southend (formerly the council-owned Southend Corporation Transport) and First Essex Buses (formerly NBC/Eastern National/Thamesway). Minor companies include Stephensons of Essex, and Regal Busways. Southend has a bus station in Chichester Road which was developed from a temporary facility added in the 1970s. Southend Bus station had sat on the London Road and was run by Eastern National, but it was demolished in the 1980s to make way for a Sainsbury's Supermarket. Arriva Southend is the only bus company based in Southend, with their depot being located in Short Street (previously on the corner of London Road and Queensway and also a small facility in Tickfield Road). First Essex buses are based out of the depot in Hadleigh, but prior to the 1980s Eastern National had depots on the London Road (at the Bus Station) and Fairfax Drive.
London Southend Airport
London Southend Airport was developed from the military airfield at Rochford, opened as a civil airport in 1935, and now offers scheduled flights to destinations across Europe, corporate and recreational flights, aircraft maintenance and training for pilots and engineers.
Southend-on-Sea has a typical British marine climate with summer highs of around 22 °C (72 °F) and winters highs being around 7.5 °C (45.5 °F). Summer temperatures are generally slightly cooler than those in London. Frosts are occasional. During the 1981–2010 period there was an average of 31.5 days of air frost. Rainfall was low by British standards and averaged 515 millimetres (20.3 in). Weather station data is available from Shoeburyness, which is adjacent to Southend in the eastern part of the urban area.
|Climate data for Shoeburyness in eastern part of Southend urban area, 2 m asl. (1981-2010)|
|Average high °C (°F)||7.5
|Average low °C (°F)||2.4
|Precipitation mm (inches)||42.3
|Avg. precipitation days||9.5||8.0||8.6||8.4||8.0||8.0||6.9||6.6||7.6||10.0||10.0||9.4||101.0|
|Source: Met Office|
Entertainment and culture
Southend Pleasure Pier
Southend-on-Sea is home to the world's longest pleasure pier, built in 1830 and stretching some 1.33 miles (2.14 km) from shore.
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, is a bowling alley arcade operated by Megabowl and casino.
The Cliff Lift
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.
Other seafront attractions
An amusement park Adventure Island, formerly known as Peter Pan's Playground, straddles the pier entrance. The seafront houses the "Sea-Life Adventure" aquarium.
The cliff gardens, which included Never Never Land and a Victorian bandstand were an attraction until slippage in 2003 made parts of the cliffs unstable. The bandstand has been removed and re-erected in Priory Park. Beaches include Three Shells and Jubilee Beach.
A modern vertical lift links the base of the High Street with the seafront and the new pier entrance. The older Southend Cliff Railway, a short funicular, is a few hundred metres away.
The London to Southend Classic Car run takes place each summer. It is run by the South Eastern Vintage and Classic Vehicle Club and features classic cars which line the seafront.
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.
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.
Since 2008 Chalkwell Park becomes home to the Village Green Art & Music Festival for a weekend every July.
There are regular vintage fairs and markets in Southend, held at a variety of locations including the Leigh Community Centre, the Kursaal and the Railway Hotel. A record fair is frequently held at West Leigh Schools, Ronald Hill Grove, Leigh on Sea.
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) and The Royals (built late 1980s replacing bottom part of High Street, Grove Road, Ritz Cinema, Grand Pier Hotel). Southend High Street has many chain stores, with Debenhams, Primark and Boots in the Royals, and Next anchoring the Victoria.
This was not always the case with many independent stores closing in the 1970s and 1980s – Keddies (department store), J L Dixons (department store), Brightwells (department store), Garons (grocers, caterers and cinema), Owen Wallis (ironmongers and toys), Bermans (sports and toys), J Patience (photographic retailers) & R. A. Jones (jewellers) being the most notable. 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. Southend is home to the largest store in the Waitrose portfolio.
A Southend family business started in 1937 that was still going in 2014 was Dixons Retail. The oldest surviving independent retail business in Southend is Ravens which opened in 1897.
The borough of Southend has shopping in other areas too. 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 business now reside. Hamlet Court Road is still home to one of Southend's oldest business – Havens opened in 1901.
Southend is home to many recreation grounds. Its first formal park to open was Prittlewell Square in the 19th century. Since then Priory Park and Victory Sports Grounds were donated by the town benefactor R A Jones, who also has the sports ground Jones Corner Recreation Ground named after his wife. Other formal parks that have opened since are Chalkwell Park and Southchurch Hall along with Southchurch Park, Garon Park and Gunner Park.
Art, galleries, museums and libraries
Focal Point Gallery 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 Borough Council and Arts Council England.
Southend Museums Service, part of Southend on Sea Borough Council, operates a number of historic attractions, an art gallery and a museum in the town. These include: The Beecroft Art Gallery, Southchurch Hall, Prittlewell Priory, Southend Pier Museum and the Central Museum on Victoria Avenue.
The Old Waterworks Arts Center operates in North Road, Westcliff in the former Victorian water works building. It holds art exhibitions, talks and workshops.
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 Multi Story Car Park. The old Central Library building has become home to the Beecroft Gallery.
There are a number of theatres. The Cliffs Pavilion is a large building to host concerts and performances on ice, opening in 1964. The Edwardian Palace Theatre is a grade II building built in 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 was a smaller venue called The Dixon Studio. They are both owned by Southend Council and run by Southend Theatres Ltd.
The most recent theatre was the New Empire Theatre. It was, unlike the other two, privately owned. It was used more by amateur groups. The theatre was converted from the old ABC Cinema, which had been the Empire Theatre built in 1896. The New Empire theatre closed in 2009 after a dispute between the trust that run the theatre and its owners. The building was badly damaged by fire on Saturday 1 August 2015
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.
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, 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. 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, which was earmarked to start in 2015 and be completed by 2017. However Cineworld pulled out in 2015 and planned to open a new multiscreen site at the planned Fossets Farm development, next to the new Southend United F.C. ground.
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, and its airport being used for the filming of James Bond's Goldfinger.
Junk Club, at one time a centre of Southend's music scene, was predominantly held in the basement at the Royal Hotel during the period of 2001–06. Co-run by Oliver "Blitz" Abbott & Rhys Webb, of The Horrors, the underground club night played and eclectic mix from Post Punk to Acid House, 1960s Psychedelia to Electro. It was noted as spearheading what became known as the Southend Scene and was featured in the NME, Dazed & Confused, ID, Rolling Stone, Guardian and Vogue. Bands associated with the scene included; The Horrors, These New Puritans, The Violets, Ipso Facto, Neils Children and The Errorplains.
Southend has three major venues; Chinnerys, the Riga Club (formerly at the Cricketers Pub London Road) at O'Neill's, and the Cliffs Pavilion. The Railway Hotel is a live music pub, which features a variety of acts, and curates the Southend Pier Festival.
Concerts are also shown at the Plaza, a Christian community centre and concert hall based on Southchurch Road, which was formerly a cinema.
Other bands and musicians originating from Southend include; Danielle Dax, The Kursaal Flyers, Scroobius Pip, Procol Harum, Eddie and the Hot Rods, Busted, Nothing But Thieves.
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. In 2004, the renamed Essex FM, now Heart Essex moved to studios in Chelmsford.
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. The station merged with Chelmsford Radio in 2015 and became Radio Essex.
Southend has appeared in several television shows and advertisements. It has been used on numerous occasions by the soap EastEnders with its most recent visit in 2013. Southend Pier was used by ITV show Minder for its end credits in season 8, 9 and 10, and since 2014 has been home to Jamie & Jimmy's Friday Night Feast. Advertisements have included Abbey National, CGU Pensions, National Lottery and most recently the 2015 Vauxhall Corsa adverts featuring Electric Avenue, a seafront arcade and for the promo for David Hasselhoff's new Dave programme Hoff the Record.
Southend is the seaside vacation place chosen by the John Knightley family in Emma by Jane Austen, published 1816. 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.
Places of worship
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, and the others run by the Pakistani community.
York Road Market
Demolition of the historic market began on 23 April 2010. The site became a car park. A temporary market was held there every Friday until 2012 after the closure of the former Southend market at the rear of the Odeon. As of 2013, a market is now held in the High Street every Thursday with over 30 stalls.
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