Southend-on-sea (under construction)
A family treat as a child was to go to Southend to see the lights. I’m not sure what time of year this was, but it was a double treat, in that there was the excitement of the lights, but it also meant that we were up late at night. We would walk along the front looking at all of them and indulge in cockles and whelks and fish and chips. It was, and maybe still is, a very working class sort of excursion. I suppose it’s a southern and scaled down version of Blackpool. I think we must have gone there occasionally in the daytime too. I remember travelling on the train the length of the pier - it is very long - sometimes walking it, and buying sticks of rock in one of the little shops tucked away in the arches under a bridge near the pier. Then there was also the lift up the cliff - not much of a cliff really but to a small child it was exciting.
I had no idea that my father spent most of his very early years there. Surely he must have said so on one of our visits?
In 1870-72, John Marius Wilson's Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales described Southend on Sea like this:
SOUTHEND, a small town and a chapelry in Prittle-well parish, Essex. The town stands on the Thames estuary, at the terminus of the London, Tilbury, and Southend railway, 3½ miles WNW of Shoeburyness and 3½ S by E of Rochford; dates from a period not earlier than 1800; attracted notice, as a suitable watering-place, from a visit of Queen Caroline and Princess Charlotte in 1804; consists of good streets, with many commodious residences; includes Cliff-Town, which has been separately noticed; carries on a considerable coasting trade; communicates much with London, both by railway and by steamers; communicates also, by steamers, with Gravesend, Rochester, and Sheerness; and has a head post-office,‡ a r. ...
The Southend Timeline - An illustrated timeline from 1800 to the present. Lots of fascinating information and links.
Sea of change: Southend-on -Sea - a collection of photos old and new which show the modernisation of the town.
Southend-on-sea Borough Council - a brief overview with links to heritage buildings, etc.
History House - A mini history but lots of links to transcribed directories and other things as well as interesting snippets of information.
Vision of Britain - Statistics, some photograpsh, some writings ...
The Kursaal - The Kursaal was the big amusement park. Brief history and photos.
National Piers Society - A page of history and lots of links to photos, movies, news ...