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Southend-on-Sea ( ) is a unitary authority area, town, and seaside resort in Essex, Englandmarker. The district has Borough status, and comprises the towns of Chalkwellmarker, Eastwoodmarker, Leigh-on-Seamarker, Prittlewellmarker, Shoeburynessmarker, Southchurchmarker, Thorpe Baymarker, and Westcliff-on-Seamarker. The district is situated within the Thames Gatewaymarker on the north side of the Thames estuarymarker 40 miles (64 km) east of central Londonmarker. It is bordered to the north by Rochfordmarker and to the west by Castle Point.


Originally the south end of the village of Prittlewellmarker, Southend became a seaside resort during the Georgian era. Proximity to London and access by train meant the economy has been based on tourism ever since. Southend Piermarker is the world's longest pleasure pier at 1.34 miles (2158m). It has suffered fires and ship collisions, most recently in October 2005, but the basic pier structure has been repaired each time. There has been significant loss of pier-head facilities since the major fire in 1976.

With the decline of seaside resorts, from the 1960s much of the centre was developed for commerce and many of the original features were destroyed through redevelopment or neglect. H.M. Revenue & Customs , (formerly HM Customs and Excise), are major employers, and the central offices for the collection of VAT are there. Southend opened the University of Essex, Southendmarker to boost the economy.

There are nine railway stations on two lines within the borough connecting it to London.


Local government district

Southend-on-Sea was formed as a municipal borough in 1892 with the functions of local government shared with Essex County Council. In 1913 the borough was enlarged by the former area of Leigh on Sea Urban Districtmarker. In 1914 the enlarged Southend gained the status of county borough, exempt from county council control and a single-tier of local government. The county borough was enlarged in 1933 by the former area of Shoeburyness Urban Districtmarker and part of Rochford Rural Districtmarker.

In 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972, Southend became a district of Essex with borough status, however in 1998 it again became the single tier of local government when it became a unitary authority.


Southend - Civic Centre Autumn 2007
Seventeen wards each return three councillors, a total of 51. Councillors serve four years and one third of the council is elected each year, followed by one year without election. Following the 2007 local elections and a 2007 by-election, the composition is:

Affiliation Councillors

  Conservative Party 29
  Liberal Democrats 10
  Labour Party 7
  Independent 5
The council is controlled by the Conservative Party. Most day to day decisions are by a 10-member executive headed by the council leader.

The town's 'Per Mare Per Ecclesiam' translates into 'By the Sea and By the Church', reflecting Southend's position between the church at Prittlewellmarker and the sea as in the Thames estuary. The town is twinned with the resort of Sopotmarker in Polandmarker. Sopot has the longest wooden pier in Europe, Southend the longest iron pleasure pier in the world.

Southend Borough Council was criticised as one of the worst financially managed local authorities in England by the Audit Commission report for 2006/7 one of three to gain only one of four stars, the others being Liverpoolmarker and the Isles of Scillymarker. Areas of criticism were the use of consultants and the spending of £3.5 million on taxis during the 2006/7 financial year.

Members of Parliament

Southend is represented by two MPs at Westminster.

The MP for Southend Westmarker has been, since 1997, David Amess (Conservative) who replaced Paul Channon.

Since the 2005 General Election the MP for Southend East and nearby Rochfordmarker has been James Duddridge (Conservative), who replaced Sir Teddy Taylor. Despite its name the majority of the constituency is in Southend, Rochford makes up only a small part and the majority of Rochford District Council is represented by the MP for Rayleighmarker. Both seats are considered safe for the Conservative Party.


This is a chart of trend of regional gross value added of Southend-on-Sea at current basic prices published (pp.240–253) by Office for National Statistics with figures in millions of British Pounds Sterling.
Year Regional Gross Value Added Agriculture Industry Services
1995 1,373 2 305 1,066
2000 1,821 1 375 1,445
2003 2,083 - 418 1,665



Southend is served by two lines. Running from Southend Victoriamarker north out of the town is the Liverpool Street line, a branch of the Great Eastern Main Line operated by National Express East Anglia. The service operates to London Liverpool Streetmarker via Prittlewellmarker, Rochfordmarker, Hockleymarker, Rayleighmarker, Wickfordmarker, Billericaymarker, Shenfieldmarker and Stratfordmarker.

The London, Tilbury and Southend Railway, the Fenchurch Street line, is operated by c2c and runs from Shoeburynessmarker in the east of the borough, west through Thorpe Baymarker, Southend Eastmarker, Southend Centralmarker to Fenchurch Streetmarker in London via Benfleetmarker and Basildonmarker or Tilburymarker and Barkingmarker. Additionally, two services from Southend Central each weekday evening terminate at Liverpool Streetmarker.

From 1910 to 1939, the London Underground's District Line's eastbound service ran as far as Southend and Shoeburynessmarker.

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 Piermarker, whilst the nearby Southend Cliff Railwaymarker 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 Romfordmarker, and the A13, via Tilbury and London Docklandsmarker. Both are major routes. However, within the borough, the A13 is a single carriageway local route, whereas the A127 is almost entirely dual carriageway. Both lead to the M25 and eventually London.


Local public transport is by two main bus companies, Arriva Southend (formerly the council-owned Southend Corporation Transport) and First Essex Buses (formerly Eastern National/Thamesway). Minor companies include Stephensons of Essex, and Regal Busways. Southend Transport (Arriva) operated coaches to Victoria Coach Station under the Greenline brand; this was then run by but withdrawn on July 11, 2008, due to low falling patronage. There is a daily National Express coach (route 305) to Liverpoolmarker, and hourly departure on Stansted Aircoach route X30.

Southend Airport

London Southend Airportmarker was developed from the military airfield at Rochfordmarker and offers engineering and maintenance, aviation and pilot training, corporate and recreational flights, and scheduled flights to Jerseymarker on summer Saturdays. There are plans to expand the airport, including incorporation of a railway station, in 2009. In December 2008, Southend Airport was bought by The Stobart Group for a reported £21 million. There is also a retail plaza of shops next to the Airport


Secondary schools

In 2004 Southend retained grammar school system and has four schools: Southend High School for Boysmarker, Southend High School for Girlsmarker, Westcliff High School for Boysmarker and Westcliff High School for Girlsmarker. Additionally there are two single-sex schools assisted by the Roman Catholic Church: St Bernard's High School for Girlsmarker and St Thomas More High School for Boysmarker. Both, while not grammar schools, contain a grammar stream; entrance is by the same exam as grammar schools. The other mainstream secondary schools are mixed-sex comprehensives, including Belfairs High Schoolmarker, Cecil Jones Collegemarker, Chase High Schoolmarker (formerly Prittlewell High School), Futures Community College (formerly Thorpe Bay High School), [[Shoeburyness High School],The Eastwood Schoolmarker and Chalkwell Hall Junior/Infant School.
Southend - South East Essex College

Further and higher education

A number of secondary schools offer further education, but the largest provider is South East Essex College [29715], in a new building in the centre of town. The college offers 30 degree courses matriculated by the University of Essexmarker. The university's centre in the town is a single building on the High Street [29716]. The university has built its own centre in Southend, next to the college building on the site of the Odeon cinema. These buildings form the first two phases of the Southend Campus. Additionally there is SEEVIC College


Southend – Leisure and Tennis Centre
Southend has two football teams, one of league stature, Southend United, managed by former player Steve Tilson. The other, Southend Manormarker, play in the Essex Senior League. United competed in Football League One (the third highest division of the English football league system) after being relegated after finishing third from bottom of Football League Championship at the end of the 2006–07 season.

There are two rugby clubs with nationwide profile, Southend R.F.C. and Westcliff R.F.C., Southend having the superior men's first team (playing in National League 2 South). Essex County Cricket Club play in Southend one week a season. Previously the festival was at Southchurch Park, but it has moved to Garon Park. The only other cricket is local.

The eight-lane, floodlit, synthetic athletics track at Southend Leisure and Tennis Centre is home to Southend-on-Sea Athletic Club. The facilities include all track and field events.

Entertainment and culture

Seafront attractions

Southend Pier Autumn 2007
The Sunset in Southend, the view on the Adventure Island 20.10.2007
The town is known for its seafront. Since 1986, a diesel-hydraulic railway has run the length of the piermarker, replacing the electric service which opened in 1890. The pier has been beset by fires; a fire in 1995 destroyed the bowling alley at the start of the pier and a another fire in October 2005 damaged the far end of the pier. The pier was also run through by a boat in 1984.

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. An amusement park, formerly known as Peter Pan's Playground, straddles the pier entrance. Peter Pan's Playground was eventually renamed Adventure Islandmarker as its size and popularity grew, and has since grown into a large amusement park with over 50 rides. The seafront also houses the "Sea-Life Adventure" aquarium, owned by the Miller family, who also own Adventure Island.

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, and the bandstand has been removed. The council wants to re-erect the bandstand but a location has to be found.

A cliff lift links the base of the High Street with the new pier entrance. The older Southend Cliff Railwaymarker, a short funicular, is a few hundred metres away, closed because structural and mechanical work needs to be done in order to meet European Union legislation which classes it as a cable car.

On the second and fourth Saturdays of the month, Southend hosts a farmers' market.

Festival events

Starting in 1986, An airshow, dubbed Festival of the Air in 2009, takes place each May. At the show - one of Europe's largest free airshows - aircraft including high-speed military jets and sports aerobatic displays fly over the sea, parallel with the seafront. The RAF Falcons parachute display team and RAF Red Arrowsmarker jet aerobatics team are regular visitors to the show.

Each August Southend Carnival opens along the "Golden Mile" with the lighting of the Southend Illuminations.


There are three theatres. The Cliffs Pavilion is a large building to host concerts and performances on ice. The most recent theatre is the New Empire Theatremarker. It is, unlike the other two, privately owned. It is used more by amateur groups. The theatre was converted from the ABC Cinema, which was originally a theatre built in 1896. The Edwardian Palace Theatremarker is a grade II building built in 1912. It shows plays from 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.


The establishment of Junk Club By The Horrors Rhys Webb and Oliver Abbott (Von Blitz) aided by Ciaran O'Shea, in the basement of the Royal Hotel in 2002, created a 'Southend scene' featured in NME, Rolling Stone and Vogue.. Bands associated with the scene included The Horrors, These New Puritans, The Violets, Errorplains and Neils Children. Junk terminated in 2006. The Experimental Circle Club, set up by Thomas Silverman and Junk's Ciaran O'Shea, operates in Southend and London. Chinnery's is a music venue that has featured Arctic Monkeys, Zebrahead and Lost Prophets.

Southend is known for electronic music. The town has venues at the commercial and underground ends of the spectrum. The biggest underground music venue is the Royal Hotel which features house, techno, dubstep, breaks and electro. The Sunrooms champion all creative music.

Bands that originate from Southend include; Procol Harum, The Horrors, The Kursaal Flyers, These New Puritans, Ipso Facto, Scroobius Pip, Zior, and Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly.


In 1981, Southend became the home of Essex Radio, which broadcast from studios below Clifftown Road. In 2004, the renamed Essex FM, now Heart Essex moved to studios in Chelmsford.

On the 28 March 2008, Southend got its own radio station for the first time, Southend Radio started broadcasting on 105.1FM from purpose built studios adjacent to the Adventure Island theme park.

Places of Worship

The main religion in Southend is Christianity, with numerous churches around the borough. There are two synagogues, one orthodox in Westcliff and one reform in Chalkwell for the borough’s Jewish people (mainly in the Westcliff area which is nicknamed 'Little Jerusalem' due to the large Jewish population there.) There is also a mosque to cater for the borough’s Muslims.

York Road Market

The historic York Road Market has been scheduled for demolition and re-development by Southend-on-Sea Council. A local campaign group has been formed to fight this closure. .

Notable people


  1. Components may not sum to totals due to rounding
  2. includes hunting and forestry
  3. includes energy and construction
  4. includes financial intermediation services indirectly measured
  5. SAC Official Club Website
  6. Essex Farmers Markets
  7. Airshow website Retrieved 2 June 2009}
  8.,,1862738,00.html - 'The beach boys', Guardian Unlimited Arts article on the scene
  9. -'s page on Radio in Southend
  10. - York Road market faces closure

External links

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