A Brief History of Southend

Feb 28, 2018

There’s so much more to do and see beside the seaside. Southend-on-Sea is brimming with activity for residents and visitors alike.

The town is home to the world’s longest pier at nearly 1.5 miles, enviable sandy beaches and all the fun of the fair at Adventure Island, but beyond the trappings of the seafront, Southend-on-Sea and the surrounding area provides great things to do, places to eat and drink, shop and take in the culture.

Nowadays, Southend is a summer hotspot, with tourists flooding the seaside town to enjoy the warm weather on the beach.

The town’s history as a seaside resort stretches back centuries, but life wasn’t always so rosy on the seafront.

Southend Pier, which has a rich history.

Southend’s history can be traced back to a few scattered fishing huts and farmsteads on the outskirts of the coastal village of Prittlewell.

Throughout the 18th century, the southern end huts grew in number, though the boom years of a resort town were still far away.

It wasn’t until the 19th century, with a visit from Princess Caroline of Brunswick, did Southend first become marked as a holiday destination.

As crowds flocked to the seaside, so Southend boomed. Construction of the Pier soon began and expansion into a town followed suit.

Though the boom years of the late 19th-early 20th century have been consigned to history, Southend still remains a popular destination for tourists and weekend-escapees from the City.

The town formerly held one of Europe’s largest free airshows in the latter part of the 20th century, attracting fly-bys from the likes of the Red Arrows and Concorde.


Southend Beach, rich in history.

These days, much of the town has been redeveloped for retail with plenty of bars, restaurants and attractions catering to the summer crowds.

Whether you fancy exploring Southend’s fascinating past at one of our historic houses or history hotspots, take a ride on the cliff lift, or discover the wonders of the night sky at the planetarium.

You can also enjoy a wide range of exhibitions year-round at our two great art galleries, or head to the bandstand for a classical open-air concert, there’s a lot more to Southend than meets the eye!

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