A seaside resort
town in Essex
situated on the Thames
estuary, Southend is often nicknamed "East London
by the Sea" because of its proximity to that part of the capital
(only about 35 miles away).
As with most British seaside resorts other than Brighton, Southend was first popularised by the Victorians. Working class Londoners could take the new London-Tilbury-Southend railway for a penny each (as long as they travelled third class) and for a brief Sunday afternoon could escape the grime of the slums they lived in.
Again, in keeping with the traditional British resort town, Southend has everything you would expect: several funfairs, very many pubs and restaurants, and of course a pier. When the Victorian engineers built Southend pier in 1889 they did so in style. It projects out into the sea for well over a mile, and at the far end is a bowling alley, lifeboat station, more shops and a pub. For those who feel that the two and a half mile round trip might be more than they could cope with, a train runs up and down the pier.
Southend's heyday was probably the 1950s and 60s: in these post-War years Britons had a greater disposable income and more leisure time than ever before, yet holidays in the Mediterranean or elsewhere overseas were still only affordable by the very wealthy. At this time probably the most famous building in Southend was the Kursaal, a huge building in the centre of the seafront, which described itself as a "pleasure palace" -- in reality it was an indoor theme park.