Southend Visitor information
Southend-on-Sea, commonly referred to as simply Southend, is a town and wider unitary authority area with borough status in southeastern Essex, England. It lies 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 1.7 miles north of the town centre.
Southend-on-Sea originally consisted of a few poor fishermen's huts and farms at the southern end of the village of Prittlewell. In the 1790s, the first buildings around what was to become the High Street of Southend were completed. In the 19th century, Southend's status of a seaside resort grew after a visit from Princess Caroline of Brunswick, and Southend Pier was constructed. From the 1960s onwards, the town declined as a holiday destination, Southend redeveloped itself as the home of the Access credit card, due to it having one of the UK's first electronic telephone exchanges. After the 1960s, much of the town centre was developed for commerce and retail, and many original structures were lost to redevelopment. An annual seafront airshow, started in 1986, when it featured a flypast by Concorde on a passenger charter flight, used to take place each May and became one of Europe's largest free airshows. The show has not been held since 2012 due to a lack of sponsorship and funding cuts.
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 of Brunswick 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.