A few minutes walk from the heart of Southend is a scene typical of many found in the West Country. Churchill Gardens, the beauty spot chosen by the town to honour the great man, are situated a stones throw away from skyscrapers, busy railway lines and the main road to Southend.
Mr Frank Scheerboom was the owner of the Express Laundry in Southend, and together with his wife occupied a house in the laundry grounds. He bought land behind his house then a sand pit, as he was afraid it would be used as a scrap-yard. The land remained uncultivated until 1951, when Mr Scheerboom and his wife called in a landscape artist. Ian Walker. Between them the garden was planned as a reminder of the Devon countryside.
About fifty types of trees were planted, waterfalls were built and a water course was made to wind its way for about 200 yards through the garden and terminate in a pool.
Mr Scheerboom enjoyed the garden and spent many happy hours in peace and tranquility only a few yards from the hectic bustle of everyday life. In 1961 he died and his widow carried on the laundry and the gardens. In 1964 she sold out to the Southend Corporation and moved to Eastwood. The laundry in 1967 was demolished along with the house formerly occupied by Mr & Mrs Scheerboom.
The Corporation's parks department then started to restore the gardens back to there former beauty after a period of neglect. The lawns were cut, the undergrowth was cleared and the trees were trimmed. Rhododendrums and azaleas were added to the trees and bushes already established, bulbs were planted on the slopes and rose bushes were pleaced at various intervals along the gardens. Repairs were made to the concrete of the water course. After dropping down a twenty foot waterfall the water runs through the gardens to a tree lined pool, in which sit various coloured water lilies.
Mrs Scheerboom was given a shelter for the gardens as a memorial to her late husband, several local organisations also gave seats, and an anonymous donor gave the money to provide the wrought iron gates and the wall at the main entrance. The main entrance is in East Street, immediately opposite the parish church of St Mary the Virgin. A path leads through the gardens to a second entrance opposite the Civic Centre car park. The gardens were officially opened on 4th May 1966 by the Lord-Lieutenant of Essex Sir John Ruggles-Brise Bt, CB, OBE, TD, JP. who unveiled a bust of Churchill in the centre of the gardens. The gardens are a favourite of the office workers who spend there lunch times relaxing in this green oasis, as well as a place of relaxation for local residents.