Southend Timeline

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Prittlewell Murder - Police Sergeant Marden assisted in the investigation into the murder of Florence Dennis, who was found shot in the head in Gainsborough Drive, Prittlewell. The enquiry, which was conducted by Marden and Detective Inspector Baker of the Metropolitan Police, found that Florence Dennis was pregnant, and the mistress of James Canham Read, a cashier in the Royal Albert Docks. After the murder Read went on the run, and wanted posters were circulated with his description. He was eventually arrested at the home of another one of his mistresses, tried at the Essex Assizes and hanged at Chelmsford prison in December 1894.
On Monday, June 24, 1894 Florence went to Prittlewell, and was met by a man.  They walked through some woodland park, at dusk.  When in an isolated spot Read asked Florence if she had mentioned that they were meeting.  Knowing what he wanted to hear she said "No".  When her back was turned he shot her in the head. He hoped to catch a train from Prittlewell back to London, and missed it.  He could not afford to wait for the next train.  To rent a wagon would have been to invite questions that would lead to his identity.  So Read decided to walk the many miles back to Stepney.  It took him all night.  In the course of it, he had to stop several people for directions, and with typical luck he stopped a smart constable among them.  Still he continued walking most of the night, and got back to his home.
Westcliff Station was built in 1894, bringing a boom in housing in the Westcliff area - At the foot of Hamlet Court Road and just across from the famous Queen's Hotel this station was ideally placed for visitors wanting to take advantage of the Westcliff beaches or the exclusive shopping in Hamlet Court Road.



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