Southend Timeline

Bringing Your Memories Back to Life

1912  - Southend Welcomes The Palace Theatre
  • Southend's New Motor Fire Engine
  • Southend's Seaplanes
  • Westborough School Opens
  • The Palace Theatre Opens
  • Early Closing Adopted
  • Shepherd's Cot Demolished 
  • Theatre for Leigh - Henry's Hall
  • New Owners at the Kursaal
  • Porter's Purchased
  • First Airshow
  • Panto Time - Dick Whittington
  • Princess Louise Visits
  • New Synagogue opens
  • First Aeroplane Visitor
  • Osborne House Demolished
  • Uncontested General Election
  • Clark's College Opens

Southend's New Motor Fire Engine - Southend Town Council brought the fire service in the town up to date with the purchase of the very first motorised fire engine for the force; ensuring more lives and buildings will be saved from the destruction of fire.  The tender would arrive at the end of January and is of the celebrated Merryweather "Hatfield" pattern, as already in use in other major cities around the country.  Outside Greater London it will be the first motorsied engine in the county. The pump on this engine would be able to deliver 350 gallons a minute.

Jewish Faith Served - Southend's development would always bring with it the need to accommodate its growing diversity too.  Therefore in February due to much demand a new Synagogue was opened on Alexandra Road.

The Palace Theatre Opens - The theatre under the management of the Raymond Animated Picture Company, opened on Monday 21 October 1912 and named as the "Palace of Varieties" on 14 November.  Palace Theatre 1912The opening ceremony was conducted by the Deputy Mayor, Alderman JC Ingram, who said the thetare was another link in the prosperity of the Borough.  The very first show was a variety night which included the skills of Mr Arthur Hill who appeared as the human marionette, the audience did enjoy this act.  He continued with representations of "Robinson Crusoe," and a sailor, and his jests, songs and dances.  Miss Rosie Archer took to the stage with a favoured performance on the piano.  Then followed "the Dandy Doctor" a farcical frolic from Mr Tatton Hall and company. The evening's performance went without a hitch, and received thudderous applause throughout, the New Palace Theatre in Westcliff was off to a flying start.  the thater building itself by the standards of the day, it was a modern building; but many people did wonder about this corner of Westcliff how something so architecturally beautiful could emerge from what seemed for an age a pile of bricks and some scaffolding.  When complete the theatre was able to boast "no matter from what part of the building, spectators look up to the stage, there is a clear and uninterrupted view". It seated then 1500 compared to 603 today.  The theatre is still going very strong today and has formed a healthy alliance with the Cliffs Pavilion to provide the town an all round entertainment experience. Palace Theatre Website

New Owners at the Kursaal - The Morehouse family took the reigns at the Kursaal in 1912, to be relaunched as 'The Kursaal and Gardens'.

Theatre for Leigh - Leigh was becoming a thriving area for cinema's and now a theatre.  Henry's Hall opened in 1912 by the Rev RS King as canbe seen by this image, just across from the Empire Palace Cinema just up from the Grand Hotel.  Today the building has altered little but awaits development. 





Porter's Purchased - Eminent Church architect Sir Charles Nicholson purchased Porter's in 1912 then sold it to the Borough Council twenty years later, to become the Civic House and 'Mayor's Parlour'.

First Airshow - A strange attraction, sensational for the time, attracted a huge crowd on the seafront in August when a key man responsible for the evolution of flight, Graham White along with Messrs Travers and Noel provided exhibition flights in a seaplane on Western Esplanade and could have planted the very forst seed for what we know now as the annual airshow.

Royal Visit - The Victoria Hospital, in Warrior Square, polished the brass ready for a Royal visit on Saturday 30th November.  The Princess Louise, accomapnied by the Duke of Argyll visited Southend to open an extension to the hospital.  The Royal couple have a long and interesting connection with the town, and are not too unfamiliar with their surroundings, indeed the Duke while undergoing musketry training at Shoeburyness military ranges stayed in a small house just off Southend High Street for quite a time.  For this visit however all the Royal regalia was on display to welcome them along with the a whole range of dignatories.

Osborne House in the Course of Demolition - In May workmen set about this Old Leigh property, formerly the residence of Admiral Salmon, one of the most distinguished of the Leigh navigators.  The building was erected in 1600, and contained some handsome oak panelling.

General Election - With the resignation of Capt Kirkwood as MP for South East Essex.  The new challenger Rupert Guinness took up the mantle on behalf of the Conservative Unionist Party.  Upto election time no challenger came forward from the opposing parties, indeed a late Labour ticket was floated causing some excitement by Mr Charles Stock of Pitsea, but to no avail as the papers were submitted too late; therefore Rupert Guinness, centre in the image above, was unopposed and duely elected to stand as MP for South East Essex. 

Arriving at Priory Farm Meadow Is.... - This really could be classed as Southend’s very first ‘Air Show’.  At an age when flying of any kind was in its infancy, and the most reliable form of flight was under a dirigible; to find in our backyard a crazy Frenchman prepared to risk life and limb performing flying exhibitions was simply marvellous.  During the August Bank Holiday of 1912 Monsieur M. Salmet stepped into his cockpit of what seemed to be a very fragile aircraft and on the Saturday as well as the Monday delighted and thrilled visitors by the grace and the daring of his flights.

The Pilot had earlier on the Saturday flown from Colchester staying below the cloud level at 300 feet to cover the 32 miles across country, in just 27 minutes.  Landing at Priory Farm Meadow, this in itself drawing a crowd of curious onlookers, who were more than happy to welcome the very first visitor to arrive by aeroplane; he then treated them in the late afternoon to a thrilling exhibition of flying.  On Monday the true exhibition started with thousandds of visitors gathering on the seafront.  From the air Mons. Salmet thought the pier was one long line of people.  He performed a breath taking routine up and down the front doing a figure of eight and dropping the plane to just feet above the water, much to shock of the watching public.  He excalimed after he had never seen so manhy people before, and when he finally landed was chased across the field by admiring young women wanting his autograph.  On returning to the Palace Hotel where he was staying he was warmly congratulated by all on his amazing performance.

Clark's College Opens - A new educational establishment opened its doors this year.  Along the London Road, the Southend and Westcliff branch of of Clark's College arrived.  The brand founded by Mr George Clark has branches across the country as far north as Leeds, and as a brand in 1912 had reached its thirty-second year.  The college had some excellent success and had built its reputation as being a solid educational establishment that moved its students towards work placements.

Southend's Seaplanes - Checkout this feature to see how seaplanes were brought to the Essex coast in 1912:

Southend's Seaplanes Feature

Westborough School Opens - Another school through open its doors this year on Saturady 1st June.  The school took up a 2 acres of land which cost £1,250.  The total cost of the buildings was about £15,000 and was built in three stages to accommodate 450 boys, 450 girls and 300 infants.  It was stated at the opening ceremony by the Mayor that the cost per head worked out about £12 10s., and the cost of the oak furniture £850.

Early Closing Adopted - From this year Southend adopted to close early on a Wednesday, an option taken up by Local Authorities and recognised around the country by local businesses.  This gave workers within retail businesses to have a suitable amount of time off.

Shepherd's Cot Demolished - There is an old photograph showing a bearded gentleman with a beard standing in front of a tiny cottage to the rear is tram trundling along London Road with the buildings of Hamlet Court Road School just being made out.  It does not take long to realise this little cot is sitting on the site of what we would know now as Barclay's Bank and the large 4-5 storey building.  the Cot was provided for Thomas Dowsett's Shepherd.  Dowsett died some years earlier than 1912, and when his widow dies in 1912, the Cot had know owner and was summarily demolished to make way for the modern development we all know today. 

Panto Time - The Hippodrome in Southchurch Road was becoming used to the idea that this theatre was the home for Southend's Pantomime.  this year the production starting on Boxing Day would be Dick Whittington.  Courtesy of the London production company of Dottridge and Longden.  Albert Williams produced an amazing show that once started carried right through the sound of bow bells, the pack audiences roared with laughter when ever Idle Jack (Tom Drew) took to the stage.  The character of Dick Whittington was naturally played by the leading lady Miss Hetty Zillwood, and her faithful cat by Mr James Rallis, a some what revered animal impersonator, which certainly gave him the tools to perform his part admirably.  One of the noted voices who will no doubt feature in bigger and better productions in the future was Miss Minnie Muir who played Alice, Dick's sweetheart.



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