Southend Timeline

Bringing Your Memories Back to Life


Corona Loses it's Fizz - A sad day for Leigh as another Cinema shuts up shop on 4th April 1959.  Intense competition and lack of custom resulted in a number of them across the borough closing.  The last films to be shown included Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Riley's now operates from this site on Leigh Road as a snooker come bowling centre. 



Pier Struck by Fire - Fire destroying the land-end pavilion.  The latest tragedy to strike the world's longest pleasure pier would see some 300 people needing to be rescued from the structure as they were cut off.  The fire took hold ion the early evening on 7th October, a time still popular for many seaside visitors who would come and marvel at the illuminations.  Fortunately the shore-end pavilion was not occupied when it caught alight, those trapped were at the pier head.  With the tide in those at the end needed to walk perilously towards the fire for nearly 1 mile before climbing down the side of the iron pier onto waiting boats.  The many thousand of visitors along the seafront then were provided added entertainment to the illuminations as fire brigades from across Essex took part it bringing the fire under control.  The estimated cost of the fire was £100,000.

Civic Centre Site Takes Shape - The grand plans for a new Civic Area were moving apace, the plans were moving from paper to scale models which were put on display for the public to view.  Beside a new 14 storey Civic Centre, a new police station and court house were planned, also to the north east area just off Carnarvon Road a new technical college was already well on the way to full completion expected in September.

Top Town - Southend became the stars of the small screen courtesy of the BBC.  The programme Top Town pitched Southend against Plymouth on 19th February; a variety show that paraded the best of the town's variety acts, broadcast from the Kursaal, which then were judged by Civic heads from across the country, Southend won by 16-9 votes.  Southend's acts included the singing old age pensioners, the Nankivells; the cockney barrow girl, Vera Dorian; and fire-eater Douglas Chadwick; the Four 'J's; the Two Merricks; a trampoline act; and roller skating act Les Patineurs.  The competition would play through the year, Research is being carried out now by the BBC on behalf of Southend Timeline to see if in their records they have any information as to how Southend faired.

History Gone - Daines Farm built around 1400 in Southchurch is demolished

Lighting up Roots - Roots Hall started the 1959-60 season with brand new floodlights and an extended main stand.  The club benefited from the ground improvements courtesy of the supporters club financing the work.  The new floodlights now means Saturday games would kick off at 3.15pm and now the ground can also cope with 7.30pm evening kick-offs.


Southend's New MP - Due to the death of the much liked Henry 'Chips' Channon in October 1958, a by-election was held in January 1959 and at the amazing age of just 23 and fresh out of university Southend West adopted the latest in the dynasty that had been holding the seat since 1912.  Paul Channon was favoured by the town's electorate, later to become Lord Kelvedon; his grandfather Rupert Guinness held the seat for the first time and family connections would see it kept in the family.  The by-election was hounded on the day by thick fog which probably reduced the turn out to just 42.5%.  The results for this election:

General Election

8th October 1959 


Southend West                                Majority 17,035

  • Paul Channon Con 25,555
  • Miss Heather Harvey Lib 10,577
  • Anthony Pearson-Clarke Lab 9,219



Southend East                                                   Majority 7,725

  • Sir Stephen McAdden Con 24,712
  • EJ Trevett Labour 16,987


New Access to Old Leigh - 1959 saw the building of a new fly over bridge to take vehicles directly into Old Leigh High Street.  With the closing of the original Leigh Rail Station and moving it further along westwards mean't the level crossing that gave access to Old Leigh would be removed. 


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