Southend Timeline

Bringing Your Memories Back to Life





Tuesday 5th January: A sad end: A dead 35ft minke whale washes ashore by the Boom at Shoebury East Beach, on the Ministry of Defence.


Friday 8th January: Solar Powered Airport: A 2.5 megawatt photovoltaic solar farm covering 3.2 hectares of grassland costing £2million opens for use feeding power to the airport, the 9500 solar panels are raised off the ground by 2600 piles.


Wednesday 13 January: New Car Park announced: £1.5million has finally been set aside to lay the foundations to the long-anticipated Southend cliffs museum. Southend Council hopes by 2018/19 it will have designs, funding, and planning in place for the museum, which will be sunk into the cliffs in Western Esplanade, it wants the first phase – the facility’s underground car park – to be open by 2019 to take the pressure off other seafront car parks.

Wednesday 13 January   Premier Expands:  A £1.9million project, despite traffic concerns, is given the green light to expand the Premier Inn hotel on Thanet Grange next to the Strawberry Fields pub, with an extra 26 rooms.  

Thurdsay 14th January: SNEEK PEEK: A rare glimpse inside the Southend Museum's secure storage area of its Natural History store is given to a lucky few.


Thursday 21st January: No Coffee on the Hill:  Costa Coffee pull out of talks to take on the empty Pier Hill shop that has sat empty for 12 years.





Monday 1st February: A £1.5million four year restoration plan is announced for the Belton Hill, Leigh gardens and steps leading down to Leigh Station.



Monday 8th February: Catering specialists Vertas take over the running of the cafe in the Royal Pavilion on the end of Southend Pier.



Tuesday 2nd February: His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent visits The Forum to unveil a statue of Her Majesty The Queen, and a plaque.



Thursday 4th February: Money down the drain: Anglian Water announce plans to invest in a scheme surveying and refurbishing the many miles od drains under the streets of Southend.



Monday 8th February: Storm Imogeon forces the closure of London City Airport with seven flights divrting into Southend.



Thursday 11th February:  Lagoon News: It was announced that work on constructing Southend new seawater Lagoon will commence on 1st March, with a July opening date penciled in for the £1.8million attraction.



Saturday 20 February: Return of the Bell: Planns are announce to reconstruct The Bell hotel on Leigh Hill after its collapse in 2015.



Tuesday 23rd February: Rock Factory Fire: The long derelict Grosvenor Rock Factory in Pleasant Road is victim of an arson attack, the fire damages an outbuilding and is quickly put out by firefighters.



Thursday 25th February: Shells on the shore...:  A bomb disposal team are called to the Westcliff foreshore to investigate suspected ordnance opposite the Toulouse restaurant, after investigation it turns out to be the remains of a pre-detonated shell.




Tuesday 1st March: Work commences on the seafront lagoon.


Wednesday 2nd March: Esplanade Plans Passed: A £12.5 million proposal, the plans to demolish the old Esplanade Public House, and replace it with a development of 23 flats with a bar/restaurant on the ground floor and residents parking under the building.


Thursday 3rd March:  FIRE: A row of long derelict cottages on Southchurch Avenue fronting the Kursaal are set on fire resulting in major damage.


Friday 4th March: Shakedown scare: The annual Southend Shakedown, a bike rally from the Ace café in London to Southend, running for 17 years the 18th looked set to be the last until an appeal saw the funds to pay the policing costs save the event.


Friday 4th March: Airport Business Park: Enquires open on tenancy options at the proposed 1million square foot high tech business park, it is proposed that a new Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) Medical Technology (Med Tech) campus, an innovation centre and a hotel will be included on the site.


Tuesday 8th March: Cleared For Schooling: Milton Hall Primary School get a new classroom in the shape of the fuselage of a Cessna Citation Bravo 550 business jet.  It is taken by road from Southend Airport through the streets of Westcliff to its new home, where it will become a computer room.


Tuesday 15th March: Flame Grilled: A fire breaks out in the roof of Marriotts Fish and Chip restaurant on Western Esplanade, the roof is badly damaged and the building smoked logged.


Friday 18th March: Coffee in the Hill: Starbucks are said to be looking at opening a coffee bar in the empty unit at the base of Pier Hill, previously it had been said Costa Coffee were going to take over the long empty unit.


Saturday 26th March: Southend Marine Activities Centre Re-opens:  After budget cuts forced the closure of the Eastern Esplanade facility it is taken on by private investors and reopened.


Saturday 26th – Saturday 2nd April: All the fun at the Steam Fair: The Carters Steam fair returns to Chalkwell Park attractions include carousel, waltzer, the giant octopus, dodgems, a train track and sideshows.


Wednesday 23rd March: More Food to Choose From: Two new restaurants open in Southend.  Prep Kitchen specialising in healthy food in Tylers Avenue and Fat Al's Diner on the corner of Pier Hill and Marine Parade dishing up American gut-busting meals.


Monday 28th March: Storms Blow In: Gale force winds slam into Southend, blowing boats ashore and a disused plane at Southend Airport into a fence leaving the tail overhanging a road.




Sunday 19th April: Classic Car Breakfast



Thursday 7th April: Typhoon blows in and out: An RAF Typhoon preforms a circuit of Southend Airport.


Tuesday 12th April: The Queen De-thronend: It is announce that the Southend Carnival will be retiring the position of Carnival Queen as finding people willing to take part in getting harder and that the feeling that the tradition is getting old fashioned.


 Sunday 19th April: Classic Car Breakfast


Sunday 24th April: St Georges Day: The 11th annual St Georges Day Parade took place, with the RAF Colour Party of 54 Squadron, which had just been awarded the Freedom of the Borough of Southend. The parade line-up also included members of the armed services, Veterans, representatives of the emergency services, cadets, and youth organisations.



Thursday 28th April: Floating House: A new design of floating house that can either sit on land or be floated on water is anchored off Southend, just west of the pier.  The 5.5metres by 7.5metres structure also hosts a laboratory, which monitored environmental conditions.




Saturday 28th May: Wheelchair beach path opens: As part of the rebuilding of the Tram Stop Project, a new system of beach matting is laid to enable wheel chair users to access the beach the ribbon is cut by the Mayor Judy McMahon.


Monday 30 May: A secret come out in to the open:  A Second World War Nazi Lorenz machine keyboard was discovered in a shed in Southend, without knowing what it was it was out up for same as a telegram machine, it sold to the National Museum of Computing, based at Bletchley Park for £10.



Tuesday 1st June:  More Flooding: Heavy rain once again floods the seafront, Council workers clear the surface water


Wednesday 8th June: A piece of history is found:  Judy Matthews who owns the Book Inn, in Leigh was under taking some work to the front of her shop, she removed the old sign only to discover an old fishmongers sign underneath which dated back to the 1930’s, steps to preserve the sign were being taken.


Thursday 9th June: Southend Pier closed for repairs: Checks on the structure of the pier reveal that a number of the pile caps were cracked. The closure would only have affected the railway but because of fire evacuation procedures stipulating the railway is the main way to evacuate people from the pier head the whole of the pier had to close.


Monday 13th June: Dives restart: The new diving season on the wreck of the London commences with the goal to find the last wheel off a gun carriage that was previously lifted from the wreck site.


Tuesday 14th June: Best beaches: Westcliff Beach and Shoebury East Beach both receive TripAdvisor Certificates of Excellence thanks to consistently positive reviews on the Trip Advisor website. 


Tuesday 21st June: Delays on the Line: It is announced that the damage to the Pier is far greater than first thought and the railway will remain closed, however the introduction of buggies to ferry those that can-not walk the length of the pier are introduced enabling the walkway to reopen.



Thursday 23rd June: Southend votes Brexit: Southend votes for leave during the nationwide vote on whether the United Kingdom should remain as part of the European Union.


Friday 24th June: Pier Hill Squatters: The long empty retail unit on Pier Hill is taken over by squatters, the Council move quickly to put an eviction order in place.  


Saturday 25th & Sunday 26th June: 25th Leigh Folk Festival.


Monday 27th June: Queens Face Lift: The 119 year old statue of Queen Victoria completes a facelift in which superheated low pressure water removed years of dirt.


Tuesday 28th June: FIRE! Or not…!:  Fire alarms rang out and a full evacuation of the Victoria Shopping Centre is undertaken during the annual evacuation drill.


Wednesday 29th June: Old Beecroft New Life: A project to transform the former Beecroft Art Gallery in Station Road into affordable art studios is given a boost when Southend Council grants £200,000 to the Beecroft Art Gallery Trust to compile a formal bid to Arts Council England’s capital grants fund for a complete overhaul of the site.


Thursday 30th June: Job Losses: The nationwide convenience store chain My Local falls in to administration, stores in Shoebury, Southend and Leigh all close.







Saturday 2nd July: Hot Bus Service: A Bus caught fire in Victoria Avenue just outside the Civic Centre, the overheating engine was out before fire crews arrived.


Monday 5th July: New Trains on Show: C2C unveil the first of 24 new carriages they had ordered that include:

•225 seats in each 4-carriage train. That means combined the new carriages will provide 13,500 extra seats at peak times every week

•Wider seats, which are around 10% wider than the seats on current c2c trains

•Each seat also comes with arm rests and personal reading lights

•There are two toilets and two dedicated wheelchair areas on board each 4-carriage train - double the current provision on existing c2c trains

•Each carriage is fully air-conditioned and also has a number of plug sockets. There are also improved luggage areas compared to our current trains

•Each 4-car unit is inter-connected, so passengers can walk through all the carriages if there are no free seats in their section.


Tuesday 6th July: Onions on the Road: Before the morning rush hour a large goods vehicle over turns on Priory Crescent shedding its load of 50,000 onions, it takes until late into the evening to clear them all up.


Thursday 14th July: Verdi’s epic ‘Il Trovatore’ is broadcast free live onto the big screen outside The Forum in Elmer Square.


Wednesday 7th July: Emergency Landing: A BAE146 of the airline City Jet flying from to at London City Airport, reported that it had a technical issue and diverted into Southend Airport


Sunday 10th July: London to Southend Classic Car Run.


Thursday 14th July: Unwanted Award: The student campus on London Road unofficially known as “The Lego Building” or “The Marmite Building” wins the award as the UK’s ugliest campus, in a poll of more than 7,200 students.


Monday 19th July: Black Ice Cream:  Rossi Ice Cream unveil a black coloured Vanilla Ice Cream, it is produced in a strictly limited volume only being sold at two parlours.



Thursday 21st July: Lagoon Makes a Splash:  The £1.95million lagoon built at the “Three Shells Beach” project, which has been nearly three years in the making, was funded by the Coastal Communities Fund, Southend Council and the Stockvale group, which owns Adventure Island.


Monday 25th July: New Empire Sold: The fire ravaged former New Empire Theatre is sold to a Hong Kong based investment firm.  The building had stood empty for eight years attracting vandals and vagrants, a fire on the 26th July within the roof structure saw it collapse onto the mezzanine floor.


Wednesday 27th July: The Green Green Grass of Home:  Five of Southend’s parks are named as some of the best in the country.  The environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy awards Green Flag Awards to Belfairs, Chalkwell, Priory, Shoebury and Southchurch Parks, ranking them among the best 137 parks and green spaces in the East of England.


Friday 29th July: 40 years on: It was exactly 40 years ago on this day that hundreds of fun seekers had to scramble for safety along the pier walkway, train and boat when a blaze broke out at the pier head, the fire would last for hours and would eventually be the most disastrous in the history of the pier, destroying the entire pier head leisure complex. 

The true cause of the blaze has never been established.


Sunday 31st July: The lift goes… nowhere as it’s stuck:  One of the Pier Hill lifts breakdown trapping a family for 40 minutes.


Monday 1st August: A Little Train Ride:  A new state-of-the-art, multi-sensory ride designed and built totally in house opens at Adventure Island.  To make room for the new attraction it meant the demolition of the Devils Creek ride known before that as the Jigsaw Train.


Wednesday 3rd August: A Revolution for Southend: Final approval is granted to convert the old HMV store in Queens Road into a Revolucion de Cuba, an open roof top terrace with a retractable roof is proposed.


Wednesday 10th August: Southend Airports Awarding Winning Service:  Southend Airport is named as one of the best British Airports for aiding disabled passengers to and from their flights.


Wednesday 10th August: Havens Haven: Westcliff department store Havens (one of the oldest in Essex) is granted listed building status for special architectural interest means the shop will be preserved, with restrictions placed on how its interior and exterior are renovated.   The family owned store was built in 1935, however Haven’s itself dates back to 1901.


Thursday 11th August: Britannia’s final farewell:  The closed Britannia Pub faces demolition after 200 years on the seafront.  After being closed for a number of years and major flooding it is deemed beyond economic repair.


Tuesday 16th August: The Fall of the Empire: The fire damaged Empire Cinema (ABC Cinema) is set for demolition.  The 120 year old building was ravaged by an arson attack on 26th July 2015.  The fire saw the roof collapse onto the first floor auditorium. 


Monday 22nd August: Esplanade Flats hit a stumbling hole: The £12.5million flats proposed to replace the Esplanade Pub are halted by a sinkhole under the old pub.


Monday 29th August: Record-breaking flight: The first global journey from China in a light aircraft stopped off in the UK leg for just one day landing at Southend Airportof the historic flight.  The Socata TBM 700 N661EK, took off from Beijing Airport on August 8 at the start of its 40,000 kilometre flight.




Monday 5th September: Hot Food Take Away: A fire breaks out in the Chaudhry's Tandoori in London Road, Westcliff, the ground floor was heavily smoked logged after the electrical fire.  


Tuesday 6th September: Airport Emergency: A Shorts 360 flying from Coventry to Frankfurt diverted into Southend Airport after it had to shut down an engine after indications showed a fault. The plane landed safely.


Friday 9th September: New Business Park: Work begins on the infrastructure of the proposed $150million Airport Business Park.


Tuesday 20th September: Friendly Adventure: Southend’s Adventure Island theme park is rated within the top five of the friendliest in the UK.


Tuesday 20th September: The Kursaal’s new attractions: A £1.3million refurbishment of the iconic Kursaal is opened including Sports Bar, Adult Gaming Area and a Quasar laser tag zone.


Thursday 22nd September: new Jetliner Calls in: A Sukhoi Super Jet SSJ-100 which had just entered service with City Jet flys into Southend for crew training flights.


Monday 26th September: Heritage Lost: One of Southend’s historic seafront shelters is destroyed in an arson attack Camper Road

  Thursday 29th September: Historic Pub Stay of Execution:  A campaign to save the 200 year old Britannia pub is given a boost when the planning application to demolish the historic pub is withdrawn. 





Saturday 1st October: Pizza the Action: Southend’s Pizza Express restaurant re-opens after a major refurbishment including a whole to frontage.  The makeover includes scenes of Southend in the 1960’s 


Sunday 16th October. Royals Fire:  A fire broke out at TX Maxx in the Royals Shopping Centre, a full evacuation of the centre is implemented with shoppers and staff leaving the complex, fire crews from Southend, Leigh, Billericay, Rochford, Corringham, Canvey and Basildon are sent to the scene as part of the fire services emergency procedures due to the nature and size of the building.  The fire was contained to an electrical box.


Wednesday 19th October: Museum Looks for New Architect: The proposed Cliffs museum project move a tiny step closer with the issuing of a contract worth £1.3million for an architect to carry out an update of the plans to help create more space for exhibits that will hopefully one day include the Beecroft Gallery, Saxon King relics, growing collection of items from the wreck of the London, Ekco radio collection and a number of other collections. 


Friday 21st October: Busy Day at the Airport: Southend Airport has to take six flights from London City Airport after a chemical incident at the London Airport.


Saturday 22nd October: Esplanades Last Pint: The 100 year old Esplanade pub shuts its doors for the last time as the building is deemed unsafe to carry on being used, it is thought that pressure from the cliffs behind had caused the damage, the pub is part of an area due to be redeveloped into a £multi-million flats and restaurant development.


Friday 21st October: Jobs Boost: The national kitchen chain Wren announce plans to open a new showroom within the old Comet superstore, the store located on Fossetts Drive off Eastern Avenue had closed in November 2012 when the Comet chain went in to liquidation.




Cleaner Beaches: Seven out of Eight of Southend’s beaches gain an excellent or good pass mark for reaching new EU bathing quality regulations.


Excellent: East Beach, Shoebury, Thorpe Bay and Westcliff Bay.

Good: Jubilee Beach, Three Shells and Chalkwell.

Sufficient: Bell Wharf.


Sunday 6th November: Gran Canaria Bound:  The first Easyjet flight from Southend to Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands departed.  


Thursday 10th November: Crematorium Funding: Southend Council embark on a £370,000 refurbishment of the crematorium and cemetery, works include new pathways replacement of the aged Pergola Walk, 312 new above ground internment units for ashes and over 2,800 memorials within the supporting structure.


Tuesday 15th November: Brightening up a Dark Shop: The empty BHS store gained a little bit of TLC when artist and sign writer was commissioned by the Southend Business Improvement District to give the boarded up store a brighter look.


Saturday 19th – Sunday 20th November: Footbridges last crossing: The footbridge over the A127 at Kent Elms is removed in preparation for major roadworks and a replacement bridge.

Footbridge over A127 at Kent Elms junction will be demolished this weekend


Wednesday 23rd November: Four Silver Stars: The Roslin Beach Hotel on Eastern Esplanade gains four silver stars from the AA, becoming the first hotel in Essex to gain the rating.


Wednesday 23rd November: Pier Hill Gallery: After standing empty for 12 years the vacant retail unit built into Pier Hill during its £multi-million rebuild of 2004. The new gallery will be operated by Southend Council.  There had been attempts to lease the site to a number of operators including Costa Coffee, Starbucks and as an ice cream parlour     shop, which has been empty for 12 years, is set to be turned into an art gallery and cafe




Monday 12th December: Money Down the Drain: A £multi-million investment into the sewers that serve Southend begins the work includes sending cameras down the pipe work and instead of digging large holes right across the borough pipes will be relined with a soft felt "sock" impregnated with resin where it fixes itself to the walls of the sewer, hot steam is then pumped down to set the sock rock hard in place.


Thursday 15th December: Holidays Are Coming: The iconic Coca-Cola lorry rolls in to Southend.




Friday 16th December: Rossi’s New Home: Iconic Southend ice cream maker Rossi moves out of it’s Lucy Road factory into a modern new facility at the Temple Farm Industrial Estate.




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