Southend Timeline

Bringing Your Memories Back to Life

Southend Documents

The Southend Timeline holds a small collection of documents published during the two world wars, there is also a small number of items published just before and just after the two wars, these are included as they are part of the collection.

As stated on the articles home page they are published here in as best as quality as possible allowing for storage space on the website server.


                                                         World War 1:


1912: Programme of His Majesty's Army Bands preforming at the Bandstand throughout the year.



7th December 1914: Defence of the Realm, this document requests details of live stock, a rare survivor as it is unused.  



Undated:  Overcliff Hospital Food Fund Tag, with the war raging and countless injured service men needed to be cared for and feed the hospitals set up would launch funds to aid the expense, one such hospital was set up at Southend's Overcliff Hotel, as part of the drive to rise funds to pay the food bill people donating would be given tags they could proudly display as they went round town.



 Undated: Certificate In lieu of a prize these certificates  issued by the County Borough of Southend Education Committee, were given to pupils who preformed well at school, NOTE: Name blacked at request of donator.



Wednesday 21sy May 1919: Peace Celebrations poster, an extremely rare survivor advertising a meeting to set up a committee to discuss and arrange the towns peace celebrations.


19th July 1919: Peace Day Medal, the guns of the First World War fell silent on 11th November 1918.  A national day to celebrate the peace that had finally descended was arranged for the 19th July 1919, Southend saw a parade and a Grand Fleet Review, a medal was also struck.





19th July 1919: A major coup for Southend was to stage the 1919 Fleet review, with battleships such as Royal Oak, Revenge & King George V, Battle Cruisers, Light Cruisers, destroyers and submarines




As well as the documents relating to the war life went on in Southend, companies carried on trading and people carried on shopping.

14th April 1915: People still wanted to keep their houses maintained, some needed repairs after air raids, the local builders were kept busy at times!


15th May 1915: During the war people still wanted their daily or weekly newspapers, they paid a weekly bill at many of the local newsagents across town.  


October 1915: Southend Corporation (The Council) ran the local gas and electricity network, and continued to supply the town throughout the First World War, bills were still expected to be paid.




                                                         World War 2:

27th November 1939: Wireless Receiving Licence  



28th November 1939: Letter from the Southend Corporation Electricity Department to the Southend Stadium Company sent 86 days after the Labour Prime Minister Mr Chamberlain had announced to the Country

"This morning the British Ambassador in Berlin handed the German Government a final Note stating that, unless we heard from them by 11 o'clock that they were
prepared at once to withdraw their troops from Poland, a state of war would exist between us.

I have to tell you now that no such undertaking has been received, and that consequently this country is at war with Germany"

The stadium was soon taken over by the Ministry for War and closed to the public, much of the paperwork associated with the stadium and Southend United was destroyed.


Undated: You Can Drive, a card for people to fill out if they wanted to volunteer to drive for the Civil Defence.


 1940:  Recorded Delivery Envelope, with a general shortage of paper envelopes were reused as much as they could, it was not rare to find one dropping onto your door mat that had been reused several times.



1940: During the Second World War the majority of the towns children had been evacuated the seafront was a no go area for residents, but life carried on across the town, F Woodey gave out free pocket calendars.



 7th April 1941: Despite the war being on people still moved house, some staying within the towns they lived, some staying the their county, however a few would move from one county to another.  In many cases where a relative had been lost in combat their remaining family would relocate to be closer to other family members in other parts of the country, a is the case with this Pickfords move.


 18th April 1941: Following on from above.


13th June 1941: Letter from the Southend Gas & Coke Company to a widow of a sailor.



4th July 1942: With the war raging and the need to retain security, moving into a "High Risk" area such as a seaside town needed special permission it was only under exceptional circumstances that permission would be given. 






7th August 1942: Southend on Sea Fire Guard identity card, the hold would carry this card and produce it should they need to force entry into a property.


24th August 1942: New Explosive Incendiary Bombs, Warning about a new type of Explosive Incendiary Bomb being used by the Nazi war machine, it gives information on what to do if your house was hit.


13th December 1943: Telegram


 Undated: Royal Navy Signal Paper.

A rare survivor that was salvaged from the signal station on the end of Southend Pier after the end of the war.  This signal paper was never used during the war, however with a general paper shortage this piece was reused for organising the 1951 Leigh on Sea Regatta.




November 1944 Corona Cinema Programme.

Throughout the war cinemas would continue to operate, to make sure those inside knew that a raid was taking place a the light would come up and a sign telling people to make their way to the nearest shelter, by the time the all clear was given it would be too late to return to see the end of the film.

During November 1944 the Corona in Leigh were just finishing a run of Sweet Rosie O'Grady staring Betty Gable & Robert Young,

with the double feature Holt of the Secret Service.


The Programme for November was: 

Thursday 2nd:  Follow the Boys (Double feature Rookies in Burma)

Sunday 5th: The Beautiful Cheat (Double feature The Strangest Case)

Thursday 9th: Uncertain Glory (Double feature Dreams come True)

Sunday 12th: Gone with the Wind

Sunday 19th: None Shall Escape (Double feature Tropicana)

Thursday 23rd: Two Girls and a Sailor (Triple feature Chicken Little & Next Stop New York)

Sunday 26th: Oklahoma Kid (Double feature Affectionately Yours)  

Thursday 30th: Lady in the Dark (Double feature Titians of the Deep)





 Before the outbreak of hostilities Great Britain was importing over 55million tons of food a year from across the world.  This was shipped in via the seaports dotted around the country.

The outbreak of was saw Nazi Germany deploy U-boats to the Atlantic Ocean and to a lesser extent the North Sea, with the submarines patrolling in what became known as wolf packs vast quantity's of supplies were lost yo attacks, the need to keep the people fed was a major priority.

As food prices were increasing sharply and the better off being able to afford the high prices a  rationing scheme was implemented across the whole country.

The rationing scheme was developed to make sure that no matter how well off or poor people were they got an equal amount of food every week. 

Where food rationing was a success in keeping people fed with the essentials a black market quickly emerged where people would sell ration books or food   





The rationing of foods was extended to include all meat, tea, jam, biscuits, breakfast cereals, cheese, eggs, lard, milk and canned and dried fruit, most items were rationed by weight, but meat was rationed by price.

Fresh vegetables that could be grown at home and bread escaped rationing, however vegetables and fruit in shops whilst not rationed were in limited supply. 

LEFT: Food Ration Book (Supplementary) dated 7th July 1941

Exotic fruits such as lemons and bananas were unobtainable for much of the war, whilst oranges were mostly reserved for children and pregnant women. 

Whilst meat rations were in place Game meat such as rabbit and pigeon were not.

In 1946 bread rationing was introduced as heavy rains destroyed much of the wheat crop, it was restricted to the “National Loaf”  a wholemeal bread that bakers were not permitted to sell until it was one day old, as it could be more easily sliced in to thin slices.

RIGHT: Food Ration Book July 1942 

Fish was not rationed but became expensive as fishing at most seaside locations had been outlawed and the fact the sea going fisherman were being put at extreme risk from enemy attack.

The European Conflict ended on 8th May 1945, however rationing continued, with some goods being further reduced in quantity, this was said to help other parts of Europe that were placed under British control as they had been devastated by the Nazi occupation.

Cuts included on the 27th May 1945 Bacon ration cut from 4 to 3 ounces/week, cooking fat ration cut from 2 to 1 ounces/week, Soap ration cut by an eighth, except for babies and young children.


LEFT: Late war Food Ration Book dated 1944-45 

Between January & March 1947 hard frosts and heavy snow falls devastated the potato crop resulting in potato rationing being introduced.


 RIGHT: Peace time Food Ration Book dated 1946-47


As the situation on mainland Europe slowly improved rationing of food was steadily abolished, bread came off ration in 1948, followed by sweets & sugar in February 1953 then on 4th July 1954 meat and all other foods still on ration were taken off.



LEFT: When service personnel were on leave, they received special ration cards, these could be used to supplement their family's normal ration books, they were limited in what extras could be acquired.   
















On 1st June 1941 clothing rationing was introduced, however the ration books had not been issued so unused margarine tokens could be used instead, the ration worked out as one new outfit a year, in 1942 people were permitted 66 points, 1943 saw a reduction to 48, and a further reduction to 36 in 1943, by 1945 it had dropped to 24, by the end of the war a single coat would equate to one years’ worth of vouchers. Clothes rationing ended on 15 March 1949.

 LEFT: Early Clothing Ration Book dated 1942-43




RIGHT: Clothing Ration Book dated 1943-44















As petrol was a major resource and in high demand it was the first item to be rationed, this was followed on the 8th January 1940 when favourites such as bacon, butter and sugar were also rationed.

On 1st July 1942 the private public petrol ration was abolished, with fuel only being permitted to be issued to "official" users, such as the emergency services, bus companies and farmers, with priority to the armed forces.  

The petrol ration for private cars was restored on 1st June 1945.

In 1947 petrol rationing was withdrawn, the Motor Spirit Act was passed with red dye being put into some petrol for the exclusive use of commercial vehicles.

In June 1948 the basic petrol ration was restored, at a third of its previous size, then on 26th May 1950 Petrol rationing ended



Soap was rationed with four vouchers a month permitted.


Coal & Heating

In January 1942 the Fuel and Lighting (Coal) Order 1941 came in to force this saw the use of central heating being prohibited during the summer months.

Coal to heat houses was rationed to 15 long hundredweight (1,700 lb; 760 kg) for those in London and the south of England;

20 long hundredweight (2,200 lb; 1,000 kg) for the rest (the southern part of England having generally a milder climate).



In September 1939 newspapers were restricted in size to 60% of their pre-war paper usage, this had come down to 25% by 1945. 

The use of wrapping goods in paper was outlawed.





                                                     Post War/Cold War


 After the end of the Second World War a new and even more frightening cloak of darkness was draped across the world, where once allied forces that fought side by side were now toe to toe threatening mutual annihilation, this was the start of the Cold War a coldness that thankfully never went hot.


Saturday 1st February 1964: Opening of Civil Defence Headquarters



1968: Generic Letter from H M Queen Elizabeth 2nd. 





Recent Photos

Oops! This site has expired.

If you are the site owner, please renew your premium subscription or contact support.