Southend-on-Sea in old picture postcards

Southend-on-Sea in old picture postcards

Auteur
:   Stephen Pewsey
Gemeente
:  
Provincie
:   Essex
Land
:   United Kingdom
ISBN13
:   978-90-288-6195-4
Pagina's
:   144
Prijs
:   EUR 16.95 Incl BTW *

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Fragmenten uit het boek 'Southend-on-Sea in old picture postcards'

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Introduetion

Southend-on-Sea began life as a tiny fishing hamlet at the south endhence the name, first recorded in 1481 - of the parish of Prittlewell. This settlement lay roughly at the site of the Kursaal, at a point where a stream once flowed into the sea. Prittlewell was for centuries the most significant village in the area, in the middle ages because of its priory, founded in the 12th century, and later because of the influence of its church, one of the earliest in Essex, established about 654 AD. Leigh had been a fishing village at least since the time of the Domesday Baak, while Southchurch, the Shoeburys and Eastwood were hum ble farming communities.

Southend's rise as a seaside resort can be dated from 1752, when a quack doctor, Richard Russell, published a pamphlet, A Dissertntion concerning the use of SeaWater in Diseases of the Glands, which proposed that drinking seawater would cure a vast array of ailments. The pamphlet became enormously popular amongst the spa-going aristocracy, and Russell attracted a fashionable clientele, most notably the Prince Regent. At Brighton, the Prince Regent popularised the medicinal use of sea water, and seaside watering places began to spring up around the coast. Several hotels were built in South End, such as the Ship and the Minerva, to capitalise on this new whimsy, but the most important development was the building ofNew South End on the Cliffs in 1793. The Royal Hotel and Royal Terrace enjoyed a bracing elimate. fine views and quiet but charming wooded surroundings. Designed as a select wateringplace, the venture was not at first successful, but following the visit of Princesses Caroline and Charlotte to Southchurch in 1801, followed by Princess Charlotte's stay in Royal Terrace three years later, Southend became popular in a quiet, elegant way. Disraeli and Iane Austen bath sang its praises.

The arrival of the railway in 1856 changed the face of Southend for

ever. Cheap fares encouraged large numbers onto the trains, and as the London, Tilbury and Southend line, followed by the Great Eastern line in 1889, passed through the rapidly-growing East End, it was East Enders who were attracted to Southend. The rise in real incornes and the grow1:h of paid leave encouraged a massive increase in holidaymaking, from which Southend benefitted. But Southend's character was changed forever from that of a refined watering-place to a boisterous resort with mass appeal. From the Edwardian era onwards, visitor numbers per year surpassed the million mark, rising to over five million in the 1950s. On busy bank holidays, 100,000 trippers would swarm into the town from trains and steamers.A huge entertainment industry grew up to cater for these hordes, from donkey rides to baat trips, not to mention providers of food and drink. Cockles and candyfloss were seafront staples.

With the town's growth as a holiday resort, there was also an explosive expansion of Southend as a residentlal town. Londoners flocked to buy their share in the seaside, and, particularly in the period 1890-1910, chartered trains brought down large numbers of prospective buyers to plots in Westcliff. They were attracted not least by the claims for the healthiness ofSouthend, a consistent theme in town publicity material. At first Southend was administered from Prittlewell, the mother parish. After the building of St. John's Church above Pier Hill, Southend became a separate parish in 1842, and in 1866 a Local Board was set up. As a result of the town's rapid growth, this Local Board taak over control of the parish of Prittlewell (including Westcliff and Chalkwell) in 1877. In 1892, with a population exceeding 12,000, Southend proudly received the status of municipal borough. Schoolchildren were given a day off school and a medal to commemorate the event, and large crowds watched the Lord Mayor of London deliver the charter on Pier

Hili. Southend changed its name officially to Southend-on-Sea, Growth continued rapidly into the 20th century, and Southend began eyeing its neighbours with a view to incorporating them. There were grand plans for a borough stretching from Foulness to Canvey Island, to be named Thamesmouth, but expansion was actually more piecemeal. First to be swallowed up was Southchurch, then a farming parish, absorbed in 1897. Leigh was incorporated in 1913, only a year after the Leigh Urban District had prouclly unveiled new civic offices in Elm Road, and in 1914, Southend became a county borough. Now almost entirely self-governing, it managed its own schools and police force, though it was not able to boast of a fine town hall until the 1960s, when the new Civic Centre was at last completed after decades of indecision. The holiday trade almost vanished during the two world wars, particularly during 1939-1945, when Southend was in the front line of an expected German invasion, The Pier was fortified, civilians were largely evacuated and the town became a hive of preparation as D-Dayapproached. Southend Airport, first opened in 1935 but converted to use as an R.A.F. airfield, played its part too in the struggle for victory.

In 1933, Southend had made its final expansion and absorbed Shoeburyness Urban District and the parish of Eastwood. Population reached a peak of over 160,000 in 1961. The tourist trade bounced back following the end of hostilities in 1918 and 1945, and each time Southend seemed more popular than ever. Long-time favourites such as the Kursaal and the Pier, and annual events like the Carnival and the Illuminations, made Southend easily the most popular seaside resort in the south of England, and indeed surpassed only by Blackpool in the rest of the country. A small army of guest-house landladies kept house

for holidaymakers, many of whom returned to the same boarding houses year after year. The Corporation invested large sums in ensuring that the Cliffs gardens won prize after prize, while owners of attractions such as the Kursaal spent large sums in bringing the latest rides and sideshows from America and Europe to delight the fickle crowds. However, in the 1960s and 1970s, tastes in travel began to change, and with the arrival of the overseas package holiday, the crowds who had once flocked to the Golden Mile now clogged the beaches of Spain and further afield,

Southend adapted to this change, not without pain but with a good grace, and seaside attractions began to turn their appeal to day-trippers, who now formed the bulk of visitors to the town. Many of the grandest clifftop hotels ofWestcliff disappeared during this period, and the Golden Mile's great landmark, the Kursaal, closed down, a defining moment in seaside history. The Pier itself was dogged by disaster, but has risen phoenix-like from each rnisfortune and attempts to close it for good. The greatest changes, though, came in the town centre, where the High Street area was changed out of all recognition. Whole blocks of older shops were swept away and traffic re-routed as large shopping eentres were built, first at the top of the High Street, in the shape of the Victoria Circus Shopping Centre, and a couple of decades later at the other end, when the Royals Shopping Centre opened. Meanwhile the row of substantial Victorian villas along Victoria Avenue was replaced with a strip of towering office blocks, confrrming Southend's new place in the world as a regional centre for service industries and shopping

1 St. Mary the Virgin, Prittlewell.

This is Southend's mother church, built of Kentish ragstone by the Normans, with a fine tower added about 1470. A much older church underlies the structure, as shown by the discovery of a 7th century Saxon arch, discovered in the north wall in 1931. Opposite the church stands a group of fine 15th century houses, now shops. The name Prittlewell means 'babbling brook' .

2 St.]ohn's Church, Southend-on-Sea.

In the 1790s, development began in the area now known as Clifftown. By the 1830s, the population had grown so much that a new chapel-ofease was approved, to save townsfolk from having to go all the way to Prittlewell to church. The church of St. [ohn the Baptist was consecrated in 1842, and extended in 1869,1873 and 1906.Author Robert Buchanan (18411901) lies buried in its churchyard, alongside many of'Southend's founding civic fathers.

3 HolyTrinity, Southchurch.

This church is first mentioned in a document dated to 824 AD, in which a landowner narned Lifstan presents the church to the Abbey of Christ Church, Canterbury. However, the building in this view dates from circa 1120-1150, though it is now hidden from the road behind a massive new nave erected in 1906.

THE OHUROJi;'SOUTHOHUROH NEAR. SOUTHEND~

4 St. Clement's, Leigh-onSea.

The tower is a landmark from the sea and the church has long been associated with the fishermen of Leigh. This building dates from the 15th century. though it was much altered and added to by the Victorians. According to legend, a wam and deeplyscarred tomb in the churchyard was used by press-gangs to sharpen their cutlasses; the tomb itself is said to be that of Mary Ellis, who died in 1609 aged 119!

5 St. Andrew's. Shoeburyness.

This parish church for South Shoebury is mainly Norman, with l Bth-century brick battlements on the tower, Here the PuritanArthur Dent was vicar; rus book The Plaine Mans Path-Way to Heoven, published in 1601, inspired [ohn Bunyan to write rus Pilqrims Progress.

6 St. Laurenee and All Saints', Eastwood.

This Norman church has a distinctive, pretty weatherboarded bell-tower and wooden spire, Samuel Purchas was vicar here from 1604-1613; he compiled Purchas: His Pilgrimes, a vast but valuable compendium of traveiler's tales (collected partly from the doughty seadogs ofLeigh), a testimony to the spirit of Renaissance exploration.

7 Cliff'Iown Congregational Church,

This handsome edifice was built in 1865 to serve the spiritual needs of CliffTawn, largely built between 1 850 and 1860 as a well-to-do area, comprising large houses in elegant terraces.

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8 The Garrison Church, Shoeburyness.

Dedicated to that marrial martyr Saint George, and seen shrouded in trees in this postcard view. The church was built for soldiers serving in the Shoeburyness School of Gunnery, founded in 1859.

The Garrison Church, Shoeburyness.

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