Southend-on-Sea in old picture postcards

Southend-on-Sea in old picture postcards

:   Stephen Pewsey
:   Essex
:   United Kingdom
:   978-90-288-6195-4
:   144
:   EUR 16.95 Incl BTW *

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

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69 PierTrain,about 1950.

The first Pier railway was a wooden trackway laid in 1846, with trucks either hand-hauled or sail-powered in windy weather. This trackway was mainly intended for luggage rather than passengers. Horses haulage was introduced in 1 873, and the wooden rails replaced with iron two years later. The horses aften gat their hooves caught in between the timbers of the Pier structure, but a proposal to replace them with elephants was not taken up. When the new iron Pier opened, it incorporated an electric railway - the first electric Pier railway in Britain - which began service on 1 st

August 1890. The open-sided 'toast rack' trains continued in service until the Second World War, when the Pier became H.M.S.Leigh, a convoy control centre. The tracks were widened from single-

track to double track in 19311932. The new cream and green enclosed trains seen in this view entered service in 1949.

70 PierTrains,ahout 1950.

Here one train approached Pier Head station while the other leaves for the shore. Many visitors also enjoyed the bracing walk:, as can be seen in this picture. Following the disastrous Pier fire of 1 976, the Pier railway was closed in 1 978, but reopened by H.R.H. The Princess Anne with new rolling stock in 1986.

71 The Pier Head about 1950.

The Pier was originally an entirely practical structure, erected simply for the embarkation and disembarkation of steamship passengers. However, with the building of a new extension and Pier Head in 1894-1898, the idea of a pleasure pier, as an amusement in its own right, began to emerge. By 1908, nearly half a million visitors made the trip dowu the Pier, and numerous attractions made their trip worthwhile. There were shops, a bandstand, observation lounges, and an upper deck was added. In 1 92 9 the Prince George Extension was opened, mak-

ing the Pier 11/3 miles long, the longest pleasure pier in the world.

72 The Pier Head about 1960.

Crowds mill about on the main deck. As its popularity grew, more shops and sideshows were added to the walkway between the Pier Head station and the extension. Lights and giant tableaux form part of the Illuminations which once lit up the Pier in dazzling splendour. A pub, a theatre, restaurant, museum, and aquarium formed part of the entertainment, though many came just to sit in a deckchair or fish. Between the wars, the Pier was pulling in a million visitors a year, and 21;2 million a year after the Second World War.

73 Aerial View of the Pier Head.

This rare 1920s postcard shows the upper deck under construction. There were once plans for still further enlargement, sa that the great cruise liners would make Southend

a port of call; such plans envisaged an extension of the Pier railway via a tunnel direct to main-line services at Southend Central! There has been a lifeboat station at the Pier Head since 1 879, with a new lifeboat house being erected in 1 935. Southend

did not get a motor lifeboat until 192 8; the Greater London saved 700 lives in its first twenty years of operation.

74 Aerial View of the Pier Head.

This view, taken about 1960, shows the Prince George extension, The resemblance to the shape of a Iiner is not accidental; a trip down the Pier was intended in every way to be the 'poor rnan's cruise'. A General Steamship Navigation Company vessel- probably the Royal Daffodil - steams away from the Pier Head. These ships were extremely popular; and many readers will have happy memories of the Belle steamers, the Eagle steamers, and ships such as the Royal Sovereign, Crested Eagle, and the Queen of the Channel. Not only were there regular sailings to London, but there

were also frequent trips to Clacton, Margate, Boulogne, Calais and Ostend. In the rnid-sixties, Eagle steamers offered seven-day holidays by steamship to Ostend, fullboard, for f I 3 7 s 6d, while

through-tickets to Paris from Southend Pier via Calais cast f6 7s 6d.

75 ThePier,1975.

Following the destruction of the Pier Pavilion in 1959, a boldly modern bowling alley was built in its place, with a sun lounge to the right. In its turn, the bowling alley was burnt down in 1995.


76 Pier Disaster.

The Pier has been dogged by misfortune. Struck by shipping in 1881, 1898, 1907,1908 and 1921, this view shows damage caused by the Marlborough, when the gangway was sliced in half. Arsonists burnt down the pavilion in 1 959, while the fire of 1976 destroyed all the Pier head's superstructure. Shortly after the re-opening of the Pier railway in 1986, the tanker Kingsabbey cut the gangway in half again. Then in 1995, the bowling abbey was destroyed by fire.

77 Southchurch Hall.

Turning away from the Golden Mile to Southend's architectural heritage; the town has lost many fine buildings in the course of its development. However, some architectural jewels survive. The survival of Southchurch Hall, a 14th century moated manor, is rernarkable, It was attacked and burnt during the Peasant's Revolt. A farm for many centuries, by 1925 it had become dere1ict and surrounded by housing development which threatened to engulf it. However, thanks to the generosity of the Dowsett family, it was saved and presented to the borough. For many years a public library, the building

now houses a museum of medievallife, while the grounds and moat make up a pleasant park.

78 Chalkwell Hall.

Chalkwell, the area west of Crowstone Raad, is a distinctive suburb, with Chalkwell Park at its heart. Chalkwell Hall is an ancient manor. The present building dates from ab out 1830. As houses began to surround the Hall, it was saved from development in 1901, and Chalkwell Park was lang farned for its floral displays. Proposals in the 1940s for an open-air theatre in the park came to nothing, but it remains the annual venue for a boisterous funfair associated with the Carnival.

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