Southend Pier

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Southend on Sea, England
Southend Pier - Side of the new cultural centre.
Southend Pier - Side of the new cultural centre.
Southend Pier - Side of the new cultural centre.

Southend Pier Southend on Sea Reviews

sarahelaine sarahela…
648 reviews
Southend Sea Nov 22, 2009
Southend is a small, run down town in the south of Essex, which faces out onto the Thames Estuary. 

Before package tours came into their own, it was a place where people from London could afford to go for a day and it became a resort town.  It has a “beach” – a small strip of imported sand on the edge of several miles of mudflat – some shops, and a few amusement arcades. 

In recent years, it has made a spirited attempt to polish itself up a bit, and the old Peter Pan’s Playground amusement park has renamed itself Adventure Island and got some decent looking roller coasters.In fact, last time I went there (July 2012) they had even imported a decent amount of sand and the beach was looking like a genuinely nice place for a sunny afternoon.

However, the real tourist attraction in Southend remains the Pier.  Southend Pier is still the longest pleasure pier in the world, despite being cut in half by a boat, burned down several times, and generally battered a bit.  It stretches more than a mile out into the estuary, reaching the deep water beyond the mudflats where pleasure cruisers from London used to dock. As of July 2012, a massive regeneration effort has placed a small cafe (with such appalling service we gave up and left) and cultural centre perched out at the end. The advertised comedy festival didn't look bad.

One of the reasons that it has remained open is the fact that reaching out into the deep water makes it an ideal lifeboat station.  The lifeboats in the UK are a volunteer rescue service, massively under resourced, who rescue people in trouble at sea.  The Southend station is one of the busiest in the country.  You can visit the station, and please do give a bit of money because it really doesn’t get government funding. 

The other attraction is the little electric railway, which runs out to the end of the pier.  Tickets cost about £3 return, and you can walk up the pier for 50p.  There is a café and some places to fish, but no amusement arcades or anything like that.  There used to be a bowling alley mid way along but it burned down. 

It is also worth noting that the pier is really, really exposed and gets horribly windy in bad weather.  Of course, you don’t have to go in late November like I usually do.  In summer, it is actually very nice.  There are a lot of little fishing boats and sea birds to watch, anyway. 

You also have a lovely view of the Thames Estuary with its… OK.  You have a lovely view of a power station, a wind farm and some refineries. 

Once you finish on the pier, there are a number of small cafes where you can buy hot donuts, chips, or coffee to warm back up, or ice cream in summer.  Try the Three Shells.

As a word of warning, Southend traffic police take the traffic laws very seriously, especially the speed limits.  The train of thought went like this:  Southend attracts a lot of young people in modified cars (the British cousin to low riders, generally tuned up, cheap hatchbacks with body kits, lowered suspension and loud exhausts) who race up and down the sea front.  When they have finished doing that, they get drunk, fight, damage property and make a nuisance of themselves.  It is expensive to arrest them, and they almost never go to jail.  But the police thought they could prevent the whole problem by really, really enforcing the speed limit, because then the young people go and race their cars somewhere else.  Strangely, the tactic seems to have more or less worked. 
Side of the new cultural centre.
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sylviandavid says:
HaHa.... love the idea the police had of super traffic enforcement decreasing their problems... intereesting blog. thanks. sylvia
Posted on: Dec 12, 2009
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