reply to post by NoRegretsEver
If one were to take the seafront bus, from the stop nearest my place, the route would take you past the following things...
After turning from Ness Road into Church Road, and proceeding fifteen meters, you will note on your right hand side, a fairly ancient looking church,
made of rough stone and sporting a massive oaken door, huddled amongst the gravestones that dot the space between the old outer wall of its perimeter,
and the wall of the actual church. And it is an old one, dating back to norman times, so I am told. After travelling along the rest of Church Road
(which is residential and therefore somewhat tedious), a left hand turn will bring your first sight of the sea, as the bus sweeps down a short
decline, before your veiw is temporarily impaired by the beach huts, and the sea wall.
Turning right, the bus is now on the seafront road, and if you look out of the windows on the left, and the day is clear, you will see the opposite
side of the estuary, as well as various shipping, and several pleasure craft, small yachts, and the odd fishing boat out of Leigh, about ten miles
further around the coast. On your right hand side, will be Thorpe Bay Yacht Club, its clubhouse set back from the road , behind a common green space
with landscaped plantations of flowers and shrubs, on which many people walk dogs, play ball, fly kites and so on. Right next to the green space, is
the Yacht Park, where club members bring thier boats ashore on trailers for storage.
The constant presence of the sea on the left offers interest at all times, but further along the seafront road, on the right, is the Thorpe Bay
Tennis Club. As you may have guessed, Thorpe Bay is the part of town where the well off (read :tax dodgers) live. As we head further along the coast
road, toward the town centre of Southend-on-Sea, the residences get closer to the road, and become taller and obviously multi-occupancy, before
degenerating into a series of small bed and breakfast hotels. Ironically it is at this point that ones view of the sea is obscured once again, due to
the sea wall. After hugging the coastline through a couple of gentle bends, one is able to see the seaside ammusements, and the road seperates itself
from the coast by twenty meters or so. On the left, in the space between the road and the sea wall, a Sea-Life Centre sits, while on the right,
various cafes, eateries, and ammusement arcades spring up.
When one passes the Sea-Life Centre, the tangle of brightly coloured metal work that is Adventure Island comes into view (which is neither all that
adventurous, nor, for that matter, an island). A small theme park, it sits nestled against the pier a few hundred meters away. Meanwhile, as the bus
turns toward town, and one decides that a town centre is boring as heck before stepping off, one will see the Kursaal, which is a historic venue in
this seaside town, famous in the victorian era right through to the later half of the twentieth century. It was an amusement arcade, a ballroom, and
event venue of epic import in the day, playing host to Wall of Death riders, amongst other mad things. It fell into disrepair for some time, before
being ressurected in the earliest years of the twenty first century.
Walking now, continuing along the seafront, one will see various permanent stalls along the sea wall on the left, with cafes, candy floss stalls,
places to buy sandals, and even more ammusement arcades on the right, broken up by the occasional pub. Now for the pier. This 1.34 mile stretch of
wood and iron has been a main attraction here for a very long time indeed, and was designed by James Brunlees, who designed the worlds first iron
pier at Southport, before going on to work on the one at Southend (no geographical relation
Apart from being the longest pleasure pier on the planet, it was also used by the navy during WW2, and was designated HMS Westcliff for the duration.
It currently houses a Lifeboat station, an electric tram, a cafe run by Jamie Oliver (celebrity chef and all round Essex chancer), and a visitor
centre. It used to have a ballroom in times of yore, and then a bowling alley when I was young, but both of these burnt down, as did rather a large
section right at the far end of the pier, when the OLD cafe (not run by a celebrity chef) had its independant gas supply rupture and ignite on some
dodgy wiring. Several friends and I sat under blankets on the beach, getting drunk and watching it burn, giving the occasional "OOOHH" when a tank
cooked off. That was a few years back.
Southend-On-Sea used to host an annual free airshow, one of the biggest free events of its kind and scope, in all of Europe, but due to the fact that
our local council are drooling morons to a man, it has been cancelled for the foreseeable future, despite being good for local businesses.
on 31-5-2013 by TrueBrit because: Factual correction regarding material construction.