Chronological Data
The northern bank of the Thames upon which Southend-on-Sea is situated has been populated from remote times. From 2000 B.C. to the 1st century A.D. the peoples of the Stone Age, the Bronze Age and the early Iron Age inhabited the district. There was also successive occupation by Celts, Romans, Saxons and Danes. 1st – 5th Century A.D. Roman Occupation area north of Thames. 500 – 650. Settlement in district of pagan Saxons. 824. Southchurch Church founded. 894. Battle of Benfleet. Danes defeated and driven across site of modern Southend to Shoebury by King Alfred’s men. 1016. Battle of Ashingdon. Edmund Ironside defeated by Canute. 1066 – 87. Rayleigh Castle built. 1110. Prittlewell Priory established. 1220 – 30. Hadleigh Castle built. C1240. Southchurch Hall built. 13th Century. Market established at Prittlewell. 1381. The Peasants’ Revolt. Led by John Syrat of Shoebury and local peasants against the Poll Tax. 1478. Edward IV granted the Licence for the Jesus Guild, Prittlewell. 1509 – 47. First record of the name “Southende” (in the reign of Henry VIII). 1530. Anne Boleyn resident at Rochford Hall. 1536. Suppression of the Priory at Prittlewell. 1588. The Armada. Leigh was an important Naval Base and an armed force was established to protect the seaport. 16th Century. Rise of Leigh as a Port and as a Naval Base. 1604 – 16. Rev. Samuel Purchas, author of “Purchas: his Pilgrimes”, Vicar of Eastwood, records Battell’s Travels. 1610. Andrew Battell, a Leigh seaman, was the first European to travel in Central Africa, and returned to Leigh after 21 years’ absence in Africa and America. 1620 – 30. Canvey Island drained by the Dutch. 1652. During the Dutch Wars, Admiral Blake’s fleet was refitted at Leigh. 1653. In February, Blake sailed from the Thames with sixty warships and defeated the Dutch admiral, Van Tromp, in the English Channel. 17th – 18th Century. Prominence of Leigh and Leigh seamen in naval history and Dutch Wars. Among these were members of the Salmon, Haddock and Goodlad families. Captain William Haddock (1607 – 1667) served with distinction against the Dutch, and was awarded a gold medal by the Commonwealth Govt. (1649 – 1660) for his services. His son, Admiral Sir William Haddock (1629 – 1715), became Comptroller of the Navy. Robert Salmon and William Goodlad, both Masters of Trinity House, took prominent parts in the Greenland Whale Fisheries, the latter commanding the Greenland Company’s fleet for twenty years. 1768. First mention of Southend for sea - bathing. 1793. Erection of Royal Hotel and terrace. 1797. Mutiny of seamen at the Nore. 1801. Princess Charlotte of Wales, daughter of George IV, visited Southend for sea-bathing, as advised by her physicians. She stayed at The Lawn, Southchurch, and attended service at Holy Trinity Church, Southchurch. 1803. Princess Caroline of Brunswick (wife of the Prince Regent, afterwards George IV) visited Southend. During the Napoleonic Wars it was thought that the French might attempt a landing on the north bank of the Thames Estuary. Jonas Asplin of Wakering and John Lodwick of Southend raised and commanded a troop of volunteer cavalry, and a company of infantry respectively, to resist any attempted invasion. 1829, May. The Act (George IV. Cap. Xlix) authorising the construction of the first Pier, received Royal Assent and Alderman Sir William Heygate, Bart., Lord Mayor of London in 1822-1823, who resided at “Porters”, Southend, was the chief promoter, and was instrumental in securing the erection of the Pier. July. First stone of embankment of Southend Pier laid by the Lord Mayor of London, Alderman Sir William Thompson, M.P., as Conservator of the Thames. 1833 - 1834. Benjamin Disraeli visited Southend, and resided at “Porters”, Southchurch Road. 1835. Completion of the Pier. 1854. First railway to Southend. 1889. Second railway to Southend. 1892. Incorporation of the borough. Population 13,000, rateable valuable £82,000. 1897. Southchurch included in the borough. Population 23,000, rateable value £122,911. 1909. Visit of Home and Atlantic Fleets (150 warships moored off Southend). 1913. Leigh-on-Sea included in the borough. Population 82,000, rateable value £562,574. Area 7,083 acres. 1914, 1st April. Attained status of County Borough. 1915, May. Zepplin raids on town. June. Visit of HM Queen Mary to Queen Mary’s Naval Hospital. 1917, July. Visit of HRH Princess Mary to Queen Mary’s Naval Hospital. 1917, August. Raid by hostile aeroplanes. 1918, April. Blockships for Zeebrugge Raid lie off the Nore. 1919, July. Peace celebrations. Visit of HM Grand Fleet. 1920 July. Opening of Priory Park and the “R. A. Jones” Children’s Memorial Ground by HRH the Duke of York, K.G. 1921 and 1923 July. Visits of HM King George V (Yachting Week). 1925, March. Opening of London-Southend arterial road by HRH Prince Henry K.G. 1926, July. Opening of Municipal Golf Course at Belfairs Park. 1929, July. Opening of eastern arm of Pier Extension by HRH Prince George K.G. November. Laying of the New General Hospital Foundation Stone by HRH the Duchess of York. 1931, July. International bowling matches at Southend. 1932, July. Opening of General Hospital. Cost £200.000. 1933, October. Inclusion of Shoeburyness and Eastwood. Population 130,000, rateable value £1,381,269. Area 10,333 acres. 1935, May. Visit of Home Fleet. HM King George V Silver Jubilee Celebrations. July. Centenary of the Pier and opening of the new Lifeboat House. September. Opening of Municipal Aerodrome. 1937, May. Visit of Home Fleet HM King George VI Coronation Celebrations. 1938, October. Laying of foundation stone of Municipal Hospital Extension at Rochford by HRH The Duchess of Kent, C.I. Belfairs Nature reserve opened. 1946, May. Presentation of Freedom of the Borough to Essex Regiment. June - October. Visit of British and American Warships. 1947, June - September. Visit of British and American Warships. August. Official re-opening of the Municipal Aerodrome after war time requisitioning and first international Air Rally. October. Official opening of the Municipal Hospital Extensions at Rochford by HRH The Duchess of Kent. 1949, April. Inauguration of the new Pier Electric Trains by Lord Broadbridge, Lord Mayor of London. 1951, June. Visit of Swedish Naval Training Squadron. 1953, March. Opening of the Crematorium at Sutton Road. October. Opening of the Beecroft Art Gallery at Westcliff-on-Sea by His Worshipful the Mayor, Alderman EN Selby. November. Opening of Crowstone House Old Persons’ Home by the Rt Hon Iain Macleod, Minister of Health. 1955, March. Opening of new schools by the Rt Hon Sir David Eccles, Minister of Education. May. Official launching of the new lifeboat and visit to Carnival Bungalow estate by HRH The Duchess of Kent. 1957, June. Opening of Southend High School for Girls, in Southchurch Boulevard, and St. Christopher’s School by Sir Edward Boyle, Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Education. December. Opening of Pantile House Old Persons’ Home by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health, R. H. M. Thompson. 1958, March. Opening of Municipal College Extension, Victoria Circus by Sir Hugh Beaver. 1960, January. Opening of the first stage of College of Technology, Civic Centre. 1962, October. Opening of Whittingham House Old Persons’ Home by His Worshipful the Mayor, Alderman O. A. Moss. 1963, May. Opening of Delaware House and the Bungalow, Connaught House Old Peoples’ Homes by the Rt Hon Enoch Powell, Minister of Health. 1964, Season of Golden Jubilee celebrations to commemorate the 50 years of the constitution of Southend-on-Sea as a County Borough. July. Kent Elms Clinic and Branch Library opened by His Worshipful the Mayor, Alderman E. E. Morris. Opening of the Cliffs Pavilion by Bernard Miles. Office accommodation in New Civic Centre occupied. September. Central Fire Station opened in Sutton Road by HM Chief Inspector of Fire Services, Mr H. M. Smith. 1966, February. The new Court House was opened by the Rt Hon Lord Parker of Waddington the Lord Chief Justice of England. December. First stage of pedestrian High Street created between Queens Road and Warrior Square. 1967, October. The new Civic Centre opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. 1969, March. Leigh Fire Station Blenheim Chase opened by HM Inspector of Fire Services, Mr A. J. Frame. April. Amalgamation of Essex and Southend Police areas and formation of Essex and Southend-on-Sea joint Police Authority. May. The new Southend Swimming Pool Warrior Square opened by Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Kent. 1974, March. The new Central Library Victoria Avenue by Lord Lieutenant of Essex. December. HRH Princess Anne opened Indoor Riding School for Southend Riding Club for the disabled at Belfairs. 1976, July. Destruction of the Pier Head by Fire. 1977, June. Visit by HRH Princess Margaret to Southend General Hospital. 1979, March. Official opening of the day centre and workshop at Queensway House Health and Social Security Services Complex by His Worshipful the Mayor, Cllr RB Marriott. 1980, September. Visit to the district by HRH the Duchess of Kent taking in Kingsdown School, The Royal Hotel, The Brambles and Rochford Hospital. 1981, April. Official opening of the Central Museum in Victoria Avenue by His Worshipful the Mayor, Cllr W. F. Bowyer. 1986, May. Official opening of new Pier Trains and launch of the new RNLI Lifeboat by HRH Princess Anne. 1988, March. Royals Shopping Centre Completed. 1991, January. Official opening of Southend Hospital Scanner and new Lifeboat House on Southend Pier by HRH Princess Anne. 1992. Borough Centenary Celebrations, Lord Mayor of London took part in Civic Procession and opened Centenary Garden in Priory Park. Extension and refurbishment of the Cliffs Pavilion. 1994. Chase Sports Centre opened by Trevor Brooking, Chairman of the Eastern Council for Sport and Recreation. 1995. Pier Bowling Lanes destroyed by Fire. 1996. Southend Leisure and Tennis Centre opened. 1998. Re-opening of the Kursaal. Council achieves Unitary Status. 1999, March. Official visit of HM Queen Elizabeth and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh to Southend-on-Sea.

Sea of Change Southend-on-Sea

History in Pictures

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Sea of Change Southend-on-Sea History in Pictures