Historically Southend was the number one tourist destination in the country.
Southend can trace its name back to a will of 1481 which designated an area of land called ‘Sowthende’ that belonged to the southern part of Prittlewell Manor. Hence the location of the settlement being located on the southern end of the parish of Prittlewell gave rise to its place name.
Southend’s development started to grow around 1700 when the shore began to be used for oyster farming. Within 20 years, the whole foreshore between Southchurch and Leigh was being leased for oyster feeding grounds and huts were erected for the oystermen around what is now the southern end of Southchurch Road.
Southend had always been popular as a bathing area, however, it was not until 1791 when a syndicate was formed to build a resort at ‘New Southend’. The terrace which was subsequently built was renamed ‘Royal Terrace’ following a royal visit in 1804 by Princess Caroline of Brunswick, wife of the Prince Regent who stayed at Nos. 7,8 and 9 which boosted the town’s popularity. The first pier was erected in 1829-30.
During the 19th Century the seaside town of Southend became a popular tourist destination as a direct consequence of the British Government’s investment in the railways. An entry can be found in George Bradshaw’s mid-19th Century railway travel guide, offering insight into the way in which Southend-on-Sea developed into an attractive seaside resort. By 1892, Southend had overtaken its mother parish of Prittlewell in importance. The medieval parishes of Southchurch were absorbed in 1897 followed by Leigh in 1913 and Eastwood, North and South Shoebury and Shoeburyness in 1933.
In post-War Britain, Southend-on-Sea once again became a magnet for Londoners desperate for an escape from the hustle and bustle of the country’s Capital.
Since 2000 Southend has invested heavily in the seafront and is proud to have the longest pleasure pier in the world.