Southend-on-Sea is one of the liveliest areas in Essex. Southend has a fantastic seafront with all the classic British seaside paraphernalia, a world-class pier, an amusement park, casinos and nightclubs, an excellent theatre and concert hall, as well as many great bars, restaurants and cafes. It also home to some of Essex’s excellent Grammar schools as well as the South Essex College, and many good primary, secondary and independent schools. It really does have something for everyone.
The name derives from the “South End of Prittlewell”. Prittlewell is now a district, but was the original town of south end. It was a small fishing village, but dates back to prehistory. The first settlers are thought to have arrived around 10,000 years ago on and settled by Prittle Brook. During the Roman occupation the area started to develop and then when the Saxons took over, the name Prittleuuella was used.
It was in the 18th and 19th Centuries that the areas was developed into a bathing resort. Very little of the original town remains, and the area of Prittlewell is now almost entirely residential housing.
Southend-on-Sea is a municipal borough that comprises several wards: Eastwood Park, Belfairs, Blenhein Park, West Leigh, Leigh, Chalkwell, Kursaal, St Laurence, Prittlewell, Westborough, Milton, St. Luke’s, Southchurch, Thorpe, Victoria, West Shoebury and Sheoburyness. Southend in the main town, and the whole area is often referred to as “Southend”. The area is controlled by Southend-on-Sea Borough Council.
Southend has three railway stations, an airport and good bus and coach links. Its three railway stations are Southend Victoria (London Liverpool Street line), Southend Central and Southend East (both on the London Fenchurch Street line). The Liverpool Street line is run by Abellio Greater Anglia and the Fenchurch Street line is run by c2c.
Southend Airport has grown significantly in the last few years following a relative decline in the shadow of Stansted Airport. However, since ownership of the Stobart Group it has increased passenger numbers once again, thanks to a new terminal, tower and larger runway. EasyJet started flying from Southend a few years ago, so Southend is now one of the most popular airports for Essex and Kent residents who want to get away to Europe for a break.
Several bus services operate in Southend:
- Arriva Southend – Covers most of Southend and has connections out to Essex towns, such as Basildon.
- First Buses – Serves Southend and much of Essex, and also runs the hourly coach to Stansted Airport via Chelmsford
- Regal Busways – A local bus service that connects Southend, Rayleigh and Chelmsford.
- Stephensons Buses – Green-and-white buses in Southend, Rayleigh and surrounding area that provide Shopper & Commuter buses
- National Express – Coaches from London and London Victoria.
For info on car parking in Southend, see the council website: http://www.southend.gov.uk/info/200362/car_parks and also the Parkopedia interactive map: http://en.parkopedia.co.uk/parking/southend_on_sea/
Southend has a wide range of houses to suit all tastes and budgets. For buyers, there are excellent flats and apartments along the seafront, terraced housing just off the front and then larger semi-detached homes and detached properties further inland. Rents in Southend are reasonable too and the town is becoming popular with London commuters who want easy access to The City.
As with all areas of this size, there is a wide gap between the best and worst areas areas. Parts of Southend have an aging population. and this impacts on the quality of services on offer. In general, the eastern wards of Kursaal, Victoria and Milton are less sought after than other areas. West Leigh is one of the nicest parts of the borough, with many of the best cafes and bars.
According to data from the Index of Multiple Deprivation , the wards are ranked as follows, with no.1 being the least deprived, and No.17 being the most deprived:
- West Leigh
- Eastwood Park
- St Laurence
- Blenheim Park
- West Shoebury
- St Luke’s
In general, the value of housing will roughly match this trend, although proximity to railway stations, good schools and the sea will also affect prices.
Southend has 28 state primary schools and four independent primaries. You can learn all about Southend’s primary schools by downloading the Primary School Admissions Booklet from the Borough Council website: http://www.southend.gov.uk/info/200176/school_admissions.
Southend has four Grammar Schools: Southend High School for Boys, Southend High School for Girls, Westcliff High School for Boys, and Westcliff High School for Girls.
There are eight non-selective secondary schools: Belfairs Academy, Cecil Jones Academy, Chase High School, The Eastwood Academy, Futures Community College, Shoeburyness High School, St Bernard’s High School, and St Thomas More High School for Boys.
There are a further six schools classified as “special and alternative”: Kingsdown School, Lancaster School, The St Christopher School, St Nicholas School, Seabrook College, and Southend YMCA Community School.
There is also an independent secondary, Thorpe Hall School, as well as two special / alternative independents: Estuary High School and Ocean Lodge Independent School.
For all state schools, see http://www.southend.gov.uk/info/200176/school_admissions_and_home_education/47/secondary_school_admissions
Pubs and Cafes
Southend has a fantastic mix of traditional back-street boozers and modern bars and cafes. One of the best pub guides for Southend can be found on the Perfect Pint website.
There are many great cafes too, such as the Ocean Beach on Eastern Esplanade, Sara’s Tea Garden (Leigh-on Sea), La Petite Petanque, Lunch in a Bag (Westcliff-on-Sea), Millys (Leigh-on Sea), Oasis Coffee House (Leigh-on Sea).
Stop the World Cafe (113 Broadway, Leigh-on-Sea) was winner of the Essex Food and Drinks Awards in 2009, for best the coffee shop/tearoom.
Southend is home to several theatres, include the Cliffs Pavilion, which hosts major gigs, the Palace Theatre and Clifftown Theatre and Studios. There is a regular comedy club in the Maritime Room in Cliffs Pavilion, as well as regular plays and musicals, including some West End shows and classical music. See https://southendtheatres.org.uk
for full details.
Nightclubs and Casinos
Southend boasts several casinos, including the Genting Club Westcliff (previously Mint), The Rendezvous Casino Southend and Grosvenor Casino Southend.
Nightclubs include Mayhem Nightclub on Warrior Square, Talk Nightclub on Lucy Road, Chameleon Nightclub and Element Nightclub. Other notable clubs are SSONE, Legends and Linx. For the latest on Southend’s nightlife, visit Latenightessex.com/venues/southend/.
Beaches and Parks
Obviously, the best “park” in town is the beach! For the most comprehensive beach guide, see www.visitsouthend.co.uk/beaches.aspx. Beaches include Shoebury East Beach, Shoebury Common, Thorpe Bay Beach, Jubilee Beach, Three Shells Beach, Westcliff Beach, Chalkwell Beach and Bell Wharf Beach.
There are parks and gardens all over the borough, full details can be found on the council website.
Southend Pier is 1.34 miles long, the longest pleasure pier in the world! Sir John Betjeman famously said “the Pier is Southend, Southend is the Pier”. The pier is managed by Southend Council, full details on their website.
Adventure Island is right next to the pier and is a “free” leisure park. Rather than paying for entry, you pay for bands that can be used on ride. This is great if you wish to take children along but not go on the rides yourself!
Southend United F.C.
Southend United F.C. is the biggest sports team in the area, and their stadium is in the centre of Southend in the original settlement of Prittlewell, at Roots Hall Stadium. The club was founded in 1906 and is currently in League One.
This is just a brief guide to Southend, there is so much more on offer. Questions? Just ask!