Never Never Land
The area of land opposite Royal Terrace overlooking Peter Pans Adventure Island was originally known as “The Shrubbery.” For most of the year it was a tranquil green park with a stream feeding waterfalls and seats for people to sit and relax, but every summer season a little bit of magic would turn the park into a whole new attraction, one that was called Never Never Land. The magical world would open for just a short part of the summer season, owned and operated by Southend Council, the park was transformed in just a few short weeks to include model cartoon characters, goblins, smoke breathing dragons, fairies with magical castles, thousands of multicoloured lights and a model railway running throughout the park, one of the trains pulled three carriages a First Class, a Second Class and No Class! Originally opening in 1935 the heydays of Never Never Land was during the mid 1950s when people would queue for hours to visit the park, but with the popularity growing for big brash white knuckle theme parks and the foreign holidays the numbers visiting Never Never Land dropped. The magical park was finally closed at the end of the 1972 season, the models, castles, lights and railway were all removed and scrapped, the area was returned back into an open park for the public. The site remained as an open public space for 15 years until in 1987, with visitor numbers to the town raising again, the council again looked at re- opening the site as a world of enchantment, Never Never Land was re-born. The new look Never Never Land cost £250,000 to install, the new attraction saw a number of castles built and model figures of an enchanted forest including Carlton Cat, Bruce Bear, Cyril Squirrel & Moxy Mouse were placed around the park. The castles could hold 20 or so people at a time, behind a glass panel sat a diorama from well known nursery rhymes, a holographic face beamed onto a white bust which would tell the story of scenes in front of spectators. On the opening day queues formed for almost a mile along the sea front to see the new park, to celebrate the re-opening of Never Never Land special flags were produced, you could also pick up a badge of Moxy Mouse. The initial visitor numbers were high for the first three years but they began to tail off, in 1990 the Council decided to lease the park out to a private operator whilst retaining ownership of the land. Never Never Land never re-gained its popularity of the 1950s, and due to increasing costs and vandalism to the displays Never Never Land closed its doors for the final time on Tuesday 16th January 2001. Unlike the previous closure the creatures of the enchanted forest survived being destroyed and were donated to local primary schools, the castles however, were demolished, the site was turned back into public open space once again. Despite the site being cleared and returned to a public open space some elements of Never Never Land still survive at the old park, the waterfall now just a trickle, still babbles over the rocks and the fairy castle still stands at the entrance to the once Never Never Land. However, in 2011 Never Never Land once more became an attraction, all be it not in the way it used to be.

Southend Timeline Southend-on-Sea © 2009 - 2022. All Rights Reserved

Artist Keith Farquhar set up a temporary public sculpture exhibition on the old Never Never Land site, called the ‘More Nudes in Colour, Southend’ which ran from 17th January to 2nd April 2011. The installation was the first of its type held outside a traditional gallery. The work saw several plinths being erected, on top of these were a number of cut out photos printed onto flat screens, they were printed in such a way that the image appeared in 3D. All five of the exhibits were parts of a models body. At the end of the exhibition the sculptures were removed and the site reverted back to quite gardens again.
2011 The Fairy Castle
2011 3d Image Placed on Plinth
Moxy Mouse Badge
Printed Paper Flag
Southend-on-Sea’s No 1 History Website! Documenting The Town & The Townspeople
Now Incorporating The Sea Of Change Website
Website Info:
Chalkwell ▪ Eastwood ▪ Leigh-on-Sea ▪ Prittlewell ▪ Shoeburyness ▪ Southchurch ▪ Thorpe Bay ▪ Westcliff-on-Sea