Southend’s Dolphinariums
There were at least three Dolphinariums in Southend, these were not all operating at the same time. two were on the sea front with the third at the Kursaal. The Kursaal Dolphinarium The Kursaal Dolphinarium was opened in 1969 under the Coronation Dome, and became home to Sinbad and Sally. It was operated by American Jim Tiebor who was based in Germany, however, the Dolphinarium was small in size and closed in 1970. Sinbad and Sally left to tour and perform around Germany. Westcliff Dolphinarium The largest Dolphinarium was located in what was to become the Westcliff Casino. In 1912 it was decided by the Southend Corporation to build a sea water bathing pool, a bastion was built and drained, which was part of the sea front widening programme. The Pool was 300 feet long and 70 feet wide. The £8473 project was under taken by Southend based Davey and Armitage, the pool was completed in 1915 and opened in May that year. Originally sea water was piped direct from the sea into the pool, by 1936 a new filtering and heating system was in operation. The pool closed in October 1969 following the opening of the new indoor pool at Warrior Square. The sea front pool was then turned into a Dolphinarium during 1970, it was operated by the owners of the Margate, Kent Dolphinarium. The venture did not last long and the site was sold to the Brent Walker Group, the site became the Westcliff Leisure Centre then the Westcliff Casino and later Maxims casino in 2009. The original walls of the pool survive to this day, the walls are curved to break the power of estuary waves, at their thickest these walls are some 26ft thick at their base with only half their height visible above ground. The other half is sunk in a continuing curve below the mud. Southend Dolphinarium The third Dolphinarium was originally the home of Southend's Children’s Puppet Theatre, and was located east of the pier. The Dolphinarium was more of a corrugated tin shack erected on the sea front with rack seating inside, it was operated by Mr. L. D. Holloway of Cliftonville, Kent. It opened 1971 and was used until it was locked up and abandoned by the owners in 1974 who left piles of rotting rubbish stacked up inside. The site sat derelict until 1976 when the decaying building was demolished. There were proposals to convert the site for roller skating but these never happened. The site sat above eastern end of Mr Thompson’s Railway which used the area below as a storage facility for the railways engines and carriages. The site of the Dolphinarium sat empty until Peter Pan’s/Adventure Island Theme Park took over the site.
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