Timeline
1880 Development begins. Southend's development started apace in 1880, particularly the Milton area north of the railway, the next 30 years would see the area build up its residential housing stock and this area in particular is now a key conservation area in the town. The Plough. The junction of London Road and West Road features on many a historic map, and one of the original through-ways of the area. It would be a natural location therefore to place a hostelry. In 1880 building plans were submitted for then The Plough Hotel, naturally the farm filled views at this time is very different to the one that can be seen today, a urban Westcliff hub of traffic and activity. The Hotel was built almost alone with maybe an odd cottage here and there, and due to its then remoteness it was very much a key staging point for the horse traffic of the day. Take a walk round the back of the Plough today and you will still see the iron rings in the wall that horses were tied to as well as an original coaching building. Mr. W. Jefferies, an auctioneer, advertised “A capital Post Windmill, driving two pairs of stones; in good repair. Good residence with oven and bakehouse attached, stables, coach house, piggeries and ten acres of arable and meadow land.” This was the windmill which stood at the end of the lane which is now Milton Road. Mr C. W. Jarvis provided the first concerts in the pavilion of the new iron pier, but in 1880 when his tender for further concerts was not accepted by the Board, they gave him permission to erect a concert tent on top of the cliffs. August. A camera obscura (A camera obscura is a darkened room or box or tent with a small hole or lens at one side through which an image is projected onto the wall opposite the hole.) opened on Pier Hill, and became a popular attraction for a great many years. September. A few members of the Community of Sisters of Nazareth whose mother house was at Hammersmith opened the former Milton Hall as Nazareth House. The sisters had no funds and depended entirely upon voluntary subscriptions. October. Southend Liberal Association was formed with Mr. J. Farley Leith, Q. C., of Prittlewell Priory, as first president. Board Schools, London Road, were erected. 1881 The Cemetery, in North Road, four acres in extent, opens under the control of the Corporation. Steps were taken for the formation of a cottage hospital. Rev. F. Thackeray presided at a meeting at the Royal Hotel when Dr. Deeping said if a hospital was started, the medical men would give there services gratuitously. It was decided to start a hospital, but the foundation stone of Victoria Hospital was not laid until 1887 - the scheme promoted six years previously was not well supported. Southend gets larger. The 1881 census shows the population of Southend as 7,979, although improvements to the rail system would certainly accelerate the rate of increase. In 1892 the population went over 12,000. Warrior Square develops. At the corner of the High Street and Southchurch Road a 13 acre field was divided into lots and auctioned off for the speculative development of shops and houses. A central park had already been laid out and would remain in place for the benefit of the residents, on payment of an annual fee of 1 guinea. Southend Park sold. Mr Steward who owned Southend Park decided to sell up this year, it sold privately for £2,800. The land continued as a park for a short while, however, the longer term intention of purchase started to take form with houses springing up, as to where it was find the Park Tavern on London Road and consider the land behind it and the roads that form a natural perimeter. The park situated south of London Road gained an added bonus during the winter of 1881 as the lake in the park froze over adequately enough ice skating was permitted. This activity captured the imagination that by mid January lights had sprung up around the lake to allow evening skating, and small fires were lit around to keep those watching warm. Pier Train closes. Southend Pier was served well up until 1881 with the horse drawn railway which provided passengers and easier way of connecting with the steamers waiting for them over a mile away. The railway in an electric format would not open again until 1890. 1882 A Year of planning. 1882 was a year of discussion and dialogue through the Local Board. The original pier was becoming a hazard, and inspections were taking place revealing that the structure was becoming increasingly dangerous. Talks were happening to have a new iron built pier put in its place, and finding the right contractor and financier to make this happen was an ongoing process. A new rail line to link Southend with the rest Essex was under discussion and getting closer to reality. Electrification of the street lighting across the town was being posted as happening at the end of the year. Indeed at the Leigh Industrial Exhibition one of the most popular stands was one exhibiting the amazing electric light. The route between the Cricketers and Prittlewell was especially picked out as needing urgent lighting to prevent people falling into ditches. Southend Regatta took place bringing throngs of visitors into the town. A whole host of yachting and boating races took place, as well as land based activities. The Southend Regatta this year was considered to be a tremendous success by the organisers and a celebratory lunch took place in the autumn. Garon a famous name with catering and retail businesses much later in Southend's future, was becoming known around the town but in this year mainly as an Estate Agent. The Police force in the town amounted to four constables, and there was growing concern over the rough nature of Southchurch and how dangerous it was for females walking through the area. The one and only mode of transport was a bicycle owned personally by one of the constables. The force was trying hard to push through recommendations that Essex Police invest in more bicycles (that would of course only be used only for official business), but the public were concerned, as they knew on regular occasions dispatches needed to be taken to Chelmsford and the only way of doing this was through a two hour bike ride. Could the town cope while this peeler was making his way through the wilds of Essex, particularly the females of Southchurch. The Local Board came under a lot of criticism during the year over the building of Queen's Road. The general members of the board were very upset that they were being presented with a done deal before they had the chance to discuss it. Heated discussions occurred which at one meeting led to it being stopped halfway through. There was lots of talk about the provision of water to Prittlewell and the objection of the Prittlelite residents there fearing there properties would then have a higher value, and attract more taxes. It was agreed to provide this modern utility to only those that wanted it. Water was a key conversation in 1882, including the installation of a drinking fountain outside Trinity Church, although this facility was really wanted by visitors and locals alike, a home-owner objected to its placement more or less outside his house, but this was finally approved, much to the relief of the thirsty hoards. Clarence Road Baptist Church formed in May 1882 by Rev. J. G. Wilson and 45 members, all of whom had split from Southend Baptist Tabernacle. Services were held in the Public Hall in Alexandra Street until 1883 when an iron building was erected in Clarence Street. A permanent building opened on 17 May 1889 adjoining the iron building which was thereafter used as a lecture hall. The church was demolished in 1981 and new premises were erected c1982. 1883 The Local Board acquired Western Esplanade. A railway bridge was constructed across the High Street, for the extension of the London to Southend railway line to Shoebury. New Court House built. With Southend building as a fashionable place to visit, so with it came crime. To cope with these issues and to maintain order in this respectable town, a courthouse was built to the rear of the new Police Station in Alexandra Street. Unfortunately the facility was so well used it needed renewing in 1892. Banking in Southend. Financial institutions in the town were few and far between, in 1883 the first formalised bank was established in the town, the Essex Bank. The town has seen many banks come and go and the main shopping streets now have empty but typically designed such buildings dotted around. 1884 January. The first petty sessions are held in Southend. 22nd April, Earthquake. The earth shook all the way down the eastern counties to Southend at 9.20 am on 22nd April 1884. Across the town as people stood shocked at this totally new experience, the bells in the church towers rang, buildings shook and a little damage was incurred across the town. All aboard. The train expansion just continued on and on with Shoeburyness finally achieving the accolade of 'end of the line'. With a direct line between Barking and Pitsea installed later on the journey from London to Southend was increasingly shortened in length and time, the main centre of disturbance was in Colchester. Westward Ho! Charles Tilleard Natusch a renowned architect put his mark on Southend seafront with the building of the Westward Ho! Hotel a tall dominant building on Western Esplanade. 1885 The Cliffs in front of the Cliff Town Estate is purchased from Mr. Brassey by the Local Board. Southend's First Parliamentary Election. A keenly contested battle ensued at the ballot box as well as on the streets of Southend. The country returned a Liberal but Southend, new to this electoral system, set its future course with a Conservative. Pier Toll House. With the pier in place and becoming an attraction in it's own right it seemed fitting for it to have a grand entrance, in 1885 a magnificent toll house was opened, and proved very fitting for the pier of its day. Within the design of the toll house were ornate garlands and fish. When the structure had served its purpose it was dismantled in 1931 and the fish elements of it were transferred to the Olde Worlde garden in Priory Park. Tragic accident. Shoebury Garrison was rocked by an accident which would claim seven lives, on Thursday 26th February at 3.30pm, a 6-inch shell detonated while being prepared for firing, just east of the old battery (today the Heavy Quick Firing Battery). The Southend Standard wrote of the event two days later'...The gloom over Shoeburyness is intense. Such deep grief has never over shadowed it before... perhaps it will never be paralleled again. The blow has struck all ranks, from the humblest to the highest. The men as well as the officers were held in esteem and kindly regard.' The firm of H. Garon Ltd., owners of food shops, restaurants, a hotel, bakery, cinema, etc, came into existence with the opening of a shop at 64 High Street in 1885 (This was soon followed by other shops, and in 1890 the first of Garon's ten café's and restaurants was opened). 8th October. The Theadore and Herbert lifeboat was presented to Southend by the R.N.L.I. through a legacy bequeathed by Mrs F. S. Smith, of County Cork. The town was decorated and a procession was included. The Lifeboat was on a trolley drawn by six horses and was taken to Vandervord’s Hard where a service was conducted. 1886 All Saints Church was built in 1886 and extended in 1934, is a fine example of Gothic Revival Architecture. All Saints is a town church built to cater for the rapidly expanding population of Southend. It was designed by the well-known Victorian church architect James Brooks and is a good example of the simple early Gothic style. For a number of years the children of Shoebury were educated in a large single roomed building at the bottom of Hinguar Street, now the site of St Peter's Church. By 1886 the number of children needing schooling had increased, so a little east of the original site a new school opened, Hinguar School. Initially as an infants but with additional building the site reached its current compliment and received junior children in 1903. Train trip to Southend. The cost of taking a new form of transport to the seaside was very much promoted from Fenchurch Street station, but it did work and passengers would fork out three shillings for the novelty of taking a train on the London, Tilbury and Southend line. Throw in an extra thruppence and you could go all the way to Shoeburyness. Criterion Palace of Varieties, 16 Marine Parade Southend-on-Sea. Opened c1886 offering ales, stout and fine wines with variety entertainment every evening. Southend’s motion picture history started here in 1898 when the first moving pictures in the town were projected, newsreels of the Boer War. 1887 March. The Southend Liberal club was formed, with headquarters at the Public Hall. The club building was later opened in December 1889. June. The town was well decorated for Queen Victoria’s Jubilee. A party for old people of Southend was held in the Albert Hall, a corrugated iron structure for 700 people at the rear of the Ship Hotel. Southend invaded. Some 25,000 people took advantage of the new train link to Southend on the August Bank Holiday, and invaded this youthful seaside resort; enjoying their experience so much a huge number of them missed their trains back to London forcing an amazing mass beach sleepover, the scale of which has never been seen since. This year saw the arrival of an important milestone in Southend's history; an act of parliament arrived decreeing the right for an iron pier to be built into the Thames Estuary. Royal Yachting. The Alexandra Yacht Club based along the Western Esplanade was responsible for a number of the town's key yachting races. In 1887, Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee, word had spread about Southend's ability in this field that the Prince of Wales attended. Prittlewell was described as "An ancient and agreeable village, consisting of two streets and right angles to one another." August. The foundation stone is laid by Lady Brooke for the new Victoria Hospital, Warrior Square. The Victoria Hospital opened in 1887. Adequate for the time but as the town expanded in size and became an increasingly popular seaside resort so the need was for more. This hospital existed in Warrior Square. Salvation Army. This religious movement has a large movement in Southend; it built its first 'barracks' in Clarence Street in 1887, only ten years after the foundation of the Salvation Army. In 1890 it acquired 3,000 acres of farming land in Hadleigh. Town Centre expands. The streets between the railway station and Alexandra Street, ie, Clarence Street, Weston Road, and Clarence Road, were completed in 1887. John Farley Leith QC M.P., an interesting character in the nation's politics, who died on 4th April 1887. He is represented in the National Portrait Gallery with this caricature. He lived in the Priory in Prittlewell, and was well known for being the MP for Aberdeen. This bit of text refers to his time there, Aberdeen was represented in Parliament by a Liberal, John Farley Leith. He was an English barrister who on one occasion took the chair at the AGM of Bon Accord Swimming Club. He was by no means renowned as an orator, but on that occasion it is reported that he brought the house down by reciting the Shakespearean passage in which Cassius recalls how his swimming prowess saved the life of Julius Caesar. Brewery Controversy. The Luker Brewery was quite an iconic building in Southend's Whitegate Road, later to become the extension of the High Street. This year saw some issues when raw sewage washed off the street became mixed with the beer making process. Doing the reputation of the brewery which fed a majority of the pubs in the town no good at all, lets say the Special Brew this year was not one to be taken down lightly. 1888 The Victoria Hospital located in far east extremity of Warrior Square was formally opened on 30th May by Mrs Carne Rasch wife of the local MP. For the size of the population of Southend and the swelling of numbers by the visitors this 8 bed sanatorium was woefully inadequate, but at least it was a start, providing the town with more than it had before. The cost of building the hospital and equipping it out came under the planned budget of £2,500. At a time long before the NHS came into being the hospital needed to survive, through fund-raising and pledges of those good willed citizens in the community. As the hospital established itself within the community it not only provided a 22 bed ward and a children's ward (in 1906) but also provided nursing services into the community. It was comforting to see that the hospital built on its starting budget, managed to secure funding in full to keep it going for many years. In 1900 during the Boer War three beds were put at the disposal of the Mayor for the use of wounded troops or those invalided out of the military, fortunately this offer was never taken up. It was quickly realised the Victoria Hospital would become a key bequeathment from beneficiaries of the hospital's services, as well as those that worked tirelessly within the facility. Building plans were submitted to the Local Board for the Blue Boar Public House on the junction of North Road/West Street. Followed by a further submission to include stabling for those customers who might end up a little too inebriated to ride their steed home. Roots Hall. An old house in Prittlewell was having its land broken up as its grounds were cut in to make way for North Road (to become Victoria Ave). After the house was finally demolished the land became a football ground for Southend United pre World War One. Railway washed away. 1888 saw disaster as heavy rains caused the sea walls to collapse and the L.M.S. Railway was closed for several days, due to the track ballast being swept away. New Doctor arrives in old Leigh. Dr James Murie something of a celebrity, as a well known explorer who had helped in the expedition to find the source of the Nile, came to live in Old Leigh this year. He was not a nice man and had wanted and desired solitude as he had many a falling out with his medical peers. Old Leigh seemed the ideal dwelling and although he managed to haul himself up, he still found himself being recruited to the Kent and Essex Fisheries Committee where his other expertise on natural life was called upon to put together a comprehensive study of the ecology in the Thames Estuary. This job did not go without issue as this well educated man found it difficult to work with the local Old Leigh fishermen and as a result his promise of two volumes came to only one, a significant piece of work still noted for its quality today, he lived to the ripe old age of 94 and died in 1925. HIGGS fur, leather & sheepskin business is established. 1889 Victoria Avenue completed to Prittlewell. William Heddle opens his Cash Clothing Stores. The Iron Pier opens. It took two years to build the pier enough for it to be formally opened to the public; there would be another two years of ongoing construction before final completion. This massive project would replace the old wooden pier which demonstrated the need for a link to the low water, it fell into a bad state of repair and became particularly dangerous to venture on as discovered by government inspectors in 1882. The new iron pier provided a new longer term future that proved resistant to fires and damage caused by ships ploughing into it. At last this structure would be home to many years of seaside entertainment and provide a suitable berth for the steam boats that would take visitors as far as France. Prittlewell Linked to Southend by Road. Victoria Avenue was formally opened on 1st June. Prittlewell was being forced into a union with it's much younger sibling on the coast the South End. Originally entering Prittlewell you would come in from North Road and the take either East or West Road. There was no South Road. Buildings stood in the way including the original Blue Boar Pub. Victoria Avenue would provide a direct link to the coast and with a bit of demolition