1980 Relegation beckons. Southend United had a bad year, being relegated to the basement league Division 4 along with Wimbledon, Bury and Mansfield. Dave Smith saw them down as Manager and remained in the hot seat to see them bounce back in 1981. Dixon arrives at the Palace. The famous Palace Theatre expanded it's offer in 1980 with the Studio Theatre, the "Dixon," in which small scale productions are mounted to compliment the main auditorium. It would also be made available for community use and private hire. ABC goes multi. Formerly the Rivoli, the ABC cinema, on Alexandra Road, decided it would make business sense to build into the structure a second cinema. On 22nd May 1980, ABC 1 and 2 opened showing 'Life of Brian' in 1 and 'Mission Gallactica' in 2. Royal visit. Visit to the district by the Duchess of Kent on 30th September 1980, taking in Kingsdown School, the Royal Hotel, the Brambles and Rochford Hospital. Bloody kids. Southend became the backdrop for a new film released this year: Bloody Kids, written by Stephen Poliakoff and directed by Stephen Frears. A disturbing and powerful piece following the youthful exploits of two lads in the late 70s in an English seaside town. Teddy wins Southend seat. Teddy Taylor becomes MP for Southend East following the death of Sir Stephen McAdden. Famously a close confident of Margaret Thatcher, who lost his Scottish seat in 1979, (the only Tory to do so), if he hadn't he was destined for a Cabinet position. His victory in Southend however was not as convincing as some may think with a majority of 430 votes of 35,637 cast. He claimed victory in the Civic Centre but had to endure loud boos and catcalls during his victory speech in which he managed to state: "I hope that everyone here would at least accept this is a democracy.” Teddy served his constituency well, in his final General Election in 2001 he achieved an amazing 53.6% of the vote. He retired in 2005, leaving a relatively safe seat in the hands of James Dudderidge. 1981 The Ritz is no more. Another former cinema was demolished in January. This time the Top Rank Bingo venue, once the Ritz, on Pier Hill gave way to the fresh new development of the Royals Shopping Centre. The Ritz would have been a popular venue during the 50s and 60s nestled close to the Palace Hotel and the Queen Victoria Statue pointing out to the estuary. The entertainer Jerry Jerome dies Essex Radio makes Southend its home. Clifftown Road became the new HQ for Essex's commercial radio station in 1981. Allowing Southend to piggy back on the station and its popularity. Some 20 years later, to provide a fairer focus on the county the station repositioned itself in Chelmsford. Southend gained sole status on the airwaves with the launching of Southend Radio 105.1FM, in March 2008. 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 17th 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. Part of Shoebury Garrison and the adjacent High Street were designated a Conservation Area in 1981. Shorefields. was designated a Conservation Area in 1981. Due to its special architectural and historic interest and a character which needs to be preserved and enhanced. The area contains the town's oldest surviving hotel - the Westcliff Hotel built in 1890 as a temperance hotel. The area was designed for mixed use of residential and guest house as still can be seen in Trinity Avenue. One notable resident was Frank Matcham, who designed the London Palladium, who lived at 28 Westcliff Parade. Central Museum opens. Since 1906 this proud building existed for the benefit of the community as a Library. It was apparent however as the town grew in size there would be a need to record its history and for it to have a sanctuary. The museum service in Southend is noted as being one of the oldest in the UK, but lacked a museum of stature to call its own. April 1981 therefore saw the town's Mayor Cllr W. F. Bowyer perform an official opening ceremony. Little did the people of the town then realise the significance of the Saxon finds discovered in 2003, would become, spurring on a project to build a state-of-the-art museum on the seafront by 2013. This listed building on Victoria Avenue will hopefully by then have a new lodger. Asda arrives. The North Shoebury Road gained a major retailer in Asda in 1981, to the detriment of the rest of the retailers in that area. New High School formed. Dowsett High School for Girls and Southchurch Hall High School for Boys amalgamated to form Thorpe Bay High School. Dowsett High premises became eventually St Mary's Primary School and the former Southchurch Hall School premises are now used as an Adult Education Centre. Lee Mead is born. Musical theatre actor, best known for playing the male lead in the 2007 London West End revival of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. The show's composer/co-producer Andrew Lloyd Webber cast Mead in the role because Lee won the BBC reality talent show Any Dream Will Do. Shrimpers victorious. After last years relegation gloom, manager Dave Smith remained in the hot seat to guide his squad to win the Division 4 Championship and much needed promotion. 1982 Old train's scrapped. The Pier’s rolling stock was scrapped in 1982 having served the pier well. A couple have found there way into museums, one (No 21) used to provide a unique visual prop in the famous Lynn Tait Gallery. Plaque unveiled for Frank Matcham. In March a plaque was unveiled to celebrate the famous Theatre Architect Frank Matcham at his former home in Westcliff Parade. Matcham (1854-1920) has been called ‘the most prolific theatre architect of all time.’ His lavish work can be found throughout the country, his masterpiece being the London Coliseum (1904). However, he also designed pubs, cinemas and hotels, and the glittering County Arcade, Leeds. It seems remarkable, therefore, with such a successful practice that Matcham never actually qualified as an architect. Plaque unveiled for Edward Whymper. In April a plaque was unveiled to celebrate the famous mountaineer Edward Whymper at his former home in Clifftown Parade, (born April 27, 1840, London, Eng. - died Sept. 16, 1911, Chamonix, Fr.). British mountaineer and artist. He became a mountaineer after making sketches for a book on the Alps. In 1865 he made the first ascent of the Matterhorn; an accident on the descent caused the death of four of his companions. His Scrambles Amongst the Alps (1871) and Travels Amongst the Great (1892) describe his experiences and are illustrated with his own engravings. Cricket. Southchurch Park became the venue for the annual Essex Cricket fixture; 14 July 1982, Surrey stepped up, but left with their tails between their legs, as Essex came out winners by 31 runs in this 40 overs game. Graham Gooch was in the Essex team. Elvis in town. One of the 80s must see live acts was at Cliffs Pavilion in September. Elvis Costello and the Attractions wowed a sell out crowd. New restaurant for Eastern Esplanade. Margaret and Les Slassor opened the landmark restaurant Slassors in Eastern Esplanade, in 1982. After 22 years, in 2004 Margaret and Les retired but the restaurant is still going strong it is now called Churchills chippy. Unemployment higher than national average. At October 1982 the rate of unemployment in the Southend-on-Sea travel-to-work area was 15.9% compared with 13.8% for the United Kingdom as a whole. Orphanage closed. After 90 years service looking after children the orphanage at Nazareth House said farewell to its final young people, as its purpose changed to caring for the elderly. Panto time. The festive treats in this year's theatres were Aladdin at the Palace Theatre and Cinderella at the Cliff's Pavilion, starring Terry Hall and Lenny the Lion. 1983 Nasty Town Centre fire. In January, Alexandra Street was the focus of a vicious fire which erupted in Tintern Textiles. Six fire engines were called to the scene which would see one fireman being injured. The early evening fire brought a crowd of some 200 home bound commuters to watch the drama unfold. Museum auctioned off. In May 1983, Southend Aircraft Museum, in Aviation Way, auctioned off its aircraft. One of the Tiger Moths, once a star attraction, is today providing experience flights at Duxford. First Southend marathon. Marathon's seem to be hitting the right note across the country, and Southend was no different this year with the first run of its kind starting from Chalkwell Park on Sunday 12th June. Some 5,000 runners took up the challenge. Busted star is born. James Bourne (born 13 September 1983 in Southend). Now living in LA, is a singer/songwriter and co-founder of the two former Pop punk bands Son of Dork and Busted. He is currently pursuing a solo career while working with a new band called Call Me When I'm 18. Funding for the Pier. A grant from the Historic Buildings Committee meant the much needed repair work to the Pier could commence and new railway and rolling stock could be bought. New newspaper. A fortnightly newspaper started arriving through peoples letter boxes in the area. The Leigh Times, incorporating the Westcliff Times was launched. 1984 Grand Pier Hotel demolished. Another iconic Southend building bit the dust this year. Along with many other buildings in this footprint as work commenced towards building the new shopping centre, the Royals. Churchill's arrives. Socialising in Southend town centre would change forever with the arrival of a new modern approach to the pub, on Tyler's Avenue Churchill's arrived in August 1984. Invicta in Southend. Rugby league came to Southend on 9th September 1984 when Southend Invicta ran out on the Roots Hall pitch. Due to a lack of interest all round the team lasted only one season. Hamlet Court Infant School flattened. The infants school to the rear of the site off Hamlet Court Road and Claremont Road, was demolished in 1984. The near neighbour Hamlet Court Junior School went in 1972 which was the section closer to the London Road and Hamlet Court Road. Many plans came forward for this site including an Adventure Playground, retirement flats and a YMCA hostel, fortunately for Hamlet Court Road as a shopping centre the car park expanded and houses sprung up to the rear of the footprint. The final school building on this site was claimed by the bulldozer six years later in 1990. England hero joins Roots Hall. Bobby Moore joins Southend Utd as Chief Exec and Manager for a short period. His first game in charge as Manager of Southend United. Southend beat Reading 5-0 in the FA Associate Members Cup. Gunners Park opens to the public. Developed as a gun range during the Napoleonic Wars, the park remains the property of the Ministry of Defence. Since 1984 it has been leased by the Borough Council for public use. Today there are elements of development to the edge of the park by Gladedale Homes, but much of the 84 acres has been left to scrub providing a habitat for a variety of wildlife. Part of the park is designated as a site of special scientific interest for its flora and is managed as a Nature Reserve by Essex Wildlife Trust. Westcliff Rugby build clubhouse. Aviation Way saw the arrival of a new clubhouse for Westcliff Rugby Club, with a 60 year lease from Southend Council. The pitches provided to are also leased but maintained by the council. Southend jockey dies. Brian Taylor was a prolific jockey who had raced in most if not all the major seasons races across the world. However, 4th December 1984 would be his last race in Hong Kong at the Sha Tin racecourse riding horse Silver Star. Coming to the finishing line the horse threw the jockey and he suffered serious neck and head injuries, he succumbed a few days later in hospital. Brian was born in Southend in 1939 and had some key titles to his name. 1985 Rugby League. A brave venture starting out in September 1984 came to an end in April 1985; Southend Invicta's were and currently are the only Rugby League team to have played at a league level in the town. Their home was Roots Hall and venture was hoped to be equally sound for both the sport of Rugby League and Southend United. However, the sport did not catch on and the final game demonstrated this with a mere 85 turning out to see the Invicta's losing 24-16 to the Huddersfield Barracudas. Two day's later they appeared at Blackpool to lose again, and this proved to be the final Rugby League game played under a Southend banner. New Primary. Fairways Primary School in Leigh-on-Sea was formed in 1985. The Southend Band. The Southend Band has its roots back in the early part of last century. Its ancestry can be traced back through Southend United Football Supporters' Club Band, Southend British Legion Band, Southend Ambulance Brigade Band, Southend Civil Defence Band and the Southend Military Band. In 1985 the band was appointed to the honorary position of ‘Official Town Band’ by Southend Borough Council. Southend Stadium has had its chips. A notable day for Southendians as the last greyhound meeting was held at the Southend Stadium on Boxing Day. Within 2 months the site was razed to the ground and turned into the current Greyhound Shopping area. The stadium had famously been home to Southend United until 1955. It had also played home to a number of other amateur clubs, but still chiefly remained as a venue for greyhound racing. This sport however, was dwindling in popularity through the 70s till it's final meet. The only saving grace for the stadium in it's latter years would be the Council sponsored annual firework display which was very popular. 1986 Marina proposed. 1986 saw the Local Authority seriously looking at proposals to turn a huge section of the seafront into a Marina. Not just a boating proposal, but a whole land reclamation project that would have seen a huge island of some 750 acres, to the east of the pier, just off-shore towards the pier head. On it would have been built a golf course and many other leisure facilities as well residential developments. The proposal would have been called the Southend Island Marina. Royal visit. Little did HRH Princess Anne know what was going to happen in just over a months time, but on 2nd May 1986 she inaugurated the new pier railway service. The Pier is sliced in two The MV Kings Abbey sliced through the Pier between the old and new Pier Heads on 30th June 1986. Not great timing with the height of the season just around the corner. But as tends to be with the pier calamities they in themselves become an attraction that brings the public out to support the old structure. This time the tanker severed the lifeboat slipway, caused irreparable damage to the boathouse and left a 70ft gap in the Pier. Repairs followed in 1989, with a new café and toilets opening on the stem extension. Is this love? Alison Moyet, formerly of 80s pop band Yazoo and later becoming a very successful solo performer and long term fan of Southend United, videoed her Chart Hit 'Is this Love?' at Roots Hall. A later hit 'Blue' was a tribute to her much loved soccer team. New manager. In June a new manager walked through the doors at Roots Hall who would have long term relationship with the club. David Webb who managed the Shrimpers until March 1987, would depart then return in December 1988 for what could be considered the most successful management period in the club's history until 1992. Kursaal buildings close. After 85 years the famous Kursaal building closed its doors. It took another 12 years before they could reopen in a blaze of glory in 1998. J. H. Jacks Ltd closes up. One of the towns more significant clothing manufacturers closed this year, located close to the junction of Seaforth Avenue and North Road in Southchurch. It opened in 1932 manufacturing shirts and pyjamas. During the war it turned its skills to RAF clothing and 'demob' suits as well as clothing for Russian children. By the time it closed it was producing shirts for Marks and Spencer as well as childrens items for Mothercare. Cannon in Alexandra Street. The ABC changed hands once again, this time to Cannon. Who remained in control until the cinema finally closed down. To eventually become the New Empire Theatre. BBC Essex arrives. A new radio station started broadcasting on 5th November 1986. BBC Essex switches on, breaking the convention of BBC names by dropping 'Radio' in the title, to avoid confusion with Essex Radio. Southend's transmitter was atop of Maitland House. XL426 lands at Southend. The Vulcan aircraft Making her final flight from RAF Scampton to Southend Airport on December 19th, 1986, in the hands of Squadron Leader Paul Millikin (captain); Squadron Leader Neil McDougall (co-pilot); Squadron Leader Ken Denman (air electronics officer); Squadron Leader Dave Moore (navigator radar), and; Squadron Leader Ray Leach (navigator plotter). Chief Tech Dave Thorpe (crew chief) was also on board for the flight. An Eastender turns on Southend's Illuminations. The Southend Carnival in 1986 was attended by celebrity Wendy Richard who switched on the illuminations. Well known for her appearance in 'Are You Being Served' as Miss Brahms and more recently in Eastenders. She spoke to the Echo and mentioned she enjoyed coming back to Southend more recently because Eastenders was filming one of there many trips to the seaside, and also when she as a girl lived for a while in the town during the 50s. She reminisced that she still has a scar from her time falling off a ride at the Kursaal Amusement Park. 1987 Freezing January. The country this year was hit with a 2ft blanket of snow in January, thought to be one of the coldest winters in 40 years with the temperature in Southend dipping to -12c. Roads remained blocked across the town as gritting became pointless with the salt freezing as soon as it hit the ground. The Shrimpers defeat Div 1 Derby County with Peter Shilton in goal, 1-0 in the League Cup at Roots Hall, September 1987 Southend United won promotion to the third division after 3 years teetering on extinction. Operation sparkle. The stations on the London, Tilbury and Southend Line underwent a major transformation, each one from Benfleet to Shoeburyness benefited from a facelift. Opportune visit. Southend has enjoyed the visit of many a vessel to the end of the pier. Between 12- 18th of August, HMS Opportune made her entrance, a submarine commanded by Nigel Hibbert. The Hamsters perform. Southend based RnB group performed their first gig at the Cliffs Pavilion on 1st April 1987. A band happy with their lot performing in local pubs and clubs, with little intent on going professional. However, it was inevitable they would as they had such a remarkable following, their accolades include being known as one of the hardest working bands in the business, having toured the UK, Europe and the US. The storms hit Southend. October 1987 will be remembered around the country for the great storms; Southend suffered and the town took a battering. Boats were hurled out of the water to end up splintered on the seafront or even on the road, beach huts were smashed to matchwood. Cafés and amusement arcades lost their windows, a 16 pot chimney crashed through the roof of the Railway Hotel, the intensive care unit at Southend Hospital was put out of action when all the windows were smashed and for a time it was necessary to close the operating theatre. 1988 The Royals Shopping Centre completed. Southend High Street would for now be known as having two book-end shopping centres. The Victoria Plaza to the north and now a new resident to the south, the Royals Shopping Centre. This lump of modern brick, plastic and glass consigned many older and much loved buildings into the past. Some of the occupiers, over time, that stood at this location include the Ritz Cinema, Royal Library, Goings Oyster Saloon, Eastern National Coaches and of course the Grand Pier Hotel. The Royals Shopping Centre was opened on 23rd March 1988 by Neighbour's heart-throb, actor, Jason Donovan. Although, both Boots and Debenhams original residents of the centre opened two weeks prior on the 11th, to accommodate staff training. Morrissey Video. 1988 saw the release of a new single 'Everyday Is Like Sunday' by the then popular music group Morrissey fronted by the very same named man. The video had however, a very familiar back drop. Leigh lights up. In 1988, four traders got together and formed the Leigh Traders Association, it attracted a strong membership. From that point they raised £15,000 a year to be spent on the festive lights. Over the years some real stars came to Leigh to switch them on; when the actress Peggy Mount came, 25,000 people turned up. An appearance by David Essex in Library Gardens was packed out and DJ Steve Wright did a live countdown on Radio One. Girl's Choir formed. Following the success of the boys, Southend Girls Choir was formed in 1988. Well received on tours in Germany, Australia and the Seychelles. Furriers close. Maybe a sign of the times, but a stalwart of the retailing sector closed up shop in 1988. Baum's Furriers which existed on the London Road on junction opposite the Cricketer's Pub. 1989 The Queen's gone. Since 1898 the Queen's Hotel at the bottom of Hamlet Court Road stood proud welcoming passengers to Westcliff alighting from the nearby train station. February however, brought the demolisher’s to rid the area of this noted building. Many residents were upset at its demise as for some it had become part and parcel of their lives, either as a regular grand eatery or even maybe the host of their wedding reception. The Queens, of course, was also a valuable live entertainment venue for this end of town, with many big names of the day performing at the Queens. Today the site has been replaced after many years as an empty site by the McCarthy Stone retirement homes development. Even then however, during the new build in 2003-4 they uncovered the basement of the old hotel, it was still clinging on to the very end. Sainsburys opened in London Road. Threw open its doors for the first in March 1989. A key central location for a major food retailer located a short distance from Victoria Plaza, and most importantly, the retail site included a two tier car park. BBC arrive. Spring 1989 the BBC set-up office in Westcliff, just down from the Palace Theatre at the junction with Elderton Road to produce and provide programme material to radio BBC Essex. Victoria not for sale. There was an unexpected request from Victoria, British Colombia in Canada who wanted to purchase Southend's Queen Victoria Statue, to place outside their own provincial government offices. Southend Council politely turned down the request. New Museum for the Pier. The Mayor of Southend officially opened the Pier Museum on 8th July 1989, heralding the Pier centenary celebrations. At the same time the Pier Museum Trust was formed and the Friends changed its name to Southend Pier Museum Foundation. Seedbed opened. August 1989 saw the arrival of a new innovative style to business in the Borough. Vanguard Way Industrial Site played host to the Seedbed Centre a modern hub of industry letting new and expanding businesses rent affordable units with back up support, to help the occupiers flourish and move on when they are ready to bigger and better properties. Lifeboat rescue goes wrong. On 21st October 1989, the Percy Garon II launched with Helmsman Robert Fossett and crew members Mark Fossett and Roy Kidwell, in response to a Mayday message from the Sand Barge Margaret G with a crew of two on board. The barge was sinking in the vicinity of the South Shoebury Buoy in the Thames Estuary, in a strong gale and steel heavy seas. Whilst assisting the barge the lifeboats starboard engine stalled and when returning to station the port engine failed. Numerous attempts were made to restart the engines but without success. This was a harrowing experience in which the crew remained very calm despite the stressful weather conditions. A second lifeboat needed to rescue the first crew members John Foster and Clifton Warry in the D class lifeboat went to the assistance of the Southend-on-Sea Atlantic 21 lifeboat Percy Garon II in a south-south-westerly violent storm, steep heavy seas and total darkness in the early hours of the morning of 21st October 1989. The Percy Garon II was on service when both engines failed and was drifting in dangerous waters at Shoebury Sands. Top flight football at Roots. The League Cup came to Roots Hall on 4th October 1989, bringing with it the 1st Division giant Tottenham Hotspur. An amazing game ensued seeing a final result of Southend 3 Spurs 2. Unfortunately for the Shrimpers, this amazing result did not stop the 1st Division side go through on the away goals rule. A shock for the Spurs team who were ably manned with the likes of Gascoigne and Lineker. Steve Tilson. 1989 would see the start of a long career linked to Southend United by Steve Tilson. Dave Webb then manager, brought Tilson to Southend from Witham, from that time Steve established himself as a loyal servant of the club eventually becoming manager and taking the club to two major cup finals at the millennium stadium. Southend Airshow. In 1989 the Coco-Cola company launched a new brand of drink named "Sprite." The Southend Airshow was selected to be one of the very first places in the UK to showcase the new drink. The airshow had secured a new sponsor for the event in the shape of the railway company Network Southeast at that time still part of British Rail. The 1989 Southend Airshow was backing "Charity in Action" it also saw a "Preview" staged the day before. Free airshow Gift Packs were also given away, included in the bag was a paper hat, poster and a badge. The air display for 1989: The Red Arrows, Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, Vickers VC10 (RAF), F4, Harrier, Jaguar, Hawk, RN Sea Harrier, Sea Fury, Firefly, CF-18f Hornet (Royal Canadian Air Force), F-27 (Royal Netherlands Air Force), F-15 (US Air Force), F-16 (US Air Force), A, 10 (US Air Force), F-111(US Air Force), Toyota Pitts Special Team, Yugo Flying Circus Girl on the Wing, Skyhawk Acrobatic Team, YAK 50,, Zlin 50, Vought Corsair, Grumman Bearcat, P.T. Pair, Sea Venom. Panto time. This year's festive treat at the Cliff's Pavilion was Dick Whittington, starring Ted Rogers as 'Dick', as well as Suzi Quattro, Linal Haft and Alfred Marks. While at the Palace Theatre a milder affair was on hand in the shape of 'The Wind in the Willows'.

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

1980 - 1989
The Ritz, Pier Hill
Westcliff Hotel
Old Library/Central Museum
Edward Whymper
Lynn Tait Gallery
Seebed Centre
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