1990 More work on Funicular. Further reconstruction work was carried out on the cliff lift in 1990. A new, more advanced relay control unit was installed and modifications were made to the drive system. Minor structural alterations were made to the upper station because of movement of the surrounding cliffs. Also another new carriage was installed reducing the passenger capacity to just 18. Another Bandstand. Southend folk and visitors have enjoyed their bandstands, and on 23rd June 1990, the latest model was opened by the Mayor Cllr D. Ascroft. Some years later this version needed moving quickly to avoid ending up down the cliff, as a slip right under it was occurring which would jeopardise most of the subsidiary buildings around the bandstand. Mr showbiz dies. Arthur Levenson for some 26 years manager of the Odeon passed away this year after a short battle against cancer. Known as Mr Showbiz due to his amazing contacts that brought some of the biggest stars to the town, including the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. When he took over the Odeon in the High street it was amongst the largest in the UK with 2,700 seats; but with his ability to run unusual promotion campaigns and attract star names he never found it too hard to fill the large auditorium. Poll Tax. Southend was equally hit by the new Poll Tax brought in by Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government to replace the old rates system. However, the town's Tory politicians were in an awkward position, Teddy Taylor and Paul Channon were struggling to convince the local populace the tax was going to work particularly as the town was being locally governed by the Liberal Democrats who were proposing some very heavy tax increases. The MPs were encouraging their government to apply caps on the amounts the Local Authority could charge. The resulting impact would see a number of local home owners being unable to pay their mortgages leading to peaceful demonstrations in the town, unlike the major demo in the centre of London on 31st March which was classed as the largest violent demonstration in peacetime. Right, A view along Western Esplanade of the Southend Airshow 1990. Panto time. This year at the Cliffs Pavilion the seasonal delight was Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs with Keith Harris & Denise Nolan, the Director for the show was Denis Chritchley. 1991 The South Essex College became South East Essex College of Arts and Technology (SEECAT). Census time. Every ten years nationally a census is carried out to determine the population, this in turn provides a good indication by government how much funding a town such as Southend should get. This year the total for the town was: 157,517. Cannon Cinema (formerly Metropole) Westcliff, closes. Travelling along the A13 into Southend you might not even realise the current Halfords site was once a cinema, the Metropole or Cannon Cinema depending on your age, was one of many cinemas dotted around the borough. Providing access to the silver screen for the big releases or indeed the Saturday morning cowboy specials. This picture house met the demolition ball in 1991. Royal visit. HRH Princess Anne opens the Scanner Unit at Southend Hospital and the new Lifeboat House at the end of the Pier. Leigh Folk Festival starts. The Guardian announced in 2008 the Leigh Folk Festival to be one of those hidden festivals that must not be missed. Starting in 1991, this festival had grown to be a significant part of the Southend Cultural calendar. With stages placed along the High Street of Old Leigh, the pubs taking full advantage and a parade of the international dance troupes and groups from the world of folk all come together to make this weekend. New Honorary Freeman. Bernard Birn MBE became the latest Freeman of the town on 2nd October 1991, for his services to musical and artistic life of the town, in particular for his roles as Chairman and Artistic Director of the Southend-on-Sea Music Club for over 40 years. 1992 Extension and refurbishment to the Cliffs Pavilion. Borough Centenary Celebrations. Lord Mayor of London took part in Civic Procession and opened the Centenary Garden in Priory Park also the extension and refurbishment of Cliffs Pavilion. Still a town. Southend was turned down in its attempt to gain city status in its centenary year, when it lost out to Sunderland. Radio 1 Roadshow. Nationally celebrated the Radio One Roadshow came to Southend. Appearing in the Seaway Car Park to around 20,000 people, who cheered on DJ Mark Goodier, while on stage acts including Kingmaker and techno music legend Carl Cox entertained live on the radio and to the crowd. Fire at Church. A major fire at St Erkenwalds Church at the junction of York Road triggered the end for this significant building on 11th November 1992. The church had lost its congregation in 1978, and became redundant for its main use. It was inevitable it would have an end. The wrecked shell was finally removed from the Southend skyline three years after the fire. 1993 Sealife Centre opens. As part of a chain of Sealife Centres around the country Southend had its own open in 1993. Located on the seafront opposite the Minerva. The building stood out with its blue apex roofing. The centre today is still thriving but under the umbrella of Adventure Island. Southend United Compete In Anglo-Italian Cup. Ford New Holland sponsored a fresh cup competition during the 1993-1994 season. On 23rd December 1993 Southend played Italian club Padova in Group B at Roots Hall. A fine win, 5-2 to the Shrimpers, saw them lead their group, taking them through to the Semi-Finals. A two leg affair against Notts County saw the spoils shared 1-0 at each ground, therefore a penalty shoot decided the finalists. Notts County scraped through 4-3 and went on to play Italian Club Brescia, but lost to them 1-0 in the final at Wembley. 1994 New Sports Centre. Opposite Southend Hospital on Prittlewell Chase a new facility for the local community was opened, Chase Sports Centre, by Trevor Brooking, Chairman of the Eastern Council for Sport and Recreation. All sit down. Roots Hall formally becomes and all-seater stadium in 1994, with a capacity of 12,392. Airport sold. Southend Council after considering closing the Airport sold it in 1994 to Regional Airports Ltd. RAL set about refurbishing the Airport and resurfacing the runway. Passenger flights are a small part of the Airport’s activities with the Jersey airline Flybe being the only operator. Gold. Southend Council's Parks & Gardens Department one Gold at Chelsea Flower Show. 1995 New area codes. As part of the national change of the telephone Area Codes Southend changed on 16th April 1995 from 0702 to 01702. What would Southend Pier be without the odd fire here and there? Another fire at the pier. On 7th June 1995 Southend woke up to the buzzing of Helicopters flying over the burning pier in the bowling alley beaming live pictures to breakfast news broadcasts. An electrical fault in the kitchen sent sparks into the bowling alley structure which created a massive inferno. This was a repeat fire of the one that attacked the bowling alley in 1976. It provided as usual an amazing sight being so close to the shore line. The speculation at the time would fit Fraser from Dad's Army "Its Doomed, all doomed.” But here today it still stands having suffered another fire in 2005. The structure was demolished and is now laid with decking. Ace Shakedown begins. 1995 saw the start of the very first Ace Café Shakedown, this brilliant event always took place on the Easter Monday and involved thousands of motorbikes of every genre. A fantastic spectacle to view along Southend Seafront. St Erkenwald's Church is demolished. This grand old church, on the junction with York Road and Southchurch Avenue, was finally erased from the Southend skyline. Having suffered a fire 3 years ago, it was always likely. The adventure begins. Peter Pan's Playground expands east of the Pier the Adventure has started. One of the town's best entrepreneurs Phillip Miller, began his expansion of the newly named Adventure Island east of the pier. The former boating lake was a perfect arena for a modern day seaside theme park. To accommodate the latest in rides and attractions. Its continual improvement has allowed it to become the jewel in the crown for Southend's seafront, and included part of its family Southend Radio 105.1 fm, which is now defunct. 1996 Keddies shuts up shop. After 104 years the famous independent department store on Southend High Street finally locked it's doors for the last time. It was a case of sweet and sour on 26th February 1996, as shoppers left for the last time with plenty of bargains, and sadly 20 staff were made redundant. The signs of the retail times heralded the store going into receivership in January and all the staff including Chairman David Keddie being made redundant. March. Southend Leisure and Tennis Centre, Garon Park, Eastern Avenue, opened, and was expanded in November 2010, adding Southend Swimming and Diving Centre to the site, and a new reception area. New Odeon 8 screen multiplex cinema is built. Southend Leisure and Tennis Centre opened. This large indoor and outdoor sports centre has built up year-on-year with more to come. With a new Cricket Academy and an Olympic Dive and Swim Centre, the future looks good. Spice Girls. The legendary Radio 1 Roadshow was in town this year and appeared in Priory Park with one remarkable act called the Spice Girls performing Wannabe live on stage. 1996. Southend United 2 : 1 Ipswich Town. Leigh Town Council is formed. Leigh-on-Sea, although part of the Borough of Southend, does have its own identity and unique nature. The Leigh-on-Sea Town Council formed in 1996 can provide direct support and influence to how this area moves forward. Big Brother arrives. Southend entered a new era in 1996 by employing the use of some 24 cameras placed along High Street, all monitored 24 hrs a day from the Civic Centre. Mainly aimed to protect the shoppers and the businesses from crime. A far cry from the current compliment of a growing number in the region of 300 cameras producing TV quality images across the borough, all observed from a specially designed control room. Pamela Mason dies. An author, actress, talk-show host and former wife of the actor James Mason, died at her home in Beverly Hills, she was 80. Pamela Helen Mason was born in Southend-on-Sea, the daughter of Isadore and Helen Ostrer. Her father was a mill owner and was also in the movie business. Mrs Mason said that part of her later success was that she left school at age 9; education, she said, only confuses the mind. New Odeon opens. Southend caught up with the times; a sparkling new multiplex opened in November 1996 on Victoria Plaza. On the old site of the former Municipal College. The previous Odeon site further down the High Street closed on 5th April 1997. 1997 Leigh art trail starts. A well established part of Southend's cultural calendar started in 1997. Leigh Art Trail for a week each year invites the public to marvel at the local artistic talent. Their wares on show in galleries, homes, shops and restaurants. It has grown to be noted as more than just a significant event for the town but has noted eminence in the county and beyond. New Constituency born. Rochford and Southend East became a new constituency in 1997. Teddy Taylor Conservative, took the seat for the first time, retaining it in 2001. James Dudderidge replaced Sir Teddy on retirement and again kept the seat blue in 2005. The Odeon closes. The Odeon closed its doors for the very last time on Saturday 5th April 1997 with Space Jam shown on screen one and Star Wars (on reissue) in screen two. The cinema had a fantastic reputation in the town as the hive for live entertainment with such luminaries as Laurel and Hardy, The Beatles and Roy Orbison all appearing. In 1970 two screens were installed and part of the lower foyer area turning to retail. By 1997 it had had it's day and was very outdated for today's modern cinema goers, hence in 1996 a new multiplex opened up next to the Victoria Plaza. Before the building was demolished a small fireworks display was set up to send the old building off with a BANG! 1998 The ABC closes its doors in January Alexandra Street, But a New Theatre moves in is to bring the London fringe to your doorstep - with the endorsement of former artistic director of the Royal National Theatre, Richard Eyre. The New Empire Theatre on the site of the old ABC cinema in Alexandra Street has two auditoriums to cater for a wider audience. The Theatre upstairs is being run by Southend professionals Bradley Snelling and Marc Mollica, under the banner of the Threadbare Theatre Company. The concept of the venture is to provide a flexible space for contemporary and classic theatre at affordable prices. End of an era in Shoebury. The Horseshoe Barracks finally said farewell to it's military occupants. With a Sunset ceremony on 4th March 1998, with music performed by the Royal Regiment of Artillery and the guns of 100th (Yeomanry) Regiment Royal Artillery (Volunteers). The salute was taken by Field Marshal the Lord Vincent, GBE KCB DSO. Southend becomes a Unitary. With a fanfare and a myriad of events Southend gained unitary status on 1st April 1998. After years of changing from Borough status, demoted to District and back again, Southend finally came out from the Essex County Council shadows and became responsible for it's own affairs. The Kursaal breathes again. The Newly refurbished Kursaal re-opened on 14th May 1998. A presentation along the seafront with thousands turning out, as well as a reception for celebrities, including Warren Mitchell, Matthew Kelly, The Beverley Sisters and Michaela Strachan as well dignitaries and those who remembered the Kursaal fondly took place. Tuesday 28th July A new Boeing: Southend Airport was the first place in the United Kingdom to see the next generation of Boeing's 737 family arrive when the Boeing 737-800 G-OKDN landed at Southend on its delivery flight direct from Boeing Field, Seattle, USA. Fire at the Palace. Police and RAF fire-fighters were called into action in Southend to evacuated about 150 people after a blaze broke out on the fourth floor of a hotel. The fire started in a store room at the Palace Hotel at around 4am on Saturday 29th August 1998. Army Green Goddesses and fire fighters from the RAF responded to the call because members of the Fire Brigades Union in Essex are on strike. Many elderly and infirm were taken to a local shopping centre and then a civic centre where the borough council was providing emergency help and support. Radio 1 Roadshow. Southend gave a huge welcome to Chris Moyles and the Radio 1 Roadshow on Western Esplanade. The town being a regular haunt for this energetic and nationally recognised music led show, this year thousands of people came along to be entertained by the country's top pop acts along with of course the usual slapstick, fun and games that accompany such a roadshow. The Kursaal at the Palace. 1998 was a special year for the much loved Kursaal, not only was it physically reborn, but Palace Theatre Artistic Director Christopher Dunham and playwright Peter Quilter turned their skills towards making this Southend Landmark the centrepiece for a new play called 'By the Dome it is Known'. The play focused on the people that worked there, with fictional accounts of loves and lives of some of those who played there in the famous ballroom. As part of the research for this unique play the services of two sons and a granddaughter of the Jolly Boys who performed opposite in the Kursaal on Marine Parade between 1900 and the late 1930's were called upon. The play followed the Kursaal's long history through two wars and a 1950s knees-up, featuring a cast of over 100 amateurs. Borough's oldest school moves. St Mary's School in East Street, Prittlewell, was originally established in the 15th century by the Jesus Guild, and moved to the East Street site in 1868. After 130 years, in 1998 it moved to bigger premises by taking over the building in Boston Avenue previously occupied by Prittlewell High School and formerly the original Southend High School for Girls 1999 Belton Hills in Leigh becomes an official Nature Reserve in 1999. This area to the west of Leigh Town Centre provides sanctuary to many species including the rare Shrill Carder Bee only found in seven other areas in the UK. The Belton Hills also has stunning views across the Estuary or towards Canvey Island and beyond. Southend receives a formal visit. The town shone like a new pin on 12th March 1999 for the official visit by HM Queen Elizabeth and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh to Southend-on-Sea. It had been a while since a serving monarch had visited in this official capacity. The Palace closes. A production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night formed the poignant backdrop as the Palace theatre closed its doors on Saturday 14th March 1999 for nine months with the loss of 42 jobs. When the theatre returned as promised later the same year, the new Artistic Director was Roy Marsden a well regarded actor in his own right. Eastenders. The TV cameras were rolling in Old Leigh in May, as Eastenders the popular BBC Soap came again to Southend. This time Ricky and Bianca were the focus of the story along with the rest of the Jackson family including mum Carol, sister Sonia and brother Robbie. The cameras followed the main couple walking through Old Leigh, the Crooked Billett and Osborne Seafood stall featured. Southend United Chairman dies. Vic Jobson passed away in 1999, a chairman who was well known for making more enemies than friends but probably was a key player in ensuring the club at its worst ebb survived to fight another day. World record. Southend Girl's Choir officially broke a world record recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records, by performing at the highest altitude at 36,000 feet above Australia. October. Southend was twinned with the town called Sopot on the Bay of Gdansk, Poland.

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

1990 - 1999
Metropole/Cannon Cinema
New Lifeboat House
Belton Hill
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