2005 Pier Hill opens. The Pier Hill Enhancement Project was formally opened on 19th January 2005 by Keith Hill MP, Minister for the Thames Gateway. The project involved the complete revamping of Pier Hill and the amazing Viewing Tower. Before the area was worn out with some tired relics of a seaside past long gone. Even during the revamp a digger put it's huge shovel through the ground straight into some old rooms fully intact, but long forgotten. This new chapter is right for the era and matches in nicely with the new pier entrance and of course the lifeboat station at the end of the pier; the lifts can be temperamental however. But the view from the tower is worth a visit. The lifelines sculpture going down the slope of Pier Hill causes puzzlement the fountains that shoot up out of the ground cause great amusement for adults and kids alike, now gone. On 2nd March 2005 the Government announced its approval of the establishment of an Urban Regeneration Company (URC) for Southend-on-Sea. The announcement was made by Keith Hill MP, Minister for Housing and Planning in the Office for the Deputy Prime Minister, in his keynote speech to a Local Government Association conference. The Southend URC has been formally called ‘Renaissance Southend Limited’. Millennium final again. 10th April 2005. Southend United returned to Cardiff in April 2005 to have another crack at the LDV Trophy. Another 2-0 defeat this time after extra time to Wrexham. The team: Flahavan, Jupp, Barrett, Gower, Maher, Bentley, Pettefer, Gray, Prior, Wilson, Eastwood. Subs: Edwards, Dudfield, Holloway, McCormack, Guttridge. New flats gains award. One of the first new developments on the former barracks at Shoebury gained an architectural design award. Southend East re-named. From 21st April 2005, the rail station known as Southend East. Will be called "Southend East for Southchurch Village." The station was originally called Southend East to try and encourage the spread visitors along the coast. Time Team film special. Channel 4 arrived in Southend to film a Time Team Special called the King of Bling. Capturing the story of the magnificent Saxon Finds off Priory Crescent. Shrimpers promoted. This year saw a second trip to the Millennium Stadium for Southend United. This time for the play off final against Lincoln City. The prize to win promotion to League One watch as the drama unfolded. New M.P. for Southend East. After 15 years diligent service Sir Teddy Taylor made way for James Dudderidge in the General Election. Sir Teddy was welcomed to the seat with loud boos and catcalls ringing in his ears with only a 430 majority. His hard work saw him gain a 51.6% majority in the 2001 General Election, leaving the seat relatively safe for his new successor. New home for Cricket. Garon is a famous name attributed to the Garon's who were famous retailers in the town for many years. It is appropriate therefore That there name is remembered through this new location for the town's cricket. Garon Park sits to the north of the town and is fast becoming the sporting village with a golf course and of course Southend Leisure and Tennis complex in its boundary. Soon to join it will be a new swimming pool and Olympic class diving centre. However, each August the town hosts the Essex County team who bring with them one of the top class national opponents. In 2005 the inaugural year for this ground they played Durham, during this game Andy Flowers hit a ground record high of 132 runs. Pier's on fire. Another fire at the pier-head, A pub, a railway station and other buildings were destroyed in the fire. McGinty's pub, a restaurant, shops and toilet facilities collapsed into the Thames Estuary, taking part of the pier's wooden floor with them. The fire which started at about 2240 BST on Sunday 9th October 2005. Horrors. The latest music sensation from Southend was formed in 2005 over a beer in the Royal Hotel. This now international act are moving on to their second album and are made up of lads from Southend and Canvey Island. This band further underlines the amazing rate of success Southend has had over the years with mainstream music. Hamlet Court Road Bridge strengthening and improvement project completed. After a public enquiry backs the F5 Priory Crescent road scheme Camp Bling is set up on the land where the road is proposed to pass including the site where the Saxon King relics were found. 2006 January. Masonic Hall demolished. Woodgrange Drive had been home to the Masons for many years, but due to the cost of modernisation, they were encouraged to seek new accommodation, found in Aviation Way taking the old Flights fitness Centre and renaming it Saxon Hall. March. S-SHAPE finished. A long, often troublesome project came to an end on 31st March 2006. The S-SHAPE Project upgraded the High Street and provided the pier a new futuristic entrance. Doing anything in the High Street was always going to be a problem with the number of visitors, shoppers and businesses having to be accommodated during a full makeover; for near on three years there seemed to be one repaving works after another. Criticism was dealt out when it was realised Portuguese paver’s were employed during the project, to put in place. New School. Chase High School threw open its doors for the first time this year. Previously known as Prittlewell High School which had mixed reviews; the new image and fresh approach by the management and teaching staff would prove to be an essential ingredients towards making this school one of the most vibrant and forward thinking in the region. Located on Prittlewell Chase opposite Southend Hospital the grounds over the coming years would see expansion and improvement, with the installation of a dedicated soccer school, and for the future a state-of-the-art purpose built accommodation for the sixth form. May. Prittlewell Square finished. The council received significant Heritage Lottery Funding to restore and bring back Prittlewell Square to it's former glory. Originally laid out between 1855 and 1861 as part of the Clifftown Estate development. The Square was finished in May 2006 and post transformation provides a perfect picturesque garden of tranquillity not far from the hustle and bustle of the seafront July. Iconic Travel Centre opens. As bus stops go this one is way out there! But more than a simple 'flag and stop' this innovative building opened on 3rd July 2006 is another part of the grand modernisation of Southend Town Centre and an attempt to provide bus travellers something special for them too when the arrive and depart the town. Combined with the A13 improvement works getting a bus should be simpler and faster all round, and now with this state-of-the-art designed Travel Centre the bus traveller has some where to shelter and buy a coffee before setting off on their trek. Location, is the want for most buildings and this one does not disappoint, with York Road Market alongside and the Royals Shopping Centre over the road, and a walk through this to Pier Hill, ensures taking a bus will drop you right in the heart of town. New energy, new spirit, new future. Urban regeneration came to Southend in force with the formal arrival of Renaissance Southend. Headed up by Chief Executive Mike Lambert, this organisation would drive forward the town's future change which according to their prospectus would be dramatic enough Southend's physical skyline. July. Floral Clock revamp. With the assistance of Keymed and Heritage Lottery Fund one of the much loved floral decorations along the Clifftown Parade was revamped in July 2006. Each year the Council's Parks Department ensure this circular raised bed is a pleasing sight for all who pass it. Retire to Southend. Southend-on-Sea is a "bargain" retirement location with a low violent crime rate, according to research commissioned by Yours magazine in 2006. Poole in Dorset was placed second because of its natural harbour and waiting times for hip operations there are lower than the national average. The magazine for the over 50s ranked 60 retirement locations in the UK. Southend was also ranked top because it is relatively flat with a pedestrianised centre, it has a council tax that is almost £100 lower than the UK average for a band G property. Editor of Yours magazine Valerie McConnell said: "Southend-on-Sea may not be the average person's idea of an idyllic retirement town but it's got everything older people really need." St John's makeover. Southend's town centre church has undergone a £390,000 transformation to show its true glory for the first time in years. St John's Church is tucked away near the Royals shopping centre and the Palace Hotel which is being revamped by the University of Essex. The Rev Stephen Burdett, rector of Southend and churchwarden Kay Ward, have masterminded the refurbishment of the 19th century church to make it a religious focal point in the heart of the town. Following fundraising and a bequest by Rosie Bray, daughter of a former Southend councillor, the revamp has left St John's with new flooring, spectacular colour floodlighting for its stained glass windows and a general sense of openness. August. Southend Utd promoted. 2004-05 Season would see the Shrimpers promoted to one league below the premiership. August 2005 saw the team run out on their first game of the campaign equal to the likes of Birmingham City, Sunderland and Derby County. Their reign in this flight would only last the one season. September. Bye to Baxter Avenue Car Park. November. Shrimpers Beat Man Utd. All the Blues needed was Freddie Eastwood and a cracking goal to dump Manchester United out of the Carling Cup. 7th November 2006 will always be remembered in Southend memories as Steve Tilson's men performed live on national TV at Roots Hall providing the result nobody expected. Wayne Rooney and Christiano Ronaldo could do nothing to change the final score as a full strength squad paraded out on this chilly winter night. Alex Ferguson while vigorously chewing gum, shouted and screamed at his multi million pound squad to perform, but all to no avail. The mighty Shrimpers had clinched the result and a place in the club's history books. Headteacher awarded OBE. Frank Keenan, formerly headteacher of St Thomas More High School. November. Skating around. Southend High Street took on a new image for the festive season with the arrival of a Ice Rink on 22nd November 2006, located in the Plaza area. this venture was to continue for a further 2 years, but Southend's people either found it too much, or the organisers running the rink lost the plot, either way the rink was a one off never to return. 2007 Southend gets rage. Adventure Island opened in 2007 it's latest attraction, Rage. This stunning roller coaster dominates the Southend Seafront skyline and provides coater lovers an amazing thrill. In 2009 it was considered in a test shown on the BBC's Blue Peter to be one of the top coasters in the UK. May. Airshow wash out. The Red Arrows turned out, the falcons dropped from the sky but so did the rain, to provide the wettest air show on record. November. University opens. Higher education arrived in Southend in style with the formal opening in 2007 of University of Essex Southend building. The Campus offers modern, state-of-the-art teaching and business environments in a busy town centre location. Three academic departments run courses from the site as well as a popular Business Hub. Metal. 2007 saw planning permission approved for Metal Culture. To create a carbon neutral artist's working/living space within the Grade II listed building, Chalkwell Hall. Set in an ideal location in the centre of Chalkwell Park it is hoped the plans will provide an inspirational, comfortable, ‘domestic’ space for artists and the community to find common ground in ideas and aspirations for art and culture in civic life. December. Jegs wiped out in massive fire. Progress Road saw one of it's largest businesses destroyed by fire just after Christmas. Jegs electrical wholesalers a popular employer was completely destroyed. The site since has been rebuilt and was opened again in 2009. Southend boy wins strictly. Matthew Cutler who has lived in Southend since the age of 4, stormed BBC 1's Strictly Come Dancing with celebrity dancer Alesha Dixon, helping her win the competition. Matthew has been part of the programme since 2005, and has had a sparkling career in dance since he started in a church hall in Southend at the age of 8. Panto time. The Cliffs Pavilion, annual panto would star TV favourite Joe Pasquale who will lead the cast as Buttons in Cinderella. 2008 March. New Radio Station. Mikey Porter opened up the airwaves for the very new Southend Radio 105.1FM. A breath of fresh air for the community to have at last a champion saying 'It is good to live in Southend'. A purpose built studio is home to the station and is part of the Adventure Island empire. Later in the year the lower section of the building would open as Sand's restaurant. Happy Go Lucky. One of the Film Festival film's of the year Happy Go Lucky directed by academy award winner Mike Leigh, used the Southend seafront for parts of the film as a backdrop. This comedic style film starring Sally Hawkins, allows the viewer to look through the eyes of someone who is very 'Happy Go Lucky' and her confrontations with those who are not. 2008. Last resting place of HMS London discovered 1 mile off Southend Pier. The exact location is kept secret as she is classed as a grave site and she still had a full complement of cannons and everything else that was on board the day she sunk. To protect the wreck the Port of London Authority actually order the busy shipping lanes be re- routed round the wreck site to protect it from damage. The site is protected by the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973, it is a criminal offence to dive the site and to remove any artefact from the wreck and around the wreck site, there is a 24 hour shore based surveillance on the site. October. The New Empire closes. A sad day, when the Robertson family finally lost their dream. The Shea Property Group who own the theatre had demanded immediate payment of rent owing. Failing to pay this saw the theatre close. Since 1998 and with hardly a penny to rub together the Robertson's with the help of the New Empire Trust led by Roger Marlow, a relative of the original founder of the theatre, had provided a community theatre allowing some of the regions amateur groups to have a stage to show their skills. Planning approved for Fossetts. Southend United had brought to the Civic Centre an army of fans, to listen to a full council meeting approve full planning permission for the grand plans to build a new stadium, shopping complex and flats at the Fossetts Farm location. This huge building project was supported earlier in the year with further permission being given to Sainsburys to take over Roots Hall and build a superstore. The Government did not let the Blues down either by giving the go ahead for the new stadium. November. New Southend girl on TV's Countdown. Rachel Riley, former pupil of Southend High School for Girls, was awarded the job as glamorous maths queen on Channel 4's Countdown, taking the role from Carol Vorderman. Rachel's family live in Thorpe Bay. Her first appearance on the small screen was on 12th January 2009. November. Pub on fire. In November one of the oldest pubs in town was on fire. The Golden Lion a detached building over three floors was being attacked by the flames on the third floor and into the roof area. Fire-fighters bravely tackled it with the aid of breathing apparatus and aerial platforms at 4am, with success. The fire led to the pub being closed for some considerable time before reopening later in 2009. December. Woolworths gone! The Southend and Leigh stores closed on 5th January 2009, as the firm went into administration just after Christmas 2008, closing all it's retail stores across the country. December. Stobbart buys Airport. Rumours were abound around the town throughout 2008 as to who might have bought Southend Airport. The announcement this month was to be that Eddie Stobbart Group were now holding the keys and the future of the airport looked rosy. Thoughts of it turning into a freight operation as one might expect from this company were quickly dispelled, when plans to build a new hotel and rail station on site were brought clearly to the fore as a priority. The airport believe, to make it a viable business proposition, now need to expand the runway, not affecting St Laurence Church, to bring larger aircraft that can travel further distances on a 24 hour operational basis. 2009 January. Southend host Chelsea. Oh what a night in January, Southend featuring across the country live on ITV to play Chelsea in the FA Cup. Earlier in the day the mighty Chelsea lunched at the Westcliff Hotel before arriving at a buzzing Roots Hall. Could this go the same way as Man Utd a couple of years earlier when Southend shocked Rooney and Ronaldo with a 1-0 win. Alas it wasn't to be and the home team lost 1-4. A brave attempt that saw the Chelsea manager Scolari leave Stamford Bridge not long after. For Southend it was a useful pay day. March. Next arrives at the Victoria's. The 'Windy City' lost it's gale a while ago and now, against the current economic downturn is starting to ring in the changes for the better. Thursday 19th March 2008, saw the grand opening of a huge 'Next' store, the 'king pin' in the Victoria's Shopping Centre/Plaza. Long awaited, but very welcome nonetheless. Along with this fashion outlet is a new central coffee station positioned in the centre of the mall. April. Southend Timeline is live. After months of preparation, this website was launched on the internet on 21st April. April. Flicks across town. The very first Southend Film festival was launched on 29th April 2009. This unique event was further celebrated with a VIP screening at the Odeon on 30th with the film Shifty. Many of the actors and crew including the director made their way down the Red Carpet along with many guests, to provide an insight to the British film industry. Venues across town including the Central Museum, and Clifftown Studios dropped their skirts to become unique cinema's and show a whole new side to their current offer. Funicular Railway to be refurbished. The Cliff Lift, is having a makeover with the expectation this old landmark of Southend seafront will once again be running up and down the cliff. June. Armed Forces Day. This year's Armed Forces Day was attended by the then head of the Armed Forces General Sir Richard Dannant. The new student accommodation development in London Road opposite Sainsburys has reached the 7th floor out of 15. A monster building that will dominate the Southend skyline. Travelodge. Planning permission has also been approved for social housing above the Travelodge in Warrior Square; it is proposed a further 11 stories will be added. The Prudential Building next to the university also received planning permission to have it turned into a hotel. Dedman Gray the property agent has yet to find a hotelier interested but hope to soon. This must be good news as it will make use of a redundant building and improve the level of hotels in the town; who no doubt will have the Olympics and beyond on their minds. The Palace Hotel after nearly 5 years of refurbishment 2009 saw the ugly scaffolding that covered the Palace Hotel finally removed. The hotel promises to be the jewel in the crown that makes the seafront, and will be open Spring 2010. June. Camp Bling. The area held by Camp Bling protesters, where the Saxon Prince finds were discovered on Priory Crescent, has been vacated completely. The council have now fenced the area off and plan to site a fitting tribute to the Saxon Prince, but not before a further geometric survey of the area is carried out to finally see whether there might be other Saxon's buried nearby. June. Tour Series in town. Southend was selected on 25th June to be the final location for the Tour Series, circuit racing for professional cycling teams. The sun shone and crowds turned up for the evening racing which was filmed for ITV4. August. Carnival Court. All rise for this year's Carnival Queen and her Princesses. Queen Hannah, accompanied by Princess's Kaddy Marie and Lauren attended a huge number of local events through the year, as well as leading Southend's Torchlight Procession along the seafront on 22nd August. They also represented the town in carnival processions up and down the County. Congratulations girls, a very successful reign! September. New Station for the Pier. As part of the ongoing improvement to Southend's most iconic feature the pier the new pier head based station formerly opened on 16th September. The new station has built into it the latest environmental technologies to ensure the positioning out into estuary can take full advantage of the natural resources around it. September. Road plans. During September the council launched Transport Week where a number of plans to improve the borough's road were announced, including improving the movement of Cuckoo Corner with new technologically advanced traffic lights, as well as Progress Road, the other main bottleneck were told to pack up and close by Southend Council. 17th October would be there last trading day as a damming Health and Safety report claimed the market was unsafe to trade and shop in. For the second year Metal based at the newly refurbished Chalkwell Hall, took over the whole of Chalkwell Park to entertain around 20,000 on a gloriously sunny Saturday in September. The Blockheads, Billy Bragg and Camera Obscura took to the main stage, while the White Bus Company provided the film Yellow Submarine on a giant inflatable screen during the evening. The Thursday previous saw Jarvis Cocker formally opening Chalkwell Hall a base to inspire growing artists. The building designed with environmentally sound innovation throughout. Including two stylish wind turbines. October. Pro Basketball in Southend. A new professional arrived in Southend. The Essex Pirates will be playing from Southend Leisure and Tennis at Garon's Park this year. Bringing a whole new sport genre to the town, supported fully by Southend Council, this new sporting attraction wiGB v France Basketball by you’ll, no doubt, bring with it further national recognition and new visitors to the town, and surely will not do the town's ambitions towards supporting an Olympic training camp any harm to. The Essex Pirates started their campaign on 3rd October with a win 61-60 against London Capital October. York Road Market is closed. With 3 days notice the traders of York Road Market were told to pack up and close by Southend Council. 17th October would be there last trading day as a damming Health and Safety report claimed the market was unsafe to trade and shop in. October. UK Cultural Status. Southend Council announced in October they would be putting the town in for the national competition to become UK Cultural City 2013. Quite a status to achieve for such a small town with so many well established and much larger opponents. But the press focus this is achieving at the end of the year is worth its weight in gold. October. Battle of the Bands. The Indian summer was welcome this year along the seafront as local band 'The Jons' stormed to victory at the second Battle of the Bands seven week competition. The Jons are a fun band made up of five young guys who seem to be enjoying there turn in the spotlight. Jack, Olly, Neil and Sam formed there band in April 2006. October. Southend United head to administration. Southend United Chairman Ron Martin announced on 27th October, that the club would be meeting with HMRC to consider putting the club into Administration. This move comes about after an unpaid tax bill in the region of £660k if this action goes ahead it will see the club lose 10 points in Division 1. There match against Gillingham on Friday 30th October saw a very supportive crowd on 8,000 watch Lee Barnard bang in an injury time winner to take the tie 1-0, and potentially a reduction now of 7 points if administration goes ahead. On 31st October, it was confirmed that the club had paid in full the outstanding debt totalling £2.1m, staving off the threat of administration. November. Christmas light switch on hampered by weather. This year's festive spectacular in Southend High Street on 14th November, was hampered by autumn storms hitting the whole of the southern England area. Driving rain and very strong winds reduced the footfall considerably compared to previous years, and for long periods the main stage run by Heart FM was too dangerous to perform on. November. Set back for the Pier. The grand plans for the pier hit a bad point when it was confirmed on 16th November the town's major attraction would not be receiving central government funding to the tune of £5m. The council confirmed however it would still pursue ways to see the improvements made through alternative funding or from the town's capital funding purse. Panto time. Brian Conley the star of this year's panto Cinderella, at the Cliffs, threw the switch for the festive light switch on for the crowd that did make it down to Victoria Plaza. December. Festive snow hits town. Southend on 17th December was hit by a late night snow storm, bringing some 20cm's by the next morning; causing almost all the schools to be closed for the last day of the Autumn term. The snow storm was unusually lit up by a thunderstorm taking place simultaneously. The white stuff did not last long enough to make it formally a white Christmas. December. Prittlewell Priory Gains Grant. News arrived in late December that the Prittlewell Priory in Priory Park will gain some £1.3 million funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund. This money will help refurbish this historic building and allow the public to access the whole building and its impressive collections.

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

2005 - 2009
Viewing Tower
The Pier
Paving in the High Street
Rage Roller Coaster
Sally Hawkins
Rivoli/New Empire
Southend Airport
Next Chain
New Student Digs
2009 Carnival Court
Inside York Road Market
Festive Snow for Southend
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