From Talza to Victoria

Bradley Street

Bradley

street

was

at

the

Northern

most

point

of

the

redevelopment

zone,

a

relatively

small

street,

the

name

would

not

last

long

after

the development as the Southend by-pass later named Queensway gobbled it up.

Bradley

Street

was

home

to:

1

&

2,

Smith's

Fruiterer's.

3,

Albert

&

Co

Estate

Agent.

3,

R.

H.

Nerney

&

Co

Accountants.

4,

Moy

Thomas

Ltd

Coal

Merchant.

5,

J.

W.

Cox

&

Sons

Coal

Merchant.

6,

T.

J.

F.

Heap

&

Son

Lts

Coal

Merchant.

7,

Private

Tenant.

8,

Private Tenant.

Southend Timeline Southend-on-Sea © 2009 - 2021 All Rights Reserved

Broadway Market Broadway Market could be found turning off Station Approach/Bradley Street running in an East to West direction to exit onto Victoria Avenue it featured small shops with living accommodation above. The Broadway Market might never have been, at one point in the history of the site, a proposal was put forward in 1908 to rename a section of Victoria Avenue Broadway Market, this was rejected by the council however the name was applied to the road running along the Northern side of the site. On the night of Sunday 12th August 1917 the drone of the German Gotha bombers was heard over head and then the bombing started, No 16 took a direct hit ten year old James Grant was killed and his father was injured.

Victoria Arcade/Market

The

two

lane

Victoria

Arcade

came

about

by

converting

back

yards

into

retail

units,

this

was

found

running

behind

the

properties

running

along

Victoria

Avenue,

the

arcade

was

right

within

the

heart

of

the

development

area

and

was

home

to

a

number

of

independent retailers.

South Approach

Victoria

Arcade:

Hairdressing

Salon.

1/5,

Wells

The

Bacon

People.

6/7,

Victoria

Toy

Shores.

9/10,

Junior

Bookshop

Ltd.

11,

Bobin’s

Bookshop. 12, Bobin’s Newsagent.

Talza Arcade

14/15,

Technical

Bookshop.

16/17,

R.

Habberley

china.

18/19,

E.

T.

Potts

Leather

Goods.

20/21,

Britacies

Lts

Pharmacy.

22/23,

G.

E.

Bennett

Fishmonger.

24,

Valada

Childrens

Outfitters.

27,

Regal

Billiards

&

Southend

Amateur

Boxing

Club.

29/30,

Laurence

Mathews

Art

Stores.

31,

Handyman

Stores.

35/36,

Mornaga

Café.

37,

Wells

The

Bacon

People.

38/39,

Hy

Bettell

Fruitier.

40

&

41,

Wells

The

Bacon

People.

42,

43,

&

51,

Edward

J.

Hare

Butcher.

44,

K.

Masters

tailor.

45,

Mrs

E.

Sullivan

Café.

46,

E.

T.

Potts

Confectioner.

47/48,

Jean’s

Pet

Store.

49/50,

The

Hobby

Store.

52,

Alwrights

Surgical

stores.

53

&

54,

Miss

R.

S.

T.

Berry

clothing

store. 55/56, Hy Bettell Fruitier. 57/61, Wells The Bacon People.

Victoria Avenue/High Street H. Garons Caterers. 6, A. Lewis & Co Tobacconists. 6a, C. Goldhill Jeweller. Victoria Arcade/Market 6, Taylors Furnishing. 8 & 10, Leslie Warner Shoes. 14, The Essex Pharmacy. 16, D. Gorston Butcher. 18 & 20, Taylors Furnishing. 22, R. Roberts Confectioners. 24, Jean Raymond Ladies Hairdressers. 26, Blue Bird Snack Bar. 26a, H. Strauss Second-hand Goods. 26b, H. Strauss Tool Maker. Broadway Market 30 & 32, Jn Maxwell Outfitter. 34 & 36, T. F. Heath Ltd Cycle Repairs/Gramophones. 38, Bartons Bakers. 40, Davis & Harris Newsagent.
Queensway Whilst not part of the re-development the Southend outer by-pass is included in this history as it passes right by the area that was under redevelopment. The Southend outer bypass had been long in the planning and construction finally begun in 1966, this would see a major new roadway being constructed skirting the High Street. The new road was in fact the joining of several roads and widening making a dual carriageway, starting at London Road it incorporated Dowsett Avenue, up to its junction with Victoria Avenue, it would then carry on past the new Victoria Circus roundabout into Bradley Street, Bradley street would carry on to Porters Grange Avenue where it would run up to the railway bridge, it would then become Bankside, then Corsham Road before ending in Darnley Road at the roundabout outside the Seaway car park. The dual carriageway would make it harder for people to cross the road so an “overbridge” with shops was proposed for people to cross from a redeveloped Southend Victoria Railway Station leading to the first floor of the new shopping development. The planning application was submitted by City of London real Property Company & British Railway Board, this gained planning approval on 3rd March 1966, however, whilst the walkway was constructed the redevelopment of the station never took place and it remains as it was built to this day. The development that what would become Queensway held up the pedestrianisation of the High Street, this was because traffic needed to be diverted away from the area to be developed, the first section of the Ring Road was completed and opened and work began.
Development Talks between Southend Council and The Hammerson Group of Companies had been on-going with a view to redevelop the entire area, and in 1964 the Council accepted the offer of redevelopment, over the following years Hammersons begun the task of buying up the properties within the redevelopment area that had been agreed with the Council this area was: Northern Boundary: Bradley Street (later renamed Queensway). Eastern Boundary: Milton Street (later renamed Chichester Road). Southern Boundary: Southchurch Road. Western Boundary: Victoria Avenue. After a public inquiry in 1960 the Government rejected the Councils request for a Compulsory Purchase order on the site. However, the Hammerson group then started to buy up the freeholds individually, they were able to acquire 93% of the properties within the agreed footprint scheduled for redevelopment. Hammersons approached the Council to enact the provisions laid down in Section 4 of the Town and Country Act 1962, this would enable the Council to enforce compulsory purchase orders on the remaining properties who’s lease/freeholders had failed to agree to sell. All businesses effected by the redevelopment were offered leases on units within the new shopping centre once it was completed. The new development was not met with universal approval, the result would see large parts of the Edwardian & Victorian buildings of Southend demolished.
Once the final property had been secured the site was sealed off and the wrecking crews moved in, demolition on the site was swift and once the last bricks fell work started on the construction of the new development almost immediately. The plans included a road linking the ring road at Victoria Avenue to Southchurch Road via an underpass going under the new shopping centre this would give access to the outer by-pass leading to the seafront or continuing on to Thorpe Bay & Shoebury. The underpass required 45ft deep excavations with a diaphragm retaining wall, part of the agreement for construction of this new road was that the Council would help fund the cost of its construction with the entire cost of the shopping centre being met by Hammersons, the Council ended up paying just over £250,000 towards the cost of the 1ft thick retaining walls, £27,000 of this was paid for by the Department of Transport through a Central Government grant. The underpass included a delivery pull off for the shopping centre as well as a small bus station with five bus stops, toilets and public phones. To access the underpass two lifts were provided as well as a single up escalator and a single down escalator with stairs running along side. The underpass was officially named after the author Warwick Deeping, who was born on 28th May 1877 at Prospect House, Pier Hill, he died on 20th April 1950 in Weybridge, Surrey aged 73. Because of the sheer size of the development it was built in two stages, these first sections to open included these shops: Churchill Square (North Side): 213, Smokers World. 214, J. Curtis shoes. 216/217, Hodges & Johnson Radios. 222/225, Lipton Supermarket. Churchill South: 228/230, Bata Shoes. 231, Chadwicks & Co jewellers. 232/233, Terela ladies outfitters. Churchill Square: 242, P. King motor accessories. Churchill Square (South Side). Chartwell Square. Chartwell West (North Side): 323, Come in café, 328, Lewis of Westminster confectioners. Chartwell Square: 341, Mark Lane Limited turf accountant. 342, Jay Tailors Ltd. 343, Benson & Johnsons opticians. 344, Beejam Freezers. 346, Marshall Fashions. 347, Victory Bookshop. 348, J. W. Higgs & Sons. 349, Boy’s of Bond Street televisions. 350, W. R. Williams Travel. 353/356, China garden restaurant. 357 Jane’s Florist. 358, Laurence Matthews art shop. 359, Hobby Stores.
What was to be Southend's first purpose built undercover shopping centre would be built with some controversy as it would result in much of "old" Southend being demolished to make way for what was at the time one of the largest single developments ever to take place within the Borough. The planning brief for the redevelopment said that the existing area comprising of the Talza Arcade, Broadway Market etc: were of a bad layout and were of an obsolete development and was suffering decay and decline. Two-thirds of the proposed redevelopment site bounded by Victoria Avenue, Southchurch Road, Milton Street and Bradley Street was retail in some form, but was classed as low quality with little scope for expanding the retail opportunities within the then layout of the site. The redevelopment of the area was to provide pedestrianised Victoria Circus with first floor pedestrian circulation connecting to the Civic Quarter, incorporating the Library, Museum, Police Station, Court House and Civic Centre to the north of the site, a new residential and health care facility to the east, and the pedestrianised High Street to the south. The retail tenants within the proposed redevelopment area were all offered alternative accommodation close to the site, this was in line with the planning brief that stated “One of the most important objectives will be to make fair and adequate provision for traders and other business interests displaced by the redevelopment scheme.” The scheme would also see the demolition of at least 22 houses along Prittlewell Path and Milton Street and 17 flats over shops along Broadway Market and elsewhere. The housing that had been lining the site had been added too over the years, with many houses being converted into ground floor shops with residential facilities above for either the shop owner or as rented homes. However, by the time the proposed redevelopment was announced many were already vacant, those that had sitting tenants would need alternative accommodation of improved standards. The development was also to provide adequate off road parking facilities, during the construction of any development access and the free flowing of pedestrians was to be maintained on Victoria Avenue, Southchurch Road and all other roads surrounding the site. Before The Development Up until the early 1900s most of the site had been in use as residential with a small section used as allotments with a number of vacant plots up for sale. These were gradually bought up and developed into homes and shops. The site was located at the top end of Southend High Street, it was a popular shopping area that was generally known at "Talza Arcade," the Talza Arcade only took up a small part of the site that also included the Victoria Arcade (also known as Victoria market) these were a group of interconnecting covered alleyways lined with small unique shops selling a wide range of goods. The Talmage Buildings were also located within the proposed redevelopment zone, as was the Garons building and clock tower which gave that junction of the High Street and Southchurch Road its nickname “Garons Corner,” before that it had been known as Cobweb Corner as the sheer number of overhead cables for the trams & trolleybuses, this had created what looked like a giant cobweb. Many long standing and well know local family run shops and companies were all trading in the area due for re-development.
Broadway Market was home to: 1, Bottling Store (Storage). 1a, (Storage). 2, Shop & living accommodation. 3, Shop & Passageway at rear. 4, Shop & living accommodation. 5, Shop & Passageway at rear. 6, Shop & living accommodation. 7, Shop & Passageway at rear. 8, Shop & living accommodation. 9, Shop & Passageway at rear 10 Shop & living accommodation. 11, Shop & Passageway at rear. 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 24, 26, & 28, Shop & living accommodation. 30, Ground Floor Shop & Passageway at rear. 30a, First Floor Flat & Passageway at rear 32 Ground Floor Shop & Passageway at rear. 34, Ground floor shop & Passageway at rear. 34a, First Floor Flat & Passageway at rear. 36, Shop and passageway at rear. 38 & 40, Two Ground Floor Shops & Passageway at rear. 38a, First Floor Flat (East) & Passageway at rear. 38a, First Floor Flat (West) & Passageway at rear. 42 & 44, Two Ground Floor Shops & Passageway at rear. 42a, First Floor Flat & Passageway at rear 46, Shop. Pictured right: Sales Receipt from R. P. Culley, Broadway Market, 13th April 1949.
The Early Years Opening in 1970 construction on the new shopping centre cost some £3million, the new shopping centre upon opening featured the UK’s first all-weather escalator. The new shopping centre had three floors covering in excess of 335,000sqft of retail space. Right: Curtis Shoes were one of the original stores to open in the first phase of the redevelopment, this receipt is dated 4th November 1971. The new shopping centre was designed and built without a roof, the three open hexagonal floors having an open centre giving views down into the lower floor, this had the effect of the malls leading to the central area acting as a wind tunnel, people were quick to give the concrete centre the nickname “Windy City.” The centre had heavy footfall as a main thoroughfare to and from the High Street, the ground floor proving the most popular with traders and shoppers alike, as the floor above acted as a balcony giving some protection from the rain, the lower floor housed a number of independent retailers alongside larger brands such as “House of Holland,” later to become Wilkinson’s, however, the top floor proved to be the least popular with no protection from the wind and rain, it was though a quick short cut for people leaving Southend Victoria railway station to the High Street. The clothing retailer C&A took on a store spread over the ground and first floors, Argos had a large unit on the ground floor inside the new development. Shops were also built fronting on to the High Street and Southchurch road. The new development had major changes to the road infrastructure in the area as it saw the creation of another Southend “landmark” in the shape of the Deeping Underpass a short road tunnel under the new centre, the Deeping gave the new development a place to create bus stops and toilets servicing the centre. Above the centre a multi-storey car park and office block were constructed. One of the most popular parts of the new shopping centre was not a shop! in-fact it was not even for adults but for the youngsters, three kids play things were dotted around the centre, on the upper floor was a giant crab who’s mouth was big enough to climb into, on the ground floor outside Argos were three interconnected seashells whilst on the same floor but located in Churchill West was a giant lobster that could be crawled through. These disappeared in the late 1980s. Another popular place in the shopping centre was Zhivago's night club, this was located in Chartwell Square.
This diagram shows the layout of the site before demolition took place

Prittlewell Path

Prittlewell

Path

was

located

off

Southchurch

Road.

The

night

of

the

German

air

raid

on

Sunday

12th

August

1917

saw

a

bomb

fall

strike No15 Prittlewell Path injuring Mr Arthur Hare.

Prittlewell

Path

was

home

to:

8,

10,

11,

12,

13,

15,

17

&

19,

Living

accommodation

with

path

to

rear.

20,

Workshop.

21,

Living

accommodation

and

path

to

rear.

22,

Workshop.

23,

25,

27,

29

&

31,

Living

accommodation

and

path

to

rear.

31a,

31b,

Private

Tenant.

31

&

35,

Thomas

Bros

Drapers.

37,

Bata

Shoes.

37,

Gilberts

Pianos.

37a,

Private

Tenant.

39,

S.

Grey

&

Sons

Radio

Dealers.

41,

E. Raggett Newsagent.

Milton Street (West Side)

Originally

Milton

Street

ran

from

Southchurch

Road

straight

past

the

development

site,

and

past

the

railway

sidings

and

coal

yard,

this

would

become

the

Royal

mail

sorting

office

and

Short

Street,

then

onto

Maldon

Road,

by

what

was

the

Greyhound/Football

Stadium.

The night of Sunday 12th August 1917 saw one of the largest air raids on Southend during the First World War. Two bombs fell on the street killing a total of nine people, including Mr Charles Humphries aged 60, and 14 year old Florrie Mason. Milton Street would be dissected by the construction of the Southend By-pass re-named Queensway 1977. The buildings that were demolished to make way for the Hammerson development included: Frognal House, 1, S. R. Banyard General Merchant. 1a, Wilfred Ranson Estate Agent. 1a, Wilfred Ranson Auction Rooms. 1, Victoria Market Ltd. 3 & 5, C. Waters Shopkeeper/Gospel Mission. 11, Victoria Cycle Works. 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 29, 31, 33, 35, 37, 39, Private Tenant.

Southchurch Road

Coming off the High Street was Southchurch Road, this took traffic out from the centre of

Southend towards Thorpe bay and Shoebury.

1, Garons Grocers. 3, Garons Greengrocers. 5, Garons Bakers. 7, Garons Butchers. 9, Garons Florist. 15, Hy Bettell Greengrocers. 15-21, Talmage Buildings. 15-21, Talza Hall & Arcade. 15-21, Alan Mitchell School of Dance. 15-21, Flying Dragon Restaurant. 15-21, C. H. J. Talmage Contractor. 15-21, Builders Supply Company. 15-21, Johnson Tile & Brick Merchant. 21, K. Gershlick confectioner. 23a, W. E. Hurt Teacher of Music. 23a, Madam Freda Parry Teacher of Music. 23 & 25, Thomas Bros Drapers. 27, St Anne's Manufacturing.
The Talza Arcade Opening in 1926 the Talza Arcade was to be found east of the Victoria Arcade with its entrance off Southchurch Road. It was one of the most popular parts within the development area that was facing demolition. For decades it had provided Southenders with small unique family run stores supplying anything from fabric to toys to bricks and to food. The Talza Arcade included such stores as: 1 & 2, Nina Kaye Drapes. 3, Collectors Corner. 4, Talza Cut Price. 5, Talza Menswear. 7, Regency Photographic Studio. 8, The Pantiles, Antiques & Bric a Brack. 9, Griffiths Carpets. 10, Talza Trunk Stores. 11, P. R. Millidge Shoes. 12, Victoria Gift Shop. 13, Edna’s Haberdashers. 14, C. Jervis Household Goods. 17, Mark Lane. 19, Regency House Wig Centre. 20 & 23, Lady’s Outfitters (Talza bargain Stores). 24, Pats Confectioners. 25, Half Price Records. 26, Talza Pet Stores. 27, Oakley Nurseries.
Few photos exist of the interior, those that survive are a valuable insight into the history of the Talza Arcade
Southend-on-Sea
Before the development
After the development
The three floors were each given a different names: Chartwell Square The top floor was Chartwell Square, it has two malls leading to the central area these were Chartwell North leading from Southend Victoria station via a bridge over what was then Bradley Street (now Queensway), the second mall was Chartwell West, this led to and from the High Street via an escalator or whirly gig ramp. There was also a small exit leading to Queensway House and the Quantock flats.
Churchill Square The ground floor was named Churchill Square, this also had two malls leading to the central area, the first of these leading off Southchurch Road was Churchill South, the other mall leading from the High Street housed the lower floor of C&A on its Northern side, whilst the Post office was located on the Southern side next door to H. Samuels jewellers. Another of the early residents based themselves on the Southern side of the inner area in the shape of the restaurant chain Wimpy.
Talza The lower floor carried on the tradition of the Talza name, Talza Way was a pedestrian walkway leading off of Chichester Road to the lowest level of the shopping centre, Cambella Café another of the long term resident located themselves here, next door to the cafCambella Café was Arcadia Newsagents.
Businesses that occupied the Victoria Shopping Centre in the early 1970s Talza Way Lipton-Supermarket, Adelstons-Gents Hairdressers, Vic Electrix-Domestic Appliances, C. Bennett-Jewellers, Ednas-Haberdashery, Presto-Shoe Repairs, Garons-Restaurant, Pantiles Antiques, K. Royals Carpets, House of Holland-Discount Store, Stella Fabrics-Soft Furnishings, Pats-Sweet Shop, Cambella Café, Arcadia Gift Shop. Churchill West C & A, Nell’s Furnishings, Vision Hire-TV Rentals, Post Office, H. Samuels–Jewellers. Churchill Square David Grieg Ltd–Grocers, Smokers World, J. Curtis Shoe Shop, Wimpy Bar, Hodges & Johnsons, West End Leather Goods, John Cornel–Ladies Hairdressers, Lipton–Supermarket, Marshmead–Grocers, Bright Ideas–Gift Shop, Vista Rentals–TV Rentals, Planters–Delicatessen, B. Saunders–Outfitters, Alfred Marks–Employment Bureau. Churchill South Bata Shoes, Chadwicks & Co–Jewellers, Terela–Ladies Outfitters, Victoria Shoes, Langton’s Jewellers, Court Office Supplies, G. Norris Records. High St Foster Bros–Outfitters, Salisbury Leather Goods, Mister Byrite–Clothes Shop. Southchurch Road Van Allen–Ladies Fashions, Lennard Shoes, Peter Robinson–Ladies Outfitters, H. Fenton–Outfitters. Chartwell West C & A, Nell’s Furnishings, Citibank, Cann–TV Shop, John Temple–Outfitters, Mister Byrite–Clothes Shop, Just Pants–Boutique. Chartwell North Ryan’s Records, Come In–Café, Rubina Fashions–Ladies Outfitters, Lewis of Westminster–Confectioners. Chartwell Square Health Foods, Joys of Southend –Shoe Shop, Terry’s Bookshop, Metal Crafts Ltd, Corals–Turf Accountants, Jay Tailors Ltd, Belson & Johnson-Opticians, Beejam-Frozen Foods, Marshall Fashions, Victory Book Shop, Higgs-Fur, Leather & Sheepskin Centre, Williams Ltd–Travel Agents, Garden of China–Chinese Restaurant, Bier Keller Bar, Intercon Disco, Bride on a Budget, Hobby Stores–Model Shop, Glaister’s Carpets, Homefield Carpets.
Changing Ownership Owners Sandfield Lynton sold the shopping centre in 1995 to the Burford group who paid £11.5million for the centre. Then in 1997 Bourne End Ltd brought the shopping centre as a package deal that cost £30million. In January 1999 the then owners Bourne End Ltd announced plans to revamp the ageing shopping centre, the scheme costing £1.5million included a new store alongside C&A, the closure of some walkways, refurbishment of others, introduction of better lighting, balustrade and add new street furniture. During millennium 2000 Catalyst Capital moved in to take on the management of the centre. In July 2000 the owners Bourne End placed the shopping centre up for sale again, for the third time in five years the centre was looking for new owners. The centre suffered a major setback when clothing retailer C&A announced that it was closing all its UK based stores, C&A had been one of the big name anchor retailers at the centre since it had opened in 1972, the store closed its doors at the end of January 2000. The closure of the Southend store was part of the chains withdrawal from the UK retail market. With the shopping centre still on the market in October 2000 the owners Bourne End were still pressing ahead with the refurbishment, the painting of handrails had been undertaken and new sign-age had been installed, the proposed new retail unit alongside the C&A store was still waiting to be built. At the time the shopping centre had 100 stores of which 30 were vacant, this included the largest of which was the C&A store empty since January 2000. In September 2001 a Top-notch Temple of Exercise fitness centre was approved for part of the C&A store, that had sat empty for 21 months. It was proposed that the first floor of the C&A store along with a neighbouring store, would include a bar and sports shop, a ladies' gym, an aerobics work-out area, a swimming pool and a health and beauty suite. A former Pine Furniture Showroom, on the same floor was given permission for a change of use so that the empty unit could be used as an internet café. In November 2003 negotiations were under-way with the owners and US giant Walmart to lease a large part of the centre for use as an ASDA supermarket. The centre was leased to BEP Southend who ran it for the owners, however, by July 2004 the plans for an ASDA were scrapped as the centre had finally found a buyer, it was sold on to Delamare Estates, a specialist company in retail property refurbishment. Over the years the centre has passed through five different owners each promising to reinvigorate the tired old shopping centre, none of these promises ever came to fruition that was until Bill Harkness CEO of Delamere Estates announced his company had bought the centre and were planning to bring the decaying shopping centre up to date with a major rebuilding program.
The Refurbishment Program The construction of the proposed two story extension to the shopping centre had suffered from delays due to securing a tenant. The old C&A store had sat empty since it was vacated, whilst the adjoining unit that had sold furniture had seen various retailers come and go including Curio City, also a number of small independent traders set up within small units selling craft goods and collectables. When the shopping centre saw new owners arrive in 2004, Delamere Estates immediately announced plans for a £1.4million refurbishment of the car park. Shortly after announcing works on the car park, Delamere Estates unveiled plans for a £25million top to tail refurbishment of the entire shopping centre, the plans were passed in October 2005 with construction starting in 2006. To help ease the difficult task of rebuilding the centre whilst still keeping it open to the public the underpass had to be closed, the space would be used to store the large amounts of building materials needed to bring the centre up to date. The rebuilding saw all the floors re-laid along with the re-tilling of the supports, the original toilets that were built in the underpass were closed, they had not proven popular being down in the cold dark bowels of the centre. The new toilets were relocated to the upper floor in a much warmer brighter location. The escalators were all replaced and the lifts were completely rebuilt and extended to serve all the floors of both the shopping centre and the car park, as they had originally only served the ground and upper floors of the centre, and three of the eight floors of the car park. In June 2006 plans were also investigated to make the Deeping underpass two way to traffic. Initial estimates for the scheme were put at £750,000, the first task would be to relocate the bus stops in the underpass to the site of the taxi rank outside Southend Victoria railway station, with the taxis relocated to a section of the car park to the side of Southend Victoria railway station. The Deeping bus stops had been part of the original design since the centre opened, but during construction of the unit above the underpass it had been closed to all traffic, with temporary bus stops located in Queensway. When the Deeping reopened it was only to lorries and cars and still as a one way road, there was not sufficient clearance at the Victoria Avenue entrance/exit to permit two way traffic to safely operate. Buses would instead use a dedicated bus lane in the formerly one way Chichester Road, traffic was only heading North originally, the South running bus lane opened in April 2007. On Thursday 15th August 2006 the “landmark” whirly-gig spiral walkway, that led from the upper floor out over the underpass and into the High Street, which had proven a popular meeting place for friends ever since the shopping centre had opened, was demolished so that the long awaited two level extension over the Deeping entrance could finally be built to provide extra the retail space required. In November 2006 during the construction of the extension a three-inch alteration to the European Union Height Regulations Law saw the base of the new extension become too low to permit the Deeping to be used, and what was going to be a six month closure of the Deeping turned in to one lasting over a year, work to remedy the problem was worked out, the new unit was completed and let to fashion retailer New Look. Once construction of the new store had been completed the Deeping was reopened, however, it was permanently closed to through traffic on Sunday 21st February 2010 as work progressed on the Better Southend Victoria Gateway scheme, this saw the council make various major infrastructure changes within the borough, and now with Government funding available the plan to relocate the bus interchange could take place. The Better Southend scheme saw the entire Victoria Circus road network rebuilt, with the removal of the roundabout and installation of a T junction controlled by smart traffic lights, the scheme also saw a new canopy built over the entrance of the shopping centre opening in March 2011. One of the biggest changes to the centre came with the closing off of the shopping centres internal open space in the middle of the ground floor, this provided a large floor area that could hold public events. In October 2006 the vast open space at the heart of the centre finally saw the first signs of gaining the roof it had never had, the scaffolding and walkways were erected to enable the builders to erect the roof. The mostly glazed roof took almost a year to complete and made a remarkable transformation to the shopping area below, keeping people warm and dry for the first time in 40 years whilst they shopped at the centre. Since the construction of the shopping centre in the late 1960s all the malls leading to the central area had been classed as public right of ways, and were open to the public 24 hours a day 365 days a year as were all the floors in the shopping centre, the owners applied for permission to erect doors at every entrance/exit so they could be locked at night, this needed a special order from the council which was quickly granted. Wilkinsons expanded their store almost doubling it in size with the grand opening being held on 8th September 2007. At the end of June 2007 the long-time resident the Cork & Cheese public house closed its doors for the last time, a major factor was the smoking ban that was to become law on the 1st July 2007, this forbid smoking within any indoor place that provided food or drink. The Deeping underpass would close permanently to all traffic in February 2010, the Chichester Road bus lane was opened to all traffic with the Victoria Gateway/Victoria Circus entrance being blocked up, the exit into Southchurch Avenue would be used as the entrance exit for all delivery vehicles calling at the shopping centre. In May 2010 plans were announced to install a giant TV screen on the wall facing Victoria Circus square, it was proposed that the screen would operate from 6am until Midnight, this would display local information and paid for advertising by local firms, all broadcasts would be silent.
Recent History Since the rebuilding program has been completed there have been a number of new tenants move into the refurbished shopping centre. The High Street chemist Boots relocated its High Street branch into the centre in 2010, High Street fashion retailer Next who took a large two floor unit opening to large crowds on Thursday 19th March 2009. The international shoe retailer Deichmann was also attracted to the shopping centre taking a large unit on the ground floor. The Only Way Is Essex reality TV star Lucy Mecklenburgh opened Lucy’s Boutique on Saturday 12th October 2013. The Southend Book & Arts Fair took place within the centre on Saturday 19th October 2013. In June 2014 a planning application was lodged with Southend Council to change the use of the Chartwell House office block which is part of the complex, from office (B1a) use to residential (C3) use, the application was for a total of 71 flats with a mixture of one and two bedrooms over the 11 floors of the building.
and finally The shopping centre once nicknamed of “Windy City,” is windy no more, the improvements by Delamere Estates have definitely blown the wind out of Windy City, the building now stands as a modern fresh clean shopping centre.

Victoria Circus/Southchurch Road

Letter from C. H. J. Talmage of 1, Southchurch Road, dated 31st August 1908
Impression of the seashells few photos survive
The underpass under construction
Demolition at Victoria Circus
New Look in more ways than one!
Entrance from the High Street
Looking East in 2014 new roof stair case gone and the middle filled in
The Victoria Shopping Centre 1995
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