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Image details
Southend Pier Railway, Southend-on-Sea, 1949. This image was marked by Aerofilms Ltd for photo editing.
Nearby images
Southend Pier, Southend-on-Sea, from the north-west, 1949. This image has been p...The Pier Pavilion, Palace Hotel and town beyond, Southend-on-Sea, from the south...The Pier Pavilion, Royal Hill and the town, Southend-on-Sea, from the south-west...The Pier Pavilion, Marine Gardens and Palace Hotel, Southend-on-Sea, from the so...Southend Pier, Southend-on-Sea, from the north, 1949. This image has been produc...The Pier Pavilion and Marine Gardens, Southend-on-Sea, from the south-east, 1949...Southend-on-Sea, from the south-east, 1920
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Title Southend Pier Railway, Southend-on-Sea, 1949. This image was marked by Aerofilms Ltd for photo editing.
Image reference EAW026897
Date 2nd October 1949
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Place name Southend-on-sea
Administrative area Southend-on-sea
Country England
Easting/Northing 588585, 184544

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  • Southend Pier
    The second pier which replaced an earlier wooden pier, completed in 1889, with an extension in 1897.
    Further extended in 1927. Reputed to be the longest pleasure pier in the world at 1.34 miles.

    The single track electric railway was made double track in 1931.
    During WW2 the pier was "HMS Leigh"

    The shore-end pavilion was destroyed by fire in 1959 trapping several hundred on the pier who were rescued by lifeboat.

    The pier head suffered much fire damage in 1976, with firemen working from the pier, boats and an aircraft.

    By 1977 the shore end pavilion had been replaced by a bowling alley which was damaged by fire that year.

    It was proposed to close the pier in 1980 but a grant was forthcoming by 1983. The structure is Grade 2 listed.

    The electric railway was closed in 1978 and reopened as a diesel-operated railway in 1986.

    Between 1986-1989 the pier head was severed from the rest of the pier by a boat collision which destroyed the lifeboat house.

    In 1995 the reinstated landward bowling alley was destroyed by yet another fire.

    By 2005 it was again the turn of the pier head to suffer destruction by fire- destroying the Old Pier Head including the railway station, pub, shell shop, snack bar and ice cream shop. The final 15 metres of the railway track was lost. The pier reopened again in 2007.

    In 2012 a new pier head pavilion to a contemporary design (eg odd) was built to hold 185 people and serve as a theatre / exhibition space.

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    totoro's picture
    Wednesday 9th March
  • The railway runs for nearly the full length of the pier- 1.25 miles of the 1.34 miles length. THe electric railway ran the full length from 1891. The gauge is 3 feet 6 inches (1067 mm).
    The single track electric railway was made fully double track in 1931 with four trains operating at peak periods.

    Rolling stock was replaced in 1949, in green and cream, each of the four trains could carry 260 passengers at 18 miles per hour. At this time there could be a service every five minutes with the last train at 11pm.

    The electric railway was closed in 1978 and reopened as a diesel-operated railway in 1986 with a new line gauge of three feet (914mm), initially in burgundy but later in blue.

    A single battery carriage was introduced in 1995.

    There are now two diesel trains which today at peak periods can operate a service every 15 minutes. One train is named Sir John Betjeman, and the other Sir William Heygate. The current line is single track with a passing loop in the middle.

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    totoro's picture
    Wednesday 9th March

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