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Image details
The Royal Eagle Paddle Steamer alongside Southend Pier, Southend-on-Sea, from the south-east, 1939
Nearby images
Southend Pier, Southend-on-Sea, from the south-west, 1949. This image was marked...Southend Pier, Southend-on-Sea, from the south, 1920Southend Pier Railway, Southend-on-Sea, from the south, 1949. This image has bee...Southend Pier Railway, Southend-on-Sea, from the south-east, 1949. This image wa...The pier, Old Pier Head and Pier Extension, Southend-on-Sea, 1946The pier, Old Pier Head and Pier Extension, Southend-on-Sea, 1946Southend Pier, Southend-on-Sea, from the south-west, 1949
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Title The Royal Eagle Paddle Steamer alongside Southend Pier, Southend-on-Sea, from the south-east, 1939
Image reference EPW062735
Date 21st August 1939
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Place name Southend-on-sea
Administrative area Southend-on-sea
Country England
Easting/Northing 589023, 183025

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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    By 1977 the shore end pavilion had been replaced by a bowling alley which was damaged by fire that year.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 sevred 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
    Monday 8th September
  • During the War, the Pierhead was HMS Leigh as stated -the Offices of the Thames & Medway Senior Naval Control Officer, Capt. John Champion. And it was here that all of the Southend "little ships of Dunkirk" were ordered to come by 0500hrs on the morning of May 28th, 1940 to be assessed for fuelling, provisioning, charts, and crewing if needed. Most of the 12 Southend beach excursion vessels commandeered in the first batch on May 28th had been volunteered by their own regular Owners, Skippers, and crews; but were sent off to Sheerness instead to embark Navy crews [who didn't know anything about shallow water Ops from beaches, - or the vessels they were given charge-of]. Which is why so many of the 31 little ships commandeered from Southend foreshore [in three groups] were declared "lost". 15 of those 31 boats were Navy-crewed by Admiralty Order, before the "no civilian volunteers" crewing Rule was lifted on the late evening of May 28th; and 14 of those Navy-crewed craft were declared "lost" after the end of Dynamo on June 4th.

    Saturday 10th October
  • Paddle Steamer Royal Eagle.

    Built 1932 by Cammell Laird Birkenhead for General Steam Navigation Co. Ltd.
    Length 292.1 ft Beam 36.7 ft

    Launched with a bottle of whisky.
    Sailed on the London (Tower Bridge), Southend, Margate & Ramsgate service.
    2000 passengers on four decks with dining saloons to seat 310.

    Requisitioned in WW2 as an anti aircraft vessel in the River Thames. (HMS Royal Eagle)

    Made three trips to Dunkirk, saving 2657 men

    1950 ran between London and Clacton.

    Scrapped in 1953

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    totoro's picture
    Monday 8th September
  • The Royal Eagle made FOUR overnight trips to Dunkirk; and landed rescued soldiers as follows - Margate,docked at 30the May/0620hrs - 808 soldiers; Sheerness Dockyard - 31/0730hrs - 1831 soldiers; Margate - 1st June/0610hrs - 1250 soldiers; and Sheerness again - 2/1320hrs - 126 soldiers, making a total of 4,015 rescued soldiers in the four trips. [Ref: John de S. Winser - "BEF Ships", pg 63 & 96; Pub 1999.]

    Saturday 10th October
  • Lifeboat house

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    totoro's picture
    Monday 8th September
  • Mark Boat.
    Used as a marker point for boat racing.

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    totoro's picture
    Monday 8th September

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