Sunday, 6 November 2011

A Moody Morning in Southend-on-Sea

Southend on Sea monochrome

We recently attended a wedding in Rochford, Essex and stayed the night in nearby Southend-on-Sea.  Southend-on-Sea first became a seaside resort in the Georgian era and we couldn’t resist taking a quick look around the parade on the morning of our departure.

I am sure that it is quite pleasant in spring and summer but a combination of cloudy skies and Victorian-era fixtures gave the place a foreboding feel on the morning of our walk.  It was ideal weather for monochrome or silhouette photography!

Clifftown Parade Southend on Sea

I have to say that the area was remarkably well preserved and you could just imagine fancy families visiting in Victorian times.  The gardens were just impeccable and beautifully sculpted.

Southend on Sea Thames Estuary

Southend-on-Sea is located in the middle of the Thames Estuary where the River Thames meets the North Sea. According to Wikipedia, “the estuary has the world's second largest tidal movement, where the water can rise by 4 metres moving at a speed of 8 miles per hour”. I think that is fascinating but it reminds me of how precarious it can be living in this area. I once wrote about the Thames Barrier which protects Central London from tidal surges from the North Sea.  Of course, I live east of the Thames Barrier and wouldn’t be protected at all!

Southend on Sea War Memorial

The Southend-on-Sea County Borough War Memorial commemorates the dead of both world wars.  It looks out on to the Thames from Clifftown Parade.  I’m really quite sad that I decided to walk on the right-hand-side of the memorial, because had we walked on the left, we would have seen the lawn in front of the memorial.  The lawn is inlaid with cement lettering that reads “Lest We Forget” and is visible from the sky.  (You can see it on this satellite view in Google Maps).

View of Southend on Sea pier

The reason we had taken the right path, of course, was to gain a glimpse of the famous Southend-on-Sea Pier.  (You can just see it in the distance in the photo above). This is the world’s longest pleasure pier and stretches out over a mile into the sea.  It was built in 1830 and is so long that a diesel-hydraulic railway runs the length of the pier.  Unfortunately, the pier is prone to disaster: a boat ran through it in 1984 and fires almost destroyed it in 1995 and 2005.  Each time the pier and surrounding areas has been restored, adding to the continuing grace and elegance of the area.

Sadly enough, that sense of pride doesn’t appear to extend to the hotels across the road.  The hotel that we stayed in was dingy and overpriced with unnecessary steps taken to cut costs.  I couldn’t help compare this to our experience in the Isle of Wight, another favourite Victorian seaside destination, where no cost seemed to have been spared in catering to guests’ needs.

And now I realise that I only seem to visit beaches in cloudy weather lately!  I definitely need a scorching hot beach holiday soon.

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21 comments

  1. Nice pictures Emm - Southend has always depressed me.

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  2. Sorry that you're missing the sun, but the photos are lovely!

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  3. J'aime bien ces atmosphères...
    Bonne journée,

    Pierre

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  4. very cloudy indeed, but on the other hand...romantic:)

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  5. Ah, typical British weather, huh? ;)
    But still I hope you had great time.

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  6. Beautiful mono pictures, Em! Yup, sunny beach is definitely needed here as well :)

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  7. Wow..your photos cast spells on me..good ones..love the atmospheric vibe..so hauntingly beautful!!Gorgeous series...hugs friend! You are always soooo awesome!
    V~
    PS; and your words and visits mean alot..thankyou!

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  8. I stayed in Southend on Sea the night they reopened the delapidated old hotel on the seafront as the Park Inn - we were their first guests and our room had a semi-circular balcony overlooking the pier.

    Southend is a bit rough and ready though - particularly at night when the boy racers speed up and down the seafront :S And it's almost impossible to find a decent restaurant in the town, not that I'm a gourmet or anything!

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  9. I am SO envious! Since I was about 6 years old, I've dreamed of visiting England. Someday I hope to see these sights in person.

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  10. Wow, that is moody. I love that first photo with the branch and the color... You captured it well.

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  11. @ David: thank you! I can see why - it might be well kept and pretty but it has no soul.

    @ Kathy: ha! Not quite missing the sun yet, but am longing for a beach expeience.

    @ Pierre: Merci! It was certainly a dark and alluring atmosphere.

    @ Ola: it was quite romantic!

    @ London Caller: it was pretty, but not enough to stay. We headed home for wedding cake and tea shortly afterwards.

    @ Lily: ha ha! This is England in November. You won't see sun on the coast until around March or April.

    @ Mo: I agree!

    @ Ivanhoe: I'm dreaming of April when I hope to see some sun!

    @ Victoria: what a lovely thing to say! Thank you!!!

    @ Londoneer: yeah, I agree and I don't think I'd head out there on holiday. My friend suggested a day trip in the summer.

    @ Happy Kid City: I am definitely lucky as I too spent a long time dreaming of living here again and my dream came true.

    @ Steph: thank you! I do like the muted greens and blues in the photos.

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  12. Lovely moody pictures. I'm sorry the hotel wasn't up to scratch. I'm always a bit sceptical of Tripadvisor, but I do consult it to see if I can find anywhere with a consistent number of good reviews. Of course there is a lot of cheating going on in Tripadvisor, so it needs to be taken with a pinch of salt.

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  13. It looked quite depressing weather, but you probably had the whole beach to yourself. Perfect weather to sit by the fireplace. Thank you for all your comments! :D

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  14. I can see that you need some sun and hot holiday after this. It is very gray!
    I hope you are in better shape after you were sick. I have also been sick.. even on my trip in Israel, well I survived.
    It sounds interesting with Serbia, I would love to go there.
    Happy weekend to you Emm:-)

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  15. that's so typical of the sea, isn't it? Have you been to Leigh on Sea? I loved it!

    http://withinireland.wordpress.com/2011/09/13/leeyonsee/

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  16. Southend-on-Sea is quite probably the worst, most tacky, ugly seaside place I have ever been in my life. I honestly couldn't believe how bad it was. All the drunk youths who were roaming around on a Sunday afternoon, along with the boarded up windows that had been caved in on Saturday night kinda summed up the place for me...

    I was there on a beautiful summers day, which was a waste of a day. The only time I enjoyed myself was when we went along the pier and were away from the crowds of people, and all the bars and fast food joints!

    I love the pics though...of a place that I will never visit again, that is for sure...

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  17. sorry about the moody weather that comes your way hopefully you get some sunshine soon. i love the dramatic scenes.

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  18. @ Jenny: We booked through Late Rooms and really wouldn't have been staying in the area at all, were it not for the wedding.

    @ Avcr8teur: It was quite deserted but then again, I have noticed that people don't venture out too much before 12pm in the UK!

    @ Spiderdama: isn't it just horrible when you get sick on holiday?

    @ Jen: it looks lovely there! I love all these seaside towns in the UK.

    @ This is Belgium: Thank you!!

    @ William: well, our experience wasn't that bad but it wasn't good either!

    @ Life Ramblings: Yeah, I might have to wait some time for some sunshine!

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