Central Southend Heritage Trail12-14 Western Esplanade, Southend-on-Sea, SS1 1EE
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Royalty, scandals and air raids: The not so quiet ‘south end’ of Prittlewell. The Borough of Southend on Sea, which stretches from the historic fishing village of old Leigh, to the strategic Garrison town of Shoeburyness, has a rich history filled with fascinating stories, events and places, as well as some famous (and notorious!) characters. This 2.2 mile long trail takes you on a journey through central Southend. Discover points of interest you may or may not have seen before!
The trail is approximately 2.2 miles long with some steep steps/ground, some alternative route options are suggested. Public toilets are available at City Beach. There are also plenty of options for refreshments along the route. Dress for the weather & wear comfortable shoes with good grip. Take care when following the trail, especially when near traffic or crossing roads and please respect other people’s privacy. Most of all, explore, discover and enjoy!
Starting Point Never Never Land.
Never Never Land to The Cliff Lift: 100 yards, 1 minute, mostly even ground.
From Never Never Land, move west (away from the Pier) until you reach the historic Cliff Lift on your right.
Cliff Lift to Queen Victoria Statue: 75 yards, 3 minutes, steep steps.
If the Cliff Lift is not in operation, go up the steps to the top* (enjoy the views!). With your back to the sea, go left, along Clifftown Terrace, passing the red telephone box on the corner. Continue until you see the Statue of Queen Victoria on your left.
*Alternative route avoid steep steps: Return to use the lift at Pier Hill & turn left at the top. Walk along Royal Terrace to the Cliff Lift – this is approximately 0.3 miles/ 10 minutes.
Queen Victoria statue to the site of the old Bandstand: 50 yards, 1 minute, mostly even ground.
Continue on Clifftown Parade, with the sea on your left, until you get to a large open area of grass with some benches and fencing along the cliff edge – this is the site of the old Bandstand.
Site of the old Bandstand to Prittlewell Square Gardens: 20 yards, less than 1 minute, mostly even ground.
On the opposite side of the road you will see Prittlewell Square Gardens with a clock over the entrance. Cross the road carefully to the entrance.
Prittlewell Gardens to Alexandra Bowling Green: 150 yards, 2 minutes, mostly even ground.
Walk to the far side of the park and exit onto Alexandra Road. Turn right and cross the road safely towards Cashiobury Terrace and then over to the boundary of Alexandra Bowling Green.
You’re now in the heart of the conservation area, known as Clifftown, which was built between 1856-1861.
Alexandra Bowling Green to Nelson Street via Clifftown (phone box) Museum: 0.1 miles, 3 minutes, mostly even ground.
Move to the corner of Capel Terrace and Alexandra Road. Here you will find an original 1935 jubilee telephone box that has been restored into Clifftown Museum, ‘one of the world’s smallest museums’ – it’s well worth a visit!
From the phone box, walk up Capel Street with the bowling green on your left. Cross the road carefully at Nelson Street towards the old church which is now Clifftown Theatre & Studios.
Nelson Street to Southend Central railway station: 0.2 miles, 3 minutes, mostly even ground.
Make your way along Nelson Street away from the bowling green, until you get to the historic Railway Hotel pub. This is still a buzzing hive of local culture today. Turn right onto Scratton Road and continue straight on. Cross Clarence Road into Clifftown Road, continue until you see Southend Central Train Station on the left.
Southend Central Railway Station to RA Jones clock & building: 150 yards, 2 minutes, mostly even ground.
Continue on Clifftown Road for a short distance. At the High Street turn right and immediately look up to your left and you’ll see a grand old building with a clock and “RA Jones & Sons Ltd” written on the top.
RA Jones clock & building to Southend’s first Post Office: 80 yards, 1 minute, mostly even ground.
From here, take a right onto Weston Road by Lloyds Bank. A few buildings along on the right, you’ll come to the Old Post Office (now a Wetherspoons pub)
Southend’s first Post Office to Dowsett’s Row: 0.1 miles, 2 minutes, mostly even ground.
Make your way back onto the high street and go right, towards the seafront. After a short distance you will pass York Road on your left, then Clarence Street on your right. Continue straight on the High Street until you get to the pedestrian crossing at Alexandra Street.
Dowsett’s Row to Royal Mews: 120 yards, 1 minute, mostly even ground.
Continue forward on the High Street towards the seafront.
Optional: The first passage on the right is worth exploring as a short, optional detour, to see some characterful old buildings, which are currently occupied by cafes, shops and bars.
Go along the third passageway which is called Royal Mews.
Royal Mews to Royal Hotel & Royal Terrace: 130 yards, 2 minutes, mostly even ground.
Make your way back down Royal Mews, turn right at the High Street. Now continue for a short distance until you get to Royal Hotel on the right-hand corner.
Royal Hotel & Royal Terrace to The Palace Hotel: 400 feet, 2 minutes, mostly even ground.
Facing the sea at the Royal Hotel go left, towards the huge cream coloured Park Inn Palace Hotel, which sits towards the top of Pier Hill.
The Palace Hotel to St John The Baptist Church & Gardens: 70 yards, 1 minute, mostly even ground (some uneven ground in church yard)
Go a short distance down the left side of The Palace Hotel to St John The Baptist Church.
St John The Baptist Church & Gardens to forgotten seaside shelter: 150 yards, 4 minutes, mostly even and downward steps
Retrace your path towards the seafront and go down the first staircase opposite the front corner of the Palace Hotel. Cross the road carefully at the bottom and with your back to the sea, look left at the stainless steel gates on the wall. Very carefully, cross the road to look through the gates, into a long forgotten seaside shelter.
Forgotten seaside shelter to Hope Hotel: 0.2 miles, 4 minutes, upwards steps and downhill path.
Go back up the staircase towards the Palace Hotel and turn right at the top, to travel down Pier Hill. Perhaps get a locally famous Rossi ice cream or stick of Southend Rock at the bottom of Pier Hill on the left!
Optional: If you have time, you may like to visit the Pier Museum at the shore end of the Pier, which opens 11-5pm Sat/Sun, Tue/Wed & Bank Holiday Mondays and costs £2.
From the bottom of Pier Hill, make your way towards the tall white lighting columns at City Beach (with the beach on your right). Opposite the second lighting column, you will see The Hope Hotel.
The Hope Hotel to World War 2 Sea defences & Mulberry Harbour Caisson: 0.5 miles, 9 minutes, mostly even ground.
From the Hope Hotel, continue along the seafront – notice the plaque on the sea wall opposite The Falcon Pub.
Continue along the seawall with the beach on your right. Go past the floor fountains and continue long the seawall, passing Sealife Adventure and the Mini Golf on your left. Continue along the sea wall a short distance and you will see two large concrete blocks built into the sea wall, directly opposite The Premier Inn hotel.
World War 2 Sea defences & Mulberry Harbour Caisson to Gasworks Pillbox: 100 feet, 1 minute, mostly even ground.
From the concrete blocks, cross the road carefully towards the Premier Inn. To the left of the Premier Inn at the exit of the Gasworks car park, you will see an old red brick wall which is an old coastal defence Pillbox.
Gasworks Pillbox to old fishermen’s cottages. 0.1 mile, 2 minutes, mostly even ground.
From the pillbox, continue back towards Southend. After a short distance you will see the old fishermen’s cottages on your right hand side.
Old fishermen’s cottages to The Kursaal: 0.2 miles, 4 minutes, mostly even ground.
From the fishermen’s cottages, continue on the path back towards Southend. Carefully cross Burdett Road and then Beach Road on your right and continue on until the corner where you will see the iconic Kursaal building on your right.
This brings us to the end of the trail!