What you need to know about the new city of Southend

Southend is set to be given upgrade as tribute to local MP Sir David Amess

The Queen has agreed that Southend will be given city status after the death of campaigning local MP Sir David Amess.

Here are some facts about the area:

It has the world’s longest pleasure pier

In 1829 the foundation stone of the first section of the pier was laid and, by the following year, a 180-metre wooden pier was opened.

By 1848, it was the longest pier in Europe, at 2,133 metres, and today boasts of being the world’s longest pleasure pier at 2.15 kilometres, its official website says.

There have been a number of fires over the years causing damage to the structure that juts into the Thames Estuary, with the most recent in October 2005.

A narrow-gauge railway runs for 2km along the pier, with tickets available for one-way or return journeys.

In 2009, a new station platform and office was officially opened, and in 2012 a new cultural centre was lifted on to the structure.

It once had the only five-star hotel on the south-east coast

The Palace Hotel, originally named the Metropole, was built in 1901.

It had 200 bedrooms, a billiard room and a ballroom and, according to Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, during the First World War it was temporarily converted into Queen Mary’s Royal Naval Hospital.

It is twinned with a town in Poland

In 1999, Sopot officially became the twin town of Southend-on-Sea.

Sopot, on the Baltic coast, has previously been called Poland’s Riviera, with its hotels, beaches, pubs and restaurants making it a popular spot for holidaymakers.

It follows an Essex neighbour in becoming a city

The last time the UK cities list was expanded was in 2012, when Chelmsford in Essex, Perth in Scotland and St Asaph in Denbighshire were awarded the right to call themselves cities after the Diamond Jubilee Civic Honours competition.

There are 69 official cities in the UK: 51 in England; six in Wales; seven in Scotland; and five in Northern Ireland.

It has links to some famous faces

Dame Helen Mirren was born in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, and in her youth once worked at the Kursaal amusement park in Southend.

Archbishop of York the Most Rev Stephen Cottrell is from Leigh-on-Sea and grew up in Southend.

Former UK number 1 tennis player John Lloyd attended Southend High School for Boys.

Game Of Thrones actress Nathalie Emmanuel, who played Missandei in the HBO fantasy series, grew up in Southend where she attended Westcliff High School for Girls.

Southend pier has featured as the location for Channel Four cooking show Jamie and Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast, hosted by chef Jamie Oliver.

Countdown star Rachel Riley paid tribute to Sir David Amess for helping to support her mother’s local charity work, and tweeted that Southend being made a city was a “very fitting” tribute to the late MP.

Updated: October 19th 2021, 10:06 AM
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