Plans to replace the ageing train system on the wold’s longest pleasure pier are continuing to progress, as the tender process is in full swing.
This summer has seen the launch of a tender to replace Southend’s pier railway trains after setting aside £3.25m in its 2019-20 budget. The tender is now in its last few weeks and the successful bid will be appointed in September.
The current diesel trains have been transporting thousands of visitors into the estuary since 1986, and at the time had a projected 20-year lifespan. Outstanding servicing has kept them going way beyond their expected life, but now it is time to replace them.
In February, the council approved an ambitious budget in which £18m was earmarked for pier improvements. Longer term plans include a new landmark visitor attraction on the site of the former bowling alley.
Recently, a new visitor entrance was officially opened and many damaged deck boards, sun shelters, hand rails and benches have been replaced.
Cllr Kevin Robinson, cabinet member for business, culture and tourism, said: “The trains are an important part of our town’s heritage and visitor offer, as well as making a trip to the end of the longest pier in the world accessible to all. This summer is a great time to experience the trains and visit the pier head.
“The current train system is now literally reaching the end of the line as replacement parts are obsolete and there are of course many improvements in technology.
“Replacing the trains represents just one part of a multi-million pound investment earmarked for bringing the jewel in the town’s crown back to glory and making it a fun, relevant and memorable experience for future generations of visitors.
“Very few specialist companies will be able to deliver these trains and there is a unique nature of the work along with kudos associated in working on such a major landmark.”
Bumper summer for Southend Pier
Following a series of record-breaking visitor numbers for Southend and good weather forecast throughout the school summer holidays, pier staff are preparing for a bumper summer.
Visitors can indulge in fresh fish and chips, following the long-awaited return of the popular dish earlier in the year. The ever-popular beach huts on the pier will be open throughout the summer, selling fish and chips, alcoholic and non-alcoholic refreshments, as well as various art exhibitions, music and the nine-hole mini-golf course
A few months after the sudden death of my husband, and an even fewer number of days before Christmas of that year, the “header tank” in my loft went. Technically, I am still not quite sure what this means. (But practically, it meant lots of water. And a lot of damage.)
Whilst my surviving possessions, including some lovely clothes, were packed off into storage, and I was collapsed in a sobbing heap on some rapidly deteriorating laminate
flooring, a close friend gave me some sage advice. “Don’t spend loads of money of clothes while yours are being stored. Go to Primark”.
“Go to Primark”…… I went, I saw, I shopped. And I am still shopping. Whenever my feet take
me south of the Fenchurch Street Line railway bridge, my legs carry me to Primark. And
once I am gazing into their shop windows, like a child outside a sweetshop, my hands are
already digging in my bag for my purse so that I can purchase something from….. Primark.
Why am I telling you this? Because we are now being asked to consider the effect that
constant purchases of cheap, “fast” fashion has on our environment. On the consequences
that updating our wardrobe has on climate change.
Well I have just one group to blame for this - Glossy magazines. Yes, that’s right. The same mags that subliminally encourage women to “improve themselves” and measure up to the Kardashians with enlargements, enhancements, reductions, fillers and at the very least a
new mascara, are the same magazines that convince us that we need black suede open-toe die-cut lace-up wedges (£3,500 at Gucci, £13.99 in Primark). Yes, for a fraction of the price we can - and do - buy into the expensive and unattainable dream that constantly assaults
So I will not apologise in advance for my next foray into Primark (which may well be tomorrow). Rather, I will attach the blame to those glossy magazines with their super-thin,
unbearably beautiful models, “price on application” clothes and home interiors that are so gorgeous they would make angels weep.
Anyway, must dash, I’ve just seen a copy of the Meghan Markle – edited “Vogue” which is
awaiting my urgent and earnest attention…….
A long time ago, during a previous role in a completely different lifetime, I came into daily
contact with a variety of council officers at many of the UK’s 408 Local Authorities and I made myself a promise that I would never work for such an organisation.
Council officers spend their days walking a tightrope that would make Charles Blondin baulk and after that, there is yet another tightrope, but veering off at a different angle at a completely different gradient. They need to satisfy residents, businesses, service providers,government regulations and statutory requirements. And then there’s the local councillors….after that they need to ensure that they satisfy each political party that is represented on that council at any one time.
Phew. A thankless task indeed, So they really don’t deserve the volley of criticism such as that recently levelled at Southend council officers with councillors resorting to the use of inflammatory narrative such as “dead wood” and “heads must roll”.
“Well done” to council leader Ian Gilbert for pointing out that there is an internal procedure to be followed and that councillors should not publically criticise officers.
Not only does use of such language undermine staff carrying out their daily operations on behalf of the Borough, but one’s idea of “dead wood” is another’s idea of a haven for wildlife.
Like most people, I was appalled to read that a Southchurch Park swan had been brutally mauled to death by an off-the-leash dog, which was then driven away in its owner’s car.
It’s not easy to bring down a swan. They are large, powerful and vicious.
They are also serene and beautiful….They have inspired art, poetry and music. They are owned by the Queen and protected by the Law of the Land.
But I was also shocked that there was no member of the public on hand to film this
horrendous act. Not that I would want to see it myself under any circumstances, but avid
phone-film producers always seem to be around at those opportune moments when there is a brawl outside a pub, or a suspect is being tasered by police, or basically anywhere where someone’s privacy needs to be invaded. Where were all these mobile cameramen when this innocent and noble creature was being savaged?
As local Green Party representative Simon Cross says, “I do hope they catch the moron”.For it is most certainly true – the world’s “human” beings are the morons and it is ourbeautiful, magnificent wildlife that suffers each time.
Record-breaking August for
"The Pier is Southend, Southend is the Pier" (Sir John Betjaman)
The World’s Longest Pier has welcomed more visitors than in any other August since records began in 2006, according to figures released by Southend Council.
Record temperatures for the August Bank Holiday, the annual puppet festival and the new entrance are all thought to have played their part in attracting 71,140 visitors on to the iconic Grade II listed structure which has been welcoming the public since 1887.
Pier admission figures show that nearly 15,000 people visited on the August Bank Holiday weekend alone.
Cllr Kevin Robinson, cabinet member for business, culture and tourism, said: “I am delighted to see yet another record-breaking month for Southend Pier visitor numbers. We are continuously looking at ways to improve the visitor offer to one of the town’s most popular visitor attractions”.
During this summer season, the management team amended their business focus by keeping the pier open later during the days, rather than earlier when fewer visitors are in the area, and they will again be hosting the popular Halloween ghost train events in
Cllr Robinson added, “The new pier entrance, which was officially opened in June this year, has gone down very well with visitors and residents alike. We are already having discussions about plans for the 2020 season”.
Not only a cultural and entertainment attraction, Southend Pier played its part in the second world war. Commandeered by the Royal Navy it was renamed HMS Leigh and served as a mustering point for nearly 3,500 convoys and as Naval Control for the whole Thames Estuary.