Southend Pier Information

Southend Pier Information

Our look at Southend Pier – How to visit, and what’s in store for the pier’s future


Ask anyone who’s heard of Southend to name one thing associated with the town, and chances are, it’ll be Southend’s long pier.

At one and a third miles, Southend’s most famous landmark is the world’s longest pleasure pier. The original opening was back in 1830, and in 1890 the first electric trains started running the length of the pier.

The Pier at Southend-on-SeaSouthend Pier’s had more than its fair share of bad luck in recent years:

  • 1959 – On the 7th of October, fire destroyed land-end pavilion, which was subsequently replaced by a bowling alley some years later
  • 1976 – Fire at the pier-head on the 29th July destroyed much of the end of the pier
  • 1986 – A tanker, the MV Kingsabbey, crashed into the pier on the 20th of June, creating a 70 foot gap
  • 1995 – On the 7th of June, another fire at the pier, this time at the land-end, destroyed the bowling alley
  • 2005 – Another fire at the pier-head, destroyed the station and pub on 9th October
  • 2011 – Pier closed after being struck by a construction barge in high winds in September

The investigation into 2005’s fire reveals a catalogue of errors, and with the cost of restoring the pier head, plus the costs of improved fire protection equipment, the future of our pier is unclear.


The Pier Today

The pier is open for business. The walkway is open, and trains are running. Trains run every 30minutes (at peak times, every 15 minutes).

Since the 2005 fire, there’s much less to see at the end of the pier. At the sea-end, there’s the RNLI gift shop, temporary toilets, and you can buy light snacks. Later on this page, details of the plans to renovate the pier.

Southend Pier May 2010
Southend Pier Head 2010

Visiting Southend Pier:

  • If you’re thinking of coming to Southend to visit the pier, see our Visiting Southend page for some useful links.
  • Need the Pier’s postcode for your Sat Nav? The Pier has a museum at the land end. The postal address is: Southend Pier (Shore End),
    Marine Parade,
    Southend-on-Sea, Essex
    SS1 1EE



Photos of Southend Pier:

Pier train

The walk back

Damage after the 2005 fire

Southend Pier side view


Next steps for the pier

After years of Southend Council’s deliberation, we now have some clarity on the plans for Southend Pier.

In March 2010, Southend’s council confirmed that the go-ahead has been given. The sea-end is to be strengthened and extended to allow building of a pavilion. This will contain a restaurant or a café, and could be used for performances, conferences and possibly even weddings.

It’s expected that the work will be completed in 2012, but we have no firm dates for start or completion of work.

Your vote: What should be done with the Pier?

Let the council repair & run it

Make it a commercial concern

Nothing – let it decline

Demolish it

Don’t know / don’t care

View result without voting


Other ideas for the future

Many locals may remember a plan to revamp the pier – involving a rollercoaster called The Swine. The plan was put together by a local businessman, and would have meant that the pier would become a commercial concern, instead of being looked after by the council

The plan, however, was rejected, and the council has been looking after the pier ever since. Recently, they’ve replaced the old bridge with a new steel-and-glass construction, and installed a glass lift (currently out of order).

On 23 June 2006, a  notice appeared in the Evening Echo announcing a planning request to develop on the land to the east of the pier (referred to as ‘South Station’). The company behind this, is Epic World Leisure, and from looking at their website, they proposed to pump  £45 million into the re-development of the pier. This would have included major redevelopment of the Pier, including new buildings at the Pier entrance and Pier Head, replacement of the trains with new air-conditioned stock, and the installation of tourist attractions including a rollercoaster. If the bid were to have been accepted by the Council, the Company will invest some £45 million pounds in the project to make the Town and the Pier a major tourist attraction for the south-east of England.

Exclusive interview with Epic World Leisure.

Hear our exclusive interview with the Chairman of Epic World Leisure, where we quizzed him about the plans for revitalising our pier. Plans for Southend Pier

The Perspex Life Lines Art Thing

In 2006, the council has installed a perspex ‘thing’ on Pier Hill. Difficult to know how to describe it – it’s obviously intended to be ‘art’, and the coloured lights appear to represent audio waveforms.

Pier Hill Thing

As of June 2006, this ‘thing’ has already been scratched and scrawled on by the locals, and now has condensation stuck between the perspex layers – it’s only a matter of time before the flashing lights stop flashing, and it gets covered in graffiti and posters, even though it has two CCTV cameras trained on it.

We were keen to find out whether anyone actually liked, or wanted, this ‘thing’ blocking the view of the pier from the land. A good use of council funds? We ran an online vote between 2006 and 2011. Here were the results:

Southend Perspex Thing - Votes

The Perspex Life Lines “Thing” was finally removed in March 2011, at a cost of £20,000


Got anything else to say about Southend? Please visit our Southend-on-Sea forum


Other Southend Pier links:

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One Comment

  1. Rally 27 September 2016 Reply

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