What’s going for it? I once saw a bronzed, elderly lady in a thong karaoking at 6pm on the prom at Southend. On a Tuesday! Here, I thought, was a town that knows how to have a good time. Brighton, despite its seediness, always had airs and graces. Still does. You won’t, though, find a more grounded seaside resort than Southend. It has its posh side, and these days it’s made the inevitable attempt to gentrify itself with arts festivals and the like. But only Leigh-on-Sea has really fallen to the Cath Kidstons. Southend is red in tooth and claw. Turn the corner into Shoeburyness and Essex’s vast skies meld with mudflats and wetlands to make the most ethereal, peaceful landscape imaginable. While faded, like most resorts, Southend has never lost the fight, unlike most resorts. It’s still alive. That thong lady had it figured.
The case against If you’re averse to bronzed, elderly ladies karaoking, this probably isn’t the place for you. Avoid all that by sticking to the Thorpe Bay/Shoeburyness end of things. The beach can be more sludge than sand when the tide’s out, though it’s as clean as a whistle.
Well connected? Very. You have your pick of dual carriageways to zip you through Essex. And the train service is good: around an hour to London from Southend East or Victoria, five to seven trains an hour.
Schools Among primaries, St Mary’s Prittlewell CofE and Sacred Heart Catholic are “good” with some “outstanding” features, with Bournes Green Junior, Temple Sutton Primary and Milton Hall “outstanding”. Secondaries: Shoeburyness High and The Eastwood are “good”, St Bernard’s High “outstanding”.
Hang out at… Rossi’s ice-cream parlour. Knickerbocker for me, please.
Where to buy Mostly very affordable for the south-east. Huge Edwardian semis for £250,000. Unattainable only in the poshest end of Thorpe Bay. Look at nearby Southchurch “village” for big Edwardian town houses, Kilworth estate, Clifftown conservation area, Westcliff-on-sea, Milford estate, and the Southend conservation area for nice Victorian semis and terraces.
Market values Huge detacheds, £500,000-£800,000 and up to £1m. Detacheds, £170,000-£500,000. Semis and town houses, £160,000-£415,000. Terraces £140,000-£300,000. Flats from £60,000 for a studio, up to £215,000.
Bargain of the week Five-bed end of terrace, currently two flats, in the Clifftown Conservation Area. £340,000, with Sorrell.
From the streets
Holly Edwards “Rossi’s ice-cream is a local institution. My nan wouldn’t eat any other. True blue Tory stronghold, so it can be hard to find a Guardian…”
Nathan Coyne “People joke about Shoeburyness on the train from Fenchurch Street, but they have clearly never been farther than the station. It’s got beaches and coastal walks with views over the estuary. Properties in Shoebury Garrison would cost millions closer to London.”
John Cheek “East Beach is lovely, where the Thames Estuary meets the North Sea.”
Taken from the Guardian