A nice lunch, but is that enough to save Southend Pier?

10:39 Leila Gunn 5 Comments

Another half day at school, another lunch out... lucky me! Yesterday, my auntie, mother and I finally decided to take the trip to the end of Southend Pier, in the blazing hot sunshine this time, making the 1.34 mile trek home a lot more pleasant!

I love the pier, it just is Southend-on-Sea, and too right. It's the longest pleasure pier in the world and our claim to fame. But unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be enough anymore...

We may have been a little lazy and taken the tram up to the end....

In 2012, Southend Council finally decided to revitalise the pier, after realising that something needed to be done to make it more of an attraction for those other than fishermen. So, they introduced 'The Royal Pavillion' café.

We had a nice lunch there, but the service left a lot to be desired... There's not a massive menu - but there is a massive array of jacket potatoes and toasties! We had a brie and cranberry panini, a ham and cheese panini and toastie, a sausage roll and a iced Danish pastry. However, I was slightly surprised that they couldn't make an egg mayo sandwich (they didn't have eggs or mayo.) We also couldn't have one of their scones with jam and cream, which looked delicious (they didn't have any cream.) I can't understand why some restaurants and cafes are unable to make meals on their menu because they've run out of some of the ingredients. How difficult is it to for somebody to pop to the shop? Nevertheless, I did enjoy eating at 'The Royal Pavillion', however I think that's mainly down to the beautiful location... the views out in the 'middle of the sea' are truly stunning.

Some locals argue that the Pier is a waste of the taxpayers' money which is used to maintain it (recent reports on the Echo website suggest the pier is running at a defecit of £1 million/year). Perhaps they wouldn't feel that way, if they didn't have to pay extra just to set foot on it! The cost at £4.20 for a return tram ticket may not be extortionate, but I think the majority of local people aren't keen on spending more money on an 'attraction' they are already paying for. And the entry fee isn't the only inconvenience, a few years ago, Southend Coucil banned dogwalking along the Pier, which as you can imagine isn't a popular decision amongst many members of the public.

So I can see why some locals may be slightly bitter towards the Pier, but perhaps they would soften a little if there was something worth seeing at the end of it? What is the 'attraction' of this attraction? Last year there was a glimmer of hope for Southend Pier, when Jamie and Jimmy set up a pop-up restaurant to film their Channel 4 series 'Jamie and Jimmy's Friday night feast.' The series drove publicity and the public towards Southend Pier, with people far and wide applying for tickets to eat food cooked by the world-renowned chef. A second series was filmed in January of this year. However when the series ended, and the pop-up restaurant converted into just an ice-cream shop, the hype died down, and that glimmer of hope for Southend Pier vanished somewhat.

I have read many reviews on TripAdvisor, where people have compared Southend Pier to that of Brighton or Bournemouth. I personally don't wish for the Pier to become an amusement park - we already have one of those! The pier does appear to be popular with tourists coming down to Southend for the day, however, I do agree that something needs to be done entertainment-wise at the end of it. Although 'The Royal Pavillion' is nice, I just worry it's not enough to keep people coming back. The pier needs to generate money, and attract more locals simultaneously - the people who are most likely to use it on a regular basis.


  1. Amazing pictures! Love this post,it's super nice!
    xoxo Antonella

  2. I used to live in Kent and I remember the local news always being full of stories about how difficult it was to regenerate Margate. They built a fancy new art gallery which we visited, but sadly the rest of the town still looked quite run down. I think this is such a problem for so many British coastal towns - it's hard for them to attract visitors when there are such cheap flights abroad to places where the weather is more reliable! I didn't know Southend had the longest pier in the world, that's so cool. But it does seem it deserves more at the end of it that a cafe that's just OK! Really interesting post. x

    Kate Louise Blogs

    1. Hi Kate, I agree with you completely. It is really difficult to regenerate/rebrand in a way that appeals to everybody. I just think that with Southend being so close to major cities such as London, it would be great to create something on the Pier which would attract day-trippers from the city. It's never going to be amusement-orientated - I'm not sure that would go down too well with the locals either! But you're right, it definitely deserves more than its got at present...


  3. oh wow, just come across your blog and didn't expect to read this! I'm from benfleet, nearby Southend! I haven't visited the pier in such a long time but thats due to nothing interesting me which is so sad :( xx