Plan to bring back Southend seafront illuminations

Southend could soon see a return of its once iconic seafront illuminations to light up the autumn and winter skies.

The council is planning the LuminoCity of Festival of Light but on top of that wants a return of the illuminations which graced the seafront from the 1930s until 2007.

Plans are being drawn up to provide an energy efficient display of lights along the seafront from the cliff lift to the Kursaal from autumn and through the darker nights of the winter.

Cllr Ian Gilbert, leader of the council, said: “We are continuing to progress with plans to bring back seafront illuminations. That’s not the same thing as the LuminoCity event being planned for February.

“This is seafront illuminations for later on in the year hopefully on an annual basis.

“We’d be looking at the autumn time. The aim of these things is trying to extend the season and we’ve got a programme of activity to draw people into the town all year round.

“I would imagine the illuminations would be from the autumn period rather than something that would stay on all the time.”

A business case is currently being drawn up so the cost is not clear at this stage but green technology will be part of the plan.

The illuminations once saw thousands of people descend on the seafront for the big lights switch on every year.

Joan Tiney, Southend Seafront Traders’ Association chairman and owner of the Borough Hotel in Marine Parade said: “This will definitely help the seafront traders.

“I’ve been on the committee looking into this. We were looking at what we could do to extend the season and I suggested bringing the illuminations back.

“The problem is they increasing the parking charges from 6pm to 9pm so what they give with one hand they take away with the other.

“We have had the pub since 1983 and people come from all over. Not one of them says they come down for the High Street. It’s the seafront they come for.”

Seafront Trader Paul Thompson added: “I’m looking forward to this happening and it will be fantastic for the town.

“Well done to Cllr Carole Mulroney for recognising this opportunity to attract visitors and drive forward the town’s economy post COVID.”

The lights in 1950

Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter