Southend Christmas Lights Switch-on – 14 November 2015

A day of entertainment throughout the High Street culminated in a Heart Essex organised concert building up to the town’s Christmas lights switch-on. Stars included X Factor’s Jahmene Douglas, Hollie Barrie from The Voice, David Robbins and Martin Ramsdin (The Ugly Sisters from the local Cinderella production), local artist Jessica Alice, and Heart’s ‘Martin & Su’. ‘Elsa’ from Frozen had the crowd singing everyone’s ‘favourite’ winter song! Southend’s Mayor Andrew Moring joined in for the official switch-on, following which a snow storm covered the crowd – already wet from the rain!

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With thanks to Heart Essex radio.

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Naked rollercoaster riders return to Southend – Adventure Island – 25 October 2015

In August 2010 the Guinness World Record for the number of people riding a rollercoaster naked was set at 102 in Southend. To celebrate their fifth anniversary a number returned to the Green Scream ride in the town’s Adventure Island in the early hours of Sunday morning to recreate the attempt, whilst also raising funds for charity. Although sunny, there was very little warmth in the air and the loudest scream of the day came when bare bottoms hit cold seats on the ride!

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Southend Shakedown – Bank Holiday Monday 6 April 2015

Whilst the rest of the UK enjoyed hot sunny weather a bank of heavy cloud covered the east coast, creating pretty grim conditions for the ‘Shakedown’. Seen as the first chance for many bikers to get out after the winter, groups gather at locations such as the Ace Cafe in London before heading for Southend seafront. The event attracts bikes and bikers of all shapes and sizes, as the following illustrates:

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‘Cathedrals Express’ from Southend to Bath – 7 March 2015

Seen here early in the morning running along the Thames Estuary coastline near Chalkwell station, Essex, is the ‘Cathedrals Express’ steam train during its journey from Southend to Bath and Bristol. The trip was initially hauled by this LNER B1 locomotive number 61306 ‘Mayflower’  to West London, at which point 34067 ‘Tangmere’  took over, taking the train onto Bath and Bristol. The B1s were designed as mixed traffic locomotives capable of hauling express passenger trains as well as freight traffic. As powerful, go anywhere engines, the B1s worked across most of the UK rail network from East Anglia to Scotland.

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61306 was built in 1948 by the North British Locomotive Company, as Works No. 26207. Though built to an LNER design, it was delivered after nationalisation to British Railways(BR).
Initially 61306 was allocated to Hull Botanic Gardens Depot (shed code 53B, Kingston upon Hull) until June 1959, when it was transferred to nearby Hull Dairycoates Depot (53A). There it remained until June 1967, when it was transferred to Low Moor Depot (56F, Bradford) before being withdrawn in September 1967. 61306 was privately purchased for preservation at Steamtown in Carnforth. There it was painted into the LNER Apple Green Livery and given the number 1306 and the name ‘Mayflower’. 1306 would have been its allocated running number had LNER not been nationalised (most ex-LNER BR numbers being the LNER 1946 numbers prefixed with a six). The name ‘Mayflower’ came from a scrapped BR-built Thompson B1, numbered 61379.
In 1978 1306 moved to the Great Central Railway in Leicestershire where it remained until 1989, when it was taken out of service for a ten-year overhaul. For this it was initially moved back to Hull Dairycoates but the sale of that site resulted in a move to the Nene Valley Railway. Finally in 2006 it moved to Boden Rail Engineering Ltd at Washwood Heath to undergo a full overhaul.
In 2014 61306 was sold by the Boden family to David Buck and is currently based at the North Norfolk Railway.
‘Mayflower’ is one of two preserved Thompson B1s, the other being LNER-built No. (6)1264

Southend Christmas Lights Switch On Event – 15 November 2014

The annual Christmas lights switch on event at Southend offered a day of music and entertainment throughout the town’s High Street, featuring X-Factor contestant Lydia Lucy, Britain’s Got Talent’s Sweet Chix and Youth Creation, plus performances from local talents Jessica Alice, The Avenue and Matt Linnen, amongst others. Local-born star of stage and screen Lee Mead, Lydia Lucy and Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman and the Snowdog joined Southend’s Mayor and Heart’s Martin and Su to switch on the lights at 6pm. Southend’s Victoria Circus and High Street were packed for the event.

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