Southbank Centre showcase for Southend
17th May 2011
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Sunny Southend is taking centre stage at an historic exhibition being staged at London’s Southbank Centre to mark the 60th anniversary of the Festival of Britain.

Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, in conjunction with Colette Bailey at METAL, was asked to contribute to the anniversary celebrations, which runs from April 22nd to September 4th.

The original 1951 exhibition, intended as a post-war celebration of the nation, was attended by a staggering eight million people.  The new celebration will see the Southbank Centre, which includes the Royal Festival Hall,  Queen Elizabeth Hall and the Hayward Gallery, transformed into four “lands”.  Inspired by the themes of the 1951 event, they are People of Britain, Land of Britain, Seaside and Power and Production.

And Southend’s contribution, which includes a floral exhibit entitled “A Great Day Out on Sea”, takes pride of place in the ‘Seaside’ category

The show garden aims to take visitors on a horticultural journey along the Southend seafront from its formal Victorian gardens to the historic cockling industry at Leigh-on-Sea.  The bright colours and sub-tropical plants popular with the Victorians provide a stark contrast to the native maritime plants found growing along the coastline.  The garden, which has been sprinkled with cockle shells, was lovingly created by the Council’s Parks Technical Team.  It features the wreck of an old wooden clinker boat which was recovered from the mud flats at Leigh.

The Council’s Museums Service has also loaned the exhibition scores of historic postcards and examples of 1950s swimwear to display throughout the festival.

Beach huts, pop-up structures and fairground rides are among the other attractions of the festival, which will also feature live performances.

Visitors will be able to go on a seaside holiday down by the Thames where a 70-metre-long urban beach has been created that will transform the Queen’s Walk.

They will also be able to browse through 14 artist-commissioned beach huts, one of which was designed and created by Southend-based comedian and broadcaster Phill Jupitus.

Also on display will be a section of the World’s longest line of bunting, a 9,000-flag creation made by Southend residents from recycled material which is entered in the Guinness Book of World Records. 

Southend-on-Sea Borough Council’s Corporate Director for Adult and Community Services, Simon Leftley, said: “We are delighted to have been asked to contribute a display for the 60th anniversary of this fantastic exhibition.

“From Victorian times to the present day Southend has been a popular destination for Londoners and those wanting to experience the Great British seaside.

“The festival showcases the British seaside to visitors from all over the world, giving them the opportunity to experience the wide range of history and culture that Southend has to offer.”


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Claire T

Member since: 10th July 2012

I am the very proud owner of thebestofsouthend. My aim is to really shout about why Southend is so great & champion our local business owners who do a really great job!
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