Southend is one of the most happening towns outside of London and is the artistic and cultural hub of the South East. As a key centre of the Thames Gateway, the town is alive with opportunity and potential.
There’s a strong community of artists in the town with regular art shows and exhibitions. Leigh Art Trail, the Beecroft and the Focal Point Gallery offer a diverse range of photographic and art exhibitions with regular visits from international artists.
The College even offers its own in-house art gallery on campus and also works with Metal, an arts organisation which commissions arts projects about issues affecting people’s lives, such as urban regeneration, economic sustainability and environmental change. For more, visit www.metalculture.com.
Southend’s major theatres, the Cliffs Pavilion and the Palace Theatre, attract West End touring productions, international classical concerts, ballet and opera, drama, jazz and the biggest names in comedy.
You can also catch theatrical productions at the newly renovated Clifftown Theatre in Southend, which offers productions by students of the East 15 Acting School, part of the University of Essex.
Southend is host to a thriving alternative music scene bursting with home-grown talent (Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly, The Horrors, These New Puritans) as well as attracting the likes of Oasis, Pearl Jam, The Charlatans and the Manic Street Preachers. A variety of venues in the town ensures a selection of live music for all tastes.
The College’s very own Southend Festival spans the whole of June and showcases the freshest local talent by artists and performers across art, music, film, literature and the performing arts. The Leigh Folk Festival now attracts world-renowned artists and Rochford’s Shoplands Music Festival provides a stage for the crème de la crème of local musicians. In September, Chalkwell Park plays host to the Village Green Festival, which offers a variety of music, comedy and arts events.
Other local festivals worth checking out:
- Horror-on-Sea (January)
- Southend Film Festival (April)
- Southend Festival of the Air (May)
- Village Green (June)
- Thurrock Festival (July)
Southend has proven itself to be a fertile breeding ground for comedy with the likes of Phill Jupitus, Russell Kane and Lee Evans all hailing from the area. Fans of live comedy can find belly laughs at several popular venues in and around the town, and the biggest names always include Southend on their tours including Jimmy Carr, Alan Carr and The Mighty Boosh.
Southend by day
With seven miles of award-winning Blue Flag beaches, comprehensive transport links, as well as a significantly lower cost of living than London, Southend is the ideal place to live, work and study.
Great transport links
A comprehensive public transport system serves Southend and the surrounding areas. With bus and train services available, including nine rail stations in the borough that lead directly to London, getting around is a breeze.
A shopper’s paradise
With our campus right beside Southend’s bustling High Street you’re never far from shops and services, many of which offer discounts to students. Nearby you have Basildon’s Eastgate Shopping Centre while slightly further afield, London shopping is less than an hour away by train, as are Bluewater, Lakeside and Westfield Stratford City, three of the biggest shopping centres in Europe.
Sport and leisure
A full range of sports and leisure facilities are available throughout the borough. Southend is home to Southend United Football Club and you can watch live league games at Roots Hall, the Shrimpers’ stadium near Priory Park. Essex Pirates Basketball team are now based in Southend and Essex County Cricket Club play their home games in nearby Chelmsford. Southend also has its own rugby team, based at Temple Farm.
Being a coastal town windsurfing, sailing and kitesurfing are popular local pastimes, with speedboat racing and a sailing regatta also taking place each year. Hiking fans will enjoy country walks around the picturesque Hadleigh Downs and the mountain bike track created for the London 2012 Olympics offers a challenging off-road course.
A cycle-friendly town
Southend is set to become one of Britain’s top cycling towns. With significant investment from Government, Southend Borough Council and its partners are in the process of making Southend more cycle-friendly with dedicated bike lanes for cyclists.
Parks, gardens and history
Southend offers many lavish parks and gardens, offering everything from wonderful estuary views, beautiful floral displays, riding stables and woodland. It is also a town steeped in history, with a 11th century castle, an ancient priory and churches mentioned in the Domesday Book. You can find out about the recently excavated Saxon King at Priory Park and Central Museum.
Southend by night
With the growth of Southend as a university town, the town offers a huge variety of entertainment options for all tastes and interests, from restaurants, pubs and clubs to cafés and theatres.
A world of cuisine
With around 300 places to eat in the borough, from large chains to independent family-run restaurants, Southend offers a choice of global cuisine, with French, Spanish, Indian, Italian, Chinese, Greek, Portuguese, Mexican, British, American, Polish, Japanese and Thai delights on offer. The Arches seafront pavement cafés are popular destinations for breakfast and lunch, whilst the Pipe of Port and Tomassi’s are local favourites.
A short train ride from the College you will find yourself in the chic surroundings of Leigh-on-Sea. Here you can try the Sand Bar, or for the more lavish, The Boat Yard, which offers fine sea views. Also worth visiting are The Dining Room and The Sandbank on London Road, Rossi’s ice cream parlour and Oldham’s fish and chip shop in Westcliff.
There’s no shortage of pubs in and around the Southend area. In addition to the student-only venue, The Union (see Page 24), central Southend offers everything from familiar chain pubs such as The Slug and Lettuce and Wetherspoon to the tucked away pleasures of Clarence Yard and The Mews. Meanwhile, three stops on the train will take you to Leigh-on-Sea, with its fashionable bars and nightlife, while the historic fishing village of Old Leigh offers a mix of old and new with traditional quayside pubs and wine bars.
A variety of lively clubs are scattered across town offering everything from ambient, garage and trance, to rock, metal and grunge. The famous TALK nightclub close to the seafront has long been a popular destination for dancers. Mansion and Mayhem offer hard house, trance and a whole host of other club nights, and all the clubs are within walking distance. More alternative nights take place at The Alex, Chinnery’s, The Sunrooms and The Railway Hotel, all of which are in close proximity to one another.