Site last updated  29.05.2022                                                                     Contact email

Chapters for this section:-                                                           








I was born in Rochford Hospital on 16th January 1948 and, aged 3, moved with my parents to a “temporary” Council property known as a “PREFAB” in Sherbourne Gardens, at the airport end of Manners Way. My sister arrived in 1955 and by 1962 the 2 bedroom prefab was too small and we moved to another Council house in Bridgwater Drive, Westcliff, near Kent Elms Corner. 10 years later in March 1972 we moved again to a new Council house which had been built on the old “prefab” sites in  Manners Way and I witnessed our old “temporary” Sherbourne Gardens dwelling finally demolished a few weeks later.


I was educated at Prince Avenue Junior School and Southend High School for Boys and spent 40 years working in the City of London , Colchester and Laindon in various aspects of the shipping industry. My wife Christine and I met at Christmas 1970 and we married at St.Marys Church, Prittlewell on 9th September1972. Both of our sets of parents had also married at St.Marys , mine in 1944 and Chris’s in 1949.


We have lived in Windsor Road, Westcliff; Stanway Colchester, Bletchley Bucks.,Teigngrace, Shoebury; Marlborough Road, Southchurch and St. Augustine’s Avenue, Thorpe Bay so far during our married life. We have 2 sons, Paul born in 1976 and Neil born in 1980. My ancestors have been in this area since at least the late 1700’s and Chris’s since the late  1800’s.


I am not an historian but have, for as long as I can remember , been fascinated by the Great War and in particular the town of Ypres.The Great War was not on my GCE curriculum but I owe a debt of gratitude to my History master at Southend High School for Boys , Mr. J .B. Moore, for firing my interest in history with his descriptive lessons. It may also have been that comics depicting the war (War Picture Library etc) had fitted neatly inside my history text books.


During a recent holiday I read a book by the T.V.presenter Neil Oliver. It concerned selected  Great War Memorials in the UK and the history they unfolded during his research.He was searching for the  21st century definition of “Remembrance”. His book galvanised me to undertake a specific research into my own local  Great War Memorials and any stories I could unearth from the bare lists of names  thereon.


My childhood had not been inundated with relatives’ war stories. My father , an R.A.F.2nd World War Bomber Command radio operator/navigator/gunner had never spoken about his experiences.  I had grown up in the belief (wrongly as it transpired) that both my Grandfathers had not fought in the 1914-1918 campaigns. My paternal grandfather having been medically unfit and my maternal grandfather having been too young. I discovered, however, that my maternal grandfather had enlisted in 1917 and was posted to Dublin to assist with the then “Irish Problem”. I had always promised myself that upon my retirement I would undertake research into my family history and I began my task in early 2006. Immediately I discovered that  3 “Eighteens” had perished in the Great War and their C.W.G.C. Headstones were located in Wimereux France, Vimy France and Hadleigh , Suffolk.  In March 2006 my wife and I had already arranged a long week-end to Belgium to tour the Ypres area. Shortly  before our departure, in the course of my  family history research , I obtained a copy of my maternal Grandfather’s service record and , despite there only being the Wiltshire Regiment engraved on his Great War service medal, his service records included details of an attachment to the Gloucestershire Regiment. Family history research regularly throws up surprises and subsequent contact with the Regimental records offices unearthed that my maternal Grandfather had served in Europe in late 1917 and then been seconded to the Gloucester’s for service in Dublin , where he stayed until the end of 1918. I asked my mum if she was aware that her father had served in Europe as indicated on his service records and after some thought she recalled that he had often joked that his teeth were always black because there was no  time to clean them in the trenches . My mum and her sister always thought it was just his  little joke.


I searched the Internet and found his Regiment’s Diaries and entered dates from 1.10.1917 to 31.12.1917 and discovered  that they had been sent to Ypres for the battle in 1917 (Passchendale). I was able to trace the daily overnight movements from the French coast to Belgium , the subsequent deployment in the trenches ,the relief for rest  + recuperation  and return to Calais. Once there the regiment was split - the bulk being shipped to Mesopotamia (Egypt) and the remainder being posted to Dublin.


My paternal Grandfather had enlisted , with his brother, in the Artillery but under the surname “Eaton”. His brother’s side of the family retained the surname “Eaton” but my Grandfather changed his surname back to his “Eighteen” birth name  in the 1920’s. My longstanding ambition of visiting Ypres and Flanders, which was now less than 1 week after discovering all this family history ,  took  an extremely emotional turn. My wife and I were able to travel  the route which my maternal Grandfather’s Regiment had taken; see the places where they had been billeted and visit the trench sites where they had fought. We also attended the Menin Gate Service which is still held daily at 20.00 and visited Tyne Cot Memorial + Cemetery. Subsequently we have visited Memorials in northern France having discovered ancestors on my wife’s side who were lost in the Great War.


It is my belief that all 16 year olds should experience a compulsory school outing, included in their time-table, to Ypres,Tyne Cot, Arras + Thiepval. The vastness of the areas covered by military headstones could not fail to stir their emotions. Many headstones around Ypres  bore both the crest of my Grandfather’s Gloucestershire Regiment and a recurring 1917 date of death inscribed thereon  which  matched with the records of the 3rd Battle of Ypres – also referred to as Passchendale.


So many had perished  and, despite having no knowledge of these long lost young men, I stood there totally overcome. Tears flowed freely down my face as I wondered if my Grandfather had known or fought alongside any of them. Had they marched to the front together, singing and whistling, sharing cigarettes and jokes? As my research uncovered records of the deaths of Southend men, who were either buried or commemorated in the Ypres area, I again wondered if my Grandfather had known them and fought alongside them. There are several members of the Wiltshire and Gloucestershire  Regiments, my Grandfather’s Regiments,  engraved on the Menin Gate, Thiepval and Tyne Cot Memorials.


Additionally, due to being given the incorrect age of my Paternal Grandfather on his death, I believed that he too had not fought in the war. Thanks to my cousin David, who corrected my information, I then discovered that he had served  in the Royal Field Artillery. Having been born in Lexden, Colchester, the 7th child of 10 he had spent his childhood in Sudbury, Suffolk. He then followed  an elder brother, who lived in  Great Wakering, to this area and they both enlisted together at Shoebury Garrison. Having now discovered that I had a direct link to The Great War, through both of my parents’ families, I decided to record as much information as I could find, in a manner that might assist anyone researching their ancestors from this area and my project was now defined. I would try and collect all the previously published statistics, The Rolls of Honour, Great War Memorial Inscriptions, Church Memorials and anything else I could unearth about my home town area and the Great War. I restricted my area of search to those places I had frequented as a lad. All areas encompassed by Ashingdon and Pagelsham to the north , westerly to Hockley and Leigh and easterly to Barling ,Wakering, Foulness + Shoebury.


News bulletins today are full of “shock + horror” at the news of casualties in overseas incidents.Headlines are made of "105 military personnel have died in 5 years of war .” Also “60 military personnel killed in Afghanistan in 10 years“ etc. Whilst every death is a sad and poignant moment, take time to digest that on 1.7.1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme, there were……………………………

58,000 British casualties alone (19,300 killed).


Tactics applied since the 1800’s were  no match against heavily defended positions. The old adage of striking at your opponent’s strongest point to overwhelm him and effect a “breakthrough” was continually adopted  by both sides. Men were cut to ribbons by machine guns firing multi-rounds per minute. The “charge” of infantry and cavalry had been employed for years against guns which were manually re-loaded after firing.The advance of technology had not altered the attitudes shown by tacticians towards their battle-plans. Consequently the men born between 1875 and 1900 were cut down like corn harvests on the battlefields of the Great War.


Having originally embarked on a personal  journey to establish my family’s genealogical tree, I was now avidly devouring all the books I could find on the Great War. Now, in the 21st Century, we cannot  comprehend that the incident of an Austrian Archduke being assassinated in Sarajevo would cause a major “Balkan Incident” and that within weeks a multi-nation conflagration would sweep the world from Africa to Asia and from the Middle East to Western Europe, consuming the lives of millions of young men.


I do not want to be judgemental or critical but merely to record the information found. I believe that we must not apply the morals and political judgements of today to circumstances which were unique one hundred years ago. The hierarchy of the early 20th Century applied solutions to problems which they thought were in their own best  interests. I sought information relative to the names which appear on the Rolls of Honour and Memorials dedicated to those who did not return. Having visited Ypres and Flanders I appreciate how lucky I am to be here.


Image description

My Grandfathers returned…………………….


I began my project in early 2007 by locating the Southend Roll of Honour to those who fell in the Great War 1914-1918, which was hanging on an internal wall of the refectory in the Museum at Priory Park, Southend. Having copied all the names I set about finding information about them. Despite much research there are many about whom nothing, or very little, is recorded but there are others about whom I have gleaned a lot. It may be that the Roll of Honour includes names of men  who had only been stationed or billeted in the area and were not indigenous.The C.W.G.C. also advised me that as Memorials  were funded by public subscription there are cases where names have been included on Great War Memorials when, in fact, the person included had not actually died in the conflict but had merely died during the war years. I find this rather sad and  denigrating to those who made the supreme sacrifice. During my research I have also found information relative to men from the town who fell in battle but who do not appear on the Roll of Honour. I have listed these as “Missing from Roll of Honour”. I have attempted to encapsulate the effect of the declaration of War on the people of  Southend + District. I have visited all the listed Great War Memorials in the  area together with any churches and other buildings known to contain relevant Memorials. Additionally I have researched the local newspapers of the time and the Southend Borough Council Minutes which are available in Southend Public Library. To the best of my belief the information contained is accurate and I am grateful for the assistance and patience of my wife, Christine, and all the help and information given to me by ordinary members of the public with whom I have struck up conversations whilst visiting Memorials, churches and libraries. My particular thanks go to the employees of Southend Library and the Southend Council officials employed at the Cemetery offices in Sutton Road  without whose help and guidance I would have floundered at times. 

Where different records of the same event/person show more than one spelling/date/age I have included the alternatives in brackets. To search individual names/places etc use 'Ctrl F' to produce the 'Search Box' and then enter the information sought. Please bear in mind that some records have different spellings on different Memorials etc. which may hamper the search for an individual surname.


I apologise should any information herein subsequently prove to be inaccurate.


I am indebted to the website “ 2002” for the initial information assembled and for the hard work put in by it’s creators Martin Edwards & Andrew Pay. I am also indebted to the information  freely provided by  the Imperial War Museum and Commonwealth War Graves Commission. (Referred to herein as C.W.G.C.) Any reader who needs information on Memorials or Grave sites’ locations can find full directions on their web site. I recommend two books for those who are interested in the Great War. In Southend Library is a book by Jeffrey Jarvis, “Roll of Honour to the Men of Southend + District 1914-1919” and the other is in Rayleigh Library, “Roll of Honour to the Men of Southend-on-Sea and District who gave their lives for King + Country in the Great War 1914-1918” by John H.Burrows. This second book is in the Reference Section  only and is not loaned out.


Michael Eighteen


LEST WE FORGET…………………………….

Southend Cenotaph

Image description


As reported in the “Daily Mirror”  on Tuesday 4th August 1914 the Declaration of War  was as follows:-


Mr. Asquith’s Statement

In a strained silence in every part of the House of Commons yesterday,  the Prime Minister made his momentous statement. He explained how the King of the Belgians had appealed to England for diplomatic intervention on behalf of his country – Germany having demanded free passage for her troops through Belgium, promising to maintain the integrity and independence of the kingdom. "Simultaneously" continued Mr .Asquith "we received from the Belgian Legation in London the following telegram from the Belgian Minister for Foreign Affairs:"The General Staff announce that territory has been violated at Verviers, near Aix-la-Chapelle. Subsequent information tends to show that a German force has penetrated still further into Belgian territory'."


"We also received this morning from the German Ambassador here a telegram sent to him from the German Foreign Secretary": 'Please dispel any distrust that must exist on the part of the British Government with regard to our intentions by repeating, most positively, the formal assurance that, even in case of armed conflict with Belgium, Germany will not, under any pretence whatever, annex Belgian territory. Please impress upon Sir Edward Grey that the German Army could not be exposed to a French attack across Belgium, which was planned according to absolute unimpeachable information.'


"I have", continued Mr .Asquith "to add this on behalf of the Government :we cannot regard this as in any sense a satisfactory communication.We have, in reply to it, repeated the request we made last week to the German Government that they should give us  the same assurance with regard to Belgian neutrality as was given to us and to Belgium by France last week. We have asked that a reply to that request and a satisfactory answer to the telegram of this morning  which I have read to the House should be given before mid-night"


The failure of Germany to comply with the midnight deadline resulted in Britain declaring war.


The startling fact was that it had only taken 8 weeks, from the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria, for the whole of Europe plus the Far East to be embroiled in war and for the United States of America to proclaim its neutrality. A further 10 weeks passed before the Ottoman Empire joined the fray and total World War was guaranteed.


The chronological list of  events was as follows:-


Sunday   June 26th 1914              

Archduke Ferdinand of Austria assassinated in Sarajevo

Tuesday July 28th 1914               

Austria declares war against Serbia

Friday 31st July 1914                  

Jean Jaures  (Leader of French Socialist Party advocating peace with Germany) is assassinated

Saturday August 1st 1914           

Germany declares war on Russia (Who had declared solidarity with Serbia)

Monday 3rd August 1914            

Germany declares war against France and Belgium + Germany invades Belgium.

Tuesday 4th August 1914            

Great Britain declares war on Germany

Wednesday 5th August 1914       

Austria declares war on Russia

Thursday 6th August 1914           

Serbia declares war on Germany

Tuesday 11th August 1914          

France declares war on Austria

Thursday 13th August 1914        

Great Britain declares war on Austria

Sunday 23rd August 1914           

Japan declares war on Germany

Saturday 5th September 1914     

United States of America proclaims neutrality

Monday 2nd November 1914      

The Ottoman Empire declares war on France, Russia + Great Britain.



It is important to note that Germany never actually declared war on Great Britain – a fact that Germany used in its defence in the Armistice talks in 1919.They took the position of having been the non-aggressor and accused Great Britain of being at fault by becoming embroiled in a mainland war not directly involving them .An interesting defence, but it was summarily dismissed by the Allies. As in all wars the perceived victor dictates terms to the vanquished. Germany always disputed the Allies claim that they had been defeated and this assisted Adolf Hitler, during the 1930’s, who campaigned for the return of  all the lands  “wrongfully” taken from Germany by the Allies at the end of the Great War.


From today’s perspective it is perhaps worth noting the stance of the United States who maintained their neutrality for so long, as it did for a shorter period during the 2nd World War . This is in sharp contrast to its policy today of “World Policeman” which appears to have been their appointed role since the end of the 2nd World War. Perhaps they felt that there was such carnage created by their neutrality that  they would try to be on the stage, in the spotlight, as early as possible to prevent mass slaughter again and thus protect their international interests. Once the Allies and its enemies had commenced hostilities it quickly became a war of attrition. Both sides felt they could kill more of the enemy than the enemy could of them. Stagnation on the Western Front – trenches stretched from the North Sea coast to the border of Switzerland – led to the need for victories in other theatres of war. The infamous incursion to Turkey cost thousands of lives , many from disease , and an embarassing retreat after only 10 months.


Image description


The Battle of Jutland in 1915 was the only major sea battle of the First World war and although both sides suffered losses, both appeared to decide  that the risk of defeat in another battle outweighed the possibility of victory and long lasting damage to their fleet. Consequently neither fleet ventured into open water again to fight en masse.


It is interesting to note that, with the invention of tinned food, this was to be the first major conflict which would be fought without a break for winter. In previous campaigns belligerents had ceased hostilities in late autumn and only resumed again in early spring once they were able to supply and feed their armies again.


For ease of reference to the listings of losses, the following brief calendar highlights the major offensives which took place following the final declaration of war by the Ottoman Empire on France, Great Britain + Russia on 2nd November 1914:-


The first battle on the Western Front, the Battle of the Marne, had already  commenced on Sunday 6th September 1914. On Monday 19th October 1914 the First battle of Ypres had commenced, trench stalemate ensued and it was reported that “a line of trenches stretched from the Swiss border to the North Sea”.


Early in 1915 there was a calamitous offensive by the French + British in the Champagne region of France. They suffered heavy losses and made little or no gains. As in the Marne the outcome was trench warfare stalemate.

This led to the Allies looking for an alternative theatre to attack the enemy and the Russians were desperate for their sea route to the Mediterranean to be opened via the Black Sea. An attack on Constantinople was planned via the Dardanelles. On reaching this narrow waterway the Fleet was a sitting duck for the Turkish Artillery and plans were altered entailing landing of troops on the Gallipoli Peninsular and attacking the Turkish defences from the rear. Due to bad planning, missed landing points, inadequate maps and undefendable positions – the Turks held all the high ground overlooking the landing areas – the Allies suffered huge losses.


Meanwhile on the Western Front the Germans had used gas in their attack  at the 2nd battle of Ypres on Thursday April 22nd 1915. With adverse weather the conditions in the trenches rapidly deteriorated and “Trench Foot” became a major health hazard. Both sides spent the entire summer of 1915  gaining and losing ground between the ever strengthening lines of trenches. In October the French, with British support, landed troops in Thessalonika, Greece, to support the Greek Monarchy. It also gave the Allies a foothold in the eastern Mediterranean  from where they could support the effort against the Turks in Gallipoli.


By the 1st November the Allies had suspended the operation in Champagne and in January 1916 they evacuated Gallipoli, which left Thessalonika isolated. Monday 21st February 1916 saw the beginning of the battle of Verdun. This was the battle which began to turn the tide in favour of the Allies.


In May 1916 the Sykes-Picot Agreement was signed which divided the Near East into areas of Russian, French and British influence after the expected defeat and demise of the Ottoman Empire. The after effect of this Agreement is that these three nations are still involved in the politics of this area (now commonly referred to as The Middle East) nearly a century later. This secretly made  Sykes-Picot Agreement  was concluded on 16th May 1916 by a French diplomat, Georges Picot and a British official, Mark Sykes. Britain would control areas which today comprise of Jordan, Iraq and an area around the Israeli port of Haifa. France would control south-east Turkey (Celicia), northern Iraq – near Mosul – Syria and Lebanon. Russia was given control of Constantinople (now Istanbul), the Turkish Straits, and Armenia. The administration of Palestine would be decided, at a later date, by the 3 Allies. Earlier meetings between governments had indicated that the assistance of the Arabs in defeating the Ottoman Empire would be rewarded by the establishment of an Arab homeland. Help was sought from the Jews in America for them to assist in bringing America into the war as an ally of the British + French. This was made public in the Balfour Declaration of 1917.

The declaration , made by  Arthur James Balfour of the Foreign Office, on 2nd November 1917 stated  that the British Government “view with favour” the establishment in Palestine of a “national home for the Jewish people”. This was conditional upon the requirement that “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine” or “the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other countries”. This declaration followed a meeting by the British cabinet on 31st October 1917. It further declared that the declaration was a sign of “sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations”.


Great efforts had been made by Chaim Weizmann and Nahum Sokolow, who were principal Zionist leaders based in London but, as they had requested a reconstitution of Palestine as the Jewish national home, they felt that the declaration fell short of their needs and expectations. 


There is some doubt as to whether the parties involved in the Balfour Declaration of November 1917 and the Sykes Picot Agreement of May 1916 were aware of the details of each others commitments but it became blatantly apparent that once it became public knowledge that the Allies had entered into separate, conflicting, agreements the trust of both the Arabs and Jews had been breached.


When the Russian Revolution took place in 1917 the remaining  Allies annulled the parts of the Sykes-Picot Agreement relative to Russia. In Arabia, T.E.Lawrence had been fighting alongside the Arabs and he had promised them (he thought, with the British Government’s agreement) a homeland with secure borders after the war had ended and the Ottoman Empire had disintegrated. On that basis the Arabs had assisted the Allies. Neither party seemed aware of the secret Sykes-Picot Agreement which effectively  pulled the rug from under the Arabs.

Once the Russians became aware that their portion of the Agreement was not now to be honoured they immediately published the  full details of the Sykes-Picot agreement in their national press. The Manchester Guardian printed the details on 26th November 1917.


Everything was then (and still is now) in turmoil. The Allies were embarrassed that the cat was out of the bag and the Arabs felt betrayed. Zionists were upset that they appeared to have been lied to. The Agreement meant that the Kurds would be administered by Russia, the Shi-ites by France and the Sunnis by Britain. Mass regional war erupted and  in the opinion of some historians  this caused the Treaty of Versailles, signed on 28th June 1919,  to be woefully short of what was required.


Image description

If you were to superimpose this map onto a current map of the Middle East it may help to understand why both France and Britain are still heavily involved in the region today.

Saturday 1st July 1916 saw the beginning of the Battle of the Somme. It was this battle which saw the introduction of a new weapon – tanks.


With continued stalemate and the outlook for Germany looking bleak. Kaiser Willem II offered peace on the basis that Germany would hold what they had and the Allies kept what they had and all parties would stop fighting. The invaded Belgians and French rejected the offer out of hand and insisted that the Germans should withdraw to where they were on 1st August 1914 and then peace terms could be discussed.


The battle of Verdun ended on Friday 15th December 1916.


In January 1917 Germany adopted a policy of “Unrestricted Submarine Warfare”. Any vessel afloat, even one from a neutral country, would now be a target. Even Hospital Ships were attacked. Following attacks on their vessels the United States of America voted to enter the war, on the Allies side, on 6th April 1917.This alarmed the Germans because they knew that the vast manpower available to the Allies once the Americans arrived in Europe would undoubtedly tip the balance against Germany.


A new German offensive (The Ludendorf ) was planned and the 3rd battle of Ypres, also known as  Passchendale, commenced on Tuesday 31st July 1917 During the following month the Germans undertook a massive offensive at the battle of “Chemin des Dames”. Additionally they  assisted with the transfer of Lenin to Russia to help the Bolsheviks overthrow the Russian Tsar and take Russia out of the war.  This released  German troops from the eastern front to the western trenches to assist with the offensive which they planned would  end in their victory before the effect of the Americans arrival could benefit  the Allies. Russia withdrew from the war on 15th December 1917 at the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk.


In January 1918 United States President Woodrow Wilson presented his 14 point Peace Plan and by May 1918 the German offensive had run out of steam and the Allies began to advance.


For the next few months the growing number of American troops bolstering the Allies in the field resulted in the gradual overpowering of the German fighting machine. On 9th November 1918 Kaiser Willem II abdicated and a Republic was declared in Germany.


11th November 1918 “Ceasefire” was declared at 11.00 and Germany evacuated Alsace-Lorraine, the west bank of the Rhine and all land they had occupied in Europe. They also had to hand over the majority of their weapons.


The official announcement that the war was over was made on 28th June 1919 when the Treaty of Versailles was signed ; who had won was about to be disputed and, to many eyes, the peace was about to be lost.


The death toll was approximately 5.5 million and within 20 years  Europe would erupt again.


Historians have conflicting theories as to the reasons causing the Great War so it is probably reasonable to assume that it was the sum total of all or part of them which put the various European powers into a position whereby a decision not to fight was out of the question. The French were still smarting from their defeat by Germany in 1870 and wanted the return of Alsace/Lorraine, ceded in that defeat. Serbia, fearing both Austro/Hungary and the Ottoman Empire, had obtained a strong ally in Russia. Britain had aligned itself with Russia & France in the “Triple Entente”. Prussia – the military force behind Germany – had allied itself with Austro/Hungary and the Ottoman Empire as “The Central Powers”.  The Germans adopted powers which indicated that  they saw a future Europe governed from the centre – by themselves. The rest of Europe saw this as a threat to the status quo and a great deal of political “sabre rattling” ensued.

All the members of these alliances were seeking to both protect and increase their colonies around the world and were consequently deeply mis-trustful of each other. Despite the apparent political activities designed to prevent any catastrophies one slight spark would ignite Europe into major conflagration.

Austro/Hungary had annexed Bosnia in 1908, angering Russia because the land annexed contained many Serbian nationals and Serbia was Russia’a ally. Russia desperately needed access by sea to the Mediterranean and the threat to Constantinople (Istanbul) and subsequently the Sea of Marmara endangered this route via the Black Sea.  Looking back 100 years it appears that all nations had adopted the “I’ll hit you back if you hit me first” attitude and, realising that  they needed to be well armed to be able to retaliate they all mobilized with the stated aim of being able to defend themselves in the event of an attack. The headlong arms race was never referred to as being the ability to attack. Prior to 1914 military power was proclaimed as an attacking strength to deter an opponent from contemplating a fight. Now it was proclaimed as an ability to retaliate.


In June 1914  Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Austrian throne, was visiting Bosnia with his wife Sophie. On 28th their carriage apparently deviated from the prescribed route in Sarajevo and, by coincidence, a small group of Serbian rebels – including a Bosnian named Gavrilo Principe – were nearby. Recognising his opportunity to strike a blow for nationalism Principe shot and killed both Franz Ferdinand and his wife. The news of these assassinations reverberated round Europe’s governments. After due deliberation the Austrian government delivered a 10 point ultimatum to Serbia on 23rd July. On 25th July Serbia ordered general mobilization of  her armed forces and replied to Austria on the following day that it could not accept point 6. This had required that Serbia conduct a full judicial enquiry into the assassination and that a delegation from Austro/Hungary would take part in that enquiry. Serbia saw this as a threatened violation of her Constitution and criminal procedures. Russia had confirmed her support of Serbia in the rebuttal of the Austro/Hungarian ultimatum. One of the points required by Austro/Hungary was the dismantling of the Serbia National Defence Force. Austro/Hungary claimed that the Serbian response was “inadequate” and that the ultimatum had to accepted in full, as delivered. Russia asserted that the Austro/Hungarian 10 point ultimatum needed amendment and alteration. Impasse had arrived.

Austro/Hungary & Germany declared war on Serbia on 28th July 1914. On 31st July Russia fully mobilised its military as support for Serbia and on 1st August Germany declared war on Russia. The Prussian master plan for a successful campaign in Europe was  known as the “Schlieffen Plan”. This identified the fact that two fronts needed to be considered viz. France in the west and Russia in the east. It was not practical for the Central Powers to fight simultaneously on both so  it was envisaged that a “swift, short, campaign” in the west would be sufficient to bring France to her knees and enable a full concentration of their might to be directed eastwards at Russia.

On 3rd August Austro/Hungary/Germany declared war on France and immediately crossed into Belgium and attacked France. As Britain was allied to both France and Belgium their government sent an ultimatum to Germany that their troops should be withdrawn and Belgian neutrality guaranteed no later than midnight on 3rd August 1914. The German government in Berlin rejected the British ultimatum at mid-night their time and at 23.00 U.K. time the British government issued a declaration of war on Germany. The general feeling in the air in  Britain was that the Germans would be given a swift, bloodied nose and be sent packing back to Germany and everyone would be home by Christmas. By 11th November 1918 the “Balkan Incident” would account for some 40 million casualties  worldwide and see the demise of the Empries of Germany, Hungary, Austria, Turkey and Russia together with the disappearance of  Prussia from the international scene. It also led to the independence of Czechoslovakia, Estonia, Finland, Poland, Latvia and Lithuania plus Yugoslavia came into being to replace Serbia. These seismic changes were the first alteration to the “European Order of Things” since  the Napoleonic Wars in the early 19th Century. Many historians are of the firm belief that the manner in which the Great War ended was a major  contribution to the outbreak of the Second World War less than 21 years later.

YORKSHIRE TRENCH , YPRES (Discovered in 1990’s during building operations for a new industrial estate.)

Image description


Image description

A political map of Europe pre-August 1914 together with a comparable one after the terms of the Armistice had been imposed on Germany and International boundaries had been re-drawn in 1922.

Image description


                                       Published on Thursday 6th August 1914 – 2 days after the declaration of war



    The headline was a dramatic statement:-    








The left hand side of the front page was devoted to graphic description of the call-up, mobilisation and departure of reservists and the right hand side was a more general report of the immediate effects of the outbreak of the war.


An appeal was made by the Mayor with regard to the outbreak of panic buying and price increases. He was of the opinion that, if purchasers only bought in an orderly manner and traders were to refuse unusually large orders, then prices would quickly assume their proper levels.


The price of domestic articles was reported to have sprung up “in leaps and bounds” during Tuesday 4th August. Crowds had thronged provisions stores and everything that could be purchased for storage was snapped up. On Wednesday 5th August this was repeated and as drays drew up to deliver goods to shops they could not get to the doorways for the crush and they had to discharge their loads in the street.


It was reported that the recall of Germans to their colours had not affected the Borough as anticipated. Austrians, Germans and French in the Borough had “no great desire to leave these hospitable shores for the troubles of the Continent” This gives the impression that there was a bit of bother on the European mainland that probably would not amount to much.


“H” Company, 6th Battalion Essex Regiment and Southend Company, Royal Army Medical Corps had returned from camp on Monday evening, 3rd August, and were reporting to Prittlewell Drill Hall, East Street, twice daily. The Royal Proclamation was delivered by Tuesday evening’s post, 4th August, mobilising both the reservist regulars and specials. Along with their mobilisation papers the reservists received a money order which entitled them to draw 1/- (5p) in advance pay. It was reported that Post Offices had stayed open all night (yes – ALL NIGHT) to cope with the demand and it was also reported that large crowds had besieged Post Offices between the hours of 8.00 p.m. and 11.00 p.m. to cash their Orders.

Image description

The report states that “The Southend Reservists joined the colours with alacrity”. The tone of the report was more akin to that of a street party than that of men joining up to go to war. The reporter appeard caught up in the sheer excitement of parading soldiers, flags being waved and songs being sung. It is difficult to envisage a modern day report being in the same vein. The report continues  “Grenadier, Coldstream and Life Guards to Wellington Barracks this evening (6th) and a batch of men for Colchester and likewise for Warley. 18 Police Constables had been discharged from their 10.00 a.m. parade and they joined large numbers of other Council men from the Post Office (44 men), Tramway Department, Gas Works and Electricity Department. They all visited the Post Office, mouth organs playing and the song ‘Sons of the Seas’ reverberated in the air. Union Jacks appeared everywhere and the men paraded from Cliff Town Road to Hotel Victoria (Hotel Victoria was sited at the north of the High  Street on the south east corner at the junction of Southchurch Road and London Road and was a dominant feature of this area, known as Victoria Circus, until swept away by the re-development in the late 1960’s/early 1970’s).


Crowds flocked round the parading men. “Are we downhearted?” called the parading men. “No” responded the crowd. “We’ll give the Kaiser what-ho” shouted the parading reservists and the crowd responded with loud cheers.


“Rule Britannia” was sung out loud. Friends and relatives accompanied the Reservists onto the train at Southend Victoria. “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary” rang out along the train as the men boarded. The station was packed  to overflowing by crowds who were acting as though it were Carnival. A trolley of empty milk churns was overturned and the bases of the empty churns became drums to ring out across the arena. Cries of “Smash the Kaiser’s head” greeted the striking of the upturned urns. “Gentleman, take your seats” advised the porters and guards as the train’s departure was now overdue. Cheer followed cheer, lady friends and wives were hugged and kissed. The whistle  sounded and “God Save the King” was fervently sung and away went from Southend one of the strongest batches of Reservists for the war’


‘The Territorials were to enrol at York Road Drill Hall at 09.00 on Wednesday (5th) morning. By noon the Southend Company of Essex and Suffolk Garrison Artillery were uniformed, drilled, packed and ready to go. They were served with rations of bread and cheese and at 12.15p.m. were ready at attention. At their head Lieutenant Robertson presented arms and the troops were marshalled by Sgt.Major Glasscock. Off they marched via York Road, High Street, Marine Parade and on to Shoeburyness where they were greeted by the ringing cheers of the public. The men mustered in Shoebury Barracks to “await the exigencies of war to decide their ultimate destinations”. Likewise “H”  Company, 6th Battalion, Essex Regiment reported to Prittlewell Drill Hall and then paraded and marched to Central  Station, under Lieutenant Culverwell and 2nd Lieutenant Taylor, via Victoria Avenue and High Street. The crowds thronging the streets en route displayed their utmost enthusiasm’.


It is hard to imagine a newspaper report being published today in this sort of vein.


Following the sinking of the Cunard luxury passenger liner ss “Lusitania” ,by a German submarine on 7th May 1915 public opinion turned against businesses in Southend which were thought to have a German or Austrian connection. Consequently there were mob attacks on shops in Queens Road. ‘Zuckers’, ‘Hermans’ and ‘Westheims’ became targets for groups of people incensed by the sinking of the unarmed passenger liner and they took their revenge by attacking anything they thought identified with the enemy.


As a result of these protests a total of £170.17.0d. (£170.85) was paid out by the Council under the terms of the Riots (Damages) Act of 1886. The full list of claimants was:- P.Zanchi; P.Stellwagen; Godfred Phillips Ltd; B.Garcke; Messrs.Loccotelli & Mazzoletti; A.S.Holl ; R.Offredi ; J.Wertheim; Mrs. J.Wertheim ;Guardian Plate Glass Ins.Co.Ltd, H.A.Krogman and D.D.Ernst.


The “Offredi” family later changed their trading name to “Offord” and were , for many years , successful restaurant owners in the town. The frontage of their original restaurant can still be seen today on the north side of Marine Parade between Pier Hill and The Kursaal site. Offredi signs are still visible.



These details have been compiled by visiting each site and photographing the Memorials.


The names , where listed, have then been checked with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website (C.W.G.C.) , “Southend + District  Roll of Honour” by Jeffrey Jarvis, Imperial War Museum and other records held at Southend Library, Censuses and Newspapers of the time.


Where no information could be found I have marked their entry “No Details found”.


Any  records which only “might” relate to the individual concerned  are included in the “No Conclusive Details Found” section.



Names on Memorial listings  include date of death if known.


Where the term “Mercantile Marine” is used  it is the  equivalent of today’s “Merchant Navy”.


Despite my 15 years of research to date it has not been possible to locate information on all of those individuals recorded on the various Great War Memorials in the area. This may be caused by the fact that the Memorials were not commissioned until the early 1920’s by which time, perhaps, relatives had moved, re-married or even died themselves.


Additionally, it appears that names of military personnel whose Regiments were billeted in the Southend area, and who subsequently fell in battle, were included on the Memorials and therefore never had any “living” connection with the town.


In some cases no record can be found of an individual by name or initials and in others the information found is so tenuous that it cannot be definitively verified to a particular individual. Where it has not been possible to attribute information found to a particular individual in question then that information has not been included. Any information which ‘may’ relate to an individual I have listed in the ‘No Conclusive Details Found’ section.


The Author will be grateful for any information pertaining to any of these individuals to enable their entries to be updated.


Contact can be made by email to and I will respond as soon as possible.

Full details as to the locations and accessibility of burial sites can be found on the COMMONWEALTH WAR GRAVES COMMISSION website.(C.W.G.C.).




Southend was a rapidly expanding  town with major house and roadbuilding projects being undertaken. The following list shows the comparison of populations in the locality, taken from the 1911 and 1921 censuses:-

DISTRICT                                    1911 CENSUS                                       1921 CENSUS                                   % INCREASE

-----------                                    ----------------                                       ----------------                                  ---------------

SOUTHEND                                     70,676                                                   106,010                                          49.9

The above figures comprised of the following wards:-

CHALKWELL                                     6,568                                                     10,353                                          57.6

LEIGH                                              4,518                                                       7,883                                          74.5

MILTON                                            9,039                                                     10,820                                          19.7

PIER                                                 9,240                                                     12,681                                          37.2

PRITTLEWELL                                   7,606                                                       9,980                                          31.2

ST.CLEMENTS                                   4,487                                                        7,148                                          59.3

SOUTHCHURCH                                8,837                                                      12,841                                          41.2

THORPE                                           5,859                                                      10,342                                          76.5

VICTORIA                                         8,526                                                      10,100                                          18.4

WESTBOROUGH                                6,459                                                      14,222                                        120.2

As can be seen from the above figures the, then, outskirts of the town viz: Chalkwell, Leigh St.Clement’s, Southchurch, Thorpe and Westborough  underwent large building programmes causing (or, to meet) the increased population demand during these 10 years . Despite the  losses incurred during the Great War, there had been  a large expansion in the population in the Borough but the Shoebury and Rochford districts had not seen similar numerical increases. Although the percentage increases were still significant they were only higher than Milton and Victoria, two of Southend’s older wards.

This was a sign that the labour force was continuing the move away from agriculture and heading towards towns. The comparative figures for Shoebury and Rochford are as follows:-

DISTRICT                                    1911 CENSUS                                         1921 CENSUS                                  % INCREASE

-----------                                    ----------------                                         -----------------                                ---------------

ROCHFORD(incl.ASHINGDON)           5,004                                                        6,431                                           28.1

SHOEBURY                                     18,125                                                      22,863                                           26.1

With war having been declared on Germany by the British Government on Tuesday 4th August 1914 it is interesting to read the minutes of the Southend Council meeting which was held 2 weeks later on the 18th August. It would seem that the threat of hostilities was hardly top of the agenda – bearing in mind the German Airships threat and their naval threat to the Thames Estuary and London. Kaiser Willem II was reported to have been so impressed by the Fenchurch Street to Southend railway line during an earlier visit to England that, on the outbreak of war, he had promised to 'wipe it from the face of the earth'.


Southend was continuing to expand and consideration was given by the Council for the commencement of “sewaging, levelling, paving, metalling, flagging , channelling and making good for Glenwood Avenue, Hildaville Drive, and Duke of Manchester Drive” (now just plain Manchester Drive) amongst others. Another item of concern for the Council was the approval of  Speed Trials for Motor vehicles to be held “some time in 1915 at a date to be agreed” on Chalkwell Esplanade. The event was to be under the direction of the Essex Motor Club. Sadly this event must have been cancelled as I can find no record of it having taken place in 1915.

I wonder if it would have been feasible to hold the event in 2015 and advertise it as “Centenary Event ”?


There did not appear to be any foreboding of the effect hostilities would have on ordinary life in England and the normal, routine Council Committees were hard at work as usual.


By the time of the next Council meeting on 15th September 1914 the Council was requesting tenders for “competitive designs for the erection of additional houses for the working classes “ and 6 months notice had been given to allotment holders in Ruskin Avenue for the termination of their tenancies so as to free up the necessary land for building. Additionally sewerage was organised for Woodfield Park Drive, Burges Terrace, Southsea Avenue, Leigh Road, East Back Passage, St.George’s  Park Drive , Vernon Road and Westminster Drive together with the making-up of Gloucester Terrace. It seemed that the expansion and development of Southend into a major sized town would continue apace. Electric lighting was approved for Gainsborough Drive, Trinity Road, Branksome Road, Thorpe Bay Esplanade, Priory Avenue Prittlewell, Ambleside Drive, Swanage Road and Pier Hill. Subsequently the War Office issued an order that lights on the sea front and in the main part of the town had to be dimmed for safety, the same logic as the 2nd World War blackout.


The first inkling that the “war in Europe” might affect Southend appears in the minutes of the Council meeting on 15th September 1914. A request was received from Griffiths + Millington Ltd. the contractors for advertising on the town’s tramcars for a temporary reduction in the rental charged by the Council “in consequence of the War”. There is no record of what the definition of “temporary reduction” might be but, in the early stages of the war, the overall impression was that the “ lads would be home by Christmas”. At the October 1914 meeting the matter of purchasing Prittle Brook together with land belonging to Mr.F.F.Ramuz was instigated to allow the Council to extend Fairfax Drive westwards to Eastwood Lane.

To ensure the continuation of live entertainment on the Pier Mr. Seebold’s Band was appointed for the following year to perform each morning from 28th September 1915 to 24th October 1915 plus an additional Sunday afternoon on 4th October 1915. Following a request from the War Department it was confirmed that wounded servicemen receiving treatment at Queen Mary’s Royal Naval Hospital would receive free admission to the Pier. The Royal Hotel at the top of Pier Hill had been converted to

Queen Mary's hospital for the duration of the war. Additionally the Overcliff Hotel, The Glen and even Porters were converted to house wounded servicemen sent back  home to convalesce.


As time progressed and the hostilities in Europe continued and expanded, more of the Council’s time at their meetings was devoted to matters involving the military. Their November and  December meetings considered several points including problems arising from three steamers which were moored in the vicinity of the Pier Head, “Ivernia” “Royal Edward” and “Saxonia”. These vessels were being used for the interment of German prisoners of war but the refuse and rubbish from these vessels was reported as being regularly thrown overboard. Consequently it was washing onto the foreshore at Southend and a letter of complaint was despatched by the Council to the Port of London Authority who subsequently issued an order to the vessels instructing that all refuse was to be incinerated in the ships’ furnaces. It was noted in the Council minutes, and tribute was paid, to a former Council employee, Mr. Barnes, who had lost his life in the sinking of H.M.S.”Hawke” a 12 gun cruiser of 7350 tons.  He was a Stoker 1st Class and lost his life when HMS “Hawke” was torpedoed and sunk by U-9 on 15th October 1914. A total of 524 men were lost and only 70 survived. Also lost in this sinking was Petty Officer Albert George Wright who lived at Canewdon and he is commemorated on a plaque in  St. Nicholas Church, Canewdon.


Permission was granted to Colonel Patton-Bethune, Officer Commanding, 14th Rifle Brigade , to use Southchurch Hall Park for the purpose of parading and drilling his troops providing they “avoid, as far as possible, using the cricket pitch”. (I think it would have been a wise choice to win the toss and bowl first in the first match after their drill!) An application had been received from Band Sergeant, “A” Company, 10th Border Regiment for his men to be allowed to play football at Southchurch Hall Park on Saturday afternoons and at other times. The application was approved. The Pier Committee dealt with an application from Officer Commanding, Military Signallers, Shoeburyness who had requested a permanent signal station be established at the Pier Head. The Piermaster was asked to “ascertain if the proposed station would be removed after the declaration of peace”. Again it infers that there was no expectation of the war lasting long and peace – naturally coupled with victory – was not far off.


Over-time payments totalling £2-4-0d (£2.20) had been paid to men employed by the Council at the Disinfecting Station cleaning and treating wearing apparel and bedding for troops billeted in the town. Sanitation facilities were generally less than adequate and the uniforms and blankets of troops were ideal infestation sites for maggots and lice. On Council domestic matters 2 projects were instigated which, on completion, have endured and affect the residents of the town to this day. Firstly the Council was in negotiations to purchase part of the Belfair Farm +  Estate from its Executors. The Council issued an invitation to the secretary of the Professional Golfers Association, for him or his nominee to visit the estate to report on the question of utilizing a portion of the estate as golf links. Secondly it was approved that an outer retaining wall be built from the east of the pier, matching the one already in existence to the west of the pier, to enclose the foreshore for the creation of a sunken garden. (This later became a boating lake and is now incorporated in Adventure Island).


In these days of anti-biotics and medicine for all ailments it is interesting to note that the following  comparable table of cases of “Notifiable Diseases” was recorded:-

DISEASE                                                                JANUARY TO OCTOBER

                                                                         1912          1913        1914


SCARLET FEVER                                                    10                 7            22

DIPTHERIA                                                             3                 5            10

TYPHOID FEVER                                                     3                 5              9

Image description
Image description


                     Southend circa 1905                                                                            Southend circa. 1920


Unscrupulous local traders had also been dealt with. The Council employed staff whose duty it was to check on food and drink. Fines and cautions were issued to individuals who had tampered with milk. Cases of  the addition of Boric Acid, water and fat were dealt with. By the time of the  meeting in January 1915 the items related to the military were steadily increasing. A letter was received from the Assistance Director, Medical Services, Chatham Military District. It asked for information on the number of beds available for the treatment of cases of infectious diseases which may occur amongst troops billeted in  Southend  and its vicinity, and enquired if there was land available for the erection by the War Office of a temporary building for this purpose.


The Council’s reply regretted that they were unable to reserve for Army purposes any fixed number of beds but doubted that it was improbable that at any time the accommodation available would be insufficient for the reception of any troops billeted in the Borough who developed Scarlet Fever, Diptheria or Typhoid fever and that there was no space available for the erection of a temporary building. Dispute arose between the Council and the 8th  (Cyclists) Battalion, Essex Regiment concerning the military cyclists riding their cycles the length of the Pier to reach the signal station at the south end. A letter was despatched by the Council (by bike ?) to the commanding officer directing him to order his men to “proceed at moderate speed when riding their machines on the Pier”


A letter had been received from the Port of London Authority advising that on 28th December 1914 barges laden with explosives had sunk in Hole Haven Creek and the contents distributed over the foreshore. Although a quantity had been recovered some dynamite cartridges had washed ashore and might be amongst the stones on the foreshore. It was concluded that local yacht clubs be warned and notices had been placed on boards along the esplanades warning the public. The Cliffs Bandstand performance season was decided upon. Various military bands were contracted to play for 1 week at a time, consecutively, from 22nd May 1915 until 4th October 1915 subject to their availability dependant on  the exigencies of war. The military authorities also released the Council from the order requiring the diminution of lights on the sea shore and in the town generally for the duration of the “Band Season”. Discussions also covered Service Pay. Employers in Great Britain were required to pay any of their employees who were away on King’s Service in His Majesty’s Forces. Married men were paid in full and single men were on half pay. There were obvious problems for an employer who was paying an employee absent at the front AND paying for his replacement. This must have been a great national problem and would have led to price increases . A deputation from the Southend Branch of the British Temperance League attended the Council meeting in March 1915 and advocated the provision of a Coroner’s Court in the Borough and an improvement to the existing mortuary accommodation. A new Public Swimming Pool had been approved on the Western Esplanade and a Company named  Bonmarche & Co. of Southend were contracted to supply the Council with towels and swimming costumes as follows:-


Towels: 1,000 Brown Turkish bath Towels 40” x 22” woven with the words “Southend Corporation Baths”   Cost £35.0.0d. Swimming Costumes to be stencilled with the letters “S.C.B.” across the chest.    


250 Ladies Costumes      Cost  £18.19.9d

250 Gents Costumes       Cost £13.10.0d

300 Childs Costumes       Cost  £13.2.6d.


Tickets for the ensuing Financial year 1915/16 were ordered for the buses and trams. About 15 million tickets were ordered at a cost of just over 4.5d (2p) per thousand and the right to advertise on the tickets was granted to a company in London at a rate of 1.5d per thousand. (half a penny). A local company Green + Ledicott Ltd were contracted by the Entertainments + Parks Committee to supply Mineral Waters for the summer. When I was a lad in the 1950’s Ledicotts were a major local supplier of fizzy drinks in competition with Tizer, R.Whites and Corona. Ledicotts premises were then in Southchurch Road on the north side between Sutton Road and Bournemouth Park Road . A descendant of the Leddicott family , Richard , is an active Southend United supporter and can be seen in the East Stand at Roots Hall cheering the Blues on. In April 1915 the Council agreed that an Architect was to be appointed to design a proposed “Tuberculosis Hospital” and a letter had been received from the Womens Co-operative Guild urging the need for the provision of a Maternity Centre in the Borough.


Pressure was increasing  for funds to be spent on many areas of the town’s infra-structure as Southend expanded but as the war progressed in 1915 strains were being placed on the town’s finances as revenues were becoming squeezed.At this time in our history there was no “Care in the Community” and there were establishments for the those people whom society deemed in need of care. A Tuberculosis Sanatorium was located at Nayland and a Lunatic Assylum was located at Colchester (Severalls Hospital).


The Essex and Colchester Lunatic Assylum Committee had written to the Council advising that “In consequence of the war” food prices had risen and the costs incurred  for inmates sent there from Southend would rise from 16/- (80p) per week to 18/- (90p) per week for the duration of the War. The Council wrote back offering an increase to 17/6d  (87.5p) and the Assylum Committee accepted this lower amount but only until 30th June 1915 and thereafter they would charge the full 18/-. In the May 1915 Council minutes it is stated that there were 40 male and 72 female patients from Southend in Severalls which means a total weekly outlay of  £100.16.0d per week (£100.80p) a large amount of money in 1915. Two cases of Cerebro Spinal Meningitis had been reported amongst the troops stationed at Shoeburyness and they had been admitted to the sanatorium. The Local Board (Central Government) had withheld sanctioning the Council to borrow money, for the time being, to make up the roads in the town unless the property owners were prepared to “advance their proportion of the money for the work”. This meant that many properties were at risk of having unmade roads for the duration of the war.It was also decided by the Council that a special meeting of the Highways & Works Committee be convened to inspect work currently being carried out on road   surfacing to consider the question of continuing the work “at the present time”. Having convened it was agreed that the work of re-surfacing the main roads  be continued in order that the existing plant and staff may be employed and it was agreed that the payment for further work be suspended until after the war. It was still apparent therefore that in the spring of 1915 it was anticipated that the war would not last much longer. Residents of King’s Road , Westcliff were objecting to the erection of a Post Office Telegraph Department pole. The Council had previously lodged a complaint to the Post Office concerning the fact that a number of roads had been dug up by the Post Office just prior to the Easter Holiday in order for cables to be laid. The Council responded to the King’s Road residents  by saying that on account of the powers possessed  by the Post Office Telegraph Department it was not possible to refuse all of their applications. This bears resemblance to the outbreak of Mobile Phone masts the town has suffered in recent years.


Another application was made by the Military Authorities to allow their Signallers free access to the Pier tramcars to access the signal station at the pier head. The application was refused by the Council on the grounds that there was already free access for the Signallers to the Pier. It seems to have been decided that with free access they could walk or cycle the length of the Pier – they were not being allowed free rides ! It seems strange to us now, to say the least, that in time of war the local Council had the power to over-ride the needs of the  Military Authorities .It appears that, in the Council’s mind, revenue took precedent over military signals.


A letter was received from the Military Officer , Commanding , Eastern Command , advising that considerable use would need to soon be made of the Pier  tramcars  for the transferring of “prisoners of war, military escorts, parcels etc.” to and from the detention ships which were moored off the south end of the Pier. The Corporation were asked to assist these movements by “reducing the carrying rates to 1d. per person , per journey and 1d. for each parcel conveyed” .The Council agreed to this request. (I wonder if they used  Signalmen to escort the prisoners , thus getting round the Council’s refusal covered in the previous paragraph?) The Council also granted the Admiralty permission to  erect a small  addition to the Signal Hut on the south east corner of the Pier Extension but noted that “It would have to be removed after the Declaration of Peace”. It was agreed that the new open air Swimming Pool on Western Esplanade (now a Casino + Restaurant) would be officially opened by the Mayor on 1st May 1915. The War was obviously impinging on the Council’s finances as it was decided that “Due to conditions at present” work was suspended on the completion of the Refreshment Rooms at the Pier Head and this decision would be reviewed in September 1915.


Mr Seebold and a band of 22 performers were contracted to perform at the Pier head from 21.5.1915 until 12.9.1915 but to abandon any performance should the Naval or Military Authorities or any other contingency arising from the War render it necessary. The Council was in a dilemma. The monthly Pier financial statement for 31.5.1915  showed that the Pier income for the month of March 1915 had fallen by £19.2.0d (over 3% against March 1914) but the expenditure had risen by £43.14.1d (Over 15% against March 1914) and the total revenue for the year April 1914 – March 1915 was down by £3310.16.0d (Over 13% against April 1913 to March 1914). The appointment of Mr. Seebold and his musicians was hoped to attract more paying customers onto the Pier but the suspension of work on the Refreshment Rooms would not help this aim.The Motormen and Conductors employed on the Council’s tramcars had applied to the Council for either a wage increase or a “War Bonus”.The Council were “unable to agree at this present time” to either of these requests. The Financial Statements covering the tramcars also showed a decline in revenue as follows:-


Revenue         April 1913 – March 1914   £ 3144.  7.9d.    April 1914 – March 1915   £2877  .3.7d ( A decline of 8.5%)

Expenditure   April  1913 – March 1914   £ 1046.12.5d     April 1914 – March 1915   £1090.17.6d ( An increase of 4.2%)


However the Council did pass a motion to issue a Police Bonus to all officers below the rank of Chief Inspector. This bonus amounted 3/- (15p) a week and would be paid until the “Declaration of Peace”. Additionally the Boot Allowance was increased from 30/- (£1.50) to 40/- (£2.00) per year but that allowance would include the cost of providing an electric torch to replace the lamps currently used by officers. Lettings of Deck Chairs for the Cliffs + Sea Front for Easter Week-Ends 1914 + 1915 also made dismal reading. The Easter Week-End was declared as Maundy Thursday to Easter Tuesday (6days) inclusive. In 1914 , 4 days ,the sum received was £552.9.2d but in 1915 , 6 days , it was only £176.7.11d. a fall of 68%. The Council were now responsible for a town which had Military connections to the east in Shoebury , two rail lines to London and was rapidly expanding with new roads , houses and schools being planned . Discussions were on-going concerning the development of the Chalkwell Estate. It was proposed that to allow for a future Railway Station or Halt to be constructed in the Woodfield Bridge area the planning of the estate should allow the roads to be laid to make for suitable approaches for this purpose. This was obviously successful as  the Woodfield Bridge is the footbridge at the eastern end of Chalkwell Station and leads from The Ridgeway , over the railway line , to the western end of Chalkwell Esplanade at Joscelyn’s Beach. With no reduction in the cost of maintaining facilities  the Council was now receiving applications from many sporting clubs for a reduction to their hire charges.Chalkwell Park and Chalkwell Park Wednesday Cricket Clubs withdrew their applications to rent the pitch at Chalkwell Park due to lack of numbers caused by the number of players having joined His Majesty’s Forces and , because the National Guard parading on the ground , the pitches were becoming unfit for use. The Council reluctantly agreed to these requests and added that any application for their use of the pitches in future years  would not be prejudiced thereby. .It was then agreed to remove the protective fencing from around the cricket pitch to facilitate the drilling of the National Guard but that the Guard were not to go on the pitch “if same is not in fit condition for such purpose”.(I  suspect that the park warden might have had a problem in preventing a battalion of Guardsmen from drilling on the pitch) The 14th Battalion , Rifle Brigade , were granted permission to practice sports at Southchurch Hall Park on Thursday afternoons and 10th Border Regiment were granted permission to play hockey at Chalkwell Park “once or twice a week during their stay in the Borough”.


Cranley Lawn tennis Club were released from their tenancy of 2 tennis courts at Chalkwell Park  and Westcliff Cricket Club were also released from their agreed tenancy of a pitch at Chalkwell Park. Both decisions were made for the same reason ,viz. “The majority of their men having enlisted”.

The Council approved a decision to compulsorily purchase  Nore Yacht Club and its grounds to provide public + pleasure grounds. The Yacht Club was sited approximately opposite where the  present day Thames Estuary Yacht Club jetty is located on Western Esplanade. The Council contracted H.G.Howard to supply Dairy Produce to the Council owned refreshment rooms at Chalkwell + Southchurch Hall parks.Howard’s Dairies were still a familiar sight in the town in the 1950’s and 60’s. Their navy blue and gold “floats” , pulled by horses were a familiar sight on the streets of Southend (followed by keen local gardeners with their shovels and buckets collecting the horse manure)


By May 1915 Southend Council was having its own staffing problems due to the War. The Borough Accountant was authorized  to not issue monthly statements of account for expenditure compared with income. This would reduce the work-load of his department which had lost a number of clerks who had enlisted.


The St .John’s Ambulance Brigade was granted use of the enclosure site opposite the Ship Hotel , Eastern Esplanade , on Whit Monday and August Bank Holiday as an Ambulance Station. This service has remained there since  and is currently operational on most summer week-ends. In May 1914 pleasure steamers plying the River Thames had landed 10,133 boat passengers at the Pier but in May 1915 that figure was NIL ! Additionally the Council had received a letter from Denny Bros. of Dumbarton , Scotland advising that it was not their intention to operate any steamer services from London to Southend for the forthcoming summer season. The Council now faced the prospect of having to maintain the Pier but with little opportunity of any revenue being received from either the landing charges for  boat passengers nor their  tramcar fares.The Corporation was also concerned at the reduction of its manpower caused by mass enlistment. In May 1915 it decided to advertise for “suitable young women” to apply for positions as conductors on the motor buses to collect fares but that the employment would be for the period of the war only. 9 were subsequently employed at a rate of £0.14.0d. (70p) per week. It is interesting to note that the rate for men employed as conductors was at that time £1.10.0d (£1.50p) per week.

The Post Office Authorities were granted permission to erect a Telephone Kiosk at Victoria Corner (Where the High Street , Southchurch Road and London Road now intersect) near the Bus Ticket office.


A request for a meeting between Council Officials and representatives of Southend Cricket Club had been received. The meeting was arranged and the Cricket Club requested a reduction in their rental fee for the pitch at Southchurch Hall Park. The Council agreed for the fee to be reduced to £11.0.0d for the season but subsequent applications by the Club resulted in the fee being first reduced to £5.5.0d (£5.25p) and finally  to £3.0.0d on the basis that they would only be playing occasional matches against the Regiments which were stationed in the Borough. An application was received from Leigh Rifle Club for them to use Bonchurch Recreation Ground as an open air rifle range .After due consideration as to the safety of such activities the Council rejected the request. Official ceremonial life continued despite the war and the Borough of Southend had been granted Armorial Bearings which meant that a new Mayoral Chain needed to be designed. The original Mayoral Chain had been supplied and donated to the town by the first Mayor ,the late Alderman Thomas Dowsett and it was his family who proposed that they would bear any expenses of the necessary alterations. The Council was duly grateful and accepted this offer. The original Chain would be placed in the town museum.


The Chatham Military Hospital removed patients convalescing from Enteric Fever (Typhoid) to the Overcliff  Hospital in Southend. The Council were becoming concerned at the increase in burials at the Cemetery  and the diminishing area of land available for such purposes. They decided to introduce “common graves” to prevent land becoming exhausted. It was reported that advice had been received from the East Anglian Tuberculosis Sanatorium , Nayland that the weekly cost of caring for their inmates, sent there from Southend, would increase from £1.10.0d (£1.50)  to £1.12.6d

(£1.63p) per week from 1st June 1915 “for as long as the present situation might demand”. Due to it’s geographical position Southend was within range of the German Zeppelins and Aircraft and it was reported at the June 1915 Council meeting that two injuries had been incurred. A 60 year old , unnamed , woman had died from burns due to an incendiary bomb dropped from a hostile aircraft and a Council carpenter , Mr. G. Whitwell had been similarly seriously injured by burning. The woman’s death occurred on 26th May and Mr. Whitwell’s injuries occurrec on on 28th May.


Due to the increasing strains on their finances the Council decided to postpone their purchase of the Belfairs Estate and agreed to pay to the executors an annual holding fee of £120.0.0d until 1917 by which time it was hoped that their financial circumstances may have improved. Meanwhile it was agreed that the Trustees of the late Mr. George Miller would continue to manage the affairs of the estate . A purchase price of £16,500.0.0d had been agreed in principal with the Council and if the Council were unable to proceed with the purchase after 3 years had elapsed then further discussions would take place, between the relevant parties, at that time. The continuing decline in deck-chair revenue was reported. In May 1914 the income was £1775.12.10d and in May 1915 this was down to £1077.6.8d. It was noted that there had been 8 more Band performances in 1915 than in 1914.Furthermore the Whitsun Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday revenue had been included in the 1915 returns but not the 1914 returns. A separate report was tabled for the comparative Whit week revenues. 1914 - £1086.18.8d; 1915 - £663.6.9d. a fall of 39%. The Council also reported that 9 Police Constables had applied to enlist in the Army and that left 68 serving men in the Police Force.


At the June 1915 Council meeting it was resolved to borrow from Barclay + Co. the sum of £14,233 @ 4.5% , repayable by yearly instalments, to cover the cost of works on the new Swimming Baths , Public Shelters , Sewerage schemes and Street works. It was also agreed to rent premises “under the bridge” , Chalkwell Esplanade from Mr. A. Joscelyne of 55 Cranleigh Avenue , Leigh-on-Sea at £5 per annum , for the purpose of storing bathing tents therein. This rental fee was subsequently reduced to £3 per annum. Approval was given for a horse show to be arranged for the August Bank Holiday week-end and it would take place at Chalkwell Park , on the Hockey pitch ! Having had the cricket pitch ruined by the parading and marching of soldiers the horses were now to parade on the remaining sports field. It is interesting to note that in the early 1960’s the Council approved a summer “Town Show”  which took place at Priory Park. Due to inclement weather the damage caused to the football pitch was considerable and the following year’s show was transferred to Southchurch Park East where it was again blighted by bad weather.


A debate took place concerning a proposal by Councillor Meacher who had recommended the introduction of a 2/- (10p) per week War Bonus for Motor Men and Conductors employed on the Council’s transport. An amendment was made that the bonus should only be paid to married men and that they should have been already in the Council’s employ at the outbreak of  War. The amendment was defeated by 21 votes to 12 and following that defeat Mr.Meacher withdrew his original proposition. At the July 1915 meeting the matter of Council finances was highlighted by the Borough Accountant. He was instructed to call the attention of the various Committees to the necessity of great care being exercised in the expenditure of such Committees. An application was received from the supplier of meat to the sanatorium , asking for an increase in the price paid to him. The Council advised that they were unable to comply with this request. The Clerk to Shoeburyness Urban District Council was advised that the Southend Medical Officer of Health was authorized to admit residents of Shoebury area , designated with Cerebro Spinal Meningitis, to the Isolation Hospital but there would be a charge of £2gns (£2.10) per patient ,per week plus the costs of any extra nurses which it may be necessary to engage. The Shoeburyness Urban Council accepted the terms offered.


Applications for wage increases were received, and declined, from both the Dustmen and the Refuse Destructor employees There were reports of  3 Coroner’s Inquests:-


Firstly a 35 year old female , unnamed, was killed accidentally by an exploding shell from one of His Majesty’s guns.

Secondly a 7 year old, unnamed, female died of burns caused by an incendiary bomb dropped from hostile aircraft.

Finally a 25 year old, unnamed, female died of Peritonitis, resulting from a wound caused by an explosive bomb dropped by hostile aircraft.


The Southend Battalion, National Guard, applied to use the Long Committee Room at the Municipal Buildings, Alexandra Street and this was granted on the proviso that they must conform to any direction which the Borough Surveyor may deem necessary to make in connection with the use of the room. Instructions were given to the Borough Surveyor to place 2 bench seats in the Sunken Garden to the west of the Pier “if any were available”.(that does seem a bit obvious as it would have been difficult to comply if there had been none available. It turned out that none were available and the Borough Surveyor was subsequently instructed to purchase 2 x 9 feet long, for the purpose.) Revenue from the Public Toilets was highlighted as having fallen dramatically , as follows:-


                                                                                   APRIL - JUNE 1914                               APRIL - JUNE 1915                REDUCTION                                                                --------------------------                            -----------------------                          --------------------

Men's Conveniences                                                        £411.13.06d.                                         £193.07.02d.                        53%

Women's Conveniences                                                   £510.08.08d.                                         £246.06.06d.                         52%


Again, the cost of maintenance remained whilst the revenue received had rapidly fallen since the outbreak of war. The Town Clerk was directed to express, to Councillor Herbert and Mrs. Lucy Ward , the Highways + Works Committee’s sympathy in the suspense which must be experienced by them regarding their son Lieutenant George Ward who was reported  as missing during the recent military engagement in the Dardanelles. George Ward, 2nd Lieutenant, Manchester Regiment died 4th June 1915, Aged 26 and, with no known grave, is commemorated at HELLES MEMORIAL, PANELS 158-170, GALLIPOLI , TURKEY. He was a B.A. (Lon) and an Associate of  King’s College, Cambridge.

The Council encountered a problem with 2 Internal Combustion Pumps which had been ordered for the Sewage Works in April 1913. Delays in delivery had occurred due to the sewage Works not being ready to receive them and once 1 of the pumps had been fixed in position “some time had elapsed (no explanation) in making the necessary adjustments” A fracture was then discovered in one of the castings on the 2nd pump and the supplier had advised that “owing to the war” they were having difficulty obtaining new castings and that there would be a considerable delay in delivery of a replacement. In the circumstance the Council decided to cancel the order  and seek an alternative suppler for the second pump.

Lieutenant Wolfe, 18th battery, Middlesex Regiment requested that his men be allowed a reduced admission charge to the Swimming Baths by reason of them using their own towels .It was agreed that 250 men from his battalion  would be admitted for 2d. each on Monday/Wednesday/Thursday + Friday between 08.00 + 11.00. Similar dispensation was granted to 1st Southend Company of Girl Guides, in parties of 20 to be allowed admission for 2d each, there being no record of any time restrictions. In general , soldiers, sailors and national Guardsmen, in uniform, were allowed to use the Swimming Baths for an admission charge of 3d. each.

Mr. J.A. Going,  a fancy goods seller, tenant of 19, Pier Approach applied to open on a Sunday but the Council rejected his application in their July 1915 meeting “in view of the present conditions”.

An update was given on the revenue for Pier + Foreshore by comparison with the previous year , as follows:-


JUNE 1914          £3,517-16-3d.

JUNE 1915          £1,295-06-5d.

Figures were provided showing that the number of passengers carried on the trams had fallen from 1,184,698 Jan-June 1914 to 755,278 Jan/June 1915, a drop of over 36%. Costs had also been reduced for these period as follows: Jan/June 1914 £1234-9-5d , Jan/June 1915 £1,055-19-0d, a reduction of 14%. Despite Council actions the gap between costs and revenue was steadily growing.


Again the problem arose over there being cost of maintenance with income reducing quickly. Despite the financial problems mounting the Council decided to continue with the expense of advertising the Borough by placing advertisements in certain London daily newspapers. They promoted Southend’s general attractions as  both a holiday resort and residential neighbourhood. The advertisements highlighted the Band performances, the Swimming Pool and Pier Hill Baths. A total of £300 was allocated for such purposes. The Borough Electrical Engineer reported on steps taken to organise any plant machinery available in the Borough for the manufacture of munitions.. As a consequence of the reorganisation both the Electrical and Sewage works were adapted for the manufacture of munitions.

Permission was granted to National Guard Southend Battalion Band to perform in Chalkwell + Southchurch Hall Parks, alternately on Sunday afternoons from 3.00 pm to 5.00 pm and additional permission was given for programmes to be sold. Major Commanding , 8th Northern Home Battalion was granted permission to drill his men in Southchurch Hall Park and for his officers and men to play cricket in the park. Notification had been received from the “National Association for the feeble Minded” that their Annual general meeting was to be held at the Guild Hall , London on 25th June 1915. The Council resolved that Councillor Rowe be authorised to attend on the Council’s behalf (I wonder what qualified him to attend?)

It was reported that Mr. Colin Campbell , the Vice-Chairman  of the education Committee had died on 29th June 1916 On 20th July 1915 the Council Finance Committee convened a special meeting to consider the question of the desirability or otherwise of effecting insurance in respect of Aircraft or Bombardment Risks. As it was considered that the town was beyond the reach of enemy  fire from their landbased guns in Europe it was resolved that Corporation properties should be insured in respect of Aircraft Risks only and the risk was to be added to that already in place with their Insurers.

A request was received from 8th Northern Home Batallion requesting permission to bathe in the sea from Thorpe Bay beach. The Council agreed to the request  providing that the men were under supervision from their officers. A further restriction was placed on them in that they could only swim near the Coastguard Station , between 0700 and 0730 , subject to them wearing “bathing slips” (And presumably subject to the tide being in !)           

Steel had been purchased by the Council for the construction of an Electricity sub-station in Thorpe Bay . Due to financial constraints the project was postponed but the Council retained the land acquired for the development to enable them to proceed at a later stage. Funds were needed for the two Red Cross Hospitals in the town – The Glen + The Overcliff – and it was agreed that a “Red Cross Hospital Gift Day” would be organised for 28th July 1915 in Chalkwell Park.

In view of the risks from incendiary bombs dropped on the town by Zeppelin raids it was proposed to establish  Fire Alarm Posts around the town at the following road intersections:- Leighcliff Road/ Grand Parade :  Chadwick Road/King’s Road : Pavilion Drive/London Road and Wimborne  Road/Christchurch Road. Councillor Newitt proposed that “A Special Committee , consisting of the Chairmen of each Standing Committee, be appointed to consider and to report to the Council at an early date if , and what , economies and curtailment of expenditure or increase of income can be effected in the administration of the affairs of the Borough and it’s money earning undertakings”. Despite the state of the Borough finances this motion was not carried.However it is interesting to note that, in the Finance Committee minutes for August 1915 and in the minutes for each of the subsequent Standing Committee meetings, a letter had been received from the Local Governement Board (Central Government)  impressing upon all Local Authorities the urgent need for strict economy in every branch of expenditure.It had now become National Government Policy so there was little that Southend Council could do. Perhaps Councillor Newitt was aware of the impending letter from London. With the town expanding plans were progressed for a Town Planning Scheme both for Chalkwell Estate and the north western part of the Borough in conjunction with Natonal Government policy. A letter was received from Solicitors acting on behalf of Southend-on-Sea Estates Ltd. who owned land to the north west of the Borough which National Government had refused to exclude from the Planning  Scheme and proposed development. They stated that their clients were “opponents of this scheme”. It was resolved that the Chairman of the Finance Committee, the Town Clerk ,and the Borough Accountant be appointed as Representatives of  the Council to attend a Conference which had been arranged to take place in London on 6th October 1915 for the purposes of considering losses sustained by east coast towns in consequence of the War and for those towns to seek compensation from the National Exchequer. The Member of Parliament for south-east Essex would also be invited to attend the Conference.

The decision on proposals for the erection of further houses in Ruskin Avenue was postponed until April 1916 and the tenancies for the allotments there were extended until 29.12.1916. Canon Pierce  wrote to the Council suggesting that a few grave sites should be set aside in a portion of the Sutton Road cemetery for the interment of soldiers and sailors and that the council should tend those graves free of charge.This was agreed to and the Town Clerk was authorized to make the necessary arrangements. Spare capacity of plant and machinery in both the Borough sewage and electricity works had been identified and were proposed for Munitions production. The Town Clerk remarked that this would probably prove “remunatve to the Corporation”. Outstanding works on the Pier Head were again postponed and the contract to allow Mr. Seebold’s band to continue it’s performances thereon was not renewed. The Swimming Bath  was proving popular and was good news for the Council. The figures for July and August were:-

                                                                                 REVENUE                    NO.OF PERSONS

                                                                                 -------------                 --------------------

JULY 1915                                                                 £328.00.08d.                      20,133

AUGUST 1915                                                            £702.00.04d.                      33,087

The news from the Pier accounts was not so good though:-

                                                                               AUGUST 1914               AUGUST 1915

                                                                               -----------------             -------------------

Revenue                                                                   £4,540.09.09d.            £3,546.08.04d.

The cumulative figures for the year to date were more alarming for the Pier:-


                                                                            JAN to AUG 1914          JAN to AUG 1915

                                                                            ----------------------           ----------------------

Revenue                                                               £16,893.11.09d.              £9,548.04.03d.

Steamboat Passengers                                                  73,418                             NIL

It was decided that the Swimming bath would be closed for the winter months and upon re-opening no staff would be hired as male attendants but existing staff from the Pier would execute those duties. The Council expected that costs would be saved at both the Swimming Bath and Pier by better staff utilization.

The figures for bus and trams usage also showed a decline :-

                                                                           AUGUST 1914               AUGUST 1915

                                                                           -------------------               -------------------

Bus Passengers                                                     124,981                          103,400

Revenue                                                               £673.15.02d.                  £491.08.05d.

Tram Passengers                                                 1,509,908                        1,321,820

Revenue                                                            £7,158.05.10d.                £6,282.05.05d.

Expenditure , though down , had reduced at a lesser rate than income:-

                                                                 AUGUST 1914 (per mile)    AUGUST 1915 (per mile)

                                                                 ---------------------------------   --------------------------------

Buses                                                                £203.03.06d.                        £106.00.07d.

Trams                                                            £1,233.16.10d.                     £1,162.16.11d.

The Council had been advised that the 1st Gloucestershire Regimental Band was unable to complete it’s season beyond 24.9.1915. due to “recruitment duties” and the Council resolved not to engage another band to replace it. The Town Librarian reported that he had received from the “Central Committee for National Patriotic Organisations” a supply of pamphlets, issued by His Majesty’s Government , dealing with various phases of the War, for free distribution to the Public. He advised that they were being distributed via the Library.

There were few domestic matters being discussed in Council but I have selected a few :-

It was agreed to extend Mr. J.W.Potton’s license to operate a Knackers Yard in Eastwood Road until 30.6.1916. A census of properties had been carried out by the Dust Inspector (nowadays the Refuse Collection Department), for which he was paid the sum of £5, and the results were as follows:-

                                    Houses                Shops + Houses                Flats + Bunglaows                  Colleges , Hotels etc.

                                   ----------                ----------------------                ------------------------                  ---------------------------

Inhabitable                    16,206                         1,367                             371                                                126

Empty                                858                              84                               24                                                   1

Occupied                       15,348             +           1,283                +           347                      +                        125  = Total 17,103

An average of 5.1 persons per dwelling occupied was applied to give a notional approximation of population as 87,225.3 There is no record as to why, or for what reason ,these figures were assembled. Instructions were given to the Borough Surveyor to “close, partially during the winter months , certain of the Men’s Conveniences in the Borough, to close the Women’s conveniences and to convert the Women’s Conveniences at Bell Wharf Leigh, for the use of men.”

The Town Clerk reported that  on 1st October 1915 he had prosecuted a person for stealing  shellfish from the foreshore belonging to the corporation, and that the Magistrates had sentenced the defendant  to 3 months imprisonment with hard labour. A report was made concerning a labour dispute at the Transport Department. The Electrical Engineer reported that as two of the motor omnibuses were  temporarily out of service he had, acting upon the authority given to him by the Committee, to engage  young women as Conductors on trams and transferred  the women so released  as an experiment, to the Beach Station. He reported that certain of the male employees on the cars in question had  thereupon refused to continue to work, and he had consequently dismissed them from the Committee’s employ. He reported that a subsequent meeting of the Tramway employees  had taken place and resolutions had been passed by them regretting the action of the men referred to, asking that they might be reinstated and that women might only be employed on the tramcars in cases of actual necessity and without detriment  to the future positions of the male employees.

The Committee carefully considered the matter  and the Electrical Engineer, having stated that he saw no objection to the reinstatement of the dismissed servants ,in view of the expressions of regret offered by the particular men concerned, and of the representations made by the employees generally, it was resolved that the Tramway employees be informed that the Committee regret the attitude adopted by the dismissed men following upon the engagement of female labour, and whilst concurring with the action of the Electrical Engineer in dismissing the offenders, they have, in response to the men’s representations decided to take a lenient view of the matter and have authorized  the Electrical Engineer to reinstate the dismissed men in their former positions.

It was approved that Corporation land adjacent to the White Horse Hotel and to the Sewage Works be tendered out for cultivation for the duration of the War.The continuation of payment for an Official Guide to the Borough to be produced was approved for 1916,1917 + 1918. It was published on behalf of the Corporation by The Health Resorts Development Association and had been published for the previous 3 years. All Council departments considered it’s remaining staff levels and produced a draft list of those employees it considered should not be allowed to enlist in the forces as they were essential for  the continued successful operation of their department in particular and the Corporation in general. The Committee again considered the question of the desirability of applying to the Local Government Board (Central Government) to fix a speed limit in the Borough of 10 m.p.h. for motor cars, and resolved to recommend the Watch Committee  that steps be taken for the adoption of such a speed limit between Chalkwell Park Schools on the West, the “White Horse Hotel” on the East and the  junction  of  Prittlewell Hill and  West Street on the North.

The first anniversary of the outbreak of war had passed with  Council matters being governed by the precariousness of its finances and the domination of military events in the town. As time passed the impingement, by the War, on  local activities and Council matters increased. National Government regulated and financed Councils via the “Local Government Board” and it was to this Board that Southend Council had to apply for permission to raise funds for major works.

With the decline in Central Government finances an embargo was placed on Councils taking loans to finance road surfacing, seweraging etc. and the work could only be undertaken if the owners of the properties fronting the roads in question paid the Council, in advance, for the cost of the proposed works. In Southend this meant that most “making up” of  roads serving the recent newly built houses came to a standstill and roads were left unmade. A request had been received from the Chalkwell Bay Association concerning the making up of various roads in the Chalkwell Ward.The Council responded by advising that the “frontagers” would be required to pay , in advance , for their respective proportions of the cost of the work. The execution of the necessary work required to prevent recurring flooding in London Road, Westcliff and Riviera Drivewas also deferred “due to the War and the prohibition by the Local Board of the raising of funds for such works”. Great Eastern Railway requested of the Council that the new Road adjoining East Street, Prittlewell be named and numbered 1-6 Railway Terrace, East Street, Prittlewell. After deliberation the Council agreed to the G.E.R.request but on the provision that “East Street” be dropped and the road to be known as Railway Terrace, Prittlewell.

The Westcliff  Institue , corner of Argylle Road and Leigh Road offered the free use of their premises for the purpose of a Maternity Centre on 1 or 2 afternoons a week , as required. The Health Committee  accepted the offer and it was agreed that the Centre would be used 1 afternoon a week for an initial period of 3 years with a period of 3 months notice applicable on both sides. The Medical Officer for Health reported that in September 1915 there had been 107 infant births  (56 male and 51 female) and and 65 infant deaths recorded. (a death rate of 60.7%). Additionally , to date in November 1915 there had been reported 12 cases of Scarlet fever, 4 of Diptheria and 1 of Typhoid fever. Procedures at the final Council meetings for 1915 were dominated by the War.The only item I could find which was not war related was the question of a 10 m.p.h. speed limit in the town. Following the receipt of a letter from Southend + District Automobile Club a vote was taken and it was agreed not to proceed with the introduction of a this speed limit.

With the Lord Derby scheme now fully operational the Council needed to identify which positions they considered “essential” and from which positions they could allow men to be “called to the Colours”. Consequently a list of employees was drawn up who were considered to be “Essential for the efficient conduct of the work of their departments”. It was decided that should the  men enlist they would be required to give undertakings that they would remain at their employment “until called to the Colours”.

15 men from the Refuse Destruction Department had been called up and that would make it necessary for the Destructor to be closed down. It was resolved that the Medical Officer of Health write to the Local Government Board and await their ideas on the proposed closure. The Highways + Works Committee nominated 9 employees,Pier Committee 5 employees,Light Railway Committee 15 employees, Gas Committee 6 employees and the General Purposes Committee 4 employees  to these “essential workers” lists. Additionally the general Purposes Committee resolved that the Town Clerk be informed that , in the opinion of the Council, his services are essential to the good government of the Borough and that they do not desire him to enlist. The Gas Committee approved a “War Bonus” of 3/- (15p) per week for married men in their employ and this was to be paid at and from the date of their enlisting in His Majesty’s Forces under the Lord Derby scheme.


The Watch Committee was concerned at the depletion of the Police Force. Since the outbreak of war 34 Policemen had joined the Colours and it was the Chief Constable’s opinion that the remaining 8 single men should be permitted to enlist but that the Force should not be allowed to reduce below 60. If all the 8 single men joined up it would bring the number serving down to 63. As 1915 progressed  all major structural works in the town were being put on hold due to the Government directing all it’s funds to the War effort. The work required to prevent recurring flooding in London Road , Westcliff and Riviera Drive was not authorised for this reason. A report to Council for the 1915 “Summer Season” advised that the new Swimming Baths had been used by 87,795 people which resulted in revenue of £1705-2s-7d and with corresponding expenditure being only £1549-10s-8d an operating profit of  £155-11s-11d had ensued. This good news was ,however, overshadowed by the information produced in a later report which showed that once the capital and expenditure costs had been taken into account (£604-13s-0d) an actual loss of £449-1s-1d had occurred. A company named “Kontili Brothers” , who had rented and occupied premises on Pier Hill, had filed for bankruptcy and still owed the Council monies. The public examination of the company’s accounts was not due until 3.12.1915 so the Council would have to wait until then to see if there was any chance of obtaining the monies owed.. The Pier + Foreshore accounts for 1915 already showed a drop in revenue of  21.5% and this bankruptcy would not help.

Additionally the revenue for the trams Jan-Oct 1915 had fallen by 12.5% compared to the same period in 1914. To try and improve matters the Council resolved to raise the fares on the motor buses in the town, between Royal Hotel, High Street and Hamlet Court Road , by 50%. A single journey would now cost 1.5d instead of 1d. and this increase would be effective from 22.11.1915. It was reported that a former Council employee, W.Wilding ,(buried at Sutton Road Cemetery grave 3937) from the gardening department had enlisted in the army and subsequently been killed in action. It was agreed that the Council would enquire into his widow’s circumstances with a view to paying her an allowance.

Due to the shortage of labour, caused by enlistment , the Watch Committee approved that “boys over eleven years of age, employed in the milk trade, could commence work at 05.30 instead of  06.00 between 1st April 1916 & 30th September 1916. Submission was also made, to Lord Derby’s Groupage Scheme for Enlistment, that Head Teachers , married Assistant Teachers and the two Chief Clerks be relegated to as late a group as possible. It was noted that by 30.11.1915  50.7% of eligible teachers and 57.1% of eligible assistants had already enlisted. The Council resolved to establish “Day Classes” for the purpose of training “Women Clerks” to replace those men who had been called up for service. A contract was agreed with R.A.Jones + Sons , effective 1.1.1916 to 31.12.1918., for the winding of all clocks belonging to the Council Committee, the Light Railways, Electric Lighting, Entertainment + Parks and Public Libraries. An increase in unpaid rates (equivqalent to today’s Council Tax) was reported. In 1914, 2.17% of properties had failed to pay their rates (1913 – 1.84%) but by 31.12.1915 this had risen to 6.92% . A sum of £4021-1s-6d was now outstanding. The reasons listed for non-payment were:-

Property unoccupied; property demolished; duplication of charges; Occupiers had left town and could not be traced; Occupiers bankrupt; Occupiers deceased with no assets; Property burned down; Government owned property; Occupier in prison and Property used for religious worship and therefore exempt. It must be remembered that the majority of people in Southend lived in rented accommodation and private property ownership was restricted to “the rich”.   

Despite the economic climate the Council were still approving building applications. At the December 1915 meeting they approved plans for 3 bungalows in Leigham Court Drive, 2 houses in Electric Avenue, 1 bungalow in each of Chalkwell Park Drive and Blenheim Crescent,  4 houses in North Avenue and 1 house in each of Tyrrell Drive, Eastern Esplanade, Heygate Avenue and Undercliff Gardens. The lessee of the Pier Pavilion and Pier Hill Bandstand advised the Council that he would not be renewing his tenancy which was due to expire on 25.12.1915 and he would therefore be looking to sell approximately 700 surplus metal chairs. The Council agreed that on termination of the lease they would be happy to purchase  500 at 1/- (5p) each.

Following further discussions it was agreed that the tenancy would be renewed at a rate of £100-0-0d per month until the termination of the war thereafter at the rate of £325-0-0d per month and the proposed Council purchase of the 500 chairs was cancelled. Additionally the tenant of the Pier Refreshment Rooms and Kiosk attended the meeting to discuss the terms of his lease which was also due for renewal on 25.12.1915. It was agreed that for 1915/1916 he be charged a total of £545-0-0d. for the hire of the Refreshment Rooms, Pier Head Extension Refreshments , the Shop above the Pier Tramway entrance and the Kiosk near the Pier Entrance. It was also agreed that he be allowed to use , free of charge ,  the stores area at the old Pier head until the termination of the war.

Accounts were presented showing the Council income for the Pier  in 1915, which had dropped to £12,909-6-2d as compared to the total for 1914 of £20,868-18-8d a reduction of almost 62%. It was reported at the January 1916 meeting that B.G.Haddingham Lance Corporal , Essex Regimnent who was a former Teaching Assistant at Chalkwell Hall Boys School, had died of dysentery.(He is included on the Southend “Roll of Honour” where his full details are listed.) Figures for births December  1915 were submitted which showed that the infant mortality rate was 70 as against a birth rate of 101. A comparative table for notifiable diseases was laid before the Council . The diseases were Scarlet Fever, Diphtheria, German Measles, Measles, Poliomyelitis and Puerpural Fever (Childbed Fever). In January 1914 the total was 27 cases which had risen, in January 1915, to 31 and, by January 1916, to 39 cases. During 1916 there were several letters of protest submitted to the Council concerning unmade roads. Flooding was a regular occurrence in Victoria Road, Southborough Drive, Dundonald Drive and other streets in the vicinity. It wasrecommended that as the Government’s Local Board Act prevented Councils incurring such expenditure for the duration of the war the Council would ask the residents to pay, in advance, for the work to be done. The Council would then be able to effect the necessary improvements.

As time continued the Council was forever struggling to balance the books whilst attending to the important business of managing the town. .As the War came to an end different problems arose. At the November 1918 meeting a letter from the local Employment Exchange was read out . A request was made that  jobs which were available at the Council were to be notified to the Employment Exchange with a view to them being offered to discharged Officers ,Soldiers and Sailors. (No mention of the R.F.C. or R.A.F.!)

A new disinfectant sprayer was required and a new one was ordered at a cost of £3-10-0d. Correspondence had been received from Dr. W.Scarisbrick who was currently serving in the Royal Army Medical Corps. He asked whether, in view of the cessation of hostilities, the Council would make an application to the Military Authorities for his early release to enable him to take up an appointment with the Council as Tuberculosis Officer. The Council agreed to undertake this action.

The Military Authorities advised the Council that  provision would need to be made to accommodate any cases of infectious disease occurring amongst troops stationed in the Borough of Southend. The Council responded by advising that, subject to the needs of the town’s Civil population and payment , by the Military, of £2-2-0d for the first week or part and thereafter 6/- per day, accommodation would be available at the sanatorium for cases of Scarlet Fever, Diphtheria or Typhoid Fever.

The 1918 Influenza epidemic had also taken a heavy  toll. Figures were submitted for the 6 weeks ending 16th November 1918 which showed a total of 111 deaths in the Borough. Infectious diseases were still rising. The figures for December 1915 had been 31, December 1916 had been 31, December 1917 had been 30 and the figure for December 1918 was 98. Under the Influenza Regulation it was ordered that any Public Entertainment could not last more than 4 hours consecutively and that there must be an interval of not less than 30 minutes half way through the performance.


During this interval the premises must be “effectively and thoroughly ventilated”. The custom of the ‘Interval’ still survives today. Not only had there been a war to fight for 4 years but disease was also rife. A major increase in cases of measles had been noted. In November 1917  there were 5 cases but in December 1917 this had risen to 30 cases. It was decided by the Council that the charge  for the calling of the ambulance be increased from 7/6d to 8/6d for each occasion. Letters had also been received from the Government, addressed to the Local Medical Officer requesting that arrangements be made to facilitate the treatment of returning  Merchant Seamen who were suffering from venereal Disease. A major project now initiated by the National Government was “The Housing of the Working Classes”. The Government had written to all Councils in the country regarding the extreme urgency of providing suitable housing in view of the problems which would arise with demobilization setting free labour for civil purposes. (This was the same Government who had , for the duration of the War banned all Council spending on local improvements, roadmaking etc.) Housing schemes MUST be submitted to the Government “at the earliest possible date” AND Councils must “push on” with preparations.The National Government agreed to fund 75% of the cost of the estimated Annual Deficit forecast by each Council and the balance would be recovered by the Councils by increasing the Local Rate (Council Tax) by 1d in the pound. It was stipulated that no more that 12 houses per acre were to be built (8 per acre in agricultural areas) and building “must commence within 2 months of Government approval".

The Council was reminded that in 1902 a scheme for “Working Class Houses” was commenced in Ruskin Avenue and additional land and plans were before the Council in 1915 but the matter was deferred “due to the War”. It was now agreed to proceed with the erection of those 24 houses but that a comprehensive scheme of housing be deferred for the present. Arrangements were put in place to fell trees in  Stoker’s Lane and at the junction of West Road and London Road.

An application was received from Post Office Engineering Department for permission to lay underground telegraphic lines in connection with the service provided by them to the Military. The matter was adjourned on the basis that in view of the recent Armistice the necessity for the provision of a telephone service might not continue. Instructions were given to remove the Marine Parade Air Raid Shelter and other shelters in the town “when labour is available” A letter was sent to the Master Builders Association enquiring as to whether , in view of the war ending , they were contemplating re-starting house building operations in the Borough and whether they would be making representation regarding the release of building materials by the Government.

Normal service was about to be resumed………………

Much of my research has been conducted in the old Southend Library, Victoria Avenue, where the Council minutes were kept in the reference section. I have spent many an hour there and it is worth recording that during 1914 and 1915 the Southend Library only opened for a total of 25 days and 26 days respectively – how times have changed.




"They went with songs to the battle, they were young.Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall not grow old as we that are left grow old. Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them."