According to rabid Shrimpers fan Rob Questead, Southend United supporters use the following song to taunt supporters of teams from other seaside towns:
“Oh Southend Pier, oh Southend pier,
Is longer than yours,
It’s got some shops and a railway,
Oh Southend Pier is longer than yours.”
Pathetic … but nevertheless, guaranteed to always be factually correct. Yep, Southend Pier really IS longer than all the others, reaching out for a fantastic mile and a quarter.
The original wooden Southend Pier was built in 1830. For several peaceful decades, not much happened … and then the railway came. With it came huge numbers of cockneys, who loved nothing better than marching along the pier, while guzzling cockles by the pint. This meant a new, stronger pier needed to be built, and in 1890 a new iron pier replaced the old wooden structure. (The old pier wasn’t wasted – in 1892, bits of the old wood were used to make a special chair for the mayor!)
The new pier came complete with a fancy electric train, which has operated for most of the pier’s history (it was out of order during 1978–1986). Various amusements have come and gone over the years including, of all things, a Hall of Mirrors - exactly what business one of these had being on a pier is anyone’s guess. Still, the pier is as popular with the spoon-playing citizens of Whitechapel, Wapping and West Ham as ever it was; and these days, the folks here are proud of their cockney connections, rather than ashamed. Bravo!
In the spring of 2000, Anne Richards, the Board of Mission Theological Secretary, caused a stir by bringing two large yellow beanbags onto the pier. “’Scuse me love, don’t fink I’m nosey or nuffink, but can I ‘ave a look?” is how Richards relates a typical comment from a passing local, hilariously capturing the endearing speech impediments of these amiable street-urchins.
Did You Know?
Anyone on the pier during a certain evening in August 1974 was in grave danger of coming face-to-face with something distinctly unpleasant. That’s because the parents of infuriating TV Food Boy Jamie Oliver chose to copulate right here on the pier, and it was this very union that resulted in the conception of ‘the lad himself’. One might be tempted to ask, “how on earth did this distasteful fact become a matter of public record?” Simple – the loud-mouthed twonk takes great delight in announcing it to all and sundry, whenever he gets the chance.