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Southend Pier and World War 2

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1 Southend Pier and World War 2
During WW2 the pier was taken over by the Royal Navy. Its purpose was 2 fold. Firstly was a mustering point for navel vessels and secondly for control of navel ships.

2 Most famous event was the accidental sinking of the Liberty SS which contained several explosives. It is still visable from Southend and the North Kent coast and still poses a threat to the coast today.



5 The Pier itself was fortified with guns and pill boxes, and throughout the war, the Pier Electric railway was operated by Pier Staff day and night, despite frequent enemy action. They ferried the service men and women, the sick, wounded and survivors. A number of the train coaches were adapted for the conveyance of stretcher cases. Ammunition, food, stores and "special equipment" was also transported by the trains. Over the six year period some 300,000 train miles were covered. There was also a pipeline along the Pier which pumped fifty thousand tons of water to ships. The Pier - and the Royal Terrace, where the Commodore had his headquarters - controlled the shipping that went to and from the Port of London. Had the Pier not been such an important strategic defence point during this time of crisis, and had the Navy not taken it and used it against the enemy, it would, with no doubt, have had bites out of it, like the piers of other seaside resorts. Some incredible figures: Over 3,000 convoys (84,000 ships) sailed from the Pier between September 1939 and June ships gathered for D-Day, with more ships up the river as far as the eye could see.

6 From 1942, added protection against air attack was given by the "kite" balloons which were inflated on the Pier and then issued to all passing ships. After the war ended, the Pier was demobilised. There had been no maintenance carried out on the pier during the war, and when the Navy handed the Pier back, gave £100,000 (£2.5million in today's money) for such work to be carried out. The Pier re-opened to the public on 17th May, and soon became as popular as ever. Within two years the number of visitors exceeded 3 million, with 1949 beating that with a record 5 million. The area was buzzing with excitement.

7 Evacuees Children from London came by train to Southend on Sea to stay with families in Southend. This was to keep them safe whilst bombs were targeting London.

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