According to Wikipedia: “The Kursaal is a Grade II listed building in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, England, which opened in 1901 as part of one of the world’s first purpose-built amusement parks. The venue is noted for the main building with distinctive dome, designed by Campbell Sherrin”.
I am of an age that can recall the large site that hosted a formidable amusement compex that had rides, notably its helter skelter, and a not to be forgotten wall of death. My mother and father remembered it as it used to host dances, and it was where they met. Looking at the various activities held at the Kursaal down the years before a large part of the site was given to housing in the late 1970’s following a period of decline when comparing with its earlier popularity. I was impressed by the variety offered over the years: circus, ballroom, arcade, dining hall, billiard room, scenic railway, circus, cinema, ice rink, zoo, Southend United, greyhound racing and rock music.
Later, after the housing development there was a refurbishment that was to include a bowling alley, which I visited on occasions and a casino, which I did not visit. But now it is dormant other than being occupied by one of my of my homeless friends as a squat (see here). The Echo has also raised the question “What would you do with iconic Southend Kursaal?” to which there has been many feasible suggestions, although I suspect in order to implement these there needs to be money, vision and Council backing.
After the pier, the Kursaal, especially its domed building, is the second most significant landmark in the town. While I can imagine it following the way of the world and being taking down to make way for some commercially more lucrative venture, noting the Seaway car park area, opposite, is to undertake a major re-development, I would like to see something done connecting it to Southend’s past, attracting the new generation, as a leisure and cultural centre.