NOTE:This description should be transferred to Southend-on-Sea (district) which is the unitary authority formed in 1974.
Southend-on-Sea is a seaside resort town and wider unitary authority area with borough status, in Essex, England, on the north side of the Thames estuary east of central London. It is bordered to the north by Rochford and to the west by Castle Point. It is home to the longest leisure pier in the world, Southend Pier. London Southend Airport is located north of the town centre.
Originally the "south end" of the village of Prittlewell, Southend was originally home to a few poor fisherman huts and farms that lay at the southern extremity of Prittlewell Priory land. In the 1790s landowner Daniel Scratton sold off land either side of what was to become the High Street, and the Grand Hotel (now Royal Hotel) and Grove Terrace (now Royal Terrace) were completed by 1794. Due to the bad transportation links between Southend and London, there was not rapid development during the Georgian Era like Brighton. It was the coming of the railways in the 19th Century and the visit of Princess Caroline that Southend's status of a Seaside resort grew. During the 19th century Southend's pier was first constructed and the Clifftown development built, attracting many tourists in the summer months to its seven miles of beaches and bathing in the sea. Good rail connections and proximity to London mean that much of the economy has been based on tourism, and that Southend has been a dormitory town for city workers ever since. Southend Pier is the world's longest pleasure pier at . It has suffered fires and ship collisions, most recently in October 2005, but the basic pier structure has been repaired each time. There has been significant loss of pier-head facilities since the major fire in 1976.
Southend went into decline as a holiday destination from the 1960s, when holidays abroad became more affordable. Southend reinvented itself as the Home of the Access (credit card) due to it having one of the UK's first electronic telephone exchanges (it is still home to RBS Card Services - one of the former members of Access), with offices based in the former EKCO factory, Maitland House (Keddies), Victoria Circus and Southchurch Road. Since then, much of the town centre has been developed for commerce and retail, and during the 1960s many original structures were lost to redevelopment - such as the Talza Arcade & Victoria Market (replaced by what is now known as The Victoria shopping centre) and Southend Technical College (on the site of the ODEON Cinema). However, about 6.4 million tourists still visit Southend per year, generating estimated revenues of £200 million a year. H.M. Revenue & Customs (HMRC), (formerly H.M. Customs and Excise), are major employers in the town, and the central offices for the collection of VAT are located on in Alexanda House on Victoria Avenue. The University of Essex, Southend Campus has been developed locally to provide higher education facilities and to assist in boosting the economy. Southend also has over 80 parks and green spaces and 14 conservation areas.
There are nine railway stations on two lines within the borough which connect it to London.