The Former Southend Pier Railway.

This page shows the former electric trains that operated on the 1½ mile long pier at Southend-On-Sea, in Essex. They were introduced in 1949 (replacing older trains which operated a pre-war service) and in all there were four 'trains' each of which consisted of seven four-wheel carriages. The system was electrified at 500v dc using a centrally located third rail and the track gauge was 3ft 6in (approx 106cm).

The line closed in the late 1970's - some reports suggest 1978 whilst others say that public services ended in October 1976 but for the benefit of the lifeboat crew some occasional trains continued to operate until July 1979. In 1986 a new two-train die-sel service was opened (diesel train not illustrated).

The first image dates from the late 1970's. It was taken using 126 print film and digitised in 2003 - unfortunately by which time the colours on the negative had began to "change". The rest were taken in 1982 and show the vehicles on the promenade awaiting removal for scrapping. These were taken on Kodachrome 64 film - the square shaped views on a "126" format film Instamatic camera and the other views on a "110" format camera which featured a fixed aperture but an automated electronic shutter that facilitated low-light and indoor photography without the use of flashguns. Unfortunately the limited width of the promenade prevented my walking 'back' enough to be able to source full-width side views of any of the carriages. There are no views of trains travelling between stations or arriving / departing stations.

Former Southend Pier railway train at the pier head station.
A train (in passenger service) standing in the platform at the pier head station.
This view was taken during a lunch break on a business trip to Southend - most of which was spent getting to / from the pier. It is regretted but there simply was not the time to spend waiting to photograph moving trains. Immediately after taking this photograph the train was boarded to await the return journey.

Former Southend Pier railway driving motor carriage No.22 seen on the promenade.
Driving motor carriage No.22 on the promenade. This carriage is now one of the exhibits at the Southend Pier Museum (link opens in a new window), it would have been nice to have been able to include a photograph of it there however the museum's strict prohibition on visitor photography precludes this.

Former Southend Pier railway carriage driver's cab showing electrical control gear.
Side elevation of the driver's cab showing some of the electrical control gear.

Inside former Southend Pier railway carriage looking towards driver's cab.
The 'inside' end of carriage No.22.
When in public service this end would be coupled to the next carriage, so it would not normally have been possible to source this type of unobstructed view.

Side elevation of a former Southend Pier railway carriage doorway.
Side elevation of carriage No.12 showing the closed sliding passenger doors.

Side elevation of a former Southend Pier railway carriage doorway.
Side elevation of carriage No.22 showing the open sliding passenger doors.

Inside former Southend Pier railway driving motor carriage looking towards the driver's cab.
Inside carriage No.22 looking towards the driver's cab.

Inside a former Southend Pier railway trailer carriage.
Inside trailer carriage No.3.

Inside a former Southend Pier railway trailer carriage.
Window detail - inside carriage No.3.

Former Southend Pier railway works carriage seen on the promenade.
Front three-quarter elevation of a works carriage.

Former Southend Pier railway works carriage seen on the promenade.
Rear three-quarter elevation of a works carriage plus part of an adjacent trailer.

Former Southend Pier railway carriages 4 and 2.
Carriages Nos 4 and 2.

Former Southend Pier railway carriages 4 and 2.
A close-up view of the above image.

Former Southend Pier railway station plus trains.
A side elevation of the station at the 'land' end of the pier. Some trains are just visible through the windows.

Additional Southend Pier Railway photographs from when the line was in full use plus much information about services and how they operated (sometimes using all four trains at the same time - two at the stations and two travelling between the stations) can be found here:- http://www.greywall.demon.co.uk/rail/spr.html

The 'official' Southend Pier Museum website can be found here:- http://www.southendpiermuseum.co.uk/ Links open in new windows.

The Southend Pier Museum welcomes visitors, who are strongly recommended to check the website for opening days and times in advance of travelling. The museum includes three former Southend Pier electric trains, as well other items of rolling stock and displays (etc) which may be of interest. However visitors need to know that the museum has a very strict prohibition on personal photography. Instead visitors are encouraged to purchase images (postcards) from the shop, which do not always reflect the types of detailed photographs which transport enthusiasts may wish to take. Because of this and for reasons of copyright this page does not include any promotional images from the museum.


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