Marine Park
Marine Park This park was opened in May 1894 as the Marine Park Palace and Gardens by father and son Alfred and Bernard Wilshire Tolhurst. Twenty acres of Beaumont estate were enclosed by steel fencing in addition to four acres of the Marine Park recreational annexe. The attractions included a switchback railway, aerial flight, a marine lake adjoining Brewery Road for twenty boats, cricket pitches, bowling greens, cycle track, bandstand etc. In August, the directors decided to forego the opening ceremony on the “Marine Park Palace and Gardens” because the Mayor decided not to perform the ceremony. He sought advice from members of the council who thought he should not function officially in private enterprise. The attractions at the opening included Lieut. Taylor with his performing wolves and boarhounds; high divers and aquatic performers and a fireworks display. Article from a Southend Guide 1898 reports; This, one of the latest and most beautiful attractions of Southend-on-Sea, is situated like a bright oasis in the desert “of undesirables” which are unfortunately located in the Lower Town. It was acquired in 1896 by the Pyramidical Syndicate, Limited, and extensive alterations and improvements have since been made. The Main entrance is in Brewery Road, and close to the beach. The Park is prettily laid out, every nook and corner being utilised to good purpose, Stretching away at the back are the meadows and woods of Southchurch. One cannot tell where the Park ends and Southchurch begins. Nature and Art combining to make a delicious little landscape. In the centre of the park on raised ground is a splendid cycling track, 3 1/3 laps to the mile, which encircles a cricket wicket ground beautifully turfed, on which many a battle will be fought. To the left of these lies a large ornamental lake, over which, as it narrows at its centre, is thrown a pretty rustic bridge. On the right of the entrance is one of the largest switchback railways (Roller Coaster) ever built, and it is safe to say that the “largest” screams of laughter ever heard proceed from its vicinity when visitors try its exhilarating journey. Opposite the switchback is an ornamental canal also crossed by bridges and containing four fountains. Next we come to the dancing platform, again the largest, covering a space of 15,000 superficial feet. There is a pretty rustic bandstand, and at the end of the platform is the open air stage, handsomely decorated and fitted up. In addition to these attractions there are the Indian jungle a shooting salon, and a bowling alley. A prominent feature of the park is the handsome building which contains the offices and store rooms, and the tea rooms, etc., etc. The windows of the latter are prettily hung with fresh looking curtains and the arrangements for making “tea for the million” are simply perfect. There is also a children’s tea tea room, which is a decided acquisition. The refreshment bar has a frontage of 180 feet. In the evening illumination is provided by arc and incandescent lamps, the general effect being very pretty. Space fails us to describe the many other point of attraction, but we congratulate ourselves, our visitors, and the manager on what is undoubtedly a boon and a blessing to men, women, and children.

Sea of Change Southend-on-Sea

Kursaal Southend-on-Sea
The History of a Seaside Town

Sea of Change Southend-on-Sea © 2010 - 2021 P. J. Wren. All Rights Reserved.

Luna Park  In 1910 the Kursaal was purchased by Luna Park and the Palace of Amusements Ltd (Southend), which had been newly registered on 14th  March 1910 by William Hilton. The park was renamed Luna Park, Hilton became the Managing Director of the park, and opened new attractions, including the Astley's Circus, Figure of Eight Roller Coasters, Harton Scenic Railway, Kinema (cinema) and a miniature railway, Luna Park was becoming extremely popular, it was reported that up to 100,000 visitors were visiting a week. In June 1911 the park suffered a fire which destroyed two of the park's most popular attractions, the Figure of Eight Railway Coaster and the Joy Wheel. By 1912 Hilton's company had been taken over by trustees, the Luna Park Company in 1915 was dissolved.
The Kursaal and the Morehouse Dynasty In 1915 Clifton Jay Morehouse became the new owner of the park. Morehouse had arrived in London in 1897 from America, settling in Birmingham. Industrialist Morehouse led the park to become one of the most successful in England. In March 1920 Morehouse suddenly died, his son David de Forrest Morehouse then took directorship. In 1934 David de Forrest Morehouse died and a board of trustees took over the Kursaal. In 1948 C. J. Morehouse II took over the Kursaal from the trustees. This period saw the biggest attractions come to the Kursaal, there was, Eric the Whale, the Great Wall of Death and Al Capone’s Car.
The Decline of the Kursaal The Kursaal ballroom has played host to many musical artistes and bands since its opening in 1901, during the 1970s the Kursaal ballroom became well known as a rock music venue hosting famous live bands, many relationships started at the Kursaal. The Kursaal had been in gradual decline since the early 1970s, the amusement park closed in 1973. In 1977 the ballroom closed, with the main building finally closing in 1986. The amusement park was later redeveloped for housing and called the Kursaal Estate. After the refurbishment of the main building and opening in 1998 the first to close was McDonalds in 2008, then in 2019 the MFA Bowl went into administration and the bowling alley closed, the Rendevous Casino closed in 2020. Only a Tesco Express store remains.
In 1899 there was an outcry all over the country when national papers announced that that Mr. Scott of the Kursaal had arranged a bull fight at Marine Park. The town council ordered the town clerk to take all steps to oppose the bull fight. In fact, Mr. Scott had arranged for a group of performing dogs with their trainer to burlesque a bull fight. July 1901 the Kursaal main building was opened by Lord Claud Hamilton, the design was by George Sherrin and John Clarke, the new facilities included an arcade, ballroom, billiard room and dining hall. Eventually the park owners ran into financial difficulties and the company went into liquidation.
Luna Park
2012 Kursaal
Dining Room
1898 Map Marine Park and Pleasure Gardens
1939 Kursaal Advert
c1901 Kursaal Entrance and Palace
The Kursaal Returns After the closing in 1986 the main building lay derelict until 1998, when the Kursaal building reopened after redevelopment by the Rowallan Group, the Kursaal now housed new amusements, bowling alley, casino and a McDonalds.
2012 Kursaal Dome
Sea of Change Southend-on-Sea