Tube To Southend? It Was Once Possible

M@
By M@ Last edited 6 months ago
Tube To Southend? It Was Once Possible

Have you ever secretly wished that the tube could take you to the seaside? It was once possible.

From 1910 to 1939, the District line operated a seasonal excursion train to the Essex resort town of Southend.

The trains ran on the usual route through east London to Upminster, before carrying on to Leigh-on-Sea, then Southend Central and Shoeburyness. It was possible to take one train all the way from Ealing Broadway to the mouth of the River Thames.

Services ran up to three times a day. As a curious footnote, these were the first trains in the country to be fitted with retention toilets.

The Southend service lasted until the outbreak of war in 1939. That means there are probably people alive today who remember getting an Underground train to the coast.

A little Londonist plays on Southend beach.

You can't get the tube to Southend today, but the town does possess two other remarkable rail lines. Southend has the longest pleasure pier in the world, with its own mile-long railway. One of the trains is named the Sir John Betjeman, after the famous poet and rail enthusiast. Visitors can also ride the precipitous funicular railway up the cliff.

See also: You could once get the Underground to Windsor.

(Pedants' note: We used the word 'Tube' in the headline when, technically, we should have said 'Underground'. So sue us.)

Last Updated 13 December 2017