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Leigh-on-Sea shown within Essex
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Leigh-on-Sea (pronounced //), also referred to as Leigh, is an affluent civil parish in Essex, England. It is part of Southend-on-Sea for administrative purposes becoming a civil parish in 1996, with its own town council. The only parish within Southend-on-Sea, its population was recorded in the 2001 census at 20,737.
Location and history
The town of Leigh-on-Sea is situated on the northern side of the estuary of the river Thames, a few miles from the open waters of the North Sea to the east, and at a similar distance from the Kent coast to the south.
The fishing and boat-building settlement of 'Old Leigh' is on the shipping route to London. Leigh-on-Sea grew to a prosperous port by the 16th century. Ships as large as 340 tons were built for fishing and other purposes. By the 18th century, ships had become larger and Leigh's deep water channel silted up and the town diminished in importance. Reduced once more to a fishing village and servicing the London markets via the Thames and by road. The main seafood catch from Leigh Old Town has always been shell-fish and whitebait. Many of the fishing boats were bawleys, and these form part of the painting View at the mouth of the Thames. Two of the old town's pubs, the Peter Boat and Ye Olde Smack, owe their names to two other kinds of local fishing boats, the peter boat and the smack.
Leigh-on-Sea is served by Leigh-on-Sea station, on the London, Tilbury and Southend Railway. The current railway station is situated to the west of the Old Town and in 1936 replaced the original station, which was situated in the Old Town. The town is also accessible by bus, with regular, daily services from Southend-on-Sea, Benfleet, Canvey Island, Basildon, Rayleigh and Chelmsford. Scheduled flights to and from national and European destinations are operated out of the nearby London-Southend airport.
Festivals and activities
Several annual events are also well established: Leigh Regatta and The Leigh Folk Festival. The regatta is held over one weekend in September. It is organised by the three Sea Scout Groups based in the Old Town to raise funds for local Scouting and a nominated charity. The coastal areas of Leigh-on-Sea include a nature reserve at Two Tree Island and a centrally located beach.
- Phil Cornwell, actor, comedian and impressionist
- Tina Cousins, singer
- David Lloyd, tennis player and businessman
- John Lloyd, tennis player (brother of David)
- Helen Mirren, actress
- Peggy Mount, actress
- Vivian Stanshall, artist and musician, born in Oxfordshire but spent much of his early life in Leigh
- Michael Wilding, actor
- John Fowles, author
- Thorpe Smith Collection, Beecroft Art Gallery, Southend Museums.The Beecroft Art Gallery, then follow successive links to PictureGallery, Beecroft Collection, Thorpe Smith Collection by William Anderson.
- "Seaside fun in Old Leigh". Essex Life (Archant). September 2008. p. 17. Retrieved 2009-01-18. (Registration required).