|This article does not cite any references or sources. (December 2009)|
Westcliff-on-Sea shown within Essex
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|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
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Westcliff-on-Sea is a suburb of Southend-on-Sea, a seaside resort and unitary authority in Essex in south-east England. It is situated on the north bank of the Thames Estuary, about 34 miles (55 km) east of London.
The cliffs formed by erosion of the local quaternary geology give views over the Thames Estuary towards the Kent coastline to the south. The coastline has been transformed into sandy beaches through the use of groynes and imported sand. The estuary at this point has extensive mud flats. At low tide, the water typically retreats some 600 m from the beach, leaving the mud flats exposed.
The London, Tilbury and Southend Railway line arrived in the 1880s, connecting the town with London and shortening travel time to and from that city. Westcliff railway station in Station Road is now managed by c2c.
The main shopping area in Westcliff-on-Sea is Hamlet Court Road, where the department store Havens, established in 1901, remains the anchor store. Hamlet Court Road took its name from a manor house called the Hamlet Court, which stood on land now occupied by Pavarotti's restaurant and the Nat West bank, facing towards the sea with sweeping gardens down to the rail line. The road later developed into a strong independent retail area, and quickly became famous outside the area as the Bond Street of the East Coast. There were many haberdashers and specialist shops, and it was not too unusual to see chauffeurs waiting for their employers to emerge from the shops.
The economic recessions of the 1980s and 1990s saw the area decline. However the road underwent a £1 million regeneration in the early 2000s and a further regeneration in 2010.
The two main theatres in Westcliff are the Cliffs Pavilion, which overlooks the seafront, and the Palace Theatre.
Opposite the Cliffs Pavilion theatre there is also the Beecroft Art Gallery which changes its exhibitions on a regular basis, often exhibiting local work which features Southend and the surrounding area sites such as Hadleigh Castle and the pier.
There is a also an annual Westcliff Art Trail centred on Hamlet Court Road, whose shops showcase the work of local artists.
Westcliff-on-Sea has always had a strong musical culture.
- Daniel Hardcastle (Also known as NerdCubed, YouTube personality, video game commentator/reviewer)
- Trevor Bailey (England cricket team test cricketer; attended Alleyn Court School)
- Dick Clement (writer; born in the town)
- Barry Cooper (musicologist; born in the town)
- Wilko Johnson (guitarist, musician, actor)
- Buddy Greco (singer, pianist)
- Edward Greenfield (music writer and broadcaster; born in the town)
- Benjamin Grosvenor (pianist; attended Westcliff High School for Boys)
- John Horsley (actor; born in the town)
- John Hutton (Labour MP) (former Defence Secretary; born in the town)
- Russell Kane (comedian, actor, presenter, writer; lives in the town)
- Rupert Keegan (Formula One racing driver; born in the town)
- Fiona Lewis (actress; born in the town)
- Helen Mirren (actress; attended St Bernard's school in the town)
- Scroobius Pip (spoken word artist attended St Thomas More High School for Boys)
- Edward Power Biggs (classical organist; born in the town)
- Maisie Smith (actress, Tiffany Dean in EastEnders, attended Chalkwell Hall school and lived in the town)
- Samantha Smith (tennis player, lives in the town)
- Mark Saunders (musician, bassist for Florence and the Machine, lives in the town)