From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Shoeburyness east-beach.jpg
Shoebury East Beach
Shoeburyness is located in Essex
 Shoeburyness shown within Essex
Population 11,159 (2011 Census[1]
OS grid reference TQ941851
Unitary authority Southend-on-Sea
Ceremonial county Essex
Region East
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district SS3
Dialling code 01702
Police Essex
Fire Essex
Ambulance East of England
EU Parliament East of England
UK Parliament Rochford and Southend East
List of places

Coordinates: 51°31′54″N 0°47′52″E / 51.5316°N 0.7978°E / 51.5316; 0.7978

Shoeburyness (also called "Shoebury") is a town in southeast Essex, England, at the mouth of the Thames Estuary. It is within the borough of Southend-on-Sea, situated at its far east, around 3 miles (5 km) east of Southend town centre. It was an urban district of Essex from 1894 to 1933, when it became part of the county borough of Southend-on-Sea.[2]


The eastern terminus of the London, Tilbury and Southend Railway (c2c line) is at Shoeburyness railway station, services run to London Fenchurch Street in the city of London. The eastern end of the A13 is at Shoeburyness. The Ministry of Defence (MOD) site at Pig's Bay is situated nearby and the facility is run by the company QinetiQ.

Shoeburyness has two beaches: East Beach and Shoebury Common Beach (also known as West Beach), both Blue Flag beaches.

Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) girls at the Royal Artillery Experimental Unit, at Shoeburyness, using the Window Position Finder to sight shell bursts in the air or water, 1943.

East Beach is a sandy/pebbly beach around a quarter of a mile long and is sandwiched between the Pig's Bay MOD site and the former Shoeburyness Artillery barracks. Access to the large gravel/grass pay-and-display car park is via Rampart Terrace. East Beach is the site of a defence boom, built in 1944, to prevent enemy shipping and submarines from accessing the River Thames. This replaced an earlier, similar boom built 100 yards (91 m) east. The majority of the boom was dismantled after the war, but around one mile still remains, stretching out into the Thames Estuary. East Beach benefits from a large grassy area immediately adjacent to the sands, which is suitable for informal sports and family fun. Shoeburyness is where, during WW2, a magnetic ground mine, which was deposited in the mud at the mouth of the Thames by the Luftwaffe, was discovered by the MOD. Up until that time, various sinkings of ships around the English coast were thought to be due to U-Boat torpedoes. The discovery of the ground mine allowed countermeasures to be introduced to neutralise the weapon's effect; one of these was the degaussing cables installed in merchant ships in allied and British fleets, and of course the wooden minesweepers. Shoebury Common Beach is bounded to the east by the land formerly occupied by the Shoeburyness Artillery Barracks and continues into Jubilee Beach. Shoebury Common Beach is the site of many beach huts located on both the promenade and the beach. Uncle Tom's Cabin provides visitors with the usual seaside refreshments. A Coast Guard watch tower at the eastern end of the beach keeps watch over the sands and mudflats while listening out for distress calls over the radio. A cycle path skirts around the sea-front linking the East Beach to Shoebury Common Beach, and thence into Southend.

Shoebury Garrison[edit]

Horseshoe Barracks, Shoeburyness

In 1849 the Board of Ordnance purchased land at South Shoebury with a view to setting up an artillery testing and practice range. (Until then, Plumstead Common and Woolwich Common had been used, but these were no longer viable due to the increasing power and range of the weapons.) Its use grew significantly during the Crimean War. Around this time the officers' mess was set up in a former Coastguard station on what is now Mess Road, and a series of houses were built alongside, facing the sea, for the commandant and other officers. In 1856 a garrison hospital was established nearby.[3]

In the wake of Crimea the Royal Artillery School of Gunnery was established at Shoeburyness in 1859, with Horseshoe Barracks and various other amenities being added not long afterwards. Over the years that followed Shoeburyness was integral to the development of new and improved artillery weapons.[4] As a result, more space was required for this work to continue, and from 1889 the establishment expanded on to a 'New Range' to the north-east, which encompassed Foulness Island and Havengore.

In 1920 Shoebury was redesignated as the 'Coast Artillery School' of the Royal Garrison Artillery, with the move of the Field Artillery and Horse Artillery equivalents to Larkhill. After the Second World War artillery regiments continued to be garrisoned at Shoebury until 1976. Following the closure of the Old Ranges in 1998 the old garrison land and buildings (several of which are now listed) were sold and converted for housing.[4]

The New Ranges remain in use, however; the work of the Experimental Establishment, begun in 1859, continues today under the auspices of QinetiQ. The site is known as MOD Shoeburyness.

A tower was planned to stand in the Shoeburyness Garrison housing development. The tower was to be 18 storeys high and designed to mark the start of the Thames Gateway development.[5]


Shoeburyness Fisherman Hailing a Whitstable Hoy by J. M. W. Turner, 1809

The English painter J. M. W. Turner depicted the fishermen of Shoeburyness in his oil painting Shoeburyness Fishermen Hailing a Whitstable Hoy. The painting was exhibited in 1809, and was part of a series Turner made of the Thames estuary between 1808 and 1810. The painting has been in the collection of the National Gallery of Canada since 1939.[6][7]

Shoeburyness is also mentioned in The Meaning of Liff by Douglas Adams et al. The Meaning of Liff is a fictional "dictionary of things that there aren't any words for yet". Shoeburyness is described as "that uncomfortable feeling one experiences when sitting in a chair that is still warm from the last occupant."

In the fifth Temeraire novel Victory of Eagles, Shoeburyness is the setting of a fictitious climactic battle in which Wellesley and Nelson drive Napoleon out of England in early 1808.

Philip Reeve's 2006 novel Larklight mentions 'a squalid spot called Shoeburyness'.

Billy Bragg's song "A13" (an Essex-style reworking of "Route 66"), opens with the line "If you ever go to Shoeburyness".

Ian Dury mentions Shoeburyness in his 1977 song "Billericay Dickie".

Shoeburyness is home to "the commuter", protagonist in the eponymous song and music video by Ceephax Acid Crew.[8]

Shoeburyness is mentioned in The Harder They Fall (Porridge)


Climate data for Shoeburyness, Essex 1981–2010
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 7.5
Average low °C (°F) 2.4
Average precipitation mm (inches) 42.3
Average rainy days 9.5 8.0 8.6 8.4 8.0 8.0 6.9 6.9 7.6 10.0 10.0 9.4 101.3
Source: Met Office[9]

Notable people[edit]

  • Tony Holland, (18 January 1940 – 28 November 2007), screenwriter for the BBC