The Kursaal Conservation Area was designated in 1989. It is a compact Area associated both with Southend's origins and its later growth into a major resort. It consists of The Kursaal and 1-6 Eastern Esplanade.
The history of Kursaal Conservation Area
In 1894 this area was a Marine Park and the "Kursaal" was built in the south west corner of the Park to form a grand entrance. It was designed by George Sherrin in 1896 and completed in 1901. The "Kursaal" included a circus, ballroom, arcade with amusements, dining hall and billiard room, but the planned "Blackpool" like tower was not built. The Marine Park was soon taken over by amusements and rides and became the resort's premier attraction
Although small the conservation area also includes two other significant buildings. The Minerva was built in 1792 and is much older than the Kursaal. It was originally the home of Abraham Vandercord, the principle local barge owner and was the centre of the hamlet of South End at the time of its early development into a small resort. The Britannia was built as a house in the 18th Century but later as the resort grew it was converted to an inn.
The appraisal for the Kursaal Conservation Area (2021) can be viewed on our democracy webpages.
The Kursaal’s special interest
Although the amusement park has been redeveloped for housing, much of the original Kursaal building has been restored and it remains an important landmark for the town. The dome, with its glazed interior, and the frontage to Southchurch Avenue are well detailed in red brick and stone and are prominent features of the seafront townscape. It is now a listed building. The Minerva and Britannia have also been altered but their original character is still evident and they make a positive contrbution to the character of the conservation area.
Further information on the special historic character of the conservation area can be found in the Kursaal Conservation Area Character Appraisal.
Development in the Conservation Area
All development in the Conservation Area including alterations such as changing windows and roofing materials should follow guidance set out in the Design and Townscape Guide in particular Section 9 Historic Buildings. The Kursaal is a Listed Building and works to the interior and the exterior are also likely to require Listed Building Consent.
It is always advisable to check with the Council if planning permission is needed before undertaking any works to the exterior of a property or any works to a listed building in the conservation area.