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Ron McCormick At Southend

January 11, 2023
by the gentle author

In these melancholy January days of rain and chills, let us recall the happy days of high summer and day trips to Southend as evoked by Ron McCormick’s photographs of half a century ago, selected from the current exhibition at Beecroft Gallery. Two Views of Southend by Josef Koudelka & Ron McCormick runs until 19th February, admission free.


“The Beano, Bank Holiday and Southend Carnival, a crate of beer in the back of the coach and ‘kiss me quick’ to the sound of the Salvation Army band. Southend is the East Londoner’s Riviera. My pictures are about the people who come for the day and are out to enjoy themselves whatever. A laugh, booze up, let yourself go, dip in the sea and the race to catch the coach home.

I enjoyed being with them.”

Ron McCormick


Beach scene

Salvation Army Band, Marine Parade

Test of strength at the Kursaal Amusement Park

Outside The Ship Pub, Marine Parade

On the Promenade, Marine Parade

Sea cruise, Marine Parade

Outside The Ship Pub, Marine Parade

Seafood stall

Beach tents

Deck chair shrimp break, Marine Parade

Outside the Borough Hotel

One-armed bandits

Seafront at Marine Parade

Slot machines, the Happidrome Arcade

Slot machines

The Shrubbery, Royal Terrace

Visitors near the pier, Marine Parade

Standing room only, Kursaal Palace Bingo Hall

Elim Pentecostal preacher at Marine Parade

Photographs copyright © Ron McCormick

You may also like to take a look at

Ron McCormick’s Spitalfields

Ron McCormick’s Whitechapel

12 Responses leave one →
  1. Christine Swan permalink
    January 11, 2023

    A fantastic set of photos capturing the essence of a day out at the seaside. My family’s preference was to visit Clacton On Sea although I did also visit Southend several times too. On one memorable visit to Clacton, I was squished in the back seat of a car between my gran and one of her sisters, who was rather large. On the way home, we stopped at a cafe and my gran and her sisters made a fuss of my sister and I, filling us up with ice cream sundaes and fizzy pop. Back in the car, squished again, I became quite unwell and an emergency stop was required for the ice cream to go into reverse. Afterwards, I was consoled by more cuddling and squishing until we arrived home. Sadly, this is my only memory of a day spent with my gran’s sisters who were lovely ladies.

  2. Andy permalink
    January 11, 2023

    A lively set of photos Ron. I feel the place is not the same now.
    Although, I did see Chris de Burgh at Cliff Pavilion theatre and stayed in the Welbeck Hotep.. Both venues I recommend.

  3. Mark permalink
    January 11, 2023

    Wonderful pictures, capturing the spirit of people enjoying themselves. Reminiscent of the great Tony Ray Jones and his seaside portraits. A treat.

  4. January 11, 2023

    Incredible pictures — what wonderful times those were 50 years ago. And the best part about it is: we ALL actually lived through those years! Crazy.

    Love & Peace

  5. Joan Johnson permalink
    January 11, 2023

    A wonderful collection of photographs. Very evocative. Although my seaside holidays during the 1950s/60s were spent at Clacton on Sea there was the occasional day trip to Southend. I have good good memories of several visits to east coast resorts from many years ago.

  6. January 11, 2023

    My rational mind tells me that I have no real authentic knowledge of these people. (Heck, if it wasn’t for Spitalfields Life I would not even be aware of the word “beano”. ) And yet this totally cinematic group of photos has lured me into the scene, and each image makes me want to
    interact, overhear, join in, sing along, and book a sea cruise to “all the interesting spots”. I want to squeeze onto the long bench near the pier, with those older gals, and just LISTEN. I need to know what happened to those two little scampish girls outside the Borough Hotel. And I want to guffaw along with all those gents, at the “Test of Strength” venue. Wow, just look at those smiles! Men together.
    I want to catch the eye of the gal, looking at her (distorted) reflection in the slot machine. She looks so suddenly alone, far away, lost in worries. Perhaps she passed by the Pentacostal preacher, as she headed for her homeward bus, and heard an uplifting phrase?

    Captured moments and fleeting stories. What an amazing overview of humanity.
    These are remarkable photos. Thank you, GA.

  7. Ron McCormick permalink
    January 11, 2023

    Well – THANK YOU all, – it was pleasure to revisit this work which following the original showing at Southend in 1973 has been stored away in the archive and largely unseen, only a few images have been published until its current resurrection by the Beecroft Art Gallery.
    I have been recently re-editing the photographs (over 1500) and plan to make a wider selection available – Café Royal books have also published a selection from the original show which you can purchase from the Beecroft Art Gallery, Southend on Sea – or directly from the publisher at


  8. Cherub permalink
    January 11, 2023

    When we lived in Upminster we used to always take a trip out to Southend on Boxing Day. My husband used to say it was “to blow the cobwebs out” before New Year came along.

  9. Paul Loften permalink
    January 11, 2023

    My mum and dad moved to Southend from Stoke Newington in 1980 after he retired . He died there. To be honest it was a bad move . I went down there to visit and took a walk in the town centre with my dad and saw a skinhead sitting on bench dressed in the full Nazi Brownshirt uniform with a swastika armband proudly displayed. He spent a good portion of his life doing his best to rid the world of this and there it was in the town centre . It put me off the place for life

  10. Marcia Howard permalink
    January 12, 2023

    Wonderful images. We went to Southend once or twice on Sunday School outings so I looked very carefully in case I saw one of us – to no avail

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  12. January 17, 2023

    We were regular visitors to South End. I was hoping we might have appeared in one of Ron’s photos. ?

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