VE-76

HMS Leigh

The Bravest Pier in the World

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Come walk the boards to celebrate WW2 Southend and VE76.  
 
Click the button below to take part in the HMS Leigh interactive film to meet many of those who turned Southend Pier from holiday resort to shore base that protected London and the rest of the UK by keeping the shipping moving throughout WW2. 

 

Southend Pier is an icon with a past, a true survivor with an incredible history that makes it the perfect backdrop to bring all ages together to revel in the crucial part it played in WW2 where it became the Guardian of the Thames.    

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HMS Leigh is a community led heritage and arts project that aims to connect people of all ages with the history of Southend Pier, also known as HMS Leigh, during WW2.  Supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Arts Council and Southend Borough Council, this project was created as part of the VE 75 celebrations in 2020.                          

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Please do sign up for our newsletter or visit our Facebook page or Instagram where details of all the ways that people can be involved can be found.  Otherwise, to find out more about the HMS Leigh project – please do explore the website, it will be updated regularly. 

  
Southend Pier has always been a wonderful community space and in September 1939 it became the Naval Control Centre for the Thames Estuary and was renamed HMS Leigh with surrounding areas becoming HMS Westcliff.    

 

The original event, planned in May 2020 was for the 75th Anniversary of VE Day to bring all ages together to celebrate this amazing piece of history, as well as bringing to life veterans, researchers, actors and exhibitions with the exhilaration and sadness that came with the declaration of peace.     
  
We are very excited to be able to announce that thanks to National Lottery players, through funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and help from project partners Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, the HMS Leigh project has been able to secure an exciting extension to the project so that we can bring a live event to the whole community in September 2021.   
  
Planned for the weekend of 24th September 2021, we are calling our event HMS Leigh – The Bravest Pier in the world – in recognition of the amazing story of how the 1.3mile Southend Pier was transformed into a Naval Shore Base that gathered and dispatched men, munitions, fuel, food and everything that kept a besieged London and the war effort of the armed forces fed, watered and supplied for the 6 long years of WW2.   
  
The story of HMS Leigh is the story of the people and events around Southend Pier from 1939 to 1945. This was a time of everyday heroes and heroines who worked tirelessly to protect the community they were proud to be a part of and the families they loved. HMS Leigh was the departure point for thousands of convoys during WW2 and played a truly remarkable role in the defence of Britain.  We would be delighted to see you there in September.  

Please do sign up for our newsletter or visit our Facebook page or Instagram where details of all the ways that people can be involved can be found.  Otherwise, to find out more about the HMS Leigh project – please do explore the website, it will be updated regularly.

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These photos were kindly shared by Southend Museum