HMS Leigh - Guardian of the Thames 2021

Come and discover the untold history of HMS Leigh also known as Southend Pier and the role it played during World War 2 as Naval Command for the Thames. 


 Join HMS Leigh Guardian of the Thames in celebrating the 76th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day Thursday 6th May - Sunday 9th May 2021.   

Winston Churchill with a Sten Mk II in S
RNVR Officer Uniform WW2 02
Outside The Royal Hotel - Southend

Discover the secrets 

May 2021 offers the opportunity to be a part of the joy of knowing that WW2 has just ended, interact with actors who will bring VE Day to life, dressed as though it is May 1945.  Be inspired by real-world stories of those who lived in the Southend area during WW2: from Commodore J.P. Champion to the extraordinary Mona Budd who ran the Pier catering service for everyone.  

Immerse yourselves in the fascinating history of HMS Leigh with pop-up exhibitions, curated in partnership with local history associations and Southend Schools, along the pier where you can learn about HMS Leigh’s crucial role in truly being the Guardian of the Thames.  

Dance and celebrate

Celebrate and dance like it’s the end of the war 1945 style, with upbeat 1940’s inspired live jazz music performances at the end of HMS Leigh (Southend Pier) at the Royal Pavilion over the event days. Don’t miss out on Southend’s finest performers, such as the Music Man, Josh Winiberg, Digby Fairweather and the Half Dozen, So Slam, YMCA Music and Scarlet Taylor.   

If musicians, singers or dancers would like to join the celebrations and perform on the Pier, please do get in touch with the HMS Leigh Team! 

Support our armed services: past, present and future 

A fantastic opportunity to talk with members of the Royal Artillery Association, Royal British Legion, Royal Naval Association, local Cadets and other members of the community over the event days. This is an opportunity to get up-close and personal with original WW2 artillery and military vehicles, and local legend the Endeavour, with many more exciting surprises to be announced very soon!  

Remember those you have lost 

We are inviting everyone to visit our dedicated Remembrance Garden, hosted by the Royal British Legion, and supported by other local organisations - alongside people who experienced World War 2 as children. Here you will be able to talk openly about those you have lost at any point in your life - to people who are there to listen. You will also be able to contribute towards our Remembrance Wall, by bringing photos and stories of, or letters to those you have lost. These may be submitted now or during the event. 

Main image courtesy of Dean Trotter

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