After temperatures reached the mid 20’s, tens of thousands of tourists and residents flocked to the town’s sun-soaked beaches to enjoy traditional fish and chips, soak up the sun, and admire over 3,500 motorbikes that had roared their way to the seafront on Bank Holiday Monday.
A total of 18,461 sun-seekers visited the pier over the weekend – more than the whole of March. The Pier saw a fun Easter Egg hunt along with the opening of the new tearoom where Jamie and Jimmy’s TV show is filmed.
Meanwhile, the hidden historical gem of Prittlewell Priory attracted 5,442 visitors to its popular Teddy Bear Hunt – compared to 538 in Easter last year.
In anticipation of the busy weekend, significant extra resources were drafted in, including parking marshals to coordinate car park flow and BID rangers to welcome visitors and help reunite lost children with parents.
An extra 25 Veolia waste staff were drafted in to remove waste, with crews removing over 11 tonnes of rubbish from the seafront - from both bins and litter-picks - and clocking up a total of 320 working hours between them.
Scott Dolling, Director of Culture, Tourism and Property, said the success of the weekend showed that the extensive planning between the Council, emergency services and local police as part of Operation Heatwave had paid off.
He said: “This was the busiest Easter we can recall for many years with huge numbers visiting the breadth of our seafront and award-winning parks. The sunshine certainly helped, but the huge numbers clearly show the continued appeal of Southend as a visitor destination.
“I, like many, was delighted to see the return of the Southend Shakedown and congratulate the organising committee on such a well-attended, safe and enjoyable event.
“As one of the key agencies involved in ensuring the event ran smoothly, we will be attending a debrief and taking on board feedback from attendees, traders and residents.
“In particular, I would like to thank our Veolia waste crews for their fantastic work - many local residents and businesses have also told us what a fantastic jobs they did. They worked long hours, raking the beaches early in the morning, regularly empty bins throughout the day, then picking up litter in the evenings.
“It’s clear that our joint preparations have helped ensure were welcomed, had a fantastic time and will want to return again and again.”
Traders also saw a boom in trade. Joan Tiney, chair of Southend Seafront Traders Association, said: “We had live music on at The Borough and the atmosphere was great with no trouble just people having a great day out. I have not seen the seafront so packed in a long time and the organisers are to be complimented on all their hard work.”
Jacqui Dallimore, chair of Southend Tourism Partnership, said: “The Roslin Hotel, like much of the Borough, has been exceptionally busy over the Bank Holiday especially on our large terraces and it’s been great to see the whole area buzzing with the glorious weather.
“There really is no better place to be when the sun is shining but of course Southend’s offer is increasingly all-year round with such a diverse and wonderful events programme.”