At the far end of Thorpe Bay seafront lies the sleepy sand and shingle Shoeburyness beach, quite the antidote to the flashing lights and arcades of Southend. Watersports, chilled out beaches and huge sea views make Shoeburyness a different experience from the main pebble beaches of Southend. But there’s more to Shoeburyness than sand - from wildlife to local history.
History of Shoeburyness
Although you might not think to look at it, Shoeburyness has a rich background in military operations, particularly from the Second World War. Along the East Beach is where a massive defence boom was built in 1944 to prevent any enemy ships or submarines from gaining access into the River Thames. However, after the war ended a large proportion of the boom was dismantled, but a mile long stretch still reaching out to the Thames Estuary.
Even more than that, during WWII Shoeburyness is where a magnetic ground mine was discovered in the mud at the mouth of the Thames by the Ministry of Defence. It had been placed there by the aerial warfare branch of the German military and had caused many ships to sink without the British fleets knowing how. Although after its discovery it was successfully neutralised. A Ministry of Defence site still remains in Shoeburyness to this day.
What to see and do in Shoeburyness
Despite the military history, most visitors to Shoebury (as the locals call it) come for the beaches. There are two long beaches to choose from. West Beach (or Common beach) is nearest to Southend and houses the trusty local favourite Uncle Tom’s cafe. Sand replaces Southend's pebble on East Beach, which is closer to Shoeburyness station, if you’re coming direct. There’s also a grassy park with small play area for the kids there, too.
Nearby Shoebury Park is ideal for families. It offers the chance to go fishing (the waters fishable on a day ticket basis) plus playing fields, ornamental gardens, a BMX and skateboarding area, sports facilities and a large children’s play area. In the middle of the Garrison complex is a nature conservation area, ideal for dog walking, with lovely views of the period buildings, old-fashioned cannons and brick archways that surround them. Outside the Garrison, the Essex Wildlife Trust manages the Gunners Park nature reserve, home to rare species as well as migrating birds and plenty of local hares!
Shoeburyness is also a nice walk (or cycle) along the seafront from Southend, past Thorpe Bay and out to Shoeburyness. You can hire a bike from Southend Central and cycle along the wide prom cycle paths.
Get yourself involved in some fun local sports such as kitesurfing and windsurfing where you can try your hand at and practice at the Essex Kite Surf School. Or if you’re more of a spectator, just sit along the seafront and watch the enthusiasts as you enjoy your ice cream.
Where to eat and drink in Shoeburyness
Fine food and fab ice creams are all to be found. If you’re heading to the beach, it's got to be Uncle Tom’s Cabin for tea and refreshments while taking a walk on the common, or West Beach. They serve Marshfield Farm real dairy ice cream - it’s worth the trip! The Shoeburyness Hotel (No 1. The high Street, SS3 9AJ) is housed in a refurbished historic building at the gateway to the old garrison. It’s no longer a hotel, but a rustic brasserie and wine bar. A short walk in the opposite direction and Wetherspoons’ huge Parson’s Barn (Frobisher Way, SS3 8UT) has great views overlooking the sea and an excellent patio. Nearer to the seafront than the Parson’s Barn is another trusty pub, The Old Garrison (Campfield Road, SS3 9BX) with beer garden and climbing fort for kids.
How to get to Shoeburyness
Shoeburyness Station is an approximate 5 minute walk to East Beach, meaning you’ll be by the water in no time. Take the train from London Fenchurch Street which will go directly to Shoeburyness. The journey time from London is approximately 1 hour, depending on which train you use. There are approximately 4 trains per hour on a weekday, depending on peak or off-peak travel time and train tickets bought more than three days in advance are £12.15 for an off-peak day return ticket.
Whether you’re travelling in a group or have the kids with you, explore our great value ticket offers to make sure to get the best deal for you.
There's plenty to explore along the South Essex coast. Here are some of our highlights.