THESE historical images from the Echo archives show Southend’s Kursaal amusement park in its heyday.

The attraction, which as the poster dating back to 1932 shows, was dubbed “the greatest amusement centre in the south” thanks to its huge selection of rides including rollercoasters, water slides, bumper cars and waltzers.

In 1916, a zoo, which was home to bears, tigers and wolves, even opened at the fouracre site, but this closed when the Second World War broke out.

Father and son Alfred and Bernard Wiltshire-Tollhurst bought the land in 1893 and went on to build the iconic Edwardian-inspired Kursaal building, off Marine Parade, which became a popular dance hall.

The building is nowhome to a bowling alley, casino, supermarket and function suite.

The amusement park peaked in the Fifties and Sixties, hosting big-name bands including Black Sabbath, AC/DC, Thin Lizzy and even Queen, but closed down in 1973 for financial reasons.

The land where the fairground rides and stalls once stood went on to be bulldozed, and became the Kursaal housing estate.

Echo: Jam-packed – the Kursaal’s dancehall was well enjoyed and, inset, a Kursaal poster from

Echo: Making a splash – fun-seekers enjoy one of the Kursaal amusement park’s popular rides

Echo: Stalls – classic funfair attractions, like Pot-em, helped to draw big crowds to the Kursaal

Echo: Plenty to see – daytrippers flocked to Southend


Echo: Rides galore – cap-wearing chaps take a spin on one of the many attractions