APREVIOUS, longreigning ruling group of Southend Council decided a few years back that Marine Parade – or the Golden Mile, as generations of locals, daytrippers and holidmakers knew it – needed a new, very As the same elected majority had convinced themselves, if not too many others, that Southend would soon become a city, so the new name was obvious. City Beach, of course.

There wasn’t just a change of name. The highly-successful Adventure Island, modern, technically-advanced successor to the old Kursaal amusements park, began to redevelop, reshape and reinvigorate the Golden Mile.

Tall, digital lighting columns succeeded the long-ago illuminations – “the lights,” as generations knew and loved them – and a magnetic little water spouting feature was introduced, to the delight of today’s young children.

The two-way traffic system of past decades gave way to the controversial “shared space” of this age.

Southend hasn’t become a city, it remains a county borough. Whatever its station and it title and any claims to fame, there surely is no doubting it remains a magnetic place. The pictures here will surely bring back many memories for older readers and perhaps also surprise younger folk unfamiliar until now with how things were, along the Mile way back in time.

The photo with the famous Kursaal dome in the background also shows a nearby, much taller and slimmer skeletal structure. This was the Warwick Revolving Tower, which dated from the late 1890s.

As many as 150 paying customers could cram into a saucer-shaped platform that encircled the tower and rose slowly, rotating gently, so those aboard could have a fine, uninterrupted view of the immediate surroundings, the Pier, the Kent coast, the Thames estuary.

So much has changed down the decades. But not, thankfully, Southend’s magnetic quality.