AS a long-ago Southend-born and educated old chap who has lived the past 40 years or so in the Far East of our county borough, I do hope youmay consider responding to my invitation herewith, to come visit Shoebury one upcoming evening or the following afternoon.

You will be most welcome indeed for what I feel sure will be a magnetic event being staged for two hours from 6pm on Friday April 8 and on the next afternoon from 2pm.

I make no excuse for this, for me, most rare and blatant advertising, but as a long time newspaperman I still recall distant times when some in power at Southend Council were strongly and often believed to have a “shove it to Shoebury” unwritten policy.

Back then, claimed some, any particularly troublesome or worrying families in, or waiting for, council accommodation could or often would, be despatched to the borough’s Far East.

Back then, it also was often alleged, little financially was invested in boosting or benefiting the district that had become a part of Southend back in 1933.

Yet for years and years, Shoebury had been home of a famous Garrison and, too, the remote place where worldrenowned boxers came to train at a gymbehind a local hotel before big fights.

Winston Churchill was a visitor to the Garrison when it was playing so vital a role in world conflict. Famous comic Frankie Howerd – whose much-chided and admired piano accompanist Vera Roper was the wife of a Southend policeman, Alf Roper – did wartime service at the Garrison.

Now the Garrison, which played so great a role for so several decades, is the base for many private homes and more to come.

But even its former military church is sadly empty and rarely now used.

Thankfully, photographs galore of yesteryear remind us how such important and vital were roles played by Shoebury. They surely remind us, too, of the debt owed by our country to this once tiny, now fast growing, community at the end of the line from Fenchurch Street in London and at the mouth of the Thames.

Retired former local school head and historian Brian Sandford, secretary of the 100-strong and still growing Shoebury Society, has amassed a collection of photographs of the Garrison and Ranges, the early Shoebury Village, East Beach and South Shoebury.

They are vivid reminders of yesteryear and of Shoebury’s renowned, if rarely recognised, contribution to history.

As I said at the start of this column, they will be on show on the days and times mentioned earlier, at St Peter’s Church hall in Hinguar Street.

There’s a £2 entry charge, half price for schoolchildren, and this fee includes a guide and tea or coffee.

I readilymake it clear that, as an oldie who has rarely joined, or been associated with any group or organisation while endeavouring to remain an independent commentator, I am a Shoebury Society member.

I enjoy attending meetings with friends to see and hear lots about our borough, our county and, especially, Southend’s Far East, once so ignored, now in increasing demand.

I hope some who read this might come and see for themselves on April 8 or 9.