It’s difficult to imagine a time when Southend seafront was without its Adventure Island, its dazzling illuminations, and grand attraction-filled esplanades.

But there was. We’ve dug up these vintage photos, taken between 1870 and the early 1900s, which show how the tide of time has changed the seafront’s appearance.

Over time Southend has become a tourist tour-de-force, growing from its origins as a health resort in the 1700s.

By the mid-1890’s it was an extremely popular location for day trippers and holiday-makers, however back then the fun tended to be found slightly further inland - up on Pier Hill where there was a fairground with swings, a scenic railway, game booths and other amusements.

But down on the beach the dominant, paved esplanades as we know them today, were still years away.

For Victorian visitors to Southend who wanted a dip in the sea, bathing machines, which enabled women to change into their costumes and enter the water without being seen (to protect their modesty) were a must.

One photo in our gallery shows these wheeled huts lined up on the seafront. They were known as ‘Absalom bathing machines’ - named after Southend entrepreneur Henry Absalom who was a significant name in the Southend tourist industry back in the 1800s.

Another image - we think from 1904 - shows the shore below the Shrubbery looking east towards the newly built Metropole Hotel (later to become the Palace). While another - although somewhat grainy- shows people walking along the shingled beach below the Overcliff Hotel.

Other images show roads and buildings near to the seafront which are now confined to the history books.