SOUTHEND’S legendary illuminations could be making a return, with discussions underway on early proposals.

The shining and twinkling lights delighted families and daytrippers for decades, before being removed. 

Now the stakeholder group and tourism partnership is holding talks to bring back the loved attractions - with top attraction bosses saying it’ll help the town’s Covid-19 recovery.

The group of 40 members, including council bosses, seafront traders and business leaders, are working to improve the seafront and boost the town following the pandemic’s impact.

They say bringing back the old Never Never Land attraction is also being mooted.
The group is also talking about how to improve and boost the annual autumn fireworks spectacular.

Marc Miller, managing director of Stockvale, which runs Adventure Island and Sealife Adventure, said: “The return of Southend illuminations has been a topic of discussion which has been warmly received so far.

“If the council did decide to carry the suggestion forward I have no doubt it would put rockets on Southend’s recovery. It would boost hotels, guest houses, high street shops, the restaurant trade and even Leigh would get a spin off.”

Joan Tiney, 70, chairman of Southend Seafront Traders Association and boss of the Borough Hotel, said: “I definitely want to see the illuminations and Never Never Land back in some form.

“It will be brilliant to see both back as so many traders have had a bad time this year and our pub was shut for a total of 15 weeks - which is not good for any business. 

“It will definitely help us this year with recovery and also will help us with trade in future years too. We really need Southend Council to get behind this soon - it’s no good dillying and dallying about and having endless meetings.”


Never Never Land delighted families and took them on a magical journey with meandering paths that were dotted with mythical castles, goblins, dragons and fairies – all gently lit from the trees above. 

However, the place became neglected and vandalised and was taken down in 1972. Southend’s illuminations, set up in the 1930s, shone bright, but were superseded by Blackpool’s famous lights and the darkness fell on Southend seafront in 2007.

Senior councillors say plans to bring back the ever-popular attractions in some form should be considered.

Derek Jarvis, Tory shadow cabinet member for tourism, business and the economy, said it will help to inject good feeling for everyone.

He said: “I think there have been calls to get Never Never Land back in some form, and perhaps the illuminations, for some time. 

“I also think these attractions lend themselves well to the new normal that we are all still getting used to.

“The issues are the cost and maintaining them.”

A Southend Council spokesman said: “We have been in discussion with various businesses including the seafront traders about how it might extend the visitor season in order to help local businesses recover from the economic hardship brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“The immediate priority is how firework displays might be considered. 

“These are usually organised by the Southend Improvement District. 

“In the longer term, we have discussed how we might bring some form of digital illuminations to the seafront, possibly including the area formerly occupied by Never Never Land. 

“I should stress these are currently only ideas however, we are collectively committed to revisiting Southend’s out-of-season offer and working towards ambitious yet achievable projects that will help attract additional visitors throughout the year.”