FOR the first time in a long time there is an air of positivity about the future of the Kursaal.

Nobody is working harder at the moment to breathe life into Southend’s ‘sleeping giant’ than Concrete Culture.

The group of artists, musicians and community members have launched a public consultation, asking residents what they’d like to see happen to the currently redundant listed landmark.

Their project has garnered heavyweight support by the likes of acting stars such as Helen Mirren and Lee Mead, who both grew up in Southend.

The Kursaal is about more than just a beautiful building whose future hangs in the balance. It was once the heart and soul of Southend - a place where the careers of the likes of Dame Vera Lynn began.

Echo reader Avril Roberts shared her Kursaal memories.

She said: “In 1951 when I was 15 my boyfriend and I used to dance there on Saturdays.

“The band leader was Howard Baker and the singer Joyce Carlisle. My step -father played the double bass in his band. Mr Baker used to ask Vera Lynn to come and listen to singers who he thought were good.

“ After they had finished Vera would then come on stage and sing for us, causing an uproar. It would be nice to have live entertainment there again.”

So much as happened at the Kursaal over the years that it could be the focus of a TV drama. As well as being home to a zoo, rides and attractions, it was also a place where football matches were held and greyhound racing took place.

Here are ten things we need to remember about our colossal Kursaal building which will celebrate its 120th birthday this summer.

1. The Kursaal was opened in July 1901 by Lord Claud Hamilton, an MP and railway magnate. It immediately thrust Southend onto the leisure map as a resort rivalling Blackpool.

2. It had a dance hall and a gallery capable of seating 3,000 people. The floor was set on springs. The Kursaal stage was one of the largest in England.

3. In May 1933 a huge blaze was caused to the building when a wild cat escaped from its cage and knocked over an oil lamp. A group of monkeys, snakes and reptiles were burnt alive.

4. By 1906 the Kursaal’s biggest attractions were ‘The Dixie Girls’, ‘The Kursaal Pierrots’ who performed twice daily and ‘Professor Lorenzo’s American Circus’.

5. In September 1939 many of the animals at the Kursaal’s Bostock’s Zoo had to be put down. They zoo bosses had no choice but to euthanise the biggest animals because of the outbreak of war. Among the magnificent animals destroyed included ‘Wallace’, a fully-maned South African lion, Nero an Abyssinian lion, two Russian bears, a Bengal tiger and three crocodiles.

6. The Kursaal’s Wall of Death which opened in 1929 was the very first attraction of its kind to open in Britain. It featured motorcycles and cars zooming around a 20ft vertical wooden wall, shaped like a barrel cylinder.

7. For decades the Cyclone was the largest roller coaster ride at the Kursaal. Standing more than 18 metres high (almost 60 ft) it had been brought from Belgium in the early 1930s.

8. In June 1928 a large group of monkeys from the Kursaal zoo managed to run amok in Southend for days. The playful primates had broken out of their home - the Monkey Jungle - in the dead of night after an unknown intruder smashed into the venue and let them out.

9. In December 1914 the Kursaal was commandeered by the army. Some 15,000 troops were billeted in Southend at the time.

10. Some of the most memorable rides of all time at the Kursaal were the Ski Jump, the Scenic Railway, the Mont Blanc and the Mountain Dipper.