OUR high streets were once the lifeblood of our town and city centres, as these pictures from our archives show.

Who could forget Keddies, Woolworths and C&A?

Echo: Every little helps - Supermarkets have long been a stapleEvery little helps - Supermarkets have long been a staple (Image: Newsquest)

They were huge staples of our high streets that kept shoppers coming and made town centres sustainable.

Who remembers Caters and Horne Brothers?

Echo: Vibrant - A picture from the late 1970sVibrant - A picture from the late 1970s (Image: Newsquest)

What about Rosehills, Ravens and Mr Byright? And who could forget “Windy City” - now Victoria Shopping Centre (before it had a roof put on in the 1990s).

Who remembers the In-Shops in Victoria Plaza, as it was then?

Echo: Glory days - Southend High StreetGlory days - Southend High Street (Image: Newsquest)


Echo: Looking down - Southend High StreetLooking down - Southend High Street (Image: Newsquest)

What about Higgs Furs and the Laurence Matthews art shop at the top of the Victoria Plaza, which delighted generations of children.

The old Garons banqueting suite was a popular place for major events, now long since closed.

Echo: Eye for a bargain - Shoppers eye the prices at KeddiesEye for a bargain - Shoppers eye the prices at Keddies (Image: Newsquest)

These images from the Echo’s archives will evoke memories of a bygone era for our high streets which have lost out in the last 20 years to the growth of online shopping.

Many of our high streets still attract many people for restaurants, bars and cafes.

Most buildings are in private ownership which means councils have limited control over the buildings.

Echo: Aerial view - The high street before pedestrianisationAerial view - The high street before pedestrianisation (Image: Newsquest)

That’s why Southend Council bought the Victoria Centre in Southend and sought to make it a hub at the centre of the community.

Investment includes a blood testing centre and the new Boom Battle Bar.

Echo: Woolworths in Southend High StreetWoolworths in Southend High Street (Image: Newsquest)

Southend Conservative MP Sir James Duddridge also revealed the centre is set to become home to a new diagnostic centre to help clear NHS waiting lists.

While vibrant shops packing out our high streets are a probably thing of the past, high streets are adapting to embrace a new future by bringing more restaurants, bars and services like the NHS diagnostic centre to the High Street.

Echo: Looking north - The High Street with the OdeonLooking north - The High Street with the Odeon (Image: Newsquest)