I spent a recent hot and humid afternoon in the coolness of the Kursaal Dome in Southend, playing a bit-part in a film being shot by the BBC for an as yet unscheduled on-air slot.

It was a nostalgic wander down memory lane for me, having been born and raised a hoopla throw from the famous old pleasure park, now mostly a housing estate.

Our local Pier Talk folk duo of Chris and Jack, of guitar and harmonica respectively, sang and played some of their compositions for the camera and sound operator; and I was invited to enthuse over film of the Kursaal past.

The images of yesterday once more, now on DVD, had been converted from treasured old 16mm cine film recently unearthed. Most dated from just after the Second World War and into the late 1960s, it seems.

Most was shot by wealthy Kursaal boss Jay Morehouse, who sold the leisure empire 30-odd years ago and died in early 2000.

Morehouse was an enthusiastic amateur photographer and movie maker.

Reels of his work were discovered in black plastic sacks in the house in Arnold Avenue, alongside the old Kuraal park's eastern edge, where he lived for many years.

The horde was found by builders renovating before the property was marketed.

The BBC camera and boom mic were poised over my right shoulder as I expressed my delight and surprise oh dear, oh dear, what a ham at seeing again the crowds flocking through the turnstiles, beneath the dome and into the 20-acre or more early version of a theme park.

The watery ride of the Caves, the great and steep Waterchute, the Bowl Slide, the Caterpillar, the Wall of Death these and many more of the attractions that drew millions to Southend were there in black and white, flickering film or sharply-coloured delight.

Then we were in the wonderful ballroom.

Here, clinging tightly, were elegantly-dressed couples.

There, on the stage, was Howard Baker, conducting his so-popular band.

And who's this, in close-up, in gleaming white shirt and black bowtie matching his thick, black neatly-cut and combed hair?

Ah, yes, old mate Dennis Hayward, still a successful musician and arranger, still living locally, these many years on.

Memories, memories.

Yet what also came back to me was the harsh thought that although perceived wisdom has it that Morehouse closed and sold the Kursaal in the early Seventies because of fading business and changing tastes, there was more to it than that.

The Kursaal was old and tired and its rides and attractions had not been updated in any extensive or expensive way, not for years.

The company that runs Adventure Island, Southend's growing and thriving theme park of this age, the successor to the long-gone Kursaal amusement gardens, constantly improves and advances its attractions at the immediate either sides of the shore end of the pier.

It recently announced it had ordered a breathtaking white knuckle ride costing millions.

Not only has such faith and investment paid off, it has underlined the very nature and core of Southend's appeal to locals, daytrippers, weekenders and the relatively few longer-stay holidaymakers.

Give the public what it wants and the public will come and cough up.

It's such a shame that so courageous and positive a winning formula is not recognised by Southend Council.

If our leaders ever do get their cherished casino and conference centre, how many punters might be expected or anticipated?

Will other seaside resorts sit back and allow Southend to steal any conference business, when such business is surely somewhat limited?

And can't our councillors try for some meaningful, searching talks with those who would redevelop the pier, with it being 30 years this month since the most devastating of fires of '76?

The thousands who come to Southend, especially when the sun shines, are overwhelmingly short-stay visitors in search of thrills and fun. They ain't culture buffs, that's for sure.

Those who would change the image of our town may reside hereabouts, but they live in Cloud Cuckoo Land.