NESTLED against the picturesque seafront backdrop, a memorial encapsulating the history of Shoebury Garrison will be rededicated to the lost lives of seven men killed in an explosion in 1885.

The new memorial, in the old officers’ quarters next to the officers’ mess, replaces the original tribute which suffered from vandalism and theft prompted its removal to storage.

The memorial was first unveiled in 1985 by Col Tony Spackman to mark the centenary of the accident.

The monument, which features a 9inch broken replica shell mounted on stonework, was erected in honour of seven men who died after a shell accidentally detonated, killing two soldiers instantly in 1885.

The accident happened as firings were carried out. A further five soldiers died and four others had serious injuries.

Among those who were killed was Sgt Major Daykin, who was buried along with three others in St Andrew’s churchyard in South Shoebury.

Alan Wilkinson, of Richmond Avenue, Shoebury, who served in the Royal Artillery for 22 years and has been involved in organising the ceremony, thinks it is important for residents to know the history behind the memorial and the site.

The 67-year-old said: “What happened is a very prominent part of Shoebury’s history.

“I walk around the area where the incident happened and tell my grandchildren the story. When they had the funeral all the shops in Shoebury closed. Many people from Southend and Shoebury turned out.

“I have been pushing for a new memorial since the old one was removed and local businesses have helped to contribute towards the creation of a new one.

“In the five or six years following the accident, a fund was set up to create a soldiers families hospital in Campfields, which is now known as the Garrison Arms.”

Southend councillor Michael Assenheim, representing Shoebury ward, said: This new dedication is a must to remind future generations of the local history and that lives were sacrificed for the price of our country’s safety.”