Allhallows-on-Sea – Kent’s version of Southend that never took off

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As I look out of the window across the Thames Estuary you see the Hoo penninsula. the only development on its coast before you get to the isle of Grain is an ugly caravan park at Allhallows.


There is a railway line across thepenninula, promoted by local land speculators.  The northern bank of the estuary here was no less empty than Hoo before the railways came so why did Southend take off and Allhallows not.

It very nearly did – according to Wikipedia.

In 1878, Henry Pye with a deputation of other local farmers met the South Eastern Railway Company with a request for a new railway to be built in the area. From this meeting a new company was established, the Hundred of Hoo Railway Company. The SER saw it as part of the development of continental traffic, and the ferry terminal at what was named Port Victoria was built as terminus of the line. The traffic did not materialise and that section of the line and the line beyond Grain closed in 1951.

On 14 May 1932 a branch railway was opened to the Thames estuary beyond the ancient village of Allhallows. It was intended to become a riverside resort of some size, and grandiose plans were formed. The new area was given the name of Allhallows-on-Sea. Little came of the scheme, and today all signs of that branch have disappeared, save for the water tower which supplied locomotives at the terminus – it is now a listed building. There is a holiday village on the site where the resort was intended to be.

the fantastic British Pilot Pub is one of thefew buildings of this era still there, most of teh rest of the small village is park homes and postwar ribbon sprawl.

The problem was the original railway was built along the ridgeline and not along the coast.  When the branch line was built it was at the height of the Great Depression  and missed the Victorian seaside boom.

None the less it is a huge waste of land at a site that could again be linked to the rail network.  It is outside flood risk areas and protected European sites.  Its a wonderful sandy beach like Southend, unlike the muddy and marshy areas elsewhere in the Thames Estuary.

Where else in England could you build a Garden City on Sea?  As North Kent has to scrape around for sites for its share of the one million new homes in the Thames Estuary 2050 plan it could worse than look here, especially as an alternative to Lodge Hill down the road now it is an SSSI.

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