Records indicate that the Kursaal conservation area was first officially designated in the year 1989.Its development is linked to that of the Southend almost fact by fact, all the way from its origins to the current resort we see today. The span of the conservation area covers the Kursaal region as well as 1-6 Eastern Esplanade.
Understanding The Story Behind The Kursaal Conservation Area
Over a century ago(1894 to be precise), the area the conservation covers was a marine park. Afterward, the Kursaal was added to the southern bit of the park in order to give the area some buzz and serve as some form of a massive point of entrance into the depths of the installation. The Kursaal boasted a range of facilities that served citizens across the board. Said facilities included a ballroom, a circus, dining places, a billiard room and arcade that came full of stuff used to offer entertainment to revelers in the park. Existing documents show that the design plan was hatched by George Sherrin in 1896,with the structure taking the following 5 years to complete. There were also plans to create a magnificent tower but the architects finally chose not to towards the end.
After the creation of the Kursaal, the entertainment facilities became kind of the main attraction and people soon focused on that and forgot all about the marine park.
While the conservation area is generally small, it has two other buildings of note. One is the Minerva, which actually predates the Kursaal. It was the residence of one Abraham Vandercord, who was considered one of Southend’s richest and most powerful people at the time .The second building is the Britannia, which started off as your regular house. However, as the resort grew and expanded, the house was converted into an inn to serve revelers from around the country.
Kursaal’s Focal Point
Much of the amusement park has been re-planned and redeveloped for the purposes of housing. However, the architects involved took care to make sure that the area retains its aura of the old by keeping intact some features that helped it stand out. Said features include the dome and the frontage. These unique qualities are what draw people to the Kursaal and the reason it’s one of the most conspicuous landmarks in the Southend. The Kursaal in today listed as a building. Minerva and Britannia were also changed but still have their classic distinguishing features.
All the changes made in this conservation area have always had to follow specific legal provisions and get approved by the relevant authorities. This should be done for any alteration regardless of how puny or extensive they are.
Generally, it is always a good idea for anyone carrying out changes in a building to first seek the approval of the local council and present the relevant documents in time. This applies to listed buildings only, and the Kursaal conservation area is pretty much covered by that stipulation.
If you are looking for a visual of the area, take a look at its map: