The letters pages in any newspaper always offer up an interesting read - and is a great way of finding out what issues are really on readers minds.

Exactly a century ago letters to the editor at the Southend Standard were full of issues that aren’t too dissimilar to the ones we are facing today.

Concerns about overcrowded public transport outside the Kursaal and gripes about anti-social behaviour by loud children during musical concerts is evident in two letters from 1920 that we have reprinted here.

Basildon Standard:

Intervals too long - the Cliffs bandstand where concerts were frequently put on for the public

Another letter by a Mr Walter White (a century before the Breaking Bad namesake) complains of litter louts throwing banana skins and fish-oil soaked paper into the streets and berates Southend’s Corporation council for not tackling the problem.

Other readers wanted to bring to light a problem with the Southchurch Park model boating lake and the tedious length of intervals at Southend Bandstand concerts.

Another addresses the controversial issue of the time of cinemas not being allowed to open on Sundays – although pubs were.

Basildon Standard:

Trams too crowded! This photo shows a Southend Corporation tramway from a century ago

This was partly due to concerns raised by church leaders who were worried that people would go to the pictures rather than attend services.

We’re reprinted six letters to the editor from the year 1920 exactly as they appeared in the Southend Standard.


Sir- Residents and visitors alike appreciate the excellent bands in Chalkwell Park.

But alas, the keen edge of enjoyment is dulled by ill-behaved children shrieking outside the barrier and the loud conversation of many inside, whose manners do not match their attire.

A new order has sprung up since the war. If it has neither the good breeding or the good nature to avoid annoying those who come to listen to the beautiful music do you not think they should be taught? I should suggest that all who pass the brook below, or the avenue above, should pay one penny and an additional threepence for the chairs.

Even that small charge would lessen the number of children and many can as easily pay one penny as others three pence, but like to get everything for nothing - and naturally do not appreciate it.

Also instead of one notice only seen by a few, notices should be put up requesting silence during performances or face ejection! What the musicians must suffer, I shudder to think.

Yours faithfully



Sir- under the heading in the Southend Standard of July 29, a resident complains of the disgusting state of the streets through the dirty habits of some people throwing banana skins and other refuse about in which I entirely agree.

On several occasions in past years the press have been good enough to insert my letters on the same subject for the good of respectable members of the community. The police, however, can do nothing without the mandate of our “go as you please council.” A by-law as I have previously pointed out should be at once passed whereby offenders should be fined 40s (as is the penalty of the city of London and you never now see any rubbish thrown about) which is more dangerous in the road than on the pathway. Then there is the litter of paper which is most objectionable and mostly of the oily fish variety.

The Corporation should also place more wire baskets at the foot of standards with a plainly pointed and serious caution as to the penalty which should be enforced.

For a time and until the nuisance is stopped ‘detective specials’ could no doubt be found to bring the miscreants to justice. The roadmen do their work well but as it takes hours to clear up, the place is as filthy and dangerous again in a very short time.

Yours truly,


Weston Chambers


Sir- one wonders if the Entertainment Committee are adamant against even small improvements in the entertainments provided by military bands on the Cliffs, especially the evening performances.

A suggestion was made some months back by one of your correspondents to the effect that during the intervals some vocalist might be engaged (either lady or gentlemen) to fill up the time.

Intervals, doubtless are necessary for the band performers, especially the conductor, but when the public have to endure 25 minutes wait, as was experienced last Friday evening, it becomes trying to the patience of many.

I know not the cause of this long stop, whether to stretch out the programme or to allow the audience to digest what has transpired in the first half of the programme but certainly the time might be advantageously utilised in the manner suggested.

Expense should not bar the way. Surely local talent could be employed if unable to secure the “stars” of the profession. The innovation would be most acceptable, I feel sure, and vary the programme favourably.

Yours etc



Sir- having read with interest the letter from the ratepayer in the Southend Standard of August 5th I should like to say I am entirely in agreement with his sentiments regarding the conduct of certain people in this district.

I think if the council were a little more considerate and granted the licence for the opening of cinemas on Sundays and it would be much better than to see people getting intoxicated and entirely neglecting their children, which must be very harmful to their health.



Sir- outside the Kursaal for the boulevard cars there is a good queue system but for the High Street cars for which one is far more, in fact, urgently needed, there is none so that all through the summe there is the frequent unedifying spectacle of crowds jostling and at times almost fighting to board the inadequate cars - with of course the weakest people and those protecting children pushed aside.

Whether the council is aware of this or is waiting for something to happen before they move in the matter, one cannot tell, but an accident will come along sooner or later and meanwhile pickpockets are probably doing well at this spot.

Of course the council’s excise for a similar state of thing at the Broadway terminus is ‘no room for queues’ but this won’t wash at the Kursaal because it happens there is a big road island upon or against which the queue rails could be placed and the one superintendent who sometimes tried to stem the rush and board could then easily control the mob - as is now done most everywhere except in Southend.


Kensington Road


Sir- All the boys in Southchurch who own model yachts which they sailed on Southchurch Park Lake in previous summers are vainly asking why they are practically prevented from doing so this year. Because the wooden nest island erected for the swans during the winter in the middle of the western end is being allowed to remain there now.

The birds already have two such islands at the end of the lake which in fact is their own end protected for them and so far as I have seen they have not been much attracted to this extract structure anyway. It is empty now.

In so much as it forms an irresistable magnet for the yachts onto which they run full tilt and invariable take a long time to get clear again, (in fact sometimes the park-keeper and his punt need to be called to the rescue) it would seem that the boys’ instructive sport has been practically killed in this park. One should ask why this should be when they see how much of the ground is given over to the elders - for cricket and lawn tennis.

I cannot think that it tests with the park-keeper to prevent or allow young England learning the intricacies of boat sailing (especially at a seaside place) and concluding that it is not in his domain. I put the question why to the council on behalf of junior Southchurch.


Kensington Road

Basildon Standard:

Model boating on the lake - it was proving to be a problem in the summer of 1920