25-26th September 2021. The volunteers from NCI Southend supported the HMS Leigh project on by having a display on Southend Pier.
The HMS Leigh project is a community led heritage and arts project that aims to connect people of all ages with the history of Southend Pier, also known as HMS Leigh, during WW2. Supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Arts Council and Southend Borough Council, this project was created as part of the VE 75 celebrations in 2020 but postponed due to Covid.
Southend Pier was originally designed in the 1930s to allow passengers from the pleasure steamers to disembark, making the town a popular destination. Over the years it became a tourist attraction itself, with millions of visitors promenading its length and back every year. On Friday 25th August 1939, the Royal Navy requisitioned Southend Pier and it would eventually become the control point for the Thames and Medway for all shipping coming in and out of the Port of London. Between 1939 and 1945 the 1.3-mile structure, renamed HMS Leigh, played a vital role in the security of London and the whole country, with 3,367 convoys totalling 84,297 ships departing from the Thames Estuary during the conflict.
Southend Pier is an icon with a history and the story of HMS Leigh is the story of the people and events around Southend Pier from 1939 to 1945. This was a time of everyday heroes and heroines who worked tirelessly to protect the community they were proud to be a part of and the families they loved. HMS Leigh was the departure point for thousands of convoys during WW2 and played a truly remarkable role in the defence of Britain.
The team from NCI Southend were on site during the event with a stall explaining what the NCI does. A spokesperson for NCI Southend said “We would like to thank all those who showed interest in our display and hope to hear from those who showed an interest in joining us.”.