We love Leigh-on-Sea (and Southend)
Leigh has something to offer everyone, young or old. Few places so close to London can offer the same kind of village feel, and with the foreshore as well, Leigh has many attractions.
Schools in the town cater well for those of primary school age. North Street and West Leigh are located in the heart of the town, Darlinghurst, Blenheim and Chalkwell Hall on the borders of Leigh to the north and east. Between them, these schools provide plenty of quality places for the town's younger pupils. Secondary education is partly served by the nearby grammar schools but mainly by Belfairs High School, the facilities and reputation of which seems to improve every year.
For those beyond school age, Leigh is a bustling centre. The Broadway is the centre of commerce and business and, unusually in these times, retains some individuality. Shops are mainly locally based so consequently more varied than many places and not just dominated by the ubiquitous chains. It is possible to buy just about anything in central Leigh from carrots to cars. We also have a Farmers' Market about 8 times per year!
Leigh is particularly notable for antique shops. Mainly from Broadway West right along the Leigh Road, shops deal in furniture, jewellery, bric-a-brac, books, in fact anything for the keen collector.
Lots to do
Leigh has a wealth of recreational facilities, especially for those who enjoy being on the water. Some hardy souls brave swimming at Leigh beach at any time of year but there is far more interest among those who prefer to stay on top of the water. Both Essex and Leigh Sailing Clubs are based in the Old Town and have strong membership with an active sports and social programme. Two active Sea Scout groups are based in the Old Town. Power boating, jet-skiing, windsurfing and water skiing are also popular pursuits off the foreshore, where sea anglers also try their luck.
Out of the water there are parks and gardens, tennis courts, bowling greens, football pitches, cricket fields, horse riding, ten-pin bowling and snooker clubs. Many of these facilities are centred at Belfairs Park and are run by Southend Borough Council. Belfairs golf course is a pleasant Municipal eighteen hole parkland course and is the home of Belfairs and Southend-on-Sea Golf Clubs.
Feed your mind
There is also a cultural side to Leigh-on-Sea. The church community volunteers help support the many festivals that take place in Leigh such as the Leigh Art Trail, Folk Festival, Regatta and Christmas Light Switch-on. There are art galleries which stage regular exhibitions and sell work of artists in the town and from across the world. There are numerous groups which meet regularly, covering drama, music and poetry. For information on all local groups and organisations, try the Leigh Library, in Broadway West.
Leigh is also becoming a popular place as a film and television location, attracted by its quiet charm, fishing history and excellent panoramic views of the estuary and the distant Kent coastline.
Leigh Old Town is the location of the Leigh Society's Heritage Centre, displaying much to do with the history of the town. Also in the Old Town we find galleries and reminders of the past. The "Endeavour" has been restored and is back afloat moored adjacent to Strand Wharf. Quiet sleepy cobbled streets among old fishermen's cottages can give way to a heaving mass on a sunny summer Sunday. The famous Leigh cockles and other delights of the sea are universally popular as the Old Town plays host to hundreds of locals and visitors.
Close to London
Much of the popularity of Leigh-on-Sea is due to its position within such easy reach of London. Only about forty five minutes from Fenchurch Street station the town enjoys a frequent service which provides an opportunity for thousands to commute to work thereby combining the quality of London employment with Leigh lifestyle. All the delights of the Capital, culture and recreation in all forms are available to townsfolk at the end of a short train ride.
It may be bustling, have an urban feel and be crowded at times but Leigh-on-Sea is blessed with much open space. Belton Hills Nature Reserve extends from the edge of the Old Town and shops of Rectory Grove through the gardens of Marine Parade all the way to, and continuing into Hadleigh Castle Country Park. An extensive programme is currently underway, aimed at returning original plantings to the area. South of the Hills, Two Tree Island and Leigh marshes provide homes for many species of birds, including our regular winter visitors the Brent Geese. Leigh Cliffs, Belfairs Woods and Blenheim and Bonchurch Parks all provide green open space for residents and visitors.
In addition we have one very special open space. Tucked away between the houses of Blenheim Chase and Manchester Drive are allotments. In fact fifteen acres of centrally sited open land is given over to allotment holders, providing a very welcome "lung" for the town and a contrast in environment from the surrounding residential areas. Gradually over the last few years the site has begun to fill with keen growers producing their finest fruit and vegetables.
As a church we love the people of Leigh-on-Sea and the Borough of Southend-on-Sea where we have been placed. It is our God given privilege to serve and journey together with our neighbours.