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is a landmark feature in Southend-on-Sea
Southend-on-Sea is a unitary authority area, town, and seaside resort in Essex, England. The district has Borough status, and comprises the towns of Chalkwell, Eastwood, Leigh-on-Sea, North Shoebury, Prittlewell, Shoeburyness, Southchurch, Thorpe Bay, and Westcliff-on-Sea. The district is situated...
Essex is a ceremonial and non-metropolitan county in the East region of England, and one of the home counties. It is located to the northeast of Greater London. It borders with Cambridgeshire and Suffolk to the north, Hertfordshire to the west, Kent to the South and London to the south west...
, which opened in 1901 as one of the world's first purpose-built amusement parks. The venue is noted for the main building with distinctive dome, designed by Campbell Sherrin, and which has featured on a Royal Mail special edition stamp.
The venue was opened in 1894 by father and son Alfred and Bernard Wiltshire Tollhurst, on 4 acres of land purchased the previous year, as the 'Marine Park and Gardens'. In 1901, they opened a grand entrance pavilion, called the Kursaal, designed by Campbell Sherrin, containing a circus, ballroom, arcade, dining hall and billiard room.
The Kursaal declined in the early 1970s, with the outdoor amusements closed in 1973, and the main building finally succumbing to closure in 1986.
Although the outdoor amusements were redeveloped for housing, the main Kursaal building reopened in 1998, after a multi-million pound redevelopment, containing a bowling alley and other amusements.