Revealing the maritime history of Leigh on Sea

Age Exchange have been working with The Cultural Engine, a not-for-profit social enterprise based in Southend-on-Sea to create a book celebrating personal reminiscences from older residents and fishermen from Leigh on Sea

The Cultural Engine was established to provide capacity, creative thinking, and support for all organisations working for community benefit and have been delivering a larger project under the title of Revealing the Maritime History of Leigh on Sea.

The village of Leigh was first recorded in the Doomsday Book of 1086 as "Legra", a small fishing hamlet. Due to its good position on the shipping route to London, it grew into a prosperous port with ships of up to 340 tons being built there.  Today the village is both a thriving fishing port and a tourist destination, the only remaining example of a working Thames Estuary Fishing Hamlet on the North of the Thames Estuary.

Whilst the village is well known and widely visited, many of the visitors go there for the shellfish stalls, the sea view, or to visit one of the restaurants. But not many are aware of its fascinating history and the characters who have operated from there. The heritage centre at the centre of the village provides information on the past. It represents  1000 years of fishing, trading and living on the North Thames Estuary, Old Leigh has much to tell.

Age Exchange has been involved in a major project interviewing local residents and fishermen to create a picture of Leigh in the past. We also sourced images provided by the participants to create a book so that those stories can be shared.

Some of the fascinating images contributed are below:

Snappy Noakes, a well-known fisherman, taking local children on fishing trips

Leigh Ramblers Football Team 1933 with June Sharnick’s father Percy Axcell

Peter Wexham and Dave Spurgeon winning the Round the Pier Trawler Race in Southend in 1970 on Endeavour

June Sharnick remembers being part of the VE Day Street Party in Leigh on Sea

With thanks to Cultural Engine and the people of Leigh-on-Sea.