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A Leigh-on-Sea History – The Home of Spinnaker

We thought it was about time people got to know a bit more about Spinnaker and where we are. Not many people know we are based in Leigh-on Sea in Essex. Many think we are in London, when in actual fact we are around a 45-minute train journey from London.

Why Leigh you may ask? Well, when you have an office with views of ships passing by every day, how can you not? Leigh sits on the Thames Estuary which can either take you into London and Tilbury or out to the North Sea. This ensures your front-row seat to ships coming in and out of London and Tilbury docks.

The town of Leigh has always been a busy fishing town, dating all the way back to the 14th Century. This still remains now. You can head down to Old Leigh to ‘cockle shed row’ where the original cockle sheds are still located and have remained largely unchanged since being built in the 19th Century. The welks and cockles are locally fished by family-run businesses and their cockle boats. There is no better place to get your fresh seafood in and around Leigh. Especially as it is home to the famous Osbourne Brothers Cockle Sheds

Shipbuilding has always been an activity in Leigh and ships of up to 340 tonnes are recorded to have built here. The Leigh-built ship history starts with the Speedwell a 105-tonne ship built in 1579. The Vineyard was next weighing in at 240 tonnes, Mary Anne weighing 302 tonnes and Ruby weighing 280 tonnes to name a few.

Here are some more interesting facts to know about Leigh-on-Sea:

  • The town are actually mentioned in the Domesday Book as “Legra”
  • The Manor of Leigh was held by Thomas Boleyn, the father of Anne Boleyn
  • In the 1570’s Leigh was reported as having 31 vessels with 32 Masters and 230 Mariners and Fishermen
  • The Mayflower ship which the Pilgrim Fathers made their voyage to America, was built or owned in Leigh
  • The London is a ship built in the 16th Century and was part of the fleet of vessels sent to collect Charles II from exile in Europe and restore him to the throne. It mysteriously exploded and is now sitting at the bottom of the channel just off Southend Pier
  • Leigh provided at least 6 ships to assist against the Spanish Armada
  • The Fishermen’s Chapel which was built in the 18th Century is still used as a Church today
  • In 1939, ‘The Little Ships of Dunkirk’ saved over 1,000 men from Dunkirk
  • A replica of the boat from Dunkirk still stands in Old Leigh today, called the Endeavour
  • The St Clements Church in Leigh is named after St Clements, the patron saint of mariners
  • Close by in Southend we have the longest pleasure pier in the World.

And if you ever wondered, who may I know from this land of Leigh? No need to look any further, we have devised a list of the most popular and famous people from Leigh and the Borough of Southend. Everyone will know at least one of these famous faces.

Famous Faces of Leigh-on-Sea and the Borough of Southend:

  • Dame Helen Mirren DBE – Actor with a career spanning 60 years and is the only performer to have achieved both the American and the British Triple Crowns of Acting
  • Dame Vera Lynn – Used to own a property and live in Leigh
  • Peggy Mount OBE – Actress best known for her work spanning from the 1950’s to the 1990’s
  • Rachel Riley – Television presenter best known for co-presenting Channel 4’s countdown
  • Mark Foster – Former English competitive swimmer who represented Great Britain in the Olympics & World Championships
  • Dominic Littlewood – Journalist and television presenter known for presenting Fake Britain, Cowboy Builders and Don’t Get Done
  • David Lloyd – Former professional English tennis player who also founded the fitness and leisure business ‘David Lloyd Leisure’
  • Kara Tointon – English Actress known for her role as Dawnn Swann in EastEnders and for winning Strictly Come Dancing in 2010
  • Maisie Smith – English Actress known for her role as Tiffany Butcher in Eastenders and competing in Strictly Come Dancing in 2020
  • Lee Stafford – Celebrity hairdresser and owner of ‘Lee Stafford’ haircare brand
  • James Bourne – Singer-songwriter best known for being in the band Busted
  • Russel Kane – Writer, comedian and actor best known for his work on Channel 4, BBC and ITV
  • Lee Mead – Musical theatre actor best known for playing Joseph in the West End revival of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat
  • Mathew Baynton – Actor, comedian, musician and writer best known for his work in Horrible Histories, Ghosts and Gavin & Stacey
  • Stephen Cottrel – The current Archbishop of York and Primate of England
  • Sam Strike – Actor best known for his role as Johnny Carter in BBC’s Eastenders

And if you ever found yourself in Old Leigh and looking for places to go. Look no further than Ye Olde Smack where you can enjoy a pub quiz on Thursday, The Peterboat, perfect for charming seaside views, The Mayflower, aptly named after the ship from the 16th Century, and the oldest pub in the town, The Crooked Billet.

The Spinnaker team often find themselves down in Old Leigh enjoying the local cuisine and being very competitive at the pub quiz, and of course, getting very excited over all the ship spotting that can be done.

Blog written by Bethanie-Taylor Grenfell, Marketing Administrator, Spinnaker.

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