The planned estate of Clifftown was built by railway entrepreneurs on the land between the railway line and the cliff-top, with the intention of capitalising on the arrival of the railway in Southend in 1856. The Georgian Royal Terrace and the Victorian Clifftown Estate mark the first major attempts to develop Southend as a seaside resort but also as a residential town. Its building styles and planned layout overlooking the estuary give the area its own charm and character.
This desirable residential neighbourhood which includes the impressive Prittlewell Square Gardens was classified as a conservation area in 1968. The dominant hill slope which traditionally links Old and New Southend, the High Street and the Pier, provides far-reaching and impressive views. The Park Inn Palace Hotel and the Pier Hill Lift are both popular destinations for visitors. The hotel holds particular historic relevance as during World War I it was converted into a hospital.
As they recovered from their injuries, the soldiers would gather on the balconies of the hotel to look out over the pier and seafront. They became something of an attraction, with dozens of people gathering underneath to pass tobacco, sweets, flowers and even buttons up to the soldiers.
Many local amenities can be found within the Clifftown area, including transport hubs, entertainment venues, visitor attractions, shops, restaurants and schools. One such venue is the Clifftown Theatre & Studios, located within an impressive former gothic church. The building was given a ‘Conservation Award’ via the Southend-on-Sea Borough Council Design Awards 2009.