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HMS Leigh Exciting Funding News!

Updated: Jul 30

HMS Leigh Make Do and Mend Announcement


The HMS Leigh Make Do and Mend team are delighted to announce that thanks to funding from the Arts Council and continued support from the Heritage Fund, we will be able to continue the creative engagement programme of Make Do and Mend working with schools and community organisations well into the next academic year.


Thanks to this grant, the HMS Leigh team are able to plan our Make Do and Mend digital and classroom engagement programme for September 2020 that will work with the schools of the Southend SEN Trust as well as West Leigh Infants School, the Westborough Academy, Hinguar Community Primary School and many others to bring the spirit of Make Do and Mend to the creative lives of children of all abilities.


Working with artists from many different disciplines Make Do and Mend began the programme during the VE-Day Event working with activities and art from our lead artist Ali Ward providing inspiration to make your own Bunting from a variety of materials and in a number of ways, fascinating Redaction Art from Chris Ruston, Digital Art with Emma Mills, Make Do and Mend Activities from Esme Taylor, Mary Lister and Story Massage from Ceilidh Colston and Deanne Hensey as well as music from Scarlet Taylor, Josh Winiberg and contributions from the Music Man Project, Digby Jones and the UK Jazz Archive, as well as the best local film makers and historians.


Make Do and Mend is part of the HMS Leigh project and will include engagement with local heritage through art and creativity in a mixed discipline way working with multiple local artists to provide creative engagement of all types in a way that makes it easier to interact during the current Covid-19 crisis. The Make Do and Mend team we will be working on both online and classroom activities that can be carries out in person, through online lessons and workshops and with child and staff led experiences.


The current Covid-19 emergency has been both a challenge for creative organisations to survive and an opportunity to explore the digital delivery options for activities where we cannot be there in person and this funding from the Arts Council has rescued the creative programme that this project will deliver. Make Do and Mend Project Officer, Alastair Deacon said the following:

“This is an amazing opportunity to continue our creative programme with the children of Southend and work with our brilliant local artists and performers in the coming year to engage with children of all abilities in many mediums of art and creativity. We would really like to thank the Arts Council and National Lottery players for making this possible through their generosity we will be able to bring more forms of art to more children over the coming year.”

Background on Southend Pier

In 1929, thanks to the Prince George Extension, Southend Pier measured 2,158 metres or 1.34 miles and became the longest pleasure pier in the world.Between the wars, Southend Pier was as popular as ever.However, its moment of true glory was to arrive in September 1939, when it was to become Naval Control Centre for the Thames Estuary and was renamed HMS Leigh with surrounding areas becoming HMS Westcliff.

The structure of Southend Pier was tactically a huge advantage in WW2 – with its berths for both big and small ships, buildings, Lloyds Signal Station, devoted staff and probably most crucially, the electric railway.Throughout the war, from the very first day, the Pier Electric Railway was operated by the Pier staff, 24:7.Trains always ran through, covering over 300,000 train miles and carrying 1.5 million service men and women, including the sick and wounded.

During the war years huge amounts of food, ammunition and special equipment were carried on the railway.Acute shortages of staff made maintenance difficult, but this vital link never failed.Today, during the pandemic, it is back in service, housing the staff who are looking after making sure our most vulnerable people have enough food to stay at home.

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