Southend Kursaal: Helen Mirren backs plan to revive iconic venue

DAME Helen Mirren has thrown her weight behind a bold new campaign aiming to restore Southend’s iconic Kursaal as a pleasure palace for the people.

The actress, from Southend, has backed Concrete Culture, a passionate new arts co-operative on a mission to make the Kursaal great again.

The 120-year-old seafront landmark – owned by Southend Council but leased to a company – is shut following the closure of a number of businesses including the Rendezvous Casino.

Concrete Culture put the seafront fun palace at the forefront of the campaign after identifying a need for a community and arts centre.

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Now Dame Helen, who went to St Bernard’s High School in Westcliff, told the campaign group: “The Kursaal has been the pride and joy of Southend for generations.

“It belongs to the people.”

The multi-award winning actress said she had “incredibly fond” memories of her time at the Kursaal in her youth.


  • The inside of the Kursaal in Southend

She added: “I would be thrilled to see it restored to its former glory.

“It’s vital that such a cherished landmark operates for its community, for arts and heritage, honouring its past while securing its future.”

In a resolute message to the campaigners, Dame Helen added: “We lose too much in the name of progress.

“Anyone who acts in the interests of keeping the Kursaal for the people of the town has my backing.”


  • Dame Helen Mirren

Dame Helen’s backing is a huge boost for Concrete Culture.

She is one of Britain’s most celebrated actor’s and won an Oscar in 2007 for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II. 

She has been nominated another three times and is widely regarded as a national treasure as well as one of Essex’s most famous exports. 

Concrete Culture’s plans for the Kursaal could potentially include things like exhibitions, a food court and market, as well as a stage for performances.

They are working to ensure the future of the venue will be driven by the people of the town.

The group is leading on a public consultation, which has now received nearly 900 responses.

Responses will be pulled together after February 21, when the first stage closes.

The group are fighting to make sure every stage of the proposals will be led and influenced by the people of Southend. 

To find out more about Concrete Culture’s plans, visit

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