Canvey Island Things to Do
Quaint little dutch houses.
I normally refuse to use such a prissy word as 'quaint', but it seems the most appropriate adjective to use now.
It was the Dutch who drained much of the land around here (and indeed in other places in Eastern England), bringing with them their own style of architecture and ways of doing things. Many stayed and became integrated into the community. Even until relatively recent times it was not unusual to hear Dutch being spoken around here.
The Dutch cottage museum is FREE, but only open on certain days in the summer - ring ahead.
This virtually round house comes from the early 17th century, and must be the most pleasing building to look at on the whole island. It was lived in by one of Verymuden's (the Dutch Drainage expert) chief engineers. There is another one close by from a similar age. You will find other examples, but they are from a much later time.Related to:
The Lobster Smack
The Lobster Smack is a rather wonderful pub right on one corner of the rougly diamond shape that is Canvey Island.
I used to eat there with freinds on quite a regular basis. The steaks, served of a sizzling skillet, were some of the best I have ever tasted. I suspect things may not quite be the same now.
Reports about the beer do seem to remain good and the ramshackle surrounding are a steeprd in history as ever.
Following the building of the sea defences, it now stands below an embankment, but you can still climb up it and look out over the muddy Thames estuary.
The pub used to sit right on the shoreline, and was known to have been to frequented by many a dodgy sailor who was involved in smuggling, or illegal pilots helpingbtraffic up the river.
It is even mentioned in Dickens book 'Great expectations' when was known as the 'World's end'.
A charming, yet earthy pub. Worth the detour.Related to:
- Beer Tasting
0 Hotels in Canvey Island
Canvey Island Restaurants
Labworth Restaurant...: Canvey Art Deco...
The Labworth is an iconic Canvey stucture, penned by 0ve Arup in the late-Art Deco style, known as 'International', having been inspired by the design of the bridge of The Queen Mary...
The now Grade II Listed restaurant, was constructed, (to standards inferior to those intended by the architect), from reinforced-concrete, during 1932 - 33
It was called Canvey Island Cafe upon opening, but soon became popularly known as, "the Labworth", due to the large black letters stating this around its 180-degree, sea-facing shelter...
It was intended to be the flagship building of the new Labworth Estate, standing as it does on the western sea wall, with panoramic views of the Thames Estuary (see separate Essex tip...)
When Canvey failed to attract seasonal tourism as was expected, the cafe closed & The Labworth soon became derelict & was due to be demolished...
Local businessman, Chris Topping rescued it from further decline & paid for its restoration, so that today its walls stand-out in brilliant white, looking much as it did the day it was opened, except for the removal of the exterior canopies over the outside cafe area, & the original letters stating; LABWORTH...
0pen; Tuesday - Saturday - 18:00 - 00:00
Favorite Dish: Locally-landed seafood is on the menu, but the venue seems to specialise in desserts & cakes...Related to:
- Wine Tasting
- Food and Dining
Canvey Island Nightlife
The Lobster Smack...: Most Iconic venue of Canvey...
No consideration of the history of Canvey Island is complete without mention of its Grade II Listed, 17th Century inn; The Lobster Smack...
The Lobster Smack has its place in the cultural history of England, & for the most contrasting reasons; not only has it been mentioned in Charles Dickens' Great Expectations, but the author actually stayed there when he visited the island...
During the 1850's, the inn became a venue for bare-knuckle boxing; it is also said to be linked to Hadleigh, Essex, via a tunnel, built for smuggling purposes...
More recently, the inn has gained a reputation as a live music venue, & it has become inextricably linked with the development of the band, Dr. Feelgood (see separate tip...)
In May 2013, The Lobster Smack staged a major retrospective exhibition of memorabilia relating to the band, & it is the iconic halt on the annual walk organised by former band manager, Chris Fenwick...
Any visitor to Canvey who wants to appreciate the island's history, must drop-by this evocative venue...
0pening times; 12:00 - 23:00 daily (+1 hour Friday & Saturday)
Dress Code: CasualRelated to:
- Beer Tasting
- Food and Dining
Canvey Island Transportation
All roads don't lead to Rome..
Canvey island was a true island until 1931 when the first bridge was finished. It is now connected to the mainland via 'Canvey Way' which can get quite clogged up at peak times and a smaller road via Benfleet. This 'back route' runs off the island and up onto a river bluff known as 'Millionaire's road'. Where else would you want to live if you had made your millions in scrap metal dealing ?
The Island has no rail access, but Pitse Station and the nearer Benfleet Station are only a couple of miles away.
Canvey Island Local Customs
Dr.Feelgood are a rhythym'n'blues band which emerged from Canvey Island in 1971
To this day they continue as a touring & recording ensemble, having gone through numerous personnel & shifts in musical style, 1 thing that remains at their core is their connection to Canvey Island...
0il City Confidential, a movie biopic of the band, the title of which was an oblique reference to the iconic island on the Essex coast from where the founding members were born...
Canvey Island is an atypical Essex coastline settlement; part nature reserve; part industrialised oil refinery, & the contrary nature of the place is frequently reflected in the bands music...
0n any typical Canvey day, the aroma of seasalt & marshmud mixes in the air with the fumes of refining hydrocarbons & sizzling seaside burger & seafood snack stalls...
Categorised as a rhythym'n'blues band; Dr.Feelgood have always had a crossover sound, embracing rock'n'roll, & which was not out of place in the punk revolution of the latter 1970's...
There have been a dozen members of Dr.Feelgood over the decades, with not a few personal conflicts resulting in personnel changes, owing to the strong personalities of many of its musicians...
Lee Brilleaux founded the band, whose name is slang for heroin, or a dodgy doctor who sells prescription-only medicine, with Wilko Johnson; John B.Sparks; & John Martin...
He remained at the heart of Dr.Feelgood, until he was the sole remaining member of the original set, until his untimely death from cancer in 1994
As was his dieing wish, his band reformed in his memory & now perform an annual memorial concert to their founder on Canvey Island (Lee Brilleaux Birthday Memorial...)
Band manager Chris Fenwick also organises an annual sea wall walk around the island in order to celebrate Brilleaux's life, & recognise features of the island that influenced Dr.Feelgood's recordings...
These include The Lobster Smack; The Monaco Nightclub; & The Canvey Club, which has always featured prominently in the evolution of the band, & where they gained acclaimed as a live set - in May 2013 it staged a major retrospective exhibition of Dr.Feelgood memorabilia...
Many feel that Feelgood would not have become the band thay have, had their roots not been from this iconic island, & had they deserted their roots, come their success in the early 1970's...Related to:
- Arts and Culture
Canvey Island Warnings and Dangers
The monsters of Canvey Island
Be careful about what you might find washed up on the shoreline...this one should have made the X-files !
Back in 1954, a rather mysterious and ugly reddish-brown creature in a decomposed state was washed up on Canvey Island. It was said to be some form of marine life, with protruding eyes standing about two and a half feet tall. I say standing, because it had two legs, each with five toes arranged in a concave U-shape. The zoologists who studied it, not wishing to cause a panic are said to have cremated the poor thing.
The next year a local vicar found a similar thing, this time about four foot tall (bloody hell, their growing !). The wherebouts of this creature after it was handed over to 'experts' has never been brought to light. What are we to make of it all ?
Yellow and Blue routes
You may notice a number of signs around the place with phrases like 'yellow route' on them.
I used to work at the place that was the terminus of one of these such routes.
The basic idea is that if something horrendous happens, then the islanders can get off the Island and deposit themselves in an alloted school hall or similar until the danger passes.
I believe these measures came in after the massive floods of 1953 which wrought havoc over the island. The local oil refinerys also present a slightly warmer risk.
In these days of global warming, who knows if these new sea walls maybe not quite up to the job
If your current health insurance doesn't cover you while your abroad, you should consider getting international travel insurance just in case something should go wrong.