Let’s move to Canvey Island, Essex: ‘Britain’s Mississippi delta’
What’s going for it? Islands are magical. Step over the water and something weird happens, as if normal rules have been suspended. What else could explain Canvey Island? On paper, it shouldn’t work. What, sunbathing next to petrochemical plants? Why ever not? What, a mudflat metres below water, mostly covered in detached houses, bungalows and mobile homes, with a dash of 18th-century Dutch, a soupcon of 1930s modernism (the Labworth cafe, the Monico pub, swoon), nature reserves of incredible biodiversity, all to a soundtrack of proto-punk pub rock? Why ever not? Julien Temple’s rockumentary Oil City Confidential, about the “best local band in the world”, Dr Feelgood, proposed Canvey Island as Britain’s Mississippi delta, an intoxicating, romantic jumble of creeks, oil jetties and blues music. Sounds improbable? Then you haven’t been. Nothing seems odd again after you cross the creek.
The case against The weirdness won’t be for all. Water, water everywhere… disaster came calling in 1953. The defences built afterwards are sturdy, but for how long? Congestion at rush hour.
Well connected? Trains: Benfleet to London’s Fenchurch Street (43-48 mins, every 10 minutes), via Barking and West Ham (for the tube); or to Southend (15 mins). Driving: you can reach the M25 or Southend in 30 mins.
Schools Primaries: Lubbins Park, St Joseph’s Catholic, William Read, St Katherine’s CofE and Northwick Park are all “good”, says Ofsted, with Canvey Junior “outstanding”. Secondaries: Castle View and Cornelius Vermuyden are both “good”.
Hang out at… Ove Arup’s beautiful 1932 Labworth restaurant; or the Lobster Smack for a touch of Magwitch with your pint and panini.
Where to buy Almost entirely a postwar affair, with a bit of 1930s and a patch or two of late Victorian. Bungalows, chalets and suburban detacheds galore. Few terraces. The most desirable spots are, say, the avenues off Furtherwick Road and Thorney Bay Road, and off the Western Esplanade. Large detacheds and town houses, £500,000-£650,000. Detacheds and smaller town houses, £250,000-£500,000. Semis, £250,000-£350,000. Terraces and cottages, £200,000-£300,000. Rentals: not a vast amount; a one-bedroom flat, £700pcm; a three-bedroom house, £1,000pcm.
Bargain of the week A (very) quirky three-bedroom chalet, yours for £235,000 with premierestates.org.uk.
From the streets
Phil Clark “There’s a bleak, quirky beauty to the place, especially the marshes south of Benfleet station and Canvey Heights country park, with its views over Hadleigh Ray. Lovers of kitsch will enjoy the long, blue-painted seawall along the south-east coast, with its potted palms and memorial benches. But it’s not quite the Riviera.”
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