Vintage Guide to Essex

By Anna Vine (@miss_irregular_grace), owner Le Keux Essex.

In the past few years the vintage community within Essex has grown and a strong representation is now available across the county.

There are a choice of 50’s diners across Essex to include Bobby Jo’s along Southend Seafront, Grumpys Diner in Southend, Bungalow Diner in Marks Tey which was featured on ‘The Only Way Is Essex’ Series 21 Episode 4, Hollys Diner and Motel located on Burnham Road in Latchingdon, Big Moe’s Diner in Dagenham, and catering for Vegan guests is Shakers Dairy Free Diner located in the centre of Colchester.

We are fortunate enough to have some amazing independently owned reproduction vintage shops in Essex, Rockamilly in Leigh-on-Sea, recently featured on Gok Wans ‘one size fits all’,  Vintage Mandy Lou in Battlesbridge, Freddies of Pinewood in Walton-on-the-Naze, Swanky Pins Retro Lingerie & Hosiery in Sible Hedingham and Lindy Lou’s in Rayleigh. If you are nifty with a sewing machine then Belle Fabrics in Leigh-on-Sea is the perfect place to shop, or if you fancy something bespoke once you have chosen your fabric then visit The Dressmaker in Leigh. Kim Cannon, the owner, runs both the Haberdashery and dressmakers and can help create the perfect vintage style outfit bespoke to you!

If you’re searching for vintage furniture then Battlesbridge Antiques Centre is the place to visit with over 80 dealers housed in a variety of old buildings and courtyards, or if you want to have a day by the sea visit Art Deco & Antiques in Frinton-on-Sea. 

When it comes to venues, you can’t find a more beautifully restored building than the Arlington, a cultural hotspot dating back to the 1920s. The Arlington Ballroom was originally a music hall, where residents of Southend and Leigh-on-Sea could dance, socialise and enjoy live music. In 2012, the ballroom was purchased by local entrepreneurs William and Susan Verner, who restored it to its former glory using the glamorous and stylish Art Deco design tradition throughout. Today, The Arlington Ballroom is a proud member of the Art Deco Society UK.

If you take a walk around the local Southend/Westcliff-on-Sea area, you can see many beautiful examples of the 1930s streamline architecture still in place today, especially in buildings such as Argyll House and Sunray House on Westcliff-on-Sea seafront. 

In the Essex village of Great Easton still stands the country residence of Walter Crittall, whose father founded the company making the steel-framed windows that would become endurlingly popular Crittall brand. Walter was very involved in the design of the house working with London architecture firm Messers Joseph with significant input from Sir Owen Williams. The Crittall family also built the Essex model village of Silver End, nowadays considered a modernist landmark, for the workers at the nearby Crittall factory, Walter Crittall was closely involved with the design of the village.

There are also still many Art Deco homes in Frinton-on-Sea built by architect Oliver Hill that are lived in today and Frinton-on-Sea retains an atmosphere of the 1920’s and 1930’s.

Essex is now host to many Vintage fairs throughout the year, to include Antique & Collector’s Fairs, Street Markets, Classic & Custom Car Shows, Music Events, Mini Festivals, Family Shows. The most popular annual events are The Maldon Motor Show, Orsett Classic & Vintage Show and Custom Culture Show held at Orsett Show Ground, featuring classic cars, live bands and a large vintage market. In 2017 the re-introduction of ‘The Rayleigh Trinity Fair’ which includes a diverse range of entertainment, stallholders, a craft and gift fair, music, entertainment, rides, a vintage area located by the Rayleigh Windmill with classic cars and much more going on throughout the town. 

Haddon Events currently hold Vintage Shopping Fairs at Runnymede Hall in Benfleet, Garon Park in Southend, The Sports Centre in Hornchurch and The Museum of Power, near Maldon. They have a fantastic selection of dealers who attend their fairs, who travel far and wide to find those one off items you can treasure forever, and I have found some truly beautiful true vintage items at their fairs.

And finally, coming soon to Essex as a franchise is Le Keux, the UK’s favourite vintage salon, photo studio & fabulous ‘50’s party venue all under one roof! 

As with the founding venue in Birmingham I will be offering vintage makeoversphoto shootsparties and milkshakes! And you’ll be able to book the mobile team for bridal and special occasion hair and make-up throughout Essex and beyond.

I am so excited to be the Owner and Branch Manager of this new and exciting venture and will be heading up a new team of expert vintage stylists from a new fabulous ’50s venue in Essex. 

The venue location will be announced soon so watch the story unfold at: