In 1979, the winter weather was so cold that Leigh-on-Sea enjoyed 10 'ice days' where parts of the sea froze. In the same year the weather brought snow to the town for 5 days as late in the year as May. This was not the first time that the weather had sent late snow to Leigh-on-Sea. In 1908 the town was blanketed in snow on 24th April. The weather has caused the tide to rush into Leigh-on-Sea on more than one occasion. In 1887 the flooding was so bad that an 8 oared boat was rowed all the way up the High Street and in 1953 the cockle sheds and the railway station were flooded. The terrible weather meant that the only way to get help to Leigh from outside was by rail with 3 engines linked together so that they could force their way through the flood waters that surrounded the town.
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Leigh on Sea History
The village of Legra that appears in the Domesday Book grew into the village of Leigh-on-Sea. By the 14th Century the cliff top Church of St Clement had become an important landmark for sailors navigating the waters off Leigh. As Leigh-on-Sea grew, the settlements at the top and bottom of the cliff were united and by the 1600's the town had grown from a fishing village into a prosperous port. It is thought that the pilgrim ship, The Mayflower, might have built in Leigh-on-Sea. By the 18th century, however, as ships had grown in size and the deep water channel that led to Leigh-on-Sea had silted up, the town was forced to return once more to being ostensibly a port for fishing and small scale boat building. With the introduction of the railway in 1854, Leigh-on-Sea began to be transformed into a popular residence for commuters and started to grow and thrive once more. Perhaps the finest hour for Leigh-on-Sea was when its fishing fleet played an important role in the massive evacuation of troops from the beaches of Dunkirk in May 1940. There is a memorial in St Clements Churchyard to the bravery and sacrifice that they displayed during those days. Leigh-on-Sea hosts two well known annual festivals; the Leigh Folk Festival in July and the Leigh Regatta in September.
Despite its size, Leigh-on-Sea has been the birthplace and home of some notable people. Phil Cornwell, impressionist and comedian, was born in Leigh-on-Sea. So too were Tennis players David and John Lloyd. Oscar winning actress Dame Helen Mirren was brought up in the town and Comedian Phill Jupitus also has strong links to Leigh-on-Sea.