The original wooden pier in Southend was built in 1830 and by 1851 it had acquired a horse-drawn tramway taking people from the promenade to the pierhead. The current pier was built in 1897 and was designed with a two track electric railway to replace the horse-drawn trams on the 1 1/4 mile journey. The original rolling stock was replaced in 1949 with stock similar to that running on the London Underground.
By 1978 however, the electric railway had become too expensive to run due to its high maintenance cost and it was closed down. The Railway was reopened in 1986 using two diesel trains purposely built for the railway.