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Southend-on-Sea is a resort town in Essex, England with a population of around 160,000. The town is located on the Thames estuary roughly 40 miles (65 km) east of London.

The town became a popular seaside resort for Londoners during the Victorian age. Due to its proximity to London and easy access by train, the town's economy has been based on tourism ever since. The town boasts the world's longest pleasure pier[?] at 1.25 miles (2 km) long. However, from the from the 1960s onwards much of the centre of Southend was developed as a centre of commerce. Customs and Excise[?] are major employers in the town, and the central offices for the collection of VAT continue to be located here. Over the next few years Southend is planning the opening of a new university which it is hoped will regenerate the somewhat flagging economy in the region.

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