London Southend Airport (SEN/EGMC) is located in the city of Southend-on-Sea and this means roughly 60km west of the city of London. The airport was opened even before WW1 and among London’s three busiest airports in the 1960s and 70s. However, due to its size, the airport was soon overtaken by other Londonian airports and the passenger numbers broke down. After investments done by Stobart group, the airfield was extended, reconstructed and is thus one of London’s most modern airports by now – however, it can still only serve a B767 as biggest type.
Because of the COVID pandemic, Southend lost all of its passenger traffic which was mainly operated by Ryanair and easyJet. Latter offers a handful of flight weekly but not really worth to mention. As of 2023, the busy times are history.
Written by Severin Hackenberger in cooperation with Dave Potter, Kian Lee Motte, Shaun Henry and Markus Mainka (providing pictures and infos). Last Update: April 2020
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| (1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
|05/23||1.956m / 6.417ft – Asphalt|
|Terminals||Only one terminal located at the airport serving all flights and routes.|
|Ladder||Only needed at #3.|
|Car/Public Transport||Car is useful, but not needed as spots 1-3 are in walking distance from the terminal. Some busses running around SEN airport.|
|Restrooms||Avaible at all locations.|
|Drinks/Food||There is a McDonalds next to spots 1-3 and a huge TESCO close to #4|
|Hotels||The Holiday Inn Southend (spot 1) offers the best sight. At #4 is a Permier Inn where you can spot the arrivals.|
|Season||Definitely summer as you will have better weather and more movements during the day to be spotted.|
|05/23||Runway 23 is used most of the time, 05 is barely used.|
|Spot #1 – Holiday Inn – Apron movements
|WHERE||This spot is very easy to get to, only a short walking distance after turning right along the main road from both the Southend Airport train station and the terminal. The spotting deck is on the top floor of the hotel at the restauraunt, where at the other side of the floor to the lifts and stairs there is an open deck outside the doors. It as an open observation deck with no windows!
Parking is a bit hard in this area, so maybe best to choose the offical airport parking. However, there is a McDonalds nearby where one may leave the car.
|WHAT||From here you can see all apron movements as well as all of the taxiways and gates at the terminal. Runway can also be seen in quite a distance, so not the perfect spot therefore for runway movements.|
|TIME||Sunrise until late noon all year round.|
|MISC.||You do not need to be a guest at the hotel however purchasing something from the bar is recomended, it is a hotel so you should have access to everything you need.
Heat haze is an issue in summer.
100mm for taxiways closest to you and up to 400mm for the runway
|Spot #2 – The Fence – South apron|
|WHERE||Almost directly in front of spot 1 just down at the bottom and a bit to the northwest. Once facing this direction on the ground walk towards the big building featuring the immigration office and take the street left of it to the fence. Then you should be next to Jota aviation’s office and can take your pictures from the fence. This spot is located along the fence in a narrow street next to some parking bays where you can actually even park (at least for a short period).|
|WHAT||(almost) all aircraft parked up on the South Apron (mainly business aircraft) as well as most taxiing aircraft.|
|TIME||Depends on the angle each aircraft is parked but for some sunrise till late noon and for some late noon till evening. Night shots are also nice from here.|
|MISC.||The closest toilets and food are at the Holiday Inn or McDonalds. You have to shoot through a fence, so a narrow lens is recommended. Keep a low profile here in order to avoid problems.|
|Spot #3 – Fire Training – Ramp + Runway movements|
|WHERE||Located at the end of South road close to the Vulcan Restoration Trust, this spot is pretty easy to find. Just follow the street till its end, get rid of your car and search your favourite position along the fence – best position is next to the water pond on the landside side of the fence.|
|WHAT||All runway movements and in addition some apron/taxiway activities.|
|TIME||Late noon till (late) afternoon.|
|MISC.||Ladder needed. Nothing else really nearby. Keep a low profile here in order to avoid problems.|
|Spot #4 – Eastwoodbury Lane – Runway movements|
|WHERE||A 10-15 minute walk from the terminal, train station and Holiday Inn and is a raised platform on the road named Eastwoodbury lane from which you can see over the fence and onto the runway. It is located next to a huge parking which isn’t useable as it seems, so closest parking possibilities are at the Premier Inn hotel or the St Laurence park parking area.|
|WHAT||You can see all runway movements but be aware that some aircraft arriving on Runway 23 may vacate the runway before it reaches you or some 23 departures may be too high.|
|TIME||Sunrise until late noon all year round.|
|MISC.||The Premier Inn (restrooms) and a huge TESCO are a bit to the south.|
|Spot #5 – St Laurence Church – Runway movements|
|WHERE||Southend’s most famous spot during summer evenings probably: the St Laurence Church – the closest you can get to airliners landside in the UK!
Just approach it by car, bus or foot and when you are at the roundabout in front of it, keep to the east. Then you’ll get to a gate blocking the road, now keep/turn right and walk between two fences. This kinda way will lead to the front fence, from where you have the best view – see the map for more details…
|WHAT||You can see all runway movements, but best to shoot are 23 departures. Pilots often wave when turning prior 05 departure or after 23 arrival, which is easy to capture from here…|
|TIME||In summer months only: extreme early morning or afternoon till sunset.|
|MISC.||Ladder recommended although the fence is quite low. Nothing else really nearby except the “Rochford service station”, where you can find a KFC and Spar shop.|
|Spot #6 – Long stay P2 – Most runway + taxi movements|
|WHERE||Proceed to the control tower and keep on going north. Then you will end up in the Long stay carpark P2, which is the home of this spot as at its northern end, you will find a little mound from where you can shoot nicely. When coming by car, it is the best to leave your vehicle near the Sports Direct or McDonalds and then walk to the parking as it is meant for Long stay usage only!|
|WHAT||All runway movements and in addition some apron/taxiway activities. However, 23 Arrivals and taxiis/departures are the best to be shot from here.|
|TIME||Early mornings are the best, however the runway has still light till early afternoon.|
|MISC.||Ladder needed if you wanna stand along the fence to avoid any fence parts in taxy shots, otherwise the mound is fine. Nothing nearby except the terminal. You CAN’T enter this carpark for short term parking!
Keep a low profile here in order to avoid problems and stay away from the fence as long as you don’t shoot due to some security groups patroling airside regularly.
Hello, could you indicate me why is the 05 barely ever used ?
There’s also another location you might have potentially missed which is at Southend Airport Station itself, you can see from the London end of the platform across to Runway 05 which I believe is great for arriving flights
Thanks Rob for the message. Sounds good, as always, please send some pictures over to firstname.lastname@example.org and please also add some info such as where, what you can see and so on as well.
There’s a few spots at SEN that you have missed, ie the 05 pillbox, long stay car park and of course probably the most well known spot here St Laurence church. I would be happy to send over some photos via email from all of those spotting locations if you wish.
Thanks for the feedback. Yes, sounds great, please send some pictures over to email@example.com and if it is a new spot, please add some info such as where, what you can see and so on please as well.
Thank you very much,
Except the ‘pill box’ is on Private Land.