By the 18th century ships had become larger and trade changed. At this time Leigh's deep water channel silted up and the importance of the town diminished. It then gradually reverted to a fishing village, supplying the London market by road and barge. When the London to Tilbury railway was extended to Southend in 1856, this split the village in two and many of its timber-framed buildings were demolished. But the trains were a benefit to the fishermen as it enabled them to transit fish to Billingsgate much faster than before.
The photos shown on this page are some of the old buildings that are still in Old Leigh today.
The Old Station
The site of the old Railway Station, the first platforms being opposite the Smack Pub. This building is now used by the Leigh Sailing Club.
The Old Custom House
Built in 1815, after the railway company took over the original Custom House which had been in Old leigh since 1738.
This wooden cottage was built in the 19th century by James Plumb, which has recently been restored and is now part of the Leigh Heritage Centre.
This building was originally two timber framed cottages and in 1860 converted to a ship's smith. It is now the Leigh Heritage Centre.
The Sail Loft
Up until very recently, this building was still used as a sailmaker's business. It is now used as the Foreshore Inspector's office.
The Conduit was used for fresh water supply to the residents of the Old Town from 1712. The site was restored in 1975.