Palmeria Towers Hotel

 The task of compiling a history of a building such as a hotel can be somewhat difficult, even more so when the building no longer exists and for all anyone knows the records have been all but destroyed, this is what has made tracing the history of the Palmerea Towers such a complex task.

Palmeira Towers was designed by J Edmondson of Muswell Hill, London.  Construction started in 1902 and was completed in 1903.

 

LEFT: Palmeira Towers can be seen center right

 

In 1905 a strip of scrubland running alongside the Palmeira Towers was offered on a lease to the owners at 10schillings 6 pence per annum.

The Palmeria Towers Hotel proved popular for many years and would regularly be fully booked with the “No Vacancies” regally seen hanging in the window.

During the Second World War and just like the vast majority of seaside towns the length and breadth of the country the seafront become a no go area for civilians, hotels were closed, people were evicted from their homes and these were rapidly taken over by the War Department.

Palmeira Towers being a large building in a prime location proved an ideal office and look out position, with all the emphasis on the war Machine little maintenance was undertaken on the building, by the end of hostilities the building had fallen in to a state of disrepair required a large amount of investment to bring it back up to the high class standard it had been known for before the war.

Once works to restore the hotel had been completed the hotel once again started to draw the crowds however the times were changing and within a decade the numbers of holiday makers started to fall. 

The drop in the popularity of British seaside holidays was put down to the new package tours becoming cheaper, this coupled with the large number of hotels and smaller cheaper Guest Houses in Southend the aging Palmeira Towers Hotel saw an ever growing decrease in bookings.

With the increasing costs in maintaining the aging building and a drop in bookings the hotel became unprofitable with the owners closing it.

The Council owned the building and the land the hotel sat on, to keep the building in use it was let out to HM Customs & Excise as offices but had announced they planned to leave in early 1965.

After the closure of the offices the building became vacant, the large building was still in useable condition so the Council looked at converting the building in to flats, but had it advertised on the open market as possible hotel use, whilst a number of interested parties showed some interest in the building no serious offers were put in, so further investigations were set up with the possibility of creating a hostel within the building, however the proposals were never moved forward and the building was left vacant.

In June 1971 An agreement to share the cost of producing a site investigation and survey of the building was agreed with the council paying 40% of the cost with a developer paying the remaining 60%.

In June 1971 further interest was shown by developers for the old hotel, Mount Liell Court Limited approached the Council to enquire if consideration would be given for a development of the hotel or redevelopment of the hotel site and adjoining land, however as a developer was already progressing plans the new developer was turned down.  

By November 1971 the empty building as attracting thieves who were breaking in to search for anything they could steal and sell on,  the council decided to increase security patrols to try to cut down on the break-ins at a cost of £249 a year.  

In June 1972 as the land owner the Council moved to lift restrictions on the land to enable any incumbrances to be avoided when offering the land for sale or lease.

In January 1973 a proposal by George Wimpey & Company was submitted to demolish the slowly decaying building and replace it with a 24 storey block comprising 96 flats, with 142 car parking spaces bellow, the proposal was rejected and so the building was left empty.

In May 1973 the Council offered the building and land for sale, they had struck a deal with the owners of the next door Ocean Hotel to package both in one deal, the two sites were offered with outline planning permission for a hotel, leisure or a residential development on the sites.  The whole package was offered for development with proposals open for submission from June – to 14th September 1973, all the submissions handed in by the closing date were for the development of flats on the site, the preferred bid was from Granville International Organisation. 

However no sale or lease was forth coming and the building remained empty and would soon start to fall into a state of dereliction.

It soon became target for vandals, who would break in to see if there was anything of value left inside, with access readily available the empty building with its many rooms became a magnet as a drinking and drugs den, it was also popular with the homeless.

With all the utilities cut to keep warm people would start fires in various parts of the building overtime this added to the derelictionand decay of the building, one of these fire took hold and spread through a large part of the building, fire fighters had to tackle the blaze from the outside as the building was deemed too hazardous to enter.

During December 1977 the District Valuer agreed to the terms and price requested by the owner of the land adjoining the site of the Palmeira Towers.

The pervious fire caused extensive damage investigations found it was beyond economic repair and was demolished in 1978.

In March 1979 as the owner of the building and the land the Council in agreed as landlords that a surgical medical private nursing home could be built on the site, however the proposal was not proceeded any further, in August 1979 the Council agreed to push ahead the future development of the site it would sell the land to 5 bridge Properties Ltd, a proposal was submitted to construct an elderly peoples block of flats.

RIGHT: The replacement building can be seen in the centre of this photo.

Today the Homecove old age peoples flats sits on the site.

 

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