Palmeira Tower Hotel
Palmeira Towers was designed by J. Edmondson of Muswell Hill, London. Construction started in 1902 and was completed in 1903. In 1905 a strip of scrub land running alongside the Palmeira Towers was offered on a lease to the owners at 10 schillings 6 pence per annum. The Palmeria Towers Hotel proved popular for many years and would regularly be fully booked. During the Second World War the seafront became closed to civilians, Palmeira Towers was taken over by the War Department as it was a large building in a prime location with a good view of the estuary. 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 and 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 in the crowds, however, 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 abroad becoming cheaper, this coupled with the large number of hotels and smaller cheaper Guest Houses in Southend the large ageing Palmeira Towers Hotel saw a decrease in bookings. With the increasing costs in maintaining and a drop in bookings the hotel became unprofitable, the hotel closed. The building and the land the hotel sat on was owned by the Council, to keep the building in use it was let to HM Customs & Excise who used it as offices, but later announced they planned to leave in early 1965. After the closure of the offices the building became vacant, the large building was still in usable condition so the Council looked at converting the building into flats, whilst at the same time advertising the property as possible use as a hotel again. Whilst a number of parties showed some interest in the building no serious offers were put forward, so further investigations were set up with the possibility of creating a hostel within the building, however, the proposals never moved forward and the building was left vacant. In June 1971 an agreement with a developer to share the cost of producing a site investigation and survey of the building was agreed by the council, with the council paying 40% of the cost and 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, the developer was progressing with plans, but was turned down. By November 1971 the empty building was attracting thieves who broke in searching 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 the Council moved to lift restrictions on the land to enable any encumbrances 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 decaying building and replace it with a 24 storey block comprising 96 flats, with 142 car parking spaces below, the proposal was rejected and so the building remained 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 for drinkers and drug takers, it was also popular with the homeless. With all the utilities cut, people would start fires in various parts of the building overtime this added to the dereliction and decay, one of these fires 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. A previous fire caused extensive damage, investigations found it was beyond economic repair and was demolished in 1978. In March 1979 the Council as landlords agreed that a surgical medical private nursing home could be built on the site, yet again the proposal did not proceed any further, in August 1979 the Council agreed to push ahead with future development of the site, it would sell the land to Five Bridge Properties Ltd, a proposal was submitted to construct an elderly peoples block of flats and finally agreed, and the rest is just history.

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Palmeira Towers can be seen centre 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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