Royals Shopping Centre
The Royals Shopping Centre was Southend’s first undercover shopping centre. The birth of the new centre was not without great controversy, for much of old Southend would have to go to provide the space to accommodate the new shopping centre. Pre-Royals Before the Royals was envisioned the lower part of the High Street was lined with smaller shops, banks and restaurants, it had not been pedestrianised like much of the High Street had been. Many well known local stores such as Goings, Royal PH Stores and Tomassi's Restaurant were all located within the area of the planned shopping centre. As plans slowly emerged the developers begun site assembly in 1972, this saw the buying up properties in Grove Road and on the High Street, those buildings they could not buy through negotiations were finally acquired through compulsory purchase orders that were issued in 1981.

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Southend-on-Sea
High Street With the buildings lining Grove Road steadily falling to the wrecking ball attention turned to the entire eastern side of the lower High Street. Many well known names were having to either close down or find new premises. High Street (lower east side) 2, Matinali Oyster Merchants. 4, Matinali Oyster Merchants. 4a, Matinali Oyster Merchants. 6a, Royal Stores Public House. 8, Going Brothers Fish Tackle Shop. 10, Beverley Hair Fashions. 12, Nuthalls Restaurant & Caterers. 14, Nuthalls Restaurant & Caterers. 16, Southend Carpet Company. 20, Tomassi's Restaurant. 24, Barclays Bank. 24a, SPE Tucker Dental Practice. 28, National Westminster Bank. 30, National Westminster Bank. 32, Dixons Photographic Studio. 32a, Lido Restaurant. 34, Presto Snack Bar
Heygate Avenue Running along the top of the site was Heygate Avenue, this was also in for big changes with a large section of it's houses and shops destined to be demolished. Heygate Avenue (south side) 10, Dennis & Wally Hardware. 12, Fashions & Fabrics. 22, Four B's Cafe. 22a, Private Residents. 34, Cloister Chambers. 34, R. E. Barnett & Co Accountants. 34, Barnett & Sons & Spashett Valuers. 34, Belfour Kilpatrick Electrical. 40, 44, 46, 48, 52, 54, 56, 58, 60, 60a, 64, 66, 68, 70, 72, 76, 78, 82 & 84 Private Residence.
Grove Road The 24 houses that lined Grove Road were up for demolition, the Ritz Cinema was at the bottom of Grove Road. It was not just the buildings of Grove Road that were lost from the face of Southend but also the name "Grove Road" was also lost as the Royals Shopping Centre now covers the entire site Grove Road was finally closed to both road and foot traffic in 1985. Today the main walkway through the Royals Shopping Centre follows the route originally taken by Grove Road. Grove Road (East Side) Palace Bingo, Ritz Cinema, Numbers 10, 12, 14, 16, 22, 24, 26, 28, 30, 32, 34, 38, 42 and 44 Private Residence. Grove Road (West Side) 3, 7, 11, 15, 19, 21, 23, 23a Private Residents.
Grove Terrace Another address that disappeared was Grove Terrace with its St Christopher’s Café, Chandlers Radio Taxis and the historic Grand Pier Hotel. 1. St Christopher's Café 3. Chandlers Radio Taxi's Grand Pier Hotel
View from the bus station showing a few of the buildings on Heygate Avenue
Church Road The last road to be demolished was the west side of Church Road. Church Road (West side) 17, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 29 Private Residents.
After Demolition Once demolition of all the buildings had been completed, hoarding went up around the perimeter of the site where it remained a barren waste land for several years, until anchor tenants for the new shopping centre were sourced and secured.
The Build Construction of the Royals Shopping Centre finally began in November 1985, with the sinking of 350 concrete piles 90ft into the ground, at the same time large basements were dug and lined before work started on the metal frame of the building above ground. It took a further two years of continued construction before the centre was finally completed. The centre piece is the glass dome some 80ft in diameter & 72ft high. The centre was designed with an Edwardian look, the central glazed dome acted as a focal point, with the main walkways featuring glazed barrel vaulted roofs, giving the permitting the maximum amount of natural daylight into the centre. Confirmation of one of the main anchor stores came in 1984 when the department store "Debenhams" announced it was going to be opening a three floor store within the Royals. Picture Left: A hand-out given to those interested taking a shop in the Royals
The Royals Shopping Centre The new indoor shopping centre was opened by Neighbours TV star and singer Jason Donavan on the 23rd March 1988. The Royals opened with more than 30 stores, and a food court, that housed nine different eateries with seating for 400 people, the food court was opened the same day by comedian Lenny Henry, the food court had a raised circular central pedestal that sat surrounded by water with two bridges to enable access to the no smoking area. Within the centre big names including Boots and Debenhams being joined by the third anchor store Littlewoods which was opened by TV personality Leslie Crowther on Tuesday 29th march 1988. As well as the three main anchor stores and units of various size for well known High Street names, the Royals also included ten smaller "speciality" stores surrounding the balcony above the food court. To keep people informed of what was new and what was happening within the Royals, the shopping centre issued its own in-house publication called "Royals Review" the issue seen on the right is from Summer 1993.
Tenants There have been many tenants trading over the years under the Royals dome over the years, some well known High Street names have come and gone whilst others have traded since day one.
The Stores This section has been quite a task to put together, but it gives a brief idea of when and where stores were from the day of opening to 2012. It would be nice to have a list for every year but like an old boiler - we ran out of steam. In some places you will see "Not Listed" this is because the unit was either empty or the unit was knocked through to form a larger unit, also some of the units have been renumbered as changes to the size of units has also been undertaken.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 14a 14b 15 15a 15b 16 16a 17 17a 17b 18 19 19a 20 21 21a 21b 22 22a 23 24 25 26
Opening Cromwells Madhouse Sony Southend Sony Southend Empty Empty Stacks Stacks Littlewoods First Sports Evans Hammicks Nectar Beauty Tandom Berkertex Sales Shop First Sport Baron Jon Video Plus Not Listed Not Listed Whittards of Chelsea Not Listed Houseproud Not Listed Not Listed Athena Classic Sound & Vision Stage 1 K Shoes Empty Not Listed Not Listed Empty Not Listed Clarks Hammells Hammells Boots
1993 Cromwells Madhouse Pay Your Weigh Absolutely Fruity Empty Empty Not Listed Under Offer Littlewoods First Sports Evans Hammicks Under Offer Shoe World Berkertex Framework Baron Jon Choices Video Plus Not Listed Not Listed Whittards of Chelsea Whittards of Chelsea Empty Not Listed Not Listed Athena Classic Sound & Vision Stage 1 K Shoes Lynn Tait Not Listed Not Listed Shalets Not Listed Clarks Hammells Hammells Boots
2001 Cromwells Madhouse Sharps Bedrooms Animal Mad Moben Kitchens Expressions Portraits One Stop Vision Express Littlewoods First Sports Evans Hammicks Cardfair Shoe World Sarah Beth Jewellery Café Giardino Baron Jon Choices Not Listed Not Listed Dr Herbs Not Listed Not Listed Supercuts Not Listed World of Pictures Classic Sound & Vision Toys 'n' Tuck Julian Graves Not Listed Not Listed Not Listed It's A Wrap X-Isle Toni & Guy The Officers Club The Officers Club Boots
2002 Cromwells Madhouse Sharps Bedrooms Animal Mad Moben Kitchens Expressions Portraits One Stop Dillons Vision Express Littlewoods First Sports Evans Hammicks Cardfair Shoe World Sarah Beth Jewellery Café Giardino Baron Jon Choices Not Listed Not Listed Dr Herbs Not Listed Not Listed Supercuts Not Listed World of Pictures Classic Sound & Vision Toys 'n' Tuck Clarks Ice Not Listed Julian Graves It's A Wrap X-Isle Toni & Guy The Officers Club The Officers Club Boots
2004 Cromwells Madhouse Sharps Bedrooms Animal Mad Not Listed Not Listed One Stop Vision Express Littlewoods Not Listed Evans Ottakars Cardfair Shoe World Sarah Beth Jewellery Café Giardino Baron Jon Choices Not Listed Not Listed Dr Herbs Not Listed Not Listed Supercuts GiGi China World Not Listed Toys 'n' Tuck Clarks Calendar Club Not Listed Julian Graves MG Rover X-Isle Toni & Guy Atlantic Fashion Atlantic Fashion Boots
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 14a 14b 15 15a 15b 16 16a 17 17a 17b 18 19 19a 20 21 21a 21b 22 22a 23 24 25 26
2005 Sports World Utopia Coffee Subway Tesco Not Listed Not Listed Vision Express Littlewoods Poundland Evans Ottakars Cardfair Shoe World Sarah Beth Jewellery Café Giardino Baron Jon Choices Not Listed Not Listed Not Listed Not Listed Not Listed Supercuts GiGi China World Not Listed Toys 'n' Tuck Clarks Not Listed Calendar Club Julian Graves Not Listed X-Isle Toni & Guy Atlantic Fashion Atlantic Fashion Boots
2007 Costa Coffee Utopia Coffee Subway Tesco Not Listed Not Listed Vision Express Primark Poundland Evans Waterstones Cardfair Shoe World Sarah Beth Jewellery Café Giardino Baron Jon Not Listed Not Listed Not Listed Not Listed Not Listed Not Listed Not Listed Not Listed China World Not Listed Not Listed Not Listed Julian Graves Not Listed Not Listed Not Listed X-Isle Toni & Guy Atlantic Fashion Atlantic Fashion Boots
2008 Costa Coffee Utopia Coffee Subway Tesco Not Listed Not Listed Vision Express Primark Poundland Evans Waterstones Cardfair Shoe World Sarah Beth Jewellery Café Giardino Baron Jon Not Listed Julian Graves Diamonds & Pearls Not Listed Not Listed Not Listed Supercuts Not Listed Arts on Canvas Game Under Construction Under Construction Under Construction Under Construction Under Construction Under Construction X-Isle Toni & Guy Not Listed Not Listed Boots
2009 Costa Coffee Utopia Coffee Subway Tesco Not Listed Not Listed Vision Express Primark Poundland Evans Brighthouse Cardfair Shoe World Sarah Beth Jewellery Café Giardino Baron Jon Not Listed Julian Graves Diamonds & Pearls Not Listed Not Listed Not Listed Supercuts Not Listed Not Listed Not Listed H&M H&M H&M H&M H&M H&M X-Isle Toni & Guy Tom Wolfe Tom Wolfe Boots
2012 Costa Coffee Utopia Coffee Subway Tesco Not Listed Not Listed Vision Express Primark Poundland Evans/Brighthouse Brighthouse/Poundland Cardfair Shoe World Sarah Beth Jewellery BB's Coffee & Muffins Baron Jon Not Listed Not Listed Tik Tok Pandora Not Listed Supercuts Not Listed Not Listed Not Listed Calendar Club H&M H&M H&M H&M H&M H&M X-Isle Toni & Guy HQ Fashion HQ Fashion Boots
Two Photos of the of the High Street (East Side) to be demolished, Photos courtesy of Nigel Gayner
The site with the buildings all but demolished, the lost Grove Road can be seen running directly through the middle of the site
Food Hall
The centre banned smoking throughout the centre on 2nd January 2001 this excluded Café Giardino until the national smoking ban came into force on 1st May 2007. Littlewoods who operated the Index Catalogue Shop chain both had standalone stores and concessions within larger Littlewoods stores (as was in the Royals) closed the chain in 2004, this was due to increasing losses, the stand alone sites were sold off, many to rival Argos with the concession stores within Littlewoods being absorbed into Littlewoods floor space. Tesco opened an “Express” store on the Heygate Avenue frontage in 2005. With the demise of Index the Littlewoods store chain disappeared in 2005 with the chain being sold off to the Primark Group, with the Royals store opening on Tuesday 5th September 2006. In 2020 Primark moved out of the Royals into the old BHS building in the High Street. The food court which had been a major feature of the Royals since it had opened had been struggling to fill units for sometime and so a major rebuilding program of the area commenced. The centre had originally opened with a food court at the back of the centre on the lower floor with an ovoid shaped balcony running round the top lined with shops. However, during a down turn in the retail trade many of the shops had closed, the food court had also seen a down turn in residency with many of its units standing empty, it was decided to close the entire food court and redesign the area, the balcony overlooking the old food court was covered over creating an a two floor retail space, which was taken over by TK Maxx. The centre celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2008, fashion retailer H&M opened a superstore within the centre on Friday 10th April 2009 converting a number of smaller units into one large unit.
Main Shopping Area
Map of the Area Pre-Royals
The Royals Shopping Centre celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2013. In late October 2013 the owners of the Royals Orchard Street Investments announced that they had put the shopping centre up for sale with a price tag of £32.5 million.
Grove Terrace
In 1998 the Royals celebrated it's 10th anniversary, paper crowns were given away to children to mark the occasion
The Royals joined in celebrating the Chinese New Year in 2009 when it was the Year of the Ox with suitably decorated hats!
Grove Terrace
Royals Advert
2020 Royals Shopping Centre
2017 Royals Shopping Centre
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