Southend Timeline

Bringing Your Memories Back to Life

The Royals Shopping Centre

The Royals Shopping Centre was Southend’s First undercover shopping centre; however 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.

Here we break down each area in to bite size chucks.

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 pedestrianized 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.

Area Map

This map is provided to help picture the layout of the area that was redeveloped.

 

The Ritz

This had included the Ritz cinema, the Ritz was one of the “Southend super cinemas” it had originally opened on Thursday 14th February 1935, the cinema closed to film entertainment in March 1972 it had then become a Top Rank bingo hall with the conversion from film to bingo costing the operator some £100,000 to undertake. 

The lease was later sold onto Invicta Bingo until the building was abandoned during 1978.  With the closure of the building it remained empty and frequented by pigeons and broken into by the homeless looking for somewhere to stay, the building rapidly fell into a state of dereliction.

Despite the best efforts of local preservation groups, local residents and cinema and theatre groups petitioning for the building to be preserved the wrecking ball moved in during January 1981.

 

The Grand Pier Hotel

Originally built in the 1880's the hotel became the Grand Pier Hotel in 1909.

Prospects House

Built in 1820, Prospects House was the home of Elizabeth Heygate wife of Sir William Heygate the Lord Mayor of London, it was later the birthplace of author Warwick Deeping (28 May 1877 – 20 April 1950)

 

With kind thanks to Nigel Gayner

 

Grove Road

The 24 houses that lined Grove Road were also up for demolition, the Ritz Cinema (see above) 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 (west side)

 23. Private Residents

 23a. Private Residents

 21. Private Residents

 19. Private Residents

 15. Private Residents

 11. Private Residents

 7. Private Residents

 3. Private Residents

 

 

 Grove Road (east side)

 44. Private Residents

 42. Private Residents

 38. Private Residents

 34. Private Residents

 32. Private Residents

 30. Private Residents

 28. Private Residents

 26. Private Residents

 24. Private Residents

 22. Private Residents

 16. Private Residents

 14. Private Residents

 12. Private Residents

 10. Private Residents

 Ritz Cinema

Palace Bingo

Grove Terrace

Another address that disappeared was Grove Terrace with its St Christopher’s Cafe, Chandlers Radio Taxis and the historic Grand Pier Hotel (see above).  

 

Grove Terrace (Southend Timeline Collection)

 

 Grove Terrace

 1. St Christopher's Cafe

 3. Chandlers Radio Taxi's

 Grand Pier Hotel

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.

A rare survivor a letter from the old Barclays bank dated 19th February 1919. (Southend Timeline Collection)

With kind thanks to Nigel Gayner

With kind thanks to Nigel Gayner

 

 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, that was also in for big changes with a large section of it's houses and shops destined to be demolished.

 A view from the bus station showing a few of the buildings on Heygate Avenue (Southend Timeline Collection)

 

 

 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. Private Residents

 44. Private Residents

 46. Private Residents

 48. Private Residents

 52. Private Residents

 54. Private Residents

 56. Private Residents

 58. Private Residents

 60. Private Residents

 60a. Private Residents

 64. Private Residents

 66. Private Residents

 68. Private Residents

 70. Private Residents

 72. Private Residents

 76. Private Residents

 78. Private Residents

 82. Private Residents

 84. Private Residents

Church Road

The last road to face the wrath of the wrecking ball was west side of Church Road

 

 Church Road (West side)

 29. Private Residents

 27. Private Residents

 25. Private Residents

 23. Private Residents

 21. Private Residents

 19. Private Residents

 17. Private Residents

After Demolition

Once demolition of all the building had been completed the demolition crews quickly packed up and left the site.  The plot of then had a wooden wall built around it and it remained a barren waste land for several years whilst anchor tenants for the new shopping centre were sourced and signed up.

The site with the buildings all but demolished, the lost Grove Road can be seen running directly through the middle of the site.

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.

It took a further two years on continued construction before the centre was finally completed.  The centre piece is the glass done 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.

 

      

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, it 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" store 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 left is from Summer 1993.

Alongside the national brands the area above the Food Court was lined with ten small retail units these were set aside for small independent local retailers. 

In 1998 the Royals celebrated it's 10th anniversary, paper crowns were given away to children to mark the occasion.

The centre banned smoking throughout the centre on 2nd January 2001 this excluded Cafe Giardino until the national smoking ban came into force on 1st May 2007.

Littlewoods who operated the Index Catalogue Shop chain both as standalone stores and concessions within larger Littlewoods stores (as was in the Royals) closed the chain in 2004 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, the Royals store opening on Tuesday 5th September 2006.

The food court which had been a major feature of the Royals since it had opened had been struggling to fill units for some time 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 begin a rebuilding of the area, the balcony overlooking the old food court was covered over creating an a two floor retail space, 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.

 The Royals joined in celebrating Chinese New Year in 2009 when it was The Year of the Ox with suitably decorated hats!

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 £32.5million.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Main Shopping Area

 

Food Court

The stores in their Stores...

This has been quite a task to put together but it gives a brief idea of when and where store were and when they were, would be nice to have a list for every year but that would be like climbing Everest!  In some places you will see "Not Listed" this is because the unit was either empty so no tenant was listed or the unit was knocked through to form a larger unit form two or three smaller units, also some of the units have been renumbered as changes to the size of units has been under taken. This list of store is just to give you the reader a look at how the centre has changed over the years.

 Opening

 1993

 2001

 2002

 2004

 2005

 2007

 2008

 2009

 2012

 1Cromwells MadhouseCromwells MadhouseCromwells MadhouseCromwells MadhouseCromwells MadhouseSports WorldCosta CoffeeCosta Coffee Costa CoffeeCosta Coffee
 2Sony SouthendPay Your WeighSharps BedroomsSharps BedroomsSharps BedroomsUtopia CoffeeUtopia CoffeeUtopia CoffeeUtopia CoffeeUtopia Coffee
 3 Sony SouthendAbsolutely FruityAnimal MadAnimal MadAnimal MadSubwaySubwaySubwaySubwaySubway
 4EmptyEmptyMoben KitchensMoben KitchensNot ListedTescoTescoTescoTescoTesco
 5EmptyEmptyExpressions PortraitsExpressions PortraitsNot ListedNot ListedNot ListedNot ListedNot ListedNot Listed
 6StacksNot ListedOne StopOne Stop DillonsOne StopNot ListedNot ListedNot ListedNot ListedNot Listed
 7StacksUnder OfferVision ExpressVision ExpressVision ExpressVision ExpressVision ExpressVision ExpressVision ExpressVision Express
 8LittlewoodsLittlewoodsLittlewoodsLittlewoodsLittlewoodsLittlewoodsPrimarkPrimarkPrimarkPrimark
 9First SportsFirst SportsFirst SportsFirst SportsNot ListedPoundlandPoundlandPoundlandPoundlandPoundland
 10EvansEvansEvansEvansEvansEvansEvansEvansEvansEvans/Brighthouse
 11HammicksHammicksHammicksHammicksOttakarsOttakarsWaterstonesWaterstonesBrighthouseBrighthouse/Poundland
 12Nectar BeautyUnder OfferCardfairCardfairCardfairCardfairCardfairCardfairCardfairCardfair
 13TandomShoe WorldShoe WorldShoe WorldShoe WorldShoe WorldShoe WorldShoe WorldShoe WorldShoe World
 14Berkertex Sales ShopBerkertexSarah Beth JewellerySarah Beth JewellerySarah Beth JewellerySarah Beth JewellerySarah Beth JewellerySarah Beth JewellerySarah Beth JewellerySarah Beth Jewellery
 14aFirst SportFrameworkCafé GiardinoCafé GiardinoCafé GiardinoCafé GiardinoCafé GiardinoCafé GiardinoCafé GiardinoBB's Coffee & Muffins
 14bBaron JonBaron JonBaron JonBaron JonBaron JonBaron JonBaron JonBaron JonBaron JonBaron Jon
 15Video PlusChoices Video PlusChoicesChoicesChoicesChoicesNot ListedNot ListedNot ListedNot Listed
 15aNot ListedNot ListedNot ListedNot ListedNot ListedNot ListedNot ListedJulian GravesJulian GravesNot Listed
 15bNot ListedNot ListedNot ListedNot ListedNot ListedNot ListedNot ListedDiamonds & PearlsDiamonds & PearlsTik Tok
 16Whittards of ChelseaWhittards of ChelseaDr HerbsDr HerbsDr HerbsNot ListedNot ListedNot ListedNot ListedPandora
 16aNot ListedWhittards of ChelseaNot ListedNot ListedNot ListedNot ListedNot ListedNot ListedNot ListedNot Listed
 17HouseproudEmptyNot ListedNot ListedNot ListedNot ListedNot ListedNot ListedNot ListedSupercuts
 17aNot ListedNot ListedSupercutsSupercutsSupercutsSupercutsNot ListedSupercutsSupercutsNot Listed
 17bNot ListedNot ListedNot ListedNot ListedGiGiGiGiNot ListedNot ListedNot ListedNot Listed
 18AthenaAthenaWorld of PicturesWorld of PicturesChina WorldChina WorldChina WorldArts on CanvasNot ListedNot Listed
 19Classic Sound & VisionClassic Sound & VisionClassic Sound & VisionClassic Sound & VisionNot ListedNot ListedNot ListedGameNot ListedCalendar Club
 19aStage 1Stage 1Toys 'n' TuckToys 'n' TuckToys 'n' TuckToys 'n' TuckNot ListedUnder ConstructionH&MH&M
 20K ShoesK ShoesJulian GravesClarksClarksClarksNot ListedUnder ConstructionH&MH&M
 21EmptyLynn TaitNot ListedIceCalendar ClubNot ListedJulian GravesUnder ConstructionH&MH&M
 21aNot ListedNot ListedNot ListedNot ListedNot ListedCalendar ClubNot ListedUnder ConstructionH&MH&M
 21bNot ListedNot ListedNot ListedJulian GravesJulian GravesJulian GravesNot ListedUnder ConstructionH&MH&M
 22EmptyShaletsIt's A WrapIt's A WrapMG RoverNot ListedNot ListedUnder ConstructionH&MH&M
 22aNot ListedNot ListedX-IsleX-IsleX-IsleX-IsleX-IsleX-IsleX-IsleX-Isle
 23ClarksClarksToni & GuyToni & GuyToni & GuyToni & GuyToni & GuyToni & GuyToni & GuyToni & Guy
 24HammellsHammellsThe Officers ClubThe Officers ClubAtlantic FashionAtlantic FashionAtlantic FashionNot ListedTom WolfeHQ Fashion
 25HammellsHammellsThe Officers ClubThe Officers ClubAtlantic FashionAtlantic FashionAtlantic FashionNot ListedTom WolfeHQ Fashion
 26BootsBootsBootsBootsBootsBootsBootsBootsBootsBoots