A HISTORIC Southend seafront building is to be demolished as it is sinking.
The 130-year-old Alexandra Yacht Club clubhouse in Southend Cliff Gardens has been closed and will be torn down due to subsidence.
Andy Solkhon, commodore of the club, the fifth oldest yacht club in the country, said: “This news is very sad and gives rise to much understandable emotion. Southend is losing part of its history.
“The best we can do as members of this much-loved club is to do her proud; support her through the next journey, and do our best as her ‘ship’s company’ to ensure we continue to sail as the Alexandra Yacht Club.”
The Echo revealed that the clubhouse was sinking in November but surveyors have now condemned the building, which has been a fixture of Southend seafront for generations.
Southend Council, which leases the iconic building to the club, has installed safety barriers to stop people entering the building.
Sally Holland, the authority’s corporate director for corporate services, said: “Building issues were brought to our attention by the club and following a site visit by council officers, there is clear evidence of structural movement within the building.
“The club has therefore taken the decision to close the building, a decision fully supported by the council.
“The council and club are now working together to address the urgent and longer term issues.
“In the short term we are putting in place some precautionary safety measures before we have to dismantle the building in a controlled manner to maintain safety and minimise the risk of further structural deterioration.”
The authority has pledged to help the club, which will operate from the nearby Naval and Military Club in Royal Terrace in the short-term, find money for new premises.
It has also vowed to help the club, already threatened by the £1million lagoon planned for Three Shells Beach, keep its members.
Ms Holland said: “Alexandra Yacht Club carries important local heritage as it is the fifth oldest active sailing club in the country and therefore we are supporting the club as much as possible.
“We will also be helping as far as we can with issues such as retaining memberships and identifying potential sources of external funding for any longer term reprovision of the clubhouse and sailing facilities.
“The club has already made interim arrangements with the Naval and Military Club in Royal Terrace and the clubs existing boat storage and launching jetty is unaffected by the issues associated with the building so members can still sail.”
The club’s launching jetty in Western Esplanade is unaffected and the club has a full sailing programme this year, as well as an active cadet section.
For more information on sailing, the history of AYC and news please visit the AYC website at http://www.alexyachtclub.co.uk