A HISTORIC yacht club which burnt down in a dramatic inferno was due to be demolished last month.
More than 30 firefighters spent about two hours tackling the blaze at Alexandra Yacht Club, on Southend’s cliffs, which tore through the wooden structure, causing its collapse.
All that is left of the building is its chimney, which was being held in place by metal supports.
The 130-year-old structure, which has been described as one of Southend’s bestknown landmarks, was found to be subsiding and was condemned for demolition in April.
The club’s commodore said Southend Council, which owns the building and leases it back to the club, was due to demolish the building in July, but pushed it back to September so it wouldn’t look unsightly for tourists.
Andy Solkhon, commodore of Alexandra Yacht Club, said: “If they had done it when they said, they wouldn’t have had this happen.”
Independent Ron Woodley, leader of Southend Council, said he did not know when the building was set to be demolished, but expected it to be “fairly imminent”.
He said: “I don’t know if it will be covered by insurance as it was due for demolition.
“I feel sad it has gone in this sort of way and it’s sad to see two teenagers have been arrested for an act of stupidity that will haunt them for the rest of their lives.”
The fire was put out by about 1.45am on Sunday, but crews remained on site into Sunday evening checking for hot spots, ensuring it didn’t reignite.
Mr Solkhon said: “A lot of people were saddened to see what’s happened to it.
“The way we have to look at it is that it has come down in one hit rather than seeing week after week bits and pieces coming off it.
“At the end of the day, we have to say it’s done its time, it’s 132 years old and it’s had its day, but it’s a sad day for the club.”
The club, which is now operating out of the nearby Naval and Military Club, in Royal Terrace, fears it could close for good as it can’t afford to build its own base and Southend Council won’t fund one.
Mr Solkhon claims the council wanted the club out of the way to make way for an £850,000 lagoon, which he believes will block access to the club’s jetty.
Two teenage boys arrested on suspicion of arson have been bailed pending further inquiries.
The boys, aged 16 and 17 and both from Westcliff, were arrested in Westcliff at about 3am on Sunday.
They have been bailed until September 12.