ONE of Southend’s most iconic buildings has suddenly closed – with bailiffs called in.

Two notices have been plastered on the front doors of the landmark Royal Hotel, in Southend High Street, saying the building is now under the control of Ayers and Cruiks.

The Grade II listed building, which was constructed in 1791, is regarded as one of the jewels in Southend’s crown.

It has been used as a bar, restaurant and nightclub in recent years, but fresh hopes have now been raised that it could flourish under new investment.

Independent councillor Ron Woodley, leader of Southend Council, said: “This is a historic and iconic building and I hope to see it open again as soon as possible.

“We do not have any specific details at the moment, but we are attempting to find out more and will be monitoring the situation.”

Events on the hotel’s Facebook page, including a reggae and dubstep night pencilled in for August 15, now look set to be cancelled.

The building has not been used as a hotel for a number of years, but it is hoped the possibility of new owners could attract new investment.

Dawn Jeakings, chairman of the Southend Business Improvement District, said: “It’s always a shame when a High Street business goes, but I’m sure the building will be brought back to use again. It is too good not to be brought back – it’s a beautiful building.

“Since I’ve been here it has had several owners and it needs a lot more investment to reach its potential – it would be wonderful if it can be turned into a hotel again because the outlook is gorgeous.”

The notice up on the hotel’s doors reads: “Take notice that the bailiff, through its agents, peaceably re-entered the premises.

"Any attempt by the former tenant to break back into the premises may constitute a criminal offence.”

Echo: Notice: On the hotel door

History of the Royal Hotel

1791 Work starts on the hotel, which was initially called the Grand Hotel and Terrace

1793 Work completed

1803 Renamed the ‘Royal’ Hotel following a visit from Princess Caroline

1973 Southend Society was formed to try to save the hotel from demolition

1990s Bottom of the hotel was converted into a club

2000s The ground floor of the hotel is converted and is turned into a popular music venue

2014 Hotel closes and bailiffs move in