ITS name has changed more than once since it first opened, way back in 1901. It has been much updated and altered – inside and out – over the 118 years it has stood atop Pier Hill.

But for all that, Southend’s old Palace Hotel – known these days as the Park Inn Palace – it is still immediately recognisable from near and from way out in the Thames.

It overlooks the pier, the Adventure Island complex where there was once a boating pool, east of the pier, and Peter Pan’s Playground on the western side.

Queen Victoria’s statue, a gift to the town from ex-mayor Bernard Tolhurst, stood close to the hotel for many years, but was moved long ago.

The queen went west – to a spot close to the top of the cliffs lift and the place where, for many generations, a grand bandstand stood. Sadly, that fell victim to a landslip, 20 years or so ago.

Even allowing for all the extensive and expensive alterations, the Palace Hotel – originally called the Hotel Metropole – remains a dominant landmark long after so many of our town’s other grand hotels have disappeared.

The Grand Pier Hotel, for instance, before which the aforementioned Royal statue stood for many years is long gone, vanquished by the development of the Royals shopping centre.

Also gone, of course, are the Queen’s Hotel, which for years dominated the lower end of Hamlet Court Road, in Westcliff, and the Westward Ho and Overcliff Hotels, also once part of the Westcliff townscape.

The Westcliff Hotel – in a dominant position overlooking the West Cliffs, close to the Cliffs Pavilion – thankfully, remains, though it has changed a good deal down the years.

Another long-gone Southend hotel, the Hotel Victoria, once stood at the top of an unpedestrianised High Street, opposite the then highly-popular, family-run Dixon store.

Vic Circus, as the area facing the hotel was widely known, had not been revamped. Many an older resident of the town and its neighbouring districts recalls the extensive changes to familiar surroundings with sadness and, maybe, some bitterness, too.

Echo: Instantly recognisable – the Hotel Metropole, atop Pier Hill

Echo: The Overcliff Hotel is long gone

Thankfully, new hotels have started to open in recent times, reflecting the enduring pull and popularity of Southend.

The Holiday Inn chain has such an establishment next to the town’s booming airport, while the chain advertised on TV by Lenny Henry now has a hotel close to the seafront.

It all adds weight to the notion our town is most certainly not merely a place for daytrippers, as guests now pack our hotels to enjoy the town and to add very, very substantially to its economy.