SOUTHEND Conservative Club will close its doors for the final time tomorrow after decades of serving its members.

The club, in Clarence Street, Southend, decided to close after declining numbers using it, increased costs and lower profits.

The club was bought by the Association of Conservative Clubs three years ago after finding itself facing financial difficulties, and has since been leased back to Southend Conservative Club.

Chairman of the club, 83-year-old volunteer Reginald Needs, has spoken about his sadness at the decision to close the Southend site.

He said: “After all the committee, my wife and I have put into the club it is heartbreaking to have to have to close.

“We have had a lot of good memories here over the years, and we are very disappointed to see it go.

“However, at the end of the day it was out of our control - we worked as hard as we could to keep it running as a viable business but you can’t force people to come in here and drink.”

In a climate of pub closures, with an estimated two across the UK calling time every day, Southend Conservative Club’s closure has aligned with the national trend.

One member from Southend, who has attended the club regularly for the past 35 years, said: “It has come as a shock, the club has always been there and though it has been quiet it didn’t seem like it would ever close.

“It’s such a shame - there are groups that have used the club as their base for decades that suddenly have to find new homes.

“At the end of the day, if people won’t spend money in there then there’s not much they could have done. I don’t think it helps that many members are older now, and Southend isn’t seen as a safe place to walk around at night.”

Rochford and Southend East MP James Duddridge said: “I have been proud to serve the Southend Conservative Club as its President and thank all the officers for their work over the years.

“There are still two thriving Conservative Clubs in Shoebury and Leigh and I am sure members will want to join there.”

Southchurch Councillor Daniel Nelson said: “This club was a key part of the community which held a number of different events.

“It was a brilliant place in the heart of the town to meet for a drink and a conversation with friends, and I am sure that it will be sorely missed.”

The ACC also own the premises for the iconic Estuary Gym, which used to lease from the Conservative Club itself. It is now also facing closure, however a campaign has been launched to preserve it.

There has been no further information on what the site of the club will be used for.

A spokesman for the ACC said: "The ACC has supported, both financially and otherwise, the club for many years and we are extremely disappointed at the closure of the club.

"Given the club’s financial situation we can confirm the committee acted appropriately in taking this difficult decision.”