WORK has begun on transforming one of Southend’s most popular fish restaurants.

Planning permission was granted for the demolition of Fishermans Wharf on Western Esplanade, Southend, in 2015 but work has only now begun.

Giant hoardings have been erected around the site of the restaurant on cliffs opposite Adventure Island.

Owner Terry Tibble stated: “We have still maintained the original ethos of the restaurant with fresh and good quality produce, specialising in fish that is freshly prepared and served for all the family.

“The restaurant has continued to grow to keep up with the changing times.”

When the work is completed more than a dozen extra jobs will be created.

The building dates from 1911 and was formerly a tea room known as The Shrubberies.

In 1986, the premises were refurbished to create Fishermans Wharf, a family business that pulled in the crowds with its offerings of freshly-caught local fish.

A terrace was added about six years ago, enabling diners to shelter from the cold sea breeze.

The modern, two-storey building, going up within a conservation area, is set to totally transform the site.

The new layout will have food storage and preparation areas to the rear set into the slope of the cliffs.

A basement will also be cut into the cliffs for equipment and further storage.

Two additional floors will give increased dining space with views across the estuary.

The restaurant currently employs up to 37 staff but the new restaurant will require more than 50 staff, with at least 40 full-time posts. It currently closes during winter evenings but the new upper restaurant is expected to remain open all year.