A CAMPAIGNING councillor has called for the Royals to become a museum displaying the relics of Southend’s Saxon King...as the shopping centre was put on the market.

The plan has been mooted after the Royals was put up for sale, just weeks after Southend Council bought the Victoria Shopping Centre.

Debenhams and H&M stores are also set to leave the Royals, freeing up space.

Now, Ron Woodley, Independent deputy leader of Southend Council, is calling for the plan, saying the council was looking to have a museum on the seafront.

However, he believes the Royals is ideal as it’s close to the seafront.

He says the council should be interested in buying the site and adding a museum to the mix of shops, which would house key borough artefacts.

He said: “I think anything is possible and we need to have a look at it and evaluate it.

“I would prefer for the council to take up more of the town centre. We need to look and see what we can do.

“I think we need to look at different usages and get people more engaged with the centre.

“We could use it to house a museum, that could be an option.”

He said it would depend on the cost and the council’s finances.

The council boss said: “It’s an option to have a mixture of shops and the museum and people would go to both too.

“We could have the Saxon King and London Shipwreck remains there on display.”

The popular shopping destination has a long history in the town, the new indoor shopping centre was opened by Neighbours’ TV star and singer Jason Donavan in March 1988.

The Royals opened with more than 30 stores, and a food court, that housed nine different eateries with seating for 400 people.

It was opened the same day by comedian Lenny Henry.

Derek Jarvis, Tory shadow cabinet member for business, culture and tourism raised concerns about the sale.

He said: “It’s not good news as we come out of the pandemic and I would hope the centre would be looking forward to higher footfall as lockdown starts to be lifted.

“We need to change the use of the high street and bring it up to date.”

A spokesperson for Southend Council said: “The council is aware that the Royals is on the market.

“The Royals plays a crucial role in our town centre and inevitably whoever acquires the asset will look to build relationships with partners as they develop investment plans.

“The council is always keen to encourage investment in the town.”

The Royals Shopping Centre refused to comment.

Southend’s priceless artefacts

PRICELESS Southend artefacts could be displayed at a museum in the Royals Shopping Centre, as the high street venue goes up for sale.

This includes remains of a Saxon King found in Prittlewell. Archaeologists discovered about 110 artefacts in the burial chamber during excavation for a road widening scheme in Priory Crescent in 2003.

Months after dropping plans for a new £55million museum on the seafront, the council, which spent £2.2million on the failed scheme, announced it would exhibit the priceless artefacts in the town’s existing museum in Victoria Avenue.

The second possible display would be covering The London Shipwreck, a 17th Century Cromwellian warship that mysteriously exploded in the Thames Estuary in 1665.

The ship featured in the famous diary of Samuel Pepys and had 76 guns onboard belonging to the Royal Navy. The exhibit includes a two-tonne cannon from a shipwreck.