OLD Leigh’s iconic Fisherman’s Co-op could be re-built two years after it was destroyed in a devastating blaze with fresh plans submitted.

The building, which has been derelict since the fire in September 2019, will be flattened and replaced with another fishmonger, according to documents.

Plans have been submitted by Southend Council in the hope of restoring the site to its former glory.

However, fishermen fear the industry has come to the “end of an era” in the town, with “nobody” from the town fishing anymore.

Echo: The blazeThe blaze


Paul Gilson closed his business, The Real Fishermen, on Saturday due to a lack of fish and customers.

He said: “It’s a nightmare at the moment. There’s a shortage of fish and the customers aren’t there. The price of fish has also gone up.

“There’s also problems with anti-social behaviour on the Bell Wharf.

“The building is iconic, it’s special.

“It’s an eyesore at the moment, but it’s an end of era for fishing in Leigh. It’s very hard to making a living.”

Southend Council is planning to improve the wharf pier through a series of improvements.

The plans for the Fisherman’s Co-op state the ground floor will be used to sell fish, while the first floor will be office space, and used by the St John Ambulance service.

An officer report reads: “It is the council’s intention to reconstruct the building, as far as possible within the confines of current planning, building regulations, and environmental health requirements.”

Peter Wexham, Lib Dem councillor of the Leigh ward, added: “There are fishing people in Leigh, there’s two or three boats going out.

“It’s been bad for the past few years, but it doesn’t mean it will be bad forever.

“I’m disgusted the building has been left in that state for so long. It’s an eyesore.

“It’s really important, it’s part of Leigh’s history.

“It has to remain as part of the fishing industry.”

The fire two years ago was recorded as deliberate with firefighters finding that the ground floor was completely alight and that the first floor was full of smoke.