PICTURES have shown how work is progressing to demolish a historic former convent ahead of the construction of 144 new homes.

Work to tear down the Nazareth House building complex began nearly three weeks ago, to make way for two blocks of retirement flats.

The process is expected to take up to 18 weeks.

Echo: Buildings are being razed to the ground to make space for 144 new flats.Buildings are being razed to the ground to make space for 144 new flats. (Image: Gaz de Vere)

Developer McCarthy Stone plans to begin construction of one and two-bedroom properties aimed at over-60s this summer.

Pictures of the demolition in progress show a couple of buildings have already been razed to the ground.

A site worker confirmed that buildings constructed at the complex more recently are being knocked down first.

Echo: The process of demolition began nearly three weeks ago.The process of demolition began nearly three weeks ago. (Image: Gaz de Vere)

Roof tiles are currently being stripped and will be salvaged for use in other building projects elsewhere.

The concrete which makes up much of the complex will be crushed and reused in the new development.

The retirement apartments are set to combine “intelligent, ergonomic design” with “tasteful decor”, and will sit alongside communal spaces, such as landscape gardens, a guest suite, and a lounge for social events and activities.

However, to make space for the development, a 19th Century chapel on the site will also be dismantled. Developer McCarthy Stone determined historic chapel would not be retained due to its “poor state of repair”.

Echo: Windows have been marked ahead of their removal.Windows have been marked ahead of their removal. (Image: Gaz de Vere)

However, bosses added: “items of interest and value” from the chapel had been relocated before McCarthy Stone took ownership of the site.

Demolition company Shorts Group has confirmed the flooring and doors from the original chapel will be salvaged for a future building project.

Last week, it was confirmed by McCarthy Stone that the small cemetery at the site would be “fully retained and protected”. It will sit alongside the 144 new apartments.

Echo: The main building as it was before demolition began.The main building as it was before demolition began. (Image: Gaz de Vere)

Some of the people purported to be buried at the site include Father James Bellord, who served in the Boer War of 1881, and writer Clement Scott.

Echo: Works - Demolition is underwayWorks - Demolition is underway (Image: Martin Halliday)

Established in 1873, the building complex initially housed some of Southend’s sickest children and the elderly.

It shut down in 2020 after 147 years, following a legal battle between Southend Council and the Nazareth Care Charitable Trust over whether to demolish and rebuild it.