MORE than 50 years ago the original slapstick duo Laurel and Hardy stayed in Southend’s Palace Hotel and now the pair have a lasting memorial at the landmark. They performed in the town in August 1952, and stayed at the town’s five-star Pier Hill landmark.

Now, as it prepares to reopen on March 1, as the Park Inn Palace after a £25million upgrade, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy have been immortalised in its history with two meeting rooms named after them.

The adjoining rooms can be opened into one and are on the first-floor overlooking the iconic pier.

They were photographed on the balcony off the same floor during their visit and their photographs decorate the walls.

Roderick Smith, general manager of the Palace, said: “We recognise the hotel is a part of history in the town and we want to bring some of the history back.

“We want to deliver something back to the town. When people come to stay at the hotel or have a coffee here we also want to sell them a story. Part of that is the visit by Laurel and Hardy, and we’re happy to take the hotel back to its glory days.”

Laurel and Hardy, who starred in 106 short, silent and feature films during their careers, spent a week in the town in 1952 and performed two shows a day at the old Odeon, in Elmer Approach, playing to packed audiences.

Their 30-minute act, A Spot of Trouble, told the story of the duo stranded on a railway station, having missed the last train, To commemorate the 50th anniversary of their appearance in Southend, the Saps At Sea appreciation society organised a Laurel and Hardy Convention in 2002, which was attended by 100 fans from the UK, Europe and America.

As part of the celebrations, a blue plaque was unveiled on Southend Pier by veteran actor Sir John Mills, and was put on display at the Pier Museum until a permanent site could be found.

Paul Allen, one of the founders of Saps At Sea, said: “It’s a dream come true to have the plaque here at the Palace where Laurel and Hardy stayed.”

Peggie Dowie, from the pier museum, said: “There is a great feeling of history in the new modern Palace. It is wonderful the plaque has a permanent home.”