The popular gallery has successfully relocated to the former Southend Central Library building in Victoria Avenue, where more of the Beecroft collections can be displayed.
However, the old building in Station Road which has stood empty since 2013, is in poor structural repair, so residents and visitors are being invited to have their say on what to do with it via: www.southend.gov.uk/beecroftconsultation
This special consultation is being carried out by The Beecroft Art Trust with the help of its sole Trustees - the Council - and will run until Sunday 20th September.
The Beecroft Art Gallery and collection was set up in 1949 by art-loving solicitor and resident Walter Beecroft. He intended it for: “the promotion of the study of art, music and literature and in particular the provision and maintenance of the Beecroft Art Gallery at Southend-on-Sea as a public art gallery and library.”
The Station Road building was bought in 1951 and opened as the Beecroft Art Gallery in October 1953.
However, as a former Edwardian hotel, it was always just intended as a temporary home for the collection and the years finally caught up with it.
The Beecroft Art Gallery now thrives in its new home at the former Southend Central Library.
From 18th February 1980, a Charity Commission scheme appointed the Council as sole Trustee of Walter Beecroft’s endowment consisting of the Gallery building, the Beecroft collection itself and additional funds held for the benefit of the Charity. Since then, the Council has operated both the Trust and Gallery as part of its Museums Service. As sole Trustee, the Council must by law make sure it gets the very best value it can from the use or disposal of the land and/or building at Station Road, Westcliff. Any proceeds of sale will go straight to the Trust and income received – for example through investment - must be used to further the objects of the Trust.
Executive Councillor for Enterprise, Tourism and Economic Development, Councillor Graham Longley said: “The legacy of Walter Beecroft has made a huge contribution to Southend’s cultural heritage. This continues vividly at the relocated Beecroft Art Gallery in the former Southend Central Library.
“But now to maximise Mr Beecroft’s endowment, we must consider very carefully what to do with the old Beecroft building in Station Road.
“We hope as many residents and visitors as possible will give us their opinions about the building’s future.”