Savoy buildings torn down to make way for block of flats

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It was a fixture of Southsea's entertainment scene for most of the last century.

But soon the Savoy Buildings will be no more as work to demolish the landmark continues at a pace.

The rear of the old Time and Envy nightclub, which is owned by ex-Pompey boss Harry Redknapp, has been torn down and laid open to the elements.

The building, which stands opposite South Parade Pier, had fallen into serious disrepair since it was abandoned as an entertainment venue in 2006, and local residents had been clamouring for it to be ripped down.

Now in its third week of a 10-week demolition schedule, its destruction opens a new chapter for Southsea seafront by clearing the way for 92 flats in its place.

But some are saddened to see it go.

David Lynes, 50, boss of Portsmouth's M2M Promotions, was promoter for the venue for the last five years of its working life.

He said: 'I'm Portsmouth born and bred and I've known it ever since the time it was Nero's. It's a Portsmouth legend, so yes I'm sad to see it go.

'At the end Tiger Tiger had opened up, things were moving toward Gunwharf and it was left out on a bit of a limb, but it was still very, very popular.

'It was the club every generation has grown up with.'

The work is being carried out by Portsmouth Demolition Services, based in Victory Business Centre, Fratton.

Office manager Michael Brennan, 36, said: 'The back of the building has been demolished, and we still have two machines on site and works are proceeding at a steady pace.

'You can see the layout of the building where the demolition has taken place, and we now have an open air ballroom.

'It looks very different from when I used to go there when it was Fifth Avenue and later Time and Envy.'

One of the next steps will be to fill the venue's basement, formerly home to the building's casino and Fifth Avenue club.

Concrete rubble from the demolition process will be crushed and packed into the basement to allow construction of the flats on top.

FROM COASTGUARDS TO CLUBBERS

The site of the Savoy Buildings was protected from development until the early 20th century, because it stood in front of a row of coastguard cottages which needed a clear line of sight to the sea.

The Savoy Buildings were built in 1929 as a ballroom and in the 1970s it became the nightclub Nero's, then Fifth Avenue, and latterly Time and Envy.

The development will see the site flattened and rebuilt as 92 flats. Savoy Court, the adjoining building on its eastern flank, is to be kept intact and converted to flats.

Demolition involves around eight men.

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