WORK has begun on what will eventually see the State Cinema in Grays reopened and turned into a Wetherspoons pub.

A deal was struck in September last year that will see the giant pub chain take over the derelict building.

A spokesman for the pub said small works have begun to make safe the building and allow further surveying.

The Grade II-listed building, in George Street, has stood empty for a number of years, and despite numerous plans being put forward to return it to its former glory, nothing has happened until now.

A previous proposal for the 2,200-seat cinema included combining a three-screen cinema with a live entertainment venue, restaurant, coffee shop, bar and banqueting facilities.

Though an opening date has yet to be confirmed, the opening of Wetherspoons is expected to create around 100 jobs.