On a bleak morning after Christmas the seafront at Great Yarmouth is deserted and there is an almost melancholy silence within the walls of the Pleasure Beach.

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The snaking body of the giant rollercoaster has long since gone into hibernation and its grumbling roar and shrieks will not be heard again until the end of March.

But on a cold, drizzly day when it is almost impossible to imagine the summer time appeal of the resort, Pleasure Beach owner Albert Jones unveiled his bold vision to attract visitors to the park 52 weekends a year.

Providing a sustainable future for the Pleasure Beach, nurtured by his grandfather and father before him, is clearly what has driven him along the long and winding road to bring a large casino to the resort.

And the seemingly interminable negotiations with the borough council are poised to end in the new year with the signing of an agreement that will finally hand him the licence to build the only large casino on the east coast.

Rides are already being moved on the southern end of the Pleasure Beach to clear ground for the £25m scheme, to be called The Edge, which will accommodate a seven-screen Odeon cinema, five national chain restaurants and a 120-room budget hotel as well as the new-style casino –one of only eight to be allowed across Britain.

The landmark final agreement will mean Mr Jones and his development consultants Hawes Price can, in his words, “press ahead with 100pc effort”.

He aims to see builders move on to the site – also taking in derelict land to the south of the Pleasure Beach – in October.

Mr Jones revealed his company, Pleasure and Leisure Corporation, had already invested more than £1m in the project since the vision of Las Vegas-style gambling was first raised by the Labour government nearly 10 years ago.

However, despite the delays – and he remains convinced that faster work by the council could have given Yarmouth the first large casino in the country and not Newham – he is confident his investment is not the gamble some other local businessmen think it is.

Despite the recession, which has seen the original £35m scheme scaled down slightly, he believes investors will see the potential of the project.

He said: “The signs are that operators do want to come here. They believe Yarmouth will move forward and they are encouraged to see improvements to the seafront and road schemes like the final A11 dualling.”

The casino would attract visitors from at least a two-hour drive away and it would also develop the market for long weekends.

He said: “We are already signed up with Odeon and we have interest and offers from national chains of restaurants and prospective hotel developers.”

Confident that partners will quickly be sorted out for each of the elements, he said: “One of the restaurant groups said they are like sheep – once one goes the rest will follow.”

Mr Jones confirmed that the licence for the casino would be held in his name, but they were negotiating with several interested partners.

He said: “The large casino allows you to bring in the right mix of gaming with high stakes, but it is not just about gaming, it will be the whole experience. It will be somewhere people can come and eat and listen to live music.

“The whole idea is to attract people from a wider area. The nearest other large casino, when it is built, will be in Milton Keynes.”

His passionate aim is to reverse the leisure market drain away from Yarmouth to Norwich.

“We want people to stay in Yarmouth and go to the pictures or out for a meal here,” he said.

“At the moment Norwich is busy when it is quiet here. People even go from Yarmouth to nightclubs in Norwich, when the reverse used to be the case.”

He believes the casino will create opportunities for other seafront operators to improve their outlook, in the same way it is enabling him to invest in the Pleasure Beach and give a new lease of life to a park that opened in 1909.

His vision is to replace the park’s log flume lake with a large indoor attraction – and his aim is to see it ready in time for Easter 2015, eight months ahead of The Edge opening its doors.

He said: “I want to provide attractions not currently on offer in Yarmouth, including a Go Ape-style rope-climbing adventure course.

“I am also looking at a smaller version of what is at Thursford, with a museum – possibly displaying some antique rides – and a Christmas show.

“I see it being a flexible space where we could run some of our outdoor attractions during the winter. It could also be themed to create a winter wonderland at Christmas.”

He said despite still attracting one million visitors a year change was vital to ensure a secure future for the Pleasure Beach – three washout bank holidays this season had left the park relying on subsidy and the last healthy season was 2009-10.

He said: “We’ll never be open 52 weeks a year, but the indoor centre should allow part of the Pleasure Beach to be open 52 weekends a year.”

He hoped they would be able to add 25 to 30 full-time staff to their existing 40 full-timers and 100 part-timers.

When The Edge opens, in time for Christmas 2015 if everything goes to schedule, he sees the complex creating a minimum of 400 extra jobs.

In the meantime, his investment in the Pleasure Beach is beginning in time for next season with a new £300,000 spinning rollercoaster.

21 comments

  • 25 million will never be enough. He will need at least another 150 million. 50 to make all new roads to make Yarmouth accessible and 100 million to put stuff in Yarmouth that would make people want to go there (besides the casino).

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    Z:)

    Monday, December 31, 2012

  • "Scaled down slightly"? I make 10 million off 35 million to be nearly 30 percent. I wouldn't call that scaled back I'd call that slashed. Wonder what other corners can or will be cut. Remember the Yarmouth Eye? When the first one was erected we were told that next year another BIGGER one would be coming, did it? No. A "Scaled back" wheel came next year and I'm wondering whether "The Edge" will last just as long as they, or the cranes at the outer harbour did.

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    fester1902

    Monday, December 31, 2012

  • Another world famous attraction in the making, right up there with the wax works.

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    Paul Morley

    Sunday, December 30, 2012

  • "120 room budget hotel" Hmmm yes I see how that could be similar style to Vegas in that "hotel" is in the description. Hardly the Bellargeo and 5000 room MGM 5,000. More Grot Yarmouth gambling style.

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    Paul Morley

    Sunday, December 30, 2012

  • It is like Vegas in another way. When you get away from the area of the casino the area is very shady.

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    Z:)

    Monday, December 31, 2012

  • I clicked on the headline expecting Bono and his boys gigging out on the dunes.

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    nrg

    Friday, December 28, 2012

  • I don't know something doesn't sound right here, £25 Million for a seven-screen Odeon cinema, five national chain restaurants and a 120-room budget hotel as well as the new-style casino, would seem a somewhat trivial amount in this day and age for that size and type of complex. Then perhaps they are going to build it with the salvaged remains of the old jetty, combined with all the obsolete equipment up at the outer harbour.

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    John L Norton

    Friday, December 28, 2012

  • "120 room budget hotel" Hmmm yes I see how that could be similar style to Vegas in that "hotel" is in the description. Hardly the Bellargeo and 5000 room MGM 5,000. More Grot Yarmouth gambling style.

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    Paul Morley

    Sunday, December 30, 2012

  • A hotel with lovely views over either a derelict outer disaster or the Barrack estate and all the tumbledown industrial units. All transport provided by Lord Cho Cho. ha ha ha You couldnt make it up.

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    "V"

    Friday, December 28, 2012

  • And what exactly is the role of Mr Albert Jones? Land donation and developer, clearly he and his company dont have the funds or funding. Is there a time limit on the casion super L? I say time throw it back in the pool if GY cant find the investors. this is what a free market decides, hmm no pint in investing in a dump. Oh thats not fare, in accessable dump would be more complete descrisption.

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    Paul Morley

    Wednesday, January 2, 2013

  • Some familiar responders here - who do tend to delight in rubbishing any and every new project in Yarmouth! Well done all concerned with developing the new Regional Casino on the South Denes.

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    Mick Castle

    Friday, December 28, 2012

  • "120 room budget hotel" Hmmm yes I see how that could be similar style to Vegas in that "hotel" is in the description. Hardly the Bellargeo and 5000 room MGM 5,000. More Grot Yarmouth gambling style.

    Report this comment

    Paul Morley

    Sunday, December 30, 2012

  • And what exactly is the role of Mr Albert Jones? Land donation and developer, clearly he and his company dont have the funds or funding. Is there a time limit on the casion super L? I say time throw it back in the pool if GY cant find the investors. this is what a free market decides, hmm no pint in investing in a dump. Oh thats not fare, in accessable dump would be more complete descrisption.

    Report this comment

    Paul Morley

    Wednesday, January 2, 2013

  • And the problem with the Barrack estate V ?

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    marshall

    Friday, December 28, 2012

  • @Mick Castle, perhaps you would like to expound on how to regenerate the very nearly dead town centre now. Only yesterday my good lady told me how bad it is and she was only trying to buy a new coat. Gone are Dorothy Perkins, Peacocks, Mckays and Co-op to name but a few of the stores she could have widened her choice from. Having looked in New Look, Debenhams, BHS, Marks and Palmers and not liking what she's seen it's a trip to Norwich. There is your problem with getting people to spend money in Gt Yarmouth NOT going to the pictures or having a meal here. Look at the numbers of good quality restaurants here that have closed, Pamela's, Anna Sewell's house, Lawrie's Brasserie etc etc.( All had excellent pedigree's and chef's so draw your own conclusions as to the types of meal to be sold at The Edge to the clientelle of the budget hotel. I've sampled the "Food" at The Pleasure Beach, never again). The investment is welcome but it is in the wrong place. I'm not going to go up to the Harbour to go on ancient roller coasters in the freezing wet weather whilst eating a burger thrown together then at me by a bored, dis-interested teenager on minimum wage because there happen to be a few big slot machines or a Roullette wheel up there. Get real Mr Castle. I welcome investment into the town but this is in the wrong place for the wrong reasons by the wrong people.

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    ThePresence

    Monday, December 31, 2012

  • Vegas style gambling. Have any of these people gambled in Vegas? It seems highly unlikely GY could offer much more than similar sand to Vegas.

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    Paul Morley

    Sunday, December 30, 2012

  • What I can't understand is why no one has turned the Iron Duke into a MacDonalds with a drive through

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    Daisy Roots

    Saturday, December 29, 2012

  • 25 million. 25 million would only get that built by the pie quays down at bodge it and leggit builders.

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    Z:)

    Sunday, December 30, 2012

  • Well, good for him for trying in hard times, even if the Pleasure Beach has been a bit rough around the edges for several years. But Albert ought to know that one of the reasons people go to Norwich these days to go clubbing ( or so I am told by some who do) is the clientele of the Yarmouth clubs. Rough chavs and hookers is not what the average young clubber with a bit of money wants to be with.More locals will probably use the cinema if it is more upmarket than the Hollywood-but if he puts the Hollywood out of business and fails to keep his cinema open all year round then GY is going to lose yet another facility for those who cannot afford to go to Norwich. There is the matter too of the site being accessible by public transport-it is a long way from the bus station, especially on a cold night for those who do not drive, including the young people nwho currently patronise the Hollywood. He is a brave man to invest in Yarmouth, if he can get his customers there on coaches so they do not encounter the rest of the town he may be ok, but his site is not exactly the most attractive, social housing one side and outer harbour on another.

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    Daisy Roots

    Friday, December 28, 2012

  • Marshall . Nothing. But viewing it from a height, it looks a mess. The whole area is a mess including the seafront. > While we are on this subject, The hotel has come from a five star one to a budget one ?. And "......for the Pleasure Beach, nurtured by his grandfather and father before him, is clearly........." Perhaps the Mercury should do some research although it is not in their vocabulary, on the word Botton.!

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    "V"

    Saturday, December 29, 2012

  • It might have been a good idea when Yarmouth was at its zenith but who wants to come to the benefit capital of the East for a holiday.

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    BG

    Friday, December 28, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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