How to stop the rot at the Winter Gardens - flat-pack it?

PUBLISHED: 10:35 14 December 2012

Winter Gardens

Winter Gardens

Archant © 2009

The Winter Gardens could be taken down and stored in a field like a giant flat pack, under proposals for the historic landmark.

Focus has switched to the iconic seafront structure, built in 1904, since work to restore the £7.5m St George’s Chapel has finished.

Officers say it will be “the next flagship project”, and have ruled out demolition as it is Grade II star listed.

Even if councillors wished it to be pulled down they could not, as English Heritage have made it clear that they want it preserved.

A full list of options is being drawn up - including pursuing grant money to make it a “mini Eden Project” - but among the possibilities is to place the Winter Gardens in storage.

Trevor Wainwright, council leader, said: “We could take it down but not knock it down.

“We would have to put it in storage, we would have to find a field.

“It’s a big piece of land in the middle of Yarmouth and the building’s just sat there derelict and the council has no money to do it up themselves.”

He added councillors will be looking at all options, but could foresee problems with storage.

The Winter Gardens “would rot away eventually” if stowed away, he suggested, and it would not be much cheaper than restoring it.

A complete rebuild is estimated to cost £6m, with repair work £2m and dismantling work “hundreds of thousands of pounds”.

“We are out looking at possible options to bring it back into life,” added Mr Wainwright. “Even if we got a grant we would need an end user to make it viable.”

Structural engineers surveyed the Winter Gardens a year ago to assess how much it would cost to breath new life into it.

For the glass and metal structure has been closed since 2008 due to fears over falling glass injuring pedestrians.

Borough conservation officer Darren Barker said cash which could have been used for the Winter Gardens was ploughed into St George’s, but it has never been a case of “one or the other”.

“We’ve always wanted to get St George’s sorted out as that was the priority that was at risk of collapse and was Grade I listed,” he explained. “The Winter Gardens is the next flagship project.

“We will be devoting a lot more time to it now.”

The Winter Gardens has had a variety of uses over the years, including a concert venue and roller skating rink.

It came to the borough after the Yarmouth Corporation bought it for £1,300 from Torquay.

Officers are consulting with a range of other winter gardens around the country and have been on fact-finding trips to learn what the most successful uses are.

“Because it’s such a tricky building and there are so few winter gardens left - they overheat in summer and over cold in winter - uses are limited,” explained Mr Barker.

But he added it is a “fantastic” part of the town’s heritage, and officers are determined to find a use that will generate enough money for it to be “sustainable and viable”.


  • While spending power is low for many people .... And people with money to go abroad so. The Britannia pier is empty 40 weeks of the year what chance has winter gardens got....seasonal is that just seasonal ... Who goes down to GY seafront during week day evenings in the winter months... If it has a weekly theatre show like the Marina Lowestoft which attracts many during the whole year... .. That could be an answer for its use... Amusement arcades we have enough of .. Maybe an indoor amusement park as most weather is poor during the April to sept. months will in courage people in and a annual pass for people as in the USA theme parks..... And priced to attract being paramount ... This is just 2 options.. As times are hard ... And things may well get worse... Anything is a big gamble... Either way it will have to be taken down to be repaired or it will fall down in the next big gale force wind..... To do nothing with result in ending up with nothing but a heap of glass...

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    Friday, December 14, 2012

  • Has this venue ever made money? Has it always been high maintenance? Is there any end use for this venue that could make money? Soooo its just for looking at? Pull it down and use the site to generate revenue for the community. Hotel maybe, conference facility. The town lacks quality hotels. In fact its ironic that a holiday town with so much surplus accommodation would have to accommodate any potential investors in quality accommodation in Norwich!

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    Paul Morley

    Tuesday, December 18, 2012

  • Dither a bit more, problem solved...

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    Sunday, December 16, 2012

  • Recycle it

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    Paul Morley

    Sunday, December 16, 2012

  • Trevor Wainwright states that the Winter Gardens “would rot away eventually” if stowed away and it would not be much cheaper than restoring it." But isn't that what it's doing now, rotting away, paint is peeling so the metal is going rusty and if left as it is will erode. Darren Barker says "it is a "fantastic" part of the town’s heritage, and officers are determined to find a use that will generate enough money for it to be “sustainable and viable”, as they haven't thought of anything to use it for in the past 4 years, what do they really think they can come up with now? To use it for anything, it will need air conditioning in the summer and central heating in the winter or it won't be a viable investment. One thing I can suggest, why not make it an indoor ice skating rink with a cafe, changing areas with secure lockers for coats and bags etc., then periodically it can also be rented out for ice venues or ice skating competitions.

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    Friday, December 14, 2012

  • The Winter Garden was sold to Great Yarmouth in 1903 by Torquay Council following a less than successful commercial career to that date. During the late '60's and early '70's this facility was extremely successful under the management of GYBC's team of professionals - Leslie Shepherd and Terry Langton. Since their reign the borough has lacked true Leisure and Tourism visionaries. However, for Darren Barker to state that the Winter Garden is a fantastic part of the town's heritage in my opinion is a monumental overstatement. How can it compare with the town wall, the Bure bridge, the historic South Quay, the Tolhouse, St Nicholas parish church and the Jetty etc? For the past few years it's been an absolute eyesore and there is little mileage in anybody or organisation thinking they can make this facility commercially viable. Unless English Heritage want to stump up the total refurbishment cost it should be dismantled and sold for scrap.

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    Friday, December 14, 2012

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


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