September 17 2014 Latest news:
By Lauren Rogers
Friday, August 22, 2014
Holidaymakers could soon be spending a night inside Great Yarmouth’s ancient town wall as plans to restore a medieval tower move forward.
Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust is now seeking planning permission to refurbish the town’s centuries-old South East tower, one of several imposing brick towers dotted along Yarmouth’s 14th century town wall.
English Heritage has already agreed to the conversion of the Scheduled Ancient Monument which dates bakc to the 14th century and if planning permission is approved, work should start in the coming months.
The five-storey South East tower, close to the Potteries Museum in Blackfriars Road, needs overhauling to become a holiday home but the sympathetic work would not alter the character of the building, according to planners.
The tower has barely changed in seven centuries – it still features original arrow-slits, a stone basement well, and a balcony offering views across historic Yarmouth to the seafront. It is also set in one of the best-preserved sections of the wall.
The conversion would take about three months and see a living room installed on the top floor, a kitchen on the fourth, bedrooms on the third and ground and a bathroom in the sub-basement.
Features set to be repaired include the lime washed walls and a stone gargoyle.
And if the quirky accommodation proves popular, Great Yarmouth Borough Council, which owns 10 of the 11 surviving towers, hopes to continue to work with the trust to convert some of the others, seven of which have remained largely intact and are currently unoccupied.
Bernard Williamson, chairman of the Yarmouth preservation trust, said: “This first tower conversion is a hugely exciting project, which would bring some of the borough’s medieval heritage back into use, further broaden the tourism offer, support the local economy and generate extra funds to help maintain the wall itself.
The wall, often described by experts as the second best preserved medieval town wall in England after York, dates back to 1261.
It took years to complete – the main work was finished in 1346 but continued until about 1400. The fortification, which was last manned during the English Civil War, was more than 23 feet high and 2,280 yards long, with 10 gates and 16 towers.
The borough council has earmarked about £100,000 to convert the five-storey south east tower, which was constructed during the 14th century and has been deemed as being most at-risk, followed by the north west tower near the White Swan pub.
“The ethos of the proposed fit-out is very light-touch, preserving the historic charm and character for holidaymakers. Little of the historic fabric would be altered.”
Paul Pitcher, managing director of appointed contractor Wellington, added that the project needed “a combination of modern construction techniques and a real feel for local heritage”.
The council will make a decision on the planning application in the next few months.