Picture gallery: Flag-waving youngsters celebrate St George’s Theatre’s 300th birthday
19:41 23 April 2014
The 300th birthday of one of Great Yarmouth’s best-loved buildings was celebrated in patriotic style as civic dignitaries gathered from all over the county to chink glasses and tinkle teacups.
Pageantry mixed with a garden-party style gathering for the celebration at the newly-renovated St George’s Theatre, giant flowers fluttering in the breeze.
Starting the proceedings were schoolchildren from St George’s Infant and Nursery School whose carnival-style parade through the town wearing patron saint warrior helmets and hoisting aloft a giant dragon puppet delighted on-lookers.
Inside, the landmark former chapel was festooned with red and white flags and balloons marking both the birthday and St George’s Day in style.
Dozens of invited guests listened as tributes were paid to all those involved in the Grade I listed building’s transformation.
The baroque-style building is the centrepiece of a £4m Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI) scheme which is helping to regenerate the whole area.
Borough council leader Trevor Wainwright lead the official dedication of the building and its new plaza and pavilion, 300 years after it was first commissioned in 1714.
He said: “Great Yarmouth has a national reputation for the care and conservation of its heritage. St George’s is a fine example of this. It is a building that the town, region and nation should be proud of.”
Barry Coleman, chairman of St George’s Trust, said money was no object when the chapel was built, to a design based on Sir Christopher Wren’s St Clement Dane church in London.
At the time the church stood as a beacon of power and influence, boasting a level of opulence normally reserved for royal palaces.
Reverend Albert Cadmore undertook the formal dedication thanking the vision of those who established the church.
The mayor of Great Yarmouth, John Burroughs then unveiled a plaque on a pedestal, which will be later fixed to an inside wall.
The civic events were followed by public celebrations and a host of live music and performances, including from Bridie the Irish Tea Lady, who is 8ft tall and dances with her cake-laden 7ft tea trolley.
St George’s Theatre Trust is also celebrating the 300 years by giving away 300 tickets to various shows across the year.
The Take Me I’m Yours giveaway will see tickets placed in envelopes around the town and immediate area – and whoever finds them gets to keep the tickets.
Mr Wainwright, added: “I am delighted we are celebrating the 300th anniversary of St George’s Theatre, which remains one of the most enigmatic buildings in the borough.
“It is a fine historic building of national significance, and an important part of the borough’s built heritage, but as a theatre is also central to the cultural life of residents. This is why the borough council worked so hard to protect it for future generations.”
The project to refurbish St George’s Theatre included the construction of St George’s Pavilion, a new building which operates as a booking office for the theatre and as a café bar, plus a new plaza where people can also sit at tables in fine weather and enjoy open-air performances.
The complex is owned by Great Yarmouth Borough Council and run by St George’s Theatre Trust, a charity re-created in 2010.
For more information about showings, call the theatre’s booking office on 01493 331484 or visit www.stgeorgestheatre.com.