Town hall to celebrate 140 years of being seat of democracy in town

Great Yarmouth Town Hall seen circa 1900

Great Yarmouth Town Hall seen circa 1900 - Credit: GYBC

It is one of Norfolk's grandest buildings and stands as a reminder of Great Yarmouth's glory days as among the most prosperous towns in the country.

And this month sees the 140th anniversary of the official opening of Great Yarmouth Town Hall.

A series of events are planned to mark the anniversary including the tours of the building - which has been described as having some of the finest interiors of any property in the region.

The town hall was opened on May 31, 1882, by the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII.

Great Yarmouth Town Hall. Pictures: Brittany Woodman

Great Yarmouth Town Hall celebrates its 140th anniversary next month - Credit: Archant

It was then that its stunning Assembly Room was described as "one of the finest interiors in Eastern England and a measure, like the entire building, of the town's prosperity in the late 19th century".

More than a hundred years after opening the building, Edward VII’s great-grand-daughter Queen Elizabeth II visited the landmark building with the Duke of Edinburgh in 1985, where they were welcomed by a choir of 250 local children.


The Duke of Edinburgh seen in 1954 outside the town hall with cadets standing to attention - Credit: Archant

Other highlights from its history have included hosting an X Factor audition, a science fiction convention and a whole host of civic functions.

Celebrations of the Victorian building, the home of Great Yarmouth Borough Council, will take place on Tuesday, May 31. As well as free guided tours, a celebratory tea dance is also being organised.

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The tours will be given by Mary and Barry Coleman, who both served terms as mayor of the borough and know all about its corridors of power.

Armed Forces Day flag raising outside Great Yarmouth Town Hall.June 2015.Picture: James Bass

Armed Forces Day celebrated outside the town hall in 2015 - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2015

They will give visitors the chance to learn about some of the lesser known facts and stories about the Town Hall.

Tours will take place at 10.30am and 12.30pm.

The tea dance will be held in the Assembly Room, which features fluted columns and pilasters, Corinthian columns, and deep coving below a barrel-vaulted roof. 

NEEDING REPAIR! The assembly room at the new Great Yarmouth Town Hall in 1887-88 during remedial rep

The assembly room at the new Great Yarmouth Town Hall in 1887-88 during remedial repair work after the building suffered severe subsidence - Credit: Colin Tooke Collection

It will take place from 3pm until 5pm. Tickets are £5 per person, which includes tea/coffee and cake.

Carl Smith, leader of the council, said: “Celebrating 140 years of this magnificent building is an exciting milestone and one we invite everyone to share with us.

Morning all! I’ll be covering the #GYBC #GreatYarmouthBoroughCouncil elections live from Great Yarmo

An election count in the town hall - Credit: Archant

“With listed original features, traditional tile floors and stained-glass windows, the town hall is rich in culture, history and heritage.”

Auditions taking place at Great Yarmouth Town Hall for the new series of The X Factor.
Paige Gordon

An audition of the X Factor was held at the town hall - Credit: James Bass

To book your place on the guided tours or tickets for the tea dance, email: or phone 01493 846154.

TUC Womens Conference at Great Yarmouth Town Hall
Dated: April 24th 1965

TUC Womens Conference at Great Yarmouth Town Hall Dated: April 24th 1965 - Credit: Archant


1716 - The first Town Hall was built at a cost of £880. Before this, the main civic building was the Tolhouse, built in 1150.

The first town hall

The first town hall - Credit: GYBC

1879 – The Treasury agrees a loan to fund a new town hall, and Norwich firm Lacey and Co win the build tender.

1880 - Building starts in April, with the three-tonne principal cornerstone laid by the mayor, councillor Charles Cory Aldred.

1882 - The new Town Hall and Municipal Buildings are opened by the Prince of Wales on May 31 at a grand celebration attended by 350 guests.

1886 – Subsidence leads to underpinning work, using iron cylinders filled with concrete.

1985 - Edward VII’s great-grand-daughter Queen Elizabeth II visits with the Duke of Edinburgh, welcomed by a choir of 250 local children.

1998 – The Town Hall building is listed as Grade II*.