Council renews plea to save historic Winter Gardens

The 80-metre long display, surrounding the Grade II-listed Winter Gardens, on South Beach Parade, fe

The 80-metre long display, surrounding the Grade II-listed Winter Gardens, on South Beach Parade, features beautifully-shot historic photographs, tourism posters from different eras and fascinating facts. Picture: James Bass - Credit: Archant

A new plea has been made to find an investor and operator to run the UK's last surviving Victorian seaside cast iron and glass winter gardens.

The Grade II*-listed landmark has dominated the famous Golden Mile since 1904 and is of national significance.

It was built in Torquay, Devon, between 1878 and 1881 then dismantled in sections and transported by barge to Norfolk in 1904.

However, it was listed as one of the UK's 10 most endangered buildings in 2018 by the Victorian Society, and has been closed since 2008.

Great Yarmouth Borough Council submitted a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund in December last year but lottery funders turned down the £12m rescue bid. It said the Winter Gardens would need a commercial investor-operator on board before any new bid could be made.

The council is looking to identify and discuss the possibilities with organisations which might be interested in helping to bring the iconic seafront building back into use.

It is hoped the prospect of lottery funding will make the venture more appealing.

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In a statement from the council, Graham Plant and Trevor Wainwright said: 'This is really welcome news. It reflects confidence in the proactive and valuable work undertaken by this council towards achieving our ambition – and the wider community's ambition – of bringing this national heritage gem back into use as a viable and unique year-round tourist attraction that supports our economy and cultural status.

'The Winter Gardens represents an exciting and rare opportunity to get involved in breathing new life into a rare-surviving historic icon of the British seaside, and we would love to hear from representatives of any organisations interested in visiting and investing in the building and discussing the possibilities.'

Mr Plant said competition from other schemes across the country could be a factor. He said that while the project did not get the money in December, the lottery said it would welcome another bid.

He said the authority had a good track record of looking after its heritage assets.

Organisations interested, contact Stacy Cosham on 01493 846153 or