Medieval Norwich church could become a music school

A talented musician and businesswoman hopes to breathe new life into one of Norwich's most historic churches by transforming it into a music school.

Music teacher Samantha Coe wants to complete a �20,000 restoration of St Martin's on Oak Street, Norwich, to make it a haven for budding performers.

The church would be transformed into five teaching areas, three studio spaces and a large performance space, if planning permission is approved.

The director of music for The Wharf Academy believes the new venue would give her the capacity to hire more staff and double pupil numbers.

Miss Coe, 24, who was born in Eye, near Diss, set her sights on the church after her music school on King Street was ransacked by thieves who caused thousands of pounds worth of damage.

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She said: 'We are being extremely sympathetic to the church and want to return it back to how it used to be. The building was built to be sung in and the acoustics are mind blowing We really want to bring some life back into this church. I want it to be a creative and inspiring place for our pupils to come into and study, as well as giving them a space to socialise.

'We will be an educational establishment which is there to do something good for young people and the surrounding community.'

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Miss Coe began teaching music when she was just 16, before going onto individual success with a pop folk band, the Wildflowers, which supported Take That on tour.

Since then, she has worked with musicians who wrote the Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack and set up The Wharf Academy and agency in 2009.

'We first opened in November 2009 and I had planned to take my first holiday in November 2010 after working constantly on the academy,' continued Miss Coe, who was runner-up in the Young Entrepreneur of the Year in the 2010 EDP Business Awards.

'But I made the mistake of checking my email while I was away and found out what had happened to the school on King Street. The intruders had pulled the plumbing out and left the water running. The building was unsafe to go back into; we lost everything.

'It was really tough at first, but eventually I saw it as a new opportunity to move forward with a new location.'

Chairman of the Norwich Historic Churches Trust Rory Quinn said: 'The church provides a great open space and we welcome the enthusiasm of The Wharf Academy.'

Planning permission for the music school has been submitted to Norwich City Council and is currently awaiting approval.

Are you an expanding business moving into a new premises? Contact Ben Woods on 01603 772 439 or email

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