Medieval tower bought for £1 from Poundstretcher
- Credit: GYPT
One of Great Yarmouth's hidden heritage assets has been bought for £1 from a discount retailer, it has emerged.
Pinnacle Tower is one of 11 structures that once ringed the town as part of its impressive defensive wall.
Dating from the 13th century, it is in poor state having suffered a fire, but is one of a number of heritage projects that has carried on - albeit at a slower pace - during the pandemic as conservationists continue to care for buildings that might otherwise be lost.
Darren Barker, director of the Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust, said despite appearing an absolute bargain the purchase represented a "conservation deficit" because so much needed spending on it.
He said funding worth £28,000 had been secured from Heritage England for emergency repairs, topped up by £5,000 from the trust.
A sustainable end-use will need to be found to make it pay its way, but crucially buildings owned by the trust only need to break even to justify any spend.
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The tower sits behind Poundstretcher (the former BHS) and an element was also in the ownership of the Black Swan Care Group which operates Park House.
The windows, roof, and external masonry are the priorities.
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After completing the purchase conservationists finally got in in December last year (2020) to be confronted by an eight inch layer of pigeon mess.
Meanwhile the trust is making progress on a number of other schemes.
North West Tower
The landmark tower next to the White Swan fish shop and restaurant (until recently a pub of the same name) has been empty for some time serving previously as a Broads Authority visitor centre and then as offices.
Following an asset transfer from the borough council the preservation trust aims to convert the tower into a holiday let, after the success of a similar project undertaken at South East Tower.
There, the property was almost fully booked when people were allowed to visit.
"It's a good use of a problem building and South East Tower has proved to be really busy. Even during Covid it was almost solidly booked the whole time," Mr Barker said.
Funding of £99,900 has been secured from the Architectural Heritage Fund for the refurbishment and change of use.
The Iron Duke
The derelict pub in North Drive next to North Denes Primary School has long been a source of frustration among its supporters whose determined efforts saw it gain protective listed status.
As well as repairs, a feasibility study is needed to find a new use for the building - with a pub use among all options being considered.
The Norfolk Nelson Museum
Norfolk's only museum dedicated to Admiral Lord Nelson opened in 2002 but sadly closed at the end of 2019 amid financial challenges and declining visitor numbers.
Mr Barker said losing the collection was "a huge shame" as having it in Great Yarmouth was an important part of the maritime town's cultural offer.
The building in South Quay is owned outright by the preservation trust and after being completely emptied now needs a new use.
"It leaves us with a problem, or an opportunity," he said. "It is a big building purposely converted as an exhibition space and really nicely done.
"We could have converted it to residential which would have created a lot of income but we did not think it was the right thing to do - although it might be an option in the future."
Instead the aim is to use it as a professional gallery showing works of celebrated local artists with international reputations as well as temporary exhibitions from established names.
He said he hoped it would be of regional significance, drawing people from Norwich, Cambridge and beyond.
Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust is a not for profit registered charity working to preserve, save, enhance and promote the historic built environment.
The trust has also recently bought Greenwoods Menswear in King Street which it intends to turn into a heritage centre, and the former Dee Thai restaurant at 160 King Street, Yarmouth's only surviving example of a 16th century jettied timber frame building.
It is hoped some of the best exhibits from the Ben Burgess collection of Nelson memorabilia , which was on display until last year, can be shown at the heritage centre