Nelson’s Monument a pillar of strength for tourism in Great Yarmouth

Nelson's Monument, seen from Yarmouth beach.Photo: Andy DarnellCopy: For: EDP Sunday back page.Archa

Nelson's Monument, seen from Yarmouth beach.Photo: Andy DarnellCopy: For: EDP Sunday back page.Archant © 2009 (01603) 772434 - Credit: Archant © 2009

It was built almost a quarter of a century before its more celebrated counterpart in London's Trafalgar Square.

Looking up at the newly restored Nelson's monument. The Monument is set to be open to the public

Looking up at the newly restored Nelson's monument. The Monument is set to be open to the public 20 days in the year.Photo: Nick ButcherCopy: For: ENArchant © 2007(01603) 772434 - Credit: Archant © 2007

But while Nelson's Column remains at the heart of a bustling public space, Nelson's Monument in Great Yarmouth is now somewhat overshadowed by the less salubrious surroundings of the town's heavily industrialised South Denes area.

Now, however, a group of experts have identified the 144ft monument, built in honour of England's greatest naval hero, as key to the continued regeneration of the town.

They have called for improvements to the surrounding area, and the transport links into it, as part of Yarmouth's reinvention as a cultural and heritage hub.

The calls have been made as part of the findings of a cultural conference, held in the town last year, and informed by the experiences of similar seaside town's like Blackpool, where much has been achieved against a backdrop of deprivation. The report also said Yarmouth was the only town in the country with two sites of special scientific interest – at Breydon Water and North Denes – which needed promoting.

Elsewhere it noted it was important to identify a cultural hub, regenerate the Rows, involve schools more, and recruit residents as the best ambassadors for the town.

Meanwhile, some heritage assets like the Empire Theatre and the Winter Gardens were not being made the best of and needed tackling.

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Hugh Sturzaker, chairman of the Great Yarmouth Borough Cultural Heritage Partnership, said in the report: 'Throughout there was great enthusiasm and passion for developing cultural heritage in the borough and it is hoped that these will be carried through into action.'

Figures presented to delegates showed that by encouraging 10pc of visitors and 20pc of local people to visit a heritage site or cultural

activity, it would bring in more than £22m to the local economy each year.

It is estimated that a third of that money would go to the venues, with two thirds spent in restaurants, shops or on travel.

The conference also heard from John Knell, who is producing a strategy for arts and culture for the local authority.

He noted the poor approach from the railway station to the town centre, the poor state of many of the buildings and the large number of empty shops.

However he went on to recognise the 'fantastic' heritage assets like South Quay, the Minster, the town walls, Nelson's Monument, the Roman fort at Burgh Castle, the many fine churches, libraries, theatres and the Broads.

Investment in King Street, headlined by a transformed St George's Theatre, was praised helping to nurture the burgeoning cultural quarter.

It was also being bolstered by a £1.6m development at the Drill House, the headquarters of Seachange Arts. The conference is set to become an annual event.

• Do you have a story about Yarmouth's heritage? Email liz.coates@archant.co.uk