New £1million 3G football pitch touted for The Wellesey as Great Yarmouth Borough Council targets improvements

The Wellesley recreation ground home to Great Yarmouth Town Football Club
The grandstand

The Wellesley recreation ground home to Great Yarmouth Town Football Club The grandstand Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2012

Major improvements could be on the horizon for the home of two of Great Yarmouth's sports clubs, after it was made a focus by the borough council.

The Wellesley Recreation Ground, which is home to Great Yarmouth Town Football Club and Great Yarmouth and District Athletics Club, has been targeted by Great Yarmouth Borough Council as an area for future development.

Among the improvements touted, a new £1million 3G artificial football pitch, with the council having entered talks with the Football Association regarding the project.

A council statement said: 'The borough council has ambitions to improve the sporting opportunities and facilities at the Wellesley, which is recognised as a key site within the council's sport play and leisure strategy.'

The council will be reaching out to a number of organisations to help seek funding for the project, as it looks to improve the site.

The statement added: 'Improvement work cannot happen without significant external funding. To help develop funding bids to a range of external organisations, the borough council this month agreed to develop a business case and vision for the whole site.

'An opportunity has been identified for the council to bid to the FA for funding towards 3G football provision at the Wellesley and this is something the council will consider as part of the wider work.'

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The council will be working alongside both clubs during this process, as it looks to make the vision a reality.

Ben Stone, vice chairman of Great Yarmouth Town, said: 'As a club we are really excited by the prospect of improvements to facilities at the Wellesley.

'Any improvements would not only be good for the club, but also a great all-round thing for the community.'

Paul Garrod, president of the athletics club, added: 'Anything that improves the facilities at the Wellesley would be a welcome addition. As a club we are keen to be involved in the conversation around any improvements.'

In a report to the council's housing and neighbourhood committee it was stated that the venue's grandstand was in need of redecoration, having been seven years without repair work.

The most recent addition to the site was its public toilets, which were added more than a decade ago.

A heritage asset

As well as providing sporting opportunities, the Wellesley boasts one of the town's key landmarks.

Its grandstand celebrated its 125th anniversary this year and is the world's oldest of its kind.

Opened on June 11, 1892, the stand cost £1,015 and was built by local builder Mr A E Bond.

In 2000 the ground was listed by the Department of Culture, Media and Sprt, with a blue plaque unveiled celebrating its rich history.

The borough council has acknowledged the historical significance of the Wellesley, which it will not be compromising in any improvements.

Its statement said: 'The Wellesley is an important heritage asset with several listed buildings, including the oldest football grandstand in Britain and possibly the world.'

The grandstand celebrated a major refurbishment scheme in 2010, which saw it visited by veteran football commentator John Motson.

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