Plea to save Lord Nelson’s jetty

A GREAT Yarmouth historian has issued a last-ditch plea to save the town's seafront jetty renowned as the landing place of Lord Nelson.

Derek Leak, treasurer of the Yarmouth Local History and Archaeological Society, made his appeal to the borough council's development control committee ahead of its meeting on Tuesday when the jetty's future will be sealed.

It is understood committee members will be recommended to approve a conservation area application to demolish 75m of the timber structure, keeping just 30m of concrete jetty.

The committee will also be asked to approve plans to mark the spot's historical significance with a monument and explanatory panels.

The jetty has been closed to the public on safety grounds for two years and the cash-strapped council does not have the �300,000 needed for a full restoration.

Demolition plans had been put on hold so experts from English Heritage could assess its worth, but a report from the conservation watchdog concluded it was not worth listing.

It said the structure originally dating from 1560 had been rebuilt too many times to meet criteria for designation.

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However, Mr Leak feels the historical significance of the jetty should still be weighed by the committee.

He said: 'The first jetty was built in time to serve during the Armada menace which came in 1588. This makes it the oldest known pier in England.

'The association of our jetty with Nelson's part in the defeat of Napoleon has passed into legend. It is a matter of huge importance to the history of the nation on a par with the Battle of Britain during the second world war.'

He said a decision to destroy the jetty would be irrevocable; a vital link with Yarmouth's maritime history would be swept away.

'The structure has inevitably been rebuilt many times in its history but the site is the same,' he said.

Andrew Fakes, the society's president, said the jetty's demolition would be a 'great shame' but he acknowledged the reality there was no money to restore it in the current economic climate.

Charles Reynolds, chairman of the development control committee, said: 'I have always considered it is the site that is the important part of it all and I fully support plans to recognise its history with a fitting display.'

He said in the current financial circumstances it would be ludicrous to try to fund a restoration of the structure.