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This iconic city hotel could be brought back into use after 42 years

PUBLISHED: 15:51 07 May 2019 | UPDATED: 14:58 08 May 2019

The Royal Hotel, Bank Plain, Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The Royal Hotel, Bank Plain, Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Archant

One of Norwich's most famous former hotels could once again welcome guests more than 40 years after it closed down.

Looking down Prince of Wales Road from Agricultural Hall Plain and it can be seen that the traffic travelled at that time in both directions at this junction by the Royal hote  19 August 1964 Photo: Archant LibraryLooking down Prince of Wales Road from Agricultural Hall Plain and it can be seen that the traffic travelled at that time in both directions at this junction by the Royal hote 19 August 1964 Photo: Archant Library

When the Royal Hotel on Bank Plain was last a place to stay, Prince Charles was a single man, Margaret Thatcher had not become prime minister and the first Star Wars film had only just hit the big screen.

Now, a new hope has emerged for the grade two-listed building as a hotel, with an international investment company lodging a bid to convert part of it into a 127-bedroom hotel.

Turnit Capital wants to convert the first, second and third floors of the building, which was designed by Edward Boardman in the 1800s, into a hotel, with global brand Accor lined up to operate it.

The proposals would see renovations carried out to the upper floors of the building, an extension built and a rooftop bar and restaurant installed. It is also expected to create around 40 jobs.

The picture was taken as Laurel and Hardy prepared to leave The Royal Hotel for The Hippodrome Theatre in Norwich on their February 1954 appearance. Photo: Archant LibraryThe picture was taken as Laurel and Hardy prepared to leave The Royal Hotel for The Hippodrome Theatre in Norwich on their February 1954 appearance. Photo: Archant Library

The bid has received words of support from the Norwich Society, which has welcomed the prospect of the heritage asset being returned to its original use.

Vanessa Trevelyan a spokesman for the Norwich Society, said: "We are extremely pleased by the prospect of it being used as a hotel again.

"It would be lovely to see it return to its original use and would provide really valuable hotel space in a prominent area of the city.

"Edward Boardman's buildings are a huge part of Victorian Norwich and this is one of his most impressive works, but has been a bit unloved in recent times."

Prince of Wales Road taken from the top of the Post Office building in Thorpe Road.  Dated 9 June 1961  Photograph: Archant LibraryPrince of Wales Road taken from the top of the Post Office building in Thorpe Road. Dated 9 June 1961 Photograph: Archant Library

The building currently houses cocktail bar Be At One and offices on the ground floor, however, the application is only looking to use the first, second and third floors for the hotel.

The OPEN Youth Trust, which is based at another Boardman building on Bank Plan, has also supported the application.

A comment submitted on behalf of the trust says: "As a music and conference venue we are delighted to welcome the change of use back to a hotel and look forward to our bands, gig-goers and conference delegates being able to stay across the road in quality accommodation."

History of the building

Tram lines on Prince of Wales Road beyond the Grand Royal Hotel 
1930's Photo: Archant LibraryTram lines on Prince of Wales Road beyond the Grand Royal Hotel 1930's Photo: Archant Library

Like many of the county's most prominent buildings, the Royal Hotel was designed by Edward Boardman, the architect behind - among others - the conversion of Norwich Castle into a museum.

It received its grand opening on November 17, 1897, but even before this date had significance on the city.

A number of nearby buildings had to be demolished to make way for it and during excavation works new discoveries about the castle's outer reaches were made.

Among its notable features were a winter garden and a variety of marbles built into the architecture.

Norwich Agriculture Hall Plain Royal Hotel
No date Photo: Archant LibraryNorwich Agriculture Hall Plain Royal Hotel No date Photo: Archant Library

In the early parts of the 20th Century it flourished, however, as people grew more and more reliant on cars, the hotel's business declined - due to its lack of on-site parking.

In 1973, the then owner proposed it be demolished to make way for a glass building - but this was refused by the city council.

It ceased use as a hotel in 1977.

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