What now for Great Yarmouth’s Winter Gardens? Council to discuss future of iconic landmark

PUBLISHED: 08:35 22 November 2018

The beautiful Winter Gardens in Great Yarmouth. Picture: Lydia Taylor

The beautiful Winter Gardens in Great Yarmouth. Picture: Lydia Taylor

(c) copyright

It is one of the Great Yarmouth seafront’s most instantly recognisable buildings, with its stature, cast iron structure and glass panels mimicking the look of an ice palace.

The Winter Gardens and Wellington Pier, Great Yarmouth. Picture: Google EarthThe Winter Gardens and Wellington Pier, Great Yarmouth. Picture: Google Earth

However, the once stunning Winter Gardens has seen better days and is now a derelict, disused and lonely figure.

Great Yarmouth Borough Council had turned to the Heritage Lottery Fund in hope of securing funding to help wake the sleeping giant.

But the hopes were dashed when the £11.5m funding bid was unsuccessful, meaning one of the nation’s last remaining Victorian glass houses would have to wait for its future to be sealed.

The failed bid has led to the borough council instead looking to find a new knight in shining armour to save the landmark building - commercial investors.

The Winter Gardens early last century.The Winter Gardens early last century.

After launching the search last month, bosses are looking to set a deadline of March 2019 to find an investor.

It is hoped that with an 
investor, the council will be able to prepare a stronger bid for lottery funding, with further opportunities to apply on the horizon during 2019.

In a report to the council’s policy and resources committee, its strategic director Kate Watts said finding a viable end use for the building would strengthen any application.

She said: “As a result of this funding not being awarded, senior officers of the council met with HLF to discuss the reasons for this and to identify potential next steps.

An Imperial Bazaar filled the Winter Gardens in 1908.An Imperial Bazaar filled the Winter Gardens in 1908.

“This was a positive meeting and clearly identified the need for the council to better identify a sustainable end use of the building that would justify the ongoing costs of repair and maintenance of the building.”

Earlier this year, the Victorian Society included the Winter Gardens in its annual list of the 10 most endangered Victorian and Edwardian Buildings.

Over the years, it has housed a ballroom, a roller-skating rink, an amusement arcade and even a German-style building.

However, it has been closed to the public for a decade and has not been in use since 2008.

The landmark’s future will be discussed by the policy and resources committee on Tuesday.

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