Take a look back at Great Yarmouth Winter Gardens amid concerns over attraction’s future

Great Yarmouth Winter Gardens past and present

Great Yarmouth Winter Gardens past and present - Credit: Archant

Once one of the East Coast's most glistening attractions, the Winter Gardens on Great Yarmouth's Golden Mile remains a jewel of Victorian design and engineering.

It has been described by heritage experts as a people's palace of glass and steel, a seafront cathedral of light, the shock of the new, the future washed up on a Norfolk beach.

But there are now fears for the future of this celebrated landmark, which has been closed for almost a decade.

Great Yarmouth borough council has been exploring options after taking control of the site in 2014, for its renovation, but with no firm, settled plans, locals have been expressing concern over its ultimate fate.

Earlier this month, a protest banner condemning the state of the structure was attached to surrounding hoardings and a photo of the sign was shared hundreds of times on social media.

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When alerted to a picture of the large banner, put onto Facebook by 'concerned residents', borough council leader Graham Plant took it down. 'This is obviously not the way things are done. There are other ways that members of the public can get in touch with the council,' he said.

'If we had £3m spare we would probably spend it on restoring the Winter Gardens. But in these harsh times we are trying to make efficiencies while maintaining frontline services.'

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A Grade II*-listed site, the structure was built in Devon, before being relocated to Norfolk by barge.

Since its heyday, when it was used to house exotic plants, it became used as an amusement arcade, roller skating rink and a concert venue by the late 20th century.

Now, extensive repairs are needed to revive it.

A council spokesman said long term plans remained in place and that an initial application for funds from the Heritage Lottery Fund should go in later this year.

'This building has the potential to provide a new tourism destination for the borough and East Anglia, helping to support jobs and the local economy.

'However, ensuring the business plan is viable in the long-term and then securing the required investment is work that will take time,' he added.

• What are your memories of the Winter Gardens? You can share them by commenting below

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