Welcome to Yarmouth’s new luxury holiday home
- Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2015
A tower built as part of Great Yarmouth's mighty town wall to repel pirates, French invaders and the Spanish Armada is being transformed into the town's most unique holiday accommodation as part of efforts to support heritage tourism.
The £100,000 project, which started last month and will be completed in May, seeks to turn the impressive South East Tower into a luxury two- bedroom, five-berth holiday apartment complete with stunning views over the borough, a state-of-the-art kitchen, a bathroom that boasts a medieval well fed by an underwater Caister water spring, arrow slit windows and several resident gargoyles.
The work on the five-storey tower is being managed and supervised by the Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust, a not-for-profit registered charity which works to preserve, save, enhance and promote the town's most historic buildings.
'It's incredibly exciting to see such an iconic building given a new lease of life as part of the town's incredible heritage trail,' said Darren Barker, principal conservation officer at Great Yarmouth Borough Council and project director of the preservation trust.
'The trust has a portfolio of historic properties which it manages, including the nearby Tower Curing Works, which houses Time and Tide Museum, 133 and 135 King Street, Nelson Museum, Vauxhall Bridge and other fantastic buildings in the town, and our aim is not only to safeguard buildings but also give them a future.
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Great Yarmouth boasts the second best-preserved medieval town wall in England, after York. The borough council owns 10 of the 11 surviving towers, seven of which are largely intact and currently unoccupied.
The South East Tower, off Trinity Place, is the first of the town wall towers to be given a modern facelift – if it proves popular with tourists, there are plans to convert a second tower, the North West Tower, near the White Swan pub, into holiday accommodation. Funds raised from letting the towers will help maintain both the buildings and the historic wall in the future.
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Mr Barker explained that the tower renovation project was the first in the council's new Cultural Heritage Strategy which is investing in and promoting the area's history, traditions and culture.
He said that work would include re-pointing and repairing stonework, conserving gargoyles, lime-washing interior walls, repairing the floors and installing a new timber staircase.
'The tower has altered very little over the centuries and the ethos of all the work will be light-touch, preserving the historic charm and character for holidaymakers.'
Bernard Williamson, the cabinet member for transformation and regeneration and also the trust's chairman, said: 'We already have lots of accommodation for seaside visitors but a medieval defensive tower is a more fitting base for those here to explore our heritage gems, which are often overlooked.
'The borough council will continue to promote our fantastic beaches, great attractions and our varied entertainment. But this hugely exciting and innovative project is a first step to broaden the tourism offer, attracting more heritage tourists, bringing more money into the local economy, safeguarding a building at risk and helping to maintain the wall.'
Heritage fans keen to stay at the tower when restoration work has been completed should register an interest by emailing Mr Barker at email@example.com
Look out for four features about Great Yarmouth's incredible heritage in the EDP in March.