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At Risk Conservatory: Great Yarmouth Winter Gardens

26/09/2018Great Yarmouth Winter Gardens Conservatory

The Winter Gardens – a giant conservatory of glass panels held in a cast iron frame – dominates the skyline of Great Yarmouth’s Golden Mile. The building has been disused for some time. In June, the Heritage Lottery Fund denied the Winter Gardens a £12 million restoration grant that Great Yarmouth Council had applied for. This month, the iconic construction was included on the Victorian Society’s Top 10 endangered Victorian and Edwardian buildings.

Origins of the Winter Gardens

Originally constructed in Torquay, the failed business venture was bought by Yarmouth in 1903 and transported by barge from the south coast to the Norfolk resort. Filled with exotic plants that could thrive under glass, the Winter Gardens became a year-round attraction for the mostly working-class tourists that visited Yarmouth in the first half of the Twentieth Century. During this period, many seaside towns boasted winter gardens – the Eden Projects of their day – Yarmouth Winter Gardens is the sole remaining original iron and glass winter garden.  

Decline of the Winter Gardens

As tourists’ expectations changed, so the Yarmouth Winter Gardens evolved to meet them. The building has variously been used as a concert venue, skating rink and imitation German Bierkeller. After the building fell into disuse, it was taken over by Yarmouth Council in 2014, but they lack the funds to restore it.

Future of the Winter Gardens

The Heritage Lottery Fund (like the Prince’s Regeneration Trust before it) declined to grant any money to the project in this year’s round of applications, but said they would welcome a reapplication from Yarmouth Council if circumstances changed. The Council need to find independent commercial backers that would be willing to invest some of their own money in the project if they are to make further progress with a new grant application to the HLF. For now, this iconic Norfolk conservatory remains derelict.

It would be a great shame to see this historic building fall further into disrepair.

Perhaps you would like to recreate some of the splendour of the golden age of the Winter Gardens in your own home. If you are interested in having a conservatory or orangery added to your property, please drop into one of our showrooms in Wymondham or Diss, alternatively call us on 01953 600505

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