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Government minister celebrates restoration of Great Yarmouth’s historic buildings

22 June 2021
UK

One of the town’s oldest timber-framed buildings has been transformed into a new restaurant space and affordable home thanks to £350,000 in funding

New art gallery also created within Grade II listed building to help boost local tourism and support the towns rich cultural offer

The restoration of two of Great Yarmouth’s historic buildings has been celebrated by a visit from Heritage Minister Caroline Dinenage to the town, as part of a national programme aimed at transforming local high streets.

New restaurant and residential space within a once-derelict 16th-century property on King Street was opened by Caroline Dinenage on Monday (21 June), along with a new art gallery which now operates within a Grade II listed building on the South Quay.

Work to restore 160 King Street, one of Great Yarmouth’s oldest timber-framed buildings, was made possible thanks to grants from the Architectural Heritage Fund and the Culture Recovery Fund. The project an early successes of Architectural Heritage Fund’s Transforming Places through Heritage programme which has been funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport as part of a wider initiative to revive high streets in England using historic buildings.

160 King Street is Great Yarmouth town centre’s only-surviving example of a 16th-century jettied timber frame building, but had laid vacant for more than 10 years and fallen into a state of disrepair before the council facilitated  a compulsory purchase order to save the historic site.

The Architectural Heritage Fund awarded £350,000 to local charity the Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust to carry out the restoration, along with nearly £150,000 in additional funding for it to hire two staff members and take on more projects in the town as one of the pioneers of the new Heritage Development Trust model. Heritage Development Trusts are an innovative way for local people to help create a future for the places that define their communities, turning neglected heritage assets on the high street into foundations for economic, social and cultural resurgence. This builds on the significant experience and track record Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust has developed through restoring heritage assets since 1979.

The property now offers a new high street restaurant space, as well as a new two-bedroom home within its first and second floors, designed to provide affordable, high-quality accommodation. A Jamaican restaurant and social enterprise that will train people in cooking will open there later this year.

The renovation of 160 King Street forms part of wider work by The Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust to acquire, repair and restore at-risk historic buildings on King Street, which was once one of the east of England’s most deprived wards, with a vacancy rate of 70%, but now offers a range of new businesses and homes for the local community, with occupancy rates nearing 80% before the pandemic.

New art gallery The Yare Gallery on the South Quay was also created by Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust, with support from the Culture Recovery Fund, which repurposed the three floor Grade II listed building after it was left vacant in January last year. It will now provide the town with a new, free-to-enter art gallery, with a changing programme of six exhibitions a year, to support Great Yarmouth’s cultural and art sectors and provide a boost for local tourism.

Caroline Dinenage, Heritage Minister, said: "I am delighted to have opened these newly restored historic buildings in the heart of Great Yarmouth. The government's unprecedented Culture Recovery Fund is helping to revitalise the town centre and this opening is testament to the role heritage can play in transforming our local high streets."

Matthew Mckeague, Chief Executive of the AHF, said: “Heritage Development Trusts like Great Yarmouth can  play an important leadership role in town centre regeneration programmes. These programmes are helping to develop projects around complex historic buildings like 160 King Street, demonstrating the important role for community ownership and quality regeneration schemes in revitalising town centres.

This approach we see today in Great Yarmouth can be replicated across the UK, helping build a network of sustainable organisations partnering with local government, social enterprises, charities and community businesses to help renew communities and secure key spaces and services in town centres.”

Bernard Williamson, chairman of Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust, said: "The Preservation Trust has worked hard to fully restore 160 King Street back to viable economic use thanks to funding from the Architectural Heritage Fund.

“Thanks also to the generous funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the government’s Culture Recovery Fund, we have been able to turn the three floor Grade II listed building on the South Quay into the prestigious gallery it is now, with The Yare Gallery offering accessibility to art and culture to everybody.”

Cllr Carl Smith, leader of Great Yarmouth Borough Council, said: “160 King Street had been in a state of serious deterioration before an enforced purchase order was put in place by the council to save the historic site. It has since undergone a complete restoration and is now used as a ground floor restaurant, with a residential unit above, thanks to the dedicated work by Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust.

“It’s also really exciting to see the Yare Gallery opened and it will no doubt become another great attraction for both tourists and residents to visit, as we head into the summer season.

“The heritage of Great Yarmouth is a significant contribution to the towns character and the Council supports the continuing hard work of the Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust in preserving that.”