12 heritage buildings open to the public
THE seeds of her idea came from the evident and growing success of free heritage open days in Norwich.And Yarmouth's tourism marketing manager, Kirsty Burn, was even more determined to make the concept work on the coast when someone made the “truly awful comment” to her that there was no heritage in Norfolk's premier resort.
THE seeds of her idea came from the evident and growing success of free heritage open days in Norwich.
And Yarmouth's tourism marketing manager, Kirsty Burn, was even more determined to make the concept work on the coast when someone made the “truly awful comment” to her that there was no heritage in Norfolk's premier resort.
Working with Simon Tansley of organisers English Heritage, borough conservation officer Stephen Earl and heritage tour guide Dona Watson, she set herself the target of opening up to the public 12 buildings that reflected Yarmouth's status as a “fantastic, unique seaside resort”.
In the event, that ambition has been exceeded wildly, with 36 things now happening in the borough - heritage tours, as well as rare building openings - from September 10-13.
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Ms Burn said: “It has made the English Heritage national people sit up and take notice, and it has just been confirmed that Yarmouth will be the regional launch venue for heritage open days.”
There will be four chances to tour the town's landmark St Nicholas's Church and learn about its fascinating history - complete with tales of body-snatchers - as well as climb the tower.
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“The views from the top are spectacular. You can easily see Acle, and it gives you an impression of just how much medieval town wall there is in Yarmouth,” said Ms Burn.
Some of the borough's historic country churches will also be opening to the public, including St Margaret's, at Fleggburgh, and St Mary's, West Somerton, two of the 53 thatched churches in Norfolk.
Impresario Peter Jay will give personal tours behind the scenes of the Hippodrome, and visitors to Yarmouth Pleasure Beach will have guided tours of the scenic railway, Britain's oldest wooden roller-coaster, and the gallopers carousel, with optional rides on both.
Less familiar buildings that will open their doors include the 19th-century Royal Naval Hospital and the Masonic Lodge Royal Assembly Rooms, where visitors will be able to see the magnificent chandeliers of the temple and a free-masonry display. Merrivale Model Village on Yarmouth seafront will operate a happy hour, when visitors will be given a free bag of old pennies for its museum and arcade.
One of a number of heritage guided walks will start at Victorian toilets next to the bowling green and take in such important seafront buildings as the old Empire and Windmill theatres. “Once you look above the neon and bright facades, the heritage along the seafront is extraordinary,” said Ms Burn, pictured left.
Also free to explore will be the town's Tolhouse Museum and the recently-arrived Lydia Eva, the last surviving steam drifter, on South Quay.
To book tours and confirm visiting times, ring 01493 846346. For the full programme, log on to www.heritageopendays.org.uk