Six years ago, the Winter Gardens in Great Yarmouth was declared one of the most endangered buildings in the UK.

The much-loved seafront "people's palace" had been closed in 2008 amid safety fears and has stood empty and derelict ever since. 

But now there are hopes that a restoration project - which this week received a boost from the National Lottery Heritage Fund who increased funding from £9.9m to £12.3m - will put the town "back on the map".

Great Yarmouth Mercury: Scaffolding in the seafront buildingScaffolding in the seafront building (Image: Denise Bradley)

On Thursday, February 29, National Lottery officials and the project's leading architect, as well as councillors, toured the building ahead of the renovation.

Great Yarmouth Mercury: An artist's imoression of the Winter Gardens in Great Yarmouth which are expected to reopen in 2027.An artist's imoression of the Winter Gardens in Great Yarmouth which are expected to reopen in 2027. (Image: Great Yarmouth Borough Council)

Robyn Llewellyn, National Lottery Heritage Fund area director, said the revival of the Grade II listed building will be "a milestone moment" for Great Yarmouth.

"This is one of the biggest heritage stories in the UK," she said.

Great Yarmouth Mercury: Some of the old fixturesSome of the old fixtures (Image: Denise Bradley)

The Winter Gardens is the last surviving Victorian ironwork glass house on a seaside promenade in the country. In 2021, it was one of five transformational projects to be given a Heritage Horizon Award from the Heritage Fund.

Ms Llewellyn said the restoration will save the heritage and bring a use back to the building which is relevant for the area, making it a public space.

Great Yarmouth Mercury: A tour was held of the grand structureA tour was held of the grand structure (Image: Denise Bradley)

"It will be a space for people to be in. It'll give that feeling of being at the seaside," she said. "It will give a sense of civic pride."

READ MORE: Winter Gardens - New images give first look at £16m transformation

Faye Davies, leading architect for the restoration, said: "I'm very excited not just for restoring the building but for the community.

Great Yarmouth Mercury: A glimpse inside the Winter GardensA glimpse inside the Winter Gardens (Image: Denise Bradley)

"I think this building will put Great Yarmouth back on the map."

The project was also important because it would allow older generations to share their memories of the building - which has been a ballroom, a roller-skating rink, an amusement arcade and a German beer garden - with younger people.

Great Yarmouth Mercury: The interior of the landmark seafront building exposedThe interior of the landmark seafront building exposed (Image: Denise Bradley)

The design of the building will be "flexible", Ms Davies said, so there will be multiple opportunities for different activities.

"We're not just making it a one-trick pony," she added.

Great Yarmouth Mercury: The empty Winter GardensThe empty Winter Gardens (Image: Denise Bradley)

There will be an open area for showing films and staging music or other entertainment events.

In the past, people complained that during summer the building was too hot and during winter it was too cold.

Ms Davies said the restoration will solve that problem with underfloor heating and ventilation.

Great Yarmouth Mercury: The Winter Gardens was a popular destinationThe Winter Gardens was a popular destination (Image: Denise Bradley)

The next steps are fine-tuning the designs, she said.

Carl Smith, leader of the borough council, said: "It's an iconic building which will be brought back to life. It was costing us money just to keep it up."

Trevor Wainwright, Labour leader at the borough council, used to work in the Winter Gardens in the 1980s when his friend had a food concession there.

He said the project will be a huge challenge but has had "cross-party support all the way through".

"It's an iconic building in one of the most deprived wards in the country," he said.

"We just hope that people come from all over Norfolk and wider to use it and see it."

Great Yarmouth Mercury: A sign thanking visitorsA sign thanking visitors (Image: Denise Bradley)

Work is expected to start on site in spring 2025 and be complete by spring 2027.

READ MORE: Great Yarmouth landmark ‘in danger of collapse’

The Winter Gardens were built in Torquay in 1878, the failed business venture was dismantled, shipped around the coast, and reassembled on the Golden Mile in 1904, having been bought for just £1.

Great Yarmouth Mercury: Artwork in the buildingArtwork in the building (Image: Denise Bradley)

Over the years it has been a ballroom, a roller-skating rink, and an amusement arcade - electric light would fill its interior and beam out across the seafront and gleam on the water.

Named by the Victorian Society as one of the UK's 10 most endangered buildings, it is also on Historic England's buildings-at-risk register.