Ask the Mercury: Was there a butterfly farm in Great Yarmouth?

Great Yarmouth windmill theatre and butterfly farm 1986

This week we have had questions both about the former Windmill Theatre and the seafront butterfly farm pictured here being built in 1986. - Credit: Archant Archive

From a question about why the lights are out on the Halvergate turn on the Acle Straight to a plea for information about the butterfly farm on Great Yarmouth's Golden Mile, here is a selection of posers sent in by readers.

Jordon Sendall of Great Yarmouth asks: "Why doesn't the windmill on the Windmill rotate anymore? When did it last rotate?"

The owner told us it had not worked for at least 20 years and that fixing it was on their list of things to do, but that it needed a new motor and a lot of expensive work.

Damaged lighting pole on A47 Acle Straight draws concerns

A reader from Cobholm has raised safety concerns about lighting at the Halvergate turning on the Acle Straight and points to a damaged pole visible on Google maps. - Credit: Google maps

Matthew from Cobholm asks: "Slightly out of town but as you approach Great Yarmouth from Acle on the A47 half the street lights have been switched off for several weeks at the Halvergate junction. A new yellow motorists' information sign has now appeared saying "Street lighting has been switched off for safety reasons".

What is the safety reason as this makes that notorious junction more dangerous? And If it's the damaged pole it's been like that for ages as it's on Google maps.

So my real question is: When will the lighting at the Halvergate junction on the A47 be fixed?

In response a spokesman for Highways England said: "Currently the street lights around the Halvergate turn on A47 are outdated sodium lanterns, which are no longer manufactured and therefore can’t be replaced like for like.

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"It’s important to stress that we haven’t turned the lights out, they’ve simple come to the end of their life. A plan is in place to restore the lighting around the junction with new LED lanterns at the end of this month/early next month."

Joanne Mills from Gorleston asks: "I'm sure I can remember a butterfly farm on Great Yarmouth seafront, but have never seen any pictures of it and assume it wasn't there long. Can you help?"

Windmill Theatre and Great Yarmouth butterfly farm in 1986

Readers have asked about the former Windmill Theatre seen in the background and also the seafront butterfly farm pictured here being built in 1986. - Credit: Archant Archive

A dip into our archives reveals surprisingly little about the attraction and few pictures. But it was indeed there just south of the Marina Centre, the building - now demolished - later hosting the Amazonia World of Reptiles.

Opening of butterfly farm in Great Yarmouth in 1986.

A man holds an exotic butterfly at the official opening of the new butterfly farm on Great Yarmouth seafront on August 18, 1986. - Credit: Archant Archive

It opened as a butterfly farm in 1986. According to our reports it hosted 1,500 butterflies from 75 different species in a giant greenhouse. They were not taken out of the wild but bred on a farm in Malaysia. At the time it was one of eight in the country.

However, ten years later in 1996 Amazonia World of Reptiles was operating from the site and the butterfly farm was no more.

Opening of butterfly farm Great Yarmouth seafront 1986.

The Mayor and Mayoress of Great Yarmouth Jim and Tess Benson opening the new butterfly farm on Great Yarmouth seafront in 1986. - Credit: Archant Archive

Fast forward to 2016 and the reptile house was derelict and demolished.

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