Campaigner in plea to save old lifeboat shed

A HERITAGE campaigner is calling for a building steeped in Gorleston’s rich lifeboat history to be preserved as a tribute to decades of selfless heroism.

Dennis Durrant spoke out this week ahead of the town’s old lifeboat shed coming up for auction later this month at Great Yarmouth Racecourse.

The disused building was once the base for Gorleston’s early volunteer lifeboatmen and housed the lifeboat the Elizabeth Simpson, responsible for saving more than 400 lives up to 1939.

Next to the existing RNLI lifeboat station in Riverside Road, it is being marketed by Aldreds estate agents with a guide price of �22,000 to �25,000 ahead of the public auction on July 28.

The agent suggests a buyer could take on the building, measuring 940sq ft, as a development project, and it has the potential – subject to planning permission – for a caf� gallery or offices.

Mr Durrant, of Brett Avenue, Gorleston, described the dilapidated state of the shed as a “disgrace to our town” and said the sale might be its last chance.

He said: “This building is all about Gorleston’s past; it represents the then village with all our connections to the sea, the brave men who worked in appalling conditions and would still go out in raging seas to help others.

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“We should feel proud of these men, revere their memory and see pride of place in their old lifeboat shed as a memorial to all of them.”

Mr Durrant, who has long campaigned for the shed to be listed, said it was vital that whoever bought it appreciated the significance of the building, and preserved its character.

Calling on councillors and conservationists to join his campaign, he suggested that, at the very least, a blue plaque should be put on the building.

Current owner Martin Edwards, the boss of Gorleston Marine, said his family had owned the shed for nearly 40 years and it had been his dream to turn it into a restaurant. However, in the current economic climate, he had decided it was a project for someone else.

Borough council conservation officer Darren Barker said the building had a degree of statutory protection as it was within a conservation area and made a significant contribution to the character of the area.

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