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Fascinating story behind Gorleston’s oldest house

PUBLISHED: 17:37 18 July 2018 | UPDATED: 17:37 18 July 2018

Gorleston's oldest house has been honoured with a blue plaque Photo: Liz Coates

Gorleston's oldest house has been honoured with a blue plaque Photo: Liz Coates

Archant

Built a bewildering 500 years ago the oldest house in Gorleston is still at the cutting edge of local life - as a hairdressers.

Bernard Williamson and Les Cockrill celebrate the new blue plaque Photo: Liz CoatesBernard Williamson and Les Cockrill celebrate the new blue plaque Photo: Liz Coates

But hundreds of years ago it was at the hub of local democracy as the town’s Guildhall.

Number 33 Baker Street made history in the 1990s as the first building rescue to create a shop and, crucially, a home upstairs - the rental paying for its ongoing upkeep.

The model is now used nationwide and successfully multiple times in Great Yarmouth where the borough’s Preservation Trust is busy guaranteeing the future of historic buildings.

This week its status as officially the oldest house in Gorleston (only the parish church is older) was applauded with the fixing of a blue plaque.

Inside Gorleston's oldest house, now a hairdressers Photo: Liz CoatesInside Gorleston's oldest house, now a hairdressers Photo: Liz Coates

Members of GOSH (Gorleston-on-Sea Heritage Group) gathered for the unveiling in the busy street, chairman Les Cockrill competing with traffic noise to get his voice heard.

He said the building was once in a prime location on a important thoroughfare sweeping from the parish church to the quay, taking in a smattering of manor houses.

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In its day it was the most important building in Gorleston, he said, the equivalent of the Great Yarmouth Town Hall in an time when Gorleston was a major town in East Suffolk.

“There was nothing else to rival it,” he added.

Helping him to do the honours was Bernard Williamson, chairman of Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust.

He said the house had fallen into disrepair when it was bought by the conservation group for £23,000.

A survey in 1993 revealed parts of the building dated from the early 16th century during the Tudor period.

Restoration cost £172,000 the bulk of which was paid for by a national heritage fund.

He said: “It is not just a museum you can walk round. People are living and working in the building.”

Barbara Wright, whose borough council ward includes the building, said: “It’s beautiful. It looks really classy.”

The Preservation Trust owns a clutch of buildings along King Street in Great Yarmouth as well as 33 Baker Street.

It also owns the Time and Tide Museum and a small-holding in Bulgaria.

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