When swimming pool idea was floated for Winter Gardens amid 'eyesore' fears
- Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021
In what seems like a pie-in-the-sky idea Great Yarmouth's seaside Winter Gardens almost hosted a swimming pool.
In 1903, as councillors weighed up the pro's and cons of bringing the "miniature Crystal Palace" to the seafront, they were persuaded by the borough engineer that it was a feasible option.
A contemporary report of a meeting held at the town hall and published in the Eastern Daily Press on April 15, 1903, says the town had been offered the winter garden building for £1,300.
The surveyor, having travelled to see it, found it to be "most substantial" and "solidly erected", praising its hardiness and general condition.
Having asked around in Torquay as to why it failed, people told him it was in the wrong place, too big, and too far from main traffic areas, and generally that "nothing ever pays in Torquay".
For Yarmouth, however, the building would be of "immense service", he said, lengthening the season and attracting "a better class of visitor."
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He added: "If desired a good swimming bath of the usual proportions could be put in, and not occupy more than one-third its floor space."
He said it was an opportunity for the town to acquire something it had wanted for many years at a remarkably low rate.
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However, there were some detractors. Mr Goode said it was "unsightly" and questioned whether the council should be taking on another liability when its track record was none too "rosy."
He didn't like the proposed position next to Wellington Pier, and there was a suggestion to put it in St George's Park "to avoid an eyesore similar to that of The Aquarium" - which was quickly shouted down everyone agreeing it should go "on the front."
Others hailed it "a splendid speculation".
In the end Mr W H Bayfield's fear it would become an "eyesore" on the seafront was well-founded, although probably much later than the councillor envisaged in 1903 providing useful service as a landmark attraction for more than a century.
Now after 12 years in the doldrums it stands on the brink of a new lease of life following a successful £10m funding bid to the National Lottery while arguments about how best to use the hot-house space continue, much as they did over 100 years ago.