From the archives: Looking back at Great Yarmouth's Winter Gardens

TAKE YOUR PARTNERS! The mock Tyrolean Biergarten in the Wellington Pier's Winter Gardens in the mid-

TAKE YOUR PARTNERS! The mock Tyrolean Biergarten in the Wellington Pier's Winter Gardens in the mid-1960s when future mayor Harry Miller played piano in Josef Hoffer's orchestra. Picture: SUBMITTED - Credit: Archant

A trawl through our picture archive reveals the many and varied uses the Winter Gardens has been put to over the years.

Poised for a multi-million pound lottery-funded reinvention it has hosted all manner of events in its time on the Golden Mile since it was transported pane-by-pane from Torquay  in 1904.

GY/ENTERTAINMENTWINTER GARDENS BIERGARTEN DANCINGDATED 1969PRINT C4429

Dancing in the Winter Gardens' biergarten in 1969.

Originally conceived as a kind of Victorian entertainment multi-plex it aimed to answer the age-old conundrum of how to lengthen the tourist season and give people something to do on rainy days.

For many it is best remembered for its roller skating, the terror of getting caught in a "speed skate" and taking a painful tumble being a rite of passage for a Yarmouth teen.

Roller skating championships in Great Yarmouth, figure and freestyle. 1968. Neg 1018

Roller skating championships in Great Yarmouth, figure and freestyle in 1968.

Others will look back with misty-eyed nostalgia at its days as a German biergarten when foaming pints were served at tables.

Tyrol-by-the-Sea: the Winter Gardens transformed into a popular Austrian biergarten in 1966.

Tyrol-by-the-Sea: the Winter Gardens transformed into a popular Austrian biergarten in 1966. - Credit: Archant

Black and white pictures capture couples twirling round the dance floor, ladies in floral frocks chinking tea cups and waiting for some unseen entertainment to start, and skaters practising their moves gliding along on one leg, the other stretched out behind against a backdrop of snow-capped mountain peaks.


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Some pictures show it adorned by flower baskets and tubs, plants and greenery climbing all over the inside.

Winter Gardens roller hockey

Roller hockey team practice November 1991. - Credit: Archant

When it closed in 2008 amid safety fears many expressed a wish for it to be saved, sharing their memories and admiration for the "people's palace" - now a derelict, rusting hulk supported inside by scaffolding.

An Imperial Bazaar filled the Winter Gardens in 1908.

An Imperial Bazaar filled the Winter Gardens in 1908. - Credit: Archant

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Although not a commercial success in Devon the borough council's surveyor J W Cockrill had the foresight to bring it to Yarmouth 'to lengthen the season with better class visitors, and on wet days to provide for 2,000 persons under cover.'

According to the building's Historic England listing Cockrill supervised the purchase of the Winter Gardens for £1300, a small proportion of the original cost.

GREAT YARMOUTHWINTER GARDENSAUDIENCE LISTENING TO A BAND (salvation army?)NO DATEPLATE P5350

Undated picture of a Winter Gardens' audience listening to a band, possibly the Salvation Army.

The building was dismantled in sections, transported by barge to Norfolk and re-erected by the entrance to Wellington Pier in 1904. The maple floor was laid for roller skating in 1909.

Roller skating championships in Great Yarmouth, figure and freestyle. 1968. Neg 1025

Roller skating championships in Great Yarmouth, figure and freestyle in 1968.

GREAT YARMOUTHWINTER GARDENS UNDER REPAIR SHROUDED WITH SCAFFOLDINGNO DATEPLATE P6460

Undated picture of the Winter Gardens under repair.

interior of the Winter Gardens at Great Yarmouth, 1960s Archant copyright photoLIB201503

interior of the Winter Gardens at Great Yarmouth, 1960s. - Credit: Archant

Full house! Some 3,000 schoolchildren in 1905 celebrating the centenary of Nelson's Battle of Trafal

Full house! Some 3,000 schoolchildren in 1905 celebrating the centenary of Nelson's Battle of Trafalgar victory. - Credit: Archant

Billy Cooper playing the dulcimer Winter Gardens

Billy Cooper playing the dulcimer at the Winter Gardens in Great Yarmouth. - Credit: Archant archive

Winter Gardens Great Yarmouth

The Winter Gardens as it looked prior to its closure in 2008. At the time it was home to an indoor soft play area with a jungle theme. - Credit: Archant


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