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Rescue bid launched to save hidden Town Wall treasure

PUBLISHED: 21:25 02 February 2012

Pinnacle Tower in Great Yarmouth which suffered a fire on Sunday. It has been at the centre of a preservation trust rescue bid.

Pinnacle Tower in Great Yarmouth which suffered a fire on Sunday. It has been at the centre of a preservation trust rescue bid.

Archant

A FIRE in one of Great Yarmouth's "most attractive" town wall towers has added to the urgency of a rescue attempt by preservationists.

Firefighters from Great Yarmouth were called to Pinnacle Tower in Alexandra Road on Sunday morning to put out a blaze which is still under investigation.

The tower is a key point along the 7m high old town wall, the best preserved in the country with 75pc still intact.

Although neglected and derelict borough council conservation officer Darren Barker said there was a will to save it and that the Preservation Trust had contacted the owners with a view to taking it over and applying for funding.

The tower, unusual for its conical roof, is a scheduled ancient monument and a “hidden treasure” tucked away behind British Home Stores in the town centre and Park House Care Home who jointly own it.

Mr Barker understood it had used by squatters. He said: “It’s vacant and neglected and a building at risk in joint ownership which has not been repaired for years.

“The Preservation Trust wrote to the owners before Christmas asking if they wanted to consider passing ownership to the trust so we could repair it but they did not want to.

“If the building was passed to the trust then it would be better placed to bid for external grant funding and have it repaired as a training initiative.

“Once repaired we would maintain it, with limited usage.

“I got a call from English Heritage asking if I knew about the fire. It seems there was no structural damage but it highlights the danger of having buildings at risk that are vacant and neglected and prone to vandalism. Pinnacle Tower I would say is the most attractive of our towers.”

English Heritage, he said, were concerned about its condition.

Two fire crews from Yarmouth were called to the scene at 6.19am on Sunday. Using breathing apparatus and thermal imaging cameras they took around 20 minutes to put it out. So far they have been unable to determine whether or not it was deliberate. The police have been informed.

Building of the wall started in 1281 and continued for 100 years, interrupted by an outbreak of plague in 1349 which wiped out about two thirds of the townspeople.

It ceased having a defensive role in the late 18th century. Pinnacle Tower is the seventh in the network, 27ft wide and has walls that are 3ft 10ins thick. Bhs declined to comment and Park House Care Home had not responded at the time of going to press.

Meanwhile Great Yarmouth’s North West Tower which is owned and maintained by Yarmouth Borough Council is currently vacant and seeking a commercial tenant.

Once the town’s only accessible town wall tower its role as a information centre and museum ended nine years ago when the Broads Authority said it could not afford to keep it going.

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