See inside abandoned Art Deco seaside pub before renovation

Inside the Iron Duke Great Yarmouth

A defaced mural and what remains of Art Deco columns inside the Iron Duke in Great Yarmouth. - Credit: Jess Coppings

A seaside pub that suffered a surge of vandalism during lockdown is poised for a new lease of life as a major rescue bid gets under way.

The Iron Duke pub on Great Yarmouth's Jellicoe Road has stood empty, and virtually untouched, for close to 15 years - its shuttered facade a source of frustration among heritage fans concerned about its future.

Inside the Iron Duke Great Yarmouth

The Iron Duke pub in Great Yarmouth is poised for a new lease of life. - Credit: Jess Coppings

In the last year, however, it has suffered at the hands of vandals and urban explorers like never before with lockdown's empty streets meaning fewer prying eyes and less chance of getting caught.

Inside the Iron Duke pub Great Yarmouth

Needles found inside the old Iron Duke pub are being disposed of safely. - Credit: Jess Coppings

Some have even filmed their exploits and uploaded them to Facebook.

The result is every window has been smashed from the inside and some of the very few original pieces like decorative lights have been broken up, although enough remains to act as a template if they wanted to make more.


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Everywhere is shattered glass and peeling paint. In one area intruders have recently knocked a hole through a brick wall to get in.

A mural showing a joyful seaside scene has been crudely added to, and the detritus left behind by drug-users greets visitors to the former lounge bar. 

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Upstairs there are smashed basins and holes in the floor, net curtains hanging limply in depressing shreds.

Inside the old Iron Duke pub Great Yarmouth

The old Iron Duke pub has been empty for years but is now on the brink of a new lease of life. - Credit: Jess Coppings

The journey to preserve, restore, and re-use is likely to be long and costly, but for the former pub's new owners - Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust - the fighting spirit is strong.

Trust chairman Bernard Williamson said negotiations with its former owners Bourne Leisure had been going on for some years until they agreed to sell it to the trust - a developer of last resort - for £110,000.

He estimated it probably needed at least £600,000 to bring it back into use - and it will be up to consultants to decide what that use might be.

Meanwhile, there is a lot of space waiting to be renovated.

Inside the Iron Duke pub Great Yarmouth

The main bar at the old Iron Duke pub as it is today. - Credit: Jess Coppings

So far six skips of rubbish have been filled, and work is underway to repair a hole in the flat roof.

For Mr Williamson the potential is huge and thrilling.

A stairway to the roof opens up to reveal a perfect space for a terrace with wide unrivalled views over the dunes and sea - Yarmouth's port and big wheel glinting in the distance.

"It is just fantastic example from the period it was constructed," Mr Williamson said.

Inside the Iron Duke pub

Bernard Williamson, chairman of Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust, on the roof of the Iron Duke pub which enjoys stunning views out to sea. - Credit: Jess Coppings

"The location and the possibilities for the future are tremendous.

"It has a tremendous future whatever its use will be."

Because the building is Grade II listed the renovation will stick to the original layout.

Overall it is estimated the project will take two years with training and community engagement part of the activity plan.

Current work is focussing on making the building safe for surveyors and consultants.

Options for a new use could include as a pub, a community space, conversion into homes, holiday lets, or a combination of several taking in a study of the town, trends, and footfall.

Inside the Iron Duke pub Great Yarmouth

Bernard Williamson, chairman of Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust, behind what was the main bar at the Iron Duke pub. - Credit: Jess Coppings

The pub was the work of the architect Arthur W Ecclestone who designed a number of pubs both before and after the Second World War, including The Clipper Schooner in Great Yarmouth and the Links Hotel in Gorleston. 

Despite being incomplete, The Iron Duke opened in 1940 to serve the soldiers manning anti-aircraft guns on North Denes. 

Inside the Iron Duke pub Great Yarmouth

Inside the old Iron Duke pub in Great Yarmouth in May 2021. - Credit: Jess Coppings

It was finished in 1948, with its counters made from teak from Admiral Jellicoe’s flagship, HMS Iron Duke, that led the British fleet in the Battle of Jutland. 

However, little of the original fit-out remains with the bar now comprising a flimsy replacement, possibly dating from the 1970s.

Rain hoppers in the 1930s style are among eye-catching period details that remain, along with two falcons that stood above the former Lacon's pub and are in safe storage.

Inside the Iron Duke Great Yarmouth

The entrance to the flat roof on Great Yarmouth's Art Deco seafront pub the Iron Duke. - Credit: Jess Coppings

Inside the Iron Duke pub Great Yarmouth

The stairway leading to the roof in the old Iron Duke pub, Great Yarmouth. - Credit: Jess Coppings

Inside the Iron Duke pub Great Yarmouth

Wallpaper hangs off the wall in a bathroom upstairs at the Iron Duke pub, Great Yarmouth. - Credit: Jess Coppings

Inside the Iron Duke Great Yarmouth

Much of what is inside the Iron Duke pub has been destroyed by vandals. - Credit: Jess Coppings








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