See inside abandoned Art Deco seaside pub before renovation
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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.
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.
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.