What does future hold for Yarmouth’s iconic Winter Gardens

A NEW MoT report on the state of Great Yarmouth’s rusting, weather-beaten Winter Gardens will reveal the scale of the makeover needed to repair it.

Borough council conservationists are looking over the first draft of an expert report into the condition of the iconic landmark, closed since 2008 because of concerns over falling glass.

It has been compiled by the Suffolk-based Morton Partnership recognised nationally as among the country’s leading conservation structural engineers.

Experts have been examining the 135-year-old structure for months and will reveal what action is needed to repair the popular tourist attraction, which has been a beer garden, skating rink and indoor play area – but is now in its death throes and becoming a seafront eyesore.

Council conservationist Darren Barker said the report would form the basis of the council’s bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund.

He said: “The risk is not so much the structure; it’s the glass. Although it is mainly a metal frame the glass is held in place by timber frames and it is those that have deteriorated. It is not that the building will blow over, but that the glass could blow out.

“We have had this report done and we will crack on with our application to the HLF. It is an iconic piece of seaside architecture and makes a very important contribution to the character of the seafront.”

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The giant greenhouse, now Grade II listed, was bought by the council for �1,300 in 1903 from the authorities in Torquay, and brought by barge to its new Norfolk home.

It had probably never been envisaged it would be still standing more than a century later and regarded as part of Yarmouth’s heritage fabric.

Options considered in the past have included a demolition, a complete rebuild, and taking the glass out and leaving it as a windowless structure.