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UK’s last surviving glass and iron Winter Garden saved thanks to £10million National Lottery grant

  • The ‘People’s Palace’ in Great Yarmouth to be transformed
  • National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Heritage Horizon awards supports five outstanding projects with £50million funding
  • Environment projects lead the way in innovation and ‘big ideas’

Winter Gardens on the Golden Mile, Great Yarmouth

Today The National Lottery Heritage Fund has announced almost £10million of funding to Great Yarmouth’s Winter Gardens. Known as the ‘People’s Palace’, the Grade II* listed  Victorian building is the last surviving cast iron and glass structure of its type in the UK, and is currently at an acute and immediate risk of loss.

The National Lottery Heritage Horizon grant of £9,977,100 will have a transformational impact, reimagining the building that sits on the seafront town’s ‘Golden Mile’, reaping benefits for Great Yarmouth’s local community and boosting the significant tourist economy along the Norfolk coast.

The Winter Gardens will be brought back to life as a year-round free attraction that mirrors the heritage of the building as a place of celebration, enjoyment, wellbeing and relaxation for all. Botanic planting will reflect Great Yarmouth’s historic global trading links and a new first floor level will be constructed with galleries, viewing areas and an education space. More than 90 new jobs will be created thanks to the appointment of an award-winning regional catering operator, situated within new café and restaurant areas, and through partnership working with local community and arts groups.

A recent community consultation showed a very high level of support for the potential of the restoration to enhance Great Yarmouth as a place and support year-round economic vitality and community wellbeing. An incredible 26,000 responses were received, and an above-average number (13% of respondents) came from young people.

Great Yarmouth’s Winter Gardens is one of five ambitious and transformational projects across the UK to be awarded Heritage Horizon Awards today. Grants of up to £12.4m have been awarded to 3 environment projects, including the UK’s first Marine Park, the UK’s first major experiment in wet farming in Cambridgeshire and a large-scale partnership project to preserve the outstanding Cairngorm landscape. The International Museum of Slavery in Liverpool will receive funding for major redevelopment in Liverpool docks.

The Heritage Horizon Awards were launched in 2019, thanks to funding from National Lottery players, to support ambitious, innovative and transformational projects that will revolutionise UK heritage. These awards have become even more important since the pandemic, as they will transform lives and economies, put the UK at the lead of major environmental, cultural and heritage projects and show confidence in the heritage sector to rebuild and thrive.

Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive, National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “I am delighted that we are announcing almost £10million of support to Great Yarmouth’s irreplaceable Winter Gardens, just one of five Heritage Horizon Awards to back big ideas and unlock enormous possibilities, following a year in which we have been focused on supporting heritage through the COVID emergency.

“All five projects announced today share qualities of huge ambition, significant collaboration and the prospect of life-changing benefits for people and places deserving of support from the National Lottery. This is an exciting day for the UK’s heritage.”

Cllr Carl Smith and Cllr Trevor Wainwright, leaders of the council’s main political groups, said: “To say we are thrilled is an understatement. This is wonderful news and means we can move forward with plans for the building with pace. This beautiful and iconic building is on Historic England’s Heritage at Risk register and has been progressively deteriorating, so our rescue plans can now spring into action. We are hugely grateful to The National Lottery Heritage Fund and to National Lottery players for making this possible.

“Not only do the Winter Gardens hold a very important place in the story of Great Yarmouth and in our community’s hearts, but this award is an affirmation that it is also a nationally-important heritage gem, worthy of such significant national funding.”