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Ancient towers of Great Yarmouth town wall could be converted into holiday homes

PUBLISHED: 14:24 06 March 2014 | UPDATED: 07:25 07 March 2014

The remains of the medieval town wall in Great Yarmouth.
The tower.

Picture: James Bass

The remains of the medieval town wall in Great Yarmouth. The tower. Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk © 2014

Plans to transform the ancient medieval towers of Great Yarmouth town wall into unusual holiday accommodation are taking shape.

The remains of the medieval town wall in Great Yarmouth.

Picture: James Bass The remains of the medieval town wall in Great Yarmouth. Picture: James Bass

It is claimed that historic Yarmouth has the second best preserved medieval town wall in England, after York.

Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust is about to submit plans to convert the south east tower off Trinity Place into a unique holiday home, which they hope will attract heritage tourists to stay over while visiting the borough.

If it proves popular with history fans, Great Yarmouth Borough Council - which owns 10 of the 11 surviving towers - hopes to continue to work with the trust to convert some of the others, seven of which have remained largely intact and are currently unoccupied.

The move will support the borough council’s emerging new Cultural Heritage Strategy for 2014 to 2019 which will guide how to best invest in and promote the area’s history and traditions.

The town wall, a Scheduled Ancient Monument, traces its origins to 1261 when King Henry III granted permission to enclose the town with a wall and ditch.

It took years to complete – the main work was finished in 1346 but continued until about 1400. The fortification, which was last manned during the English Civil War, was more than 23 feet high and 2,280 yards long, with 10 gates and 16 towers.

GYBC has earmarked about £100,000 to convert the five-storey south east tower, which was constructed during the 14th century and has been deemed as being most at-risk, followed by the north west tower near the White Swan pub.

It is hoped the first conversion will be completed by the summer.

Darren Barker, the borough council’s principal conservation officer and the preservation trust’s project officer, said: “This conversion is a hugely exciting project, which aims to bring some of the borough’s medieval heritage back into use, attract more heritage tourists to the borough, and thus support the local economy.

“The ethos of all work will be light-touch, preserving the historic charm and character for holidaymakers.

“And the South East Tower is perfectly situated for heritage tourists – very close to the Potteries Museum, Time and Tide Museum, historic South Quay, and the King Street area.”

Top 10 heritage sites of Great Yarmouth.

The proposal is to convert the south east tower to include a living room on the top floor, a kitchen on the fourth floor, a bedroom on the third floor, another bedroom on the groundfloor, and a bathroom in the sub-basement.

The tower, last used by the nearby Potteries Museum some years ago, has changed little over the centuries, still boasting arrow-slits, a stone basement well, and a balcony offering views across Yarmouth to the seafront. It is set in one of the best-preserved sections of the wall.

Cllr Bernard Williamson, cabinet member for regeneration and transformation and chairman of the preservation trust, said: “The borough council will continue to promote our fantastic beaches, great attractions and our varied entertainment, but the conversion of the towers is another way to further broaden the tourism offer.

“We have a good selection of holiday parks and B&Bs, but a medieval defensive tower is a more fitting base from which to explore the borough’s heritage gems, which are sometimes overlooked by residents and visitors.

“And I am sure that a short break in one would prove popular with history fans, bringing more money into the local economy and extra funds to help the borough council to maintain the wall itself.”

Rich history of Yarmouth to boost tourism across east Norfolk.

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