Well I had planned to sit on this one for a bit, but a friend told a goon who told another goon and like the Birmingham Methodist Hall the goon brigade jumped on the Tourbus and wanked it all over Facebook as fast as their little hands could travel…….
Fucking hand pumpers lol
So coming soon to a million Instagram and Facebook groups,
Ladies and Gentlemen may I warmly introduce, The Winter Gardens……
The Winter Gardens were designed and constructed in Torquay by John Watson and William Harvey between 1878 and 1881 at a cost of £12,783. The fabulous Ironwork was created by Jesse Tildesley of the Crescent Iron Works, Willenhall in Staffordshire.
The Winter Gardens were not a commercial success in Torquay, but Great Yarmouth Borough Council's Surveyor, J W Cockrill, foresaw that their move to Yarmouth would be desirable and would help to lengthen the season with better class visitors, and on wet days to provide cover for 2,000 people.
Cockrill supervised the purchase of the Winter Gardens for £1300, a small proportion of the original cost. The building was dismantled in sections, transported by barge to Norfolk and re-erected by the entrance to Wellington Pier in 1904. It is said that no pane of glass was broken in the removal. Cockrill added a brick-arched entrance porch for a cloakroom and in 1909 and then laid a maple floor for roller skating.
The Winter Gardens were used for concerts, dancing and skating with the interior was adorned by flower beds, trailing plants and displays in hanging baskets.
Originally an organ was located above the entrance at the west end. In the late 1920’s, the glazing panels in the roof were replaced and a separate structural frame inserted to support the tower and lantern.
The success couldn’t last, and with the decline of the English seaside town and changing notions of entertainment the Winter Gardens was put to other uses. Through the rest of the century it acted as an amusement arcade, roller skating rink, a venue for concerts and an over hot – over cold bar. Nothing compared to the thrill and seduction of the first use and nothing lasted long. The building gradually strained under
budget cuts and indifference and by the twenty first century had become at risk and a dangerous structure.
Jim Davidson was the owner of the Winter Gardens for a while and was quoted as saying something along the lines of “if they won’t help me it can sit and do nothing” with regards to the lack of help and support from the local council.
In 2008 the Gardens finally closed their doors over fears it could collapse. The borough council has described the fabric of the building as "eroding" and "probably dangerous".
Funding is currently being sought by the local council from the Heritage Lottery Fund but they have stated they need some form of investor before handing any funding over.
I first spotted the Winter Gardens a few years back and then as always forgot about it, yeah i do that a lot, until a friend holidaying in Yarmouth a few months back mentioned that she had seen it and had a look to see if it was accessible.
Alas at the time it wasn’t.
Again the Winter Gardens drifted from my thoughts until a few weeks ago when the Victorian Society published a list of its top 10 buildings 'crying out' to be saved.
This got me thinking about it again along with the other buildings on the list.
So I was in Beccles watching a few friends do a parachute jump for charity and I decided to head a bit further along the coast to have a look at what was around the area.
So arriving in Great Yarmouth I had a quick look at the Winter Gardens and then decided I’d plot myself up in the café over the road and watch the world go by and see what the crack was.
Now I didn’t realise quite how much attention this place gets. Towering about the seafront like some great glass behemoth and drawing admiring glances from passers-by. Many people stopped to take pictures of the building as I sat and ate my fish and chips.
I was constantly aware of the fact the seafront was a busy place and bearing in mind it was a weekend evening there was also a police presence driving up and down the seafront.
As the night went on and after a few strolls along the seafront I finally decided to make my move and after a few failed ideas found myself inside and staring at some amazing iron works. Not to dissimilar in styling to the roof trusses of Abbey Mills Pumping Station in Stratford.
The lights from the surrounding amusements made for and interesting explore and defiantly kept me on my toes.
After spending a good hour inside, I slipped out and left as quietly as I entered and headed back home to sunny Essex.
Enjoy the pics