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Historic Town Hall opens its doors to celebrate 140th birthday

The rich history of Great Yarmouth's Town Hall will be celebrated next month with events to mark its 140th birthday.

Great Yarmouth Town Hall c1890. Credit Library of Congress.

Celebrations of the Victorian building taking place on Tuesday 31 May include free guided tours and a celebratory tea dance.

At the official opening of the building on May 31, 1882 by the then Prince of Wales - later to become Edward VII - its stunning Assembly Room was described as "one of the finest interiors in Eastern England and a measure, like the entire building, of the town's prosperity in the late 19th century".

Over a hundred years after opening the building, Edward VII's great-grand-daughter Queen Elizabeth II visited with the Duke of Edinburgh in 1985, where they were welcomed by a choir of 250 local children.

In 1998, the building's importance was recognised with a Grade II* historic buildings listing.

The guided tours will be given by Mary and Barry Coleman, who both served terms as Mayor of the borough, and will give visitors the opportunity to learn about some of the quirky facts and stories the Town Hall holds since it was built in 1882. The tours will take place at 10.30am and 12.30pm.

The Assembly Room, which features fluted columns and pilasters, Corinthian columns, and deep coving below a barrel-vaulted roof, will host a celebration tea dance event. Whether visitors would like a spin around the dancefloor, or toe tap to the music whilst enjoying the music, everyone is welcome.

The dance will take place from 3pm until 5pm. Tickets are just £5 per person which includes tea/coffee and cake.

Cllr Carl Smith, leader of Great Yarmouth Borough Council said: "Celebrating 140 years of this magnificent building is an exciting milestone and one we invite everyone to share with us.

"With listed original features, traditional tile floors and stained-glass windows, the Town Hall is rich in culture, history and heritage."

To book your place on the guided tours or tickets for the tea dance, email: or phone: 01493 846154.

Town Hall timeline

  • 1716 - First Town Hall built at a cost of £880. Before this the main civic building was the Tolhouse, built in 1150.
  • 1879 - The Treasury agrees a loan to fund a new town hall, and Norwich firm Lacey and Co win the build tender.
  • 1880 - Building starts in April, with the three-tonne principal cornerstone laid by the mayor, councillor Charles Cory Aldred.
  • 1882 - The new Town Hall and Municipal Buildings are opened by the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII), on May 31 at a grand celebration attended by 350 guests.
  • 1886 - Subsidence leads to underpinning work, using iron cylinders filled with concrete.
  • 1985 - Edward VII's great-grand-daughter Queen Elizabeth II visits with the Duke of Edinburgh, welcomed by a choir of 250 local children.
  • 1998 - The Town Hall building is listed as Grade II*.
Last modified on 21 June 2023

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