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Winter Gardens

Background to the project

The Winter Gardens is a Grade II* listed building 'at risk' and currently without a sustainable, viable use. It is the last surviving example of a Victorian ironwork glasshouse in the UK that sits on a seaside promenade. It has not been open to the public since 2008 but, in previous incarnations, was a symbol of the golden era of the seaside. Public consultation shows real demand from local residents for the Winter Gardens to be brought back to life.

Designed by local Torquay architects John Watson and William Harvey, the Winter Gardens was first built in Torquay between 1878 and 1881 at a cost of £12,783. It functioned as a pleasure palace designed to extend the tourism season by offering a fun venue for leisure entertainment. In 1903, the glasshouse was purchased by J.W. Cockrill on behalf of Great Yarmouth Town Council for £1,300, transported by barge in 1904 and reconstructed next to Wellington Pier, where it still stands today.

Since its closure in 2008, the Council has worked to identify a future sustainable use for the building. In 2021, the Winter Gardens was one of five transformational heritage projects across the country to be awarded a Heritage Horizon Award from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The project team is now working on the full restoration and repurposing of the building.

How is the project funded?

The project is funded in part by the Town Deal Fund, National Lottery Heritage Fund and the Council.

Further investments are being sought to support this ambitious project.

What are the plans for the building?

The project aims to:

  • save, restore and repurpose the Winter Gardens
  • be a powerful commercial contributor to the regeneration of Great Yarmouth's seafront
  • be an innovative environmental project

The building will reopen as an all-year-round venue, and will have two coherent and integrated parts:

  • a visitor experience for exploring the heritage of the Winter Gardens/Great Yarmouth, focusing on heritage, environmental change and sustainability
  • a food and drink offering with a commercial operator partner

How can I get involved?

The project team is currently running a series of community engagement events to share plans for the space and gather feedback and ideas from local groups. If you or your organisation would like to take part, please get in touch via the email below.

As the project develops, there will be lots of opportunities to get involved by taking part in volunteering activities. If you would like to hear about future volunteering opportunities, please get in touch via the email below. You will be sent a short form and asked to provide contact information.

To take part in a group consultation about Winter Gardens engagement, or to enquire about volunteering, please email

Where can I follow the project online?

Information about the project, and how to get involved, is currently promoted on the Council's social media channels:

You can filter for information using the hashtag #WinterGardensGY.

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