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Magnificent archways were part of a much grander plan

Victoria Archways

Take a few steps away from the seafront opposite the Sea Life Centre, past the Nelson Hotel and you will find yourself looking upon two impressive archways situated on Wellington Road. These archways were part of a much grander plan for this area in 1840 which did not come to fruition. 

The larger arch also known as The Wellington Arch was intended to be the grand entrance into a new esteemed estate of summer residences that would encourage the rich to live in Great Yarmouth during the bathing season. 

In November 1840, the Victoria Building Company was formed with the intention of creating this grand masterplan. The prospectus for the company stated their aim was "to form a spacious Esplanade close to high-water mark; and lay out the rest of the ground in street and squares, so as to give each house, as far as praticable, a view of the sea; and to call the whole 'Victoria' in honour of the Queen". 

The houses were to be built on a large scale and to be fitted with baths and other conveniences, furnished to welcome the families of the highest rank. Plans also included a hotel but no shops.

By March 1841, plans were moving ahead and the first stone of a superb hotel was laid by the Mayor, Samuel Palmer.

Wellington Arch

The following year, The Victoria Hotel (today it is The Carlton Hotel) was opened by James Balls who keenly pointed out that no expense had been spared to ensure the hotel was worthy of the highest class of families. He drew people's attention to the fact that the hotel had private stables and coach houses which would be reserved for Gentlemen's horses with suitable rooms for Grooms and Coachmen. It is believed that the smaller arch - also known as The Camperdown Arch or Wellington Mews Arch, was the entrance to these stables.

The company appointed a reputable London architect, Thomas Marsh Nelson to supervise the design and building work but alas the project did not go well.

With a lack of money coming in from rents, contractors went unpaid and defects were found regarding the drains and kitchens in the premises.

Over coming years, parts of the building plot were sold off by the company with Kimberley and Brandon Terraces being the only ones completed.

In 1885, after constant complaints about smelly drains, the Borough Council asked the company to sanction a ventilating shaft to be attached to the archway at the South end of Wellington Road. In 1892, the Council approved the removal of the archway. This was never done as the insurance cost was too high should the nearby buildings be damaged.

The Wellington Arch was built in 1846 by John Brown and restored in 1980. The Camperdown Arch was built in 1847. Both were given grade II listing in 1974.

The archways remain as a reminder of the ambitious plans to create a high class resort to rival the South Coast resorts of Brighton and Weymouth. Little did investors know that Great Yarmouth would thrive from the growth of the leisure industry in the later half of the 19th century, turning itself into a holiday resort catering for all classes of society rather than just the wealthy.

 

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Wellington Mews Arch in front with Wellington arch behind

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