Boultons North Quay

Nos. 55, 56 and 57 North Quay Great Yarmouth are a group of listed buildings (Grade II) situated on the east side of North Quay, Great Yarmouth. The buildings contain fabric dating from the 17th Century and fragments of an older construction. 17th Century records indicate that it was a merchants house related to the important historic commercial activity of the Quay. The buildings occupy land which in the 12th to 15th Century formed part of a Carmelite Friary.

Nos.55 and 56 were vacant and neglected for 20 years, and were in a state of severe deterioration. Some emergency repairs were undertaken by Great Yarmouth Borough Council in 2003 to prevent collapse.

No.57 has been used as a printer’s, with a flat above, up until 2007, but was in a state of serious disrepair. Nos. 55 and 56 appear on Great Yarmouth Borough Councils and Norfolk County Councils Buildings at Risk Register.


The repair and conversion of this group of buildings is a Great Yarmouth Borough Council, Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust and Flagship Housing Association project, part funded through the Townscape Heritage Initiative Scheme, a Heritage Lottery Funded scheme.

Wellington Construction acted as Flagship’s appointed contractor, working under the guidance of Darren Barker, Conservation Officer on all conservation and design matters.

Work started on site in November 2007. The contractor and conservation officer decided on a repair philosophy of repair as found.

Because the building was so fragile and the deterioration so great, the contractor took the unusual decision (with the structural engineer) to work from the cellar upwards and underpin the historic fabric as the team went up.

Fragments of a 17th Century Secular Wall Painting Scheme

This picture shows fragments of a 17th century secular wall painting scheme

The repair centred around traditional building materials and techniques. These included lime mortar work for all construction, pointing, plastering and rendering, traditional lead work, traditional joinery and joinery repairs, including 17th century panelling and 16th century roof structure.

Of particular importance are the historic sash windows, shutters and windows seats, together with associated panelling. These elements had suffered severe deterioration. The building had not been weatherproof for 20 years, and decay mechanisms causing damage included wet and dry rot, a serious fire, and vandalism. It is a credit to the skill of the joiners who painstakingly recorded and repaired these features ensuring they were not lost.

A blacksmith was appointed to repair and reproduce ironmongery and external railings, and make the hundreds of rose headed nails used on the project.

An archaeologist was retained and all below ground activity was monitored and recorded by her. This led to the discovery of pipe making kilns and workshops, and historic garden features associated with the building. Evidence of the Carmelite Friary was also uncovered, giving historians a better understanding of the town’s history.

During works, 18th Century wall paintings were discovered in a first floor room; these were fully recorded and conserved by a leading painting conservator. This find and its treatment are extremely significant, as the paintings are the only known surviving secular wall painting in Great Yarmouth.

A 16th century mullion window was uncovered blocked into a wall. The window was conserved and has helped to clarify the historic evolution of the building.

The Conservation Officer and Site Manager worked closely to swiftly amend plans to accommodate newly discovered historic elements, and to ensure that no intervention or alteration was to the detriment of the building. It was ultimately this close working relationship which led to such a successful outcome.

An extremely important listed building which would otherwise have been lost due to neglect and deterioration has been saved. This project is an shining example of the reuse of a historic building for social housing using traditional materials and repair techniques.

No original material has been removed from the building, and the sub division into residential units was arranged around the existing fabric. All modern interventions are clearly expressed and are visually subservient to the historic building.

The location is a significant listed building in a conservation area site on an important gateway into the town. Its repair, conservation and reuse has provided substantial regeneration benefits, offered much needed housing, and giving the community a boost to its civic pride.