55, 56 & 57
Numbers 55, 56 and 57 on Great Yarmouth’s North Quay form a group of Grade II listed buildings that date from the 16th century and contain fragments of older construction. Originally a merchant’s house, the building was constructed on land formerly occupied by part of a 13th century Carmelite Friary.
As the buildings were so fragile and the deterioration so severe, the contractor worked closely with the Borough Council's conservation team and the Trust to respond to newly discovered historic elements and structural issues – ensuring minimal intervention and appropriate conservation. The repair centred around traditional building materials and techniques. These included extensive lime mortar work, traditional lead work and traditional joinery on historic elements including sash windows, 17th century panelling and 16th century roofing. A blacksmith was also appointed to hand-forge the hundreds of rosehead nails necessary for the works.
An archaeologist was retained and all below ground activity was monitored and recorded. 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. 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 paintings in Great Yarmouth.
By the end of the works, no original material had 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 project is a prime example of successful reuse of significant listed buildings as social housing, using traditional materials and repair techniques. Their repair, conservation and reuse has provided substantial regeneration benefits, offered much needed housing and given the community a boost to its civic pride.
The repair and conversion of these buildings was a collaboration between Great Yarmouth Borough Council, Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust and Flagship Housing Association, part funded through the Townscape Heritage Initiative Scheme.