Yarmouth set to reflect on its heritage

They are only a stone's throw away and are stepped in history.But as people walk along Yarmouth's seafront and streets they may not notice a host of important heritage sites amid the colourful attractions, shops and arcades.

They are only a stone's throw away and are steeped in history. But, as people walk along Great Yarmouth seafront and streets, they may not notice a host of important heritage sites amid the gaudy attractions.

And yet the resort's prime historical sites took centre stage yesterday as the Pleasure Beach launched the East of England's Heritage Open Days 2009.

The fun park, celebrating its 100th anniversary and featuring its rollercoaster and gallopers, offers the perfect example of the region's herit-age that can be taken for granted by locals and visitors alike.

But next Thursday, September 10, it will offer free guided tours as it joins hundreds other places opening their doors for free across Norfolk and Suffolk for the English Heritage showcase event.

Heritage Open Days 2009 runs between September 10 and 13.

The 15th annual open days event, which also includes Yarmouth's Hippodrome, St Nicholas Church, Royal Naval Hospital and Nelson's Monument, is designed to make it easy for people to visit sites of historical and architectural interest close by.

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Last year, more than half of the people who took advantage of the region's open days were first-time visitors, and organisers hope that even more will take up the opportunity this time around.

Simon Tansley, English Heritage's east of England supervisor, said: "People see the Pleasure Beach as an attraction and probably don't realise its historical significance to Yarmouth, like many other sites in the town. But I am confident that the open days will help spread the word that Yarmouth has a fantastic cultural heritage that is well worth celebrating."

Kirsty Burn, of the resort's tourist authority, said: "Yarmouth has a reputation as a kiss-me-quick resort, but in fact it has so much more to offer in terms of heritage."

In Yarmouth borough, 36 sites will be taking part in the Heritage Open Days 2009, including the remote Berney Arms mill beyond Breydon Water, the Row Houses and town hall.

Elsewhere, the long list of open day locations includes Wymondham's preserved railway station, Grimes Graves, near Lynford, and the Bank House at King's Lynn.

Hidden gems in Norwich will also be throwing open their doors. The more than 150 places of historic and cultural interest include Wensum Lodge, Earlham Hall, the Adam and Eve pub, Augustine Steward House, and the City of Norwich School.

In Suffolk, Ickworth House, Walpole Old Chapel, near Hales-worth, and the Suffolk Regiment Museum at Bury St Edmunds are among places taking part.

Nationally, more than 4,000 places are involved.

The full list of places taking part in Heritage Open Days can be found at www.heritageopendays.org.uk. Please note that you may need to book in advance to visit some locations.