Ice house and art deco cinema among buildings to get £12.2m in lottery grants

A 19th-century thatched ice house that was an important staging post for fish between the sea and the nation’s stomachs is to be transformed into a circus training centre.

The quayside Grade II-listed Great Yarmouth Ice House, built as one of a pair between 1851 and 1892, was a key asset in the town’s once-thriving fishing industry.

It was constructed at the same time as a nearby railway station, allowing freshly caught herrings to be packed in ice and quickly transported to the Billingsgate fish market in London and beyond.

Now the National Lottery Heritage Fund is contributing almost £2m to convert the historic building into the National Arts and Circus Centre, a training and performance space due to open in 2024.

Circus tumblers performing with a ladder outside a thatch-roofed ice house
Duo Vita Circus performing outside Great Yarmouth Ice House. Photograph: Paul Marriott/PA

The ice house grant is part of £12.2m in funding to restore and transform historic buildings announced by the heritage fund on Tuesday.

The Strand Arts Centre in Belfast, an art deco jewel, will be restored with the help of a grant of £768,000.

The Strand opened in 1935 with a screening of Bright Eyes, starring Shirley Temple. The picture house had one screen and 1,170 seats.

Its design featured a curved end, like a ship’s prow, and porthole windows influenced by the nearby shipyard Harland & Wolff.

Once one of 40 picture palaces in Belfast in the prewar golden age of cinema, it is the last still in operation.

Cardiff Market will get a grant of more than £2m.
Cardiff Market will get a grant of more than £2m. Photograph: Jim Monk/Alamy

The grant will help transform the building into a living museum and preserve it for future generations.

Cardiff’s Grade II*-listed Victorian market will get a grant of more than £2m for restoration. It opened in 1891 on the site of the city’s jail and gallows, where the coal miner Dic Penderyn was hanged 60 years earlier for his part in the Merthyr Rising.

The market is now home to more than 60 independent businesses and traders. The restoration plans include repairs to the roof and the market clock, and the creation of a 70-seat eating area close to food stalls.

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Lowestoft town hall in Suffolk has been awarded £3.25m to transform the empty Grade II-listed building into a civic and community centre with a gallery and cafe.

The original council chamber contains three stained glass windows, the largest of which commemorates the Anglo-French alliance against Russia during the Crimean war.

St Conan's Kirk, Argyll
St Conan’s Kirk, Argyll, will receive a development grant. Photograph: Andrew Prins

The grants would help “revitalise and preserve the UK’s remarkable built heritage”, said Eilish McGuinness, the fund’s chief executive.

“We look forward to seeing these fantastic projects improving the condition and understanding of the important heritage they guard, reducing the amount of heritage at risk, and delivering transformational projects for communities across the UK,” she added.

The fund has also given development grants to a number of planned projects, including one at St Conan’s Kirk, a lochside church in Argyll. Considered to be one of the finest church buildings in the UK, its highlights include a Norman doorway, Gothic flying buttresses, a Celtic cross, Arts and Crafts carvings, a Saxon tower and a stone circle.