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29 October 2014

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The Nelson Monument.
The Nelson Monument has been restored

A head for Heights

It's 144 feet tall and nearly 200 years old. The Nelson Monument is one of Great Yarmouth's best-known landmarks, and now volunteers are needed to show visitors around it.

A head for heights, legs of steel and no fear of confined spaces: that's what volunteers will need to take visitors on a tour up the Nelson Monument.

Often referred to as the pillar, £1m was spent on restoring the monument in 2005 to coincide with the Battle of Trafalgar bicentenary.

Towering 144 feet into the sky, it was built in 1819 and was completed 24 years before Nelson's Column in London's Trafalgar Square.

Much of the restoration money came from the Heritage Lottery Fund, and in order to comply with rules of the publicly-funded grant, the pillar must be opened to the people. But first they need volunteer guides.

Volunteers needed

Dona Watson - a fount of knowledge on Great Yarmouth's history - is helping the recruitment campaign, which is being organised by the Norfolk Nelson Museum on South Quay.

Dona Watson.
Dona Watson is helping to recruit guides

"It seems quite daunting to begin with, but it's not really, once you get used to it," said Dona.

"We're not rushing you, you can take your time to go up and down.

"But it is a spiral staircase and like many spiral staircases which are 190 years old, it's a little bit different," she added.

The tours must be booked in advance, with a maximum of 16 people on any trip, but only two visitors can be taken up to the viewing platform at a time.

Stunning views

It's a fine weather activity, but on a clear day the climb to the top gives stunning views of the Norfolk countryside, coastline and parts of the town and port area.

Landmarks like the wind turbines at Scroby Sands, Winterton and Lowestoft are visible, the vastness of the Breydon Water becomes instantly apparent and as construction starts in February, the Outer Harbour will emerge from the sea.

The view from Nelson Monument.
The view from the top of the tower

With a pair of binoculars and clear skies, it's possible to make out the spire of Norwich Cathedral some 20 miles away.

Owing to the height of the wall at the top, small children won't appreciate this attraction and it's also only going to appeal to a certain number of adults.

"Anybody who sees this monument says, 'Please, let me climb it'," said Dona.

"It's an automatic reaction: 'I want to go to the top'.

"And now you can, providing we get some guides to assist us to take the visitors up the monument."

The tour will cost around £7.50 per person and the cost will go towards funding the guided tours beyond the initial two years it's been planned to run.

Volunteers won't be paid, but will get their expenses refunded and there are free refreshments at a nearby cafe!

Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer should call Faith Carpenter at the Norfolk Nelson Museum on 01493 850698 or email

last updated: 31/01/07
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