The Artful Codger - Hard news to swallow

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The news that Bradley’s Restaurant at South Quay, Lynn, has closed is another sad blow to the town, confirming just how deeply the recession is biting, and comes as a further setback to efforts to bring fresh life to the riverside area.

I hope it does not deter the plans to re-open The Green Quay building, or the proposed development and refurbishment of Hanse House. The South Quay is too precious to the town’s maritime heritage to be lost to housing developers.

The Green Quay could certainly thrive as a cafe in the summer months, rather like many of the seafront attractions at Hunstanton, but it is questionable if it is viable all the year round. Better, perhaps, that it be used some of the year though, rather than not at all.

The parts of the Green Quay displaying the natural history of The Wash have never really been sufficiently interesting to draw the public in numbers that would make the venue viable. It’s the kind of place you tend to take the kids once, and then find they don’t want to go back again.

The only kind of attraction that would hold the attention of a young audience would include live animals like seals, or fish native to The Wash displayed in large tanks, and the Green Quay does not lend itself to this idea – in any case, it would then simply be competing with the Sea Life centre at Hunstanton.

The Green Quay was opened at a time when public cash was readily available for “green” projects such as this, and EcoTech at Swaffham, and many went ahead right across the country with the best of intentions, but not too much thought as to their long-term economic viability.

After all, they are essentially competing in the family entertainment market, and the competition here is formidable. Today’s kids expect to go to Pleasurewood Hills, Legoland or even the Disney attractions in Europe and America. At the local level, the animal-cuddling attractions and indoor soft-play emporiums rule the roost.

While I paint a stark picture of the uphill struggle faced by the Green Quay’s supporters, I do hope they find a way to keep it open for those members of the public who appreciate its historic place in the development of Lynn.

The closure of Bradley’s will be felt by many. A quality restaurant is a real asset to any town’s image and Lynn can ill-afford to lose a much-loved venue where many of us, myself included, have cherished memories of special occasions celebrated there over the years – in my case it was a gathering marking my 40 years with EMAP/Johnston Press.

On a marginally more optimistic note, I see that the former Antonio’s Wine Bar has now been sold at auction. I wonder what plans the new owner has for the site next to Baxter’s Plain?

At least there is one major tourist event that will boost West Norfolk this summer – the exhibition of paintings from The Hermitage Museum, in St Petersburg, which will be on display at Houghton Hall, their former home in the 1700s. Art fans are expected from far and wide.