Somerleyton Estate: Businesswoman takes over lease on three attractions

NORWICH businesswoman Sarah-Jane Roberts is venturing south of the border into Suffolk pledging to breathe new life into three attractions on the Somerleyton Estate after the company that ran them went into voluntary liquidation.

The 36-year-old, who is managing director of nine bars and restaurants in the Norwich area, including The Mulberry, Farmer Browns, and Bam Bam boutique bar and restaurant, has taken over the lease at Fritton Lake Park, Fritton House hotel and restaurant and the Dukes Head pub, which are part of the 5,000-acre estate near Lowestoft.

She stepped in after the company which previously ran them, HFOB, which was owned by Hugh Crossley, and David Moss, went into voluntary liquidation last month, with Mr Crossley blaming the failure of their Winter Wonderland attraction which opened at Fritton Lake last December, its demise after the firm incurred serious debt.

The attraction featured an ice rink, Christmas-themed fun fair attractions and a road train but sparked complaints over its admission prices.

Miss Roberts, 36, has created a new company, Experiences on the Lake Ltd, to oversee the venture, and says she is relishing the challenge of running the three businesses, which she said she knew well as a childhood visitor.

She has inherited a team of 30 staff and is looking forward to honouring and catering for the 40 weddings already booked this year and maintaining the calendar of summer family events at the park.

“We are already up and running, the hotel has got many weddings this year, and we’re hoping to make some changes to the park as well as enhance the nature element for families. We also want to get the local community involved as well.”

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Fritton Lake, which is located on the northern part of the Somerleyton Estate, has welcomed visitors for more than 100 years. Activities on offer include fishing, golf and putting, nature trails, indoor barn activities, and lakeside gardens.

The nine-bedroom Fritton House, dates back to the 15th century, is a boutique hotel and restaurant set within the grounds of the estate while The Duke’s Head in Somerleyton is a traditional pub with a refurbished private function barn and gardens.