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Great Yarmouth

Local History and



I hope you will find this latest 2015 edition of the Journal both interesting and informative, as once
again we have a good range of historical and topical articles, all well researched and presented,
and my thanks go to all who have contributed.
The 100th anniversary of the first bombing in Great Britain by a Zeppelin airship occurred in
January 2015. Our town has the dubious distinction of being the target of this air raid, and an
article describing events held in commemoration is included in this issue. Another 100th
anniversary of a 1915 event, the destruction by fire of the Cliff Hotel at Gorleston, also took place
in 2015, but this time the incident was not the result of enemy action. An article is included about
this event, with some old photos of the original Victorian hotel and the aftermath of the fire.

This year, 2015, also marked the 675th anniversary of the Battle of Sluys (1340), which took
place at the beginning of England’s Hundred Years’ War with France. An article debating Great
Yarmouth’s involvement with this battle is published in this edition.

The society’s programme of outings continues to be well supported, and articles are included
about the places members have visited on our outings during the past 12 months. In addition, the
society has unveiled more blue plaques around the town during the past year, and summaries are
published of the buildings or personalities behind each presentation.

For future editions of the Journal, I will be pleased to hear from members at any time during the
year who have articles ready for publication. I will also be pleased to hear from anyone who is
considering writing a piece, but may need some guidance as to preparing their work and the
format in which text and images should be submitted.
Back issues of some Journals published since 1993 are still in stock. If any are missing from your
collection and you would like them, please contact me and I will supply if copies remain.

John Smail



Telephone: 01493-300999

Address: 36 Yallop Avenue, Gorleston, Great Yarmouth. NR31 6HD

Great Yarmouth
Local History and

No part of this publication may be copied or reproduced without the written permission of Great
Yarmouth and District Local History and Archaeological Society and the author(s) concerned.
Apply in the first instance to the editor.

The responsibility for obtaining any necessary permission to copy or reproduce other people’s
material, or to copy or reproduce material from other publications for use within Yarmouth Local
History and Archaeology lays with the author(s) and not the Editor or the Society. Upon receipt of
articles from contributors, the Editor will assume that all the necessary authorisation has been
obtained and he will not be held liable in the case of subsequent query.

The responsibility for accuracy of facts within any article lays with the author(s) of that article and
not with the Editor or the Society.

Any opinions expressed within an article are those of the author(s) of that article, and not
necessarily those of the Editor or the Society.


Registered Charity No. 277272


President: Andrew Fakes

Chairman: Paul Davies

Treasurer: Derek Leak

Secretary and Vice-Chairman Margaret Gooch (resigned July 2014)

Acting Secretary Patricia Day (from July 2014)

Committee: Carl Boult

Ann Dunning
Alan Hunt
Peter Jones

David McDermott
John Smail

James Steward
Michael Wadsworth
Patricia Wills-Jones

Honorary Members: Norman Fryer

Shirley Harris

John McBride
Alec McEwen

John Mobbs
Paul Rutledge (deceased March 2015)

Russell Smith

Colin Tooke

Three Committee Members retire each year according to a three year rota.
Officers are elected tri-annually, and Honorary Members remain so for life.
Yarmouth Archaeology & Local History
Table of Contents

12 One of the Society’s Roles -

17 Paul Robert Holland Rutledge M.A. 1st May 1937 - 13th March 2015 Andrew Fakes

18 The Yarmouth Fish Wharf House and Office Peter Allard

20 The East Quay Herring Sample and Sale Ring Building Peter Allard

22 The Vicar and the Beach Photographer Paul Godfrey

28 Notes on the Association Between Great Yarmouth and The Battle of J. F. Lambert

41 Trinity House Lightships and Service Vessels in World War II, and Chris Wright
Yarmouth - “Not War, but Murder and Gangsterism”

46 The Jack Cardiff Centenary Project Paul P. Davies

48 One Hundred Years after the Zeppelin Air Raid of 1915 Paul P. Davies

52 The Cliff Hotel Carl Boult

57 From Society Records: 3rd September 1891 -

58 A Glimpse inside the Custom House and the Port and Haven Paul P. Davies
Commissioners Building on South Quay

62 Dissent and the Unitarian Church in Great Yarmouth - a Diamond Derek Leak

64 James Sharman RN (1785-1867) Paul P. Davies

66 Harvey Harvey-George Ann Dunning

68 Summer Outing to Thornham Parva, Eye and Wingfield Pat Ashbourne

76 The Society’s Visit to the Royal Air Force Air Defence Radar Museum at Paul P. Davies
Neatishead on 20th June 2014

78 Excursion to Castle Acre and Sedgeford on 10th August 2014 Derek Leak

80 The Fourth Cemetery Crawl Paul P. Davies

Table of Contents (continued)

84 The Society’s Third Church Crawl on 2nd July 2014 Paul P. Davies
to Heydon, Salle, Cawston, Booton and Bawdswell

89 History of the Site where Emmanuel Church in Northgate Street Paul P. Davies

94 The Wreck of HMS Flora after leaving Yarmouth Roads in 1808 and Paul P. Davies
its Aftermath

101 Great Yarmouth Gaol – Sentenced to Transportation 1786-1834 Chris Wright

106 Was it, and if so Where? – Trying to Make Sense of Grubb’s Haven J. F. Lambert

118 The Creation of the Great Yarmouth School Board Michael Wadsworth

125 The Photographic Conference of the United Kingdom 1897 Paul Godfrey

132 The Green Cap Windmill at Southtown Peter Allard

137 Coal Wagons of the Great Yarmouth Area Chris Wright

140 Addendum to the Article on J. J. Hall in Yarmouth Archaeology 2014 Paul P. Davies

140 The Society’s Exhibition in Great Yarmouth Minster 2014 Paul P. Davies
“Great Yarmouth and the First World War”


17th January The Percy Trett Memorial Meeting - four short talks by society members

21st February Cromwell, The Civil War and Great Yarmouth

Peter Ransome - Historian and Librarian

21st March Norfolk in the First World War

Neil Storey - Writer and Historian

11th April The Real Edith Cavell

Barbara Miller M.B.E. - Historian and Norwich City Guide

16th May Annual General Meeting, followed by a short film made by a society member

19th September The Norfolk Landscape

David Stannard - Geologist and Lecturer

17th October Deserted Norfolk Villages

Ian Groves - Archaeologist

21st November Rule Britannia : Trafalgar to Jutland

Mark Mitchels - Lecturer and Author

19th December Christmas Social Evening, including a short lecture by a society member

Lecture Summaries 2014

January 2014

An audience of over 100 attended the annual Percy Trett Memorial Meeting. Four presentations
were made by society members.

Firstly, former fireman Graham Brown spoke about historical fires in Great Yarmouth, particularly
a severe blaze that took place on 2nd June 1928 at Clarke’s Flour Mills, just south of Haven
Bridge. It began in Jewson’s Wood Yard and it is believed that heat radiated through the
windows of the five-storey mill and ignited flour dust, causing much of the building to be burned
out. However, the front of the building remained intact until it was demolished a few years ago.
The front was saved because a door to this part of the building was shut. Graham explained that
buildings were much closer together then, and he showed a photo of vast crowds watching the
action, probably dangerously close to the fire. He explained that some of the original fire pumps
were steam-driven and it was necessary to ‘fire up’ the boilers before water could be delivered to
the seat of a blaze.

Secondly, Nick Pownall showed photos of Regent Road in the 1930s, beginning with a picture of
his father and uncles. Unfortunately, his uncle Ernest was the first person to be killed in Great
Yarmouth by a motor vehicle, in 1907, when he was 11 years old. A picture of Nick Pownall at
the age of three caused much pleasure and amusement. The Pownall family owned and ran
several shops at the east end of Regent Road, which he explained was largely built as a series of
substantial residential houses, later to become commercial premises. St. Mary’s Church was also
built there. St. John’s Motors was one of the first motor car sellers in the county and the Regent
Cinema and Electric House were mentioned. As a boy, Nick was particularly interested in the toy
shops that thrived on Regent Road, however he learned his first bad language when Santa Claus
dropped a Meccano set on his foot, when he called at the Pownall house one Christmas eve!
Next, Michael Pearson showed pictures that he and several others had taken during recent
restoration work on St. Nicholas Minster tower. Michael was given access to the scaffolding and
showed pictures, many unsuitable for those suffering from vertigo. He said the work was carried
out to the highest standard, and the damaged stonework was replaced from a quarry in
Lincolnshire near to where the original limestone was obtained. The tower was now adequately
served by lightning conductors and he felt the building would be good for several hundred more

Lastly, Martin Webber showed a video of past pictures of Great Yarmouth seafront over the
years, contrasting them with pictures of today’s Golden Mile. He also showed a montage of
several famous people who had died during 2013.

February 2014

There was a full house in the Northgate Room at the Library for the February meeting to hear Mr.
Peter Ransome’s talk on Cromwell, the Civil War and Great Yarmouth. It is well known that
Cromwell was a frequent visitor to the town, and that their sympathies were almost entirely with

After the Royalists had been defeated on the battlefields, King Charles I escaped and tried to
regain his previous position as a dictatorial ruler of Britain in 1648, claiming that God had
appointed him to rule by Divine Rite. Cromwell and Parliament were aggrieved at this because
they knew that God had granted them victory and it was felt that Charles Stuart, King of England,
had committed treason on his own countrymen.

It was said that the King’s execution was planned in Mr. John Carter’s house at 4 South Quay and
Mr. Ransome gave details of late night meetings there. The last of the 59 signatories on the
King’s death warrant was that of Miles Corbett, Recorder and M.P. for Great Yarmouth.

The King was executed, Cromwell went on to be appointed Lord Protector and was offered the
crown of England, which he refused. But after his death, government of the country broke down
and Charles II was invited to become King, but with reduced powers.

Charles II’s regime promised pardons to all but the regicides, and a measure of liberty to tender

Miles Corbett, and other signatories of Charles I’s death warrant, were hung drawn and
quartered. Cromwell’s body was dug up and gibbeted; it is believed that his skull is now in Sidney
Sussex College at Cambridge.

The verdict on Cromwell was that he was a great soldier, capable of organizing and inspiring his
men to deeds of bravery, but he was largely without ego, always claiming that his victories and
achievements were the work of God rather than his own. He may have been responsible for
some cruel acts, but these were rare and not uncommon in that time.

March 2014

Former Junior Society member Neil Storey gave a bravura performance to a full house at the
March meeting entitled Norfolk in the First World War. Mr. Storey has collected memories and
photographs for over 30 years, and has recorded the testimony of local men who fought during
the terrible years from 1914 to 1918, which affected men and women in this county.

He began by talking about the patriotism and enthusiasm needed to become involved in the early
stages of the war, however Norfolk men did not ‘rush to the colours’ in August 1914 as readily as
they did in some parts of the country. The reason for this was that many Norfolk men were
involved in agriculture and it was at harvest time that they could earn most money. After the
harvest was ‘safely gathered in’, local men enlisted.

The reason Britain joined the war was our guarantee of Belgium neutrality, which Germany
ignored, so that it could invade France from the north. The German army did not behave well and
the vicious cruelty of the invasion stirred a desire to become involved and aid Gallant Little
Belgium. Norfolk Catholic families accommodated refugees from that country.

In the Kaiser’s words, the British had a contemptible little army, but it was this force of
professional soldiers that resisted the much larger German army during the retreat from Mons
and lost many of its best men.

Recruiting went on apace and there was a fear of invasion. Norfolk regiments were sent to Essex
and Essex men came north to defend Norfolk. Lord Kitchener recognized that the war would not
be over by Christmas and the only way to resist the Kaiser’s armies would be with allied armies of
equal strength. He introduced a programme of recruitment and training of a much enlarged army.

The so called Pal’s Battalions were not formed in Norfolk but there was a Norwich Business
Man’s Company. They were not issued proper uniforms at first, but trained in their own clothes
and in postmen’s, prisoners’ or psychiatric patients’ uniforms. Dye for uniforms had previously
come from Germany and was not available. Eventually some blue materials became available,
but the dye on these ran when it rained. Many women were recruited into war service,
particularly as Voluntary Aid Detachment nurses.

Lots of horses were commandeered into the military and there were horrifying stories of these
animals being lifted in nets into ship’s holds. There were rough crossings when many horses died
of heart failure before they reached the continent.

Mr. Storey finished with the well known incident of the bombing of Great Yarmouth by Zeppelin
L3 . He showed a photograph of a detective standing outside the bombed St. Peter’s Villa, saying
that bombing was regarded as a crime in those times, in need of prosecution, and the
perpetrators should be brought to book. He pointed out that the war went on for more than three
years after that, and said he had a further talk on the events between 1915 and 1918.

April 2014

Over 100 members and guests attended a lecture by Barbara Miller on The Real Edith Cavell.
She began by saying that, being born in Norfolk, Edith would have put the emphasis on the first
part of her surname, ie. to rhyme with ‘travel’.

Miss Cavell was the daughter of the vicar of Swardeston, where she was brought up in a joyless
Christian home, which had little money, in a poor agricultural village. Fortunately, she seemed to
care little for the pleasures of eating and this trait lasted for the rest of life. Her father’s stipend
was insufficient to give her a good education, and she followed the fate of many intelligent but
poor Victorian girls into employment as a governess. When asked about her ambition at this
time, she made the extraordinary remark that she wanted to be buried in Westminster Abbey.
Miss Cavell left her post as governess and went into the nursing profession in various hospitals
around London without great success at first. She seems to have been a caring nurse, although
gave the impression of being aloof from her colleagues and patients.

Her capacity with languages led her to Belgium, where nursing was then carried out by nuns, who
provided a system of care which had not kept up with the standards in Britain and much of the
world. Her school of nursing was not popular at first with Belgians, but when they provided
successful treatment for the King’s daughter’s broken arm, attitudes began to change.

Edith Cavell was running the school at the outbreak of the First World War. During the British
Expeditionary Force’s retreat from Mons, many of the allied soldiers, who were not captured, hid
in the woods, but contacted the Belgian underground. Some were taken to Edith Cavell’s nursing
school and were given papers and money, and were able to escape to neutral Holland. Several
of these men were from Norfolk. The Germans had suspicions about the premises and kept
watch. They arrested Edith but treated her kindly, lulling her into a sense of false safety.
However, on coming to trial, the Prussian Commandant’s court sentenced her to death after a ten
minute hearing. The American Consul in Belgium did his best to get the sentence commuted, but
failed. Edith was shot by firing squad on 12th October 1915 to a gale of international criticism,
and even the Kaiser was furious at this ‘own goal’ by his country’s occupying powers.

Edith Cavell remains something of an enigma. She was always remembered as being very tall
but, in fact, she was only five feet four inches. She was slim and her hair was piled up on top of
her head. She was remembered as a strict disciplinarian, although thought to be fair and
compassionate. She possibly had one love affair, which came to nothing, and she had large and
unfriendly dogs as pets. She pinned her skirts up before her execution so she would be
‘respectable’ in death, and was wearing civilian clothes rather than nurse’s uniform when shot, as
many of the paintings show.

After the war, her body was returned to England, where it was not buried in Westminster Abbey
but in Norwich Cathedral with great ceremony and, as far as the Church of England allows, she
was treated as a saint. She received many honours from France, Belgium and other countries
after her death, but only one official British medal. She had mountains named after in Canada
and New Zealand. As for the Prussian officer who felt it necessary to kill her for the sake of the
German war effort, he shot himself after the war.

May 2014

On 16th May, the society’s Annual General Meeting took place, followed by a film from the Great
Yarmouth Looking Back series, created by society member Martin Webber.

September 2014

An illustrated lecture was given by David Stannard, who was born in Norwich. He said that a
lifelong interest in geology had led him to a career in the oil industry, then Great Yarmouth
Economic Development Agency, and finally as a lecturer at Norwich City College. His subject
was the village of Eccles, near Happisburgh, or in its Latinized name: Eccles Juxta Mare.

To illustrate his theme, Mr. Stannard showed pictures of early maps of the Norfolk coast. The first
maps were pictorial, rather than actual representations of coastline. He then went on to describe
what historical and archaeological records had to say about sea levels and flooding caused by
sea surges. Major changes began at the end of the last ice age, some 15,000 to 12,000 years
ago, when dry land connecting Britain to Europe flooded to become the North Sea. This process
has been going on ever since to a great or lesser extent, with rises and falls in sea levels, and the
severity of storms.

Mr. Stannard showed various pictures of the church that stood in his home village of Eccles. It
was still standing on the beach at the beginning of the last century, when it was felled by a high
tide. He produced pictures showing that, although it was not in use, it was still upright amidst the
sand dunes for many years. Records show that much of the land there was lost to the sea.

The problem was to find when the church was abandoned and Mr. Stannard advised that his
research into wills had given a good clue as to when this was. Testators mostly expressed a
desire for their bodies to be buried in the churchyard at Eccles up to 1564. After that they
requested they be buried in the neighbouring village of Hempstead.

Mr. Stannard showed many pictures and produced facts about the relationship of the Norfolk
coast and the North Sea, and said that he had been involved in various archaeological
endeavours to find out about the village of Eccles since the 1990s. It would be untrue to describe
these as digs, because tides prevented all but the briefest examination of artefacts, however, he
felt there was a better understanding of the history of Eccles and the Norfolk Coast as a result of
recent investigations.
He was thanked by our President, Andrew Fakes, for a talk of great archaeological and historical
interest to people locally, pointing out that Norfolk’s North Sea coast was still a dynamic system.
The beach is building up at North Beach and around the piers at Great Yarmouth, but currently
eroding at Hemsby and Scratby. He quoted his late father, Mr. Arthur Fakes, who had spent a
great deal of his 83 years on Hemsby beach fishing and beach combing: The North Sea can
move more sand in one night than 50,000 lorries can do in a whole year.

October 2014

In a wide ranging talk on deserted villages, Ian Groves said the topic of his current Ph.D. thesis
should probably be described as Deserted Medieval Villages, as there are many settlements no
longer extant dating from the bronze age to the 20th century. However, the Domesday Book is a
good starting point, as this has a surprisingly comprehensive list of villages dating from 1086.
There are several other ecclesiastical and secular surveys that mention villages and hamlets,
which have ‘disappeared’.

Mr. Groves advised that the test for a deserted village was one where only three houses
remained. A survey made in 1977 stated that there were over 3,000 such settlements in Britain,
of which 200 were in Norfolk, but recent scholarship has challenged this figure, which is

It was popularly assumed that many of the deserted villages had been wiped out by the Black
Death of 1348 to 1349, but this was only a partial cause as, at its most virulent, it killed 70% of the
population, leaving survivors. Perhaps the major cause of medieval abandonment of villages was
climate change. England’s population had grown to around 4 million by the end of the 13th
century, and there were many settlements with farming activity on low quality agricultural land.
When the weather became colder and wetter, these villages and hamlets were unable to feed
themselves, resulting in malnutrition and starvation. The weakened population was susceptible to
disease. This was the cause of the abandonment of many villages on high land, particularly on
the heavy clays of central Norfolk. It proved impossible to plough, but the high quality loam of the
Fleggs and around Great Yarmouth was largely unaffected. However, Mr. Groves mentioned the
villages of Ashby, Oby and Herringby as greatly depleted, if not completely abandoned. It is
thought that only one Norfolk village, at Little Ringstead, was deserted as a direct result of the
Black Death.

A further cause of abandonment of a village happened when the landowner wished to improve his
estate and the population was moved, either to improve the view, or to gain income from sheep
rearing. This was not always as callous or cruel as it may have seemed, because the landowner
might have new houses built to replace the hovels previously occupied. An example of this was
in the villages of Old and New Houghton, when Sir Robert Walpole improved his estate.
However, the Fermours gained a bad reputation around Fakenham and showed little concern for
the displaced population, when they converted their estates to sheep farming.

Outlying hamlets were abandoned when people living there chose to move to be nearer the
centre of a village. Abandoned churches are not necessarily a sign of an abandoned village, as
many of these were built by wealthy patrons hoping to gain preferment in heaven, so there were
more churches in Norfolk than congregations could sustain.

The problem of drowned villages was discussed. The flooding of the broads at the end of the
13th century prevented farming there, but no whole villages seem to have been lost. Shipden,
near Cromer, is perhaps the best known example of a whole village swallowed up by the sea.
Little Waxham and Whitwell have also gone. Eccles suffered early in the 20th century, and
Happisburgh is eroding at present.

The villages around Thetford, requisitioned by the War Department for military training in 1942,
were abandoned with the promise that they would be returned to their previous occupants when
the war was over, but they are still under occupation today. Mr. Groves said that the army had
been a good custodian of the land and buildings as far as military training would allow. A recent
decline in population has been caused by the mechanization of farming. It is no longer necessary
to have armies of agricultural labour to run a farm. The vacated housing has been pulled down or
has been occupied by incomers, who may not be commercially active.

Ian Groves asked that people using current maps and sources such as Ordinance Survey and
Google Earth, who found evidence of abandoned settlements, should report them to the
Archaeological Unit at Gressenhall because it was still possible to make new discoveries.

November 2014

Mark Mitchels started by saying that, at the end of the Napoleonic Wars, Britain’s Royal Navy was
very pleased with itself as it had decisively beaten all opposition. The skill of its crews was then
available for keeping the seven seas safe for British trade, allowing the country to grow rich and,
to our credit, our ships helped prevent the African slave trade.

However, Mr. Mitchels’ talk strongly suggested that the hidebound pride of the Admiralty slowed
down necessary change for the Royal Navy over the coming century, preferring to fight the last

Steam-powered boats were in use as early as 1802, but these were seen as dirty and their smoke
gave away their position. The admirals loved their sailing vessels, which did not require frequent
stops for refuelling. Perhaps the fact that a fleet of British, French and Russian sailing ships
decisively beat a Turkish Fleet at the Battle of Navarino, in 1827, confirmed their prejudice.

The Opium Wars against China, between 1839 and 1841, may not have reflected well on Britain
but, as much of the fighting was done in the huge rivers of that country, small steam-powered
ships were able to inflict a total defeat on the Emperor’s fleet.

While the Admiralty was testing the efficacy of screw-driven ships against paddle-wheel power,
the French built the first modern steam-powered warship. This frightened the Admiralty into
building a steam-powered battle ship, the Duke of Wellington, in 1852.

The need for more skilled crews on Her Majesty’s ships led to the abolition of the press gang and
resulted in a proper contract of employment. Regular pay and pensions for sailors ensured they
could be released for shore leave without fear of them absconding. It was also felt that the rum
ration was not good for the efficient performance of crews, so this was reduced, and discipline by
flogging was eventually abolished. A more professional navy required proper training and naval
colleges were set up.

Ship and gun design altered, but the admirals were slow to learn to adopt new techniques,
resulting in accidents that killed sailors. The feeling that ships should be spick and span led to a
great deal of polishing, and captains were reluctant to allow their crews to have gunnery practice
as it dirtied the craft.

It was finally realized that the German Navy would be the next threat, the Royal Navy would have
to fight, and that the North Sea would be the theatre of operations. Therefore the colour of our
ships changed from blue and white, which was suitable for the Mediterranean, to grey, to match
the colour of our sea.

Torpedoes, submarines and the explosive shell all entered the equation of naval warfare and the
Royal Navy fell under the command of Sir John Fisher, who built a fleet of Dreadnought battle
ships, which provided a numerically stronger navy to fight the First World War, but it was a close
run thing.

(lecture summaries provided by Andrew Fakes).

One of the Society’s Roles

Society members may be interested to learn about the queries and requests that come through
the website. We are often in a position to help. As well as these requests, we have been
approached by Sky News, BBC East, Anglia Television, BBC Radio Norfolk, Heart Radio,
Mustard Television, Channel 4 and Channel 5. Below are a few of the requests received in the
last year, which may be of interest to members. The italics represent the society’s reply.

Would it be possible to interview Dr. Paul Davies at some point today ahead of the anniversary of
the Zeppelin raids on Monday? It would be pre-recorded today, for use in our bulletins on
Monday morning. Many thanks. Heart Radio.
Interview recorded.

I'm working on an article about the centenary of the 19th January 1915 Zeppelin raids on Norfolk.
I wondered if it might be possible to speak to Dr. Paul Davies briefly by phone this afternoon
(Friday). Thanks and best regards. Freelance journalist.
Twenty minute interview on the telephone.

I wonder if it is possible to access an article in the Yarmouth Archaeology booklet 1996. I would
be particularly interested in the article by Peter Allard concerning the Breydon wrecks. Thank you
very much in advance.
Responded with the information required.

I've recently been searching the web for old photos of Great Yarmouth to decorate my home here
in Iceland. I've found many I like, but unfortunately in too low a resolution or in the copyright of a
company that aren't offering what I need. Would you be able to point me in the direction of where
I could find high resolution scans of the images on your site or any other Great Yarmouth archive
that you know of? I’d be willing to pay a fair price as well.
Photos sent. Reply: you are a star.

I am the current President of Tas Valley Probus Club of Norwich. We hold our meetings at
Dunston Hall Hotel, Ipswich Road. Do you give talks on the subject of the leper house? Thanking
you in advance.
Suggested try the Norfolk and Norwich Archaeological Society, as there is a leper hospital
building remaining in Norwich.

From Adelaide, South Australia. I am seeking information on pilots at Gorleston/Great Yarmouth

in the 19th century. My GGGGF, Mark Newson, was, according to various baptism and marriage
records, a ships’ pilot. Mark was born in 1778 and seems to have died in the 1830s. An older
brother of Mark (Thomas Newson, 1774-1856) lived at Gorleston and in the 1851 census is
recorded as a ‘superannuated pilot’. Thomas’ eldest son (Robert Newson, 1798-1886) was born
at Gorleston and followed his father, Thomas, in becoming a ships’ pilot. The 1881 census
records Robert Newson as a ‘superannuated pilot’. My questions are: 1. Can you identify the
Harbour Authority that would have employed Thomas and Robert as ships’ pilots and provided
their superannuation? 2. Are records of this Harbour Authority’s activities and employees still
available today and, if so, who is the custodian of these records? (my assumption is that Mark
Newson was also employed by this Authority). Greatly appreciate any assistance/direction that
you can provide. Regards.

Responded to by Peter Allard. Always difficult these ones, but the authority would almost
certainly have been Trinity House. The pilotage is now with the Port Authority but, in those far off
days, all usually came under the Trinity umbrella and licensed by them. However, during the
1860s, I have seen some literature mentioning local breakaway unlicensed pilots being used and
forming their own company. This lasted only a few years and their firm ceased to exist a few
years later. Most of the Trinity House records in London were unfortunately destroyed during the
war and few records survive locally. There are none at Time and Tide and the only records of
local shipping are held at the Norfolk Record Office in Norwich. These are mostly of ships
themselves and not crew lists. The port authority during the period mentioned was called the
‘Yarmouth Haven and Pier Commissioners’, which then became the ‘Great Yarmouth Port and
Haven Commissioners’ and is now the ‘Great Yarmouth Port Authority’. Sorry to be of little use.

We have just set up a history group in Oxborough and have been fortunate enough to have
received a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. We would now like to set up our own website.
We were particularly impressed with your website; it is straightforward, easy to use and pleasing
to the eye. May we ask who developed the site for you? They seem to have done a good job
and we would like to consider using them for ours. Regards.
Responded: Wix is the website provider and our secretary, Patricia Day, entered the content.

I am currently writing an historical fiction about the first undercover policeman in London, William
Steward Popay, who was born in Yarmouth in 1792, married Mary Page, had six children, was
living in Ormesby St. Margaret at the birth of at least the two eldest children, and was employed
as a school teacher and coal meter. In 1831, he left Yarmouth for London and joined the
Metropolitan Police. I am trying to write about his early years and also trying to work out why he
would have moved to London in 1831 from Yarmouth. My research has thrown up an enquiry into
coal meters in 1830 by the corporation, and an adjustment of the income that could be made by
meters. I have also established that William was a drawing master by then, and working at a
church school in Lowestoft; also his wife was regularly admitted to what is described as ‘an
asylum’. His father, George, was a brickwork’s employee, or possibly a bricklayer and had died,
leaving his wife to run a pawn business; so I am guessing the family were in much reduced
circumstances and may have been seeking a move to better prospects. I was wondering if you
could point me in the direction of any documents that can provide an insight into living conditions
and other social history of that time that would have provided William Popay with the impetus to
move to London? I have also struggled to find any trace of him after his public disgrace in 1833,
although his mother was still in Yarmouth after that date running a pawnbroker business and
features as a witness in a theft in the public record. I am therefore working on the premise that he
moved either to Ireland, as suggested in William Cobbett’s writings of the Popay case in the
radical press of the time, or alternatively to one of the colonies. It is quite difficult to understand
the life of the ordinary person in Yarmouth at that time. I appreciate that Yarmouth was a wealthy
town, but I am guessing that Popay was in a lowly and poorly paid role as a school teacher and
coal meter, yet had education and was regarded as an upright character to have these positions.
Any information on the deadly life as a teacher or coal meter would be of enormous help to me.
All the best.
A request which is beyond our ability to respond to. A very large subject. Suggested continue to
search the archives.

We are advertising our workshop weekend about the ancient Maya, taking place at the Institute of
Archaeology in London. If you think that this event might be of interest to your community, we
would ask you to circulate the information about our event. Please find our digital flyer attached
and please let us know if you would like paper copies for distribution, which we can send via post.
Not circulated.

My name is Michael A. Crabtree and after many years living abroad in Africa, I now reside in
South Wales. What little I know of my father is that he was the son (or grandson) of W. F.
Crabtree, the founder of Crabtree and Co., Shipbuilders. My children are interested in knowing a
little about my antecedents. As I understand it, in 2009, one of your members, Peter Allard,
published a paper entitled Crabtree’s of Southtown (Part One 1983-1910). Is it possible to obtain
a copy of this paper? Is there likely to be a follow-up (e.g. Part Two)? Is it possible to contact the
author of the paper, Peter Allard, or for him to contact me? I look forward to your reply with keen
anticipation. Information sent.
I'm currently researching my Great Yarmouth roots and wonder if anyone could set me on the
right course for establishing my 4 x great grandfather’s date of birth. Given that many records of
St. Nicholas’ Church were lost in WWII, I believe that his master mariner’s certificate may well be
the alternative means of tracing his d.o.b. Is there a record centre for Yarmouth that could assist
in this matter? Regards.

Information sent.

I have recently moved to Great Yarmouth and am interested in joining your society. Please would
you be so kind as to let me know details of your next meeting, date, time, place, etc. and also the
yearly subscription? I heard about your Society from Len, who was our guide on the 31st
October, as he took us through the graveyard at the Minster. He thought I would be interested in
joining you.

Information sent.

I am trying to find out more information about the sailor, Samson Rowlie, from Great Yarmouth,
who in the late 1600s ended up captured, taken to Algeria, castrated and eventually ended up in
the Ottoman court. I heard about him through a book by William Dalrympole and would like to
base a series of artwork on him for an exhibition next year in the Great Yarmouth library. I was
just wondering if you or any of your members could help me find out more about this character?

No member had any information about the sailor.

In the 1960s, I was an apprentice at 244a Southtown Road; the buildings were reputed to have
been built to house horses and soldiers in the Napoleonic War. I remember an ammunition store
being knocked down and an old cannon stuck in the ground at the end of the now concreted
drive. Please could anyone tell me how I set about finding more information about the site?

Email circulated to members.

Just to introduce myself briefly, my name is Tom Furby and I’m one of the commissioning editors
for our local history list here at Amberley Publishing. We are currently looking for new or
experienced authors to contribute to our series of local history books. These include the basic ‘A
History Series’ (giving a chronology of events in the area, illustrated throughout with old postcards
and images), the ‘Decades Series’ (short illustrated histories focusing on the area in a particular
decade such as the 1960s or 1970s), the ‘Great War Series’ (examining the area during the Great
War, in tandem with the centenary), the ‘Secret Series’ (quirky, little known facts and history,
sometimes structured as a guided walk through the area), ‘From Old Photographs’ (a guided tour
of the area and its history in old photographs) and ‘The Postcard Collection’ (similar to the ‘From
Old Photographs’ series, but using entirely old postcards to tell the story of the area). If you or
anyone you know might be interested in producing these kinds of books with us (or if you have
any other projects in mind) please get in touch, or pass on my contact details, which can be found
below. Many thanks for your time and I look forward to hearing from you.

Circulated and responded by stating we usually self-publish.

I am contacting you from Arthur Jary & Sons Ltd., the funeral directors on Northgate Street. We
are currently getting photographs etc. from WWI and WWII together for our window displays
leading up to Remembrance Day. We have a copy of the newspaper cutting for the bombing
which took the life of Samuel Smith, for whom we carried out the funeral in 1915, and wondered if
it would be possible for you to email a picture of Mr. Smith to us for use in this window display.
We would be really grateful. Also, we have our ledgers going back to 1899, which record all the
funerals that we carried out through both wars. I would be more than happy to show them to you
at any time, if it is of interest. Many thanks.

Picture and further information sent. The Chairman visited Jary’s and copied the entries of those
killed in both World Wars.

I am researching for a book or article on crinkle-crankle walls. The late Norman Scarfe wrote that
Yarmouth and Gorleston had about 40 examples, but I have found no more details. I wonder
whether anyone has researched crinkles in your area? Many thanks.

Request for information circulated to members.

Re: The Broads; Understanding our Built Heritage; Waterside Chalets; Your Opinions Matter. I
am a third year student at the College of Estate Management at The University of Reading, and
employed by the Broads Authority. I am currently undertaking research for my final year
dissertation on the contribution traditional waterside chalets make to the character of the Broads
and undertaking similar research for my employer. Part of this research involves gathering
opinions on the subject matter and I would be extremely grateful if you could email back the
attached questionnaire.
Questionnaire completed.

I am doing some research into the Zeppelin bombings that happened in Great Yarmouth in 1915
for the WW1 centenary and I found your society on a BBC article from 2012. If you could reply
back with some contact details for somebody from GYLHAS who would potentially be willing to do
a television interview for Mustard TV about the matter, or could you give us some more
information that would be a great help. Kind Regards.

I am a geography student at the University of Sheffield and I am currently researching historical

tourism literature for my dissertation on changing representations of various seaside resorts. I
was wondering if you have either information on historical tourist information or could give me any
contacts on where I could find this kind of information? Thank you. Any help at all would be
greatly appreciated.

Suggested she contacts Colin Tooke for a copy of his book on Yarmouth as a Holiday Resort.

I’m a freelance writer currently putting together an article on the Great Yarmouth air raids in 1915
and wondered if anyone there can help me with the following: if anyone can reply with a comment
about how much of a shock/big impact this was for the town, that would be great and, how it is
still remembered today. It would also be wonderful if you have any photographs you are willing to
share, either of the victims or the unveiling of the plaque from 2012. Look forward to hearing from
you. I’m writing this today and tomorrow, so if possible would appreciate a quick reply.
Responded with information and pictures.

I will be attending on Saturday 23rd August for the Great Yarmouth Cemetery Tour and was
wondering if I could bring my partner along also. I am a member of the society, but he is not.
Would it be possible for him to accompany me and pay a fee or make a donation to the society if
necessary? Many Thanks.
Yes he is very welcome to attend.

In sorting through some paperwork of an aunt, I have found a book relating to H. M. S. Flora from
when she left Yarmouth. It is hand-written, with hand-drawn pictures and a list of men who lost
their lives. It is dated 18th January 1808. I wondered if you would be interested?

Yes, we would be very interested. The book duly arrived; a scan was taken of it and an article
was prepared for the journal. The book was donated to the Time and Tide Museum by the

I do not know if this is the right place to make a suggestion for a plaque, but has anyone ever
suggested putting a plaque up for a William Downes, who was an eminent surgeon in Great

Yarmouth in the latter part of the 18th century. He was well revered by his peers and he
practised for 40 years, marrying Mary Lucas, whose family were very prominent in the area and is
the Lucas in Lucas and Wyllys. They lived on the quay in the building just behind the town hall.
The reason I know so much about this gent is because his children are buried at Mautby Church
and, intrigued, I decided to find out about the parents. There is also a memorial plaque in Filby
Church to him.

After lengthy email correspondence, as the building concerned is now demolished and is a car
park next to Trafalgar House, the matter was dropped when the cost of the plaque was

The attached is a recent acquisition of mine. It's a cabinet size card and is of a Mayor of Great
Yarmouth. He is not illustrated in the Mayors’ section of the Yarmouth Independent Jubilee
Supplement of 1897, so I assume the photo was taken after this, probably around 1910.
Interesting that the Ayers studio was established in 1852, according to the embossing. An earlier
date than any trade directory evidence. I wonder if you know which Mayor of GY this is?

Committee members identified the photograph as Robert Nudd, the Mayor in 1905, who is buried
in the New Cemetery. An extract about Nudd from the book, Stories behind the Stones, was
sent. A reply was forthcoming: Thank you to all of you for your help. I guessed at 1910, so 1905
is not too far out. Cabinet cards were popular from 1890 to the early 1900s and were superseded
when the postcard format became the standard output of portrait studios. The Ayers studio was
started by Thomas Ayers, son of another Thomas Ayers, around 1852. He died in 1901 and the
business was then run by his son, Harry. I assume the photo of Alderman Nudd was taken,
during Harry’s reign as head of the business, by him or another member of the studio. The Ayers
studio seems to be one of the earliest in Great Yarmouth although other itinerants were trading in
the town before this, many of these from temporary or mobile studios. Ayers seems to be the first
with permanent premises.

I would be grateful if you would circulate information about part of the National Festival of
Archaeology 2014 on Saturday 19th July 10am-5pm and Sunday 20th July 1-5pm at Norwich
Castle Museum and Art Gallery on Roman Norfolk. Circulated to members.

I am making contact with you because I have been engaged in research for a historical novel
about Great Yarmouth in the late 1790s/early 1800s for the past couple of years. In brief, the
work will feature the lives of several of the prominent families in Great Yarmouth at that time.
Professor Roger Knight, who has written several books about the Napoleonic period and has
completed some detailed research on Great Yarmouth, mentioned that he had been in contact
with the Society back in 2010, I believe, and suggested a while ago that I should get in touch. As
you know, there is a wealth of rich resources available on this period and I am steadily working
my way through them. I would be very interested to talk to/correspond by email with someone in
the Society with an interest in this period about aspects of this research, if they possibly had
some time to spare? In any case, I am planning to come up to Great Yarmouth again in early
July and will hopefully be able to read through some of the relevant articles in the back copies of
the Society’s Journals in the Library.

Lengthy reply from Andrew Fakes.

I am currently doing research on the town's historical trade link with other countries. At the
current moment I know all about the trade between Yarmouth and Holland. I was wondering if
you knew anything about this topic that could help my research? I would be very grateful for your
help. Many thanks.

I'm afraid that I do not know anything about the trade between Holland and Yarmouth; it could be
a big subject; they have fishing in common; a lot of the Yarmouth fish went to the Mediterranean.
I suggest you study Palmer’s Perlustrations of Great Yarmouth 3 volumes, local newspapers for
sailings etc. These can be found in Great Yarmouth Library in the local studies sections.
Paul Robert Holland Rutledge M.A. 1st May 1937 - 13th March 2015
Andrew Fakes

Paul Rutledge was a modest and self-effacing

man and it has been difficult to find any facts
about him, but all who sought his assistance
said he was helpful and generous with his time
to people researching the archives, particularly
of Great Yarmouth.

Born in Colkirk, near Fakenham, Paul attended

the Grammar School in that town, going on to
National Service and Newcastle University.

He wrote A Guide to the Great Yarmouth

Borough Records, published by the Norfolk &
Norwich Record Office, which was used as
blueprint for many town archivists to catalogue
the records of their locality.

This is the only piece where I find Paul wrote of

himself. He says: Finally, in 1961, the full time
post of Borough Archivist was created and it was
held from 1961 to 1964 and from 1966 to 1969
by Paul Rutledge. By 1969, the available
accommodation at Great Yarmouth was full and
it was felt that this problem could be best solved,
and a greater range of services made available
to the records themselves and to their users, by
the integration of the Great Yarmouth Borough
Archives into the Norfolk and Norwich Record

This became the Norfolk Record Office after local government reorganization in 1974 and Paul
was appointed Assistant County Archivist under Miss Jean Kennedy.

Former Secretary of Great Yarmouth Archaeological Society, Colin Tooke, wrote as follows:

Paul was President of the society from 1984 to 1995 and wrote several articles for the Journal.
He was a scholar in the true sense, always tolerant of, and helpful to, the amateur researcher. As
part of his work at the Norfolk Records Office in the 1970s, Paul spent one afternoon each week
at the town hall indexing and caring for the town records. Anyone could arrange to visit him to
look at, or be advised on, the documents relating to Great Yarmouth.

During his time at the town hall, Paul studied the Great Yarmouth archives in great detail and
became the leading authority on the town's medieval history. He published articles on the early
development and layout of the town and the origin of the Rows as well as an index to all the
town's records. His knowledge of medieval Great Yarmouth was unrivalled and his research
uncovered many previously unknown details of the town's early history. The county has lost one
of its greatest archivists and he will be missed by all who knew him.

Paul Rutledge’s contribution to recording the history of Great Yarmouth in particular has been on
a scale similar to that of Manship, Palmer and Swinden, but he did not publish a large volume of
his own writings under his own name. I would respectfully suggest however that his work has
greatly benefitted our knowledge of local history by meticulous scholarship, cross referencing with
national records, and recent developments in historical research.

The Yarmouth Fish Wharf House and Office
Peter Allard

Although the Great Yarmouth fishing industry has been well documented over the years, the
history of most of the buildings connected with it has been largely ignored. One important
building that easily fits into this category was the Great Yarmouth Port and Haven
Commissioners’ Fish Wharf Master’s house and office. Situated just north of the number one
herring shed, and set further back from the river, it was alongside a large wooden salt store,
owned for many years by Norford Suffling. Close
by for many years was an old ice house,
constructed in the late 1860s, which cost £2,000.
The map reference for the Fish Wharf House and
Office was TG 524061. Immediately north of this
was the trawl market, erected during 1919, and
built on the site of the former Beeching's boat
building yard.

Work on the new Great Yarmouth fish wharf

commenced in April 1867, was completed during
January 1869, and opened for fish sales on 16th
February 1869. This new wharf was 2,251 feet in
length, and had one covered shed, which was 750
The Fish Wharf House in use, with the salt store feet in length. Offices were soon advertised to be
immediately to the north in March 1972 let, and a new quay wall was built here 22 years
later, in 1891. The Fish Wharf was considerably
extended in 1902, by 220 feet, and a new covered shed of 216 feet was erected the following
year, bringing the total to four sheds. Number one shed was at the north, with number four at the
south. One of them, the number three shed, was pulled down in 1920 and totally rebuilt, with
large offices above. This is the only one to remain, and is presently being used by oil related

The Port and Haven Commissioners’ Fish Wharf house and office was a largish building, built of
red brick with a grey tiled roof, and sporting two large chimneys. The main door faced westwards
towards the quay with a side door on the south
side, which was for the office section. The
corner bricks of the house were coloured white,
giving it a rather decorative look. There were
five windows at the front, three upstairs and two
downstairs, and the front door had a white
decorative arch above it. There were no
windows on the north side and only one down
on the south side, crossed with smaller panes of
glass, more characteristic of an office window.
The appearance of the east side is unknown.
Although the internal office area was also
unknown, the building was large enough to
accommodate two families. Another Port and
The Fish Wharf House on 17th November 1982
Haven Commissioners’ combined house and
before demolition
office was on Gorleston quayside between the
lighthouse and what was the old Storm House
cafe (now renamed the Key Largo cafe).

It can be reasonably presumed that the house and office were built as part of the Fish Wharf
development in 1867-69. The adjacent Fish Wharf Refreshment Rooms (latterly The Dolphin)
were built during this same development period. The Norwich Mercury notes that on 16th August
1873, a Mr. H. Jay was elected to be the new Fish Wharf Master upon the resignation of a Mr. W.
Capon. Both of these people would have lived in the house. The house and office are clearly
depicted on the first large scale OS map of 1884. In 1886, the Fish Wharf Master was a George
Henry Jay, maybe the same individual as elected in 1873. George continued as the Fish Wharf
Master until at least 1901 but, by 1904, had been replaced by John Henry Smith. John was
employed as the Wharf Master until at least 1924 with a R. W. Barnes and a George H. Spinks as
the fish inspector and dues collector, and listed at the same address in 1914 and 1924

By 1927, a William Farman had become the new Fish Wharf Master, although his term of office
lasted only a few years and, by 1930, an Ernest Combes had taken over these duties. By 1934,
the Port and Haven dues office had moved to the adjacent number one shed, whilst Ernest
Combes now appeared to be the only occupant of the Fish Wharf house. After World War II, the
Port and Haven fish inspectors and dues office had moved even further south into the number 4
shed, whilst Ernest Combes remained as the occupier of the Fish Wharf Master’s house. He
continued to be listed as occupier of the house until at least 1963. Later Kelly's Directories, until
the last edition in 1973, list the building as the Wharf Master's Office, but with no name or
occupier mentioned. It is known that various Port and Haven Commissioners’ staff certainly
continued to live in this building until at least the mid-1970s, although their names appear to be

With the Great Yarmouth herring fishing industry finished by the late-1960s, the building became
surplus to requirements in the port. When Norfolk Line needed to expand its roll-on roll-off
operations during the late 1970s, this Anglo-Dutch company managed to purchase most of the
land and buildings at the north end of the old Fish Wharf. The numbers one and two herring
market sheds, along with the adjacent trawl market sheds, were soon demolished during July and
August 1979. Rather surprisingly, the Fish Wharf House and Office remained until mid-February
1983. Demolition was swift however, and within a week or so, no trace of the building was left.
Its long term neighbour, the adjacent salt store to the north, had been demolished earlier, during

Two views of the Fish Wharf House being demolished on 24th February 1983

Today, very little remains of the original Fish Wharf buildings, and only the old Fish Wharf
Refreshment Rooms (latterly The Dolphin, now empty and in a sorry state), and the much
changed number three herring shed, are scant reminders of the once very important industry that
this town was so famous for.


Kelly's Directories, various editions from 1912 to 1973

East Norfolk Annual, 1895 edition, John Buckle
Great Yarmouth Annual, 1899, 1901, 1904, 1912, 1913, 1914 editions, John Buckle
Parry Watson, former port worker, verbal information
John McBride, for help and advice and for photographs of the demolition
The East Quay Herring Sample and Sale Ring Building
Peter Allard

This unusual building, often referred to as the Round House or Rotunda (a common name for a
domed, round building), was built as a herring sample and sale ring in or around 1912. The exact
year remains unknown, but research into this continues. Although not marked on the 1904 OS
map, it appeared on the later 1926 edition.

The Round House in 1966 showing the west side with entrance

It stood alongside South Denes Road at East Quay, close to the river. It was just south of the
Lower Ferry and immediately west of Bloomfield Road, the exact map reference for the building
being TG 526054. Although small, it was an impressive structure and stood alone here for many
years. However, its intended use was short-lived and, certainly by 1914, it had ceased as a
herring sample market and sale room. The 1914 Great Yarmouth Annual booklet, published by
John Buckle of Theatre Plain, mentions that: this building, the late sample market, was now being
used as offices. Fishing companies that had already moved into the building included T. Archer
Junior, Sutherland and Farquhar, Duncan and Jamieson, Meff Brothers and Thomas and Murray.
Interestingly, a bank, the London Joint Stock Bank Limited, had also moved in.

A similar slightly larger building, but of octagonal design, was built at Southwold in 1907 for the
same purpose. This was used during the autumn herring season as more Scottish herring drifters
came to use the port. It was affectionately known there as the kipperdrome. However, World
War I interfered with fishing all along the east coast and, after the war, the kipperdrome became
redundant due to Southwold’s harbour becoming unsuitable. Unlike the Great Yarmouth building,
it was demolished sometime during the 1920s or early 1930s.

The Great Yarmouth building was unusual in design, being completely circular and built of brick,
with 12 pillars and 10 large windows, above which was a complete circle of smaller windows. The
building was capped by a large, domed, lead roof, above which was a very much smaller, domed
lead cap together with ventilation slats. The large entrance door faced the river, as would have
been expected.

As the fishing industry declined, the
Round House was found very useful for
other purposes. The Yarmouth Mercury
commented in March 1967 that: few
buildings in the town had been put to a
greater variety of uses as the Round
House. Also well-known as the
Rotunda, it was owned by the Great
Yarmouth Port and Haven
Commissioners. Its use over the years
included a women's lavatory (mainly for
the Scottish fisher girls in the autumn),
an electrical equipment store, a grocer's
store supplying ships and, lastly, as a
sheet metal workshop. During World
An aerial view of the Round House on East Quay in 1966 War II, it was also used as a naval
prison (referred to as a military glass-
house), with the building itself forming part of the barrier guarding the South Denes Naval Base.
The last firm to use it was called the Round House Sheet Metal Company, who vacated it
sometime during 1966 and then temporarily moved into premises in Main Cross Road. This firm,
originally started by several employees of Yarmouth Stores Ltd. of South Quay, soon relocated
from Great Yarmouth to Lowestoft. Interestingly, this local engineering firm still retains the Round
House name to this day, a legacy of the old building itself.

The building was a very familiar landmark on the East Quay and easily viewable by workers using
the Lower Ferry, and from the Gorleston side of the river. Sadly, its demolition was announced
on 31st March 1967. The process of demolition commenced quickly and a photograph showing
the remaining steel framework appeared in the pages of the Yarmouth Mercury on 17th April.

The Great Yarmouth Port

and Haven Commissioners
had leased this important
riverside site to the Great
Yarmouth Warehousing
Company Limited, a
subsidiary of local firm W.
H. Bunn. This largely open
quayside area was soon
transformed with buildings
and units to serve the
rapidly expanding oil and
gas industry. By the first
week of May 1967, virtually
no trace of the Round
House remained; one of
the most unusual buildings
connected the vast herring
industry at Great Yarmouth
had gone forever. Only the steel framework remains in mid-April 1967


Yarmouth Mercury, various editions 1966, March and April 1967

Great Yarmouth Annual, 1914 edition, published by John Buckle
Colin Tooke, various information, received 2014
Alan Lawrie, information received concerning the Round House Sheet Metal Company
The British Herring Industry, The Steam Drifter Years 1900-1960, Christopher Unsworth (2013)
The Vicar and the Beach Photographer
Paul Godfrey

At the turn of the twentieth century, during the summer months, Great Yarmouth beach would
have been a hive of activity. Changes in the laws governing employment and revolutions in
transport meant that the once genteel seaside towns, where those that could afford it would take
the waters for health reasons, gave way to being the playgrounds of the masses. The beach at
Great Yarmouth was full of people taking the air, sitting on the beach, paddling or bathing in the
sea and digging in the sand. Numerous traders set up shop on the beach selling their wares.
These included musicians, flower sellers, conjurers, shrimp stalls and photographers.

The beach photographer had to seize the moment, and speed in the production of the
photographic souvenir was of great importance. The early while-you-wait beach photographer
would have had a handcart and all darkroom operations would have been carried out within the
cart. Early photographic processes were wet-plate systems. A plate had to be sensitised,
exposed and processed while still wet. Allowing the plate to dry before being exposed and
processed would result in a loss of sensitivity to light.

The wet-plate process was

used by beach photographers
in two main forms. One was
the collodion positive where
the customer would be
presented with a small positive
image on glass, often in a
cheap gilt frame. The other
process was the ferrotype,
sometimes referred to as a
tintype where, instead of glass,
the image was on a small
blackened iron plate, again
often presented in a cheap gilt

These souvenirs of a day at

the seaside were produced in
just a few minutes while the
sitter waited for the
photographer to process the
plate in his handcart darkroom

A wet-plate beach photographer on Great Yarmouth sands

Once processed, the plate would get a rinse in dirty water
and be dried with the aid of a
spirit lamp. While it was
possible to make paper prints, this required an additional skill that was difficult to achieve with a
while-you-wait process on a beach. However, eventually, the paper print in postcard format did
become the standard output of beach photographer, but this is another story.

Improvements in the technology of photographic processes produced the dry-plate. This meant
that plates could now be commercially manufactured and this was soon adapted for the ferrotype.
While many of the traditional beach photographers continued using the old wet-plate system, a
new type of photographer with a new type of camera began to appear on the beaches. These
cameras did not need the assistance of a handcart darkroom facility, and all processes were
carried out within the tripod mounted camera.

In 1901, Herbert Hickox was residing in Great
Yarmouth and trading as a ferrotype while-you-wait
photographer on Great Yarmouth sands. Hickox had
embraced the new ferrotype dry-plate technology and
had invented an apparatus, where all processes were
carried out inside the camera. Hickox's presence on
Great Yarmouth Beach and his camera must have
come to the attention of the maverick Vicar of
Southtown and Gorleston, the Reverend Forbes
Philips. A GB patent for the camera was filed on 14th
March 1901, naming Hickox and Philips as the joint
inventors. Titled Improvements in Photographic
Cameras, the application was filed by Herbert Edward
Hickox of number 13, Row 136, South Quay, Great
Yarmouth and Forbes Alexander Phillips of the
Vicarage, Gorleston. The patent document goes on to
describe a camera of much simpler construction than
other dry-plate ferrotype cameras, with built-in
Much has been written about the Reverend Forbes Herbert Hickox
Philips. He could not be described as a stereotypical Photograph from the collection of
Church of England minister. Also a playwright and Eileen Wilden and Gill King
author, he was never far away from controversy due to
his unorthodox views and outrageous behaviour. He
loved drama and the stage and would on occasions bring actresses and singers into his evening
services that filled his church to capacity. What the Reverend Forbes Phillips' motives were to
become involved with Mr. Hickox are open to conjecture. Was he looking for an investment for
the monies he made from his literary ventures, or was he trying to help a fellow non-local climb
the ladder of success? We will probably never know.
Born at Richmond, Surrey in 1866, Herbert Hickox was
the son of George Hickox, a dining room keeper and Ann
Barnett. The 1881 census shows Herbert, aged 14,
employed as a draper's assistant. He married Clara
Inman Linzee in 1887, and by 1891 he was living in
Croydon, employed as a billiard marker. The 1901
census records him living at 13, Row 136, Great
Yarmouth working as a photographer on his own account
along with his wife Clara, son Herbert, aged 11, and
daughter Constance, aged 6. The following year, 1902,
while still living in Great Yarmouth, another son, Edward
Philip, was born, on the 17th May.

A United States patent filed in October 1901 describes an

identical camera naming Hickox as the sole inventor, with
no mention of Forbes Philips. The filing of this US patent
Quta ferrotype camera. proved to be a shrewd move as, in 1903, Hickox was a
The top section was hinged to take a passenger on St. Louis heading for New York. He seems
view-way photograph. to have come to a business arrangement with the Quta
Photograph © Rob Niederman Camera and Plate Co, of 88 Cypress Avenue, New York,
as, by 1904, they were manufacturing and marketing the
camera as the Quta Photo Machine. Described by the company in the sales leaflet as: A
Photographic Marvel, The QUTA Positive Ferrotype Camera is a practical machine, not the
fanciful idea of a mere theorist. Its inventor was for years an operator at seaside resorts and fairs
at home and abroad; anywhere in fact he saw a profitable pitch. By long experience he learned
just what was required in order to produce the finished picture 'on the spot' and enable him to
'follow the crowds' instead of waiting for them to come to him.
The leaflet continues to make claims about the camera
taking, developing and fixing in under 60 seconds, and that it
will take upright and view-way pictures. Model A was
available in selected Spanish mahogany, French polished
plated brass fittings, a lens of special construction with a
specially designed focusing movement, automatic shutter,
German silver baths and carrying box for $40. Or Model B in
Honduras mahogany, an excellent portrait lens, flap shutter
and a carrying box for $25. In addition, for an extra $2, a
special stay tripod could be added. A drying lamp that could
be attached to the tripod was also offered for a further $1.75.
In addition, Quta ferrotype dry-plates were available in
magazines of 36 for 80 cents, fancy mounts for $1.50 per
100, special developing powders for 25 cents and a The rear of a Quta showing the later
sandglass to time the development for 50 cents; everything single combined developer and fixer
an itinerant photographer needed to produce while-you-wait tank. This model variation does not
ferrotypes. incorporate the view-way hinge.
The pictures produced were quite small, measuring 2½" x 2"
but, once placed in a fancy mount that was a similar size to
the earlier carte de visite mount, they looked saleable and despite only being rinsed in water for a
short period, these pictures still survive today in many family photograph collections. Today these
photographs seem rather dull and lacking in tonal quality, but at the turn of the 20th century would
have been well received by the masses, who would have been delighted to have a faithful
likeness as their souvenir of a day at the seaside.

The poor image quality was not the only

shortcoming of the process. The finished mounted
ferrotype was the only copy of the image. No
printing processes were involved so duplication
was not possible. If the customer required more
than one picture, a corresponding number of
photographs needed to be taken. Also, a ferrotype
was usually a mirror image, i.e. the left and right
were transposed. This did not matter that much,
but if any signage was in shot the lettering would
come out back to front. Some ferrotype operators
used a prism in front of the camera lens to
overcome this problem but, in general, few
photographers bothered and the Quta camera was
not offered with this accessory.

Once the subject had been enticed to have a

faithful likeness taken, they would have sat in front
of the camera. The photographic artist would have
framed the subject and focused the camera with
the aid of a yellow tinted ground glass screen on
the rear of the camera. The plates were pre-
loaded into the camera in magazines of 36 and
one would be brought into place by sliding the
back. The sitter would be encouraged to keep still
while the exposure was made of between one and
five seconds.

Following exposure, a spring catch was actuated

Forbes Philips and his daughters that caused the plate to drop into a tank containing
the processing chemistry, which on some versions
of the camera was a single tank of a combined developer and fixer. On other versions of the
Quta there were two tanks with a separate developer and fixer. After a brief rinse in a bucket of
water the plate would be dried, then pasted into a small window mount with small piece of glued
paper to hold the plate in place, and then presented to the customer.

On the 5th August 1904, now living at 297 Haydon's Road, Wimbledon, Hickox filed another
patent for another ferrotype camera. This camera took a one inch circular button photograph and
this format was very popular at the time. A United States patent for the same device was filed on
24th August 1905. The camera was of all metal construction, marketed as the Taquta, and was
distributed in the UK by the photographic wholesaler Jonathan Fallowfield, who also sold the Quta
as the Fallowfield Popular ferrotype camera.

While Hickox was not a Great Yarmouth man and, from records, his stay in the town was only a
short one, his invention of the camera and the collaboration with Forbes Philips are noteworthy
pieces of Great Yarmouth and photographic history. His cameras revolutionised the working lives
of itinerant photographers on both sides of the Atlantic. His death was registered at Kingston,
Surrey in 1929.

The ferrotype while-you-wait dry plate photographer had pretty well disappeared from the
beaches of the British seaside by the late 1940s.

Advertisements from 1910 for the Fallowfield Popular and the Taquta Button Cameras

The author would like to thank Terry Wilden, Rob Niederman, Clare Everitt of Picture Norfolk and for their help.

A 1905 advertisement for the Quta Camera from the US Photo Era magazine


Coe, Brian, Cameras, From Daguerreotypes to Instant Pictures

ISBN-13: 978-9174420319
Linkman, Audrey, Cheap Tin Trade: The Ferrotype Portrait In Victorian Britain, Photographica
World, June 1994.
Colin Harding Photographs While-You-Wait, Photographica World, June 1994.
Ecclestone, A.W., Gorleston

A 1930s Seaside 2 ½ “ x 2” ferrotype in a A post-WW2 comic ferrotype showing the mirror
Jonathon Fallowfield card window mount image shortcoming of the process

A wet collodion seaside ferrotype 1920s ferrotype, believed to have been taken on
in a cheap gilt frame Lowestoft South Beach
Notes on the Association Between Great Yarmouth and The Battle of Sluys
J. F. Lambert


These notes are an abridged version of a 20,000 word document from which details, references,
opinions and qualifications have been omitted. They include no original research and are mostly a
compilation of facts taken from a variety of secondary sources, especially Cushway, Sumption
and Lambert, which have been used fully.

Following Dr. Alban, ‘Perbroun’ has been chosen as the preferred spelling for that name.


A chance observation of an inconsistency in accounts of the Battle of Sluys (1340) prompted an

enquiry into the veracity of a widely held belief that John Perbroun, a prominent citizen of Great
Yarmouth, had there command of a fleet. As the enquiry progressed it became clear that other
statements about Great Yarmouth’s contribution to the battle, and supposed consequences of the
battle for the town, were questionable.

These notes conclude that Perbroun never had any command at the battle and that the
contribution of the town, in the sense of the town within the walls, Yarmouth proper, was less than
commonly portrayed.

The part played by Sluys in Great Yarmouth’s history has been carelessly reported and such
‘worthy deeds performed by this township are buried in the grave of oblivion’. One day, a real
historian may write a fully researched account of the battle and the role of Great Yarmouth in it,
and give it due prominence in the town’s historical narrative.

The Battle

The Battle of Sluys (24th June 1340) was fought between an English invasion fleet and a French
fleet that had assembled at the mouth of an estuary, now dry land, off-shore from the Flemish
town of Sluys. The object of the French fleet was to prevent an invasion by Edward III, whose
purpose was to wrest the French crown from Philip VI.

The English Fleet had three components, the North Fleet comprising about 50 ships from North
of the Thames Estuary to Berwick, the Western fleet with ships from South and West of the
Thames Estuary and the King’s Fleet of about 40 ships.

Estimates of the size of the total fleet vary between 120 and 320, but the most authoritative figure
is about 200 ships and this figure will be used because percentages will be easier to calculate.

The French fleet, including galleys, is variously estimated to have been 200 ships with extreme
values of 190 and 400 quoted.

After 12 hours fighting, the French fleet was annihilated. To account for that Regan emphasises
the refusal by the Constable of France to follow the advice of his admirals to fight in the open sea
where they would have had more manoeuvrability; instead he insisted that the ships should be
tied together to form an ‘impassable’ wall. But some cunning tactics devised by Sir Robert
Morley, a Norfolk knight with connections to Yarmouth, and the king’s resolve are also said to
have contributed to the English victory. The greater rate of fire of the long bow compared with the
crossbow was a big factor in the English victory though the influence of men at arms should not
be understated in a fight said to have been chiefly about boarding and slashing.

The French lost all their ships except for a few galleys that escaped, and an estimated 10,000 to
18,000 men. Manship reports the loss of 440 men in one French ship alone. French losses as
high as 30,000 men, and even 100,000 men, seem implausible given the size of ships in those
days. Edward lost two ships though lower and higher figures are quoted.

Campbell admits to 4,000 Englishmen slain, rather high if only two ships were lost.

The Flemings are reported to have played a critical part in the battle. Perhaps any Flemish
contribution has been conveniently forgotten (reminiscent of Blucher at Waterloo?). If it were true
the achievements of the English fleet and the ‘Yarmouth squadron’ might be diminished.

As a consequence of his victory Edward was able to proceed with his invasion of North-East
France and the Low Countries after which, although he had achieved no conclusive land victory,
he had himself crowned at Ghent in order, as king of France, to establish his right to Flemish
support, and in achieving this made himself almost bankrupt.

Fleet Commanders

The real mystery is why anyone should ever have believed that Perbroun had a command of any
kind at Sluys.

Claims that Perbroun Commanded the Fleet at Sluys

The strongest claim comes from the elusive Richmond. He devotes a whole chapter to Perbroun
as supreme commander and victor at Sluys, England’s first great admiral and the Nelson of the
Middle Ages, who by his skill won the first great victory in the annals of England, for which he was
raised to the rank of admiral, which he would have been already had he been in command.
Richmond’s motives for this claim are unknown; perhaps he was in the pay of an office for the
promotion of the town.

This opinion has also been expressed in a letter from a member of the GYLHAS and according to
its website it is the opinion of the Norfolk Record Office.

But no one apart from local historians has proposed that Perbroun was commander of the fleet or
even had a role of any kind during the battle. Not one recent naval history mentions him and
neither do any outside websites visited by the author.

Perbroun was certainly Admiral of the North on and off for many years. He had served as
Admiral and Captain of the King’s Fleet in the Scottish wars including as commander of a fleet
delivering supplies to Scotland, mostly wine: he was a wine merchant.

Had Perbroun been an admiral in 1340 it is remarkable, given the many recorded appointments of
Perbroun to Admiral of the North on various occasions as far back as the reign of Edward II and
after 1340, that there is no reference to his appointment as admiral in 1340.

The Real Commander of the Fleet

Naturally the king had sole command of the fleet and took the major decisions. Edward over-
ruled his advisors, who had advised against proceeding with the expedition in the first place. He
rejected as too rash advice to attack immediately and it was he and his marshals who determined
the organization of the fleet before the battle. The admirals were subordinate to the king. Of local
authors, only Mr. Fiske mentions this.

However, Edward may have delegated command of the fleet to Sir Robert Morley, the second
baron of Reydon, near Diss, for the duration of the battle. Morley was an exceptional figure to
whom the delegation of command would come as no surprise. For this service Morley was
awarded £1,100 and various offices and he was retained longer than any other admiral. Lambert
however thinks the £1,100 may have been awarded for other services and that Morley’s reward
for his role in the battle was no more than the grant of venison for life.
Claims that Perbroun Commanded the North Fleet

The belief that Perbroun commanded the North Fleet seems to have had its origins in Damet’s
quote that Sir (sic) John Perebrown was Admiral of the North Navy and did there (at Sluys) great
service and the ships of the town were commended above all others. But there are so many
reports to the contrary, even in Palmer’s appendix to that book, that the claim is impossible to

Traditionally there were always two admirals in charge of a fleet. Sir Walter Maurny (aka Manny)
was also an admiral at Sluys, which leaves no room for Perbroun as an executive admiral.
Manny was a fighting admiral, who had earlier commanded at Cadsand and who later
distinguished himself in France with Edward and the Black Prince.

The Role of Sir Robert Morley at Sluys and the Source of Confusion About Perbroun’s Role

Robert Morley, custodian of the town immediately before the battle, was in command of the North
Fleet as acknowledged by Palmer in his notes to Damet and Manship. He was at the head of the
fleet during the charge to become the first to engage the enemy. All opinion from outside
Yarmouth puts Morley in command of the North Fleet.

The idea that Perbroun was in command seems to have its origin in Damet and Palmer whose
accounts are contradictory. The most striking contradiction occurs in Perlustration (Vol. 1), where
he writes on page 202 that Perebrown (sic) was Admiral of the North at Sluys, but in a footnote to
the facing page he asserts that Sir Robert was in command. Such a contradiction is remarkable
and one can only wonder how it was overlooked.

So there are two opinions about who was second in command to the king at Sluys or in command
of the Northern Fleet. Local lore, for an unknown reason, proposes Perbroun but the opinions of
modern scholars favour Sir Robert. That Morley was preferred to Perbroun, if ever Perbroun was
in contention, can be explained by their relative experience, social status and age.

Sir Robert, a knight who has been described as forceful, a nobleman and a member of the king’s
circle, would have been the natural choice. He was a famous warrior, who had distinguished
himself in jousts, in land battle, including Halidon Hill and in various naval engagements where he
benefited from the guidance of John Crabbe, pirate and experienced master mariner. Morley had
commanded a war-fleet and owned his own ships. As a ‘master’, he had led a trading expedition
to Bordeaux. His seamanship would not have been in question.

Perbroun, as a ship owner and maritime merchant, also had much experience of maritime affairs
and some command in the Scottish wars. He was a favourite of Edward II, who was allowed to
enjoy the company of sailors on his ships and entrusted with the security of Isabella. But unlike
Morley, he seems to have had little experience of land warfare or battle at sea other than sneaky
piratical raids on, for example, the Cinque Ports when, if he was a typical Yarmouth pirate of the
time, he would not have been averse to the casual murder of a few portsmen (men of the Cinque
Ports). His command in the Scottish wars seems mainly to have been assisting with supply.
When Perbroun is described as a natural choice for admiral it is on account of his administrative
experiences. The unknown author of The Man Behind the Masque speaks highly of Perbroun,
but as a career administrator, not as a battle commander, though even he promotes the idea that
Perbroun was captain at Sluys.

Social status is likely to have been a second reason why Perbroun was overlooked. He was of
the merchant class and of relatively low social rank, as were the rest of the early admirals, and an
unlikely commander of such a major battle fleet. During Edward II’s reign he had been passed
over for command in place of the inefficient Admiral Sturmey because he was not a knight.
Cushway believes he may have been passed over by Edward III for that reason. Ageism may
have been a third reason why Perbroun was ‘passed over’. He was convicted of piracy in 1315
and had been in ‘royal service’ since then so, by 1340, he could have been in his fifties and
possibly quite frail as he died in about 1343. But Morley was said to be a little old for an admiral’s
active command in 1339 when he was only in his late thirties (one website says he was born in
about 1295, which would make him about 45 at the time of the battle). He was certainly older
than 38, since his father died in 1302 (Palmer says he died in 1415, referring possibly to another

English admirals, initially at least, served as administrators whose function was the mustering of
impressed ships and men, their assembly, embarkation and preparation for war. Unless that
policy had changed, and given the contrast between such disparate skills as battle worthiness
and logistical skills, it would be no surprise to find that Perbroun played no active part at Sluys.

There is no evidence that Perbroun was even present at the battle though that is not impossible
since he owned many of the wine cogs engaged in the battle.

Perbroun, described by Lambert as a shipping magnate, may however have had an important
role to play before the battle. To commandeer a fleet and man it with impressed sailors was a
considerable administrative achievement. Here Perbroun, as a merchant with a clerical cadre at
his disposal, would almost certainly have played his part as a logistician when the administrator
was becoming as important as the warrior.

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography reinforces some of the points raised so far.
Perbroun gets no credit for Sluys and no mention of having been knighted. Morley, described as
an ace of barons, was in contrast an aristocrat with a martial background.

It seems clear that in any competition between Perbroun and Morley for command at Sluys,
Perbroun would always be an ‘also ran’.

Perbroun is celebrated in Perebrown Avenue, but stories of Perbroun having a command at Sluys
can be dismissed as part of the town’s folklore. Morley has been given no such memorial though
he is mentioned in a 14th century poem of the battle by the unknown Laurence Minot, who may
have been a Norfolk man.

Yarmouth’s Contribution to the Battle - Ships

The object of this section is to estimate the number of ships from Yarmouth proper at the battle
and to describe their type. Some, including Richmond and a GYLHAS journal, state that
Yarmouth manned most of the ships at Sluys. This section concludes that such a claim is

The Constitution of the North Fleet

The estimates of Palmer and others that about 50 ships left Yarmouth for Sluys has not been
questioned. But one must subtract from that number those ships that came from other ports in
the Northern command.

The fleet included one ship from Hull, two, possibly ten, ships from Lynn and one from Gosforth.
That would have left about a maximum of say 40 ships from Yarmouth. For the period 1320 to
1360 Lambert names 92 ports and eight unidentified ports that had contributed to the North Fleet,
including Cley, Cromer, Finnes(?), Holme, Little Yarmouth, Nottingham and Lowestoft. Any of
these may have sent ships as part of the North Fleet to Sluys.

At Calais, in 1347, Yarmouth provided 25 ships. This was a mere 20% of the whole fleet,
comprising ships from Newcastle 18, Hull 16, Lynn 20, Ipswich 12, Harwich 14 and Dunwich 17.
If that percentage applied to Sluys, Yarmouth ships in a fleet of 50 could well have been fewer
than ten.

Ships from the Maritime Lands

One must also subtract the number of ships from the ‘maritime lands’, the coastal zones North
and South of Yarmouth from where ships were commandeered and men impressed, and for
which the requisition order for ships and men was made on 6th March 1340. They extended
about 6 miles inland from at least as far North as Blakeney and South as far as Dunwich or
Easton (Bavents).

Brondt writes that in the 14th century most of the ships in the North Fleet were from Yarmouth
which frequently provided 30 - 40 ships for naval service. But he insinuates that some of them
were from neighbouring ports which were subsumed in the totals for Yarmouth. From this one
may conclude that ships from Yarmouth proper would be fewer even than 40.

The Number of Ships from Yarmouth Within the Walls

Three authors have quoted figures for the number of ships which Yarmouth contributed to Sluys.

Between May and June 1340, Yarmouth provided 27 ships intended for supply but then included
within the battle fleet (Lambert).

In 1340, the town’s merchants lost the service of 30 ships, presumably because they had been
commandeered for Sluys (Cushway). The statement is quite unequivocal since the ships
belonged to Yarmouth merchants.

Named Yarmouth merchants provisioned 30 ships for 40 days after the 19th May 1340. One may
assume that these were intended for Sluys (Saul).

This figure of about 30 ships from Yarmouth will be accepted as the number of ships from
Yarmouth proper, while recognizing that some may have been from elsewhere within the
Northern Command.

From this one may conclude that Yarmouth proper did certainly not win the battle on its own and
in reality may have provided no more than about 30, probably fewer, of the 50 ships that
assembled at Yarmouth. That is less than 15% of the English fleet if one takes the total fleet size
to be 200 ships.

Types of Ships

Ships in the English Fleet at Sluys included cogs, spinaces (pinnaces), busses and barges.

Only cogs are known to have been provided by Yarmouth. These, belonging to Perbroun and
Drayton, were important because of their large capacity designed for transporting wine tuns. Size
was important in naval warfare because high prows, afts, sides and masts with fighting platforms
enabled plunging fire, and because they could easily be adapted for war by building ‘castles’.
Their high sides made boarding difficult. Since Perbroun owned some of the cogs, he could well
have been aboard one of them at the battle.

As a fishing port, one presumes Yarmouth contributed busses. Fishing boats generally were
exempt from impressment because they were too small for battle, because fishing was too
important to the economy to disrupt, and because fish was considered an essential part of the
diet on Fridays and feast days. Half the fleet that assembled for Sluys was listed as fishing boats
or pilot boats and allowed to leave the assembly area. Those fishing boats present at Sluys
performed as fast scouts.

Between 1338 and 1347, the town had no less than 90 ‘great ships’ of which some may have
been at Sluys, but not all because any one ship was not commandeered every time so that
owners would not make too big a sacrifice. One of them may have been the Bethelmeu
commanded by Richard Bet. At the time of the battle, some were likely to have been

During the period of the battle Yarmouth is known to have had two 300 tunners, La
Allderhallbencog, with guns, and La Cesilie. In 1338, Yarmouth gave 15 huge ships of over 200
tuns to the Antwerp expedition, including La Michel and La Garland. Any of these may have
served at Sluys. However these ‘giants’ were on account of their size, not so nimble, and any
advantage of size may have been balanced by their lack of manoeuvrability.

Yarmouth’s Contribution to the Battle – Men

Manning figures for ships at Sluys are unknown because either payrolls for Sluys are missing or
because payment with prize money was intended after the battle. Nevertheless, Saul has
suggested 1,510 mariners in 30 ships and Lambert 1,335 men in 27 ships, (these estimates will
be referred to as the ‘L/S’ figures), giving averages of 40 - 50 men per ship. At the outset, it
should be emphasised that not all of these men would have been from Yarmouth proper. An
unknown number would have been impressed sailors from outside Yarmouth or specialist
warriors from outside the town.

One could accept those figures, but it is interesting to delve more deeply into their feasibility. This
leads to considerations of the structure of the muster roll, the numbers of men at other
engagements, the population structure of the town, the number and capacities of ships and the
distribution of ships by size.

The Structure of the Muster Roll

Uncertainties arise when a ship’s complement is described as ‘mariners’. One can assume that
most of the sailors came from the town where the ship registered. That cannot necessarily be
said of ‘mariners’ who may have included knights, archers, men-at-arms and a small number of
non-combatants, such as trumpeters, of whom not all would have been from Yarmouth.

Mariners functioning as warriors would have included archers from Wales and veteran men-at-
arms experienced in the Scottish wars. Some archers at Crécy were conscripted from East
Anglia so it can be assumed that Yarmouth may have provided a few of these for Sluys. But
almost all archers, most men-at-arms and knights would have been from outside the town.

Crew, however, may also have served as men-at-arms. Crews were increased when battle was
expected and ruthless Yarmouth sailors would have had a dual function.

One source says that at Sluys many ships were manned by 25 men, of whom eight would have
been crew, the remainder warriors. That would have given a total fleet manning figure of 750 and
a crew of 240 for 30 Yarmouth ships. In actuality, that figure would have been an under-
estimation, because Yarmouth provided some of the larger ships at the battle. That ratio, applied
to Lambert’s 1,500 mariners of the Yarmouth fleet, would give a crew of 480 most of whom we
assume would have been from Yarmouth.

Another source reports that ships fitted out as warships were manned by about 48 men on
average, an increase probably caused by employing extra men to act as men-at-arms or as
skeleton crews for captured vessels, a procedure called ‘doubling up’. Yarmouth men, practiced
as they were in battles against traditional enemies such as the portsmen, would have fallen into
such a role easily enough. For 30 ships that would give a complement of 1,440 men, close to the
L/S figure.

Another source says that, for the French wars in general, the ratio of crew to warriors was about
1:7. That is inconsistent with the 8:25 ratio but, if true, that would give fewer than 200 seamen
out of 1,500 men on the Yarmouth ships.

Sumption, however, claims that on average for the period, only about 12 fully equipped soldiers
sailed in a warship, that figure being fairly constant. That would give 360 soldiers for 30
Yarmouth ships, requiring some 1,000/1,200 seamen to bring the total up to the L/S figures.
These extra men would presumably function as sailors and/or men-at-arms, many of whom would
be from Yarmouth proper.

The Orwell fleet had 12,000 mariners, or 61%, of the total men. If that percentage were typical of
the 30 Yarmouth ships, the complement of mariners would have been about 2,240 men in total,
high by comparison with the L/S estimates, though once again not all would necessarily have
been from Yarmouth.

Here and later, a big error is caused by inability to distinguish between crew and mariners.

Numbers of Men at Other Engagements

Fleet sizes and manning figures were collected for a period either side of 1340. Ignoring two
outliers, the average manning figure for each ship was about 28. On that basis Yarmouth ships
would have been manned by fewer than 900 men, considerably lower than the L/S estimates, but
consistent with the belief that many ships were manned by about 25 men.

To give 1,500 men the 30 ships would have needed on average 50 men, a figure above the norm
for other expeditions of that era, but consistent with the idea that Yarmouth provided the largest
ships at Sluys whose crews were ‘doubled up’.

The Population Structure of the Town

This section considers how many men the town could reasonably have provided given its

Population estimates of 4,500, 5,000 to 6,000 and 10,000 have been made for Yarmouth in the
pre-Plague years. The first two of these seem unrealistic given the death of an estimated 7,000
people during the Plague of the mid-1300s.

It is worth considering how many men a town with an estimated 5,000 - 10,000 population could
provide. About half the population would be men so fewer than 2,500 - 5,000 would be available
for service. Of these, many would be too old, infirm or underage for war.

Boys may have been engaged in warfare, as at Agincourt. But one ‘boy’, below say age 16,
would not have contributed much to the manpower of any ship, though the Cog Thomas had a
high number of boys in the crew because the masts were slender and dangerous for heavier
sailors to ascend.

One historian has said that in those times adulthood, signifying fitness for war, began at 12. But
that sounds unlikely; what weapons would such a child weald?

One hundred years later, when conditions may not have been too different, the fighting age was
said to have been between 16 and 60 though casualties recovered from the Towton battlefield
were no older than about 50. On the Mary Rose most were no older than 30.

From these options Ross's figures of 16 to 50 will be chosen as the age range from which males
were impressed.

But knowing the age limits for service is no help unless we have some intelligence about the
structure of the population pyramid in those days. We will assume that the structure of the
pyramid for Yarmouth in 1340 would have been similar to that of a developing country today.

Typically the population pyramid of a developing country will show about 20% below 16 and about
10% over 50. Subtracted from the total males, that would leave 2,100 men from a town
population of 6,000 or 3,500 men from a population of 10,000 people.

Men retained in the town for other occupations, the sick and infirm, would further reduce the
number available for war.
These figures show that a population of 6,000 could have provided 1,300 men for the Sluys fleet
leaving only about 800 men, including the sick, to manage the town, though more if a proportion
of the L/S figures came from outside the town. A town with 10,000 people could provide the L/S
figures, but certainly not in the numbers implied by some authors.

Ross is of the opinion that about 25% of a town’s population would be fit for fighting which,
translated to Yarmouth with a population of 10,000, would be about 2,500 men or 1,500 men if
the town had only a population of 6,000. (Working the other way, and assuming all Yarmouth
ships were manned only by Yarmouth men, one gets from the L/S figures a town population of
5,200 - 6,000).

The Number and Capacities of Ships in the Yarmouth Fleet

The number of Yarmouth men at the battle obviously depended partly on the capacity of the ships
measured in tuns (wine vats) a ship could carry. Assuming one tun in 1340 was the same as a
tun in the 16th century it would represent 240 gallons, or approximately one cubic metre. On the
assumption that it took about two cubic metres to contain a man, a 100 tun ship would be able to
carry 50 men though that figure should be reduced to allow for the transport of victuals and
impedimenta, including horses. Edward, however, may have disembarked his horses before
sailing; there was a growing belief that mounted warriors were less effective than men on foot,
said to have been demonstrated later at Crécy. Assuming an average of 100 tuns for 30 ships of
the Yarmouth fleet, no more than 1,500 men could be carried.

Cushway provides a different estimate of the man-carrying capacity of one tun. He believes that
one man required four tuns capacity, giving 25 men for a 100 tun ship. He does not explain
whether he was estimating for ‘double equipping’, which could mean they had up to four times
that number; (no, the author cannot explain that). That figure would give 750 men on the
Yarmouth ships, rather low compared with the L/S figure.

These estimates can be compared with one known example for a warship. The 180 tun
Bartholomew had 63 mariners when it was commanded by the Yarmouthian Richard Bet on the
expedition to Brittany. That figure for the Yarmouth fleet would give about 1,800 men, higher than
the L/S figures, but in reality lower because some Yarmouth ships would have been smaller than

The Distribution of Ships by Size

Another difficulty in estimating the number of men in the Yarmouth fleet is in not knowing how
ships were distributed by size.

Yarmouth is said to have contributed the largest ships to the battle, of which the town is said to
have had about 34 by 1340. Yarmouth had managed to contribute 15 of them to the Antwerp
expedition two years before Sluys.

The fleets of the 1340s were using ‘small’ vessels owing to losses and damage caused by war.
The figure of 25 men, of whom eight were crew, suggests many ships were no more than about
50 tuns, anything less being unsuitable for battle.

One can of course assume any distribution by size but one guess that seems reasonable is that
of the 30 Yarmouth ships, ten would average out at 200 tuns, ten at 100 tuns and ten at 60 tuns.
Using the Bartholomew figure of one man to three tuns, the ten largest ships would be manned by
670 men, the ten 100 tunners by 330 men and the smallest ships by 25 men per ship, a total of
250 men. The total for the whole fleet would then be 1,250 men. That is not far off the L/S figure
though one could easily arrive at different totals.

To conclude, the L/S figures would represent no more than about 8% of the total fleet of over
19,000 men, but reason has been given to believe the percentage could be much lower.
Yarmouth as the Assembly Area

The River Yare as it was in those days is unlikely to have been the point of embarkation or
assembly. By 1336, it was unnavigable, which put an immediate stop to naval activity. Distance
from Corton, if that really was where the Yare entered the sea, would also have discouraged the
journey to Yarmouth.

Yarmouth Roads, if then existing, and Kirkley Roads could have been assembly areas but the
latter would in no sense be part of Yarmouth; these ships would have been supplied by shore-
based lighters. Other vessels may have been beached.

By 1337, Yarmouth may have been the largest naval port in the country but it was not ideally sited
to perform that function. Problems were caused by weather as well as shoals in the river. With
winds in the North and East Yarmouth’s approaches were dangerous, while silting havens and
shifting sandbanks were hazardous to strangers, Saul finds it no surprise that only two fleets were
assembled at Yarmouth during this period, to Scotland in 1327 and to Antwerp in 1338.

Given the above disadvantages of Yarmouth as a naval base, one looks for compensating
factors. It was in a central position for Scotland, Flanders and the Channel and was near the
centre of the Northern Command.

Saul offers another convincing reason for the choice of Yarmouth as an assembly area. He
suggests that the herring fair created the clerical and administrative skills, and infrastructure for
the provisioning of a large numbers expedition.

The town itself, the largest town and port on the East coast, and its neighbouring coastal villages,
would have had the men and the infrastructure to support a fleet. It may even have been a
personal choice of the king, the town and its neighbour Norwich being the most likely places to
provide a reception fit for a court.

The agricultural productivity of the East Anglian region would have been a major factor in supply
as well, though in the years preceding Sluys. King’s Lynn was said to have been the main port
for the supply of the Northern Fleet. Runyon identifies some of the supplies that would be
required to provision a fleet: carcasses of salted beef, mutton or pork; quarters of oats, peas,
beans; quarters of wheat ground into flour; weys of cheese and dried fish, and of course drink. In
1340, presumably for Sluys, 30 ships were allotted supplies for 40 days including, for 1510 men,
60,400 gallons of ale, one gallon per man per day.

In addition to foodstuffs (still Runyon) vast quantities of arms (thousands of bows, arrows and
other weapons), men, horses and fodder would also have to be transported to Yarmouth and then
ferried out to the fleet while the ships were being adapted for war, including their painting and the
preparation of pennants. Yet the ships were not only both weapon and transport, but also a site
of courtly activity. Knights kept up appearances and stylish dresses for dancing may also have
been in the cargo as they were in the main fleet. Yarmouth would have been a very busy port

Summary of Yarmouth’s Contribution to the Battle

It is clear that in no respect did Yarmouth make a major contribution to the battle except in a small
way relative to other ports. Perebraun had no command and the town provided only a small
percentage of ships and men, even allowing for ‘doubling up’, except perhaps for the contribution
of stevedores and other dockworkers.

But it has been said that many of Yarmouth’s unemployed seamen not required for the North
Fleet may have been conscripted for service in the Orwell fleet.

Yarmouth was not the most important assembly area even though it was the biggest port in the
country at the time. The Orwell, a safer anchorage, was far more important. Yarmouth was used
only twice for fleet assemblies.
The commitment of men of the North Fleet has been questioned. In May 1340, there were high
rates of desertion. Morley was himself illegally detaining neutral shipping and helping himself to
their cargoes; he was a pirate. In 1340, 35 Yarmouth ships were accused of piracy. Morley also
allocated some of the fleet intended for Sluys to a wool convoy.

But there can be little doubt of the contribution to the battle of the fighting spirit of ‘Yarmouth men’
once they were engaged in battle. ‘Yarmouth men’ had been described as brutalised by the
Cadzand expedition and other engagements that sometimes seem not to have been fought
according to any code of chivalry. To Nash they were merciless slashers and slicers. This ‘nasty’
factor gave them an advantage over the relatively inexperienced French. Yarmouth men were a
bloodthirsty and cut-throat crew capable once of the casual murder of a bishop and the women
aboard one of their prizes. No wonder Morley’s squadron was selected to lead the King’s fleet
into the battle and to chase the fleeing French galleys. For this reason Manship’s claim that
Yarmouth men had: the commendation of the King himself above all other of his subjects which
served him there, may well have been justified.

The Dimidiation of the Town Arms

According to tradition the town arms were dimidiated with the arms of England in recognition of
the town’s contribution to the Battle of Sluys. (The Great Yarmouth Time and Tide Museum
website, among others, says the town arms were halved with the royal arms).

Mr. Fiske describes a 1530’s reference to Herald’s visitation as the only credible reference to the
town arms, adding that there is no record of when, how or why they came into use.

There are however two good reasons for supposing that the arms were halved before Sluys.

Firstly, a lesson can be drawn from the example of the Cinque Ports, whose arms were also said
to have been dimidiated with the arms of England for service during the French Wars. However,
the website for the Heraldry of the Cinque Ports describes how the ports’ arms were dimidiated
between 1194 and 1305. Such an award could obviously not have been made for services
rendered during Edward III’s French wars. The halving of the arms of Great Yarmouth may have
also have occurred before 1340.

Secondly, if the arms were in fact halved with the royal arms, that would date the change to
before the king changed his standard in January 1340 by quartering them with the fleur de lys in
recognition of his claim to the French throne.

One cannot eliminate the possibility that Edward III’s gratitude to Yarmouth was not specifically
for Sluys, but in consideration for other services rendered before 1340, during the Scottish wars
for example. In the case of Yarmouth the award may have been for nothing less prosaic than the
supply of herring to the court, herring being highly regarded in those days as more than just a
subsistence food; a sort of ‘by appointment’ award.

The Arneburgh Chapel

A chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Arneburgh was built at the East end of the parish church in
1370 to perpetuate a chapel of the same dedication in Flanders, at which the king and many
Yarmouth men who fought at Sluys held a service of thanksgiving for their victory (Ecclestone).
The location of this chapel, and whether or not it still exists, is not known. A web search found
only one Arneburgh, and that is in Germany.

Yarmouth did gain some literary fame. Nash, writing 260 years after the battle, describes the
contribution of Yarmouth men thus: they so slashed and sliced the Frenchmen that they preferred
the mercy of the sea and tore their planks to mumocks (fragments) and their lean guts to kites’
meat and not a one of them was but rib-roasted. Nash is not highly regarded as a historian and
his lurid account sounds like fiction, but there may be some truth in it for Stowers, quoting Nash,
says he scraped some of his facts from worm eaten parchment.
In writing that, Nash gave Yarmouth what may be its first mention in literature, and the last until
Robinson Crusoe.

Economic Consequences

According to Manship, the town gained a new haven paid for by Edward in gratitude for service at
Sluys. Local merchants, notably millers, profited.

But generally Sluys was one small part of the contribution of the French and Scottish wars to the
town’s decline. Trade was disrupted, ship owners had to pay for their ships to be fitted out and
feared ruin as so many men were impressed. Trading profits were so reduced that owners could
not maintain their fleets. During the wars, at least six merchants lost all their fortunes.

By the middle of the 14th century Yarmouth was impoverished, depopulated and no longer a
strong bulwark in the defence of the realm. War added to the problems caused by a declining
herring fishery and shoals in the Yare which hindered the town’s trade. The Plague finished the

The Forgotten Battle and its Significance

Considering the size of the battle and its significance for the town, actual or mythical, the Battle of
Sluys has been under-reported and largely forgotten both nationally and locally.

J. B. Henneman in Financing the 100 Years War considers 24th June 1340 the most important
date in that war. It was the first test of Edward’s cause against the French and the first major
battle of the Hundred Years War. Sluys has been described as our greatest ever naval victory,
the sea fight that inaugurated the long victorious career of the Royal Navy and ensured that the
King of England was sovereign of the seas and entitled to demand that every foreign ship should
lower her sails and salute every King’s ship she met.

But unlike Trafalgar, it did not give command of the oceans to the English Navy. The Battle of
Crécy happened only because Edward, while on his way to Aquitaine, retreated to avoid a
confrontation with French galleys that were a threat in the Atlantic. He landed instead in
Normandy. The French fleet continued to mount raids on the South Coast.

Neither Manship nor Swinden mention the battle. They attach more importance to feuds between
Yarmouth and its rivals, Gorleston, Lowestoft and the Cinque Ports, and also to forestalling
fishermen cheating the town of customs duty. Palmer adds some detail of the battle in his notes
to Manship. Parkin in Blomefield’s History omits it from his chronology, where he goes straight
from Yarmouth fitting out a battle fleet in 1338 to Edward’s embarkment for Brittany in 1342.

More recent local authors give Sluys scant attention: a line or two in Hedges, McBride only in
connection with the coat of arms. Another includes a short quote from Richmond containing
seven mistakes (he does however draw attention to the lamentable public ignorance about the
significance of the town arms). Finch-Crisp omits any reference to it in his chronology. Preston
does not report it as one of his ‘momentous events’. Druery mentions the 1338 expedition and
the siege of Calais, but not Sluys. Ecclestone gives more significance to a minor affair between a
few ships of Yarmouth and the Cinque Ports. Only the fantasist Richmond gives it any

The Plantagenets, a television series, mentioned Edward’s coronation as king of France in 1340,
but omitted to mention the battle that made it possible. Dr. Ramirez did not mention Sluys in
Chilvary and Betrayal, despite it being one of the great battles of the Hundred Years War, the
greatest in terms of men and materials lost.

One may wonder if the battle features in the history syllabuses of local schools and whether
children of Great Yarmouth High School know the origin of their school badge.
The local press ignored the battle’s 650th anniversary in 1990. The Great Yarmouth Mercury
may have thought it tactless to mention the 600th anniversary in its 24th June 1940 edition.

Accounts of the battle abound in errors and are inconsistent in detail. Some give 1320 as the
date of the battle. Richmond places the battle in the Channel, another puts the battle against the
Dutch in the North Sea. There is no agreement on either the scale of the battle or the losses in
ships and men. Croften describes the French fleet as an invasion fleet.
There seems to be no obvious reason why such a battle as Sluys has been treated in such a
casual way. One historian believes the battle was without decisive effect. Perhaps the battle has
been considered not particularly significant in the long term, because French galleys survived,
while on land there were no crucial battles; Edward succeeded only in ravaging the countryside
with a few demonstrations. In fact, a few months later, he called a truce because his funds ran
But Sluys has also been called a turning point that defined the direction of The Hundred Years
War by ensuring that the war would be fought on European, not British, soil. Sluys was not a
‘Battle of Britain’ but, without it, the later campaigns in France may have been more difficult.

Commemorating the Battle

Whatever the strategic consequences of the battle, such a momentous event, England’s greatest
naval victory, deserves more worthy commemoration than it has so far received.

The victory began a tradition of English forces overwhelming French forces that greatly
outnumbered them. Sluys should stand alongside Crécy and Agincourt for, without control of the
British seas that Sluys provided, these battles may not have been fought. Perhaps only the lack
of a publicist such as Shakespeare has stood between Sluys and greater fame.

Sluys is worthy of greater prominence in a town that has so many associations with it, factual or
mythical. Accounts of it deserve a more scholarly attention to accuracy.

One may hope that the recent conference was not the end of the matter and that it will be
followed up by schools and media. A book is waiting to be written; there is plenty of material to
work on. Chapter headlines come immediately to mind: the background to the battle, the
personalities and ships involved, mediaeval battle tactics and the battle itself, the aftermath and
its consequences for the town. The scope of such a book could include the Scottish and French
Wars generally.
A symposium was held in King’s Lynn that resulted in a booklet, Essays in Hanseatic History. It
would be a useful model for the Yarmouth conference.
There is one particular task that could be fulfilled by our society. If it can be confirmed that there
are no monuments to the battle in the vicinity of Sluys, the council might enquire of the Sluys
council if they could commemorate the achievements of Yarmouth men at the battle by placing a
small monument in the fields, beneath which any wreckage may lie. Similar action could be taken
for the Chapel of Arneburg in Flanders if it, its remains, or its site could be identified.
Thus may a momentous but largely forgotten battle be given deserved public recognition locally
and perhaps even nationally, and at the same time encourage links with our neighbour across the

Bibliography and References

Croften, Ian, The Kings and Queens of England, Quercus, 2006.

Cushway, G., Edward III and the War at Sea, Boydell, 2011

Druery, J. H., History (Notices) of Great Yarmouth, 1826

Ecclestone, A. W., Henry Manship’s History of Great Yarmouth, 1971

Ecclestone and Ecclestone, The Rise of Great Yarmouth, 1959
Featherstone, D., The Bowmen of England, Pen and Sword Books Limited, 2003
Finch-Crisp, History of Great Yarmouth, 1877
Hale, J. R., Famous Sea Fights, Methuen.
Hedges, A. A. C., Yarmouth is an Ancient Town, Great Yarmouth Corporation, 1959
Hillen, H. J., History of the Borough of King’s Lynn, East of England Newspaper Co.,1907
Lambert, Craig, English Maritime Logistics in the Fourteenth Century, Boydell Press, 2011
Malster, R., A History of Ipswich, Phillimore, 2000
McBride, J., A Diary of Great Yarmouth, self published, 1998
Meeres, Frank, A History of Great Yarmouth, Phillimore, 2007
Nash, T., Lenten Stuff, 1599
The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press
Palmer ed., The Foundations and Antiquities of Great Yarmouth, attr. T.Damet, Charles Sloman (printer)
and others, 1847
Palmer ed., Manship’s The History of Great Yarmouth (1619), Meall and Smith, 1853
Palmer, C. J., Perlustration of Great Yarmouth, George Nall, 1872
Parkin, C., Bloomfield’s History of Norfolk, 1862
Potter, J. F., The Mediaeval Town Wall of Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, 2008 BAR British Series 461 2008.
Preston, J., Picture of Great Yarmouth, self published, 1819
Purchas, A. W., Some History of Wells-next-the-Sea and District, East Anglian Magazine, 1965
Richards and Friedland eds., Essays in Hanseatic History, the King’s Lynn Symposium, 1998
Regan, J., Great Naval Blunders, Andre Deutsch, 2012
Richmond, W. R., The Story of Great Yarmouth, Jarrold, c1910
Rose, Susan, Medieval Naval Warfare, Routledge, 2002
Runyon, T., War at Sea in the Middle Ages and Renaissance ed., Hattendorf and Clinger, 2003
Saul, A., English Towns in the Middle Ages, JMH, 1982
Saul, A., Great Yarmouth in the 14th Century. A Study in Trade, Politics and Society, unpublished doctoral
thesis (Norwich Library), 1975
Saul, A., Great Yarmouth and the Hundred Years War, Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research,
November 1979
Sumption, Jonathon, Trial by Battle, Faber and Faber, 1990
Swinden, H., History and Antiquities of Great Yarmouth, John Crouse, 1772
Wilson, Derek, The Plantagenets, Quercus Books (no date given)
Wilson, Ben, Empire of the Deep, Orion Books, 2013
Various websites, especially Norfolk Heritage, have been used frequently.
Liverpool University enabled access to its e-library for Cushway and Lambert; Great Yarmouth’s local
‘university’ would not. Liverpool libraries actually bought Sumption at some expense (though they were
unwilling to spend c.£70 - 80 for Cushway); Norfolk libraries would not. Locally these books are functionally
not the public domain.
Mr. and Mrs. Fiske and Phillipa Sims of Norfolk Standard were prompt in replying to queries about coats of
arms. The Sluys Council did not respond to an enquiry about monuments to the battle, if any, in its vicinity.
Any wishing to try may contact Sluys Council at telephone number 0031 117 457000 or e-mail

Trinity House Lightships and Service Vessels in World War II, and Yarmouth
“Not War, but Murder and Gangsterism”
Chris Wright

The early origins of Trinity House are unclear and may date to King Alfred. In 1514, Henry VIII
granted a charter of incorporation to prevent the deliberate wrecking of ships and to provide lights
and sea marks for seaman. Queen Elizabeth I granted a coat of arms in 1573. The first lightship,
the Nore in the Thames estuary, dates to 1731 and was a private venture, but Trinity House
acquired the rights to provide further vessels. By the start of the 19th century, however, only five
lightships had been commissioned, but numbers gradually grew. The Mersey, Humber and
Scotland had their own provision.

By World War II, there were about 40 Trinity House lightships, employing about 450 men around
the English coast, in addition to the Mersey, Humber and Scottish lightships. Crews spent a
month afloat and a fortnight ashore, following an agreement with the Transport and General
Workers Union in 1938. A seaman was paid £149 per annum with certain allowances; uniform,
pension and holiday pay. A senior master received up to £207 per annum. Typically, the men
started as a general seaman, progressed to fog signal driver and lamplighter, and possibly after
15 - 20 years to master. They had to provide their own food supplies and cook for themselves.

Little has been written about the lightships of Trinity House and World War II. Looming Lights
was, however, published in 1945 (with the text approved by the Ministry of Information), and the
author, George Goldsmith Carter, relates his experiences serving on lightships in the war. Press
reports (including the British Newspaper Library) and other personal accounts provide further
information. Censorship was in force so details and records are sometimes sketchy. In the
introduction to Looming Lights, Sir Geoffrey Callender, the then Director of The National Maritime
Museum, observed that, in spite of being unarmed and international law provisions, there had
been 116 attacks on lightships. Richard Woodman in Keepers of the Sea has detailed the work
of the service tender vessels of Trinity House. Michael Tarrant in Trinity House has useful
material on the wartime service, including a note that: every one of nine ships in the Trinity House
fleet was attacked during World War II and four were sunk by mines. This article records some of
these events.

War was declared in September 1939 by Prime

Minister Neville Chamberlain. Carter noted that: the
lightships were not touched in the last war and so we
remained smugly complacent in our safety, poor
bloody fools that we were. Our thoughts turned to
mines, depth charges, submarines, bellowing guns,
but at that time we hardly gave a thought to planes.
Similarly, a report (December 1939) from a crew
member of one of the Humber lightships stated: the
war doesn’t make much difference to us. Except that
an unlucky chance will bring them a mine, against
which they have no protection.

Indeed, the First World War had seen lightships

destroyed by mines, but not deliberately attacked.
For example, the Corton lightship was sunk by a
mine on 2nd June 1916. All seven of the crew were
from Great Yarmouth and only two were saved.
Tarrant in his book, Trinity House, records that six
HQ staff, five lighthousemen, 18 lightshipmen, 37
tender vessel crew, and 30 pilots were killed in the
First World War, although some may have been
killed in the armed forces.

In 1939, the Great Yarmouth
District consisted of Corton, St.
Nicholas, Cockle, Smith’s Knoll,
Newarp, Haisboro’, East
Dudgeon, Inner Dowsing, Lynn
Well, Humber, Warps and
Swarte Bank light vessels.

On 9th January 1940, Reculver,

a Trinity House tender vessel,
was bombed by Dornier
bombers after supplying stores
and relief crew to the Cockle
Lightship. Bombs exploded on
the boat deck, where relief crew
stood and second officer St. Nicholas’ Lightship
George Purvis was killed. The
Western Morning News reported that: when German planes bombed and machine-gunned an
unarmed Trinity House boat relieving lightships off the East Coast, they left her deck a shambles,
with 32 out of 40 men wounded. Eight of the injured men were soon released from hospital, while
others were detained with arm and leg injuries, although some were gravely ill with bullet and
splinter wounds. Two died; George Purvis (the second officer) of North Shields, and Frederick
Leech of Gorleston. Pathé News covered the return to Great Yarmouth for repairs.

A crew member reported some of the details to the press: We were horrified when the plane
came for us. It is always reckoned that lightship men are not fair game and we had got used to
seeing Jerries who never attacked our light vessels. What made this plane attack us we do not
know, but it was a thorough job that they made of it. First of all it was machine gun bullets. We
hadn’t a chance. We had nothing at all to answer back with. When they found that we hadn’t any
teeth, they dropped bombs. Men were going down like nine pins and the small boats were
smashed up. We heard firing and I went unconscious. Disabled by the attack, she was taken in
tow to Great Yarmouth harbour. Her funnel looked like a colander through shrapnel and bullet
holes. The incident was said to be the talk of the town and the notion that an unarmed vessel in a
sitting duck situation should be so attacked was distressing to all who saw the damage. Urgent
repairs were made and she resumed her duties, only to be mined and sunk a mile from the Spur
Point Lightship at the mouth of the Humber, on 14th October. Five were reported injured and at
least two died.

According to Callender, the Smith’s Knoll lightship was the first English lightship to be attacked,
on 11th January 1940. This was reported by the press as: an East Coast lightship had been
bombed and machine-gunned with no damage to the ship.

Press reports for 13th January 1940 record another attack. An interview with one of the crew
explained how: an aeroplane circled the lightship five or six times, but the four bombs that were
dropped all missed. The aeroplane crew then started to machine gun us. They hit the lantern and
extinguished our light. We tried to launch a little boat to row away, but we were again machine
gunned. Fortunately nobody was hit. The plane disappeared after a quarter of an hour. Some of
the crew were considerably shaken. Three crewmen were brought ashore by an East Coast
lifeboat. The steel plate of the lightship was penetrated, but not seriously. Foynes, in Battle for
the East Coast, suggests this attack was in the Hammond Knoll area.

In the House of Commons, on 16th January 1940, the Prime Minister stated that: a further
outrage, wholly unacceptable with the universally accepted principles of warfare between civilised
peoples, was committed against a lightship and a Trinity House tender carrying men on lightship
relief. These are men whose lives are devoted to service to their fellow men of every nation, and
who might claim to be immune from attack. Yet they were brutally machine-gunned, two of them
killed and 32 wounded. It is significant that all these cowardly attacks were made in weather
conditions, which increased the difficulties of interception by our aircraft.
On 29th January 1940, at 9.30am, the East Dudgeon (No 61), stationed 25 miles from the coast,
was attacked by a Heinkel bomber. The Times reported that the only survivor of the crew of eight
said: we were not alarmed because on previous occasions German pilots had waved to us and
left us alone. But on this occasion the bomber dived suddenly and sprayed the deck with
machine gun bullets and later dropped nine bombs, the last of which hit our ship. John Sanders
(31), of Great Yarmouth, recalled: we took to a small boat (a 16 feet open dinghy with sail and
oars) and were not picked up by a trawler. At 2.30 am, we heard the breakers on the shore, but
there were only two men able to row at that time, although the others were still alive. When we
got close to the shore (near Mablethorpe) the boat capsized and we were thrown into the water.
Sanders attempted to save his skipper (Master R. George), but failed when he was torn from his
grasp by the sea swell. Sheringham Lifeboat made two sea searches, but was recalled when
seven bodies were washed up on the Lincolnshire coast. Initially it was thought Sanders had
perished, but he had found refuge in a house, and was found at 8.00am. The lightship was later
taken to Great Yarmouth for repairs and inspection by the Duke of Kent. Pathé recorded the
vessel being towed into the harbour. Five of the dead crew were from the Great Yarmouth area
and several had been on Reculver when it was attacked. Carter in Looming Lights observed that:
we now knew what to expect. Lightships, whose traditions of life-saving have been inviolate
through the ages, were being deliberately attacked. He wondered whether lightships would be
taken off station, and had a vision of being captured by an E-boat and imprisoned in Germany.

The issue was raised in the House of Commons. Hansard (8/2/40) reports the Prime Minister,
Neville Chamberlain: a German wireless statement that the British naval patrol vessel East
Dudgeon has been sunk by German aircraft, was condemned as a: falsification to cover up from
the world a deliberate and savage attack on a lightship. The East Dudgeon was well-known to all
seafaring folk and her identity was unmistakeable. She was unarmed; as with other civilised
nations we held that lightships, because of the nature of their services, were outside the scope of
hostilities. In the case of British lightships, they are not even utilised to report the presence of
enemy aircraft in their vicinity. Chamberlain described the act as: not war, but murder, and pure
gangsterism. In consequence of savage Nazi attacks on lightships and murder of some of the
crew, special measures will be taken to provide protection for this service. In certain cases light
floats would replace lightships.

Winston Churchill, as First Lord of the Admiralty, stated: lightships have always been regarded by
civilised nations as outside the scope of hostilities and immune from attack. In view of the savage
attacks of German aircraft on lightships around our coast and the murder of some of the crews,
special measures will be taken to provide protection for this service and where possible, light
floats will replace lightships in the outer positions.
The atrocity inspired a Central Office for Information propaganda film, The Lightshipmen. In one
review it was described as: a picture of compelling realism. It reconstructs an attack by a Nazi
plane on one of the lightships that perform a humane duty around the coasts of Britain. Only a
short film (24 minutes), but one that should be seen by everyone. The Daily Express reviewer
stated that it was: the best documentary film I have yet seen. The Times stated that: the
employment, not of professional actors but of men who might well have such experience, turns
out to be inexplicably a better means of attaining reality than any skilled imitation. The film was
astonishingly vivid.
The Western Morning News (12/3/1940) reported of: a German plane’s persistent attempts to sink
a Norfolk coast lightship, which was thirty miles out at sea, unarmed and without even wireless
assistance. The crew stated that: after an attack on the evening of 6th March, the plane returned
at dusk on the following day. Sixteen or eighteen bombs were dropped but though the vessel
shook, little visible damage was done and none of the crew was injured. Charles Dyball, of Great
Yarmouth, was the fog signal driver. He said: When it came to us the plane had all lights on and
the watch thought it was one of our own, but next thing it was dropping bombs. On the second
night, the plane came without lights and kept crossing us diagonally so that the ship was not too
difficult a target. We saw four bombs leave the plane, which was flying only 150 feet above us.
We could do nothing and were quite helpless. This seems to have been the Outer Dowsing
Lightship, according to a report in the Hull Daily Mail.
The Western Morning News and the Cheltenham Chronicle reported that the Cromer Knoll
Lightship was subject to another attack on 22nd March, when: an attempt was made by an enemy
plane to bomb the Cromer Knoll Light Vessel. The lifeboat at Cromer stood by, but did not put to
sea. Cromer Knoll is 25 miles from land and has no means of communicating with shore.

Crewless lightships with lights that could be left unattended for two months were exhibited in
Great Yarmouth at Easter 1940, and proved an attraction to visitors. The new lightships are half
the size of those withdrawn and German raiders will find them harder to put out of action, The
Yarmouth Mercury noted : most men on lightships in East Anglia live in Yarmouth. For a month at
a time they used to live at sea, cramped in little vessels that have not even motive power of their
own. A few weeks more and all will be home, some to find shore employment or to join the
Services. You have no idea how helpless you are alone in a wide sea. You hear a plane and
wonder whether it is British or German. Some of the lightships attacked were without wireless
and women waited anxiously for days to learn whether their men were injured, when German
planes were known to have been off the coast. One lightshipman’s wife said: the anxiety of
waiting was terrible.

The Times (3/8/1940) reported that: German airmen have made another brutal and illegal attack
on the men who tend the lightships. Last week, the Trinity House tender, Alert, with 30 relief
lighthouse men in addition to her crew of 39, was on her way to a lightship, when the chief officer,
who was on the bridge, called out, “Look out to starboard”. Immediately, the bombs started
dropping but they all missed. Three German aircraft attacked the Alert twice with bombs and then
twice raked with machine gun fire. Some of the crew and light men were wounded. There was
no question of the identity of the Alert or her non-belligerent activities. Alert had the words
“Lighthouse Service” painted on the sides of the hull in 2ft letters. The German aircraft dived to a
height of only 100ft when delivering their attacks. The Western Morning News reported that 30
were wounded.

The Nottingham Evening Post (19/8/1940) claimed that: before and since the war began, U-boats
had approached a number of our lightships. The U-boat commanders have tried to negotiate with
the lightship captains by offering big bribes to all on board for periodical information about
shipping movements. British lightships were to be information stations. The lightship crews
resolutely refused to have anything to do with the German offer. Thereupon the U-boat captains
threatened them with destruction and that is why the Nazi pilots are bombing and machine-
gunning the men of the lightships.

The 1st November 1940 saw the East

Oaze (LV60) Lightship in the Thames
Estuary bombed with the loss of seven
lives (five from Great Yarmouth). Carter
observed in Looming Lights how about
150 German bombers had passed over
his lightship and they had a drawn a
breath. What had been our good luck had
spelt misfortune to some of our poor
comrades in the Thames Estuary. A
lightship had been blown to atoms with all
her crew, not even a body or a vestige of
the ship remained. One person (George
Gilham) must have been recovered as he
is buried in Great Yarmouth churchyard.
Five of the crew are remembered on the The plaque at the Tower Hill Memorial
Tower Hill Memorial. The master,
Benjamin Wright, from Great Yarmouth, had only been married two years and had a two-year-old
son. He is said to have swapped a roster to permit a colleague to have time ashore. Five of the
crew were from Great Yarmouth. In 2008, Trinity House was seeking surviving relatives, as there
were proposals to relocate the wreck to allow work for the Thames Gateway.
The 29th December 1940 saw a night raid on London, described by the Germans as the most
severe bombing of the British capital ever. In the attacks, English naval vessels and a lightship
received direct hits and sunk. The Trinity House headquarters was badly damaged and ancient
records and artefacts were lost. The Times reported that Trinity House is gone and with it many
of its priceless maritime treasures. Very little of its library with its unique collection of records was
saved. The work of Trinity House goes on.

There are fewer reports of incidents after 1940. This may be partly due to censorship, but most
lightships had been withdrawn and crewless vessels and other facilities had replaced them.
Foynes, in his book, notes that most vessels had been withdrawn from service. He lists the East
Dudgeon, Kentish Knoll and Edinburgh as being replaced by buoys. Floats replaced the Outer
Dowsing, Hammond Knoll, Smith’s Knoll, and Sunk. Aldeburgh had been replaced by red floats.
Newarp, Spurn, Cromer Knoll, Outer Galloper, Tongue, Corton and Haisborough were withdrawn
from service. Peter Allard, in an article on Trinity House in Great Yarmouth, notes that the 12
vessels based at the depot had been withdrawn, and were stored in the harbour during 1940, with
St. Nicholas’ and Cockle being withdrawn early on.

On 16th February 1941, the Great Yarmouth Trinity House Depot and Stores was bombed and
severely damaged. Alert, a service tender, helped fight the fires and provided a refuge for
casualties. The depot was fully operational by the next day. In the same month, Alert was
attacked off the Norfolk Coast, whilst servicing a buoy, and Able Seaman Wildney was killed.

Great Yarmouth Depot, heavily damaged in the war

The story of the lightships and support vessels of Trinity House is clearly one of brave,
defenceless men facing risk, not only from the sea and mines, but from German air attacks. It is
a story of human emotions and the impact of the war on their lives and their families. Fortunately,
the introduction of crewless ships and use of other maritime aids reduced further loss of life.
Tarrant notes in his book on Trinity House that the Roll of Honour lists four HQ staff, four
lighthouse men, 27 lightship men, 51 tender vessel crew, three depot staff and 17 pilots who died
in World War II, although some may have been killed serving in the forces.


Woodman, Richard, Keepers of the Sea, 1983

Carter, George Goldsmith, Looming Lights, 1945
Lane, Anthony, Guiding Lights, 2001
Tarrant, Michael, Trinity House, 1998
Allard, Peter, A History of Trinity House in Great Yarmouth, Yarmouth Archaeology, 2007

The Jack Cardiff Centenary Project
Paul P. Davies

Creative Collisions Youth Arts Network was one of the first

groups in the United Kingdom to receive a Heritage Lottery
Fund Sharing Heritage grant to celebrate the achievements
of Jack Cardiff, one of Great Yarmouth’s most famous
The project involved 35 students in a range of creative
activity to highlight Cardiff’s incredible career and
contribution to the history of cinema in the year that a blue
plaque was installed to mark his birthplace. This activity
included making Super 8 short films, documenting the whole
project by film and media students, and the creation of
Cardiff Cut Outs. A special centenary exhibition was held at
St. George’s Theatre with Cardiff’s own photographs,
memorabilia and awards, including the two Oscars. These
were displayed along with a documentary about his life and
daily screenings of his movies. Students worked with
Matthew Harrison and Exhibitions Coordinator, Alison Hall,
to plan and install the exhibition and the students were led
on graphic design and text writing.
Young people (Amber Doxey, Ellie Harrington, Georgia Marks,
Charley Marks, Fabian Maynard and Harry Mitchell) took part in
a wide angle photography group master-class with professional
photographer, Andi Sapey. Inspired by Jack Cardiff’s famous
portraits of film stars, such as Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn
Monroe, the group practised their technical skills for portraiture,
trying out a variety of approaches to lighting and directing their
subjects. Then, they converted the Time and Tide’s education
space into a professional photography studio and eleven
members of the Great Yarmouth Archaeological Society kindly
volunteered to be the models. One of the Great Yarmouth
College students commented: I can’t begin to put into words
how honoured I am to have had the opportunity to do what I
did, and yes, it may have been something small, but in memory
of such an incredible man made the opportunity massive.
Creative Collisions is an imaginative new Youth Arts Network for Great Yarmouth where like-
minded young people can share ideas, produce events and exhibitions and communicate
opportunities in the arts. It is supported by the Time and Tide Museum and the six high schools
and the colleges.

Patricia Ashbourne Brenda Taylor Molly Davies

Andrew Fakes Mike Taylor

Hugh Sturzaker Jackie Roberts

John Mobbs Norman Fryer

Patricia Wills Prior Paul Davies

One Hundred Years after the Zeppelin Air Raid of 1915
Paul P. Davies

A commemoration of the 100th

anniversary of the bombing of Great
Yarmouth by Zeppelin L3 took place
on 19th January 2015. The facts of
the raid are well-known to society
members. Great Yarmouth has the
distinction of being the first town in
Great Britain to suffer an air raid.

Exactly one hundred years on from

the devastating raid, a Deputy
Lieutenant of Norfolk, dignitaries of
Great Yarmouth including the Mayor,
the High Steward, aldermen and
councillors, along with society members, residents and the two great nephews of Samuel Smith
gathered at the grave of one of the victims of the raid, Samuel Smith, in the New Cemetery. The
great-granddaughter of the original undertaking firm of
Arthur Jary was also in attendance. Samuel Smith’s
grave had been restored by stonemasons Colin Smith
and Tony Jary. They also made a stone plaque
commemorating the civic event.

Colin Smith renovating the gravestone

The Mayor laying the wreath

The Chairman of the Society, Paul Davies,

gave an account of Samuel Smith’s simple
funeral and burial service as it appeared in
the local paper in 1915. The Rector of
Great Yarmouth, Canon Christopher Terry,
said a few words before the Mayor,
Marlene Fairhead, placed a wreath on his
grave. The group then moved to the site
of the air raid at St. Peter’s Plain for a
short service led by the rector, when Paul
Davies gave an account of the fateful Commemoration service featuring the German
night. propaganda postcard

Samuel Smith’s restored grave complete with
plaque commemorating the 100th anniversary
and wreath

Afterwards the Last Post was played and the

gathering of about 70 people observed a two
minute silence, before the service was closed with
two verses of the National Anthem.

Graham and Chris Roberts, the great-great-

nephews of Samuel Smith related: he was our
nanny’s uncle. She spoke very little about this
period in her life, it was a sad time for her. She
lost all her relatives in the war apart from her
sister, who died in the 1919 influenza epidemic.
Today has been emotional. I thought the event at
the graveside was very fitting and I think the
service here was a wonderful surprise. I’m very
happy to be here and honoured to be part of the

The raid was deplored in the national papers. The

Zeppelin crews were called baby-killers. One
newspaper railed: the loathsome blood mad fiends
who did this foul work have only stirred every
Briton’s heart to sterner resolve. The paper
continued: demented Germany is gloating over the
way that their Zeppelins can cross the North Sea
and kill our civilians.
Entry in Jary, undertaker’s register

The Mayor
laying a wreath
on Martha
Taylor’s grave at

A total of 115 Zeppelins were built during the First World War.
Over 77 were lost, roughly evenly divided between accident
and enemy action. Fifty-one raids were undertaken over
England, in which 5,806 bombs were dropped, killing 557
people and injuring 1,358. Because of the losses of the
Zeppelins, the Germans decreased their use of them in June

Incidentally, after this raid the local doctor, Leonard Ley, who
ended his career practising at the Park Surgery, was the first
person in the United Kingdom to operate on an air raid
casualty. The casualty was Mr. Poulter, who was wounded in
the raid near St. Peter’s Church. Dr. Ley removed a bomb
fragment from Poulter’s chest wall. Later Dr. Ley had the
fragment mounted
as a tie-pin.

The horrific
Zeppelin raids
were used to
recruit men for the
war and depicted
the Germans as
A British postcard Barbarians. The
Zeppelins were
described as baby-killers and the low down thing that
plays the low down game and many postcards were
printed with these messages.

After the raid on the town, a German propaganda

postcard was produced featuring Great Yarmouth
Town Hall being bombed by a Zeppelin. Some society members

Great Yarmouth was also the last town in the country to suffer a Zeppelin raid, on the 5th August
1918. A blue plaque commemorating the raid was erected on St. Peter’s Villa in 1981 by the
Great Yarmouth Local History
and Archaeological Society; this
was replaced in 2012.

About a month after the raid on

Great Yarmouth, Zeppelin L3
embarked on its last mission with
Hans Fritz as the commander
again. On a mission the L3
suffered engine failure and
landed on the beach of the
Danish island of Fanoe. Despite
a hard landing the crew escaped
uninjured. Fritz first burned the
Zeppelin’s papers and then set it
on fire with a signal gun. The
crew were detained in Odense
The commemoration in St. Peter’s Plain for the rest of the war.

Sky Television News and BBC Look East covered the commemoration. A separate service was
held at the graveside of Martha Taylor in Great Yarmouth Cemetery, Caister on 27th January
The Cliff Hotel
Carl Boult

Boxing Day 2015 will see the 100th anniversary of the destruction by fire of the Victorian Cliff
Hotel. Prior to the Cliff Hotel being built, the only documentation in existence describes the
history of the land as once having had a windmill standing there on wild heath land, a shore
battery, and two houses called Land’s End House and Hill House, belonging to W. B. Cockrill and
a former Mayor, Edward Pitt Youell, respectively. In August 1897, a licence was applied for, and
commissioned by the then Grand Hotel Syndicate, to erect a new building at a cost of £25,000,
connecting the two houses together.

Opened on 23rd July 1898, and designed by Norwich

architect, George Skipper, the Cliff Hotel’s opening
ceremony consisted of a banquet chaired by Edward Pitt
Youell (of whom there is a large painting in the Assembly
Room in Great Yarmouth Town Hall), a band of the 2nd
Volunteer Battalion of the Norfolk Regiment, and many
distinguished guests.

The hotel had 139 rooms, smoking and billiard rooms, a

52’ x 24’ dining hall, a pavilion and tennis court on the
cliff top, together with its own laundry and stabling, but
there were no public bars.

There is a barn-type structure that still survives, which

was once used as stables, along with other outbuildings
that appear to be in original condition with original roof
tiles untouched since the day they were fitted. They are,
however, now accompanied by newer buildings on the
corner of Cliff Hill, which are part of the present day Cliff
Hotel complex and currently used as a laundry and for Edward Pitt Youell (The painting that
food storage. hangs in Great Yarmouth Town Hall)

Left and above: The Victorian Cliff Hotel
The arched main entrance on Lower Marine
Parade had steps leading up to the front of the
hotel and its cliff-terraced gardens still exist to
the right of the terrace of shops, which also
still exist. Until recently, this area was
overgrown and untidy, however, the current
owners cleared it to allow stunning views from
the new continental-style glass panelled
veranda. In 2014, when clearing the trees
and foliage, two
original benches
were discovered in
their original
Site of the Old Entrance situation, in alcoves
that had been
forgotten for nearly 100 years. The curved shape at ground level of the
grand arched entrance, which once stood at the foot of the steps that led
up to the old Cliff Hotel, is today filled in by panelling and is occupied by
a gift shop Gorleston Gifts, which sells seaside novelty paraphernalia
during the holiday season.
In 1899, the then Prince of
Wales, Edward VII, visited
the hotel and, in 1906, the
Election Petition Judges
arrived in a carriage with two One of the original
mounted police escorts. benches found in situ

In 1914, the year of the outbreak of World War One,

the hotel became the headquarters of the senior
naval officers of the naval base HMS Kingfisher,
which had been established on the Gorleston side of
the river.

The hotel had been standing for nearly 16½ years

The Lounge when, whilst World War One troops were billeted
there, it was burnt and gutted
beyond repair by a raging
Boxing Day fire, on 26th
December 1915. It was
reported to have started in one
of the hotel bedrooms during
strong winds that must have
greatly accelerated the flames.

To this day, Springfield Road

and the Cliff Hotel site have an
exaggerated wind effect, even
on a relatively calm day. The
tug George Jewson was in
attendance as a fire float, and
the two original houses were
saved. Local photographer,
Alfred Yallop, was fortunately
quickly on site soon after to
record the aftermath.
Thankfully, no lives were lost
Alfred Yallop’s photograph of the ruins as a result of the fire.

Children gathering at rear soon after fire

I have looked around the surrounding area and spoken to

nearby residents, and wonder if artefacts were taken from
the wreckage site as spoils and incorporated into the fabric
of nearby properties; I do believe that this is a strong
possibility. Nearby we have expensive polished white after the fire with military guards at the
marble pieces set in crazy paving, some of the slabs have rear entrance
curved corners and a drilled hole, and a popular poem from
the era cast in iron: Kiss of the sun for pardon, song of the
birds for mirth, You're closer to God's heart in a garden than any place else on earth. This poem
can be found on tourist postcards that match the date, written by Dorothy Frances Gurney (4th
October 1858 - 15th June 1932).

Could these be spoils from the devastation?

A Bofors gun

During World War II, a Bofors gun was placed on the former hotel site that claimed two Junker
bombers. There was also a pill box on the site, which was removed prior to the building of
Grenfell Court.

Dr. Wilfred Thomason Grenfell of Labrador, who made frequent journeys to and from Canada,
was born in 1865 in Parkgate, Cheshire. He received his medical training at the London Hospital
and M.D. from Oxford University in 1889. When he was a medical student, he became inspired
by a tent evangelist to devote his restless energies to helping the less fortunate. He was further
guided by the surgeon, Sir Frederick Treves, who persuaded him to join the Royal National
Mission to Deep Sea Fisherman in the North Sea. The challenge of the Mission appealed to him
so much that, in 1890, he became its superintendent.
He arrived in Great Yarmouth in January 1889 to serve on the
hospital ship Ensign with the Royal National Mission to Deep
Sea Fishermen, lived at Cliff House (next to The White Lion
public house), and later at the southern part of the Cliff Hotel,
from 1892 to 1898. His memory is recorded by the name of
Grenfell Court, where 22 flats were built by Greater London
Council on a line along the front part of the Victorian Cliff Hotel
and Land’s End House, which the buildings formerly occupied.

Dr. Grenfell’s legacy is recorded locally in the names of the

nearby Springfield Road (named after a town in Canada that he
frequented), and also The Oddfellows Arms on Cliff Hill, named
after the Oddfellows Hall Fishermans Institute, which was
situated in Gorleston High Street, roughly where Hughes TV
and Audio now stands. Dr. Grenfell presided at the Institute’s
Annual General Meeting in 1891. The very grand house that
stood next to the original Cliff Hotel, and is now the Cliff Hotel
main building, fortunately survived the fire thanks to a
Sir Wilfred Thomason Grenfell concentrated effort by fire crews to save it, although extensions
M.D. of Labrador 1865-1940 have been added. The current
function and music room was
once called the Grenfell Room
and a long resident D.J. entertainer there called himself Jacques
Grenfell. The International Grenfell Association, which Sir Wilfred
founded (he was knighted in 1927), still exists today.

Considering the infancy of photography during this period, and

that the building did not reach its seventeenth birthday, the hotel
was quite well photographed and depicted on postcards from the
front. There is some photographic evidence of the rear entrance
after the fire, with military guards and policemen searching Resident DJ at the Cliff Hotel’s
through the rubble, and a crowd of children gathered, presumably Grenfell Room, late 1970s
the day after or subsequent days after, the fire. “Jacques Grenfell”
Photo: Courtesy of Janice
Bibliography: Holmes

Ecclestone, A. W., Gorleston

Meeres, F., Yarmouth and Gorleston Through Time, Amberley Publishing PLC., 2009
Gorleston-on-Sea Heritage, Walking with the Past, RPD Litho Printers, 2003
Tooke, C., Great Yarmouth and the Great War the Home Front, Blackwell Print & Marketing, 2014
Cliff Hotel photographs, Courtesy of Peter Jones

The last visible relic at the rear of the site.

These entrance kerbstones were removed
and thrown onto a Great Yarmouth
Borough Council truck on 19th February
The modern buildings shown here are part
of Grenfell Court.
The current Cliff Hotel can be seen on the

From Society Records: 3rd September 1891

A Glimpse inside the Custom House and the Port and Haven
Commissioners Building on South Quay
Paul P. Davies

After laying desolate and empty and

slowly deteriorating for six years, both
buildings were sold at auction in the
Autumn of 2014, for a bargain price. The
buyer was Matilda Urie, an operational
engineer working on the Scroby Wind
Farm for EON. On the day she took
possession of the building, Great
Yarmouth Borough Council served a
formal enforcement notice, under section
215 of the Town and Country Planning
Act 1990, to tidy up the property.

Built in 1720 for a prominent herring

merchant, John Andrews, the once grand
Georgian house was sold in 1802 to the
Government for use as a customs house.
One hundred and eighty-four years later,
in 1986, it was sold to the Port of
Yarmouth Commissioners. The commissioners owned and occupied the Custom House, as well
as the neighbouring Great Yarmouth Port and Haven Commissioners Office, until August 2009.
Since then both properties have remained empty.

The Custom House is constructed of red brick laid in Flemish bond with stone quoins and
dressings and it has a slate roof. In the early 19th century, a central Tuscan portico with fluted
columns and cornice was added to the front of the building. It is Grade II* listed.

The Great Yarmouth Port and Haven

Commissioners opened their offices in
the adjoining building to the south of
the Custom House at 21 South Quay in
1909. The front of the building is of
Cornish granite for the ground floor.
The rest of the building is constructed
of flint. The windows have granite
dressings. The roof is covered with a
dark brindled plain tile. The main
windows are made of oak and glazed
with lead lights fitted with steel
casements. The front entrance has a
solid oak front door carved with
dolphins supporting a cast bronze
letter plate. The door handle and four
shields in the front of the building are
Society members outside the Custom House also of cast bronze. The building was
designed by the local architects, Olley
and Haward. It is listed Grade II.

Planning permission had been obtained to convert both properties into four apartments.

Via the medium of Facebook, the Society was offered a tour of the two buildings at the end of
November 2014, when about 40 members were shown around by the owner and the two men
working on the renovation and conversion.
Above and below:
Custom House Custom House cellar showing evidence
Panelling in the front ground floor room of an earlier building

Custom House
Open-string staircase with three
balusters per tread: a turned baluster
separating an iron-twist and a barley
sugar baluster. Carved floral tread-ends
and a moulded ramped and wreathed
handrail Custom House
View from the parapet on the roof
Custom House:

Views from the parapet

on the roof

Port and Haven Commissioners’ building
Staircase in Jacobean style with a closed string,
Custom House: View from the parapet on the roof splat balusters and moulded square newels

Port and Haven Commissioners’ building: fireplace

Port and Haven Commissioners’


Port and Haven Commissioners’

Ground floor front office with glass
and timber partitions

Dissent and the Unitarian Church in Great Yarmouth - a Diamond Anniversary
Derek Leak

The year 2014 was the 60th anniversary of the rebuilding of the Unitarian Church in Great
Yarmouth after it was bombed during the Second World War.

The Unitarian Church in Yarmouth Way, Great Yarmouth

The Great Yarmouth Local History and Archaeological Society unveiled a blue plaque on this
building at noon on Saturday 18th October 2014 to mark its rebuilding and to highlight the
importance of Great Yarmouth as a centre of dissent 400 years ago.

The refusal of some people to adhere to the tenets of Henry VIII's Church of England has always
been strong in East Anglia in general, and in Great Yarmouth in particular. These people were
not Roman Catholics who wanted to return to the Old Religion, but Dissenters, who thought
church reforms had not gone far enough.

In Great Yarmouth, two independent congregations developed outside the Church of England.
These were the Congregationalists and the Presbyterians. For a time they shared Saint Nicholas
Parish Church, with the Conformists. The building was
physically divided into three sections, each group holding
its own services under the same roof. When the Stuarts
came to the throne and became the Royal Family of
Great Britain, the dissidents were subject to more and
more persecution and eventually were even threatened
with a capital sentence for their beliefs, if tried and

Many ministers feared for their lives and fled to Holland,

including the Reverend William Bridge, who sailed in
1636. He had been ejected from St. Peter Hungate
Church in Norwich for his subversive preaching.
Archbishop Laud wrote to Charles I informing him that
Bridge had gone to Holland. The king wrote: we are well
rid of him against Bridge’s name.

Great Yarmouth Parish Church,
Reverend William Bridge
now Great Yarmouth Minster

After Charles I was executed, Bridge returned to England with a colleague named Oxenbridge.
They founded independent congregations in both Great Yarmouth and Norwich. Oxenbridge
soon left for Yorkshire. Bridge felt he had to decide where to set up the Non-Conformist Church
and opted for Great Yarmouth, rather than Norwich, as the safer option.

For a while, the Presbyterians met in the parish churchyard and the north aisle of the church,
while the Congregationalists used the chancel for worship. The two groups of Dissenters worked,
in great harmony together, but difficulties re-emerged when, in 1661, the Dean of Norwich
Cathedral sent bailiffs to demand church keys from Mr. Tooke, Bridge's assistant, and nailed up
the vestry door. Tooke was driven out and the Congregationalists lost their place of worship.
Plague then struck, in 1665, and most activity in Great Yarmouth ground to a halt. William Bridge
died in 1670, aged 70, well respected for his learning and integrity. His successors finally built
their own Meeting House in 1673, on or near the present site of the Unitarian Church. It has been
rebuilt several times, but has remained on what is now Yarmouth Way ever since.

The number of people actively engaged in dissent from the established church has reduced over
time as society has grown more tolerant. This has forced Unitarians to seek additional ways of
generating income to maintain their church buildings. The premises are available to hire for
meetings and conferences. The longest local user is the Phyllis Adams School of Dance, which
has been a faithful and co-operative tenant for many years. Funds from many sources, both local
and national, are contributing towards an ongoing programme of refurbishment of the Great
Yarmouth building. These include the Garfield Weston Foundation, the Norfolk Community
Foundation (Love Norfolk) and the John Gregson Unitarian Trust.


Information from Sophia Hankinson & Rod Voegeli - members of the Unitarian Church
Photographs of Unitarian Church and the Minster by Derek Leak.

James Sharman RN (1785-1867)
Paul P. Davies

James Sharman was a native of Great Yarmouth and

entered the Royal Navy in 1799. He was a victim of a press
-gang while he was waiting at table in the Wrestlers’ Inn in
Great Yarmouth. He was taken to HMS Weazle under the
command of Captain Durban. After four years service, he
was wrecked off Cabritta Point, near Gibraltar, in March
1804. His ship was driven ashore in a gale. One crewman
was killed.

He then joined the crew of HMS Victory under the command

of Captain Thomas Hardy. Subsequently, he was present at
the Battle of Trafalgar, and it is said that he helped to carry
the dying Horatio Nelson down to the cockpit. After
Trafalgar he was posted successively to: HMS Ocean, HMS
Mildred and HMS Prince Frederick. He was discharged
from the last posting because of illness and was admitted to
Greenwich Hospital for Seamen. He was not happy at the
hospital and, on the warm recommendation of Captain
Hardy, he was appointed as the keeper of the Norfolk Pillar
James Sharman (Nelson’s Monument) in Great Yarmouth. He was the
keeper for nearly 50 years, although later his
duties were purely nominal, due to the infirmities
of age. The cottage that was built for James
Sharman next to the monument to live in became
a beer house, of which James Sharman was the
landlord. This later developed into a public
house, called Monument House, and was later re-
named the Nelson Hotel.

Two weeks before his death, James Sharman

weakened, his health gradually deteriorated, and
he died at the age of 92 years. He was believed
to be the last survivor of HMS Victory’s crew.
HMS Weazle
James Sharman never
tired of recounting the
exploits of his hero, Nelson, and telling yarns of his own adventures.
Consequently, James Sharman was sought after by visitors to Great

James Sharman was entitled to a Royal Naval funeral and funds were
available to finance it. Due to an oversight, he was borne to his grave
only accompanied by members of his family, without the navy being
present. His gravestone is now badly laminating and soon will become

It is believed that Ham Peggotty in Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield,

was based on James Sharman. In the book Ham is described as
dashing into the surf to save a struggling seaman from a shipwreck
during a gale. The real story was reported by the local newspaper: on
the 25th November 1829, the brig, Hammond, on a voyage from
Newcastle to London during a tremendous tempest, both of wind and Sharman’s General
Service Medal with
wave, parted her only anchor chain and was swept onto the shore south Trafalgar Bar
of the Norfolk Monument. She was stranded about 300 yards from the
shore near the harbour entrance. All attempts to
reach the vessel from the shore having failed,
and the day fast closing in, the sight, it may be
readily believed, was distressing enough, but the
lingering light of heaven displayed one yet more
appalling scene. Amid the rage of the elements
the wreck split into two with a mast falling either
side of it throwing the crew into the surging tide. About seven o’clock in the evening a man
brought a report into the Fort, a public house, that he had heard groans upon the wreck. Upon
this news, James Sharman the keeper of the Monument, went down to the shore and attaching a
rope to his waist he
ventured through the surf
to where the wreck had
drifted. The surf carried
him three times off his
legs and on the fourth
time threw him onto his
back onto the wreck.
The sea all this time was
mountains high and the
night as dark as pitch.
After a search, Sharman
James Sharman’s gravestone showing lamination and his connection found a man clinging to a
with HMS Victory hook on the vessel. The
man informed Sharman
that minutes before three
men had been swept away. Sharman took off the rope from his waist and tied it around the waist
of the man. Sharman took the man in his arms and plunged into the swelling surf and shouted to
a man on the beach to pull them in and thus he was spared the fate of his six shipmates.

On 21st October, Trafalgar Day, a blue plaque was unveiled on the railings of the Norfolk Pillar,
and one on the former Wrestlers’ Inn by the Nelson Society and the Nelson Museum.

Sharman’s General Service Medal with Trafalgar Bar was

sold at auction in 2012 for £27,000.

The wounded Nelson being carried

Descendants of James Sharman at the unveiling below decks by two seamen.
Nelson is giving an order to Captain
References: Hardy, who stands behind him.
Yarmouth Independent, various Sculpture by Constantino Barbella
(1852 – 1925)
Dickens, Charles, David Copperfield, 1850
Harvey Harvey-George
Ann Dunning

Gorleston’s rapid growth during the

second half of the 19th century was largely
due to Hewitt’s Short Blue Trawling Fleet
moving its base there. Nearness to the
North Sea fishing grounds, rail links to the
Midlands and space available along the
riverside were all favourable to the move.
The fleet operated by having a number of
smacks at sea for six to eight weeks at a
time, trawling for cod, haddock etc.,
packing their catches into wooden boxes,
(trunks), with ice, before rowing them to
fast cutters, which transported them to
London or Great Yarmouth. Each smack
was crewed by a skipper and about eight
Harvey Harvey-George
hands, some as young as 12 years of age.
Working conditions were hard and often as a young man
dangerous, particularly when transferring
trunks. The cutters were originally fast
sailing vessels, but, by 1864, were steam

In 1879, Harvey Harvey-George (generally known as Harry) was

appointed Manager of the fleet in Gorleston. He married a Hewitt
daughter, Jessie, and set up home at Surbiton Lodge; a substantial
property with gardens stretching to Church Road and a lawn across
the High Street. By the mid-1880s, as a borough councillor, he was
known as the Mayor of Gorleston, as he promoted many
Harvey Harvey-George improvements for his ward. He served on the committee to frame by-
laws for the regulation and to secure order on Gorleston Beach and,
in 1887, he was a member of the Free Library Committee, this
amenity being originally set up at the rear of the police station. Soon after this, the council wished
to cut a new road called Trafalgar Road East from Church Road to the High Street, which meant
that Surbiton Lodge would lose some of its garden and two bow windows. After considerable
bargaining, an agreement was reached, but soon after that, plans to build the Tower on Surbiton
Lodge’s lawn and a cottage hospital on the north side of the new road were proposed. Both
buildings were erected in 1889 and
Harvey-George became, first Chairman,
and later Secretary, of the Hospital
Board, taking the latter position to raise

The Tower, itself, soon nicknamed Cod

End Castle, was not built of rock
dredged up by the Fleet’s trawl nets, as
local rumour said, but of Kentish
Ragstone, which probably came to
Gorleston as ballast in cutters, when
they came to re-stock with supplies
after carrying their fish to London. Its
fine tower look-out allowed Harvey-
George to monitor his boats as they
approached the harbour and thus be
ready to oversee their arrival. At this The Tower
time, he was busy promoting Gorleston’s
need for a recreation ground, which was
established to the west of the church, and
he served as Chairman on its Committee.

Harvey-George was the Manager of the

Short Blue Fleet from 1879 to 1898 and
during that time it expanded to 200 smacks,
employing 1,500 fishermen, and its shore
works extended from Darby’s Hard to Baker
Street, where a further 500 were employed.
He cared for the welfare of his employees
and supported a slate club being set up,
which provided some finance in times of
sickness. He also supported the work of
Ebenezer Mather, who established the Stained glass window in the Tower
Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen. As well
as being Fleet Manager and a Councillor,
Harvey-George, as a Port and Haven
Commissioner, succeeded in getting the
Harbour Mouth widened and the Spending
Beach installed to ease access for vessels,
particularly at the turn of the tide. He was
also a keen yachtsman and had an interest
in photography. By 1898, his health was
failing and he retired, although he remained
in Gorleston until 1901, when he moved
back to Essex, where he died in 1910.
After he left the Tower, it was occupied by
various people until, in the 1930s, it became
the Hall Mackenzie Dancing School. This
closed in the 1980s. The building stood
empty for a time until it was converted into Short Blue Fleet trunking 1860 Artist: George Earle
six flats.

To commemorate Harvey-George’s life, a

blue plaque was erected on the Tower
Flats, Gorleston High Street on 24th March
2014. It was unveiled by the Mayor,
Councillor John Burroughs, in the presence
of Society members and Gorleston
residents. The plaque was sponsored by
Mr. and Mrs. Dodd of Gorleston.
The Short Blue Fleet in the North Sea
© London Illustrated News

Allard, P., The Short Blue Fleet, Yarmouth Archaeology, 2006
Ecclestone, A. W., Gorleston, 1980
Great Yarmouth Borough Council Minutes, 1880s and 1890s
Stammers, M., Norfolk Shipping, 2002
Yarmouth Mercury, 24th July 1910

Summer Outing to Thornham Parva, Eye and Wingfield
Pat Ashbourne

On Wednesday 16th July 2014, Society members and friends visited Thornham Parva Church,
the market town of Eye and also Wingfield Church and College. Several members of the Society
had already visited Thornham Parva Church in July 2012 as part of a “church crawl” with our
chairman, Paul Davies, and this was an opportunity for the rest of us to see it.

On approaching the church, the first notable feature is its thatched tower, one of the very few still
remaining. An interesting tombstone in the graveyard is that of Basil Spence, the architect of
Coventry Cathedral.

Thornham Parva retable. Courtesy of Derek Leak

Left: St. Margaret

Inside the church is a rare, painted retable

(a panel at the rear of the altar), depicting
eight saints with Christ, the Virgin Mary and
St. John in the centre. It is the country’s
largest surviving medieval altarpiece and is part of an even larger
one that probably stood in Thetford Priory before the priory was
destroyed during the Reformation. The retable was rescued and
hidden, but then seems to have been forgotten. It was discovered
again in 1927, stored in a hay loft, and may well have only survived
because of the quality of the oak, rather than its religious
significance. For a while, it was used as a domestic table but does
not seem to have come to any harm as a result. It was restored
between 1996 and 2001 and placed in the church. The retable’s
companion frontal is on display in the Musée de Cluny in Paris.

The walls of Thornham Parva

Church are lined with rare
14th century wall paintings, Madonna and Christ
some of them damaged by Wall painting
later alterations to the church. Thornham Parva
Possibly, the two most
interesting features of the
paintings are the story of Christ’s Nativity and an extremely
rare depiction of the Martyrdom of St. Edmund. In 1810, a
wooden gallery was erected at the west end of the church
and, above this, is a small, round Saxon window.

Paul Davies wrote a full account of the church, with some

impressive colour photographs, which appeared in the
Eye Castle
Society’s 2013 Journal.

We then drove to the market town of Eye, where
we stopped for lunch and a look around the town.
William the Conqueror gave the Lordship of Eye
to William Malet, a powerful Norman, who fought
with him at the Battle of Hastings. Malet also
received over 200 other Saxon holdings in
Suffolk, many of them formerly held by Edric of
Laxfield. In Eye, William Malet built himself a
castle and also established a market. He died in
1071 and was succeeded by his son, Robert, who
founded Eye Priory. However, in 1110, Robert
was banished for plotting against King Henry l,
and all his lands and property, including Eye
The church of St. Peter and St. Paul, Eye
Castle, were confiscated.

The castle mound still stands today, but the walls are little more than a folly, erected after a 17th
century windmill was demolished in 1845. Church Street and Castle Street mark the perimeter of
the original castle grounds.
The beautiful church of St. Peter
and St. Paul is the most impressive
building in the town. The tower,
rebuilt in the late 15th century by
the de la Pole family, is just over
100 feet in height and the western
side is decorated by a method
known as ‘flushwork’. This is a
mixture of stone panels filled with
local knapped flints, giving a very
attractive effect. Also, of course, it
is a much cheaper option in East
Anglia, where there is no natural
building stone and any stone used
has to be transported from other

The church of St. Peter and St. Paul, Eye The north, south and east sides of
the tower are plain knapped flint,
apart from the belfry windows, the
parapet and also a frieze of quatrefoils with blank shields around the base of the tower. Under
the central panel of the parapet is the de la Pole coat of arms, but some of the other carvings or
statuary have either suffered damage
over the years or disappeared
completely. The belfry houses eight
bells, the oldest dating from the late 15th
century. The bells were re-hung in 1962.

Most of the church was rebuilt in the late

15th century, but there are still some
traces of the original building. The sides
of the two-storey south porch were
probably originally also decorated in
‘flushwork’, but this has now largely been
replaced with brick. The front of the
porch is now faced with stone and the
Tudor portcullis appears on the The rood screen at the church of St. Peter and St. Paul,
buttresses. Eye

Inside, the church gives a
sense of light, possibly due
to the replacement of
tinted glass with clear
glass in the 1960s’
restoration. The late 15th
century restoration
basically heightened the
church and installed a new
roof and windows, as well
as the tower and south
porch, but many features
of the original 14th century
building have been
retained internally.

Further restoration and

alterations were carried
The rood loft at the church of St. Peter and St. Paul, Eye out in the 1860s, 1920s,
1960s and 1970s. The
church is 120 feet long and
the present seating in the nave is 19th century. The 1967 pulpit replaced a Victorian stone one.

During the 1869 restoration, a wall painting was uncovered above the chancel arch but,
unfortunately, was not preserved. However, a copy was made and now hangs at the entrance to
the south chapel. The rood screen, dating from about 1480 to 1500, is impressive but, according
to Pevsner and others, is not a good example of its kind. The faces of the saints have been
described as quaintly doll-like. The saints depicted include; St. Helen, St. Edmund, St. Ursula, St.
Dorothy, St. Barbara, St. Agnes, St. Edward the Confessor, St. John the Evangelist, St.
Catherine, St. Lucy, St. Thomas of Canterbury and St. Cecilia. The paintings were cleaned, but
not restored or re-touched, in the 1960s.

There are many other interesting features in the church, particularly the work carried out by Sir
Ninian Comper in the 1960s. These include his magnificent rood screen and loft, the great east
window, the window dedicated to St. George, the Cutler tomb in the north aisle and Comper’s
20th century cover to the beautiful 19th century font. There are also several other notable tombs.

Wingfield College
and Society

Outside, near the church, is the two-storeyed, black and white
Guildhall built in the late 16th century and restored in 1875. An
original carving of the Archangel Gabriel survives on one of the
wooden corner posts. The other carvings, though, are not original.
For some years the Guildhall was used as a bookshop but,
unfortunately, it is not currently open to the public.

From Eye, Society members were driven to the village of

Wingfield, where we were shown around Wingfield Church and
Wingfield College by the present owner of the College building,
who told us something of the history of both buildings.
Most people, when first seeing the impressive Georgian facade of
Wingfield College, assumed it to be a rather grand 18th century
manor house. This belief continued until the 1920s, when a former
Vicar of Wingfield, the Reverend S. W. H. Aldwell, started to
research the history of the village’s two most famous families, the
Wingfields and the de la Poles. His studies led him to inspect and
measure the building, by then used as a farmhouse, and he Archangel Gabriel on the
concluded that its proportions were quite wrong for a Georgian Guildhall, Eye
structure. He also discovered beams and roof supports, which
suggested that the origins of the building were much older,
medieval in fact.
Aldwell concluded that it
might actually be the
remains of the Medieval
Chantry College of St.
Andrew, believed to have
been completely
destroyed during the
Dissolution. He published
his findings but,
unfortunately, they were
completely ignored for
several more decades
until subsequent owners
of the property were able
to agree with his theory
dur ing r epairs and
alterations to the building.
Further historical and
archaeological searches
Wingfield Church confirmed his findings.

It would seem that the timber-framed structures of the chantry college, erected in 1362, were built
around the original aisled Great Hall. The hall itself has been dated from around 1300 and so
may have been built by either Thomas de Wingfield or his son, the first Sir John de Wingfield.
The Lordship of the village of Wingfield had probably belonged to the family for several
generations before then.
A subsequent Sir John de Wingfield became a friend and confidante of the Black Prince and, in
the Prince’s service, he was often away on military campaigns. A young man called Michael de la
Pole became his Aide De Compte. After the Battle of Poitiers, in 1355, both men became
involved in negotiating ransoms for the return of wealthy French aristocrats to their families. They
made huge sums of money for the Treasury and, as a result, became very rich themselves. Sir
John died in 1361 and it is said that the Black Prince paid for his funeral.

It had been Sir John de Wingfield’s wish to rebuild the church at Wingfield and also to establish a
chantry college. He left instructions to this effect in his will and his widow, Lady Alianor, arranged
for work to start on both projects. The College Charter was sealed on the 8th June 1362. There
was a College and Charter Master, nine section chaplains and three clerical scholarships for
boys. They were required to pray for the King, the Black Prince, the soul of Sir John and also to
minister to the parish.

The Wingfield’s only child, a

daughter, Katherine, married Michael
de la Pole, who continued to oversee
the construction work. He was made
the First Earl of Suffolk for his
services to the crown. In 1384, he
applied for a royal permit to change
another manor house in Wingfield
into a castle. These permits were not
easily granted, as the need for feudal
castles had ceased to exist by this
time, but he was allowed to have a
castellated manor house with a moat.

In 1387, Michael de la Pole was

involved in a financial scandal and he
was impeached and banished to
Sir John Wingfield
France, where he died of
consumption in 1389. Had it not
been for his former association with the Black Prince he may well have been executed, as were
some of his fellow conspirators.

Michael’s eldest son, also

Michael, later had the title
restored to him for services to the
crown. He married Katherine,
daughter of the Earl of Stafford,
and both are buried at Wingfield
church in the well-known Stafford
Tomb. Their eldest son, yet
another Michael, was killed at
Agincourt and the title passed to
his younger brother, William.

William became the first Duke of

Suffolk and married Geoffrey Michael (died of a fever at the siege of Harfleur in 1415)
Chaucer’s granddaughter, Alice, and Katherine de la Pole
widow of the Earl of Salisbury. The effigies are made of wood and would have
He enjoyed great favour with the been coloured
King until, in 1448, William was
rumoured to have been involved
in a plot to kill the Duke of Gloucester, the King’s uncle. This may have been true, but William
was certainly much disliked by other nobleman, who envied his wealth and position and they
possibly engineered his downfall.

On the 7th February 1450, he was impeached and the King was forced to banish him. William set
sail for France but was captured, beheaded, and his body was thrown overboard. It is rumoured
that his body was washed up on Dover beach and, at the request of his wife Lady Alice, was
returned to Wingfield for burial. There is a tomb at the foot of the tower in Wingfield church that
some say could be his, but that is not definite.

William and Alice’s son, John, became
the second Duke of Suffolk and, sadly,
the last de la Pole to be so. He
married Elizabeth Plantagenet, the
sister of Edward lV and Richard III.
Although not political, John enjoyed
many advantages because of this
royal connection and he carried the
sceptre at Richard lll’s coronation.
John and Elizabeth are buried together
at Wingfield church.

As time went on, it became

increasingly dangerous to be a de la
Pole, particularly with Plantagenet
connections. At first it was thought
John de la Pole (died 1491) that the de la Poles were too powerful
and Elizabeth Plantagenet. Made of alabaster a family to be a risk, but this proved
not to be the case.

John and Elizabeth’s eldest son, John, Earl of Lincoln, was given to believe he would be
Richard’s heir, but died as a result of a possible involvement in the Lambert Simnel Plot. Their
second son, Edmund, was imprisoned for many years and then beheaded by Henry Vlll and their
youngest son, Richard, was killed in battle. Some of the less prominent de la Poles changed their
names and/or moved abroad and those still living in Kingston upon Hull generally managed to live
out their lives in fairly safe obscurity, but really the de la Pole line had ceased to be.

Left and below :

Wingfield College

The Act for the Dissolution of Chantries, Hospitals and Free Chapels was passed by Parliament
in 1545 and destroyed about 3,000 foundations. Wingfield College, and the Manor of Wingfield,
was forfeited and given to Charles Brandon, who was married to Henry Vlll’s sister, Mary Tudor.
Henry also made Charles Brandon Duke of Suffolk. It had been thought that Charles and Mary
never actually lived at Wingfield, but it now seems they carried out various works at the college
and also at the castle and so probably were resident, although not for very long. Mary died in
1533, Charles married again, but died himself in 1545.
Wingfield Castle has had many owners and is
now in private ownership and not connected
with the college. The college was given to the
Bishop of Norwich and then leased to a series
of tenants. Around this time a large part of the
building was demolished. The Georgian
facade is, of course, 18th century and further
work was carried out in the 19th century, and
also in subsequent years up to the present day.
On the day of our visit, the present owner
showed us around his lovely home. He told us
a good deal of the history of the building and
about the numerous alterations that have taken
A carving of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk in
place over the years. He said that part of the
linen-fold panelling
Great Hall (the original 1300 building) seems to
have been demolished at some time because
what is left of it appears to be out of proportion. He basically thought it was too wide for its length
and he wondered if it might have been because of subsidence many years ago. He said there
were no traces of any old foundations, which may have been able to prove or disprove his theory.
He also said that, at the front of the house, some of the Georgian windows are actually false and
are there just for appearances sake, and went on to explain what had been found when some of
the internal Georgian plasterwork had been removed; as expected, traces of a much older
building. He also amused us by saying that some people believe that the back stairway in the
building is haunted.
We were also given a tour of the gardens with their imaginative topiary, immaculate lawns and
beautiful flower beds. There are also two lakes, which used to be the college’s fish ponds. There
was a small rowing boat moored on one of the lakes for the use of the family and their friends.
The rebuilding of Wingfield Church began in 1362 to coincide with the building and dedication of
the Chantry College. Michael de la Pole, Sir John de Wingfield’s son-in-law, carried on much of
the building work that had been started by Sir John’s widow, Lady Alianor. He was responsible
for the building of the nave, the aisles and the south porch. On either side of the entrance
doorway of the south porch are the heads of a knight and his lady, possibly Sir John and Lady
Alianor. There is also a stone likeness of Sir John on the north wall.
On the east end of the north and south aisles are brick stairs leading to the now lost rood screen.
Medieval brick is quite rare for this date, but the de la Pole family owned one of England’s first
brickyards, in Kingston upon Hull, from about 1320. Michael de la Pole’s own grave also has a
brick core.
In the chancel, the east window has fragments of medieval glass with the arms of the Wingfields
and the de la Pole families. About 1430, William de la Pole, the first Duke of Suffolk, lengthened
the chancel and the lady chapel and erected an arcade of arches over the tomb of his parents,
Michael and Katherine de la Pole. As mentioned previously, Katherine was the daughter of the
Earl of Stafford and this is the famous Stafford Tomb which is, unusually, made from carved
wood. South of the sanctuary, Masters of the College are buried in the floor beneath the lady

The other most notable
tomb in Wingfield Church
has also been referred to
earlier and is of John de la
Pole, 2nd Duke of Suffolk,
and his wife Elizabeth
Plantagenet, sister of
Edward lV and Richard III.
This tomb is made from

Our day in Suffolk ended

with tea and cake in a
shady, secluded part of
the beautiful gardens of
Wingfield College before
getting back on the coach
for our journey home. We
all agreed that we had
spent a very pleasant day
Wingfield Church out indeed, and thanks
were expressed to Ann
Dunning, the organiser.

Society members enjoying

tea at Wingfield College


Davies, Paul P., North Suffolk Church Crawl 19th July 2012, Yarmouth Archaeology & Local
History, 2013
Leader, Robert, In Search of Secret Suffolk, Thorogood, 2004
West, Harold Mills, Suffolk Villages, Countryside Books 2002
Dymond, David and Northeast, Peter, A History of Suffolk, Phillimore & Co. Ltd., 1985
Brown, Joan and Elizabeth, The de la Poles, Earls and Dukes of Suffolk, Wingfield 2000
Wingfield Castle, information leaflet, source unknown
Guide to Wingfield Church, information leaflet, source unknown
Guidebook, The Parish Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, Eye, Suffolk, source unknown
Wingfield College, information leaflet, source unknown, extracted from Aldwell Canon S. W. H.,
Wingfield, its Church, Castle and College, 1925
Haslam, Richard, Wingfield College Suffolk, Country Life Magazine 7th January 1982

The Society’s Visit to the Royal Air Force Air Defence Radar Museum at Neatishead
on 20th June 2014
Paul P. Davies

About 20 members of the society were treated to an absorbing tour of the facility and a talk on its
history, and the defence of the realm in recent years.

In 1941, the Air Ministry surveyed a piece of land not far from the
Broads at Horning in Norfolk with a view to establishing a site to
host a brand new air defence station, a ground control intercept
station to be exact, from where fighter controllers, backed up by a
wide range of support staff, could direct RAF fighters, day or night,
to attack enemy aircraft from Germany, as they launched raids
against military and industrial targets in Norfolk, as well as against
the city of Norwich itself.

In September 1941, two years into the Second World War, the first
secret radar system was installed at the new radar station of RAF
Neatishead. Initially, the complement of 40 airmen and airwomen
was billeted at a local village and training began in this radical early
warning system. At first, the station was home to temporary mobile
radars, but it was soon to boast new, improved fixed radar systems
such as the Type 7 Search Radar and Type 13 Height-finding
Radars. The re-enforced control room, the “Happidrome”, was built Chain Home radar towers
and it is this very building which, today, forms part of the museum. used in the Battle of Britain
in 1940. One of the first
At the end of the Second World practical radar systems
War in 1945, the world entered
seamlessly into a new conflict
that was to last 45 years; the so-called Cold War. As the
defences for the United Kingdom were reorganised with fewer,
but more advanced, radar stations to meet the new threat, RAF
Neatishead continued to play an increasingly important role in
the air defence of Great Britain. The station was established
as a Sector Operations Centre (SOC) and continued to be
used as such until 2004, by which time the only other SOC was
in Buchan, Scotland. In 1954, the main operations centre was
re-established deep underground in a vast two-storey
The Cold War Operations room hardened bunker designed to withstand attack by nuclear

Between them, the centres were responsible

to NATO for the air defence of the United
Kingdom, the Western North Sea (including
the vital oil production platforms), and the
Eastern North Atlantic. To provide cover
over such a vast area, a number of remote
radar sites were set up to feed information
into the sector operations centres, with
Trimingham, on the North Norfolk Coast,
being the radar site still associated with RAF
Neatishead today. By 2004, technology had
improved to such an extent that all
controlling functions could be undertaken
from one control centre at RAF Boulmer in

Gone were the plotting tables and fighter controller cabins
By the end of the 1950s, a new Air Defence of the 1950s. Instead, a brand new layout of tiered rows of
system, called the rotor system, was in radar consoles were installed and this new operations
place room remained in use for a further 20 years, up until 1993

Today, the aim of the base at Neatishead is to provide radar, ground-to-air radio and data links
coverage as part of the United Kingdom Air Surveillance and Control System (ASACS), in support
of national and NATO air defence; a task that has become increasingly important after the tragic
events of 9/11. Now called a remote radar head, staff based here are responsible for both the
radar at Trimingham, as well as equipment at a number of other sites in North Norfolk, and at
Neatishead itself. Information is sent by secure data-links from the various systems to RAF
Boulmer, where their controllers monitor UK air space.

With the end of the Cold War, the secret world of air defence is open to public scrutiny. The
museum traces the history and development of Air Defence Radar, since its invention in 1935,
right up to today's defence of the United Kingdom and British Forces abroad. The museum,
originally called the Air Defence Battle Command and Control Museum, was officially opened in
1994, once the underground bunker was re-commissioned after a fire in 1966. Only five rooms in
the main building were available and the museum was only open to pre-booked groups, who had
to enter the museum via the main RAF Neatishead gate. All work and tours were conducted by a
small group of volunteers. Today, the enlarged museum has incorporated several other rooms,
which house various pieces of equipment, map and plotting tables and memorabilia.

Excursion to Castle Acre and Sedgeford - August 2014
Derek Leak

On Sunday 10th August 2014, 30 members of the Great Yarmouth Local History and
Archaeological Society, with some friends, travelled to West Norfolk for the second excursion of
2014. This turned out to be fascinating, if a little on the damp side during part of the day. Ann
Dunning had once more made excellent arrangements and organised everything, except the
weather, to perfection.

We travelled first to the village of Castle Acre, which has the dual attractions of a castle and a
priory. The village is entered by a road, which passes through a flint gateway (c1200). This
formed part of the planned town’s defences, when the castle was strengthened after the anarchy
of Stephen's reign. The castle had originally been a purely domestic structure for William de
Warenne. He was one of the small number of Norman knights, who received large grants of land
after 1066. It was only later that his building was extended and fortified to make it: one of the
grandest Motte and Bailey castles in England (Nikolaus Pevsner) with, perhaps the finest castle
earthworks (E. S. Armitage). The earthworks are
massive and extend to 15 acres. The castle stands
on a bluff, which overlooks the valley of the River Nar.
With such an extensive view, there should have been
time to get everyone safely inside the castle before
hostilities broke out.

Gate into Castle Acre West wall of the priory church

Photograph: Michael Wadsworth Photograph: Derek Leak

Between the castle and the priory is a charming village green, lined with old houses, two cafes
and the Ostrich, a public house. Many of our party took advantage of these facilities during the
period of heavy rain that accompanied our stay. Our driver reported that the Norwich southern by
-pass had been closed, due to flooding, soon after we had come through it.

The more hardy souls missed out the tea and cakes and headed straight for the priory. This is a
stunning ruin, with sufficient remains to understand exactly how a pre-reformation ecclesiastical
establishment was laid out. The view from a slight rise, after exiting the visitor centre, is
breathtaking, with the west wall of the priory church prominent, faced with some superb Norman
blind arcading. The whole arrangement of the buildings is visible from this spot and we stood, in
the downpour, to take it all in. The plan then was to skip from one building to another, to take
advantage of any cover available. The prior’s lodging had been progressively improved and
extended, so that by 1500, it was easy to understand why many thought the church had become
too rich and powerful. The prior’s chapel had been covered in gold leaf and glistened in candle
light, while a very large fire kept out the cold on winter nights. We visited the chapter house,

dormitory, dining hall, lavatories, bakery and
brewery, and then took shelter in the English
Heritage shop for a hot drink.

It took about an hour to travel to our second

destination, Sedgeford. The society had heard about
the excavations there from Gary Rossin, who had
given the GYLH&AS a lecture during the previous
winter season. The origins of the project can be
traced back to a hotel bar overlooking the Bay of
Naples. It was here, in 1995, that a chance meeting
took place between Sedgeford Historical and
Archaeological Research Project’s (SHARP) founder
The site of the Anglo-Saxon cemetery, director, Dr. Neil Faulkner, and the owner of the
known as the ‘Bone Yard’ Sedgeford Hall Estate, Professor Bernard Campbell.
Photograph: Derek Leak
Agreement was reached
and the excavations started in 1996.
They have been carried out each
summer for the past 19 years. In what is
a unique enterprise in England, the same
village has been excavated year after
year to reveal past activity, ranging over
more than 4,500 years of history. The
excavation site lies in the valley of the
Heacham River. This was created after
the last Ice Age and was once navigable
beyond Sedgeford. The river now is little
more than a ditch. Along its southern
bank has been revealed a very large
Anglo-Saxon cemetery; much bigger Gary Rossin
than the indigenous population would Photograph: Derek Leak
Anglo-Saxon grain drying pit merit. It is possibly a regional Christian
Photograph: Derek Leak
burial place.
Other diverse and fascinating finds have included an Iron Age gold
torc found in two pieces, one piece in 1965 and the other in 2004, and an Iron Age horse burial,
which was found on the same day as a hoard of Iron Age Gallo-Belgic gold staters (coins), hidden
in a cow bone. In 2006, a body was found from a Roman site, burnt in what appeared to be a fire
pit for a grain drying oven. Several unusual aspects of the find led to it being described as an
unsolved murder in the local and national press.

Dr. John Jolleys was able to show us two Anglo-Saxon grain drying or malting ovens recently
found on the site. One had failed because of a faulty design. The second was more robust.
Both appeared to be of similar dates and were physically close to one another. These are unique
finds and seem to indicate technical progress being made in the village 1,500 years ago.

Visitors are permitted to the site

during the excavation season and
can see work in progress for
themselves. There is an exhibition of
recent finds to inspect and one or two
souvenirs to buy. We were treated to
tea and cake, which rounded off a
splendid afternoon. By the time we
reached the Norwich by-pass, on the
way home, the flood had subsided.

The Fourth Cemetery Crawl
Paul P. Davies

The Great Yarmouth Local History and Archaeological Society held their fourth cemetery crawl on
23rd August 2014. Over 50 members of the society visited and heard the stories relating to 15
graves situated in the Old and New Cemeteries, Great Yarmouth.

Firstly we visited Lilian Parmenter, who was drowned in 1873, when

her carriage was dragged into the River Bure, when the horse pulling it,
bolted. As she was three years old, she had been tied in. Her mother
and father survived, but their servant, Jane Barnard, aged 16 years,
also drowned, even though she was picked out of the water by a
passing wherry, where resuscitation was attempted, but failed.

Next visited was Harry Feek, a publican and one of the Great
Yarmouth’s Lifeboat crew. He became the licensee of the Bath Hotel,
having previously held the licence at the Norwich Arms and the Lord
Nelson. On arriving at the Bath Hotel, he found that the nearby Great
Yarmouth Lifeboat Station was in a poor state and its future was in
doubt. He revitalised the station and, although a landlubber, went out Harry Feek
with the crew on rescues. On Feek’s death, the coxswain said: Harry
Feek would keep the crew merry and bright with his jokes and songs of which there seemed no
end. He was man for a yarn, but when needed, he
was willing and determined. His gravestone is huge,
being seven feet tall and made of granite. It stands out
in the cemetery like a sore thumb.

This was followed by viewing Joseph Plummer’s chest

tomb, who died in 1863. He was the head of the King
Street Academy (133 King Street) for 35 years, which
was a boarding school for boys. Plummer boasted that
each boy had his own bed. A set of punishment lines
had been found in the property; Learn to despise
idleness; it is the root of all evil, written out 25 times by
George Gamble, a pupil of the academy in 1829.
During his life Plummer had accumulated 37 properties
in the town, which fetched £6,328 at auction in 1881,
after his wife died. This chest tomb has recently been
restored by Estonian conservation students on an
exchange placement in Great Yarmouth. It had been
damaged by a sycamore tree growing through it.

We moved on to Charles George Palgrave, who co-

founded the Palgrave Murphy Shipping Line. He was
The restoration of the Plummer tomb the son
of the
Collector of Customs in Great Yarmouth, who
moved to Dublin in about 1825. Charles Palgrave
became a shipping agent, mainly importing cattle
from abroad into Ireland and Wales. In the 1840s,
he joined Michael Murphy to found the shipping
line. They built a class of City Boats (screw
steamers with a schooner rig). By 1885, the firm
owned 12 vessels of between 700 and 1,200 tons.
The boats shipped general cargo and traded with
Hamburg, Ghent, Amsterdam, Bremen, Antwerp, City of Malaga. One of the boats of the
Palgrave Murphy Shipping line
Rotterdam and North America. A trip from Dublin to Hamburg usually took
five days. Palgrave moved to London to direct the London Office. He died
in 1893 and left £92,000 and gave £50 to each captain of his fleet.

James Sharman’s gravestone is now badly laminated and probably will be

replaced by the Nelson Society. He served on HMS Victory at the Battle of
Trafalgar in 1805. It is said that he helped to carry the dying Nelson down
to the cockpit of Victory. In retirement he was the keeper of the Norfolk
Pillar and often talked with Charles Dickens. He had been press-ganged
into the navy, while waiting at table in the Wrestlers’ Arms in 1805. It is
believed that Ham Peggotty, in Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield, is
Charles Palgrave based on Sharman. In the book, Ham is described as dashing into the surf
to save a struggling seaman from a shipwreck. Sharman had carried out
such a rescue. His Naval General Service Medal with a Trafalgar clasp sold at auction in 2012
for £27,000.

We moved onto Lieutenant Ernest Huke’s grave, which is in the form of an open book, who died
when his boat, HMS Dundee, was torpedoed in 1940, while on convoy duty in the Atlantic. The
torpedo was fired from U48, the most successful German submarine in the Second World War.
She sank 53 boats during 12 patrols. A survivor recalled: the blast was so severe that it tore the
lockers away from the bulkhead mess. We knew we had been hit; there was no mistaking it.
Huke’s father had served in the Royal Navy at the Battle of Jutland and in the Dardanelles during
the First World War. He retired just before the Second World War, but was re-called and served
at Aden.

A chest tomb, completely covered with ivy, marks the Rev’d. John Smith, a
Great Yarmouth Methodist minister, who became the National President of
the Primitive Methodist Church. He had started life as a plough boy and, by
hard study, he had equipped himself for ministry and developed an
inspiring force and power as a preacher. He spent a few years as a
missionary in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. He mastered the Dutch and
Bechuana languages and studied the Bible in Greek and Latin. He was a
great advocate of the temperance movement. It was ironic to see a
discarded whisky bottle adjacent to his grave. It was said that his best
sermon was delivered on his deathbed to an audience of two. His daughter
urged him to rest, but he replied: I have not finished and he continued to
preach and then died. Rev’d. John Smith

A tragedy was revealed in the form of the grocer’s wife, Eliza Blagg, who was killed in 1881 by
railway trucks being shunted by horses, harnessed alongside them, across Southtown Road. The
wheels of the truck passed over her left arm, chest and heart, killing her instantly. Her husband
carried out a high-class grocery business with shops in King Street, Market Row and Gorleston.

Another accident was the death of William Forder, who was killed with five
of his colleagues at Trinity House, when they attempted to blow up a wreck
in the shipping lanes in 1909, not knowing that it contained gelignite. As the
Yarmouth Independent reported: five of our citizens, men in the prime of
manhood, who could ill be spared, seeing that they belonged to an
honourable and useful calling, were suddenly called to that bourne from
whence no traveller returns, with a swiftness which is awful to contemplate.
Many people in the vicinity thought that an earthquake had occurred. Long
before the funeral service, people began gathering on Church Plain and,
when the cortege arrived at the church gates, the crowd numbered
thousands. Crowds also packed the cortege’s route from Blackfriars Road.
The shops and houses were shaded and flags were flown at half-mast.
There were even spectators on top of St. Nicholas’ Church tower. The
William Forder hearse was followed by a carriage full of flowers. Eight other carriages
carried William Forder’s widow, daughter, relatives and the Mayor with the Deputy Mayor. In
procession behind the carriages came officers and crew of Trinity House, coastguards, members
of the Royal Naval Reserve, the crews of the torpedo boats Conflict and Vindictive (who
happened to be in the harbour), members of the Norfolk Veterans’ Association, lifeboat men,
beachmen, fishermen, staff and boys of the Walrond Institute (a branch of Watts’ Naval School),
representatives of the General Steam Navigation Company, etc. Five clergymen and a large
choir met the coffin at the south porch of the church. The choir sang Eternal Father Strong to
Save. The coffin was borne to the graveside by colleagues from Trinity House wearing sprigs of
hyacinth. A dense crowd stood around the grave while the committal was made. After the
service, the public thronged to the grave to glance at the coffin and spend time looking at the
floral tributes. A memorial service was conducted in St. James’ Church the following afternoon
and an offertory was taken in aid of the bereaved families.

The long forgotten and unloved Yarmouth lifeboat

disaster memorial contains the bodies of five crew
members, who drowned in 1881, when their boat, the
Abraham Thomas, overturned during a rescue. On
the afternoon of 17th January 1881, a furious gale
sprang up. It continued with more violence the whole
of the next day. The oldest inhabitants of the town
said that they had never known such a strong gale.
In the locality of Great Yarmouth, ten vessels were
blown ashore onto the beach. On the next evening a
The wreck of the Guiding Star
feeling of horror overcame the town when, in addition
to the ten vessels on the beach, news spread that the
lifeboat had capsized with the loss of the crew, while attempting to reach one of the stricken
vessels. The lifeboat crew had fired three rocket lines to the Guiding Star, whose mate they were
trying to rescue. The scene on the beach was indescribable with a hurricane force wind
accompanied by showers of sand, sleet and spray, which cut the faces of the on-lookers
piteously. Finally a line was established between the ship and the shore and the lifeboat was
pulled out to the ship. In the poor weather, the signal to pull the lifeboat back to the shore was
misinterpreted and it was pulled prematurely by a large number of the interfering public. The
recovered bodies of five men from the Abraham Thomas were interred in the New Cemetery.
The five hearses and 12 mourning carriages met in the
Market Place and slowly proceeded to St. Nicholas’
Church. As each coffin passed through the gate, the
Mayoress placed upon it a large anchor in evergreens
and white flowers. The cortege consisted of the Mayor
and a detachment of the Coastguard and Royal Naval
Reserve. The vast church was over-crowded for the
reading of the burial service. To the solemn strains of the
Dead March in Saul played on the organ, the procession
reformed and then wended its way to the grave. Over
each grave the ground was inlaid with white beach
pebbles and a small headstone placed bearing the name
of him who rested beneath. The whole memorial was surrounded by a low border of grey stone.
The massive central monument of a cross and anchor, bound together with a stout cable, was
inscribed with the names and ages of the six men who drowned and the words from Psalm 42:
Then are they glad, because they are at rest:
so He bringeth them unto the haven where they would be
Thomas John Jones, aged 25 years, who they were rescuing from the Guiding Star, also drowned
and lies alongside the memorial.

It was calculated that more than 10,000 people were present in the cemetery. It was reported in
the local newspaper that: they conducted themselves in an orderly and quiet manner. A further
2,000 people visited the graves of the lifeboatmen the following Sunday. A fund was set up by
the Mayor of Great Yarmouth to help the four widows and 22 children of the lifeboatmen. The
Royal National Lifeboat Institute donated £700. The fund raised over £3,000 in total. It is
interesting to note that the coroner at the inquest stated: that Board of Trade regulations only
allowed for three rocket lines to be fired. If more were required a request would have to be
telegraphed to them.

The next grave was that of James Spinks, a fisherman, who died off the coast of Holland after his
smack, Try Again, with her nets down, was run down by a steamer. In thick fog, the steamer cut
through the bows of the smack, which overturned before the crew could make for their lifeboat.
Five people drowned in the accident and their bodies were never
found. James Spinks had joined the Try Again for a pleasure trip.
The owner of the smack, Captain Wright, had previously lost four
of his eight boats.

We moved on to the grave of James Coman Taylor. He died in

1903, and was a tobacco pipe maker. Taylor was of above
average height and always wore a tall silk top-hat. In 1871, his
wife, Susannah, and three of his children were all working
making pipes from his small factory in Row 47, off North Quay,
from where he sent his high quality churchwarden and short
pipes far and wide. His predecessor had shown a pipe in the
Paris exhibition of 1878, claiming it was the largest pipe in the
Clay pipe stamped Taylor, North world. Its bowl held 14 pounds of tobacco.
Quay, Great Yarmouth
We paid our
respects to Samuel
Smith, a shoemaker, who was killed in the Zeppelin
raid of 1915. His grave of pebbles edged with
bricks holds two plaques. Until recently it was
cared for by Smith’s great niece, but is now so
overgrown and neglected, that it is difficult to find.

The Salmon family gravestone shows two people

dying accidently in 1890. Herbert, aged three, was
burnt to death while playing with matches. His
father, Charles, drowned while assisting at a wreck
in his role as a shipping agent and the secretary of
the New Mutual Smack Fishing and Total Loss
Insurance Company. He was returning from the Samuel Smith’s grave in 2002 (left)
wreck aboard the tug, Gleaner, when it hit an and 2014 (right)
anchored schooner. In the panic, and in fear that
the tug was sinking, he made a jump for the
schooner, grabbing the rigging, but fell into the sea and was carried away. As was usual at the
time, a fund was raised for public subscription, to give financial aid to his family.

The last grave visited was that of Mary Bennett, the victim of the
bootlace murder on South Beach in 1900. Her estranged husband,
Herbert Bennett, was convicted of her murder and hanged. The
case still interests people as it is felt, by some, that a miscarriage
of justice had been carried out and the intense public animosity
aroused against the accused was responsible for the jury’s verdict.
Books have been written about the case and at least two television
programmes have been made about the uncertainty of the verdict.

Yarmouth Mercury, Yarmouth Independent, various
Davies, Paul P., Stories Behind the Stones, ISBN-13: 978-0954450939, 2008

The Society’s Third Church Crawl : 2nd July 2014
Heydon, Salle, Cawston, Booton and Bawdswell
Paul P. Davies

Several members met in the early morning at Heydon

Church. This church is situated in one of Norfolk’s
peaceful and attractive villages. The village has been
used for such films as The Go Between, Woman in
White and Vanity Fair. The church tower is 15th
century with dressed flints, which are packed around
with little shards of the same stone. This is known as
galletting and is a good defence against damp and
frost. Inside the church the font is 13th century; a big
round tub with roll mouldings. This is unusual in
Norfolk, which is well-known for its seven sacrament
fonts. Repairs to the church in 1970 revealed a series
of 14th century wall paintings, which had been painted
over at the Reformation. We can now see a part of Heydon Church
the Three Living and the Three Dead, which was used
in the Middle Ages to demonstrate the transience of life and, no matter who one was, all would be
judged. The three living are saying as you are, so once we were, as we are, so you shall be. The
dead are three skeletons and the three living are three kings with one holding a hawk and one a
sceptre. Another wall painting shows a life-cycle of St. John the Baptist and yet another, a
crowned queen and one a possible nativity scene with the Three Kings holding gifts. The tall
rood screen was donated in 1480 and still has coloured decoration, but without any images,
which is unusual for East Anglia. The wine glass pulpit
was given in 1470 and its back plate holds a Flemish
carving of the Last Supper (1640). A box-pew,
presumably for the lord of the manor, has an unusual
Bible box. In the north aisle is a huge black
monumental slab measuring 12 feet by six feet. It is
said that it broke three bridges on its way to Heydon. It
commemorates Erasmus Earle, a Member of
Parliament from 1640 in the Long Parliament and
Sergeant at Law to Oliver Cromwell. On Christmas
Day 1648, Earle sentenced to death the men, who
Galletting raided the Norwich powder magazine, which blew up
and rendered St. Peter Mancroft windowless. There is
also a memorial to the novelist, Baron Lytton. He was also a poet and politician. He coined such
phrases as: the great unwashed, the pen is mightier than the sword and it was a dark and stormy

Standing almost alone is Salle Church. It is a large church

of beauty and interest. Recent excavation work has
revealed the foundations of a small Saxon church, oddly
orientated north-south. Many wealthy families lived in its
vicinity and lavished their money on the church. Stone has
been used from Barnack, rather than flint. Above the west
door are the shields of these families and one of Henry V
as Prince of Wales (1400-13), thus giving an accurate date
for the building of the tower. The north and south porches
are large and of two storeys with vaulted ceilings studded
with bosses. Over the richly decorated west door, in the
spandrels, are carved angels with censors. The transepts
are documented as being built between 1440-1444. The Wall painting of the three kings in
ceiling of the south transept is said to be the original design Heydon Church
for the ceiling of the House of Lords. The vast spacious
Salle Church Salle Church ceiling

interior is well lit from plain glass in the windows and helped by
slender arcades nearly reaching the ceiling. Pieces of
medieval glass have been inserted into some of the windows.
The nave roof has angels at the intersections and crowned M’s
(for Mary) and sacred monograms
on the rafters. The chancel roof
retains 159 of the original 276
angels. An impressive series of
carvings representing the life of
Christ runs along its ridge. The
bottom panels of the rood screen
are painted with four of the
apostles and the four Latin
doctors. Some of the panels are
Censoring angel in the spandrel of mysteriously blank. Why, is open
the west door of Salle Church
to conjecture. The stalls in the
chancel contain misericords with
carvings of wildlife and human heads on their arms. There were
seven priests at the church, when the population of the village was
200 souls. Their main role was to say masses for the souls of the
Bird with a nest and chicks
dead. The pulpit, given in 1611, retains its red and green colour
on a misericord in Salle
scheme, which also decorates the nave. The pulpit was converted Church
into a three-decker one, probably in the 18th century, when
preaching the word of God was paramount. A tall cover surmounts
the font supported by a large iron bracket. The two steps of the font are inscribed with: Pray for
the souls of Thomas Luce and …., a remnant from pre-Reformation days, when purgatory could
be shortened by the living praying for the dead. Thomas Luce died in 1489. The font is of the
seven sacrament variety, but, unusually,
has an angel underneath each sacrament
holding the appropriate symbol. There
are many memorial brasses, including
one to Geoffrey and Alice Boleyn, the
great grandparents of Anne Boleyn. It
was rumoured in the 19th century that
Queen Anne Boleyn was unearthed
under the cover of darkness, after her
execution, from her grave in the chapel of
St. Peter ad Vincula at the Tower of
London by her ladies-in-waiting and
A boss in the chapel in the deposited in the Boleyn vault in Salle Chancel ceiling carving
north porch showing a green Church at midnight with holy rites, which of the Last Supper in
man Salle Church
had been denied her by Henry VIII.
The next church visited
was at Cawston, a big
edifice surrounded by
its village. It dates
from the 14th century
apart from its chancel
and south transept,
which are dated much
earlier. This church
was built by Michael
de la Pole, the Earl of
Suffolk. Expensive
Caen stone was used
to build the tower. In
the spandrels of the
tower are a carving of
a dragon and a wild
man, demonstrating
the cross-over from
paganism to
Christianity. There is
Salle Church nave roof (left) and south transept roof (right) fine engraving around
the top of the porch
and the clerestory
windows are outlined with brick. The roof, one of the best in the country, is a double-hammer
beam one with each post boasting large standing angels with outstretched wings. More angels
appear on the cornice and the apex of the roof. The angels are feathered, akin to birds. The tall
early 16th century rood screen, one of the best in Norfolk, is decorated with saints attributed to
Flemish artists. The figures, unusually, did not have their faces obliterated at the Reformation.

Misericord and feathered angel in Cawston Church

Pieces of medieval stained glass and the rood screen in Cawston Church
In the south transept is a roof with bosses and an elaborate
piscina with a wild man and a dragon in its spandrels. On the
wall is a painting of, possibly, the Virgin Mary. Above the
chancel arch are the remains of a Doom painting, including the
shape of the rood figures, which once stood against it. The
south aisle windows hold some superb medieval stained glass.
In the south aisle there remain some pews for the poor. Three
misericord seats survive in the chancel with some interesting

After lunch, the

next church visited
was at Booton.
Carving of a dragon swallowing a
Here, the Revd. mammal in Cawston Church
Whitwell Elwin was
the rector for 50
years from 1850.
Elwin was the great grandson of Pocahontas. He
decided to rebuild the old church, keeping only the
walls of the nave and chancel, which he encased in
new flint work. He created a fantasy palace. Without
any architectural training he copied designs from other
Booton Church

The angel stained glass in Booton churches and placed

Church pinnacles of all shapes
and sizes on the
exterior, many with

Inside, huge angels with

upswept wings, jut out
from the hammer beams
of the roof. These were
to hold candelabras. The
large amount of stained
glass in the church show
a multitude of angels, mainly musicians. The angels are said to
be images of Elwin’s many intimate young female friends, who
contributed almost £300,000 to the re-building project. Sir
Edwin Lutyens described Booton Church as very naughty, but
in the right spirit. However, in private he said he did not like it.
Lutyens married Elwin’s daughter.
Bawdeswell Church

Memorial to the pilots of the crashed plane (left) and a Flemish roundel (right)

The last church visited was at

Bawdeswell. This church had been
destroyed in 1944. A Mosquito
bomber, returning home from a raid on
the Ruhr, iced up and crashed right
into the church. The Norwich architect,
J. Fletcher Watson designed a flint and
brick building with a shingle lantern
surmounted by a weathercock. It has
the look of a New England church.

Inside there is a west gallery, and a

modern three-decker pulpit. Small
roundels of Flemish stained glass are
inserted into the nave plain glass
windows. John Betjeman described
Bawdeswell Church as being in ghastly
good taste. A memorial records the
names of the pilot and co-pilot. It is
made from part of the crashed plane.

Mortlock, D. P. and Roberts, C. V., The Guide to Norfolk Churches, Lutterworth Press, 2007
Knott, Simon,
Church guides of Heydon, Salle, Cawston, Booton and Bawdeswell
History of the site where Emmanuel Church in Northgate Street Stands
Paul P. Davies

Emmanuel Church, Northgate Street sits on a

historic site. The site began as a medieval leper
(lazar) house and then subsequently received
plague victims and, later, the poor of the town.
In 1847, the premises became a Ragged School
for poor children and a new building was erected
on the site. About 1875, this developed into a
Town Mission Room and a school complete with
a Town Missionary. By 1947, Emmanuel
Pentecostal Church was established on the site.

Leprosy is a chronic mycobacterial disease

caused by a bacillus. The first known written
mention of leprosy was in 600 BC. It was Emmanuel Church
discussed by Hippocrates in 460 BC. The
earliest proven human case was verified by DNA taken from the shrouded remains of a man
discovered in a tomb next to the Old City of Jerusalem and was dated
by radiocarbon methods to 1 to 50 AD.

Leprosy is spread by droplets during close contact. Firstly, it affects

the peripheral nerves and secondly, the skin, causing nodules. When
the sensory nerves are damaged, they are unable to register pain.
When the nerves, which supply the feet and hands, are affected, they
are vulnerable to damage, which sometimes results in the loss of
toes, feet, hands and fingers. In 1951, there were 15 million leprosy
sufferers in the world. This had fallen to six million in the year 2000.
These cases were mainly in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Seventy
per cent of the world’s lepers live in India. Leprosy became treatable
in the 1940s with dapsone. By the 1960s, resistance to the drug had
A leper with his warning developed and rifampicin and clofazimine superseded dapsone1.
From a medieval The Crusaders probably introduced leprosy into Britain from the east,
manuscript when it was described as a malignant and disgusting disease. The
introduction of this contagious disease led to the erection of houses
outside the walls of towns for the reception of people afflicted with leprosy. The law in Leviticus
chapter 13 verse 46 states: they shall dwell alone; without the camp shall be their habitation.
There was also an English law, dated 1100, de leproso amovendo, by which a parish could
remove a leper. It is known that 345 leper houses were in existence in the country between the
11th and 13th centuries. In 1225, it was estimated by Matthew Paris, a Benedictine Monk, that
there were 19,000 leper houses in Europe2.

Leper houses were usually built on the edge of towns and cities, or if
they were in rural areas, near crossroads or major travel routes. Lepers
needed to stay in contact with society to beg alms, trade items, and
offer services such as praying for the souls of benefactors. At a very
early period, mention is made of Lazar (after Lazarus, the leper who
was raised from the dead by Christ) or leper houses at Great Yarmouth,
long before the completion of the town wall in the 14th century. Two
were situated at a short distance beyond the North Gate. Another one
was probably erected outside the South Gate as Nicholas Pykering, in
1466, gave to the lepers at each gate of the town, two shillings. The
northern leper hospital was very probably on the site of Emmanuel
Church, Northgate Street. Chapels were attached to each leper house,
as no leper was allowed to go into the town. In 1558, it was agreed by A leper
the Corporation of Yarmouth that Mr. More shall have
the Barge House, giving for the same what he will, to
the intent that he build a chapel in the Lazar House
out of the North Gate.

Reaction to the disease was complicated. Some

people believed it was a punishment for sin, but others
saw the suffering of lepers as similar to the suffering of
Christ. Because lepers were enduring purgatory on
earth, they would go directly to heaven when they
died, and were therefore closer to God than other
people. Those who cared for them or made charitable
donations believed that such good works would
reduce their own time in purgatory and accelerate their
journey to heaven. Thus, the leper hospitals were the
objects of many bequests from charitable persons.
There are several examples of bequests from Great
Yarmouth townspeople: in 1349, Jeffery de Fordelle,
a burgess left six-pence to each house of lepers3, in
1362, Stephen de Stalham gave 20 shillings to the two
leper houses4, in 1349, Alice Cristion left a bequest5
and, in 1374, Jeffrey de Drayton also gave six shillings
and eight-pence (a third of
a pound)6. When the
A leper scatters the populace incidence of leprosy
declined, the leper houses
were used for other
purposes, for example, people who were infectious or plague
sufferers. At the Reformation the leper hospital beyond the North Gate
was acquired by Yarmouth Corporation and a warden appointed. In
1637, when the plague was raging in the town, the leper houses were
fitted up for the reception of the victims. Leprosy had declined in The hand of a leper
England by the mid-14th century and, by the mid-15th century, few
leper houses remained.

The leper houses were governed by a custos (one was appointed by Yarmouth Corporation in
1530) who had an assistant, a foregoer, who begged and collected alms for the support of the

A leper house, called the Hospital of St.

James, was standing in Gorleston in
1372, but its site is unknown. It held its
lands by an annual payment of a pair of
gloves, which continued to be made
until the middle of the 17th century8. A
payment of a glove was a mode of
investiture from which the term, glove
money, derives. In 1379, Simon atte
Gappe of Yarmouth bequeathed six
shillings and eight-pence to this leper

Some of the leper houses in Yarmouth

were dismantled in the 18th century, as
the plague had not visited the town for
many years7. One of the houses near
the North Gate remained, but it was in a Map of Great Yarmouth showing the leper house

dilapidated condition and was occupied by some
needy people, who were allowed to live there rent
-free. The last tenant, an old man named Adam
Dye, who had occupied the old crazy edifice
refused to leave and, on the 16th February 1847,
was brought before the Mayor, Mr. W. N.
Burroughs, who granted a warrant for his ejection.

In 1847, the site was used to build a Ragged

School. The date of 1847 is visible over the side
door. Palmer tells us that it was a red-bricked
building7. Ragged Schools commenced in the
early 19th century to provide free schooling to the
poorest children. For many of the destitute
children, going to school each day was not an The former leper house chapel at Sprowston
option. There was no such thing as free Road, Norwich, founded 1119
education for everyone. From the 18th century
onwards, there had been some ragged schools,
however they were few and far between. They had commenced in areas where someone had
been concerned enough to want to help disadvantaged children towards a better life. As well as
giving basic lessons, many schools provided food. As time went on, some also opened as
refuges, where the children could sleep, especially in the extremely cold weather.

The schools were given the name, Ragged, because the children who attended only wore very
ragged clothes and rarely had shoes. They did not own suitable clothing that enabled them to
attend any other kind of school.
Many people believed that by giving the children an
education they would be able to lead a better life in the
future. Thus, they would be able to find work to keep
themselves and would not need to steal in order to live.
Mr. Locke, of the Ragged School Union, called for more
help in keeping the schools open. He asked the
government to give more thought to preventing crime
rather than punishing the wrongdoers. He said that
punishment only made the young criminals worse.

Three years before the opening of Great Yarmouth’s

Ragged School, in 1844, Lord Shaftesbury had founded
a Ragged School Union and over the subsequent years
200 such schools were established. We know nothing
else about the Ragged School in Great Yarmouth.
However, a letter appeared in the Yarmouth Independent
on 15th April 1878, written by Mr. S. W. Page, who is
A Ragged School described as the Superintendent and Treasurer to the
Ragged School, which is situated at the North Mission
School. Mr. Page stated that the school had been in existence for many years, but had been
materially altered in the last two years. The children used to assemble on Sunday evenings,
when many came who had attended other schools during the day, only to while away an hour.
Finding that the children did not work well, the Sunday evening school was discontinued and
morning classes were substituted. In 1878, there were 100 waifs and strays on the register, of
which 60 children usually attended. Mr. Page continued, although the school was an appendage
of the North Mission it was self-supporting. Recently a legacy of 19 guineas had been left to the
school. The school started on Sundays at a quarter to eleven and was under the tutorage of
Messrs. English, Flaxman and Warden9.

According to an undated (probably the 1940s) local newspaper article on display in Emmanuel
Church there were three Ragged Schools in Great Yarmouth.
In the beginning, many of the Ragged Schools were started
by churches and were staffed by volunteers. However,
because of the growing number of children, it soon became
necessary to have paid members of staff. Many petitions to
Parliament for grants were made.

Charles Dickens wrote about a Ragged School in London: an

attempt is being made in certain of the most obscure and
squalid parts of the Metropolis, where rooms are opened, at
night, for the gratuitous instruction of all comers, children or
adults, under the title of Ragged Schools. They are for those
who are too ragged, wretched, filthy, and forlorn, to enter any
other place: who could gain admission into no charity school,
and who would be driven from any church door; are invited to
come in here, and find some people not depraved, willing to
teach them something, and show them some sympathy, and
stretch a hand out, which is not the iron hand of law, for their

In 1875, Palmer tells us that the building was used as a

Mission House7. In 1885, the building is marked as a
Methodist Chapel on a local map. In 1871, the Yarmouth
The gravestone of Joseph English Independent reported that a tea was held at the North
Mission for aged people. One hundred and fifty poor people
attended, with many ladies of the town serving the tea. The room was tastefully decorated with
flags and banners. The Town Missionary gave an address. Mr. Rumble presented a very
handsome tea service of 850 pieces, with the name of the Mission on each piece, for use at the
Mission. From the census return for 1871, it appears that Rumble (William George of 19 King
Street, Great Yarmouth) was a retired china dealer. Of the 150 people who attended the tea, 90
of them were widows and the remainder were over 60 years of age. The Mission also gave 100
loaves, 100 ounces of tea and 100 half pounds of sugar to those who were unable to attend the
tea. One gentleman gave 50 one-quarter pounds of tea to needy widows.

In 1874, the building was

described as the North Mission
conducted by Joseph English at
17 Caister Road. In 1894, it is
listed as the North Mission Room
at 44 Northgate Street. In 1924, it
is listed as the Great Yarmouth
Town Mission at 47 Northgate
Street11. At the end of the 19th
century extensive re-numbering of
the roads in Great Yarmouth took
Some of the surviving crockery donated by Mr. Rumble in 1871 place and also a few were
renamed. Joseph English was
the full-time Town Missionary. He was born in 1830 at Reepham, Norfolk. He was the son of a
shoemaker in Reepham, Norfolk. In 1851, he was living at Bridge Street, March in
Cambridgeshire and was a boot and shoe maker. In 1861, he was living at North Market Road
and was working as a grocer and cordwainer and, in 1871, at 13 Northumberland Place. In 1881,
he was living at 35 St. Nicholas Road12. Joseph English died in August 1886 at the age of 55
years. He had been ill for about a fortnight, but not dangerously so, and his sudden death was
greeted with surprise. He was buried in the New Cemetery, Kitchener Road. A book
surmounted by a crown is carved on his gravestone. The book usually denotes a Bible and thus,
a devout religious person. The crown signifies victory over death. The epitaph states: For 21
years an esteemed and successful missionary of this town, followed by a text from Daniel,
Chapter 12, verse 3.

Later Town Missionaries included
James Read. He was followed in
1937 by Mr. B. J. Algar, who occupied
the position for 10 years until Mr. H. T.
V. Griggs took over the work13. The
mission room used to be a complex of
three buildings. The North Mission
was taken over by leading non-
conformists in 1889. The congregation
sat on wooden forms in a dimly gas-lit
hall. The building was damaged in
1941 by enemy action and was
renovated in the 1940s13.

In 1895, the St. Nicholas’ Mission Hall Unveiling the plaque

for Women in Northgate Street was
opened. In the first year 4,911 attendances were made by factory girls. Games were played and
lessons of a religious, industrial and recreational nature were given. Disappointingly, very few
girls attended the Bible classes. The hall was open every night. It was also used to train women
in theology and practical mission work for missionary service abroad. In the first four years it
trained 60 such workers. In 1901, the St. Nicholas’ Mission in Northgate Street established a
Mission Laundry. It was for the employment and training of
respectable working women without the rougher elements of
factory life. The laundry was taken over by a private firm in
1905 and the mission house was closed14. I suspect that the St.
Nicholas Mission used the building.

The building remained as a mission room until Emmanuel

Pentecostal Church was established here in 1947.
For such a historic site it was appropriate that the Society
erected a blue plaque on Emmanuel Church in December 2014.

Rees R. J., Pearson J. M., Waters M. F., Experimental and Clinical Studies on Rifampicin in
Treatment of Leprosy, British Medical Journal, 89–92, 10th January 1970
Leprosy, Catholic Encyclopedia, New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1913
Swinden, Henry, A History of Great Yarmouth, p823, 1772
Swinden, Henry, A History of Great Yarmouth, p818, 1772
Swinden, Henry, A History of Great Yarmouth, p817, 1772
Swinden, Henry, A History of Great Yarmouth, p819, 1772
Palmer, C. J., Perlustration of Great Yarmouth v III p68, 1875
Palmer, C. J., Perlustration of Great Yarmouth v III p332, 1875
Yarmouth Independent, letters page, 15th April 1878
Dickens, Charles, The Daily News, 4th February 1846
Various Great Yarmouth Directories
Census Returns
Undated local newspaper cutting, 1940s
Davies, Paul P., St Nicholas’ Church, Great Yarmouth, A Chronology of its History, Paul P.
Davies, 2007

The Wreck of HMS Flora after leaving Yarmouth Roads in 1808 and its Aftermath
Paul P. Davies

In 2014, a hand-written booklet of 21 double-sided pages and measuring 19 cm x 16 cm was

found by Mike Edwards of Tunbridge Wells, Kent, while sorting out his late aunt’s effects. He
kindly decided to gift the document to the Great Yarmouth Local History and Archaeological
Society. It is a mystery how his aunt had obtained this valuable document. The booklet is
interesting, as it gives an eye witness account of the wrecking of a Royal Naval ship and the fate
of the crew, who were taken prisoner. In the booklet there are several engravings of HMS Flora
showing her demise and including some with rafts making
for the shore. The document is unsigned, but it may be
assumed that the author was present at the time and that
he was probably an officer, when one studies the
standard of the prose and the correct spelling of words.

HMS Flora was a 36-gun fifth-rate ship launched at

Deptford in 1780 and wrecked in 1808. She was a frigate
with 26 long 18-pounders; 10 long 9-pounders and six
carronades (18-pounders); giving a total of 42 guns, but
classified as a 36. She had a complement of 257 crew
and a tonnage of 869 (BM).

The ship described in the booklet is the second ship with

this name. In 1794, assisted by the HMS Arethusa, she
captured the French ships La Pomone and La Babet.
She also captured the Viper (with HMS Druid, HMS
Sheerness, HMS Echo and HMS Shark). In 1796, she
Title page of the booklet captured the Epervier. In 1797, she captured the French

Extract from the booklet

privateer Incroyable (with HMS Pearl). In 1798, she captured the Mondovi, the Grimaldi, the
Carlota, recaptured the Nostra Senora de Monte and captured the Polacre, President Parker and
Baret (all three with HMS Caroline). In 1799, she recaptured the Prussian ship Drie Vrienden, the
American ship Six Sisters, captured the French privateers L'Intrepide, L'Aventure, Legere of
Bayonne and Rhuiter, the French ship L'Aurore and Le Hazard and the Spanish privateer Nostra
del Carmen alias Diligente. In 1800, she captured the Spanish privateers Corunesa and St.
Antonio y Animas and the Spanish ship Santa Christiana del Gras. In 1806, she captured the
Spanish privateer El Esperdarte and, a year later, she captured the Hoop, the Neptune and the
Hoffnung (with HMS Forrester and HMS Hyacinth). She also took the St. Sylvester (with HMS
Vestal and HMS Hyacinth). Flora was wrecked in 1808, losing 9 hands. Her captain, Loftus
Otway Bland, and crew were taken prisoner.
The booklet describes in detail the battle
to save the ship, after she had run
aground in a gale after leaving
Yarmouth Roads, on the morning of
27th December 1807, with orders to
cruise off Texel. She was accompanied
by another unnamed ship. On sailing
there was a strong breeze from the west

On 4th January 1808, HMS Flora

anchored off the island of Heligoland.
Here they found the brigs Archer and
Forrester. The following morning the
Governor of Heligoland, now a
Commander, who was formerly the
Lieutenant on HMS Majestic, came on
board and stayed overnight. The crew
of the Flora constructed a telegraph on
the island, while the sailmakers made balls for it. The weather was tolerable until 10th January,
when a gale from the north-north-west with heavy snow set in. Two days later, it was now
described as a great gale. The crew watched as the Archer was driven a quarter of a mile in an
hour. During the gale the crew of the Flora laid a second cable and, when attempting to lay a
third, the first cable parted close to the anchor. The ship drove for some distance until it came to
a halt on one cable and the sheet anchor. The gale moderated, but two days later at three
o’clock in the morning, with the wind freshening, it was necessary to let out the sheet anchor.
The messenger (chain or rope used for hauling in a cable) broke and had to be replaced. Then
the anchor broke just under the stock and the author states: in this perilous condition on a dark
winter’s night, a heavy gale blowing, snow falling heavily on our heads, no sea room and the wind
dead upon the shore the captain decided to run between the island and the main land. The fore
and main topsails were set, the foresail reefed, but it could not be set. The ship lay to the
northward for a time. The wind moved to the west-south-west and the ship was now clear of the
danger of a lee shore. On 15th January, one of the ship’s cutters was washed away. Another
tremendous gale came onto the ship from the north-west. The author wrote: a gale as I never
before had experienced. At this time we were laying under close-reefed main topsails and not
daring to take it in we expected every moment to see all the masts go over the side. A heavy
sea broke over the ship that laid her on her beam ends for several minutes. The author continues:
such a sight was enough to appal the bravest heart and we knew at that moment we might find a
watery grave, but it is the will of God that we escaped from this encounter. For the next 36 hours
the gale raged. When it moderated the captain made sail for land. However, while sailing along
the islands, the ship ran aground and immediately stuck fast. The lighthouse on Vliestroom was
on a bearing of south-west; the east end of the island bearing south-east and at least four
leagues off; and the (Ter)Schelling lighthouse south-east by east and nearly three leagues away.
The captain was astonished that land was so near, as he had previously warned the pilots to take
care. It was a little off high water. The wind again gathered strength. All weight was taken off the
top of the ship and placed on the decks. The spare spars were put over the side to shore the ship
up and the anchor was laid in the best direction for heaving the ship off. The westerly wind was
freshening all the time with a great swell, which frustrated all their efforts to get a bow anchor out,
although they had made a raft for that purpose. Although the situation was dangerous, the
darkness of the night and the rough sea caused the crew to give up and impatiently wait for better
times. In the meantime, the ship was lightened by heaving overboard all the heavy items, such
as the shot. Several guns were moved from the larboard (port) side of the ship and she began to
lift off the sea bed. Great, and probably their last, effort was made to move the direction of the
ship to the north. The bow anchor was let go and ship made sail. The ship had lost her rudder;
the jolly boat lost overboard and they only had three barges left on board and one anchor. The
crew now, cheerfully, went to the pumps although they were worn out, but the water reached
eight feet. The captain noted: that in spite of fatigue, the crew had behaved magnificently with
bravery and obedience. If it wasn’t for the crew we would all have surely perished.

The situation was now poor and there was no choice but to run the ship onto the nearest shore,
which happened to be the enemy’s. The ship was lightened further with all guns being thrown
overboard, apart from two, which would be used to signal distress. With the ship sinking fast it
made the shore at nine o’clock in the morning of the 19th January after a dark and foggy night
with very poor visibility. The ship was grounded near the shore amongst high breakers. There
was now only one small boat left on Flora, which would carry only one-eighth of the crew. At
midday, the captain ordered that the mizzen and the other masts to be cut down and cast
overboard, which, in the author’s words: caused a dismal roar that struck terror into everyone. By
four o’clock in the afternoon, two rafts had been constructed. The officers and 12 seaman left in
the remaining ship’s barge with a flag of truce, hoping to obtain help from the shore. The rafts
with 100 men on them also made for the shore through the surf. After they had left the ship, the
foremast was cut down and made into a third raft, which was completed at one o’clock the next
morning. All that could be cast overboard was now done, in the hope of getting the ship closer to
the shore. In the meantime the barge had returned to the ship with two men, but it was unable to
get alongside, because of the waves. At midday, the fourth raft was being constructed and, four
hours later, it took 52 men to the shore. The men left aboard were constantly cheering to keep up
their spirits. Three of the crew drowned and three died because of the severe weather on this raft.
On landing they were greeted by five or six Dutchmen on the beach. They showed them the way
to the town, which they called Schelling, which was nine English miles away. Worn out, wet and
hungry, the sailors came to a house, where they were given rum. Onwards they marched and at
last arrived at Schelling, where they were lodged in various houses and treated tolerably well. At
four o’clock in the afternoon (now the 21st January) they were all mustered and marched from
Schelling and embarked on a schoot (schuyt : a Dutch flat-bottomed sailboat, broad in the beam,
with square stern; usually equipped with leeboards to serve for a keel) for Harlingen, where they
arrived after a day’s and a night’s passage. Here they were placed in a prison, which had formerly
been a church, where they were re-united with
most of their crew. They remained here for
seven weeks with nothing to lie on but straw.
Here they were informed of the death of ten
men and boys, who were on the first and
second rafts. They perished getting ashore or
dropping off the rafts or from the severe
coldness on the beach. The writer lists the men
who perished: Oliver Armour, man at arms; Alex
Wright, seaman; John Roads, seaman; Charles
Finchat, seaman; Joseph Woodbine, marine;
Corporal William Whitehead, marine; Private
James Driver, marine; H. Couper, boy; Richard
Fairbrother, boy and Charles Jarmain, boy.

Two men (Maurice Fitzgerald, a seaman, and

William Dugdale, a marine) died in the church/
prison from fever and they were buried in the
churchyard in one grave.

On 4th March, the people who had left the ship

in the barge, arrived. On 6th March, they were
all marched down to the pier head and
embarked on four schoots for Breda. At three
o’clock the next morning they anchored off
Amsterdam. They remained here for two days,
awaiting one of the schoots that had grounded. Sail was set again and they arrived at the first
lock of an Amsterdam canal and, after exiting, they remained lashed to the quay for the night.
Next afternoon, Haarlem was reached, which was passed (as were other towns, which the writer
states as too tedious to mention). However, Dergon and Dordrecht were worthy of note.

By the 9th March, they arrived as far as the schoots could travel in the canals. On 11th March,
orders were given to begin marching and they entered Breda the same afternoon, where they met
some more of HMS Flora’s ship’s company, 120 in all. The Dutch Aide-de-Camp, speaking in
English, warned that any misbehaviour amongst the prisoners would be severely punished. After
this, the crew were marched into a prison, which was formerly the Prince of Orange’s palace.
Here they were allocated with a bed for two people with two blankets and sheets. The following
allowances were given to each man daily:

1½ pounds of bread
½ pound of meat
One-twentieth of a pint of vinegar
One-thirtieth pound of salt
With 4 truss and a portion of vegetables
They were also allowed four pence a week for washing
When women were prisoners they had but half the allowances.

Exercise was allowed in the square, which was in the middle of the building. It was only 250
yards long and wide.

On 30th March, 50 prisoners arrived from Harlingen. They had been captured by French
privateers. On the same day William Warra, a marine, died of fever. On Easter Sunday, 17th
April, James Brown, a seaman, died of a fever of nine days duration. He was decently buried in
the churchyard of Breda with Dutch soldiers and some of the crew of the Flora in attendance (with
the permission of the Commandant of Breda).

On 21st April, the prisoners were informed by the Dutch Aide-de-Camp that if the square was
kept swept, the prisoners would be awarded with a bottle of gin for every 16 men, twice a week.

On 1st May, Robert Curtis and Benjamin Cero of the Flora, and on 26th May, Thomas Fairbanks,
were freed. On July 10th, William Wallis, late of HMS Flora, was released. All were released on
the orders of the American Consul.

On 4th and 6th May, a number of prisoners were given shoes, stockings and shirts, who were
most in need of them.

Three days later, a playhouse was opened for the amusement of the prisoners and those who
were able to perform. Lights were provided.

On 8th May, a Dutch lieutenant arrived soliciting prisoners to enter into Dutch service.
Accordingly, James Salter (the captain’s servant), Francis Reigle and William Hills of HMS Le
Amiable volunteered. Also, Danes, Swedes and a Frenchman, sixteen in total, defected. The
Dutch officer returned four days later with the same offer, but no one accepted. However, on 7th
July, 15 or 16 men accepted, with most of them from the Flora crew. Later, two returned to the

On 9th May, a party of the captured shipwrights were engaged to build a six-oared boat, in the
prison chapel, on the plan of a deal gig. Four men were taken out of the prison by a guard for
defacing the walls of the prison and pulling slates of the roof. They were taken to the town jail,
where they were fed on bread and water for two days and then returned. By 29th May, the boat
was finished and it was taken to the green in front of the prison and painted in an English fashion.
On 7th June, the shipwrights were engaged by a Dutch general and a gentleman to build a vessel
of 70 tons, which was built on the green.

On 14th May, John Templeton died of consumption. He was followed on 5th June by Henry Cook
of the Flora. He also died of consumption of three months duration.

William Duncan and a man called Pendigrass were detected by the prison sergeant attempting to
make their escape at night on 26th May. They were put in the black hole for a day and then taken
to the town jail. The rest of the prisoners were
denied their exercise in the square until 4th June.
The two men were moved to Lowenstein.

On 25th June, five men were taken from the prison

to the town jail, where they were fed on bread and
water, after breaking into a room and stealing
shoes and stock.

On 3rd July, eight men arrived from Harlingen as

prisoners. They were from a Swedish ship, which Leeuwarden Prison
had been detained at Harlingen.

On 15th July, William Foss, a carpenter of the Emperor of Russia and William Peterson of the
same ship were released, one being a Dane and the other a native of Hamburg.

Here the document tantalisingly ends with a two page poem. There is also a copy of two letters
that Captain Bland had sent to Admiral de Winter, Commander in Chief. They were written from
Leeuwarden Prison, where he had been sent. (This prison building complex is one of the most
characteristic Dutch 19th century penitentiary institutions. The complex has great historical value
(since 1580) and has Heritage Monument status).

In the letters he complains that the Dutch did not accept his flag of truce after the shipwreck, that
he was dragged from place to place, thrown into prison without any respect that was due to him
and threatened with the black hole, if he did not comply with their orders. As he received no reply
after 17 days, he wrote the second letter along similar lines.

The captain of HMS Flora, Loftus Otway Bland, was born in 1771. In 1803, he married the
widow, Sarah Forte, in Barbados. After their marriage they moved to Bath. By 1794, he was a
lieutenant; a commander in 1799 (serving in HMS Thunder and HMS Espoir). In 1799, he was
promoted to captain (serving in HMS Tonnant 1799: HMS Heureux 1800 (1803: Capture of
Tobago and St. Lucia): HMS Blenheim 1804 and HMS Flora 1805. He served at the Battle of
Copenhagen. He died in 1810 in service at the age of 39 years. There is a memorial to him in
Exeter Cathedral.

Great Yarmouth Gaol – Sentenced to Transportation 1786-1834
Chris Wright

Great Yarmouth Gaol, between 1786 and 1834, had 121 prisoners (including 17 females)
sentenced to be transported to such parts of Her Majesty’s Dominions beyond the seas as Her
Majesty, by the advice of her Privy Council, shall direct for the term of 7/10/14 years or life. They
were tried at the Yarmouth Oyer and Terminer Gaol Delivery sessions in the Tolhouse. A
number, however, served their sentences on the prison hulks or at convict prisons. A few, at
least one, had their sentences commuted. It is noteworthy that not all the prisoners sentenced
lived in the town and that some local residents received transportation sentences for offences in
other towns. The Norfolk Record Office has a listing of 181 Great Yarmouth transportation
sentences between 1786 and 1852, although some records are missing. The listing formed the
starting point for this research, although some errors and omissions have become apparent. The
Norfolk News carried details of some of the cases.

The central convictions register on provides trial dates and convictions. The
Gaol Admissions Registers and Gaol Keeper’s Journal record the admission and discharge of the
prisoners. The majority, 92 (including 14 females), were sentenced to serve seven years, none to
ten years, 14 (including one female) for 14 years and 15 for life (including two females). At least
15 sentences were commuted from the death sentence - six to life, seven to 14 years and two to
seven years. Most had previous convictions. Most of the offences were for stealing, burglary or
breaking and entering. In 1825, William, Mary and Susan Neal were found guilty of intent to
murder. In 1823, Edward Morgan was sentenced at the Admiralty Court, for stealing on the high
seas (this was the first such trial since the reign of Charles the First). Not all the ages of those
sentenced are recorded (20). The age of the youngest recorded were John Rudd, 14, who stole
underwear and was sentenced to 14 years, and Thomas Hall, also 14, who had stolen two seals
and a ring and was sentenced to seven years. The eldest, James Stark, was 61 and had stolen a
quantity of rope and was sentenced to seven years, but died on the Justitia hulk within a year.
Two were aged under 16, 46 were aged between 16 and 25 years (including two females), 36
were aged between 25 and 39 (including six females), 15 were over 40 (including three females)
and two were over 60.

The numbers sentenced varied each year, with the highest at ten in 1825 and 1827, and none in
several other years. In this period, Leonard Solomon, John Thorley, John Hill and Roger Page
were the first prisoners in Great Yarmouth sentenced to transportation, in September 1786, for
stealing, but there is no evidence that they were actually transported. The first recorded as being
transported was John Middlemas, who was sentenced in September 1787 for stealing hessian
and was transported to New South Wales in the 2nd Fleet in 1790. The first female recorded was
Ann Sharman, who was sentenced in September 1813 for stealing silver spoons. She left
England on 22nd February 1814
on board the Broxbornebury with
119 others for New South Wales,
and arrived after 156 days on 31st
August 1814. Two died en route.

Some further prisoners spent time

in Great Yarmouth Gaol and were
transferred to Norwich Castle
Gaol for trial at the Assizes, and
received transportation
sentences. For example, in 1808,
John Gilbert, Jabez Roberts and
William Hardy were sent to
Morley made six voyages with convicts between 1817 and 1829 N o r wi c h C a st l e, t r i e d i n
By courtesy of the National Maritime Museum, London. connection with forged promissory
Morley, in 1816, took Robert Chase from Great Yarmouth not es, and sent enced t o
to New South Wales with 174 others. transportation for 14 years.
Prisoners sentenced to transportation had usually been on remand in the gaol pending their trial.
After sentence, they were often transferred, within a month or so, on receipt of instructions from
the Secretary of State, to a hulk (a converted old warship) or to a convict prison. Published hulk
records only began in 1802, so it is not possible to trace some of the prisoners.

Transfers of males from Great Yarmouth Gaol were made mainly to the hulks, which had
commenced operations in 1776 to cope with an increasing prison population. Forty-seven went
to the second Justitia hulk at Woolwich from 1815, 25 to the Retribution at Woolwich from 1803,
12 to the Gannymede at Woolwich, two to the Bellrophen at Sheerness in 1816, and one to the
Discovery at Woolwich in 1823. At least 13 were relocated during their confinement. Seven
(including five females) went to Millbank Penitentiary (London). The transfers were made by the
gaoler, who arranged staffing cover in his absences of two to three days. The Intolerable Hulks
book, by Charles Campbell, provides details of life on the hulks.

Listings are provided at of those accepted on to the hulks (1802 - 1849) and
their transfer details. The website also has the Convict Transportation Registers and Lists of
Convicts with Particulars and other records. Australian State websites provided supporting
information. Quite detailed records for Tasmania are at The
convict records are incomplete with only 124k (78%) of the 163k people transported recorded.
Overall, Smith, Jones, Williams, Johnson and Brown were the most common names of the

Not all those sentenced to transportation were

transported. Seven of the prisoners from Great
Yarmouth Gaol served their sentences at
Millbank Penitentiary. Thirty-six were definitely
not transported and served their time on the
hulks, mainly pre-1830. Most only served five
years of their sentences. One (Francis Clarke),
was pardoned after two months. Nine died
during their sentences on the hulks - five died on
the Justitia, two on the Retribution, one on
Bellerophon and one on Gannymede. Six,
sentenced pre-1793, have not been traced.
Another, George Chipperfield, convicted in 1828,
disappeared from the records. Likewise, no
record has yet been traced of Ann Robinson,
who is reported by Danby Palmer as being
sentenced to seven years transportation, in
1792, for her lead role in the Bread Riots.

Prisoners remained on the hulks for various

periods of time to await transfer to their
transportation ships, which were converted
trading ships operated by private ship owners.
The departure points recorded for local prisoners
are: Sheerness (8); London (10); Woolwich (7);
Plymouth (5); Portsmouth (7); Spithead (1),
Downs (13), and Cork (2). England is given for
six. The females from Great Yarmouth travelled
on female-only ships in the period studied, as
transport ships became single sex after 1811. Plan of the penitentiary buildings
Millbank Prison
Sydney, New South Wales, took 15 convicts up
to 1822 and a further 19 thereafter. Six were
female. The first convict transported to Van
Diemens Land (later renamed Tasmania) was in
1812: he was Robert Gilbert, a
felon, sentenced to life in
September 1811. A total of 24
(including six females) went to
Van Diemens Land, mainly
Hobart. None went to Norfolk
Island, which only took convicts
from 1840 to 1850, or to
Victoria, which took convicts
between 1850 and 1868. Four,
Thomas Gedge, William Windt,
James Long and Peter Read,
were sent to Bermuda.

The First Fleet to sail for New

South Wales consisted of 11
ships with 1,500 people
including crew, guards and
officials, 568 convict males and
191 convict females. None
listed were from Great
Yarmouth. The first prisoners
had embarked at Woolwich on
6th January 1787, but final
departure was not until 12th
May 1787. 16 died awaiting
departure. By January 1788,
when they arrived, 40 prisoners
had died and 66 were sick.
The Second Fleet of three
ships, with 1,017 convicts, left
Portsmouth in December 1789.
John Middlemas, from Great
Yarmouth, was aboard the
Scarborough as one of 259
prisoners. 73 were to die en
route and 96 were sick on
arrival on 28th June 1790 (in all
a total of 267 died and 486
were sick on arrival). The
Scarborough had an attempted
Register of convict deaths, including Mary Neal (sixth on list) mutiny put down en route. The
Governor was concerned about
the condition of the prisoners and reported that the ships were overloaded and the prisoners had
been confined too much. The Third Fleet of nine ships left Plymouth on 27th March 1791 with
1,869 males and 172 females. 182 were to die en route. Samuel Jay, from Great Yarmouth
Gaol, was on board the Salamander as one of 160 prisoners. They arrived on 21st August 1791,
after 147 days at sea. Five had died en route. Guyer Smoulton, from Great Yarmouth, was
aboard the Albermarle with 281 others. 32 died en route, including two executed for attempted
mutiny. The Abermarle arrived on 13th October 1791, after 200 days at sea.

Journey times varied between 100 days and 230 days, with faster journey times as the period
went on. By the 1830s, most journey times involving Great Yarmouth convicts were between 100
and 130 days. Conditions on the ships had been difficult, but gradually improved. Mary Neal,
aged 42, is the only local convict known to have died en route on board the Midas, on 16th
October 1825. She left effects of £8 19s 1½d. The Convict Ships, by Charles Bateson, details
the ships, life on board and the routes followed.
On arrival, they would be set to work on government work schemes or for private individuals
(mainly after 1835 for those on sentences of over seven years). Conditions could be harsh.
Satisfactory behaviour could see the issue of a ticket of leave, which allowed the convict to seek
paid work on their own account. These could be revoked if the conditions were contravened. A
conditional pardon gave colonial citizenship, whilst an absolute pardon gave the right to return to
the United Kingdom. A number got married while under sentence.

The five females transported between 1813 and 1821 went to New South Wales, with another
one in 1828. Six went to Van Diemens Land, the first in 1823. From 1823, on arrival, most went
to the Cascade Female Factory (also termed as a house of correction) in Hobart. One went to
Launceston. Work was provided in the laundries or in sewing. They were later assigned to an
employer. Johanna Saunders died during her sentence. Five females were not transported and
served their time at Millbank.

To summarise, many prisoners from Great Yarmouth Gaol were shipped across the world within
months to serve their sentences. Many had never left the town or been to sea before. An
interesting follow-on study would be to try to follow up and see how they coped in their new lives.

Prisoners with Transportation Sentences in Great Yarmouth 1786 to 1834

Italicised names are not recorded as being transported. Nine died on the Hulks (marked+)

• 1786 Leonard Solomon, John Thorley, John Hull, Roger Page

• 1787 John Middlemas, Orspale Thompson
• 1788 William Taylor
• 1789 Nil
• 1790 Samuel Jay alias Robert James, Guyer Smoulton alias Henry Guyer
• 1791 George Simpson, James Simpson, William Andrews
• 1792 John Dolf
• 1793-1801 Nil
• 1802 Johnson Wallbank
• 1803-1805
• 1806 Joshua Blogg, William Flaxman
• 1807-1808 Nil
• 1809 Benjamin Jarvis+
• 1810 Nil
• 1811 Robert Gilbert
• 1812 Nathaniel Taylor, Thomas Wood, Benjamin Humphrays
• 1813 Ann Sharman, James Collins
• 1814 Thomas Theophilus Barker
• 1815 Ann Spruce, Samuel Utting, John Bullimore, John Martin+
• 1816 Charles Whiley, Samuel Flatt, Robert Chase, William Hope+
• 1817 Nil
• 1818 Mary Ann Sizer, Elizabeth Kent, Charles Fodder
• 1819 Elizabeth Sidwell, David Middlemas+, Charles Farman
• 1820 John Andrews, Benjamin Smith, Mary Doors
• 1821 Hannah Stevens alias Bowstead, Samuel Holland, John Plummer
• 1822 John Fosdick, Thomas Anderson, Samuel Smith
• 1823 Thomas Gedge, Elizabeth Moore, Robert Todd+, Robert Johnson, William Windt,
Edward Morgan
• 1824 James Stark+, Joanna Saunders, John Challis
• 1825 Otter Hornby, Joseph Amis, Charles Chamberlain, James Greenleaf Long, Thomas
Aldridge, Robert Westgate, John Barber, William Neal, Mary Neal, Susan Neal
• 1826 Peter Read, Jenner James Bloy, John Boardman, Lamuel Farman, Thomas Gibson,
Thomas Bennison
• 1827 Thomas Hall, Robert Williams+, Samuel Easter, William Smith, William Bensley, Abel
Buck, William Crane, Robert Curtis, James Lark+, James Royal
• 1828 Hannah Buttledoor, George Chipperfield, James Thompson, John Howlett+, James Dore,
Samuel Brewer, Benjamin Rumbold, Francis Clarke, William Wright
• 1829 Eleanor Language, John Parker, James Child, Thomas Annison
• 1830 Thomas Burgess, Charles Gorbell, Benjamin Beckett, Charles Farman, Leonard Jolly,
John Rudd, Thomas Rudd, George Newson
• 1831 Mary Ann Drane alias Blue Ribbon, Louisa Pye, John Betts, Elizabeth Dawes, John
Evans, Elizabeth Meadows
• 1832 William Greenacre, William Watson, Georgre Crowford, Thomas Winsor Reed, Nathaniel
Simon Smith
• 1833 Thomas Hase Blake, James Rudrum, Justice Bowles, Thomas Berry, William Stacey,
William Crow
• 1834 Thomas Gourlay

Summary of Great Yarmouth Gaol Sentences to Transportation 1786 to 1852

• 200 prisoners (incl. 24 females) in Great Yarmouth Gaol had sentences to transportation
• 150 (incl. 18 females) had sentences of 7 years
• 16 (incl. 2 females) had sentences of 10 years
• 16 (incl. 2 females) had sentences of 14 years
• 18 (incl. 2 females) had life sentences often commuted from the death sentence
• The youngest two were 13 years old and the oldest was 61
• 11 were aged under 16, 95 were 16 to 25, 54 were 26 to 39, and 20 were over 40
• The highest number sentenced in any one year was 10; in 1825, 1827 and 1839
• Most convictions were for of stealing, burglary, breaking and entering or receiving. Three were
for intent to murder. One was convicted of embezzlement and another for stealing on the high
seas at the Admiralty Court
• 39 (incl. 8 females) served their sentences in a penitentiary, mainly Millbank
• One transferred, in 1853, to the Bedford County Gaol, prior to removal to the Warrior Hulk
• A few were pardoned shortly after conviction
• Males initially went to a hulk at Woolwich; 66 to Justitia, 25 to Retribution, 16 to Ganymede, 6
to Euralyus, 8 to Fortitude, 1 to Discovery, 7 to Warrior and 2 to Bellerophon (at Sheerness).
19 initially went to a penitentiary (mainly Millbank and after 1843)
• 37 served their sentences at a hulk, mainly pre-1830. 11 died during their sentence
• 19 (incl. 5 females) served their sentence at a penitentiary, mainly Millbank
• 1787 saw John Middlemas recorded as the first to be transported to New South Wales
• 1814 saw the first woman from the gaol, Ann Sharman, transported to New South Wales
• 42 (incl. 7 females) went to New South Wales, 63 (incl. 12 females) to Van Diemen’s Land, 1
to Norfolk Island, 1 to Western Australia and 9 to Bermuda
• Departures were from Sheerness, Woolwich, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Portland, Downs, Cork,
Spithead, Torbay, and Queenstown. Journey times varied between 100 and 230 days
• Mary Neal is the only local convict death recorded en route to Van Dieman’s Land in 1825
• Frederick Thurtell, aged 19, died within weeks of arrival in Sydney in 1839
• Samuel Juniper was the last to be sentenced to transportation, in 1852, for breaking and
• John Darling was the last to be transported on 29th March 1857, having been at the Gaol since
Was it, and if so Where? – Trying to Make Sense of Grubb’s Haven
J. F. Lambert
Before joining this quest it may be helpful if the reader forgot all he had learned about Grubb’s
Haven. Free of any preconceived ideas, he might then hesitate to believe the River Bure had
ever entered the sea between Great Yarmouth and Caister at an outlet called Grubb’s Haven.

The quest begins with some reasons for rejecting the idea that Grubb’s Haven as the lowest
reach of the Bure ever existed.

Geomorphic Considerations

A reconstruction of the coastline of East Norfolk in the 12th century is illustrated in Green’s
account of The Lost Vill of Ness. It shows a retreating coastline North of Caister, an apparently
stable coastline between Caister and Yarmouth and an accreting coastline south of Yarmouth
caused by littoral drift of beach material from North of Caister. From this material the spit has
then been formed by constructive wave action. A similar account is given in the Bulletin of the
Norfolk Archaeological and Historical Research Group 2007 (Peterson fig.12).

An incongruity is immediately obvious. If the River Yare was displaced then why was the Bure, a
lesser river, also not displaced at the same time? The logical answer would be that yes, it was
displaced, the diversion beginning from the time the spit first began extending to the South. One
concludes from this that the river never flowed directly into the sea between Yarmouth and
Caister; geomorphic processes know no favourites. This applies whether the spit was formed
after the Roman period, as generally assumed, or before the Roman period, as proposed by

The River Blythe is not diverted as it reaches the sea at Walberswick, but in that case there is no
neighbouring river for a comparison to be made, while erosion there may have been more severe
than in the Great Yarmouth region.

The idea of continuous littoral drift along the coast of Norfolk may however be false. The diagram
in Evans (fig.3/13) has not been fully understood, but it may suggest that littoral drift between
Winterton and Corton has not always been continuous. However the extension of Yarmouth spit
to Corton in the Middle Ages may show that such conditions did not then apply. In any case, a
net movement of sediment perpendicular to the shore does not presumably exclude the possibility
of some longshore drift.

Grubb’s Haven was said to have been blocked. It would be interesting to know if there are other
examples of a river mouth being thoroughly blocked by any process other than littoral drift and
constructive wave action. No visible remnants of the channel, where it flowed to the sea from the
great loop around Nowhere, as Sheila Hutchinson calls it, can be expected after the passage of
so many centuries though such evidence may lie buried, though not so deep that it could not be

Had the present Bure channel been a result of a natural diversion, one would expect it to be close
up against the western side of the spit. Williamson (p.75-77) has however asserted that the
diversion was man-made in the 14th century. Such a diversion would have been possible;
Williamson describes some dramatic diversions in the Broadland valleys with the object of
controlling floods and improving navigation. But study the course of the Bure at the great loop,
choose a few options for the location of Grubb’s Haven and try to construct a diversion that
matches the present course. It seems impossible, if one is being reasonable.

Leaving geomorphic considerations aside for a moment, one may recall Williamson's reminder,
with examples, of the well-known fact that parish boundaries are robust and are preserved, even
when a river that marked a boundary has changed its course. One wonders then why the
boundary between Caister and Great Yarmouth, said to have been Grubb’s Haven, was not also
preserved. It would have saved a lot of trouble later.
Justifying the existence of the Grubb’s Haven on the grounds that the great loop is not natural
(Lark, 1990) is misguided. Meanders do meander in irregular ways. Going by unreliable
appearances, a more likely point of diversion would be at TG 520090, taking the Bure away from
an outlet at Breydon.

The Norfolk Heritage website notes that Coles and Funnel (1981) found no evidence for such a
channel. Absence of evidence is not proof of non-existence, though it is suggestive. But as it
happens, Coles did not address the problem and his nearest borehole to Caister was some miles

Routledge (1994 from Potter) has constructed a map of the town in the 13th century, which shows
the Bure flowing south to join the Yare at its present confluence. This, and other references to
such a channel, suggests three possibilities: Grubb’s Haven alone existed, Grubb’s Haven never
existed and, thirdly, Grubb’s Haven existed at the same time as the Bure joined the Yare.

The third option suggests a delta, in particular a delta similar to the Rhine/Maas delta. The author
knows of no reports of such a delta in the period concerned. The cooling that followed the
mediaeval warm period, which climaxed with the Little Ice Age, was a period of destructive
storms; one of them is said to have reduced Heligoland from 60 square miles (from a misprint?) to
one square mile. Their effects locally would not always have been recorded and it is not beyond
the bounds of possibility that they caused relevant adjustments to the vulnerable coast and
marshland drainage in East Norfolk.

Evidence of the Town Walls

The alignment of the town walls has been cited as evidence that the River Bure did flow past
Great Yarmouth in the Middle Ages (Carter, 1980, from Yarmouth Havens – Norfolk Heritage
Explorer). The argument was difficult to follow so it is quoted here: The position of the North
West tower suggests that the Bure had run its present course for some time before the building of
the Town Walls. This section of walls was probably started around 1321 (Carter). If the Bure had
recently (ie. within living memory) shifted to its present course from one exiting directly to the sea
it is unlikely that the town of Yarmouth would run the wall up to it as a permanent structure. It is
more likely that the Bure had shifted long before the grant of murage in 1261 and Grubb’s Haven
remained a relic place name.

The meaning seems to be that the walls would not have extended to its present point if the river
had not been there. Carter concludes that the Bure was diverted before the walls were begun in
the early 14th century though, in making that point, he has not denied that at one time the Bure
did have an outlet to the sea north of Great Yarmouth.

The Absence of Port Installations

If ever the Bure did have an outlet to the sea North of Yarmouth, and if it were an inlet for
substantial trade with Yarmouth as some have claimed, one would expect to find the remains of
port features: pilings, a battery perhaps, and harbour buildings. None have been reported.
Traces of supposedly medieval structures have been identified on the South Denes, so it seems
reasonable to suppose that traces such as these would be preserved between Great Yarmouth
and Caister, had they ever existed.

Had there been a Grubb’s Haven, Caister itself may have developed as a port, just as other East
Anglian coastal villages did, but of that no evidence exists.

It has been proposed that Caister Roman Camp was located to guard the entrance of a North
channel; no channel, no need for Caister camp. On the contrary, such a location would make
sense as a place relevant to traffic on the Bure, even if there were no such haven.

Nashe (see Norfolk Heritage Explorer) actually records that some visible apparent tokens remain
of a haven but, without detail, that seems unreliable.
The Absence of Records Relating to Crossing Points

The journey from Caister to Yarmouth would have been the last leg of the land routes between
the prosperous towns of Yarmouth and Norwich, and between Yarmouth and the productive
hinterland of the Fleggs. Such a route would have been exceptionally busy even if some traffic
used the river. Such traffic would have converged on Grubb’s Haven, which if it existed as an
extension of the Bure, would have been a major obstacle, even when it became unnavigable to
ships in the 14th century.

Barbara Cornford (Medieval Flegg, 2002) describes how vast quantities of corn, market garden
produce and livestock would have been sent to Yarmouth. She adds that Yarmouth men owned
land in the Fleggs and that men from the Fleggs owned land in Yarmouth while, during the
Peasants’ Revolt, even an army made the passage between Caister and Yarmouth. Yet there is
no record of any bridge, ferry or ford as there was for Weybridge, St. Olaves, Stokesby and
Ferergate, where presumably traffic would have been no greater than at Yarmouth. Mrs.
Cornford does however explain that records for Caister are sparse so evidence relating to
crossing points and port activities may have been lost.

In the Middle Ages, before regular ditching and embankment, the Bure may have been shallower
than today, but it may still have been obstacle enough for people to drown in it; a horse rider
(Manship p.341) and a woman of Mautby (Swinden) were victims. Surely such a river would
have demanded a bridge or ferry, even if the rider drowned only because he trapped his foot in a
sack of flour he was carrying.

Questioning the Opinion that the Site of Early Yarmouth is Evidence for Grubb’s Haven

The Conge was the most considerable part of the town before the North Haven choked up.
(Damet p.52).

Palmer explains in his notes to Manship that the origins of Yarmouth in the vicinity of Fuller’s Hill
and the Conge were due to commercial activity arising from traffic entering via Grubb’s Haven.
Being close to Grubb’s Haven, the Conge benefitted more than other riverside locations from
trade from that source. But there seems to be an inherent contradiction in that idea; if the Bure
had an outlet to the North Sea, then why was it still flowing south to the Conge? – unless one
accepts the previously noted idea that the Bure split into two channels at some point upstream.
The existence of Grubb’s Haven as a source of river traffic to Yarmouth demands a Bure that also
follows its present course past the Conge.

But there are other sufficient reasons why Yarmouth developed around Fuller’s Hill and the
Conge. Fuller’s Hill was the highest point in Yarmouth, estimated to be about 2.8m above OD
even before it had been raised by windblown sand and artificial deposits. That alone would make
it the centre of activity in an area prone to flooding. Additionally, the Conge would provide the first
moorings for vessels using the Yare.

It would be surprising that Yarmouth men were prepared to dig two havens near Corton in the
14th century yet neglect to maintain a Grubb’s Haven, especially since that route would have
been shorter than the journey to the sea along the Yare, possibly as far as Corton.

In fact there are hints, previously noted, that the diversion may have been man-made. Grubb’s
Haven became blocked and, diverted Southwards to discharge into the Yare, almost certainly by
human agency in early post-medieval times (Williamson), but there is no explanation for the
certainty about either the existence of Grubb’s Haven or the fact of the diversion.

Swinden (p.373) writes of how thousands of acres were reclaimed following the diversion. That
sounds like fiction; try constructing a diversion of Grubb’s Haven which creates that amount of

Local Lore

‘Rosie’, an internet correspondent, believes that clay with oysters found on her allotment near the
racecourse is evidence of Grubb’s Haven. Arthur Lark believes that variations in marsh sediment
are evidence for an ancient course of the haven. Such evidence may be unreliable, for example
clay on Rosie’s allotment may be explained in the same way as clay beneath Midsands Cross
(Rye). Such thinking does however suggest that a few boreholes along a North/South transect in
appropriate places would soon prove or disprove the existence of the haven. In fact, it is possibly
against the odds that evidence for such a haven has not already been found during the various
phases of construction.

Reflections on the Name ‘Grubb’s Haven’

Amateurs are warned against becoming involved in arguments relating to the interpretation of
place names. Nevertheless we will do so.

It seems improbable that the lowest reach of the Bure would be named Grubb’s Haven. Many
British rivers had no known name until the 16th century. The Bure is not known to have been
named until 1577 (Ekwall), which would have been in time for Swinden and later writers to use it,
but they never made the connection. Manship referred to the Thirn (Bure) as the Northern
Waters (Ecclestone). When rivers were named they had either British roots or were
backformations, in the case of the Bure possibly from Burgh by Aylsham (but not from Burgh
spelled backwards, of course), which was spelled ‘Burre’ on Saxton’s map. ‘Grubb’ itself is not
known as a name in England until the 12th century. It would therefore be very unusual for any
part of a river to be named so early as the 14th century and, perhaps uniquely, after a person.
Even the havens of Yarmouth were not named.

Norris refers to the channel mentioned in the ancient Roll as Grubb’s Haven, but he may have
taken that name from earlier writers, such as Manship.

Grubb sounds like a humble name, which seems inappropriate to a major haven. The Online
Etymological Dictionary (or derives Grubb from a root meaning small, as in
‘maggot’, and given as a name to ‘small’ people. If social mobility and rates of population
movement were slow up to the 19th century, the 1811 statistic for occupations may be relevant.
Grubb’s in eastern England at that time all seem to have been from the class of farmers or
artisans, mostly farmers, but not presumably of the gentry. It seems reasonable to suppose that
Grubb’s in the Middle Ages were no different, and that a channel of a major East Anglian river
would have been named after any such person. Grubb’s Haven sounds more likely to have been
a small anchorage, such as a creek, and named after one of the many varieties of labourers
working on the marsh.

(Grubb does though have some local significance. Sandred notes a Grubb’s Lane in Ingham in
1694 and a Grub Street, undated, in Happisburgh. Sandred hints the latter may be named after
Grub Street in London but no connection is implied).

An ‘out of the blue’ e-mail was received from a Mr. Grubbe, who wondered if his kinsman, a
prosperous Dutch merchant in the Middle Ages, had any links with the town. It is tempting to
suppose that Grubb’s Haven was named after such a person, not by any means humble, but it
seems unlikely that he would give his name to a haven unless he had almost exclusive use of it.

Other derivations of Grubb are suggestive. The name has been derived from a Dutch root
meaning ‘digging’ and a German root meaning ‘mine’, ‘pit’ or ‘hollow’. Conceivably a Grubb may
have dug out a small haven for his own use or, as a professional digger, possibly even for one of
the town moats. Interestingly, Mrs. Cornford writes of Flemings working in the Fleggs. The
coincidence between the ‘Grubb’, digging and Dutchmen, perhaps even then practised in the arts
of drainage, will be evident, assuming they were not employed exclusively in the sheep trade.

Grubb’s Haven was given alternative names, Cocklewater and, by Swinden, Cockle Gat. One
etymologist derives ‘cockle’ from cockles and wonders if a mouth of the Bure would be a suitable
habitat for cockles. But he provides no answer and in any case ‘cockle’ may be derived from a
Celtic root related to water.

The use of Cockle Gat as an alternative to Grubb’s Haven is more illuminating in the quest for its
identity. Peter Trudgill gives ‘cock’ as a derivative of either a Celtic root meaning ‘water channel’
or an Old English root meaning ‘gulley’ or ‘opening’, though he admits that Sandred does not find
this convincing and neither is the derivation suggested in the Concise Oxford Dictionary of
English Place Names.

‘Gat’ as an opening could be a root of Cocklegat used also in the name Hell Gate, a tidal channel
in the East River, New York. The name was given by early Dutch settlers and there are today
several Hellgates in the Low Countries. This derivation for our Cocklegat is feasible, especially
bearing in mind a possible connection with Dutch settlement in the Fleggs. Such a derivation
might support the existence of Grubb’s Haven as an outlet to the sea.

But ‘gat’, a well known derivation from a German root, is more commonly associated with a
channel between shoals at sea. Since a channel of that name exists today just off-shore from
Caister, one may also presume that our Tudor historians made the mistake of transferring the
name of a known feature to the mouth of the Bure. It seems hardly likely that two separate
features would have been given the same name, while there is no need to create difficulties for
ourselves by looking for a Cocklegat at Grubb’s Haven, when we already have one. At this point,
and in anticipation of our conclusion, one may begin to suspect that our mystery is nothing more
than a case of mistaken identities.

The arguments presented so far do not refute the idea that the Bure discharged into the sea north
of Yarmouth; they only suggest there is no reason to believe the haven existed. They are slender
threads, often negative, upon which to make a case, but added together they may be sufficient to
persuade one of the implausibility of Grubb’s Haven ever having been an outlet of the Bure.

Yet there must have been a Grubb’s Haven at some time because the name exists, so one
naturally wonders what form such a haven might have taken.

Speculation on the Location of Grubb’s Haven, before reading Damet, Manship and

In the Middle Ages, the marshes across which the Bure, Waveney and Yare flowed, perhaps not
following their present courses or at their present elevations, would have been an area of marsh,
mudflats and reed beds, across which flowed a network of creeks and channels. Much of it may
have been no more than about one metre above sea-level and drained to an unknown degree
(Peterson). Such an area would have extended into the spit at the ‘topographical low’ just south
of Caister, as it does today.

To the east, where marsh met spit, wind-blown sand dunes, slacks and tidal creeks may have
added to the complexity of the drainage pattern. The eastern boundary of the marsh was marked
by Sandmarsh Dyke, beyond which was the common. The area would have been busy with the
activities of fishermen, wildfowlers, reed cutters, small traders, sheep dung collectors (Williamson
p.46), salt producers, cattlemen and ditchers. Any of these may have been a Grubb, who might
have appropriated one of the minor havens on the eastern side of the marsh as his own, and then
given his name to it.

But one may be adventurous with one’s conjectures by considering the possibility that evidence of
suitable sites for a Grubb’s Haven may be staring us in the face.

The oldest map available, the 1588 map of the shore between Lowestoft and Waxham (sic) (E.
Yorke), shows insufficient detail, certainly no suggestion that the Bure ever flowed north of
Yarmouth or any feature that might be Grubb’s Haven. Later maps show two inlets of the Bure,
which might have functioned as havens.

The first is a natural channel (TG 519102) which, when visited, looks to a layman as if it could
once have functioned as a waterway for small boats if well dredged. It might even have been as
navigable upstream as far as Caister. The track from the channel to the road looks as though it
might once have followed a more ancient track which served as a connecting link to the Caister/
Yarmouth track and then to the sea.

The second is a small inlet shown on the 1842 OS map of Yarmouth and located at the end of Tar
Works Road, even closer to the sandbank and the Caister track. It is now a sewer outlet, but
from the map it was at one time large enough to have been a haven. It has the appearance of
being artificial and it would fit in with Grubb the digger. In the event (unlikely?) that the Bure
channel has remained unchanged over the centuries, it would be one end of a useful short
portage by-passing Yarmouth.

An intriguing feature is shown on an 1832 map once brought up on a website by typing in

Boundary Commission 1832. (The map cannot be printed and is available only by sale from a
private company). The feature, located off the beach at Caister, is a toadstool-shaped bank with
its stalk joined to the beach and its cap parallel to the shore. The feature is obviously transient
and such changes in the location of sandbanks would not have been unusual on a coast
(described by Evans as dynamic p.15); while a shift of two miles was observed in the location of
Scroby Sands (Ecclestone p.61). It is easy to imagine that at one time a larger ‘toadstool’
existed, when the sea between the cap and the beach could have served as a haven. The order
in the 1291 roll about the need for the sea-watch to pay special attention to this area would aptly
apply to such a feature (Norris).

Not many years ago one could camp on Scroby. It is not unimaginable that such shoals off the
coast of Caister might have directed a seaway towards Yarmouth, in which ships could find a safe

Finally, there is a possibility that a moat around the North Wall might have functioned as a haven.
Potter does admit the possibility of one sufficiently large for vessels and requiring bridges. Damet
records the existence of a navigable moat six chains north of the wall. It is easy to hypothesise
the possibility of a moat called Grubb’s Haven, named after an excavator called Grubb, one of a
huge and largely forgotten gang of channel and peat diggers in Broadland.

And with that one would accept that no further progress could be made in the quest for Grubb’s
Haven. But then one is presented with the Hutch Map and the writings of Damet, Manship and
Swinden, and a mystery unfolds.

Damet and the Hutch Map

The Hutch Map, attributed to Damet, purports to show ‘The Great Estuary’ as it was in early
times, with a sandbank blocking its eastern outlet except for channels north and south of the site
of Yarmouth. It is an early, perhaps the world’s first, attempt at an illustrated geomorphic
reconstruction. It draws upon knowledge of reclamation of land from the sea, of archaeological
finds, such as the remains of ships’ anchors in the mud, and an approximate ‘common sense’
identity of the edge of the marsh with an older sea-level.

Belief in Grubb’s Haven as a north channel may have been prompted by the depiction of
Yarmouth sandbank as a bar bounded to the north by a north channel, but to scholars such as
Cole, Evans and Williamson it is a spit. It is admittedly not a typical spit; there are no ridges, no
curvature and its elevation is a bit high for a spit, though that can be explained by the deposition
of wind-blown sand, the build-up of domestic and other rubbish, and a high underlying core of
crag deposited before the spit was formed (Evans 2010).

The depiction of outlets north and south of the bar at the mouth of the Great Estuary seems
unconvincing. Harbours do have bars, but not normally above sea-level. Off-shore bars are, as
the name suggests, offshore. Even if they had been driven inland, as is said to have happened to
Scolt Head Island, they would presumably be orthogonal to the dominant wind direction, in this
case from the north-east. The author has searched atlases focussing on the Baltic coast and the
southern and eastern seaboards of the USA and also a selection of OS maps, but has found no
example comparable to the bar on the Hutch Map. A delta such as the present Rhine/Maas delta
might have had the double outlet of Damat’s bar, but had such a delta existed it seems likely that
researchers, if any, would have found it; recall that Coles drilled only one borehole in the
Halvergate triangle and that was some miles west of Great Yarmouth. (That does not exclude the
possibility that such a delta existed centuries earlier which, from evidence of the spit substrate,
seems plausible).

(The author has since noticed a bar at the mouth of the Dee estuary, which is exposed at low tide.
But it and its circumstances do not seem to match those displayed on the Hutch Map).

The ‘Grubb’s Haven’ question may have arisen only because Manship and his successors
believed in Damet’s North Channel, which they labelled Grubb’s Haven. A belief in the haven
would then be a legacy of the map and the origin of the Grubb’s Haven problem.

The Great Estuary had two issues to the sea, one of which went between Yarmouth and Caister,
the other south towards Lowestoft, into both of which ships entered from the sea (Damet). He
describes the issues as arms of the sea, the northern one of which was, or became, Grubb’s
Haven. He adds that they existed during the reigns of Henry I, Stephen, Henry II, Richard I and
John, and that the North Channel was stopped up and changed course 100 years after the death
of John, that is in 1316, in a century agreed by Mrs. Cornford, Williamson and Manship, who give
no references for these assertions. It is not known whether they arrived at them from
independent sources.

Norris writes, without quoting a source, that evidence of Grubb’s Haven was lost during the reign
of Edward I.

The Location of Grubb’s Haven According to Manship and Swinden

Manship and Swinden identify Grubb’s Haven with the North Channel though never the Bure.
Manship (p171) quotes ‘ancient records’ in the vestry of Yarmouth of a North Channel called
Grubb’s Haven, twixt Caister and Yarmouth in the time of Edward the Confessor. Their
discussions of the boundary dispute should even make it possible to identify the location of the
channel. Unfortunately their accounts are not wholly convincing.

Boundary disputes between the men of Yarmouth and the lords of Caister had occurred since
before the reign of Edward III; the first in 1299 (Rye quoting Swinden). Mostly the disputes
concerned the rustling of each other’s cattle and rights to wreckage. For example, William Paston
was accused of salvaging a wreck from the south shore of the North Channel, the side that
Yarmouth thought was within its jurisdiction.

That such disputes should arise is strange since there were two clear boundary markers
available; the North Channel, if it existed, even if blocked up in the 14th century, and the Cross in
the Sands, which is said to be the cross that still stands and has traditionally been said to mark
the boundary between Great Yarmouth and Caister. (According to Swinden the cross was a
certain boundary, but he also writes, with reference to an Edward I roll, that Cuttlewater was a
certain boundary twixt Yarmouth and Caister, just one of his contradictions).

Rye offers an explanation of why the cross, if a boundary, was located so far south of the natural
boundary marked by the haven. The haven was tidal and there were concerns that at high tide
the cross might have been eroded. It was finally located well to the south of the haven. That
would have been a recipe for confusion and a loss of land for Yarmouth. (Recall here that on
other occasions when rivers changed course, boundaries were preserved: why not here?)
But doubts arise when one reads that there were other crosses in the area, one at the ‘entrance’
to Caister (Manship, p.341), one on either side of the ‘ditch’, which will be explained, and one on
either side of the common (Swinden p.368). Also: on either side of the common a cross is
maintained and kept up to the limit of the fences aforesaid (Manship p.173). If all these crosses
were different, any presumption that the Cross in the Sands is our present cross, or the boundary
cross, may be wrong.

In fact, a boundary was set in 1208 by act of charter (Norfolk Archaeology, Vol. 33) so there
should have then been no doubts as to the location of the boundary. But, according to reports,
the bailiffs of Yarmouth had been slack in their perambulations. None of that sounds convincing;
the course of the stopped North Channel would have continued as a clear natural boundary and
its course obvious enough at the time of the first disputes. A cross as a boundary is not
commonly known, while it seems unlikely that Yarmouth bailiffs would have been negligent over a
period of centuries. Palmer (Manship, p.343) asserts that the disputes arose only after the
channel became blocked, but that was for ships and the channel would surely have remained
visible for some time.

Yarmouth claimed the land south of the North Channel on the grounds that they had buried
people found on its south shore and had executed felons on the gibbet in the disputed area;
Caister claimed land to the cross. But the arbiters were not satisfied by those claims (Manship,
p.172) and to settle the matter concluded in 1546 (Manship, p.172) that a line be laid between the
cross, assumed to be Midsands Cross, and the haven and the centre of the line to be the centre
of a ditch 12 feet wide, which would mark the new boundary (Ecclestone p.109). Evidently the
course of the channel was still visible even although it was stopped up in the 14th century.
Further confusion is caused by Manship’s remark that by, or shortly after, this time the channel
was unrecognizable, presumably due to windblown sand. (The text of Manship and Swinden
cannot seem to make up its mind whether the channel was visible or not).

That account should enable a fix on the location of the channel, given that the channel and the
cross are equidistant from the ditch, and knowing estimates of those distances. Manship and
Swinden (p.364, p.359) quote relevant distances in miles and furlongs, but results are
inconsistent (NB - a medieval mile was defined locally and could be up to about 2880 yards long).

However it seems reasonable to suppose that the ditch, later filled in, marks the present boundary
between Great Yarmouth and Caister, and that it is in the same place as the later ditch shown on
the 1811 enclosure map (BR 276/1/0777) in the Norwich Record Office, which leads due east
past White Gates Farm to Caister Road and then to Yarmouth Rails, a fence marking the
boundary. Swinden (p.368) makes the North Channel (his Grubb’s Haven or Cocklewater) 521
yards from the rails (note the spurious(?) accuracy). The ditch then marks the present boundary,
with which Rye agrees, and from which the haven would be just north of the stadium, the same
distance as the cross from the ditch.

One can arrive at roughly the same result if the Grubb’s Haven is located the same distance north
of the ditch as the cross is south of it. Other estimates of relevant distances, some apparently
contradictory, have been quoted, or can be arrived at. (see Swinden p.364, p.368, and p.359).

Such a ditch might have been recognised by construction workers, but even if not, it should surely
be a simple (if expensive) matter to drill a few bore holes at intervals to find it. The location would
be confirmed if a 12 feet width of in-filled sand were to be found along the line of the present
boundary. Note also that Rye 1962 differs in a detail.

A house was built for a neatherd at the boundary (Manship p.175). This was later destroyed, but
it is tempting to believe that that the present White Gates Farm was built on its site.

The outcome of the arbitration awarded 400 acres of common to Yarmouth (Swinden p.357) -
how? Estimating the average width of the spit to be c.1½ miles and knowing the area of an acre
(a modern acre in this case), the length of Yarmouth common can be estimated. The result puts
the haven at the north end of the stadium and the south end at very near to the cross, with the
present boundary in the middle; the reader may choose to believe that this result from rough
approximations is nothing more than a coincidence.

But, there is a serious problem with the Manship/Swinden account, because they go on to say
that, once the boundary was established, Yarmouth men were given rights to the east of the
boundary and Caister men to the west of the boundary. This does not fit in with a west/east
running boundary. Interestingly, an early 19th century map in the Norwich Record Office does
show a boundary, which turns north roughly at White Gates Farm and reaches the sea just short
of Caister. That boundary is probably the boundary between common and enclosed marsh, but
one may consider the possibility, albeit a remote possibility, that it marked an administrative
If responsibility was apportioned east and west of the string, a different geometry would have to
be constructed; perhaps not impossible if, for example, another cross were to be used.

The explanation of how the boundary was determined is unsatisfactory, not only the contradiction
between an east/west boundary and an east/west allotment of ownership, but also the idea of
going to so much trouble with string, when clearly defined boundary markers already existed. If
the blocked channel was the original boundary, as supposed by Rye, then a fence down its
middle would suffice. If Midsands Cross was the boundary, as some have supposed, then how
did the disputes ever arise? One may also ask why it took over 200 years to solve the cause of
the disputes.
There are other inconsistencies in the full accounts of Manship and Swinden, of which one
(Swinden p.360) is a description of Grubb’s Haven both north and west of the common.

Given such doubts and that neither Swinden nor Manship refer to Grubb’s Haven as the Bure,
one may prefer to reject their account of the haven as an outlet to the sea. That requires an

A Case of Mistaken Identity

This section concludes that Manship’s belief in a northern channel as an outlet to the sea is a
result of mistaken identity. He is known to be an unreliable author (Ecclestone, p.15 and
Williamson, p.49).

Manship has described how the Thurne passes Clippesby and Stokesby and by streams called
the Northern Waters comes to Yarmouth (Ecclestone p.62). From where Manship found the
expression Northern Waters is not known, but it is not wholly idiosyncratic. Williamson notes a
wherryman, who referred not to the Bure but to the North River; a parish plan of 1811 describes
the Bure as the North Channel, Mr. Fakes claimed that even today some local people do the
same; echoes perhaps of an ancient past.

Northern Waters in the plural may suggest to some a bifurcating Bure. This idea has been
rejected because the Bure does not seem large enough to provide two navigable waterways,
other than for very small vessels and because by now it would probably have been identified, had
it existed.

However it does not seem unreasonable to suppose that, to Manship’s mind, the Northern Waters
were the north channel of the Great Estuary, to which for some reason he mistakenly gave the
relict name ‘Grubb’s Haven’. (Alternatively the real North Channel could actually have been a
north channel in the sense of a northern sea approach to Yarmouth. Such a conflation does not
seem impossible given Manship’s unreliability; but one can pursue this game too far). If Manship
was indeed in error, three possible explanations for the mistaken interpretation come to mind.

The documents he found in the vestry have been variously described as worm eaten (Nashe), as
fragmentary (Williamson) and as difficult to read by another. They may have been in such a state
that Manship did not correctly interpret them.
Manship may have been led astray by the map of the Great Estuary, which firmly implanted in his
head the idea that the Bure did have a northern outlet, which he mistakenly identified with the
Northern Waters, Grubb’s Haven or Cocklewater. Later, Swinden may have confused Cockle
water with the ‘gat’.

A third explanation of Manship’s error is a bit more far-fetched. Manship’s education would have
comprised intensive, possibly ruthless, courses in Classics. Some, such as Pope, flourished;
others may have become deranged. Certain susceptible pupils may have been driven to find
unrealistic parallels between their present and the classical world, about which they had been
brainwashed. Similar effects are known; Marren describes how Gildas’ account of Roman
devastation in Britain may owe something to Virgil’s account of the fall of Troy. Similarly The
History of the Britons credits Brutus for founding the nation.

….historians frequently offer interpretations which reflect theories and ideologies of the age in
which they live (James p.2). On this principle Manship may have distorted facts to fit classical
references and, in justification, to include such references.

One can sense the satisfaction obtained by Manship when he matches the origin of the sandbank
to classical quotes (Manship p.174).

….so Yarmouth town from British land is severed is presumed to be an adaption of Virgil
Eclogues 1, 67. The edition in Great Yarmouth Library has neither a line 67 about the sea nor,
during a scan of the text, any reference to the sea, which may have prompted the above quote.
In fact, it describes turtles singing in the tree tops (doves not reptiles). One could argue now that
Manship is distorting Virgil to match reality. Could Manship have gone as far as inventing quotes
to support his story?

Quotes from Ovid (Metamorphosis Lib XV) and references to Herodotus are used for similar
effect, but their veracity has not been checked.

Could Manship have been led to his conclusion about Grubb’s Haven, not so much by evidence,
but because it matched some quotes from the classics, which influenced his sense of reality?
From the number of quotes in his book, he seemed certainly ‘wrapped up’ in the classical world.
Realities have certainly been created by religious texts.

If one accepts this conclusion that Grubb’s Haven as a mouth of the Bure never existed, then one
has instead the problem of how to reinterpret the account of how the boundary between
Yarmouth and Caister was determined with a piece of string. That would be a difficult task, but
perhaps preferable to believing garbled and inconsistent accounts of Grubb’s Haven by an author
misled by a map and fragmentary records, and whose mind was probably warped by too much

This concludes the discussion of the various arguments for and against the existence of an outlet
of the Bure between Yarmouth and Caister. It remains to reconsider yet again possible locations
of the real Grubb’s Haven, and to answer the questions in the title.

The Location of Grubb’s Haven Revisited

If there was no Grubb’s Haven as an outlet to the sea, then where and what was it? One can
only speculate. It certainly existed as a significant feature, in which people drowned and which
was such a noticeable feature for local rustlers.

From the distribution of drainage channels today it appears that north of the stadium the marsh
might have extended further to the east. The Act of 1712 enabled a causeway to be built
between Yarmouth and Caister: a causeway suggests a path across a marsh corresponding to
the ‘topographical low’. Here may have been such conditions as are found today on the North
Norfolk coast and elsewhere; an area of lagoons, dykes and tidal creeks, locally made deeper by
scour holes, an area where people, perhaps by-passing the spit to avoid an exhausting journey
across dunes, could, if careless, drown. Such things happen today in North Norfolk. On one
occasion people rode for over a mile across Halvergate marshes with water up to their horses’
knees (Williamson p.38 and p.39). Such flooding would have been more severe and frequent if
water levels were higher.

Swinden (p.373) describes how the diversion of the North Channel reclaimed many acres of land
for meadowland. Now if he were using ‘meadow’ in its traditional sense, to mean grassland to be
mown for hay, those acres during Roman times to the Middle Ages would not have been dune
land. Swinden also writes that thousands of acres were reclaimed following the diversion. That
sounds like fiction unless a diversion of Grubb’s Haven reclaiming that amount of land can be

Norris may have been referring to any one of the marshland channels, when he writes of a need
to police them. Any need to police what would have been such a well-known channel as the
entrance to the Bure may not have required a mention any more than for the Yare.

Cocklegat was actually Cocklegat just as it is today.

One website makes the tantalising suggestion that St. Nicholas’ Church was founded by the
‘Northern Channel’ (type into the web Medieval Towns, Medieval English Urban History).
However this church may have been the chapel built half a mile north of the present church on
the unidentified Green Hill (Ecclestone p.31). To interpret that ‘North Channel’ as the north
channel of our interest would lead to a completely different puzzle.

The North Channel, or rather its course, was ‘levelled’ in 1578 by William Paston to provide a
passage for Elizabeth I’s proposed, but never completed, visit to Yarmouth. It is difficult to
understand why a channel blocked up over 200 years previously, and said by Manship (p.78) to
have become firm ground, would be such an obstacle, or not bridged. There may have been
slacks, but any water in them would only rarely be more than one or two inches deep, if that.
Alternatively the site may have needed levelling because it was dune-covered; crossing dunes
can be exhausting. But then it would be difficult to understand how such a region could be
confused with the course of a river.

Such unknowns are very frustrating for those with an interest in our history, especially in this
case, because it seems to the layman that it would, in principle, be a simple problem to solve by
drilling a few bore-holes.

Evidence for and against the idea of an outlet of the Bure called Grubb’s Haven into the North
Sea between Caister and Great Yarmouth has been presented. It cannot be considered decisive
and, until positive evidence of a northern outlet of the Bure turns up, the answers can only be
conjectural; the author may not have made all that much sense of the matter after all.
Circumstantial evidence suggests there never was such an outlet. To the contrary, Manship and
Swinden affirm the existence of such an outlet. Which should one believe?
Manship’s unreliability has already been attested and his account does not always match
Swinden’s. Manship is good at visiting vestries, but offers no evidence that he had done any
fieldwork. He knows a north channel existed (p.71), but without the supporting detail, his
assertion seems inadequate. Swinden is convincing when he quotes depositions, until the detail
is studied.
Manship would have been 23 years old when the channel was levelled in 1578, one year before
he was the Town Clerk (Ecclestone p.17), and no less than 41 years before he wrote his book: he
was a contemporary of the events. He should have provided more precise details of the
channel’s location, as one would expect to have been available to someone of his status.

If the Bure was named by 1577, it seems significant that Swinden, Norris and Manship never
made a connection between it and Grubb’s Haven, or even the ‘North River’.
The Hutch Map may have misled authors about the existence of a north channel. One would like
to hear more from geomorphologists about the feasibility of the geomorphic concepts behind
Damet’s thinking concerning coastal deposition. Peterson has already questioned the portrayal of
the spit as an island sandbank in Roman times. Unless surveys prove the existence of such a
channel, perhaps even an offshore channel, the admittedly tenuous arguments against it may be
preferred to the inconsistencies of authors who affirm its existence.

Subject to alteration if new evidence emerges, the answers to the questions are in the meantime:
no, the Bure never flowed between Caister and Great Yarmouth. The haven is as much a myth
as the idea that the Nile had its source in Mauretania and flowed underground to Egypt. There
never was a Buremouth. The real Grubb’s Haven could have been any one of the suitably
aligned inlets of the Bure or marshland creeks, natural or artificial, which must have existed in the
13th century, or one of the many small havens that must have existed on the marsh, whose name
somehow became attached to an imagined channel of the Bure North of Yarmouth. Such a
haven would never have had great commercial significance and could have been named after a
humble marsh man with a boat no bigger than a punt.

Bibliography and References

Coles and Funnel, Holocene Palaeocene Environments of Broadland, special publication of the
International Association of Sedimentologists, 1981
Damet, Thomas, A Book of the Foundation and Antiquity of Great Yarmouth, published by C. J.
Palmer, 1847
Ecclestone, A. W., Henry Manship’s History of Great Yarmouth, John Buckle Ltd., 1971
Ekwall, Eilert, Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place Names, Oxford University Press, 1959
Evans, Hannah M., Geomorphic Evolution of the Great Yarmouth Coastal System, Crown Estate
2010, but available on the web.
Green, Charles, The Lost Vill of Ness, Norfolk Archaeology volume 34 1969 pp 2 - 8
James, E., Europe’s Barbarians, Pearson Longman, 2009
Lark, A., The Havens and Marshes of Yarmouth, Yarmouth Archaeology 1990
Manship, H., The History of Great Yarmouth, ed. C. J. Palmer Great Yarmouth, 1854
Marren, P., Battles of the Dark Ages, Pen and Sword, 2009
Norris, A., A History of the Hundreds of East and West Flegg, Haping, Tunstead and Part of the
Hundred of Erpingham in the County of Norfolk Vol 1, 1782, Manuscript in the Norfolk Record
Peterson, J., Towards a New History of Roman Broadland, Bulletin of Norfolk Archaeological and
Historical Research, 2007
Potter, J. F., Medieval Town Wall of Great Yarmouth: A Geological Perlustration, British
Archaeological Reports, 2008
Rye, C. G., Midsands Cross, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk Archaeology volume 33
Sandred, K. I., The Place Names of Norfolk Part 2, English Place Name Society Nottingham,
Swinden, H., The History and Antiquities of the Ancient Borough of Great Yarmouth in the County
of Norfolk, John Crouse, 1772
Williamson, T., The Norfolk Broads: a Landscape History, Manchester University Press, 1997
The ‘Norfolk Heritage Explorer’ website
The Creation of the Great Yarmouth School Board
Michael Wadsworth

State intervention in the education system within England and Wales has traditionally been seen
to have started in 18701 with the passing into law of the Elementary Education Act of 1870. Prior
to this Act, there had been some limited governmental intervention in what was essentially a
voluntary system. By 1831, it has been estimated that approximately 25% of the population were
attending Sunday Schools, which were mainly schools founded by various churches and provided
almost exclusively a religious based education. Many schools in England and Wales were
founded and run by the Church of England’s National Society for Promoting the Education of the
Poor in the Principles of the Established Church in England and Wales. These schools were
referred to as National Schools. Also providing schools for the poor was the British and Foreign
Schools Society, whose schools were referred to as British Schools. These schools were mainly
supported by the non-conformist churches.

From 1833, Parliament had voted on an annual basis a certain amount of money to be spent on
the construction of schools in England and Wales for poor children. From 1839, this funding was
directed to the various voluntary bodies that ran such schools2. In 1840, the Grammar Schools
Act extended the subjects taught in grammar schools to include science as well as the traditional
subjects taught within the grammar schools.

Elementary education was not made compulsory until 1880, when the Elementary Education Act
1880 made attendance at elementary schools compulsory for children between the ages of five
and ten. The school leaving age was raised to 11 in 1893, and to 12 in 1899, and it was raised to
13 later. The 1891 Free Education Act meant that the State paid school fees of up to ten shillings
per head per week. In 1893, compulsory education was extended to cover deaf and blind
children and the 1897 Voluntary Schools Act allowed those elementary schools, not run by local
School Boards, to apply for government grants.

The 1870 Elementary Education Act allowed for the creation of a local school board in those
areas where either there was no existing voluntary schools or, if there were such schools, that
there was insufficient school accommodation. For this to happen, the Government’s Department
of Education had to be of the opinion that there were gaps in the existing provision that could not
be filled by the voluntary system. A Department of Education Order would then be issued to allow
for the creation of a local school board. The school board could then set a rate for the
construction and the running of as many board schools that were needed. The members of the
school board were directly elected by the local ratepayers, by the process of cumulative voting.
Each school board would have its own clerk, who would have had legal training, to carry out the
administration of the board.

When the 1870 Education Act was passed, there were expressions made within Great Yarmouth
that the creation of a local school board should be avoided. This was to be achieved by the
strengthening of the voluntary arrangements that were already in place.

At a meeting at the Town Hall convened by Mr. C. Woolverton, who was mayor at the time, and
supported by the local bishop, it was pointed out that it was estimated that accommodation for an
extra 3,000 children was needed. In this light, the meeting felt that: whereas a sound education
includes of necessity the knowledge of religious truth, this meeting recognises the duty of
providing, as far as possible, the blessings of a religious education for the children of the poor i. It
went on to agree that: this meeting resolves that every effort, by raising funds and otherwise, to
provide such additional accommodation as may be required for the borough, and so obviate the
necessity for the compulsory provision of a School Board and rate supported schools ii.

This Act is often referred to as the Forster’s Education Act as it had been mainly drafted by William
Edward Forster.
Scotland had its own system of universal education since 1561.

The existing provision of elementary school accommodation in Great Yarmouth by the voluntary
system founded by the Department of Education is set out below.

Elementary Schools in the Borough of Great Yarmouth in 1874

Name and
Description Situation Number of Children Accommodated
Boys Girls Infants Total
School Great Yarmouth 240
Blue Coat
Charity School Great Yarmouth 100 100
St Peter's
National School Great Yarmouth 201 189 151 541
St John's
National School Great Yarmouth 253
St Nicholas’
National School Great Yarmouth 403 164 162 729
St Andrew's
National Infant
School Great Yarmouth 189 189
St Mary's
Roman Catholic
School Great Yarmouth 165
School Great Yarmouth 155
Infant School Great Yarmouth 152 152
British School Great Yarmouth 350 350
Hospital School Great Yarmouth 168 112 280
National School Gorleston 129 95 95 319
School Great Yarmouth 60 60 120
St James’
National School Great Yarmouth 162 157 165 484

Total 4,077
Source: Yarmouth Gazette, 20th June, 1874

It was claimed in a report in the Bury and Norwich Post that it was estimated by those opposed to
a school board that, should a board be established in Great Yarmouth, it would cost the borough
£10,000 in construction costs and other expenses iii. Speaking at the opening of a new extension
of the Priory School, the mayor observed that the parish schools were not being financially
supported sufficiently well enough by the parishioners of Great Yarmouth and he made a plea for
further fund raising to provide more school accommodation, thereby avoiding the need for the
creation of a School Board iv.

Speaking at the 1873 Working Men’s Annual Conservative Banquet, Councillor Burroughs
described the 1870 Education Act as an act of tyranny because as a consequence of the Act, the
child ceased to be the child of its father. If a father wished his child to be brought up and
instructed in a certain manner, a member of the school board or an official appointed by the
school board, (could) step in and say, “Your child must not go to that school, but to a new one
appointed by us”. In England this was being done; children were being taken from their parents
and sent to any school which the School Board might think proper v.

However, there were enough people living in Great Yarmouth who felt that under the existing
voluntary system the provision of education was not sufficient, and that the Government's
Department of Education should investigate whether there was a need for a school board. Great
Yarmouth’s Town Clerk reported to the Borough Council that he had received a Department of
Education circular requesting information about the provision of places in elementary schools
within Great Yarmouth, and he was legally bound to provide this information. It was explained
that once a notice from the Education Department had been published, there would be a six
month period, in which plans outlining the efforts to provide the school accommodation needed
could drawn up and be submitted to the Education Department for approval. If nothing was done,
or the plans were deemed to be insufficient, then the Education Department would authorise a
School Board be set up vi.

The Department of Education had found that, in 1874, in addition to the accommodation provided
by the various elementary schools within the borough, a further 1,836 places were required in
Great Yarmouth (for about 800 girls and 1,000 infants), and 680 places were needed in Gorleston
and Southtown vii. This resulted in the Great Yarmouth School Board being set up in January
1875, with elections being held in February of that year 3.

Reactions to the creation of the school board for Great Yarmouth were mixed. It was reported by
the Yarmouth Gazette that the Borough Council decided in unison to oppose its creation and to
set up a committee to see if the establishment of a school board could be avoided viii. Speaking at
the annual dinner of the 1874 North Ward Working Men’s Conservative Association, Alderman
Mabson declared that the establishment of a school board for Great Yarmouth would cost the
ratepayers initially £20,000, and that the local magistrates would be overwhelmed by non-
attendance casework. He accused the non-conformist churches, apart from the Primitive
Methodists, of not doing their part in ensuring that enough places within the voluntary system
were provided. Had they done their part, he argued, then there would have been no need for a
school board. He also accused the non-conformist churches of being in favour of secular
education and of the abolition of the teaching of religion in schools altogether ix.

The Yarmouth Independent expressed the doubts many inhabitants of Great Yarmouth had about
the benefits of having a school board although, at the same time, it did seem to believe that the
creation of the school board may not be a bad thing. It declared that: (The establishment of a
Yarmouth School Board) we believe, is by no means satisfactory to the great body of ratepayers,
whose preference lies on the side of the voluntary principle. The most strenuous and
praiseworthy endeavours have been made to provide the school accommodation required by the
Government Inspector, but owing to the inaction of a section of the community was to no avail.
The school board thus inevitable it is the duty of all concerned to see its existence shall result in
the object of the Act, the improvement of education. And with the examples of other large towns
before us, we think that this will ultimately be the case in Yarmouth x.

Support for the creation for a school board did express itself in the letter pages of the Yarmouth
Independent. A correspondent calling him or herself NONCON suggested that those supporting
the voluntary system were doing so to increase the number of church schools that taught the
doctrines of the Church of England under the guise of providing schools on a more economical
Runham Vauxhall was at the time a separate parish from that of Great Yarmouth and it had its own
School Board from 1877. The parish of Runham Vauxhall was incorporated into the parish of Great
Yarmouth in 1890 and the Runham Vauxhall School Board dissolved itself in 1891 and its sole school,
which accommodated 100 pupils, was transferred to the Great Yarmouth School Board.

basis. NONCON further argued that the schools provided by the Nonconformists tended to
provide unsectarian education and would certainly continue to do so if they were to receive public
money. The Nonconformists, claimed NONCON should feel flattered by the opinions expressed
at a meeting of the Borough Council that they were able to supply the necessary means to
provide school accommodation for extra 2,500 children. It was felt by NONCON that the school
board's work would: be carried out in a fair and liberal manner xi.

The elections for the school board in Great Yarmouth were to be held every three years and were
for 11 seats. There were hopes that the need for the election could be avoided and that both the
local Liberal and Conservative parties could ‘diplomatically’ agree to nominate just enough
candidates between them to fill the places on the school board and so avoid a ballot xii .

The election of members of the first school

board was set for 16th February 1875 with the
Borough Council's Town Clerk acting as the
Returning Officer. This engendered much
public debate, both in public meetings and
within the local press. The two main issues
were, firstly, the expense of creating the school
board and, secondly, the teaching of religion. It
would be an over-simplification to state that the
Conservative Party supported the continuation
of the voluntary system as far as possible and,
once the school board had been established,
religious teaching should be based upon the
doctrines of the Church of England; and that the
Liberal Party supported the creation of the
school board, and were mainly members of the
Non-Conformist churches, who favoured
religious education to be non-denominational.
However, it does appear that, in many cases,
the church person attending found a reflection
in the political party they supported.

Advert in the Yarmouth Gazette and North Norfolk Advert in the Yarmouth Gazette and North
Constitutionalist for the candidates nominated by Norfolk Constitutionalist for the Non-
the Conservative Working Men's Association conformist candidates

The election results were announced by the Town Clerk. Of the 6,034 people who were entitled
to vote, 3,675 voters cast their vote. Of this, 91 papers were rejected, either for the lack of an
official mark, voting for more than the number of candidates allowed, were unmarked, void for
uncertainty, or by writing a mark from which the voter could be identified.

A letter in the Yarmouth Gazette commented: The result of the School Board must, on the whole,
be looked upon as very satisfactory to the Church and Conservative Party, not only because
there is a majority of Conservatives, but also from the fact that the successful candidates are so
evenly divided. Neither has an advantage over the other, and I hope that the bond of union,
which has for the last few days been rather 'shaky', will be cemented and be more firmly set than
ever xiii.

Name of Occupation Affiliation No. Of Elected or Not

Candidate Votes Elected

Sir J F Stafford Surgeon Churchman 3975 Elected

Mr George Baker Smack Owner Methodist 3149 “
Mr D Tomkins Schoolmaster Congregationalist 2672 “
Rev. A Peaton Minister of the Gospel Unitarian 2615 “
Mr C H S Geake Postmaster Wesleyan 2411 “
Mr J Bracey Rope Manufacturer Churchman 2131 “
Mr T P Burroughs Solicitor Roman Catholic 2060 “
Mr R E Dowson Corn Merchant Churchman 2041 “
Mr J W De Caux Auctioneer & Fish Non-Conformist 1884 “
Mr E P Youell Banker Churchman 1858 “
Mr J H Orde Banker Churchman 1827 “
Mr H R Harmer Solicitor Churchman 1749 Not Elected
Mr T Saul Timber Merchant Baptist 1746 “
Mr H E Buxton Banker Liberal 1632 “
Mr W P Brown Ship Owner Congregationalist 1610 “
Mr H Teasdel Merchant Churchman 1380 “
Mr W Worship Solicitor Churchman 1249 “
Mr F A Cubitt Captain & Adjutant Churchman 1044 “
Norfolk Rifle Volunteers
Mr R Martin Tailor & Draper Churchman 874 “
Mr J Woodger Fish Merchant Liberal 537 “
Mr F Palmer Surgeon Liberal 422 “
Mr Job Smith Auctioneer Primitive 304 “
Mr J Garrett Inn Keeper Liberal 120 “
Mr G Harvey Fish Merchant Churchman 4 “

Source: Yarmouth Independent 20th February 1875 & Great Yarmouth School Board Minute Book for 1875

The members of the first school board met for the first time
on 4th March 1875 at the Town Hall with Great Yarmouth’s
Mayor acting as an interim chairman, and the Town Clerk,
who in the absence of a board clerk, undertook the
administration. The first business of the board was to
appoint a chairman and a vice-chairman. Mr. J. H. Orde
was duly elected unopposed as the board’s first chairman
and Mr. D. Tomkins was elected unopposed as vice-
chairman xiv. It was agreed that the quorate for the board’s
meeting would be five members and that the meetings
would be open to the press, but not to the general public. At
the following meeting, it was agreed that the salary of the
board’s clerk would be £100 per year xv. The task of
drawing up a job description and placement of the job advert
in the press were carried out by the Town Clerk.

Once the clerk had been appointed, offices were acquired at

28 South Quay, although the school board continued to
meet at the Town Hall. By 1883, the board had established
six new schools, which together provided school
accommodation for 2,268 pupils xvi. By 1900, the number of
Advert in the Yarmouth Gazette and
board schools had increased to eight and special classes for
North Norfolk Constitutionalist
deaf and blind children were being held at the board’s office for applications for the post of the
premises on South Quay xvii. These schools ran alongside Clerk of the School Board
the existing voluntary schools.

Board Schools in Great Yarmouth 1878

No. Of Pupils

Name of School Girls Boys Infants Total

Trafalgar Road Board School 250 250

Cobholm Island Board School 154 272 426

Stradbroke Road Board School 156 216 165 537

St George's Board School 229 302 531

Totals 789 216 739 1744
Source: Yarmouth Independent, 19th January 1878

Great Yarmouth Board Schools in 1881

Name of School School Type No. Of Pupils attending
Stradbroke Road School Boys, Girls & Infants 631
Cobholm Island School Girls & Infants 295

St George's School Girls & Infants 472

Trafalgar Road School Boys 200
Northgate School Boys, Girls & Infants 610
Day Industrial School Boys 60
Source: Yarmouth Mercury, 22nd January 1881
In 1878, the board produced its first triennial report. It
was highlighted that at its foundation it was given the
task of providing an extra 2,516 school places, and
that in its first three years it had provided an extra
1,636 places at an average cost of £5 19s 1½d. per
head. This was claimed to have been one of the
lowest averages in the country.

The board’s work within its first three years drew

warm praise from the Yarmouth Independent which,
noted that:...their conduct will bear most favourable
comparison with that of other boards throughout the
Kingdom. The board meetings have been
characterised by order and the amount of work
performed is highly creditable to the diligence of the
members...We congratulate the board on their
freedom from the contentions and personalities of
cliques and sects. The board have wisely restricted
their activities and time to educational purposes xviii.

The Great Yarmouth School Board continued to exist

until 1903, when school boards nationally were
abolished by the 1902 Education Act. School boards
were replaced by Local Education Authorities, which,
in the case of Great Yarmouth, was the Borough

Norfolk News, 8th October, 1870
Norfolk News, 8th October, op. cit.
Bury & Norwich Post, 18th February, 1873
Bury & Norwich Post, 14th June, 1874
v Advert in the Yarmouth Gazette and North
Yarmouth Gazette, 27th December, 1873
Norfolk Constitutionalist
Yarmouth Independent, 22nd February, 1873 of 6th February 1875
Yarmouth Gazette, 20th June, 1874
Yarmouth Gazette, 4th July, 1874
Yarmouth Gazette, 21st November, 1874
Yarmouth Independent, 30th January, 1875
Yarmouth Independent, 1st March, 1873
Yarmouth Independent, 30th January, 1875
Yarmouth Gazette, 20th February 1875
Minutes of the Great Yarmouth School Board meeting held on 4th March 1875
Minutes of the Great Yarmouth School Board meeting held on 19th March 1875
Kelly’s Norfolk Directory (1883)
Kelly’s Directory of Cambridgeshire, Norfolk & Suffolk 1900
Yarmouth Independent, 19th January, 1878

The Photographic Conference of the United Kingdom 1897
Paul Godfrey

From the 12th until the 17th July 1897, Great Yarmouth was host to a large gathering of
photographers. The Photographic Conference was an annual event; the inaugural convention
had been held in Derby in 1886. Each year thereafter, a gathering of amateur and professional
photographers took place in a chosen town or city. The format of the conferences was very much
the same in most years, consisting of an Annual General Meeting, a conference dinner, an
exhibition of photographs and equipment, a pre-conference reception at the home of wealthy local
member, a daily series of photographic excursions and a programme of lectures and papers
presented in the evenings by distinguished and prominent members from the world of

In 1896, the Yorkshire city of Leeds was the host to the conference and, at the AGM which was
held in the Philosophical Hall, two proposals were on offer to members for the following year's
venue. One was from the city of Glasgow and the other from Mr. Harvey George of the Great
Yarmouth Camera Club. There had already been a gathering at Glasgow in 1887, so the
Glasgow group gave way to the invitation of the Great Yarmouth Club, and the PCUK Conference
was to be held in Great Yarmouth the following year, 1897.

In Great Yarmouth a local executive committee was set up consisting of Colonel H. E. Buxton,
Mayor of Great Yarmouth; Canon Rogers, Vicar of Great Yarmouth; Revd. Edward Rainbow MA,
President of Great Yarmouth Camera Club and chaplain to the Walrond Fisherman’s Institute;
Surgeon-Major J. Adcock MD; Revd. Dundas Harford Battersby MA, curate at St. James’ Church;
Dr. John Bately; Mr. Frank Burton; Mr. W. G. Lewis and Mr. H. Harvey George. The bulk of the
organisational tasks for the Great Yarmouth conference were undertaken by Harvey Harvey-
George, who was the manager of a large fishing fleet based in neighbouring Gorleston and
owned by the Hewett family. Mr. Harvey-George had married into the family. Hewett’s had
relocated their business in Gorleston from Barking. Most of the company's 74 Short Blue Fleet
fishing vessels were working out of Gorleston by 1890.

Hotels were booked, speakers found and excursions organised within the year. The British
Journal of Photography of 9th July 1897 carried an article giving information about the hotel
accommodation arrangements for the conference as follows:-

Queen’s Hotel (Headquarters) - 80 bedrooms. 80 to 100 can dine in the coffee room.
Apartments: sitting-rooms, 5/- to 10/- per day; bedrooms, 2/6d. to 5/-; breakfast, 1/6d., 2/- and
2/6d.; table d'hote dinner, 4/-; teas, 1/6d. Inclusive terms, 12/- per day; two persons in one
apartment, 21/- per day.

Steam Packet Hotel - 12 bedrooms. Beds, 2/6d.; breakfasts, I/-, 1/6d.; and I/9d.; dinners, 1.00pm
to 2.30 pm, cold, l/6d.; teas 9d.

Cromwell Temperance Hotel - 26 bedrooms. Dark room free. Terms: bedroom, 2/-, two persons
3/-; tea or breakfast, I/3d., 1/6d. and 2/-; dinner at 1.15 pm, 2/6d.; bath, 6d. Headquarters of
C.T.C: Thomas Goate, proprietor.

Brunswick Hotel - breakfast l/6d. and 2/-; dinner, five courses, 2/6d.; teas, 1/- to 2/-. 30
bedrooms. R. Dodwell, proprietor.

The Cromwell Temperance Hotel was popular with cyclists and was the local headquarters of the
Cyclists’ Touring Club. The hotel advertised that they had: a darkroom for the use of
photographers, and was also the meeting place of the Cromwell Photographic Club. The
secretary of the club was Charles Rumbold, a relieving officer of the Great Yarmouth Union.

The conference ran from Monday 12th July until the following Saturday, the 17th. However,
delegates began to arrive at the hotels on Saturday the 10th and were greeted by a welcoming
committee of local dignitaries, including Mr. G. H. Lovewell Blake; Col. E. Combes; Dr. Peter
Emerson, the renowned Broadland landscape photographer; Mr. J. W. Nightingale, proprietor of
the Royal Aquarium and Queen's Hotel; Mr. Frank Sayers, a Great Yarmouth professional
photographer; Mr. W. Shipley; Mr. Herbert Youell, and many others. On Sunday, the 11th, a
Secretary's at Home was held at the Tower in Gorleston, the home of Mr. and Mrs. Harvey-
George, who entertained upward of 60 members at their charming residence. The Yarmouth
Independent of 17th July 1897 reported that: the visitors were most hospitably received, and very
greatly admired the host and hostess's lovely terraced gardens and the magnificent views to be
obtained therefrom of the Denes, Roads, Yarmouth and the distant country westward.

More delegates arrived during the Monday and photographic opportunities were in abundance in
the Great Yarmouth area. The Tollhouse, St. Nicholas’ Church, the Rows and the crowded
seafront were eagerly recorded onto photographic plates. Those requiring darkroom facilities for
‘plate changing’ were offered facilities at the Town Hall, where the Thornton Pickard Company, a
photographic equipment manufacturer, had a changing tent, i.e. a portable darkroom available
that was made to resemble one of their famous roller blind shutters. This was to be taken on the
principal excursions and, was found extremely convenient by many, the rush for it at times being
excessive. Mr. Pratt, a chemist of King Street, offered his fully equipped darkroom for
development and changing as well as the supply of photographic plates for sale. Mr. J.
Shearman, another King Street chemist, made the same offer. By this time, many chemists had
diversified into the supply of photographic equipment and materials. The possession of a
darkroom was often to provide a developing and printing service to the public, who had acquired
cameras, but did not wish to do their own processing. Often the chemists themselves, or an
assistant, undertook these tasks. In later times, specialist local wholesale photofinishers began to
emerge and this work was then carried out centrally by the pioneers of this emerging industry.

Mr. Frank Sayers, a local professional photographer, offered his darkroom for changing, along
with his fellow local professional photographers Messrs. Tilley Brothers, of 92 Regent Road, and
Mr. G. Sherman, also of Regent Road. Mr. Charles Rumbold of the Cromwell Photographic Club
offered the use of his personal darkroom on Deneside, as did Mr. W. J. Denew with his facility at
10 Regent Street. William James Denew had taken over his father's book-selling, printing and
stationery business. He was a keen photographer and sold his views from the family shop. The
darkroom at the Cromwell Hotel was also available for plate changing.

One delegate, Alexander Lamont Henderson, was a distinguished early photographer, born in
Edinburgh in 1837, who had been an experimenter in the production of miniature photographs on
an oval-shaped enamel base as an alternative to a painted miniature. Queen Victoria became
interested in his work and commissioned a number of enamel miniatures from earlier pictures of
Prince Albert. A series of images by Henderson taken from lantern plates survives in the
collection of Michael Guilmant. Two of these photographs were taken in Great Yarmouth and it is
possible these were taken during Henderson's attendance at the 1897 conference.
Two images taken in Great Yarmouth by Alexander Lamont Henderson.
The gentleman in the straw boater could be using a Frena camera
© Michael Guilmant :

During the evening of the 12th July, members converged on the Town Hall for the opening of the
convention reception by His Worship the Mayor of Great Yarmouth Col. H. E. Buxton. Upwards
of 200 ladies and gentlemen attended this full dress event from the United Kingdom, America,
Australia, France, Germany, South Africa and many other countries. Choice flowers and plants
adorned the dais, photographic apparatus in all forms and the latest inventions were staged, and
refreshments, supplied in excellent style by the Hall-Keeper and Mrs. Wilson were liberally
dispensed (Yarmouth Independent).

The Revd. E. Rainbow, president of the local committee, started by inviting the Mayor to welcome
the members and to thank Mr. Harvey-George for organising the programme in conjunction with
Mr. Drage. The retiring president, Henry Peach Robinson, introduced Francisco Cembrano,
FRPS, the incoming president. Mr. Cembrano then made a speech about the progress of the
technology of photography. The evolution of kinematography (moving pictures) and photographs
in natural colour, along with lens developments, were some of the topics in the president's

A trade exhibition was staged at the Town Hall and many products were displayed and
demonstrated. Messrs. R. & J. Beck, of Cornhill, exhibited their Frena camera. The Thornton
Pickard Company, of Altringham, displayed their shutters, tripods and cameras along with the
previously mentioned changing tent. Mr. R. W. Howes, of East Dereham, displayed specimens of
his enlarging work. Mr. Sanderson, of Cambridge, gave visitors the opportunity of testing his
universal swing-front camera. On behalf of G. Houghton & Son, Mr. Sanderson also exhibited
Maloni's flashlight apparatus. Local chemist E. J. Pratt, of King Street, had a stall displaying
apparatus and accessories along with plates for sale. Mr. Prestwich, representing the Moto-
Photo Supply Company, displayed a Prestwich kinematograph camera.

In the smaller hall of the Town Hall was an exhibition of photographs that had been previously
shown in exhibitions of the Royal Photographic Society and the Photographic Salon, by many
distinguished photographers of the day. In addition, an East Anglian exhibition was staged, but
this was criticised in the British Journal of Photography of 16th July 1897 as only two
contributions of the highest class of work were on display, by Dr. Emerson and Mr. Horsley
Hinton. Dr. Emerson contributed eleven examples of his Broadland works, but these were well-
known previously exhibited prints and were obviously familiar to the critic. Mr. Harvey-George
sent an excellent picture of a Norfolk wherry and other works. Other contributions were from Dr.
Adcock, Mr. Clarke of Bury St. Edmunds, Mr. A. Price and Mr. Rumbold. T. J. Wigg exhibited a
variety of snap shot studies in an ill-chosen variety of positively unsuitable tones. The critic
rounded off by saying Dr. Emerson's and Mr. Hinton's work are the chief attractions, and most of
the remaining exhibits are of the kind known as the usual thing.

On Tuesday the 13th, daytime excursions to Norwich by special steamer from Stone Cutters
Quay or by train from Vauxhall Station, were organised, with Major P. E. Back and Dr. Thompson
in charge. The historic buildings of Norwich were viewed and pictured. The authorities of the
Cathedral gave the party every facility by closing it to the general public, giving the
Conventioneers free run of the whole place. A lunch at the Maid's Head Hotel was also the
agenda. It is assumed the Thornton Pickard portable dark tent was taken to Norwich.

An alternative outing to Lowestoft was also offered by steamer via the sea, or by train from
Southtown Station. A brake left the Queen's Hotel at 9.30am, also bound for Lowestoft. This
group met up at the Royal Hotel in Lowestoft with the Mayor of Lowestoft, Alderman Adams,
presiding and Mr. Percy Wiltshire in the Vice Chair. Darkroom facilities were on offer at the studio
of Harry Jenkins at 2 Pier Terrace, and the
studio of Augustus Young in Wellington Road,
for plate changing. Next door to Mr. Jenkins’
studio, at number 1 Pier Terrace, the chemists,
Messrs. Fryer and Co., offered their darkroom
for changing and a large stock of plates were
for sale, and the chemist, Mr. J. D. W. Hume, of
48 London Road North, offered similar
services. The Mayor and Mrs. Adams later
entertained the convention at Lowestoft Town
Hall, providing a strawberry tea. In the
evening, at Great Yarmouth Town Hall, papers
were presented on Photographic Copyright by
Frank Bishop Esq. and Methods of Control and
their Influence on the Ultimate Development of
Artistic Photography by A. Horsley Hinton Esq.,
followed by an optical lantern show.
A group of photographers on
The Annual General Meeting was held at Lowestoft’s South Pier
10.00am on Wednesday the 14th at Great
Yarmouth Town Hall. Minutes of the last AGM were read along with a look at the balance sheet,
followed by discussion regarding the venue for the next year's conference. Mr. G. Mason hoped
that they would go to his native town of Glasgow, but Dr. Grey told the conference of an invitation
from the south coast town of Hastings. Mr. Bothamley moved that they should accept the
invitation from Glasgow for next year, which was seconded by Mr. Pringle, and the motion was
carried. The 1898 convention was held in Glasgow and the 1899 event in Gloucester.

At 12.00pm, a group photograph was taken of the members outside the Town Hall by local
photographers Frank Sayers and Alfred Price. Great Yarmouth born Sayers had managed
Price's studio at 26 King Street for several years but, at the time of the conference, it is believed
Sayers had taken the business over completely and Price was about to move on, or had moved
on, to work as a photographer in Wolverhampton. Price would eventually settle, according to the
1911 census, in Hartlepool and set up a studio at his home, 91 Durham Street, where he was
assisted by his daughter Florence. Sayers and Price must have been very apprehensive about
taking this group photograph, which included 154 people who would have been highly critical
judges of their work.

In the afternoon, short excursions, by brake, were available to Caister Castle under the leadership
of Mr. Charles Rumbold, or to Gorleston harbour's mouth and old pier. Delegates would have
needed to return in time to attend the annual dinner at 7.30pm, held in the Minor Hall of the Royal
Aquarium. There were: upwards of 100 ladies and gentlemen having the satisfaction of
experiencing J. W. Nightingale's catering. The president proposed: Success to the Photographic
Convention, and said the Society was in a very healthy condition. The Honorary Secretary, Mr.
Drage, said: that the membership at Yarmouth nearly touched that at Leeds, where it broke the
record. He was greatly indebted to the local Honorary Secretary, Mr. Harvey George, for the
immense amount of work he had done. Telegrams from Mr. Marlow, of Birmingham, and Mr.
Arthur Baldwin, late of the Eastman Kodak Co., were read out. May your plates be backed by
good digestion, and no halation follow, was the wish of Mr. Baldwin, which was followed by
laughter and applause. There then followed an enjoyable smoking concert, which was brought to
a close with the stirring and amusing Convention catch song ‘The Emperor Napoleon had one
thousand men’. Quite what the French delegation made of this is not known.

Also at the dinner, a proof copy of the Sayers/Price group photograph was available to view and
was greatly complimented on the rapidity and quality of the work. Prints could be ordered in silver
or platinotype, 12"x10", mounted at 3/6d. each.

This photograph was later published in a supplement of the British Journal of Photography of 23rd
July 1897, complete with a numbered key to identify some of the members. The list reads like a
Who's Who of the world of photography of the time, which included: Mr. C. H. Bothamley, the
editor of the Ilford Manual of Photography; Mr. H. P. Robinson, the distinguished pictorial
photographer; Mr. J. B. B. Wellington, one half of the partnership of Wellington and Ward, of
Elstree, manufacturer of photographic materials; Mr. Henry Sturmey, photographer, automobile
and cycling writer; Mr. T. R. Dallmeyer, son of J. R. Dallmeyer, the British optical manufacturer;
Dr. P. H. Emerson, renowned Broadland photographer; Mr. W. Prestwich, the father of J. A.
Prestwich, the manufacturer of cinematograph equipment and internal combustion engines; Mr.
E. J. Wall, writer of many books on photography, and Mr. Alfred Seaman, a founder member of
the PCUK and father of Herbert Oscar Seaman, who later came to Great Yarmouth around 1913
and set up photographic studios in the town.
On Thursday the 15th, the conference offered an excursion on the River Bure to Wroxham, which
left Stone Cutters Quay at 9.30am by special steamer. Lunch was available on shore near
Salhouse Broad. An alternative excursion left Beach Station at 9.10am, heading for Aylsham and
ultimately Blickling Hall. These parties were led by Mr. E. J. Humphrey and Mr. H. Newson. In
the evening at the Town Hall, a paper was read by Mr. T. R. Dallmeyer entitled The Points of a
Lens, followed by Strength of Hypo Solution and Time of Immersion for Fixing Albumen Paper,
presented by Mr. Haddon and Mr. Grundy. An additional item was presented by Mr. Prestwich,
who had been busy with his cinematograph camera and had recorded moving pictures of
members after Wednesday's group photograph. Prestwich projected a print of the film he had
taken outside the Town Hall the previous day, and this involved a post-haste dash to the Moto-
Photo Supply Company of Tottenham to process the negative and to print the projection positive.
The result was well received and was proclaimed as a successful result. The Photographic News
of 23rd July 1897 reported that: this is about one of the quickest bits of work we have heard of,
and the company are to be congratulated on having secured such a fine instrument, which for
projection is extremely steady and without any annoying flicker. This is one of the earliest
published accounts of motion picture photography to be shot and shown in the town. Small still
photographs from the cinematograph frames were published in the British Journal of Photography
of 30th July 1897, but it is believed the film has not survived. Prestwich cine cameras were
chosen for the Shackleton and Scott Antarctic expeditions, and the Prestwich name is also
famous for the JAP motorcycle and engines.

The Photographic News of 30th July 1897 reported that throughout the conference: a local artist
and lightning cartoonist, Mr. Arthur Patterson, welcomed the convention in his own particular style
and we reproduce his sketches here. Arthur Patterson also gave a presentation to the convention
of a series of his cartoons in the form of lantern slides.

On Friday the 16th, excursions to Oulton Broad, where a regatta managed by the Great Yarmouth
Yacht Club was taking place, and to Beccles by special steamer, or by train from Southtown
Station, were offered under the leadership of Dr. Peter Emerson, while an alternative excursion
led by Alfred Price was available to Castle Acre. The papers read in the Town Hall that evening
were The halftone process explained, presented by Mr. W. Gamble, and Photography in natural
colours, by E. J. Wall. Wall later went on to join the team in the USA that developed the
Technicolor process and was a prolific writer on colour photography.
Saturday the 17th was the last day of the conference and an excursion to Ipswich was organised
from Southtown Station. The train left at 8.15am, arriving in Ipswich at 9.45am. Mr. F.
Woolnough and members of the photographic section of the Ipswich Scientific Society were on
hand as guides. Ipswich Museum acted as conference HQ for this day and the use of their
darkroom was offered. Places of interest in Ipswich were Wolsey's Gate and St. Peter's Church,
Christchurch Mansion and Park, Neptune Inn, Ancient House and various old inns. Lunch was
provided at the White Horse at a cost of 2/- each. Holders of fortnightly tickets from London were
permitted to break their journey at Ipswich if they returned to town on the 17th. A return ticket
from Great Yarmouth to Ipswich was priced at 4/5d.
So the biggest photographic event ever to be held in Great Yarmouth drew to a close. The
delegates returned to their home towns and the local professionals went back to their studios. It
comes as a surprise to find so many of the town's professional photographers, who ranged from
beach ferrotype ‘while-you-wait’ operators to respectable studio photographers with Royal
patronage, are not mentioned in the reports and articles, and the assumption must be made that
they did not attend. Perhaps they were too busy, or there was intense rivalry with those local
professionals who did attend. Either way, Alfred Price, Frank Sayers, the Tilley Brothers and Mr.
Sherman rubbed shoulders with an elite gathering of photographic expertise that would never be
repeated in Great Yarmouth.

The author is grateful to Michael Guilmont for allowing him to use the Henderson photographs,
Robert Pols for precisely dating the Henderson photographs, and Dr. John Bradley for sharing
such a large amount of information about the conference.

A key to the individuals shown in the photograph on page 129 is available from the author,


Yarmouth Independent, 17th July 1897

The British Journal of Photography, 9th July, 16th July and 23rd July 1897
The Photographic News, 16th July, 23rd July and 30th July 1897
Eccleston, A. W., Gorleston

The Green Cap Windmill at Southtown
Peter Allard

Despite its great height, Green Cap Mill at Southtown always lived in the shadow of its close
neighbour, the Southtown High Mill, often referred to incorrectly as the Cobholm High Mill. The
Green Cap Mill was described as built under the plans and superintendence of a celebrated
engineer in 1815/16, and three years after its taller and more famous neighbour. One can
perhaps speculate that the celebrated engineer was William Cubitt (1785 - 1861). William Cubitt
was an eminent engineer, inventor and millwright. Born in Dilham, Norfolk, he is credited with
inventing the self-regulating windmill sails, which he patented in 1807. He was knighted at
Windsor Castle on 23rd December 1851.

The Green Cap Mill was built for James

Jenner, and the High Mill for a Thomas
Woolsey. William Youell, a local clerk, kept a
diary from the years 1765 to 1815 and, among
one of his last entries on 12th September
1815, he observed that bricks for this windmill
were being made on site. A third earlier-built
corn mill, Waters’ Mill, stood immediately to the

The site chosen for the Green Cap Mill was

immediately west of the High Mill and close to
Mill Road; this road eventually led to the older
mill of Robert Waters. The Green Cap Mill
was built nine floors high, with a staging on the
fifth floor, and reached a height of 94 feet to
the top of the curb. It had four patent double-
shuttered sails, each containing eight bays.
The stocks were reputed to be the longest on
record, being 80 feet in length. The fantail was
an eight-bladed fan and had the usual chain

The mill was very powerful and drove four

pairs of French stones that were capable of
producing 120 quarters of wheat a week. The
property consisted of about three acres, a
dwelling house with a large garden, a cottage
for a workman, stables and a cart lodge, and
was fenced on all sides. The approach road
The Green Cap Mill photographed in working order was from the last bend in Mill Road, and was
circa late 1880s liberally lined with trees on its north side.

During February 1826, all three of these Southtown corn mills (Jenner’s, Woolsey’s and Waters’)
were subject to a tithe claim by Thomas Brown, the Rector of Southtown and Vicar of Gorleston.
Both Jenner and Woolsey stated that they did not grind corn in the usual way, but were corn and
grain merchants, and that they bought their corn and ground it to sell the flour in the
manufactured state. They insisted that for this operation, no tithe payments were due. Tithes
were usually paid when grinding other people’s grain for profit, as was generally the case with
ancient mills. Waters responded claiming that although his mill was built on an old site, it had
been built within the last 50 years. The case was heard in Great Yarmouth at the small
collections court and the counsel’s opinion, under Lord Chief Baron, was that the case should be
dismissed. It was stated, however, that it was difficult to separate the small amount of grist or bag
work the mills did, for which tithe payments might be payable on profits. The counsel’s opinion

was that this was a case
possibly for appeal, but costs
would greatly exceed the
amounts of tithe involved.
Thomas Brown later applied to
the General Clergy for funds to
carry the cause to the House of
Lords but, on receiving no
response from them, the
matter was eventually dropped.

During 1831, James Jenner

was declared bankrupt, and
the Green Cap Mill was put up
for auction at the Star Hotel,
Great Yarmouth, on
Wednesday 14th September
1831. Adverts appeared in the
Sketch showing exact site of mill and granary in relation to present
Norfolk Chronicle and other day road layout
papers during August and early
September, giving details of
the property. Clearly, the corn and milling trade was very depressed during this period, as the
adjacent High Mill had been auctioned at the Star Hotel a week earlier. New Corn Acts that had
been passed in 1828 may have been responsible. The then owners of the High Mill were John
Woolsey and John Secker, both having been issued with recent bankruptcy orders.

The Green Cap Mill was described at the auction as being a very superior windmill with
machinery of the finest description. No costs were spared in its erection and it was deemed in
every respect to be the most complete in England. Attached to the mill was a dwelling house with
two parlours, a kitchen and four bedrooms, with an excellent garden and well planted fruit trees,
an orchard, a shrubbery and a meadow. The sale also included a cottage and gig house with
yard, and the option to purchase an additional three acres of meadow. At the 1831 auction, the
successful purchaser was Thomas Hammond.

The Southtown 1843 Tithe Map refers to the mill as Hammond’s Greencap Mill, although it is
interesting to note that, during December 1842, the mill had once again been advertised to be
sold, or let by private contract. Adverts appeared in the Norfolk Chronicle for 14th and 24th
December, giving details of the property once again, and to apply to Mr. Thomas Hammond
himself, who will show any person or persons around the site. Whether or not it was let out is
unknown, however details of the 1849 Tithe Award shows Thomas Hammond as still owning the
mill. However, in 1855, a Richard Hammond (possibly Thomas’s son) conveyed the ownership of
the Green Cap Mill to an Edward Press.

Steam power was now beginning to make an impact on flour production and, certainly by 1861,
the Green Cap Mill had acquired an engine of this description. The Norfolk News of 12th January
1861 carried an advert to journeyman millers notifying a vacancy for a stonehand as foreman at
the Green Cap Mill, and preferably one who had been accustomed to driving a steam engine. It
was also during this period that Edward Press’ two younger brothers, George and Benjamin,
became financially involved with the property. To many local people, the Green Cap Mill was
usually referred to as the second mill, the High Mill being the first mill from over the Haven Bridge.
Presumably when Waters’ Mill was still in existence (it was burnt down in 1850), this would have
been known as the third mill.

The Green Cap Mill was damaged by a severe thunderstorm, which passed over the town on
Wednesday 5th July 1871. The Norfolk News carried the report three days later, stating that a
mill in Southtown belonging to Mr. Press was struck by lightning and one of the four sails was

By August 1873, the ownership of Green Cap Mill was mentioned as belonging to the Press
brothers, presumably these being Edward (the eldest brother), George and Benjamin. Two years
later, the premises were known as the Southtown Mills, the large extensive steam buildings being
added to the windmill in about 1868. Over the coming years, the newest and best machinery was
added and upwards of £20,000 spent on the site. Other additions were made from time to time,
until it was one of the largest in the town, and gave much employment to a large number of men.
It eventually ground all the corn by means of steam-rolling, and the premises later became known
as the Yare Roller Mills.

During 1875, the Press brothers also purchased the interests of the adjacent High Mill Estate,
including the mill and adjoining steam engine. This windmill worked four pairs of stones, the
steam engine working alongside an additional three. Later they also acquired the extensive
premises adjacent to the River Yare and close to the Haven Bridge belonging to Messrs.
Gambling, the frontage to these buildings being along Steam Mill Lane. It was claimed that Press
Brothers premises in both Southtown and Cobholm were at one time utilising as many as 20 pairs
of stones to grind corn.

The Green Cap Mill had presumably, by

virtue of its name, once sported a distinctive
green painted, boat-shaped cap. Certainly
when a disastrous fire took hold on the
evening of Saturday 29th January 1898, the
sails of the windmill had been taken down
some time previously, but the cap remained
along with all the important internal
machinery. Workmen had finished their shift
at six o’clock that evening and, just before
eight o’clock, a local resident, Arthur Tyrrell,
owner of the adjacent Cobholm Farm Dairy
in Mill Road, saw flames coming out of the
top window of the north gable of the steam

With the fire having taken hold, a messenger

was quickly sent to alert the local police
station in Middlegate. Within a few minutes,
two horses had been despatched from St.
George’s Road and, once they had been
coupled up to the police steam fire engine,
the fire in Southtown was reached just before
the half hour. Despite the difficulty of getting
the engine over the soft ground, the steam
pump was in full working order by 8.39pm.
All that remained of the Green Cap Mill on the morning
after the fire; note Press’ High Mill in the background
By this time however, the fire had taken a
firm hold and efforts were directed to save
any adjacent property. The town was so
startled by the smoke and flames that were hanging over Cobholm that many came across the
bridge to see the spectacle. Thanks to a plentiful supply of water in the dykes, the fire was
contained to the five-storey factory and adjoining windmill, with the adjacent cottages directly in
front of the mill being saved.

As water levels in the dyke lowered, the powerful pump began to choke up with mud and
momentarily ceased to function, at which moment the excited crowd shouted half-time. However,
the pipes were soon cleared and pumping operations continued. The windmill itself became a
towering inferno and flames could be seen from as far away as Lowestoft and Norwich, giving
people concern as to what was happening in Great Yarmouth. It was estimated that 15,000
people came to view the fire; the
streets and Market Place being
completely deserted. It was said that,
with illumination from the fire, people
in their rooms on South Quay could tell
the time on their watches and see the
patterns on the wallpaper. Scores of
pigeons perished in the fire, some
were even seen flying with their wings
ablaze. Damage was estimated at
£20,000, although the buildings and
windmill were insured with both the
Essex and Suffolk, and Commercial
Union fire companies.

On the following morning, only the

walls of a once massive building
remained, and the nine-storey windmill
was a hollow whitened tower. The
exact cause of the fire was never fully
established. So exciting was the great
fire across the region, a special
Yarmouth Mercury supplement,
together with photographs by Frank
Sayers of King Street, was printed and
included in the 5th February edition.
These showed the premises before
the fire, during the fire, and the
aftermath the following day. With so
much devastation, the owners very
soon decided not to rebuild the
premises. All the remaining charred
and unsafe walls and buildings were
quickly demolished, and plans
conceived for a housing estate to be
built across most of the site. The first The Green Cap Mill just before demolition
houses were built in 1900; the first
road on what was then called the
Press Estate being aptly named
Century Road.

Benjamin Press, the company chairman, was

elected Mayor of Great Yarmouth in 1899,
and at one of his mayoral functions he
reputedly reported that the best way of
demolishing the old Great Yarmouth rows
was by fire, which caused great laughter. A
witty repartee came, saying: Well, you are
the specialist in fires. He was Deputy Mayor
the following year. The eldest brother,
Edward Press, had earlier become involved
with the North Walsham side of the business,
at the time of the fire, and had left Benjamin
to manage the Great Yarmouth property and
The Press family vaults in Gorleston Cemetery business. It is not known what became of
in March 2013. the third brother, George Press.
Benjamin Howard Press in the centre
Soon after, in October 1901, the Press Company’s large riverside steam roller mills in Steam Mill
Lane, Cobholm, also caught fire and were largely destroyed. They were however soon rebuilt,
and opened again in September 1902. Benjamin Howard Press died on the 11th June 1904,
aged 71 years, and both the High Mill Estate and Green Cap Mill Estates were quickly put on the
market. Both sales were held at the Star Hotel in Great Yarmouth on Wednesday 24th August
1904. Benjamin Press is buried in Gorleston (old) Cemetery (grave number B 321) in the family
vaults close to Magdalen Way. He had been a town councillor since 1880, a magistrate since
1886, and served the Great Yarmouth Port and Haven Commissioners for many years. The firm
of Press Brothers Ltd. continued in Steam Mill Lane, Great Yarmouth until the early 1930s. The

19 and 20 Century Road, Southtown mark the site of the Green Cap
granary premises. Both are bay-fronted; note the red chimney pots.
Photographed August 1986

business then became known as Press, Bly and Davy, and continued there until the mid-1960s.
Today, the exact site of the Green Cap Mill is behind the Cobholm Co-operative shop in Century
Road. It is covered by terraced houses that were built in 1900. The spot where Yare Roller Mills
once stood is marked by red chimney pots at numbers 19 and 20 Century Road. Both houses
are bay-fronted, whereas the remainder are houses typical of terrace design. All other chimney
pots in the road are stone coloured. The exact site of the High Mill in Gatacre Road, Southtown is
similarly marked with red chimney pots. Although numbers 19 and 20 Century Road are indeed
correct for the centre of the steam roller mill buildings, recent digital mapping shows the exact
location of the Green Cap windmill directly opposite, and across the other side of, this narrow
road, at the front of number 94 Century Road (TG 5165/0745).


Preston, J., The Picture of Yarmouth 1819

Norfolk Windmill Trust, various files.
Yarmouth Mercury, 18th June 1904
Yarmouth Mercury, January 1932
Eastern Daily Press, 31st January 1898
Yarmouth Independent, 31st January 1898
Southtown Tithe Award Map, 1843
Great Yarmouth Annual, 1899
William Youell’s Diary, 1765-1815, (Norfolk Records Office – Y/D 87)
Gorleston Cemetery Records
Alison Yardy, Norfolk Museums, Gressenhall
Coal Wagons of the Great Yarmouth Area
Chris Wright

In 1852, the port of Great Yarmouth received 157,519 tons of coal for the needs of the town and
surrounding area. This was reduced to 89,000 tons by 1892, mainly as a result of the transfer to
rail. The number of coal merchants in the town varied over the years. Directories for 1850 and
1869 show 17, 1883 shows 35, 1901 shows 18, and 1912 and 1925 show 30. By 1837, there
were 21 coke merchants in Great Yarmouth and Gorleston.

There were frequent changes in the directory listings over the years as merchants changed hands
or closed. Some of them had their own coal wagons to bring coal and coke into the town. Coal
and coke were needed for homes, factories, shipping fleets, gas and electricity production and, of
course, for railway locomotives. The main railway stations of Beach, Vauxhall, Southtown,
Gorleston North and Gorleston had coal depots. There was also the railway line to White Swan
Yard where Montague Smith was based between 1902 and 1908, when the Co-op took over the
siding and yard (closed in 1970), the Quays and Fish Wharf (closed in 1975). Most of the
surrounding village station yards had at least one coal merchant.

Nationally, in 1918, the Railway Clearing House recorded 626,223 private owner wagons
registered for use on the railway, of which 98% were open wagons. 85% of these were for coal
and coke. Most (72%) were owned by the collieries, but 22% were owned by coal distributors.
Wagons were mainly wooden with 5, 7 or 9 planks, and with 8, 10 or 12 ton capacity. World War
Two saw the Government requisition the wagons. The collieries were nationalised in 1946 and, in
1948, the railway was nationalised, the wagons absorbed, and the owners compensated. Many
were then withdrawn, although some survived in their private owner liveries well into the 1950s.
Keith Turton, in Private Owner Wagons, provides background to some of the companies.

Photographic evidence shows Bessey and Palmer, North Sea Coaling Company, Thomas Moy,
Coote and Warren, Brooks and Sons and Raywood operated privately owned wagons in the
Great Yarmouth area. A wagon of Fosdick, and also of William Cory and Sons, were
photographed on the Quay. Drawings of A. H. Bateman and Co. (based on Hall Quay), R. Coller
and Sons, and Chateau and Co. illustrate their liveries. Other photos exist to show the liveries of
Montague Smith, Joseph Boam (based in Hall Quay in 1912), and J. and H. Girling, based initially
(1869 - 1901) in Regent Street, and later (1912 - 1925) on North Quay. Hastings and Sterry is a
further example. Notes from the M&GN Circle record that others like Great Yarmouth Co-
operative Society, Fuller, Hansell, Guyton and Read owned wagons, but photographic evidence
has not yet been traced. In addition, photographs show private owner wagons from the collieries
in the area with Ocean, Carlton, Newstead, Gresford, Moira and Llay Main as examples. The
M&GN Circle lists several other colliery wagons operating in the county, including Staveley,
Butterley and Bolsover.

Bessey and Palmer was formed by William H. Bessey, a coal merchant dating back to 1856,
based in Hall Quay. He later formed partnerships with Palmers, who were involved in various
local businesses. A directory of 1883 shows Bessey and Palmer as a coal merchant based at
Hall Quay, but also as ship owners, ship brokers,
ship builders, insurance agents and agents for
suppliers to the shipping industry. A branch was
also at Gorleston.

By 1912, a retail office was open at 29 Regent

Street and several other branches had been
established, including Gorleston North, Ormesby,
Hemsby and Martham.

By 1937, the company had depots based at the

three Yarmouth stations as well as the Fish Wharf,
Bessey & Palmer coal wagon
and North and South Quay. Collieries in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire were the main
suppliers, although Warwickshire coalfield was also used. The company supplied many smaller
merchants and remained a main local coal and coke provider for over a hundred years.

Thomas Moy was formed in 1853 and became a limited company in 1891 based in Colchester.
Moy traded across East Anglia. Commercial directories for 1869, 1892 and 1896 show Moy
based at North Quay. Kelly’s Directory for 1912 records depots at North Quay, Southtown and
Vauxhall stations, and at Gorleston, with an office at 165 King Street. Southtown is omitted from
the directories for 1925 and 1937. Most of their supplies were from the Nottingham and
Derbyshire coalfield, although the Warwickshire and Leicestershire coalfield was also used. The
company also operated a wagon works at Peterborough, and traded in building materials, bricks,
lime, manure and salt. Moy also owned and supplied a gas works. The company merged with
Ricketts in 1929, and Charringtons in 1969.

North Sea Coaling Company was formed

in 1910 to supply coal to the shipping
companies and to the public. Three
hundred and ten steam drifters were
registered in the town and each
consumed an average of 250 tons of coal
a year. The company was to operate like
a co-operative, paying a dividend to
shareholders and bonuses to customers.
In 1912, the company had offices in
Theatre Buildings, Regent Road, but
moved, in 1913, to 54 South Quay. A
branch at Lowestoft had also opened. By
1918, the company is recorded as owning North Sea Coaling Company wagon

coal wagons and seems to have sourced coal from

the Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire coalfields. In
1929, the company was in liquidation and reorganised
with locations at 54 South Quay, Fish Wharf and
South Denes Road, which continued to 1937.
Gorleston also had two offices by 1937. It was
renamed the North Sea Coaling Company (Great
Yarmouth) Ltd. They were still using their own
wagons in 1936 but, by 1938, were based in
Lowestoft. Some of their wagons were bought from
Coote and Warren.

Coote and Warren also served Great Yarmouth and

became one of the largest dealers in the country.
A newspaper advertisement for
North Sea Coaling Company
The company originated in Wisbech in 1847, when
Thomas Coote set up as a corn merchant alongside a
coal merchant business. By 1856, he had 25 wagons. Frederick Warren, from St. Ives, was a
London coal merchant and, during the late 19th century, the families traded separate companies,
but sat on the company boards of each other. They merged in June 1908.

By the 1930s, the Butterley Company and Bolsover Colliery were the major shareholders. They
dominated much of the East Anglian coal trade, including trade in Great Yarmouth. The
Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire coalfields were the main sources of supplies, especially the
Butterley Company and Staveley Coal and Iron Company. Yorkshire was a further source and
occasionally Wales. The involvement of the Bolsover Colliery Company saw the role of Staveley
decline. Over 1,000 wagons were owned or hired by the company and a wagon works was
established at Peterborough. Interestingly, some were purchased and others hired from Moy.
The company was later absorbed by Charringtons.
Great Yarmouth visitors returning to London by boat.
Coal wagons on Hall Quay in the foreground

B. Raywood and Sons was a smaller

coal merchant, which was based at
Gorleston station. Little is known, but
it would seem that the Nottingham
area was their coal supply source. In
1937, they had an office in Bells

Chateau and Co. were coal and coke

merchants. The business was
established in 1883, and diversified
into the coal industry. In 1904, they
were based at Ferry Walk and, in
1912 and 1925, at 76a Southtown B. Raywood & Sons coal wagon
Road. Kelly’s Directory for 1912 has
an advertisement that shows a
stylised coal wagon in their livery. It is unclear if this is based on a wagon or is artistic licence.
The company also operated a furniture and haulage business. They were still trading in 1937 at
76a Southtown Road.

It can be concluded that while the Great Yarmouth area had over 30 coal merchants and dealers,
the majority do not appear to have had their own wagon fleets. Turton suggests that this is due to
the dominance of the larger companies. Further research may clarify the issue.


Turton, Keith, Private Owner Wagons Vols. 12 and 13, Lightmoor Publishing, 2014
Hudson, Bill, Private Owner Wagons Vol. 1, 1976, Oxford Publishing Co.
Digby, Nigel, Midland and Great Northern Circle Bulletin No 645/6, 2015
Various Kelly’s Directories

Addendum to the Article on J. J. Hall, in Yarmouth Archaeology 2014 pages 112-122
Paul P. Davies

Another example of J. J. Hall’s work recently came to light, hanging on a wall in the home of the
President of the Society. It was originally presented in 1972 to the local historian, C. George Rye,
by the Society in appreciation of his long and valuable services as the secretary. On George
Rye’s death it was bequeathed to the society by his executors in 1989.

The Society’s Exhibition in Great Yarmouth Minster 2014

Great Yarmouth and the First World War
Paul P. Davies

Following on the success of the two previous

exhibitions (Fishing and Great Yarmouth; the 60th
Anniversary of the 1953 Floods) hosted by the
Society, another exhibition was held during the
months of August and September 2014. This also
covered the half week of Heritage Open Days.

The exhibition was compiled by Colin Tooke, Paul

Davies and Michael Wadsworth and was very well
received by those who attended. Many visited,
especially those on holiday in the area and from
overseas (Germany, Hong Kong, Holland, Canada,
Australia, USA, Israel, etc.) Over 340 people signed
the visitor’s book for the exhibition. We know by
experience that only a small proportion of people
sign visitor’s books, so we can extrapolate that
probably over 3,400 attended.

The purpose of these exhibitions is to inform the

people of the great history and heritage that Great
Yarmouth offers and also to publicise the activities of
the Society.


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