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Great Yarmouth

Local History and



This 2013 edition of the Journal marks the 125th anniversary of our Society; I therefore hope that
you will find it both interesting and informative, as we again have an excellent selection of articles
and my thanks go to all those who have contributed.

Last year, 2012, saw much further activity in the number of blue plaques placed on points of
interest in Great Yarmouth and Gorleston by the Society. Once again, as in last year’s Journal,
most of the recent plaque presentations are covered within this latest 2013 edition, with
illustrations. In each case there is, of course, a further story behind the actual plaque
presentation; information about all the individuals commemorated by the plaques is invariably
very interesting and it is quite remarkable how many local personalities have made their marks on
the world, by some means or another. Our plaques are a permanent legacy of their efforts and

In addition, we again have an excellent selection of historical articles, all well researched by our
contributors, and we also have summaries of the Society’s outings and lectures during 2012.

For future editions of the Journal, I will of course 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 for
publication and the format in which text and images should be submitted.

Finally, I would remind members that back copies of many of the Journals published between
1985 and 2012 (but please note, not all years) are still available, so if any are missing from your
collection, do please contact me and I will supply if I am able to do so.

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 P. Davies

Treasurer: Derek Leak

Secretary and Vice-Chairman: Margaret Gooch

77 High Road, Gorleston, NR31 0PB
Tel: 01493-661270

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

Paul Rutledge

Russell Smith

Colin Tooke

Three Committee Members retire each year according to a three year rota.
Officers are elected annually, and Honorary Members remain so for life.

20th January A Mixed Bag : six ten minute talks by Society members

17th February Harbour Branch Railways, mainly Norfolk

Graham Kenworthy - Railway Enthusiast and Author

16th March Milestones and Signposts in Norfolk

Carol Haines - Author and Historian

20th April East Anglian Manuscripts : Art and Icons from Local Churches
Margaret Forrester - Art Historian and Lecturer

18th May Annual General Meeting, followed by ‘Yarmouth Speedway’

Robin Hambling - Speedway Enthusiast

21st September Exploring Paston Country

Lucy Care – Historian, Artist, and Founder of the Paston Heritage Society

19th October First Catch your Asp : The Pathology of the Death of Medieval Kings
Dr. Philip Stone - Radiologist, Historian, and Chairman of the Richard III Society
18th November The Find of a Lifetime : The Discovery of Buried Treasure in East Anglia
Mark Mitchels - Lecturer and Author on the History of East Anglia.

16th December Christmas Social Evening, including ‘Concrete Cockrill’

Ann Dunning - Committee Member, GYLH&AS

Lecture Summaries 2012

February 2012
Around 100 people attended to hear Graham Kenworthy give an illustrated talk on The Harbour
Branch Railways of Norfolk. He began his presentation by explaining that his research originated
from part of his duties when he was employed by British Railways in the mid 1960s, which
supervised the removal of various lines and sidings in East Anglia that had become redundant.
He felt he needed to know a little more about their history before the records were lost forever.

Graham Kenworthy spoke about the extensive railway lines around the port of King’s Lynn, which
connected Norfolk to a large part of the national rail network. During the industrial and
agricultural changes that happened in the middle of the 19th century, it was necessary to move
much greater quantities of fuel, crops, raw materials and finished goods. The most efficient way
of doing this was by rail transport. However track systems have their limitations, as they need a
great deal of space, can only deal with small inclines, and cannot turn sharp corners. Graham’s
maps showed how they tried to deal with these problems at King’s Lynn, and how horses were
used to assemble trains so they could be towed to the main lines. Even the small port of Wells-
next-the-Sea had an extensive railway system, running almost to the end of its harbour, but this
has been removed, with only a few clues left to show that it ever existed.
Great Yarmouth’s extensive railway system was discussed. This dates from 1844, when the line
to Vauxhall Station was opened, but the unusual shape of the Port of Yarmouth with its miles of
quays, made it necessary to add extra tracks, so that ships could be loaded and unloaded directly
into railway trucks.
The chequered history of the bridges over the River Bure was discussed, including the fall of the
first suspension bridge in 1845. The railway company had built a new bridge by 1848, described
as a tubular bridge of iron, 33 yards long and twelve yards wide for the use of their trains and for

road access to the station. This was strengthened by adding bowstring girders, and a footway
was added on the south side in 1886. The bridge replacing Cory’s structure (which had
collapsed) was not robust enough for the increasing traffic in the 1930s, and the road was
diverted to the railway bridge until the Callender-Hamilton Bridge was opened in 1953. The
railway part of the bridge was closed to traffic in 1975. It has recently been decided that this
bridge will be improved and re-opened in the near future to provide access to Vauxhall Railway
The port railway lines were set into the highway, and were referred to as a tramway. They
eventually reached as far as the Fish Wharf and there were as many as four tracks on South
Quay to carry heavy goods trains in and out of the port of Great Yarmouth. These were pulled by
horses, steam and diesel engines over the years but, when they were on the public highway, they
had to be escorted by a man with a flag or a light.

The fishing industry declined, the need for large quantities of coal lessened, and ships passed
Great Yarmouth in favour of bigger ports. These factors led to the necessity for the quay railway
to be reduced, however it did have a brief boom when scrap iron and steel was carried to A.
King’s yard for export. It finally closed in 1975. The tracks were taken up, but Graham told us
that a section remains under the ramp up to the Bure Bridge roundabout and is buried deep
beneath the tarmac.

March 2012
An illustrated lecture was given by Carol Haines entitled The Milestones and Signposts of Norfolk.
Ms. Haines is a local historian, writer and Norfolk’s representative of the Milestone Society. She
spoke about items of street furniture, remnants of the turnpike era, and the evolution of modern
road signs.

Historically, milestones were a great boon to the early traveller in England before the days of road
maps and signage, as they told the traveller where they were, how far they had come from the
previous town, and how far it was to the next town.

Milestones originated with the Romans but no more were erected until 1633, when new stones
appeared on the Dover to Canterbury road and the idea began to spread. Landowners put them
up to guide people to their estates and for the benefit of other travellers. Public subscription and
local benefactors placed others on the King’s Highway.

The heyday of milestones came when turnpike roads were built largely in the late 17th to the mid
19th centuries, when trusts were formed to maintain and collect the dues for their use. It became
compulsory to have milestones on the highway so people could see if they were being charged
correctly. However, for such a large county, Norfolk had only 349 miles of turnpikes by the time
the railways arrived, these roads largely radiating out from Norwich, although there was a
complex web of roads linking the smaller towns.

Cross-country and minor roads gained milestones, but records of their builders are scarce and
dating them is difficult. If they showed an upright ‘S’ like a modern ‘F’, and distances in Roman
numerals, it would indicate an 18th century origin. In later times it was realized that Roman
numbers were difficult to read from a speeding horse or a stage coach, so Arabic numbers were

County Councils took over the upkeep of turnpikes and well-used main roads in 1888, when they
set up milestones in appropriate places with N.C.C. Main Road inscribed on them.

In 1940 it was decreed that all signposts and milestones should be removed or defaced in case of
invasion. Many milestones were thrown into the nearest ditch. They come to light from time to
time and Norfolk now has more milestones than most English counties. The improvement and
straightening of roads make them largely irrelevant for modern journeys but they are an
interesting link with travel before the railway age.

County Councils made it their business to give roads numbers and main roads were designated
‘A’, such as the A12, A47, A143 and A149, all of which terminated in Great Yarmouth. Lesser
roads were described as ‘B’ or ‘C’ and finger signposts were placed beside them to help the
traveller find his way. These could be distinctive in different counties, but milestones continued to
be erected and some were cast in Great Yarmouth by Pertwee and Back, who continue in
business today as motor-traders. Warning signs for hazards and junctions were added for the
safety of road users, but were changed over the years to make them more understandable to
British and foreign drivers.

April 2012
An illustrated lecture was given by Margaret Forrester entitled East Anglian Manuscripts, when
medieval art and records of the Christian Church in this region were considered.

Mrs. Forrester, a retired teacher living in Cromer, is an established art historian who lectures for
the Worker Educational Association, and teaches freelance throughout East Anglia. She said in
her lecture in the first half of the fourteenth century East Anglia led the world in the creation of a
distinctive style of manuscript illustration. The most famous works are illustrated Psalters. Many
of these were for private individuals and several ended up in monasteries. Her lecture considered
six of these books and compared their illustrations.

May 2012
On Friday 18th May 2012 the Society held its Annual General Meeting, which was followed by an
illustrated lecture by one of our own members, Mr. David McDermott, entitled Great Yarmouth
Speedway. David based his talk on an original presentation by Mr. Robin Hambling of Lawn
Avenue. Motor cycle speedway meetings were held in Bradwell before the war but had moved to
the stadium on Caister Road by 1948. They proved very popular and a real spectacle in ‘austerity
Britain’ before television as the stadium was within easy reach of the town and surrounding
villages. There was a national league and Great Yarmouth at first did well with such local stars as
Billy Bales. However it lost popularity and motor cycle speedway ceased in Great Yarmouth by
the 1960s.

September 2012
Lucy Care gave the Society’s September lecture entitled Exploring Paston Country. She argued
that the famous Paston Letters gave a unique insight into medieval life based on the
correspondence of a Norfolk family, who rose from humble origins to become courtiers to several
English Kings.

The first Paston to be recorded was Clement, who took his surname from that village. He was
born at the end of the fourteenth century and was recorded as a peasant farmer of little account.
He held some arable land but had a poor little watermill by a little river. Other manors or livelihood
had he none. However Clement seemed to work hard and he took his surplus harvest to
Winterton market for sale. There he met and married Beatrice Goneld of Somerton. They had
one surviving son, William, who they provided with a good education. Paston village adjoined
Bromholm Priory, which was rich and no doubt the monks provided William with part of his early

William entered the law and gained the epithet of The Good Judge and was active in Norfolk, but
he possibly looked after his own interests, as well as administering the law. He died, founding a
dynasty of several children, in 1444. Unfortunately there then followed a period of great political
instability, later known as The Wars of the Roses, 1455-1487, when various factions fought to
establish their candidate as King of England and this resulted in a period of general lawlessness
and civil strife.

Sir John Fastolf, grandson of a Great Yarmouth merchant, who became the rich and famous
soldier and courtier, died in 1459. He had amassed a great fortune, allowing him to build Caister
Castle. John Paston, his lawyer, claimed that he had been bequeathed it and the Pastons moved
into it.
However, the Duke of Norfolk also claimed the castle and is reported to have sent an army of
3,000 men to besiege it the autumn of 1469. It was defended by Margery Paston and a few
retainers. The castle stood up well, but the siege lasted three weeks and overwhelming numbers
and lack of weapons and supplies forced Margery to surrender the castle. An army of that size
must have had a terrible effect on Caister, as the soldiers lived off the land in those times. They
probably took what they wanted, rather than buying their food. Mrs. Care felt that the current
owners should mention this incident in their guide books to Caister Castle.

Mrs. Care also showed the more domestic side of the Paston family, where they sent letters
describing family events, elopements, domestic violence and arguments, as well as requests for
luxury goods to be brought from London. She ended by suggesting that members should visit
Paston Church and the surrounding parishes with Paston connections.

October 2012
On 19th October, Doctor Philip Stone gave the Society an illustrated talk, based on his historical
reading as a physician, entitled First Catch Your Asp, covering the macabre subject of the deaths
of royalty from ancient Egypt to that of George VI.

As Chairman of the Richard III Society, Dr. Stone gave an outline of the Society’s work over the
years to chronicle the life of the man who was King of England only briefly, from 1483 to 1485,
and its efforts to rehabilitate King Richard’s reputation, libelled by the works of Tudor apologists
(or spin doctors), not least of these being one William Shakespeare.

Concentrating on English medieval and early modern monarchs, Dr. Stone could find little
evidence for death by poison as a cause of death, but that of Harthecanute, son of King Canute,
was a distinct possibility as he died at his drink with convulsions at the age of 25 years. King
Harold II, William Rufus and Richard III died by direct violence against the person, and Lady Jane
Grey, Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard and Charles I died by decapitation.

Dr. Stone considered what he would have written on the death certificate of the various monarchs
under discussion. As a modern physician, he felt that several injuries, conditions and illnesses
would have led to death, but pulmonary tuberculosis was a great factor in their demise,
particularly the Tudor monarchs. However, he said that no English King, surprisingly, seems to
have died of plague, which carried off vast numbers of their subjects. Edward II famously died in
Berkley Castle, Dr. Stone suggesting that his demise may have been caused by a radical
treatment for haemorrhoids! Richard II, who was usurped by Henry VI, died in Pontefract Castle
and may have been murdered or even starved to death.

Henry VIII had a long reign (1509-1547) and there are various reports of illnesses throughout his
life, but a fall from a horse may have caused a condition that made him paranoid and vicious in
the latter part of his life. Cushing’s disease and diabetes, together with obesity, may have been
the cause of his death, however, Dr. Stone felt that Henry had not contracted syphilis as the
symptoms described did not suggest this; also there were no signs of this disease in his children,
Queen Mary, Edward VI or Queen Elizabeth I.

Dr. Stone contrasted Henry VIII’s mania and viciousness with that of Richard III. Richard was a
competent soldier, a good landlord and a loyal brother, who just may have had his nephews
murdered, whereas Henry VIII devalued the coinage, dissolved the monasteries, and spent vast
amounts of money on doubtful foreign wars, building useless castles and promoting his own
image as a great and powerful monarch. Also he had many people judicially murdered, including
two of his wives and the mad octogenarian Duchess of Salisbury who, like many of his victims,
may possibly have had a greater claim to the throne than his own.

Dr. Stone included some fanciful pictures by Susan Herbert showing historic characters with cats’
faces, and finished with what was felt in Victorian times as a way of getting away with
pornography, using a series of paintings of the naked Cleopatra ending her life by poisoning
herself with the famous asp.
November 2012
Mr. Mark Mitchels began his talk with the Snettisham Horde, which was buried by Britons about
100 years before the Roman invasion. It is believed that the very high quality gold and silver
were votive offerings to bring luck and good harvests to the people of the area. The find at
Mildenhall of Roman silverware was mired in local jealousy and the desire of one man to keep the
treasure for himself, to admire in the privacy of his own home. Raold Dahl wrote up the story and
is still the best source of telling the story of how a local ploughman found the items, but another
man took possession of the find, until it came to the attention of the local police and the British
Museum, who took possession. The Sutton Hoo treasure was dug up just before World War II at
the request of the landowner, Basil Brown, a man of no archaeological training, but he did a
brilliant job. His painstaking work with a small trowel and paintbrush allowed him to find the
shape of the boat from discolouration in the sand, although all the wood had rotted away. This
was treasure, which was buried with King Redwald, who was found at the centre of the boat.
Professional archaeologists were brought in, who pushed Mr. Brown aside and tried to humiliate
him. The long view is that Basil Brown’s contribution was probably better than the experts of
1939. Mr. Mitchells felt that East Anglia had more world-class treasures per square mile than
almost anywhere else in the world.

December 2012
An illustrated lecture was given by committee member, Ann Dunning, entitled Concrete Cockerill.
John William Cockerill was described as one of the makers of modern Yarmouth. In the years
1869-1922, when he worked for Great Yarmouth County Borough, the town and its local
government expanded greatly. Great Yarmouth, which had changed little for centuries, saw great
expansion of the fishing and holiday industries, the introduction of electric power, and the coming
of motorised road traffic. A large number of Great Yarmouth people lived in ‘The Rows’ for many
years, but these had become largely slums, enjoying little daylight and without the benefit of piped
water or an adequate sewage system. Cockerill was studying for his architectural qualifications
when he was appointed Inspector of Nuisances for Gorleston and Southtown. In 1882, he was
appointed the Borough Surveyor and Inspector of Gas Meters and it was around this time that the
council merged and was expanding its role to cover the provision of the new utilities, as well as
improving the town’s environment. Slum clearance, street cleaning, better housing and an
efficient sewage system became priorities in the rapidly expanding town. Cockerill gained his
epithet concrete because he favoured this material for covering the streets and paths, as well as
for use in buildings. He also liked to clad his buildings in terracotta tiles. Ann Dunning showed
almost 50 pictures of buildings designed by Cockerill, and included some he had planned, but
were not built. She argued that Cockerill’s work was still a large part of the fabric of Great
Yarmouth and that he was a visionary public servant to the town. After Ann’s talk, a fine buffet
was provided by Jean Smith, wife of our former Chairman, Russell Smith.

Books Published by Members of the Society in 2012

Life in the Flegg Villages 1800 to 1850 by David Tubby ISBN 9780956896711

Yarmouth Compendium by John McBride ISBN 9780952071914

Monographs published by the Great Yarmouth Local History and Archaeological Society
Monograph One: Excerpt from the Sailor’s Home Logbook 1861 to 1864 by Paul P. Davies
Monograph Two: Record of the Surviving and Legible Memorial Slabs in St. Nicholas’ Church,
Great Yarmouth at the Commencement of the Restoration Work: 2nd June 1957 by Paul P.
Monograph Three: Little Yarmouth by Margaret Gooch ISBN 978-0-9544509-9-1
Monograph Four: Homocea, YH 573. A Diary of the Autumn Herring Fishing Season 1908
Edited by Peter Allard and Paul P. Davies
Monograph Five: Photographs of Great Yarmouth taken between 1942 and 1944
Edited by Peter Holland and Paul P. Davies
Yarmouth Archaeology & Local History 2013
Table of Contents

10 Percy George Wyand Trett 1926 - 2012 : An Appreciation Andrew Fakes

13 Memories of Percy Trett (1926 - 2012) Peter Allard

16 Plaque Commemorating the Site where Charles Burton Barber was born Paul P. Davies

19 Visit of the Pygmies to the Hippodrome, Great Yarmouth, September 1906 Paul P. Davies

25 Women and Fishing: Talk delivered at the Annual Blessing of the Nets Service Margaret Gooch
in Great Yarmouth Minster in 2012

34 Plaques Commemorating the Hospital for the Sick and Wounded and Grout’s Textile Paul P. Davies
Mill at St. Nicholas Road, placed on Booker’s Wholesale Warehouse

37 The Plaque Commemorating Andrew Lees (1949-1994), Environmentalist, Derek Leak

Conservationist and Campaigner

40 Plaque Commemorating the site of The East Anglian School for Deaf and Blind Paul P. Davies
Children on Church Lane, Gorleston

41 The Plaque on the Home of Garwood Burton Palmer Paul P. Davies

45 Plaque erected for William Absolon, Noted Ceramic and Glass Decorator and Malcolm Ferrow
50 Plaque commemorating The Reverend James Bevan Paul P. Davies

51 Reverend James Alfred Bevan, the Incumbent of St. George’s Church Paul P. Davies

69 The Wreck of the Steamer London while on her way to Australia

a poem by the Scottish poet, William Topaz McGonagall (1825-1902)

71 Plaque Commemorating the Sailors’ Home, Marine Drive Paul P. Davies

72 Excursion to Lincolnshire - 24th July 2012 Derek Leak

75 North Suffolk Church Crawl - 19th July 2012 Paul P. Davies

82 The Act for Inclosing and Draining Certain Lands in the Parish of Martham, 1807 Ann Meakin

85 The Plaques for Captain Charles Pearson RN and his daughter, Emma Maria Pearson Paul P. Davies

90 Alfred William Yallop, photographer of Great Yarmouth and Gorleston Peter Allard

95 Plaque Commemorating Sir Kenneth MacMillan (1929-1992), Ballet Dancer, Derek Leak
Choreographer & Director of the Royal Ballet
98 Great Yarmouth Gaol – Sentenced to Transportation 1835-1852 Chris Wright

102 The Miracle at 7 Craddock Avenue, Great Yarmouth Robin Hambling

104 Yarmouth Beach and Promenade Committee - 19th April 1920 Paul P. Davies
Beach Arrangements for the Ensuing Season

110 Ferryside - the Stone Cottage Enigma Trevor Nicholls

111 Thanks Michael, Have a Good Retirement Peter Allard

Percy George Wyand Trett 1926 - 2012 : An Appreciation
Andrew Fakes

Percy Trett was a respected

businessman and citizen of
Great Yarmouth. He joined with
A. W. (Billy) Ecclestone, Ted
Goate and George Rye to
revive the Great Yarmouth and
District Archaeological Society
in the 1950s.

Percy had a business to run

and had many other interests,
but with his friends and his
great energy, he was able to
guide the committee of the
Society to make it one of the
largest voluntary organisations
in the town.

He was very generous with his

time and in lending his books
and pictures to Society Percy Trett in his office in 2010
members for their research and
for books and articles they might
be writing, but was occasionally angry and uncharacteristically bitter when these people did not
acknowledge him as the source of their data or photographs.

It is to my own great regret that I failed to methodically note Percy’s testimony and the anecdotes
he told to me over the years, but I list below some that I do recall.

Percy Trett’s maternal grandfather’s name was Jimmy Pitchers. Jimmy amassed a considerable
fortune by the time he was 45 years old in the fishing industry and as a ship’s chandler. He later
became bankrupt as a result of the decline in the fishing industry after the First World War. He
was reduced to keeping the Trinity Arms public house at the age of 70 years in Southgates Road.
He died, not a rich man, at the age of 80 years, in 1948 and was buried in an unmarked grave in

Percy had many relations around Great Yarmouth and was related to Mr. Buddery, the dentist,
and Mr. Arthur (Billy) Ecclestone, the architect for Lacon’s Brewery, and his relations extended
much further. I also know he was related to our former secretary and president, Shirley Harris,
through the Tungate family of Caister.

Percy went to Duncan House School, which was then in Albert Square in Great Yarmouth, and I
suspect it was there that he learned to write in his clear and beautiful style. He told me he and his
friends liked to go swimming in the North Sea, even in the coldest weather.

Early in the Second World War the school was evacuated to North Wales. However, some pupils
and teachers remained in Great Yarmouth. Only a fortnight before he died, when his speech did
not come easily, Percy was recounting to me how one of the masters, Mr. Percy Smowton, known
as Pussy, was killed. Mr. Smowton was a special constable and, with four of his colleagues, died
when their post received a direct hit from a German bomb. When I asked why Mr. Smowton was
called Pussy, Percy said that he was in the habit of handing out 100 lines to almost any offence
committed by the schoolboys, but they later found that he never bothered to collect these acts of

On his seventeenth birthday on 11th May 1943 Percy had a lucky escape. He was living in a
bungalow at Scratby, but he stayed there to open his birthday presents and did not go to school
with his normal lift, a Mrs. Blythe, who kept a fruit shop in the Arcade. She was killed on her way
to work during an air raid by the Focke Wulf 190 fighter bombers that did so much damage to
Great Yarmouth in that year.

Percy then joined the Royal Air Force and received pilot training. He was a glider pilot at the
Crossing of the Rhine in March 1945. His glider took off from Bentwaters Airfield in Suffolk on the
same day as a Halifax bomber towing gliders, on which the Society’s former president, the young
Norman Fryer, was rear gunner. They subsequently became great friends through the
Archaeological Society.

Percy did not talk to me about his wartime experiences, but he told me of one painful incident. He
was transferred to the Army for the Liberation of Denmark. Here he became aware of what was a
war crime. The Danes shot some Germans and collaborators without trial, but these were the
same men who had killed all their prisoners a fortnight earlier. Percy felt that reporting such an
incident would not be worth the trouble and any person who still fanatically served the Third Reich
at that stage of the war deserved little consideration.

After school and the interruption of the Second World War, Percy hoped to study marine biology
at Leeds University, but his father, also called Percy, was unwell and, as a dutiful son, he
volunteered to run the family’s motor garage for the next year. This year turned out to be the rest
of his working life, but Percy did not become an Arthur Daley character and he pursued his love of
nature and other more cerebral activities as well as running his business.

He also did not speak much of his long and distinguished career on Great Yarmouth Magistrate’s
Bench, where he served for 26 years. He became Chairman of the Juvenile Court and of the
Licensing Committee.

Of his diving career

I know little, but he
told me that he
salvaged some
sparking plugs from
a crashed
aeroplane and
used them in his
car successfully for
some time.

When Stonecutter’s
Way was pushed
through from North
Quay to Howard
Street, George
Rye, Edward Cox
and Percy Trett
conducted an
archaeological dig
on the sight of a
f or m er greasy
spoon cafe. Percy
said they received Percy Trett presenting the bell the Diving Group salvaged from the North Sea
much ridicule, as it to Ted Goate of the Great Yarmouth and District Archaeological Society
was said that it was on 21st January 1977.
This bell is rung at the start of every Society meeting
well-known as a
house of ill repute.
I believe it was in the 1980s that Percy and Ted Goate systematically went round the town
photographing everything they felt to be of interest and, being Mr. Trett, these were all labelled
and catalogued.

The name of Percy Trett J.P. could be very useful to any organisation he lent his name to and he
became Chairman of the Fishermen’s Hospital Restoration Appeal Fund in 1981. Also, he
usually knew of someone who could provide a lorry or a crane for archaeological purposes.

Russell Smith, Percy, Barry Sharrock (a metal detector from Somerton) and I were involved in a
field-walking exercise at a site at Hemsby in 1988. We established that a field opposite the
former meteorological station had several signs of Roman occupation. Percy was of the opinion
that our group looked like something from the television programme Last of the Summer Wine.

It was usually easy to find Percy on a Saturday afternoon in David Ferrow’s shop looking through
the latest books to come in or just talking about the state of the world.

A sadness of Percy’s
latter years was that
the businesses of the
town were no longer
controlled by local
families or Great
Yarmouth people.

However, his contacts

within various clubs,
societies and
freemasonry allowed
him to meet various
members of the staff
of the national
companies, who now
seem to control much
of the trade in Great
Yarmouth .

As many members of
the Society will know,
Percy Trett doing his civic duty at the Donkey Derby c1970
we put Percy Trett’s
Tom Hatchett’s collection
name forward for
either a Queen’s New
Year or a Birthday Honour. We had letters of recommendation from the Magistrate’s Court, the
R.S.P.B. and from the former Editor of the Eastern Daily Press. A letter was received from the
Office of the Deputy Prime Minister to say our submission would be carefully considered, but
nothing further was heard. In retrospect, I feel this is a true reflection on what the Honour’s
System has become. Doubtful characters, who blow their own trumpet and tell anyone who will
listen what wonderful people they are, are given letters after their names or even knighthoods,
while those who go about quietly doing good works are ignored.

I shall miss Percy Trett’s magisterial tones at meetings politely beginning Mr. or Madam Chairman
and then making reasonable points, or recounting some little known fact.

As Mr. Trett’s friend, David McDermott, said: with Percy’s passing, Great Yarmouth has lost a
Colossus of town life and the really sad thing is that we will no longer be able to say ‘I shall have
to ask Percy about that’.

Percy leaves a wife Jan, two sons, Marcus and Simon, and a daughter Becky.

Memories of Percy Trett (1926 - 2012)
Peter Allard

Percy Trett sadly died on 11th November, aged 86. He was a motor engineer by trade and was
without question a knowledgeable man on numerous subjects. His interests were many and he
was a good servant of the town. He had been a member of the Great Yarmouth Naturalists’
Society since 1945 and first served on the committee in 1951 and, for a while, was its secretary.
Percy joined the Norfolk and Norwich Naturalists’ Society during the 1960s and was their
president in 1978-79. He gave his address to them on 8th December 1978 and entitled it Seals
on Scroby Sands.

He was a member of
the Great Yarmouth and
District Archaeology
Society for many years,
was a past chairman,
and had been an
honorary member since

His illustrated talks at

both the Archaeology
Society and the
Naturalists’ Society,
usually entitled It May
Interest You, were
always full of fascinating
photographs, facts and

He was also involved in

various ways with both
the Great Yarmouth and Percy Trett pictured outside his garage on 16th February 1972
Norwich Wildfowlers’
Associations and was instrumental in the setting up the Breydon Water Local Nature Reserve in
the late 1960s. In association with the Castle sisters of Burgh Castle and Acle, he formed the
Breydon Water Preservation Society in 1964. He was also heavily involved with the local branch
of the RSPCA, being their chairman for many years, and was also instrumental in setting up the
Norfolk and Suffolk Animal Trust in 1979. He was also a director of Great Yarmouth Historical
Buildings Limited.

Percy founded the East Anglian branch of the British Sub-Aqua Club and formed a local fitness
club, which met regularly at premises above his garage in Victoria Road. He was a regular
Christmas Day swimmer on Great Yarmouth central beach.

His enthusiasm for wildlife was shown in his regular Countryside columns in the Eastern Daily
Press, which he wrote for over 25 years. He was one of a team of four specialists writing daily
articles. Interestingly, one of the other team writers was his long time bird watching friend
Michael Seago, who was born on the same day in 1926. Michael was often referred to as Percy’s
twin. Percy’s contributions to the countryside articles were often on marine biology, a subject in
which he specialized. He took a particular interest in the seal population on Scroby Sands and
maintained friendly co-operation with what remained of the local fishing community.

Percy was a great character and was well respected in the town and much further afield. He was
a Great Yarmouth magistrate for 26 years and was also involved in a range of other bodies and
charities in the town. Although sometimes unconventional, his social standing was gained
through passion and determination, whatever he was involved with.

Percy as the president of the Norfolk and Norwich Naturalists' Society with Michael Seago.
Michael is showing Percy the 25th edition of the Norfolk Bird Report in November 1978

After war service with the Army Air Corps, he began working at his father’s garage in Victoria
Road in 1945. This business was started by his grandfather, also called Percy, in 1898. I can
remember both his father and grandfather at the garage on my early visits. This garage was
often the refuge for many rescued birds over the years, many of which were oiled seabirds taken
from local beaches.

It was in 1961 that I was advised to take an injured curlew I had found at Breydon Water to his
garage. This was the beginning of my regular visits over the years. On one occasion when
calling in, he asked me to carry a common seal pup from his garage down to the Great Yarmouth
quayside to be put on board the Norwich Belle pleasure boat, which was about to sail for Scroby
Sands. I was certainly the centre of attention as I carried this animal along the length of King
Street, down Regent Street and on to South Quay.

Amazingly, Percy continued with his garage work until 2010, up to the age of 84, and only sold
the business last year.

Percy built up an amazing collection of local books, memorabilia and photographs and regularly
wrote a variety of articles about old Great Yarmouth in local books and magazines. He guided
me into the path of recording local history and, very importantly, told me to always have a camera
at hand.

He remembered the famous Great Yarmouth naturalist, Arthur Patterson, from his youth and
learnt much from local naturalist and historian, Philip Rumbelow, but it was Ted Ellis who
probably inspired Percy more than anybody.

On Percy’s 80th birthday, he said that Ted Ellis
was really my mentor and who was like an older
brother to me. Percy kept a daily diary and this
was kept in the best traditions of both Patterson
and Rumbelow.

From a birding perspective, Percy was very

helpful. It was he who put me on to my first
nutcrackers (a rare visitor from the forests of
Scandinavia) during their 1968 large-scale
invasion. Several dead examples were later to
appear in his garage, brought in by members of
the public, who were unable to identify them. I well
remember several exhausted storm and Leach’s
petrels being brought in by supply ships and taken
around to Percy’s garage for care and release.

Trips to Scroby Sands by shrimper (skippered by

Frank Moore) were always eventful and
memorable. Birds of all description were always
appearing in his garage, some easy to identify,
others not so easy. A local farmer once phoned
him to say there was a large blue bird sitting on the
back of one of his sheep at West Caister. It was a Percy releasing a rare storm petrel on
roller (a rare vagrant from Southern Europe) and, Great Yarmouth beach after care
on 10th December 1968
apparently, it had been present for about a week in
this particular farmer’s field.
Percy was, interestingly, a very distant
relation; my great-great grandfather married
his great-great grandfather’s daughter at Filby
Church in June 1870. We always joked about
this. This was a period when the Trett and
Allard families were well represented in the
village of Filby.

He was always helpful to me, storing my

Vespa scooter over the 1965-66 winter
months, and repairing and regularly servicing
my first car in the 1960s. As many will testify,
it was often very difficult to get a bill for work
done at the garage. I will miss walking up
those steep wooden steps at his garage into
his office on countless occasions to discuss
Breydon Water, its history and birdlife, and
other topics of local interest. The large
Second World War aeroplane propeller at the
top of the stairs was always of special interest.

The loan of his valued Philip Rumbelow’s

diaries during the 1970s will be particularly
remembered. He is the last link with past
local historians like Bill Ecclestone, George
Rye, Charles Green and Ted Goate, and with
Percy photographed with son Marcus on the naturalists Frank Delf, John Woolston, Harold
Breydon Water north wall Davies and Robin Harrison. He certainly will
on 16th February 1969 be greatly missed.

Plaque Commemorating the Site where
Charles Burton Barber was born
Paul P. Davies

The blue plaque was erected on Stenners, Hall Quay

on 2nd September 2012 and was unveiled by the
Mayor, Councillor Colleen Walker.

Charles Burton Barber (1845–1894) was an English

painter who attained great success with his paintings of
children and their pets. Barber was born in Great
Yarmouth on Hall Quay in 1845.

The 1851 census

confirms that he was
living on the Quay,
where his father was
a printer, bookseller
and painter. His
father employed an
apprentice called Dinzey Burton, who had been born in the
West Indies. There were also three servants in the house. His
father was at this premises in 1841 and is listed as a stationer.

By 1861, he and his son and the rest of the family had moved to
London Street, Reading, where he was working as an
upholsterer. Presumably printing was not a success in Great
Yarmouth. In 1861, the premises were in the occupation of
Charles Burton Barber

Cobb, the well-known Great

Yarmouth printer. He had five
men working for him and three
apprentices. By 1871 it was in
the occupation of William
Hunter, a linen draper.

Barber studied from the age of

18 years at the Royal
Academy in London. At the
Academy he received a silver
medal for drawing in 1864 and
first exhibited there in 1866.
In 1881, he was living in
Marylebone in London and
was now married with two
daughters. In 1891, he was
still there with two daughters
No Ride Today by Charles Burton Barber and a wife along with a nurse
Recently sold at auction for 220,000 dollars and a servant.

Queen Victoria and John Brown by Charles Burton Barber

During his lifetime Barber was regarded as one of England's finest animal painters and received
commissions from Queen Victoria to do paintings of her with her grandchildren and dogs, and
also, the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) and his pets. A number of his portraits are in the
Royal Collection. He exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1866 to 1893. In 1883, he was
elected a member of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters.

Barber became a very popular sporting and animal painter, specialising particularly in sentimental
portraits of dogs, often with children. His work ranged from the photographically realistic to quick
sketches. Although some have regarded his work as overly sentimental, his work remains
popular, largely because of his competent painting. His paintings are now seen on notelets,
trinkets, greeting cards, tee-shirts etc. They are also printed onto decorative plates. In the
Victorian age his pictures were used for advertising products, especially for Lever Brothers, who
produced soap etc. In one painting, a young girl carries two puppies in her skirts, watched
anxiously by their protective mother. This image was first used as a Lever Brothers
advertisement in around 1901, when it was entitled The Family Wash.

His somewhat sentimental works were very popular with the dealers and were often reproduced
as coloured lithograph prints. Barber also produced some illustrations for children's books, such
as the Adventures of Pincher. He was also a photographer and a worker in wood. His brother
refers to Charles Burton Barber as being trapped in painting popular pictures that would sell
rather than what he really wanted to paint. With his pictures of dogs, cats, horses and other
animals he attained great popularity. Charles Burton Barber painted John Brown at Queen
Victoria’s request as a gift from the Queen to Mr. Brown, on Brown’s birthday in 1876.
Barber received his final
commission in 1894 to paint Queen
Victoria with her grandchildren in
her pony-carriage. He died in
London soon afterwards.

Many of Barber’s paintings were

engraved. He exhibited at the Royal
Institute of Oil Painters, the Walker
Art Gallery in Liverpool and the
Manchester City Art Gallery. Much
of his art is in the Lady Lever Art
Gallery in Port Sunlight. Many
portraits of dogs by Barber are in
the Royal Collection.

Barber died in 1894 at the age of 49

years. Queen Victoria sent a Painting by Charles Burton Barber, used as an advertisement
representative and a wreath to his by Lever Brothers
funeral with a message; a mark of
admiration and regard from Victoria RI. His obituary was headlined: Death of a famous Yarmouth
Artist. It continued: Queen Victoria was one of Mr. Barber’s best patrons. He painted hundreds
of pictures for her and had many interviews with Queen Victoria. He often went to Windsor or
Osborne House and Victoria often came into the room where he was painting and had long talks
with him. She had a great knowledge of dogs and how to pose them.

With regard to Queen Victoria’s dogs, Sharp was a collie and the favourite dog of Victoria.
However, he was bad-tempered and frightened most of the royal entourage and other dogs.
Victoria’s love of the collie led to a great interest in the breed. In consequence, working dogs
began to be exhibited in the refined dog shows. Victoria’s involvement in dogs led to the
formation of the Ladies’ Kennel Club. When he died he was buried in a grand tomb with a
sculpture in Victoria’s personal and private garden. Noble, another of Victoria’s dogs, was
similarly treated.

Noble painted by Charles Burton Barber

and (left) the memorial


Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press

Visit of the Pygmies to the Hippodrome,
Great Yarmouth, September 1906
Paul P. Davies

By chance, a postcard of the Pygmies came

into my hands. On its reverse was written:
Great Yarmouth, September 1906. Thus
intrigued that an African tribe should appear
locally, a trip to the newspaper archive was

The Yarmouth Mercury of 8th September

1906 reported:

That the Hippodrome should be packed for

every performance last week was to be
expected given the tremendous attraction
that Mr. Gilbert had obtained for the
entertainment of his patrons in the form of
the Pygmies. They are a troupe of queer
little folks, who have been brought all the
way from the heart of the Congo Free State
in Africa.

Most of our readers are familiar with their re-

discovery by Henry Morton Stanley, after
they had been lost for centuries 1. They are
an utterly wild and uncivilised nation, but as
far as can be ascertained, have never been
cannibals. Lieutenant Colonel Harrison 2
had the permission of the Belgian
Government to bring the four men and two
women to this country. Harrison put the
Pygmies in charge of Mr. Hoffman 3, a great
African traveller, who had accompanied the
late Sir H. M. Stanley on the Emil Pasha
Relief Expedition in 1886 and was
presented, by him, with a gold watch, which The postcard of the Pygmies,
he now carries. which was sold for one shilling in 1906
A twenty-four page book of the Pygmies
with photographs was published in
The Yarmouth Mercury continues: the little London in 1905
folk vary in age from 18 to 25 years of age
and in height from three feet ten inches to
four feet two and a half inches. In their native wilds they live by hunting. They are exceedingly
expert with the bow and arrow and the short spear, both of which are principally used for
procuring their food. They are credited with being a very lazy people, having no kind of industry
and knowing nothing of agriculture; their principal thought being a sufficiency of food for the day.

Mr. Hoffman states that they are very courageous when their own kith and kin are in danger, but
otherwise are a peaceful nation. Up to the time that Stanley showed them kindness and
consideration, all white men were looked upon as slave dealers and natural enemies. However,
Stanley broke down this idea and this party of Pygmies is the first ever known to leave their native
country. They have their own language, which has not yet been reduced to writing, but Mr.
Hoffman, who is a good African linguist, converses with them freely. The Pygmies look upon Mr.
Hoffman as their guide and personal friend, for whom they would lay down their lives. Colonel
Harrison is under agreement with the Belgian and English Governments to send the Pygmies

back to their own country
at the end of 1906, thus
giving the public ample
opportunity to view them.
It is hoped that an
industrial mission will be
formed to return with the
party for the purpose of
teaching the nation
various crafts that will be
for their betterment.

When they were brought

f r om Af r ica, most
members of the party
were little better than
skeletons. By regular
living and more quiet The six Pygmies arrived on the boat, Orestes, in 1905
surroundings they have
improved wonderfully.
Mr. Hoffman introduces them to his audiences, gives their story in brief and narrates some
interesting particulars about them. They wear girdles of dry grass, but are otherwise naked,
wearing no head-gear or foot-gear of any kind. In most case the males have their head partially
shaved. One of the women, who is a
princess, has a large ring in her upper
lip. She is the belle of the party and
her husband is also of royal blood.
They each carry a bow with arrows
and these they never part with, having
them in hand wherever they go. Their
hands, arms and nether limbs are
most shapely in formation. At the
close of their appearances they are
loudly cheered. They do not perform,
in the ordinary sense of the word,
except for a national dance, which is
very weird. The only accompaniment
is the beating of a type of tom-tom
and the jingle of bells on their ankles,
whilst one of them croons out some
sort of song.

As it is unlikely that the little people

will visit Great Yarmouth again, our
readers must not miss the opportunity
of seeing them. It must not be
thought that the extraordinary
expenses concerned with the
engagement of the Pygmies has been
allowed, in any way, to detract from
the merits of the remainder of the
Hippodrome’s programme.
The Pygmies in London with William Hoffman
9th August 1905
Also on the same programme at the
Note that the women cover their breasts in response to Hippodrome were: musical clowns, a
Victorian prudery football match on cycles, the white
©National Portrait Gallery coons, performers on unsupported
ladders, an equestrienne, an act on roller-
skates and acrobats. The bioscope showed
some very fine pictures

Additional information was gleaned from the

Yarmouth Independent:

The short sojourn in England has already

taught the Pygmies many little habits of
civilisation. On their arrival in London they
were horrified at being hurried through tunnels
and at the sight of snorting engines. They now
take the wonders, that they find on every hand,
quite philosophically and have already seen
balloons, which they thought were castles in
the air, believing that everything is possible to
the great white man. The Pygmies have put
on plenty of flesh and are now as fat as butter.

The Pygmies remained in Britain for over two

years. They arrived on 1st June 1905 in
London on the boat, Orestes. They had been
coaxed from the rain forests of the eastern
Congo by big-game hunter Colonel James J.
Harrison who arranged for them to go on stage William Hoffman
at the Hippodrome in London. Jeffrey Green,
in his article Edwardian Britain’s Forest
Pygmies, describes the impact of a troupe of
six dwarf savages and what it reveals about
social and racial attitudes of the time.

On 10th June 1905, the newspaper, The Era, reported a new act at the London Hippodrome: the
curtain rose upon a scene which represented a tropical forest, in the midst of which is an opening,
containing four wigwams of small dimensions. Outside were the group of little people, who will for
some time be objects of curiosity to amusement-seeking Londoners. The scene represented a
fairly exact picture of the Pygmies' homes in the Ituri Forest of Central Africa.

The six Pygmies drew big business to the Hippodrome for fourteen weeks and then toured
provincial cities until Christmas. About a million people saw them before they left for the rain
forests of the Congo in November 1907. The dwarf savages, strange apelike people, who had
been captured in Central Africa were described in the British press in May to June 1905 as living
in trees. The newspaper, The Sphere, wrote: the elder woman was the nearest thing to a human
monkey Europe has ever seen. Another newspaper, The Era, recommended on 5th August that:
everyone in London should see these little people, who are a revelation in strange humanity. The
press also described them as having a language of strange clicking sounds spoken by absolute
specimens of primitive creation, whose dancing was intended to imitate the play of monkeys.

Dwarf Village
from H. M. Stanley’s
In Darkest Africa

There had been controversy about shipping the Pygmies from deepest Africa to England. As
Jeffrey Green writes: telegrams were sent from Khartoum and the British press reported that six
Pygmies were to visit Britain. The British knew that short adult Africans lived in the forests, which
explorer H. M. Stanley had penetrated in the 1880s, from his book, In Darkest Africa, written in

Veteran Member of Parliament and President of the Church Missionary Society, Sir John
Kennaway, contacted Lord Lansdowne, the Foreign Secretary, about Harrison. Lansdowne
cabled the de facto ruler of Egypt, Lord Cromer, on 15th April 1905 asking if the six were
volunteers. Cromer sent for Harrison and discovered his plan to exhibit the six in England. Dr.
Goodman of the Egyptian Sanitary Department examined them and reported that they were ill
with coughs, had enlarged spleens and livers, and were anaemic. The older woman had an
arrow wound, was emaciated, had a curved spine and a feeble pulse. Only two were judged fit
enough to travel to England. All were sent to a Cairo hospital. Harrison came to London to meet
Landsdowne. Landsdowne thought that bringing the Pygmies to be put on exhibition would be
very undesirable. However, the Pygmies were not British subjects. The Congo was in Belgian
hands and King Leopold II gave his permission for the visit to Britain.
The London Hippodrome engagement continued into late August 1905. A photograph of the
Pygmies was taken at the Houses of Parliament on 29th June 1905 by Sir Benjamin Stone. The
older women, Amuriape, was ill from a leg wound, and was absent at the time. At the end of
July, the six were on show at Brandesburton Hall, the Yorkshire home of Harrison near
Scarborough. The hall contained hundreds of trophies from Africa. When the Pygmies were not
touring they stayed here. They visited the Society of Anthropologists, where the two female
Pygmies refused to be measured and one of the men refused to allow those present to look into
his mouth, until he was offered a banana. It was noted that his open mouth was huge enough to
take a whole apple.

On 25th August 1905, the six Pygmies made, probably, the first commercial recordings by
Africans in Britain. These recordings were mainly of their language. Five single-sided 78 rpm
discs went on sale in early 1906. The six Pygmies then underwent a tour of Great Britain and
appeared for a week at Manchester and Liverpool (October 1905), Edinburgh, Glasgow and a
week later, Birmingham (November), then West London and Bradford, where illness had reduced
them to four. They were nursed back to health over four weeks at Christmas. Amuriape
delivered a still-born child in October 1905.

The Pygmies with Members of Parliament at the Houses of Parliament on 29th June 1905
The man without a hat on the right is William Hoffman
© National Portrait Gallery

During the year 1906, the Pygmies were on show at Portsmouth in May, Berlin in July, Yorkshire
resorts and Grimsby in August, Barmouth in September, Eastbourne in October, and from 24th
December at the Olympia Showground in West London. The following year saw them in Westcliff
-on-Sea in February, Bristol in May, then at the Earls Court Exhibition from early June to

In November 1907, the Pygmies made their final theatrical appearance in Hull. The next day,
17th November, they set sail on a cargo boat, Hindoo, for Mombasa where Harrison joined them.
They went by railway via Nairobi and crossed Lake Victoria. On 1st January 1908 Harrison and
the four male Pygmies were at Government House, Entebbe. They crossed Uganda in two
weeks, with the two women being carried, and arrived at the rain forests of the eastern Congo in
late January. Harrison's diary records their arrival: great excitement when they reached Bokani's
village on 23rd January. The miserable village had eight huts and just four were complete.
Harrison shot an elephant for food. He left, sent telegrams and broke the news in England that
the six Africans had got back to their Ituri Forest home almost three years after they had first met
the colonel.

Hoffman later wrote: usually they were very good tempered in public and did everything I told
them, only indulging now and then in a hoarse chuckle of amusement or uttering guttural asides
in their own language. But on a few occasions they failed to perform, sitting instead on their little
chairs and grimacing broadly and nothing that I could do made them alter their minds. It meant
that I had to lengthen my lecture to fill up the allotted time.

Harrison looked for them again in 1909, but to no avail. But, on 20th January 1910, he found one
of them wearing his old breeches.

During their stay of nearly three years the Pygmies had been seen by over one million Britons
and Great Yarmouth were privileged to see them. They had seen more of the country than the
average Briton. Yet, for the bulk of the million or so who saw the six Pygmies on their visit to
Britain, we can only guess at the impact they had. We can also only guess at the effect of the
experience on the Pygmies.
Although Stanley and the British press would later claim that he was the first explorer to come face to face
with African Pygmies, this was untrue. A French Admiral, Fleuriot de Langle, photographed members of a
Pygmy tribe that he labelled the Akoa in Gabon in 1868 and the Latvian-German traveller and botanist
George Schweinfurth recorded and measured seven Pygmies just north of the Ituri Forest in 1870.
Colonel James Jonathan Harrison was the local squire in Brandesburton, South Yorkshire and had been
educated at Harrow and Oxford. He was an officer in a yeomanry cavalry regiment, but had not seen any
war service. His travels and big game hunting trips had taken him to Japan, India, Africa and America.
Harrison had gone to the Ituri Forest of the eastern Congo in 1905 to bring back human trophies.
William Hoffman came from a working class London family, but had been born in Germany and was a
Kiswahli language speaker. He had been Stanley's servant in the trans-Africa explorations, which were
described in In Darkest Africa, and then had worked in the Congo in the 1890s. The Emin Pasha Relief
Expedition of 1886 to 1889 was one of the last major European expeditions into the interior of Africa in the
nineteenth century, ostensibly for the relief of Emin Pasha, the besieged governor of Equatoria, on the
upper Nile, who was threatened by Mahdist forces. Led by Henry Morton Stanley, by the orders of King
Leopold II of Belgium, the expedition came to be both celebrated for its ambition in crossing darkest Africa
and notorious for the bloodshed and death left in its wake. Accusations that Stanley and his officers had
resorted to brutality, violence and plunder were widespread in the British and American press. By Stanley’s
own admission the expedition was directly and indirectly responsible for the deaths of approximately one
thousand individuals, mostly African soldiers, porters and sundry belligerent natives.


Lindfors, Bernth, Editor, Six Congo Pygmies in Britain (1905-1907)

Lindfors, Bernth, Africans on Stage: Studies in Ethnological Show Business. Bloomington:
Indiana State University Press, (1999)
Green, Jeffrey, Edwardian Britain’s Forest Pygmies, History Today, Vol 45 No 8 (August 1995)
Stanley, H. M., In Darkest Africa, (1891)
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Entries on Harrison and Hoffman, Oxford University
Yarmouth Independent and Yarmouth Mercury, (August and September 1906)

Women and Fishing
Talk delivered at the Annual Blessing of the Nets Service
at Great Yarmouth Minster in 2012
Margaret Gooch

Fishing at sea has always been an almost entirely male pursuit and so it is today, but the
fishermen had wives and families who were dependent on them and shared their hardships and
successes, living in communities of fishing families who supported each other. But women were
not merely passive dependents; they were also employed in the industry. So I shall talk about
women and fishing.

Fishing has always been a hard and dangerous life,

and the sea off Great Yarmouth was particularly
hazardous in bad weather. For the women at home, in
addition to their usual roles, they had the constant
worry of their husbands’ and sons’ safety on the
treacherous seas. Losses at sea were commonplace,
and the wives waited anxiously for their husbands’
return. In December 1863, it was reported that as
many as 145 men and boys had been lost at sea in a
great storm off Great Yarmouth, which lasted over a
week, leaving 73 widows and 110 children fatherless.
A large number of the drowned men belonged to this
town and had been on board a fleet of fishing smacks
that were operating from Great Yarmouth, 17 of which
were lost.

The Yarmouth Independent reported: whole families

were flung into distress. The scenes witnessed on the
beach and quays; wives seeking their husbands, and
mothers seeking their sons, have been most painful;
and we trust some effort will be made to mitigate the Wives awaiting the fishing fleet to
severity of the visitation, by at least rescuing the return after a gale
survivors from the pangs of want and destitution.

An Appeal following the gale of 1860 : Yarmouth Independent

The community was moved to offer help and, on 28th December 1863, a meeting was held in the
Town Hall by the Mayor to raise money for the widows and children left unprovided for. Two
thousand pounds was raised, including a donation of £100 from Queen Victoria.

In October 1881, poor school attendance was reported as children with their mothers waited at
the pier-head for their fathers to return after a severe storm. Forty-four of them had become
fatherless. In 1887, during a storm, 1,012 smacksmen and smack-boys originating from Great
Yarmouth were drowned.

In addition to the dangers of fishing, and the destitution of widowhood, poverty was always a
problem for fishing families. In 1702, the Fishermen’s Hospital was constructed in the Market
Place. It provided homes for 20 aged, destitute fishermen and their wives.

The Church was not oblivious to the plight of poor fisher families,
and widows and children. Although the Fishermen’s Hospital was
founded by Great Yarmouth Corporation, it was supported by the
church. In 1705, the Fishermen’s Gallery was built in St. Nicholas’
Church by John and Rachel Fuller. It cost £150 and the rent from
seats that were let out was donated to the Fishermen’s Hospital.
This was later replaced by a £5 per annum donation. In 1867, a
fund for widows and orphans of fishermen and seafaring men was
established by the Vicar of Great Yarmouth.

The church was also concerned for the spiritual welfare of

fishermen and beachmen, and their families. In 1849, the Beach
and Harbour Mission was founded by Dr. Hills, the Vicar of Great

A curate, the Revd. Johnson, devoted himself especially to the

beachmen. The beachmen’s services were held in a shed, which Dr. Hills
was often full, and Mr. Johnson became involved in the
construction of a church
especially for the use of the
beachmen, the fishermen
and their families.

St. John’s Church was

opened on 14th February
1858 on the site of a
ropewalk. The district,
which the new church
served, contained some
6,000 people, mostly
fishermen, beachmen and
sailors, and their families.

Pews in the church were

reserved for fisher-folk, and
church visitors were
appointed to visit fisher
families. In 1862, Mr.
Hayes, the church’s
missionary, made 2,825
house visits and held 25
St. John’s Church : 1859 cottage lectures.

The Iron Mission and St. James’ Church c1870

St. John’s Church School was opened in 1860 and catered mainly for the children of the
parishioners. Many events were organised by the church, including mothers’ meetings and bible
classes. The Sunday School had 25 teachers who taught 270 children.

This thriving church was often overcrowded. A curate, Revd. Crosse, wrote: that he wished that
wives and daughters of fishermen would not dress so smartly, as there would then be more room
in the pews.

To deal with the demand, a temporary Iron Mission House,

the South End Mission, was used to hold services and in
1870 St. James Church replaced the Iron Mission.

Pews reserved in St. John’s Church Revd. Crosse

Fisher girls in the 1950s

Women were not only dependents of fishermen,

they increasingly worked in the industry,
supplementing the family income and
contributing to the prosperity of the industry and
of the town.

The most well-known of women employed in

fishing were the Scottish fisher girls; they were
always known as girls, regardless of age.

These redoubtable women, usually the wives

and daughters of fishermen, followed the Scots
herring fishing fleet, as it moved south with the
herring shoals.

They arrived at Beach Railway Station in Great

Yarmouth each autumn by special train from
Aberdeen, bringing their kists (or trunks)
containing their belongings. They boarded
either in the south of the town near the South
Denes, where the curing houses were situated,
or the Bells Road area of Gorleston, near their
working area along the riverside.

Their accommodation was very bare, usually

consisting of just beds and tables and chairs,
and as many as six girls shared a room. For the
landladies, however, this was a valuable source
Fisher girls knitting 1906 of additional income.
Great Yarmouth fisher girls on the beach c1880

The curing firms, who employed the girls

to gut and pack herring, paid their rail
fares and provided them with oilskin
aprons and rubber boots. Their hours
were long: 12-15 hours per day, working
into the night as necessary.

They worked in crews of three, a packer,

who was the leader, and two gutters.
They were mostly outside; the cold salted
herring were tipped into sloping troughs
called farlins, from which they gutted the
herring with a very sharp knife and threw
them into a tub.

It was piece-work and they worked like

lightning, each girl taking about one
second to gut a herring: one crew could
fill about 30 barrels a day. The girls
wound cloths round their fingers, called
cloots, to protect their fingers from cuts
and from the salt. However, these did not
provide adequate protection and dressing
stations were set up, particularly the Red
Cross station on St. Peter’s Road. The
girls’ aprons would be splattered with
guts and scales and they would deposit
them outside before entering their
lodgings. Anyone who can remember
travelling on buses in their company will
recall the smell.
Fisher girl packing barrels in 1913
Fisher girls

In addition to their piece-work earnings, the girls received a small wage to pay their board and
lodging, and a bonus at the end of the season. However, they were not that well paid for their
dirty and difficult work, and they went on strike in 1931 and 1936, and again in 1949 and 1953.

There would be as
many as 6,000 girls in
the town and they were
a common sight,
although most local
people could not
understand what they

They were always

cheerful, often linking
arms and singing Gaelic
songs. When not
working or singing, the
girls were often to be
seen knitting. Navy
blue garnseys, the
hardwearing sweaters
that their menfolk wore
at sea, took up to three
to four months to knit,
Fisher girls in the smoke house usually by mothers,
wives and sweethearts.
Knitting garnseys was not confined to the Scots girls; although they were not generally knitted in
Great Yarmouth, they were in Winterton and Sheringham. The patterns were passed down from
generation to generation and the stitch patterns represented everyday fishing phenomena, such
as cliffs, anchors, nets and ropes. Each garnsey was unique and had individual stitch patterns
that could identify the wearer if he drowned and his body was washed up.

The Scots boats did not put to sea on Sundays, and neither did the girls work on that day, often
attending the Church of Scotland on South Quay or open-air services on the fishwharf. The girls
went home before Christmas, returning to their children, who were being cared for by
grandparents. They spent a considerable amount of money on Christmas presents before
leaving, boosting the takings of shops that stayed open late especially for them.

Local women were generally not employed in gutting but worked in the various smoke-houses,
curing houses, and canneries, of which there were about 60 in Great Yarmouth and Gorleston in
the early 20th century.

Their other major occupation in the industry was as beatsters.

Drift nets for catching herring were about 20 yards long, and each boat would deploy about 100
individual nets in a netting wall that could be 2 to 3 miles long. The boats carried spare nets as
well, and so demand for nets was huge, and damage was frequent.

Repairing the nets was therefore very important and this work was undertaken by women known
as beatsters. The nets were checked and repaired in net chambers, the beating chambers, and
there were many such chambers in Great Yarmouth and Gorleston, and along the coast.

The nets were checked and the ropes were repaired by men called ransackers.

Fisher girls with bandaged fingers

Beatsters in the 1950s A beatsters’ hut

The chambers in which the beatsters worked

were long, and the nets were suspended from
hooks in front of windows to give the best
possible light.

The women used a shale or netting needle to

repair the nets, which were made from natural
fibres and with meshes that were about one
inch square. However, it was also very tiring
work as the beatsters had to stand, often
working until 9pm with lamps providing
inadequate light.

It was highly skilled work and girls were

apprenticed as young as fourteen or fifteen
years of age; it took about three years to learn
the trade. The women were usually the
fishermen’s wives, and mothers would often
train their daughters.

After the herring fishing season, some of the

women would continue to work until January
or February. Often this was the only income
the families had at that time of the year, and
their fishermen husbands would look after the
house and children whilst they worked.
A beatster at work

Fishing was very much a family enterprise;
a cottage industry. While the husbands
went out and caught the fish and shellfish,
the wives would boil the crabs and shrimps
and often sold them together with fish,
such as dabs and whitings, caught that
very morning, from stalls and small shops.

J. E. Holmes recorded the memories of

two wives from fishing families who lived in
Winterton, and recalled life earlier in the
20th century, and I quote: it was a proper
fishing village and we were like one big
family. There was always somebody to
lend a helping hand. They shared
everything. If someone was ill, 20 people
would go to the house to see if they
needed help. If one or two fishermen
came home at Christmas without any
money, the others would hold a party for
the children.

They did not have much money, but the

women managed. Life was hard for many,
but fishing provided a living that was on a
par with income earned from other manual
work in the town at the time and, for a few,
this was a very profitable pursuit.

Fishing was a way of life for all the family. Fisher girls in 1918
The men went to sea in often dangerous
conditions, but the women who waited for their return
were very much part of the enterprise. They coped
with hardship, poverty and loss. They worked and
helped to support their families. It was a way of life
that is now lost.


Ball, John, Out of Yarmouth Harbour, privately

published, (2006)
Butcher, David, The Ocean’s Gift, Centre of East
Anglian Studies, University of East Anglia, (1995)
Davies, Paul P., The Beach and Harbour Mission and
the Beachmen’s Church and St John’s Church, Great
Yarmouth, Davies, Great Yarmouth, (2011)
Davies, Paul P., The Parish Church of St Nicholas,
Great Yarmouth, Davies, Great Yarmouth, (2007)
Holmes, J. E., A Drifterman’s Diary, J. E. Holmes,
Tooke, Colin, The Great Yarmouth Herring Industry,
Great Yarmouth fisher girl Tempus, (2006)
courtesy of the British Museum

Plaques Commemorating the Hospital for the Sick and Wounded
and Grout’s Textile Mill at St. Nicholas Road,
placed on Booker’s Wholesale Warehouse
Paul P. Davies

In 1895, Palmer wrote in his Perlustration that the first road

running eastwards from the town led from Pudding Gate to a
windmill and a well, called North Well, and continued down to
what was later Marine Drive. This was called St. Nicholas’ Road.
There were very few buildings outside the town wall in the 1790s,
however, there were two buildings along St. Nicholas’ Road.
One belonged to an Admiral and the other was Bauleah House,
which was occupied by Captain Manby and later by the
managing partner of Grout’s. Outside the town wall at the top of
St. Nicholas’ Road were some gardens, called Mendham’s

In the eighteenth century there was a distillery on the site that is

now Booker’s Wholesale warehouse. Next to the distillery was a
hospital for wounded sailors and soldiers, which had been
erected in 1793. The hospital remained in the southeast corner
of the complex when the barracks were built in 1795.

From 1653, a Commission for the Sick and Wounded of the

Armed Forces was periodically convened to administer a wartime
medical service. It was responsible for hospitals and sick
lodgings, scattered throughout the country, for the fighting forces.

As England was at war with France in 1795, the Government

ordered that an extra 200 barracks were to be erected in the country. Thus the distillery here and
ground to the east of it were purchased. Earlier, in 1782, the Duke of Richmond, then the Master
General of Ordnance, had applied to buy the site. However, it was not until 1795 that the distillery
was purchased by the Government and wooden barracks were erected on the site, capable of
housing 1,600 men.

John Bell (1763-1820) of Edinburgh, although he was not a member

of either service, served in the sick and wounded hospital at Great
Yarmouth and also at Sheerness. He specialised in naval and
military surgery. Bell deplored the lack of training that naval
surgeons had received before they undertook great responsibility at
sea. It was his reforms and his suggested treatment of wounds that
helped England to conquer France in the Napoleonic Wars.

Between 1793 and 1795, Bell published Discourses on the Nature

and Cure of Wounds. He is considered, with others, to be a founder
of the modern surgery of the vascular system. Bell made many
enemies because he was outspoken about the unnecessary pain
and suffering inflicted by incompetent surgeons. He fell from his
horse in 1816 and went to Italy for the benefit of his health. He died
in Rome on 15th April 1820, and he is buried in the Protestant
John Bell Cemetery in Rome, just behind the tomb of poet John Keats.

Bell also published a collection of Letters on Professional Character and Manners. His works
also included Memoir Concerning the Present State of Military and Naval Surgery, Principles of
Surgery, Anatomy of the Human Body, which went through several editions and was translated
into German, and Observations on Italy, published by his widow in 1825.

In 1795, a subscription was requested to help towards the relief and comfort of the sick and
wounded of the 63rd Regiment, which had landed at Great Yarmouth from the continent and was
quartered in the barracks in the town. The commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Gower, wrote
the following letter on 3rd June 1795 to the Norfolk Chronicle:

Gentlemen, I beg leave to return to you my sincerest thanks for the subscription you have
contributed for the relief of the wounded and sick soldiers of the 63rd Regiment. I shall take
particular care that it is expended in the most beneficial manner for them. Should any unfortunate
occasion call us to actual service in this country, an event, which I hope will never happen, I trust
that you will find the behaviour of the regiment such that you will not repent of the liberal
treatment, which we have experienced from you.

Gentlemen, your obliged humble servant,

Lieutenant Colonel J. Levison Gower.

Another public subscription was raised in

1795 to enable the soldiers lodging at this
barrack to celebrate the King’s birthday.
The local paper wrote that it was a trifling
acknowledgment of their bravery and
services upon the continent, as well as
their orderly and proper behaviour since
they have been quartered in Yarmouth.
The soldiers were provided with an ox
weighing 600 pounds, a sack of flour
containing 280 pounds, a stone of raisins,
seven bushels and a half of potatoes and
four barrels of porter. Each man had a
pound and three quarters of meat, and a
quart of porter.

In 1756, the Commissioners for Sick and

Wounded of the Armed Forces had
adopted the use of burning pots of sulphur
or charcoal, spread about the decks, to
fumigate ships. By 1799, Dr. Carmichael
Smyth had written a paper on the Effects
of Nitrous Vapour in Preventing and
Destroying Contagion. Vitriol was poured
over powdered nitre and heated and
placed in the ships 20 to 30 feet apart. It Plan of the barracks and the hospital c1795
was said, it certainly removed the stench,
but any effective concentration would have
killed the men before the lice. After it was used by some Russian ships, Dr. Snipe, of the Great
Yarmouth Barracks Hospital, testified: under heaven, the nitrous vapour has been our salvation

After the Battle of Camperdown, which was fought in October 1797, the wounded were brought to
this hospital. It took three days to land the wounded at Great Yarmouth and they were conveyed
to the hospital at the barracks in St. Nicholas’ Road, where the wounded were given every
humane effort for their comfort. The more seriously wounded were transported to Norwich. Many
of the Dutch officers captured were taken to the Ship Inn, where a blue plaque commemorates
this event. A young surgeon was sent down from London to care for the wounded. He was
Martin Tupper, who later became a well-known surgeon. He had been a pupil of Sir Astley
Cooper, the royal surgeon, who had spent his childhood in Great Yarmouth. Later, Martin Tupper
became the Duke of Wellington’s physician. He twice refused a baronetcy, firstly from Lord
Liverpool, and secondly from the Duke of Wellington.
In 1799, Great Yarmouth Corporation granted
a further extension to the Commissioners of
Sick and Wounded Seamen to continue to use
the premises.

In 1801, the wounded from the Battle of

Copenhagen were landed at Great Yarmouth
and taken to the barrack hospital. Later Nelson
landed at the Jetty from HMS Kite and came
straight to this hospital to visit the wounded.

Over the years, several of the sailors, both

British and foreign, who had died in the
hospital, were buried in St. Nicholas’ Blocked up gate from the hospital to
Churchyard. They mainly died from cross- St. Nicholas’ Churchyard
infection and gangrene. The dead were
transported from the hospital to the churchyard through a door in the churchyard wall. This door,
now bricked up, can still be seen.

In 1803, Captain George William Manby was appointed the barrack master.

In 1810, the Royal Berkshire Regiment of

Militia left the barracks. They had been in
residence for some time. The town was
sorry to see them leave, as their
behaviour had been exemplary. Also, in
the same year, the Norwich Mercury was
happy to find that between 80 and 90
convalescent troops had been able to
march from the hospital in the barracks to
rejoin their respective regiments. Among
them were several from the 5th, 28th and
32nd Regiments, and a few from the 8th,
Grout’s Textile Mill with the two-storey old hospital 42nd, 63rd, 71st, 77th, 84th and 85th
building Regiments.

In 1814, the Norfolk Chronicle in December wrote that the barracks were sold and the naval
storekeeper was ordered to send all the stores away. The commander of the Signal Station and
the officer of the Ordnance Department were discharged.

At the end of the Napoleonic War in 1815, the Government sold the barracks to the Yarmouth
Corporation and they rented it to Grouts to be used as a silk factory. The last regiment to be
quartered in the barracks was the 69th Foot.

With the closure, Manby continued his barrack master duties at the Royal Naval Hospital, which
had recently been converted into an army barracks and a hospital.

The history of Grout’s Textile Mill has previously been well documented in earlier volumes of
Yarmouth Archaeology. Both plaques were sponsored by Russell Ray, the Manager of Booker


Palmer, C.J. Perlustration of Great Yarmouth, (1875)

Davies, Paul P., History of Medicine in Great Yarmouth, (2003)
Norfolk Chronicle, (1795 and 1814)
Norwich Mercury, (1810)
The Plaque Commemorating Andrew Lees (1949-1994)
Environmentalist, Conservationist and Campaigner
Derek Leak

The plaque was erected on the Pub on the Prom

and Hotel (formerly the Sandringham Hotel) on
Marine Parade in January 2013. It was unveiled
by Barry Coleman (Deputy Mayor) and Pat Lees
(Andrew Lees’ step-mother).

Andrew John Lees was born at the Sandown

Nursing Home in Great Yarmouth on 8th June
1949. He was the eldest of four sons of Edward
Andrew Lees, who was a Great Yarmouth Borough
Councillor and hotelier, and his wife Beryl Lees
(née Whitely).

Andrew was a son of Norfolk with a passion for its

big skies, low-lying landscape and traditional
village culture. Most of all, he loved its myriad of
rivers and streams, dykes, marshes and fens and
its rich diversity of wildlife. The Norfolk Broads,
where earth meets water, was where Andrew was

Andrew had an enquiring mind. His passion for nature was not
enough; he needed to understand the science of the natural
world. In 1967, he enrolled at the University of Wales in Cardiff
to study zoology, botany and philosophy. Graduating with
Honours in 1971, Andrew worked as a field scientist with the
Nature Conservancy Council. The N.C.C. had a statutory
responsibility to protect the best of Britain's natural environment
by designating certain areas as Sites of Special Scientific

As a scientist, Andrew's uncompromising commitment to nature

conservation first emerged in 1978, when surveying Crymlyn
Bog in Wales. Having determined that this unique habitat was
a potential candidate for special protection, he organised the
local community and the media to stop it being turned into a
rubbish tip. In 1981, working with the Friends of the Earth, he
obtained leave for a Judicial Review on the Nature
Conservancy Council's failure to notify part of the bog as a Site
of Special Scientific Interest. The N.C.C. backed down and the
site was given SSSI protection. Crymlyn Bog achieved world
status as a Ramsar Site in 1993.

This was Andrew's first environmental campaign success. His

adherence to scientific discipline and knowledge of
environmental laws, combined with his ability to attract media
attention and generate local support, provided the winning Andrew Lees
formula that defined his future environmental campaign
strategies. Andrew left Wales in late 1981 and returned to his native Norfolk. The Broads were
under serious threat from proposals to build deep drainage and barrier systems that would turn
the wetlands into vast prairies of cereal production. The beautiful Halvergate Marshes, Wicken
Fen, Hickling Broad and a whole network of rivers, dykes and fens that make up the Broadlands

unique wildlife habitat would be damaged or lost forever. Andrew applied his scientific knowledge
to identify the threats to the Broads. In 1982, he helped to set up the Broadlands Friends of the
Earth and was appointed its Chairman. He lobbied the media and exposed the environmental
contradictions in the Government's agricultural policies. The battle for the Broads was under way.
There was considerable opposition to the drainage scheme from a wide range of environmental
organisations, academic institutions and local communities. He succeeded in galvanising local
and national opinion against the scheme and was largely responsible for saving Halvergate

In 1986, after much campaigning, large tracts of marshlands were designated an Environmentally
Sensitive Area. Two years later, under intense public pressure, the Government passed the
Norfolk and Suffolk Broads 1988 Act. The Broads Authority became a Special Statutory Authority
with duties to conserve and enhance the natural beauty of the Broads. The Broads were
protected; a success due in large measure to Andrew's tenacious campaigning and commitment.

In 1985, Andrew was appointed the Friends of the Earth National Campaign Officer for the
Countryside and Pesticides and later, in 1986, as the Water Pollution and Toxics Campaigner.
He organised the Dirty Dozen campaign to expose a group of highly toxic chemicals, some of
which would later become subject to much tighter regulatory controls; others were banned
altogether. He pioneered the use of judicial review to expose weaknesses in government
legislation. He understood better than most how European legislation worked and used formal
complaints procedures to ensure proper implementation by the British Government of European
Community environmental laws. He was extremely wary of the Government's plans in 1987 to
privatise the water industry, which he felt would undermine water quality in the United Kingdom.
He exposed the poorly regulated and weak standards of sewage treatment and showed that
concentrations of pesticides in many drinking water supplies breached legal standards. The
British Government was later convicted in the European courts of breaches of drinking water and
bathing beach standards.

Ultimately, Andrew got much of what he wanted. The Water Resources Act, which was
implemented in 1991, included much higher environmental standards and tighter regulatory
controls for the quality than had previously been expected. Andrew's environmental concerns
extended beyond the United Kingdom. In 1988, he and fellow Friends of the Earth campaigner,
Charles Secrett, went to Nigeria and exposed the illegal dumping of 8,000 tonnes of mainly Italian
toxic waste at Koko on the Niger Delta. Andrew was incensed that a so-called developed country
could show such scant regard for the health and well-being of local people in a developing
country. Not content simply to expose those responsible, Andrew continued to track the waste on
the notorious Karin B cargo ship. With nowhere to go, the Karin B saga became a scandal and a
major embarrassment to the European Union, who later introduced new regulations restricting the
shipment of hazardous waste to developing countries. Andrew was a skilled media man and
knew a good story instinctively. Journalists respected him. He could articulate complicated
science in a language they understood. Andrew would go for the jugular of any hapless politician,
civil servant or industrialist, who dared to put the environment at risk. He believed people had a
right to know, and organised various campaigns to raise awareness of environmental problems.

In 1990, Andrew became the Friends of the Earth's National Campaigns Director. His
enthusiastic and combative campaigning style never abated. He was empowering and
supportive, always encouraging others to realise their aspirations, hopes and dreams.

Andrew's intense love of life and nature extended beyond environmental campaigning. He had a
lively interest in philosophy, politics and art that shaped his own unconventional perspective on
life. But it was his partner, Christine Orengo, who provided balance in his sometimes over-
stressed life. They were a devoted couple.

In 1992, he attended the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro to lobby powerful western leaders
against what he saw as self-interest, and campaigned for a united approach to solve global
environmental problems and to support the needs of developing countries.
In 1994, he turned his attention to Madagascar. A mining company, QIT, owned by Rio Tinto
Zinc, was proposing to mine parts of the island for titanium dioxide. Madagascar is the world's
fourth largest island and home to some of the most remarkable flora and fauna on earth. Of an
estimated 200,000 species, three-quarters exist solely on Madagascar. The mining operation
would produce two billion tonnes of titanium dioxide over forty years. Huge swathes of unique
littoral forest and sand dunes would be destroyed along with the livelihood of thousands of local
farmers and fishermen. This was a cause célèbre of international proportions. In 1994, just
before Christmas, Andrew went to Madagascar with photographer Paul Hellyer, with the intention
of making a film documentary to support his campaign. Armed with a microphone and video-
camera, he interviewed local people about their concerns and filmed the forests and sand dunes
that would be destroyed if the proposal went ahead.

Sadly, he never completed the project. Despite suffering from chronic diarrhoea Andrew decided,
on New Year's Eve, to go one last time into the Petriky Forest alone to shoot one last piece of
film. On 7th January, after days of searching, Andrew's body was found in a small clearing in the
forest. The autopsy later indicated he had died of heat exhaustion.

His abrupt and tragic death at the age of 46 years sent shock waves around the world. The
tragedy made national news. Tributes to Andrew poured in from friends and adversaries alike.
The media variously described him as a secular saint, a man of deep principles and an
environmental campaigner of a kind we will not see again. The former European Commissioner,
Lord Clinton-Davis, commented on Andrew's remarkable ability to influence an audience by his
unassailable evidence and penetrating logic.

Andrew was a scientist with principles; a

professional campaigner, who won international
acclaim and respect for his work on the
environment. Yet, he was a gentle man with a
deep respect for the natural world. He was as
determined to protect the smallest of creatures
as he was to save the biggest wetland.

As well as the memorial to Andrew Lees erected

in the Petriky Forest, a memorial was placed at
Pant-y-sais Fen, the northern limb of the
Crymlyn Bog. The memorial describes him as,
the man who started the fight to get the bog
protected. It carries a quotation from him: at
some point I had to stand up and be counted.
Who speaks for the butterflies? Another
memorial stands near the Parish Church of
Wickhampton, overlooking the Halvergate
Marshes, which Andrew Lees helped to save.

Following his death, the Andrew Lees Trust was

set up to help the people of Madagascar. The
Libanona Ecology Centre, dedicated to the
memory of Andrew, provides ecological surveys
and laboratory services and runs training The memorial in the Petriky Forest, which marks
courses in forestry and marine biology. The the place where Andrew Lees died
Trust also funds a number of locally based
community projects.


Barwise, John, The Andrew Lees Biography,

Plaque Commemorating the Site of
The East Anglian School for Deaf and Blind Children on Church Lane, Gorleston
Paul P. Davies

In December 2012, a plaque was unveiled on the former

headmaster’s house by Maurice Joel, whose brother attended
the school. This year was the 100th anniversary of its opening.

The school opened in May 1912 after 17 acres of land was gifted
to Great Yarmouth Borough Council. Local authorities from
across the region, including Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and
Cambridgeshire, clubbed together to establish the school, which
took pupils from across East Anglia. It was opened by the Earl of

The school taught blind and deaf children for over for 73 years.
A few years before the school closed, it opened its doors to other
impaired hearing children with health problems. There were six
headmasters who lived in a house at the front of the school site.

The house suffered severe damage during the Second

World War, when it was bombed in 1941, but was rebuilt
and habitable again by 1945. The school continued to
teach until July 1985, when it was closed. Its buildings
remained empty for some time and were targeted by
vandals before the site was cleared to make way for new
homes and St. Mary’s Catholic Primary School. The new
road was named East Anglian Way.

During the Second World War, all the children and staff
moved to Aberpergwm House, which was located in
Glynneath, West Glamorgan, in Wales. Maurice Joel being interviewed by a
Yarmouth Mercury reporter
There were classrooms in one wing for blind children and
other classrooms in another wing for deaf children. At
play-time, or after school, or at social functions, such as the school play, the children mixed
together. The school buildings had a room for a nursery, a young mixed-children room, room for
older girls and another room for boys, a library, a kitchen, a hall and a gymnasium. Television
rooms, a swimming pool, and cookery, arts and woodwork rooms completed the establishment.
There were also bedrooms on the first floor,
flats for staff, the headmaster’s house, a
scout hut, a large field, a play-ground and a
car park. In the past it used to have a
shoemaker. Sometime in the 1960s the
school had a refurbishment.

Maurice Joel, who is compiling a book on

the history of the school, said: what really
made the school was the dedication and
professionalism of the staff. You had to
give yourself to the school to make it work.
Before the war, the house mothers had only
one afternoon off a month.
Pupils and Staff at the school. Not dated
The plaque was sponsored by Tracey Kelly,
owner of the former headmaster’s house.
The Plaque on the Home of Garwood Burton Palmer; the Founder of Palmer’s Store
Paul P. Davies

The plaque was requested and financed by the Gorleston

Conservative Club, Pier Plain, Gorleston. The founder's
great-great-great neice, Wendy Cole, unveiled the plaque
on Gorleston House (now Gorleston Conservative Club),
where Garwood Burton Palmer lived for over 30 years, on
14th April 2012.

As C. J. Palmer states in the book, the Perlustration of

Great Yarmouth:

… south of Gorleston High Street stands the house and

grounds of Garwood Burton Palmer. The house was
erected by Captain Cobb RN and was afterwards
occupied by Lieutenant Edmund Bennett RN, who lost an
arm in action. Captain Cobb was promoted to Admiral
shortly after his death. The Lords of the Admiralty had not heard of his death prior to the
promotion. Lieutenant Bennett died in 1817 at the age of 43
years. Bennett’s wife died in 1822, aged 58 years. There is a
monument to them in St. Andrew’s Church, Gorleston. All the
land between the house and the river was waste ground and
were the subject of the Enclosure Act of 1813.

Ecclestone in his book on Gorleston states that: Samuel

Paget, the brewer and father of Sir James Paget, lived in this
house and had a brewery close by. There is no firm evidence
for this assertion.

A brewery did stand to the north of Gorleston House on the

corner of Pier Plain and Baker Street. This was established by
William Killett in 1620. In the 1750s the brewery was bought
Wendy Cole by John Baker, later passing it to John Baker Bell. It was then
courtesy of Archant newspapers
known as Bell’s Brewery. The brewery closed in c1850. This
brewery was just outside
the grounds of Palmer’s home and it is very unlikely that
there would have been another brewery so close. By 1813,
Samuel Paget had built his house on South Quay, Great

On 4th June 1837, Garwood Burton Palmer opened a small

linen and drapery shop in Great Yarmouth’s Market
Place. The shop, which was called Albion House, covered
only 750 square feet of floor space. Garwood Palmer, who
was born in Great Yarmouth in 1815, was 22 years old when
he opened the shop. He had trained in London at the
respected shop of Hitchcock Williams, which was based in St.
Paul’s Churchyard.

Garwood Palmer could be seen driving in his carriage from

his home at Gorleston House to and from his shop in Great
Yarmouth. His shop was often highly decorated with flowers
and ferns, which had been supplied from his garden and its
conservatory. He was in the habit of giving his customers
nosegays. Garwood Palmer was also a magistrate.
Garwood Palmer and his wife, Betsy, were childless. Garwood Burton Palmer
Seven years later, in 1844, Garwood Palmer's younger brother, Nathaniel Benjamin, joined the
business and soon became a full partner. Nathaniel died at the young age of 38 years. He left
two sons, Edward Ernest and James Hurry, to carry on the Palmer business. Edward joined the
firm in 1874 and James in 1876. By 1876 the family business was booming.

When the founder, Garwood Burton Palmer, died in 1888 at the age of 73 years, Nathaniel's sons
were left in charge of the business, which became known as Palmer Bros. Garwood Burton
Palmer was buried in the New Cemetery, Kitchener Rd, where his grave, which was hidden by
brambles and ivy for many years, has recently been uncovered by Community Pay Back workers.

After the death of Garwood Palmer, his house became a hotel and, in 1921, the Conservative
Club moved into the building.

According to an old General Trade Directory for Gorleston; Gorleston House has been enlarged,
re-decorated and re-fitted to make it one of the best private hotels on the east coast. It is
charmingly located in its own grounds of 4½ acres with tennis courts, bowling greens and a
croquet lawn. It overlooks the piers, the harbour and Yarmouth Roads. Well-kept flower beds
and shrubberies extend to Lowestoft Road. The hotel has accommodation for 70 guests with first
class cuisine and perfect sanitary arrangements.

From census returns we can trace where Garwood Burton Palmer was living in the borough:

1841 Palmer and his wife, Betsy, were living in Market Place. He was described as a
1851 Palmer was living at Westbourne Terrace on the Bradwell turnpike with one servant,
again described as a draper.
1861 Palmer was listed as a ship owner (there is no mention of the shop) and he was living
at Gorleston House. He had a housemaid and a cook.
1871 Palmer was staying at the University Arms, Cambridge, presumably on business. He
was described as a merchant.
1881 Palmer was listed at Gorleston House on Pier Road. Now aged 66 years, he was
living with Betsy and two servants. He was described as a silk merchant and draper.

In December 1892, a fire, which raged for six hours, destroyed most of the store. The cost of the
damage to the premises and the stock amounted to £10,000. The rebuilt store incorporated Row

After James Hurry Palmer died in 1908, his

son, Percival Hurry Palmer, joined the
business and worked his way up to become
the manager. Under Percy's reign Palmer’s
was expanded. In 1910, the linen and
furnishing department was rebuilt with a new

The expansion continued over the next few

years: firstly a large malthouse adjoining the
premises, between Rows 56 and 58, was
acquired. Later, a new floor and a central
heating plant were added. This was followed
by the purchase of numbers 41 and 42 Market
Place in 1927, which then housed the men’s
department. At some point the original
The aftermath of the fire at Palmer’s in 1892 building was rebuilt with a new tower.

Garwood Burton Palmer’s shop in the Market Place James Hurry Palmer

Gorleston House Hotel at the turn of the 20th century © Peter Jones

Right: Gorleston
House Hotel

Presentation of a cheque towards the repair of a
pinnacle on St. Nicholas’ Church in 1997
Left to right: Michael Falcon, Rev’d. Michael
Garwood Burton Palmer’s grave in the Woods and Bruce Sturrock
New Cemetery courtesy of Archant newspapers

Percy's son-in-law, Graham Sturrock, became a member of the

team in 1947 and he took over as the Chairman of the Board when
Percy died in 1960. The public house, the Red House, was added
to the store in 1962. In the 1960s, Row 54 was absorbed into the

By 1971, this successful company had increased dramatically in

size and Graham Sturrock enlisted the expertise of his son Bruce,
who took over as Managing Director in 1983. In 1993, Bruce took
over as Chairman. In 1993, Bruce was joined by his sister, Wendy
Cole, as the fashion director. Wendy Cole had been a fashion
buyer at the famous store, Bloomingdales, in New York.

Palmer’s is now one of East Anglia’s largest independent retail

stores. The small shop of 1837 has become a large department
store with branches in Dereham (1989), Lowestoft (2004),
formerly Chadds, and two in Bury St. Edmunds, firstly in 1961 and
secondly in 1998.
Above and below:
Palmer’s now employs over 400 staff in East Anglia, many of whom
Palmer’s Pinnacle
have worked at the firm for many years. It boasts the title of the
longest established independent department store in the
country. It has an annual turnover of £20m.

As well as being an important part of Great Yarmouth

life, the firm has made donations to many charities. It
provided the finance to build a new foyer and bar in St.
George’s Theatre in 1987. In 1997 the firm gave a
considerable amount of money to repair the pinnacle on the west corner of the north transept of
St. Nicholas’ Church. This pinnacle has been named, Palmer’s Pinnacle.

Boon, Michael C., Palmer’s Department Store Historian
Ecclestone, A. W., Gorleston, nd.
General Trade Directory for Gorleston, nd.
Palmer, C. J., Perlustration of Great Yarmouth, 1872
Palmer family archives
Tooke, C., Time Gentlemen Please!, 2006
Plaque erected for William Absolon
Noted Ceramic and Glass Decorator and Engraver
Malcolm Ferrow

Absolon's father, another William, had premises in Market

Row, Great Yarmouth. In directories of the period he is
described as a hatter and hosier, but he also had a clay pipe
manufactory in this row. It is quite possible that young
William, born in 1751 in Great Yarmouth, helped in this
business by firing and molding clay pipes, which would have
stood him in good stead later in life.

Records of William junior's early life are limited, as many

records were lost in the last war. We know that he was
apprenticed to William Manning, a local merchant in 1776,
and was made a Freeman of Yarmouth in 1784. That same
year, an advertisement appeared in the Norwich Mercury
stating that William Absolon had purchased the stock of
Mrs. E. Clabon, who is retiring, and now he can offer for sale English and foreign china, table
services etc., etc., all on the cheapest terms at his shop, at the lower end of Market Row, No. 4.
He must have done well as he later moved to larger premises at No. 25. At this period he started
advertising that, apart from his retail and wholesale trade, he could offer gilding, enameling and
painting. Market Row has been re-numbered several
times over the years, so it is difficult to ascertain the
exact site of his premises.

Absolon bought in wares from Wedgwood,

Davenport, Turner and Staffordshire factories, which
he then decorated. He painted dessert services with
botanical subjects with the Latin name of the plant
inscribed on the plate or dish and also his mark:
Absolon Yarm and No. 25. He also decorated
Turner Ware and Cream Ware Jugs adding mottoes,
such as; a Trifle from Yarmouth, or Success to the
Trade, or perhaps the name of a sailing ship. At this
time he was also enameling, gilding and engraving
glass rummers, decanters and tumblers with views
such as; St. Nicholas’ Church, a Yarmouth Coach or
a Coat of Arms, with perhaps a gilded inscription.

It is said that Nelson was presented with two

rummers by Absolon in 1800; a clever marketing
ploy. In 1807 he acquired a shop in King Street, but
he kept on his Market Row premises and at the time
obtained permission to build ovens somewhere on
A pot decorated by Absolon Deneside.

William Absolon junior died in 1815. The business carried on for some time after his death, but
the quality of the work declined. We can tell this from dated examples. There are some pieces of
Absolon’s work still in existence, which now attract very high prices at auction. The late David
Stuart was a glass collector, an authority on Absolon and author of the book, Glass in Norfolk,
which was published in 1997. His widow, Pat Stuart, unveiled the plaque on behalf of the Great
Yarmouth Local History and Archaeological Society on Sunday 2nd September 2012 at 10.30am.
The plaque was sponsored by Malcolm Ferrow, the local expert on antiques.

Pots decorated by Absolon
Top: St. Nicholas’ Church Great Yarmouth
Left: A Trifle from Yarmouth : A Yarmouth coach
Right: A Trifle from Yarmouth : Success to Farming
© Great Yarmouth Museums

Left: Goblet: “A Trifle from Yarmouth/William/Stafford/Baker Norwich” and on the reverse the Baker's arms
and the inscription “Success to Trade”
Centre: Rummer: Inscribed “Norwich a Port-Ships and Commerce” with an image of ship
Right: Inscribed “Yarmouth Church”
© Great Yarmouth Museums

Row 49 showing the rear of the properties in Market Row

The building with the mansard roof appears to have been used by Absolon as a kiln

Absolon’s half-penny tokens
Shopkeepers produced tokens as there was a severe shortage of money from the 17th to
early 19th centuries because of the government’s inability to issue its own coinage

Top: Absolon’s early trade card when working from 4 Market Row
Bottom: Absolon’s trade card when working from 25 Market Row,
his place of business for a quarter of a century

David R. M. Stuart, Glass in Norfolk, 1997, Privately published

Plaque commemorating Reverend James Bevan
Paul P. Davies

On 12th March 2012, a blue plaque commemorating

Reverend James Bevan was erected on the Park
Surgery, 4 Alexandra Road, by the Society.

It was unveiled by Mrs. Mary Edwards, James

Bevan’s granddaughter, in the presence of two of
Bevan’s great-grandsons and the Mayor of Great
Yarmouth, Councillor Barry Coleman.

The doctors of the Park Surgery sponsored the


Mary Edwards unveiling the plaque

Photograph by Carl Boult

Left to right:
Mary Edwards, Mary and Barry
Coleman, and Paul Davies

Photograph by
Carl Boult

Reverend James Alfred Bevan
The incumbent of St. George’s Church
Paul P. Davies

In 2012, St. George’s was reopened as an arts centre after a multi-million pound renovation. It is,
therefore, appropriate that a small part of its history is explored.

James Alfred Bevan was appointed the incumbent of St. George’s Church in 1899 until he retired
in 1936. Bevan was born on 15th April 1858 at St.
Kilda in Victoria, Australia. His father, James Bevan,
was Welsh and was born in Grosmont on the Welsh/
English border, near Abergavenny, Monmouthshire
and had emigrated to Australia in 1848. Shortly
before his emigration he had become an ardent

It is thought that James Bevan Senior met his future

wife, Elizabeth Fly, on the voyage to Australia. The
Rev’d. Bevan’s mother’s family were originally from

James Alfred Bevan

Revd. James Bevan’s father, James


Croydon in Surrey. James Alfred Bevan had two sisters. Bessie was born in 1857 in
Collingwood, Victoria, but died the following year. The younger sister was Mary Sophia, who was
born on 21st November 1859 in Caulfield, Victoria, Australia. His father, James Bevan Senior,
purchased a Cobb & Company stagecoach route from Melbourne to Beechworth and prospered
as a result.

Cobb and Company were a transportation company in Australia. It was prominent in the late
nineteenth century, when it operated stagecoaches to many areas in the outback and at one point
in several other countries as well. Initially trading as the American Telegraph Line of
Coaches, the company was established in 1853 by four Americans, but it only rose to prominence
when bought by James Rutherford and a consortium of nine other partners in 1861. The coaches
came from America. Cobb & Company halved the travelling times of their competitors. Horse
teams were changed at stations every 30 kilometres. Coaches averaged 12 kilometres per hour
over rough bush tracks. Drivers took horse teams and coaches through forests, flooded creeks
and over mountain ranges. They faced the
danger of bush-rangers wanting money and gold.

James Bevan Senior built one of the first

mansions in Melbourne and named it Grosmont
after his birthplace. The house was left to his
daughter Mary Sophia and rented out after his
death, but it fell into disrepair and was eventually
sold and demolished to make way for a number
of apartments.

James Alfred Bevan's parents were married in

1856. He was 32 years old and Elizabeth Fly
was 18 years old. They married in Sandhurst
(now called Bendigo), which is 93 miles north-
Grosmont, Melbourne in 1952 west of Melbourne.

James Alfred Bevan at

St. John’s College, Cambridge Cobb & Company stagecoach
In respect of their fathers; John
Bevan is listed as a maltster
and John Fly as a builder.
John Bevan’s horse was a one
time winner of the Melbourne
Hunt Cup, the predecessor of
the Melbourne Cup.
As a young man, Bevan’s
parents were drowned on 11th
January 1866, when the
steamship London sank in the
Bay of Biscay on its way from
England to Melbourne.
The passengers were told by
the captain some time before
Steam ship ‘London’
the ship sank that there was no
hope for them and there were
distressing scenes. Perhaps the most fateful decision the captain of the S. S. London made was
on the 10th January when he decided to head back to Plymouth. Thus the ship had to pass
through the centre of the storm again.
The newspaper, the Taranaki Herald, reported on 7th April 1866 that: the S. S. London, an
Australian Packet Ship, foundered in the Bay of Biscay with the loss of 220 lives. The London
was an auxiliary screw steamship and bound for Melbourne. She left Gravesend on 13th
December 1865, but met with such heavy weather that she was obliged to take refuge for a time
at Spithead. She subsequently embarked passengers at Plymouth and sailed again on 5th
January 1966. On the 10th January the Captain determined to put back to Plymouth. After the
course was altered the ship rolled heavily, shipping tremendous seas. The water then poured
down in torrents, flooding the lower decks. The chief engineer and assistants stuck to their posts
below decks until the water rose above their waists, which put out the fires and the engines were
rendered useless. The London was then hove-to and the donkey engine was set to work to keep
the ship clear, but without avail. Cross seas, which now broke over the vessel, rendered her so
low in the water that she did not rise to the sea; in fact, she was settling down. On 10th January
1866, the ship was struck by a stern sea, bursting through the stern ports. Captain Martin, an
experienced Australian navigator, who throughout behaved energetically and bravely, then
announced to the passengers the cessation of all earthly hope. The Rev'ds. Dr. Woolley, Draper
and Kerr, although working at the pumps the same as the others in their leisure time, and before
the awful event occurred, prayed constantly, surrounded by all the passengers. Attempts were
made to launch some boats, but nearly all of them were stove-in, but one. Captain Martin then
instructed the chief engineer and his assistants to get into this boat, as it probably belonged to
them, according to the ship's waybill. He gave them the course and distance to Brest and then
wished them God speed, as he was determined to stick by the vessel. When the boat left the
ship it contained 19 persons. One thousand guineas was offered for a passage in her, although
she was only built to carry twelve. Immediately after this, the brave and courageous Captain
Martin, passengers, crew and ship went down and the boat narrowly escaped sinking, owing to
the suction. G. V. Brooke worked incessantly at the pumps on the London. His last words,
spoken to the steward, were, "If you succeed in saving yourself, give my kind farewell to the
people of Melbourne." The crew of the boat was fortunately rescued next day by an Italian
barque and landed at Falmouth. It is reported that the London had 50 tons of coal on deck which,
being washed about, stopped the scupper-holes, and also that she was fearfully overloaded with
1,200 tons of railway iron and other heavy materials, causing her perhaps to spring a leak; and
hence the fearful disaster.

An account of the last days of the ship is found in Understanding Our Christian Heritage
(Australia): Volume II and states: a day after they sailed the wind increased in violence. There
was a very heavy sea. The following day (Monday) some of the passengers became very
anxious. The wind was blowing with great violence. Monday night was a night of distress. Many
of the passengers read their Bibles together and engaged in prayer. On Tuesday the large vessel
was tossed about like a cork and whole seas dashed over her. The lifeboat was torn away by the
winds and the waves. The masts were broken and the ship dismasted. It seemed as though the
raging elements were venting their fury upon what was, a noble work of man.

During the whole of Tuesday night some of the passengers read the Bible in turns.

Early on Wednesday morning the captain tried to run back to Plymouth. The storm increased in
fury. The sea ran mountains high. Both lifeboats were swept away. During Wednesday night
one disaster after another overtook the ill-fated London. The engine-room was flooded with
water. The vessel was now so damaged that it seemed impossible to keep out the sea. Various
expedients were tried. Passengers and crew worked incessantly at the pumps. Still the water in
the engine-room rose higher and the fires were put out. The engines ceased to work. In the
midst of all these appalling disasters the noble-hearted Captain Martin remained perfectly calm
and collected, never forsaking his post of duty. All that skilful seamanship could do had been
done. He now ordered the maintop-sail to be set; but the wind tore it to shreds. "You may now
say your prayers, boys," he said.

Thursday morning came. The gale was as fierce as ever. The vessel rolled helplessly in the sea.
A tremendous body of water stove in four windows of the upper or poop cabin. The passengers
and crew had worked nobly at the pumps, but the vessel was now half-full of water. The
remaining boats were got ready. The starboard pinnance (ship’s boat) was lowered, but was
almost immediately swamped and sunk. Captain Martin went down into the saloon. "Ladies," he
said, "there is no hope for us, I am afraid; nothing short of a miracle can save us." Revd. Draper,
said very calmly, "Let us pray." The vessel was now settling down.

A story later highly publicised stated that when she was en-route down the River Thames, a
seaman seeing her pass Purfleet said: It'll be her last voyage…she is too low down in the water,
she'll never rise to a stiff sea. This proved all too accurate.

The disaster of the London aroused increased attention in Britain to the dangerous condition of
the coffin-ships overloaded by unscrupulous ship-owners. Coffin-ship was the name given to any
boat that had been over-insured and was therefore worth more to its owners sunk than afloat.
These ships, crowded and disease-ridden, with poor access to food and water, resulted in the
deaths of many people. Coffin-ships were the cheapest way to travel and mortality rates of 30%
aboard the coffin-ships were common. It was said that sharks could be seen following the ships,
because so many bodies were thrown overboard. The publicity following the sinking of the
London had a major role in Samuel Plimsoll's campaign to reform shipping, so as to prevent
further such disasters. The disaster helped stimulate Parliament to establish the Plimsoll Line,
although it took many years.

After the steam ship London sank, William Bevan, James Bevan's uncle, sailed on the steam ship
Great Britain from Liverpool to Melbourne on 18th February 1866. It was the ship’s 28th voyage.
The voyage took 58 days. The ship had a crew of 157 and 436 passengers. William Bevan and
a man called Thomas Rennison appointed a solicitor to deal with James Bevan senior’s estate.
James Alfred Bevan and his sister presumably stayed with their grandparents, as Thomas
Rennison did not escort them back to William Bevan’s home in Grosmont, Monmouthshire, until
1869. That was shortly after William Bevan had married; therefore there would be a lady in the
house to look after the orphans. William Bevan did not waste time starting a family of his own
and had children nearly every year up until 1883.

James Bevan lived with his Uncle William in Grosmont, Monmouthshire and was educated as a
boarder at Hereford Cathedral School and St. John’s College, Cambridge, where he read law. He
graduated Bachelor of Arts in 1880 and attained a Master of Arts degree in 1891. He gained
rugby blues in 1877 (as a half-back) and 1880 (as a three-quarter). In a rugby team in those days
there were forwards, half-way backs, three-quarter way backs and fully backs. He played rugby
for Clifton, Bristol in the 1878-1879 season and for
Newport in the 1880-81 season.

James Bevan was a good sportsman, being a

sprinter, a long-jumper, a cricketer and a golfer. It
was while in Bristol that Bevan played cricket for Old
Sneed Park Cricket Club and is reported to have
bowled out W. G. and E. M. Grace on separate
occasions. Bevan also played rugby for Abergavenny
before going up to university. He nearly won the 1880
Varsity match with a dropped goal but, after a lengthy
debate, the referees did not allow it and the match
ended in a draw. In later life Bevan was a keen cyclist
and was often seen cycling around Great Yarmouth.

James Bevan became the first ever captain of rugby

for Wales on 19th February 1881. They played
England. The Welsh team selected was not fully
representative of Wales, in fact, as well as the
Australian Bevan, they comprised four Englishmen
and two Irishmen.

The Rugby Football Union insisted that the England

versus Wales match was to be played on 19th
February 1881. This was the same day that Swansea
William Bevan 1828-88
were playing Llanelli at Neath in a semi-final cup-tie,
James Bevan’s uncle
thus depriving Wales of several players. James
Bevan was not the first choice captain. C. P. Lewis
was originally asked, but turned it down, sensing a shambles, as he did not consider the team
truly represented Wales.

No formal invitations to play were sent out to the Welsh XV. Two of those expected to appear did
not turn up, so by-standers, Cambridge University undergraduates with tenuous Welsh links, but
who had travelled to London to see the match, had to be roped in to play for Wales. It also did
not help that the changing rooms were in a local public house, the Princess of Wales. Both teams
had to walk the half mile across Blackheath to play. It was said at the time that the Welsh team
needed some Dutch courage before the match so they had been drinking heavily.

The match at Richardson’s Fields, Blackheath was the first international between the two
countries. Richardson’s Fields are better known today as the start of the London Marathon. It
was a game more noted for the chaotic organisation of the Welsh side than anything else. It was
Wales’ first international and was organised before the Welsh Rugby Football Union was created.
The players had never played together before. One player, Major Richard Summers, was
selected for Wales on his performances two years earlier for his school, Cheltenham College, in
matches against Cardiff and Newport.

The game was a farce. The Welsh were hopelessly outplayed. England won by thirteen tries,
seven conversions and a dropped goal in the days before there were points. Today the score
would have been 82-0. England were denied a fourteenth try by the referee when an audacious
long pass by the English captain, Leonard Stokes, to Robert Hunt was deemed to be not football
and thus unsporting.

Major Richard Summers, who played in the match said: we played in ordinary, light walking boots
with a bar of leather across the sole to help us swerve. Jerseys were fitted high at the neck with
serge blue knickers fastened below the knee with four or five buttons.

Following the heavy defeat the back-stabbing started. The average age of this side was 23 years.
Ten of these players, including Bevan, never played for Wales again. A month after the match,
the Welsh Rugby Football Union was founded at the Castle Hotel, Neath, on 12th March 1881.

The London newspapers were naturally quite scathing at England’s ridiculously easy victory and
collectively gave their readers the impression that Wales were even lucky to get no points. Many
Welsh people also wrote to the newspapers criticising the selection process. The English Rugby
Football Union was not impressed by the course of events and the following season they refused
to arrange a repeat fixture. However they did sanction a North of England side to play Wales at
Newport on 14th January 1882.

James Bevan went home to Bristol and there is no record of him playing rugby again.

Wales had to wait until 1890 for their first win over
England, which was played at Dewsbury and they won by
a solitary try to nil.

Interestingly, in 2007, a trophy was presented for the first

time to the winners of the Australia versus Wales rugby
union match. It was the 100th year of test rugby between
the countries. The trophy was named the James Bevan
trophy. It was commissioned by International Business
Wales. Gareth Davies, head of New Zealand and
Australia International Business for Wales, said: we are
pleased to see that such a beautiful trophy will serve as
the permanent reminder of an original great in Wales’
rugby history. James Bevan is a great example of a man
that shared an affinity with both Australia and Wales and
as such this trophy is a fitting reminder of both countries’
rugby history.

Australia won the inaugural James Bevan Trophy test

match 29 points to 23 on Saturday 26th May 2007 at the The Bevan Trophy
Telstra Stadium in Sydney. It has only been won once by
Wales in the seven times it has been played for.

In Bristol, James Bevan was articled to the firm of solicitors, Sibly and Dickinson. He met Annie
Susan Woodall, always known in the family as Nancy or Nan, at Great Dinham Farm in
Monmouthshire on the occasion of a shooting party and he was greatly taken with her. He
married her on 26th July 1882 at St. Stephens Church, Caerwent. Annie Woodall was born in
1860 and had attended a private boarding school in Birmingham. Her father, Thomas, was
farmer of 671 acres and employed 21 labourers and two boys. Great Dinham Farm was situated
adjacent to the crumbling remains of Dinham Castle. In fact, parts of the Castle were used in the
construction of a barn at the farm in about 1857. There was formerly a church at Dinham, some
traces of which may be seen at the gable end of one of the farm buildings belonging to Great
Dinham Farm. The font was used as a pump-trough in the farmyard and the lid of a stone coffin,
locally known as the Bishop's Stone, was built into the garden wall. Thomas Woodall was
churchwarden at Caerwent.

The Woodall family were apparently very religious. Bevan had been shocked to overhear Annie
Woodall praying for his conversion. James Bevan was told that, if he wanted to marry Annie, he
would have to give up smoking, drinking and hunting. This he did, to the extent that he became
very involved in the church, gave up his legal studies, and attended the London College of

Apart from the Woodalls, the catalyst for Bevan’s conversion was an evangelist meeting in Bristol
held on 26th February 1886 by William Clarke, who was also a well-known athlete. Bevan would
later name one of his sons William Clarke. He was persuaded to attend the meeting at which
Clarke spoke on the Christian Athlete. Bevan left the meeting under the intense conviction of sin
and, as his brother in law stated: after an agony of several hours the Lord Jesus appeared to him
in His risen splendour and his troubled soul entered the haven of rest. Bevan’s new faith found
expression in a new life, in an intense study of the Bible and in the button-holing of people
anywhere and at anytime to tell them the joyful news of the Gospel. He wrote the date of his
conversion in his Bible alongside John, Chapter 10 verses 27 and 28: My sheep hear my voice,
and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never
perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

At the same time Bevan wrote to the matron of the local hospital offering all the wine in his cellar
for her disposal for medicinal purposes, if she had them collected promptly, or else all the bottles
would be smashed. Alcohol at this time was used as a stimulant. He also threw all his pipes and
cigars onto a fire. Ever after, alcohol and tobacco were an abomination to him.

After James Bevan’s ordination he became the curate at Christchurch, Hampstead for four years
from 1888. He then was appointed the curate at Trinity Church, also in Hampstead, until 1899.
While at Christchurch he took a series of services in a home for fallen girls. One of his addresses
was based on the story of the Prodigal Son, illustrated by lantern slides. At the close of the
service the girls sang or sobbed the hymn Just as I am. It took over 25 minutes to get through it.
Bevan finally left the home at three o’clock in the morning pleading with the last two girls out of 50
to surrender to Jesus. Years later he was still receiving letters from those girls that he had

Bevan and Annie had eleven children in all, and of their seven sons, six entered the church. His
youngest son, Kenneth, became the Bishop of Eastern Szechuan in China.

Bevan spent most of his life as the incumbent of St. George's Church, Great Yarmouth from 1899
to 1936. He combined this post with that of the Vicar of St. Margaret’s Church, Herringfleet
(patron: Colonel Leathes) for two years from 1906. For a time Herringfleet was run in conjunction
with St. George’s Church. Bevan (or his curate) would spend Saturday night at Herringfleet Hall,
take the Sunday morning service and then walk the seven miles home in the afternoon.
Occasionally Bevan would cycle with his large Bible strapped to the handlebars and his frock
cloak flying behind him. He returned in time to take the evening service at St. George’s Church.
Sometimes he stayed longer at Herringfleet playing croquet, and enjoying picnics and boating on
Fritton Lake.

Bevan was a keen missioner and often attended missions. When he invited the Baptist Revd.
Douglas Brown to Great Yarmouth from his revival mission in Lowestoft, Bevan offered him the
use of St. George’s Church and night after night it was packed from floor to ceiling.

Since the building of St. George’s Church

there had been 22 incumbents when Bevan
was appointed.

After his first sermon in St. George’s Church

on 16th April 1899 an anonymous writer
wrote: an earnest and vigorous preacher,
Mr. Bevan in every way is the type of man
who was in mind, when the trust-deed for
the future presentation to the church was
framed, when it was laid down that the
trustees should only appoint a man being
known or declaring himself to be zealously
affected to the great principles of the
reformed faith, as contained in the homilies,
articles and liturgy of the Church of Herringfleet Church

Great Yarmouth Corporation in 1838 had, under the Municipal Corporation Act of 1835, the right
to sell their right of presentation to the living of St. George’s Church. The Revd. Mark Waters, the
incumbent from 1833 to 1865, had purchased the right for £571. It then was transferred to a
board of trustees. Waters died in 1864, and the right of presentation was purchased by men of
definite Protestant Church principles, whose object was to obtain for Great Yarmouth at least one
church on a free and independent basis, to maintain the Protestant and Evangelical truth.

When Bevan arrived at St. George’s Church he found that it was lit and heated with open gas-
jets. His suggestion that they should be replaced by electricity for lighting and furnaces for
heating met with disfavour in some quarters, but it was carried through. He was a good golfer
and played at Great Yarmouth Golf Course, but when Sunday golf commenced and members
began to use cabs to reach the course, he promptly resigned and never played again. He was of
the firm belief that Sundays should be devoted to God. It was one of Bevan’s principles that
having abandoned any course of action for conscience’s sake, he could never adopt it again. He
practised what he preached and became known as a man of his word.

Revd. Bevan leading St. George’s Church Sunday School in Hall Plain c1920

During Bevan’s tenure the Bible classes, Ladies’ Working Party, Women’s Fellowship, Young
People’s Fellowship and Sunday Schools all flourished. His particular interest was the Men’s
Service, which at the end of the 1930s had 400 members. Its secular activities included cricket
teams and football teams. They also played a variety of games and other sports.

In 1912, Bevan oversaw the renovation of the interior of the church. The dark varnish was
removed from the pews, pulpit and reredos to reveal the fine inlay work.

In 1932, a large restoration of St. George’s Church took place. There was a protracted and bitter
argument with Great Yarmouth Corporation about who was responsible for the upkeep of the
fabric. It was apparent that a considerable amount of finance was required. A new roof was
essential, the tower and cupola needed rebuilding and the interior decorated. It was thought that,
as the church had been built by the Great Yarmouth Corporation then they were responsible for
its repair, however, in living memory they had not shown any interest in the structure. A previous
restoration in 1929 had been paid for by voluntary subscriptions. Documents were produced to
show that the Corporation had entirely, at its own cost, erected the church and had promised to
maintain it forever. The Corporation were very reluctant to accept their liability. The matter was
finally settled when the ground on either side of the church, which the Corporation had long
1877 Cambridge University Rugby XV
Back Row (L-R): C. M. Kennedy, P. H. Clifford, P. T. Wrigley, C. E. Jeffcock, J. A. Bevan
Middle Row: C. H. Coates, H. R. Clayton, S. R. James, W. L. Agnew, C. Gurdon
Front Row: G. S. Albright, R. T. Finch, D. Q. Steel, H. H. Browell
This Varsity match was played at The Oval, Kennington, London on 12th December 1877

The Cambridge University Rugby XV of 1880

Back Row (L-R): R. M. Yetts, J. G. Tait, A. R. Don Wauchope, E. Rice, S. Pater, J. A. Bevan,
E. Storey, W. M. MacLeod
Front Row: E. Chapman, H. Fuller, J. T. Steele, C. Wilson, P. T. Wrigley, H. Smith, A. Taylor
Bevan almost won the 1880 varsity match for Cambridge University with a dropped goal, but the referees
disallowed it after a dispute and the match was drawn, each side scoring one try

coveted for road improvements, was sold to the Corporation by
the church for £1,700, which paid for the structural work. The
interior decoration was funded by donations. Later the
Corporation funded the installation of a new clock in 1935, but
declined to light it.

In January 1936, considerable excitement was caused in King

Street when flames were seen licking around the wooden belfry
of St. George’s Church. The fire brigade quickly arrived with their
appliance and connected it to a tank in St. George’s Plain. The
corner-post of the balcony was well alight and to reach it a jet of
water was directed from the outside. This was not effective and a
hose was taken up the staircase to the gallery and then up a
short flight of steps at the rear of the organ, and then by tortuous
wooden ladders to the seating of the bell where, by knocking a
hole in the brickwork, the seat of the flames was extinguished.
Bevan publically thanked the fire brigade for their prompt action in
Fire in the belfry
saving the church from destruction. in 1936

Welsh Rugby XV 1881

Back row: (L-R): W. D. Phillips (Cardiff), G. Harding (Newport), R. Mullock (Newport),
F. Purdon (Newport), G. Darbishire (Bangor), E. Treharne (Ponypridd),
R. G. D. Williams (Abercamlais)
Middle row: (L-R): T. A. Rees (Oxford University and Llandovery), E. Peake (Oxford University and
Chepstow), J. A. Bevan (Captain) (Cambridge University and Grosmont),
B. E. Girling (Cardiff), B. B. Mann (Cardiff)
Front row: (L-R): L. Watkins (Oxford University and Llandaff), C. H. Newman (Cambridge University and
Newport), E. J. Lewis (Cambridge University and Llandovery),
R. H. B Summers (Haverfordwest)

Three of the Bevan children in Alexandra Road,
Great Yarmouth
Regent Road is in the background
Miss Evelyn Crosbie was the
governess to the Bevan children. She
retired to Kilburn and died in about

Notice board
St. George’s Church in the 1930s
courtesy of Malcolm Ferrow

James Ernest Woodall, Annie Woodall's James Bevan in his
brother. He later became a missionary at Cambridge University
Moose Factory, Hudson Bay, Canada rugby colours

Some of the Bevan children c1897

Back row (L-R): Eric James and Ernest Guy
Front Row (L-R): Dorothea Mary and
Annie Woodall
Edith Llewellyn
James Bevan and his family lived at
4 Alexandra Road. The property is
now the Park Surgery. The house
was built in 1901 as the St.
George’s Parsonage for the
incumbent of St. George’s Church
and remained so until 1936.
Previously, Bevan had lived at 57
Wellesley Road with his family, a
governess, a cook, a nursemaid
and a housemaid. One of his sons
said that it was a happy home,
because while there was plenty of
freedom to play games and take
healthy exercise within strictly
defined limits; there was never any
doubt who was the head of the
family and discipline was rooted in
love. There were family prayers
after breakfast and Sundays were
different in respect to books,
Account of James Bevan’s and Annie Woodall’s wedding clothes and pursuits.
Bristol Mercury 27th July 1882
In 1911 Bevan built a family
encampment on the River Thurne
at Martham, where Bible readings
were given in a shed, often until the early hours of the morning, explaining the truths of the

When he retired Bevan was presented with a cheque for nearly £100, which had been collected
from the public associated with St. George’s Church. His incumbency was the third longest in the
history of the church. The longest is attributed to the incumbency of the Rev’d. Edward White,
which lasted 56 years. Bevan had
been in poor health for some months
before he retired in 1936. At Bevan’s
retirement presentation, the oldest
member of the congregation, Mr. C.
A. Jordan, said that: Mr. Bevan had
been faithful to the work of God in a
very marked degree giving them the
Gospel in all its fullness. He continued:
we shall never know how many souls
have been won in this old church,
which we all love. Only God knows
and He will reward him.

Mr. W. W. Haylett, a past church

warden, said that: during his long
ministry, Mr. Bevan had been offered
many clerical posts elsewhere and in
some of them the stipend would have
been far greater, but he had remained
at St. George’s Church. It was thus for
no mercenary motive that they had
had the benefit of his long ministry. The surviving six sons of
No words can express our gratitude. Revd. James and Annie Bevan
Five clergymen and one doctor of medicine

Revd. James Bevan and family in the front garden of 4 Alexandra Road in August 1907
Standing (L-R): William Clarke, Dorothea, John, Edith, Eric
Sitting: Hubert, Annie (Winifred on her knee), James Alfred, Ernest Guy
In front: Kenneth, Geoffrey

Two pages from Revd. James Bevan’s heavily annotated bible

Other retirement gifts included an illuminated
address with views of St. George’s Church.
Comment was made that Mr. Bevan had
improved the church’s fabric, especially with
regard to the recent extensive interior and
exterior refurbishment. The church was now
in a better state than it had been for many
years. Mrs. Bevan received an inscribed
clock from the Sunday Schools and a wrist-
watch from the Ladies’ Working Party.

When Bevan retired it was decided in 1936 to

sell St. George’s Parsonage as it was too
large and its upkeep was expensive. It was
estimated by the St. George’s Church
treasurer that the total cost of the upkeep of
the parsonage and the incumbent’s stipend
would be £414 a year. In 1936, the dentists,
George Murrell Stuart and James Alfred
Wyllys Stuart, purchased both Nos. 2 and 4
(the Parsonage) Alexandra Road. They
practised from No. 2 and rented No. 4 to Drs.
Wyllys, Ley and Hockley in 1937. The
premises were held on a lease by Dr.
Hockley, but were purchased by his partners
in 1967 from the widow of the previous
owner. The premises still continues as a
general medical practice.
Cricket scoreboard June 1885
St. George’s Church was closed in March Bevan took eight wickets, but did not bat
1959 and declared redundant in 1971. There
were plans to tarmac the site as a car park,
but the borough council ploughed money into reviving the building, when it became an arts
centre. The fine eighteenth century pulpit, the pews, royal arms and hatchment were moved to St
Nicholas' Church. The church is now known as St. George’s Theatre.

When James Bevan retired in 1936 he went to live with his son, Ernest Guy Bevan, at 41 Forest
Road East, Leytonstone, London. He had never taken a Sunday off. His wife had died in 1937,
from pneumonia, at the age of 79 years.

James Bevan died on 3rd February 1938 from

prostate cancer. Coincidentally his son, William
Clarke Bevan, died the day before on 2nd February
1938. While at Leytonstone Bevan quickly won
people’s affection with his determined step, round hat
and his cheerful manner. He preached his last
sermon on the second Sunday in Advent 1937 on his
favourite theme; the desolation of Jerusalem and the
Second Coming of the Lord. He continued as long
as he could, giving Bible readings in private houses
and on street corners to interested people.

James Bevan’s obituary in the Yarmouth Mercury

reads: his retirement in 1936 was regretted by many
in Great Yarmouth who knew his kindness of heart,
his simplicity, his modesty and his faithfulness to the 4 Alexandra Road in 2011
great evangelical type of religion. During his ministry, St. George’s Parsonage
St. George’s Church had
always been a centre of
beneficent influence in the
physical as well as the
spiritual side of life.

Bevan’s bother in law, J. E.

Woodall, wrote in St.
George’s, Great Yarmouth,
Magazine for April 1938: the
power of Bevan’s preaching
and life lay in a child-like
dependence in God. Never
have I known any person so
true to conviction and
conscience. The word
compromise did not exist in
Felling the lime trees outside St. George’s Church in 1979 his vocabulary. His eyes
often glistened with the joy
of battle. His loyalty to the
Bible was amazing. To him it was the word of God and he found in it the solution to all the ills of
this world and the healing for every sore of the heart. His Puritanism, stern as it was, was
performed with love. More than once I have seen him break down with emotion when speaking of
the love of God and His grace for sinners.

Mr. H. James wrote the following tribute: the first thing that struck one was his absolute sincerity
in all that he said and did. He had a great horror of what he called ‘trimmers’ and nothing could
make him compromise on what he considered were vital principles. He was an outstanding
example of the old type of Conservative Evangelical Churchman, which are now too rare. He was
devoted to the Church of England and he was greatly concerned at the modernist and Romish
tendencies, which had grown up. He was unsparing in his criticism of those clergy, who treated
their ordination vows and the 39 Articles of the
Church of England, as mere scraps of paper. He
was a great angler and at one time hunted with
the West Hereford and East Monmouth
Foxhounds. He was a staunch and unashamed
fundamentalist and was as much at home with
the Old as the New Testaments. He preached
many wonderful sermons on Old Testament
truths and prophecies. He rejoiced that the
discoveries of archaeology have largely
supported the truths of the Scriptures.

Shortly before he died Bevan delivered a paper

before the Prophecy Investigation Society on the
Book of Revelation, which the society, consisting
of some of the greatest prophetical authorities in
the Church of England, stated to be the most
learned they had heard.

On the day the newspapers announced his death,

Wales played Scotland at Murrayfield. They lost
8-6 to a penalty awarded to Scotland two minutes
from time in front of 60,000 people. A minute’s
silence in a tribute to James Bevan was not
observed. It seemed that Bevan's place in Welsh Bevan gravestone in Hampstead Cemetery
Rugby history had been completely forgotten.
James Bevan’s memorial
service was held on the 8th
February 1938 at St. Paul's
Church, Leytonstone and the
funeral took place at
Hampstead Cemetery. One
of his sons, Revd. Hubert
officiated at the service. The
St. George’s Magazine
(March 1938) commented: in
the peaceful setting of
Hampstead Cemetery, with
its pure snowdrops lifting
their blossoms to the quiet
February sky and the
subdued notes of the birds
forming a gentle unseen
choir, he was laid to rest.
St. George’s Church in 1938 with air raid shelter being built on St. James Bevan is buried in
George’s Plain - courtesy of Colin Tooke Grave No.79 Section K12 at
Hampstead Cemetery along
with his daughter, Grace Elizabeth Bevan (died 26th November 1890), his wife, Annie Susan
Bevan, (died 20th July 1937) and his daughter, Dorothea Mary Bevan, (died 12th February 1966).

A fund was created for a memorial to James Bevan. It was to fund two special prizes to be
awarded to a girl and a boy in the Sunday School who, by examination, possessed the best
knowledge of the Bible. An oak vestry screen to harmonise with the rest of the church’s fittings
would be erected in the church and a portrait of Bevan would be placed in the vestry. In August
1939 the screen was dedicated to the memory of Revd. and Mrs. Bevan by their son, Revd.
Hubert Bevan. Several members of the Bevan family were present. Previously the vestry had
been enclosed by old red curtains.

The lives of James Bevan’s other children are as follows:

Kenneth Graham Bevan, the youngest son, was born on 27th September 1898. He was
educated at Great Yarmouth Grammar School and ordained in 1924, following his training at the
London School of Divinity, a leading evangelic establishment. He was a Curate of Holy Trinity
Church, Tunbridge Wells before commencing missionary service in China; for the last ten years of
which (1940 to 1950) he was the Bishop of Eastern Szechwan.
Living in China at this time was potentially very dangerous.
Kenneth Bevan was firmly placed in the evangelical tradition of the
Church of England. He offered his services to the China Inland
Mission in 1925 and exercised an heroic ministry in West China.
He visited many small congregations scattered across the region,
which were accessible only by taking a boat along the River
Yangtze or by trekking across mountains. This was a hazardous
undertaking, since robbers frequently lay in wait for unsuspecting
travellers. On several occasions Kenneth Bevan lost his clothes
and personal possessions. In the end he travelled as light as
possible and used to boast that he could manage with only a
toothbrush and a Bible. The conflict between the National and Red
Armies were another source of danger and mission stations were
often commandeered by the armies. When Japan occupied large
areas of China in the Second World War, missionary work could
only be carried out with the greatest difficulty. During the war the
Japanese interned his three daughters at Chefoo in north-east
China. When foreigners were finally expelled from China, the work Kenneth Graham Bevan

of the church continued thanks to
the number of Chinese Christians
that he had trained and ordained.
While he was in China his three
daughters attended the school
that Eric Liddle, the Olympic
athlete, immortalised in the film
Chariots of Fire, was

Returning to England he was

the Vicar of Woolhope with
Checkley, Herefordshire, from
1950 until 1966. He was
appointed the Rural Dean of
Hereford in 1955 and Prebendary
of Hereford Cathedral in 1956.
He was appointed the Master of
Archbishop Holgate’s Hospital at

The interior of St. George’s Church

Hemsworth, Pontefract in 1966, which was an ancient

almshouse. He became an assistant bishop in the Diocese of
Wakefield for a further 11 years until he retired, aged 79, to
York. He was instrumental in setting up the Retired Clergy
Association and became its first chairman. He died on 3rd
December 1993. He had married Jocelyn Barber, herself a
missionary. She died in 1992.
Ernest Guy Bevan
James Bevan’s second son, William Clarke Bevan, had four
children. William Bevan graduated from Theological College in July 1905 at Durham University
and became the vicar of St. Andrew’s Church, Trowse, Norwich. He died in 1938.

Eric Bevan taught at Wycliffe Theological College after he graduated from St. John’s College,

Ernest Guy Bevan graduated in divinity from London University in 1922. He was ordained and
became the curate at St. Paul's Church, Plumstead, from 1922 to 1925. He then was appointed a
tutor at the London College of Divinity. From 1944 to 1960 he was the Vicar of St. Mary’s Church,
Old Harlow, Essex. He was a bachelor and a spinster sister lived with him. The other two sisters
married; one to the Vicar of Christ Church, Crouch End, North London and the other to J. D.
Fielding of Great Yarmouth.

John Stacey Bevan became the Vicar of St. Luke’s Church at Barton Hill, Bristol. Hubert Woodall
Bevan became the Rector of Gaulby, Leicester. Edward Geoffrey Bevan became the Vicar of
Cringleford, Norfolk.
The Wreck of the Steamer London while on her way to Australia
a poem by the Scottish poet, William Topaz McGonagall (1825-1902)
one of his many poems based on disasters of the time.

McGonagall won notoriety as an

extremely bad poet who exhibited no
recognition of, or concern for, his peers'
opinions of his work.

He wrote some 200 poems, including the

infamous Tay Bridge Disaster, which are
widely regarded as some of the worst in
British history. However, collections of
his verse continue in popularity, with
several volumes available today.

His is a long tradition of verses written

and published about great events and
tragedies and widely circulated among
the local population as handbills.

In an age before radio and television,

their voice was one way of
communicating important news to an avid

'Twas in the year of 1866, and on a very beautiful day,

That eighty-two passengers, with spirits light and gay,
Left Gravesend harbour, and sailed gaily away
On board the steamship "London,"
Bound for the city of Melbourne,
Which unfortunately was her last run,
Because she was wrecked on the stormy main,
Which has caused many a heart to throb with pain,
Because they will ne'er look upon their lost ones again.

'Twas on the 11th of January they anchored at the Nore;

The weather was charming - the like was seldom seen before,
Especially the next morning as they came in sight
Of the charming and beautiful Isle of Wight,
But the wind it blew a terrific gale towards night,
Which caused the passengers' hearts to shake with fright,
And caused many of them to sigh and mourn,
And whisper to themselves, We will ne'er see Melbourne.

Amongst the passengers was Gustavus V. Brooke,

Who was to be seen walking on the poop,
Also clergymen, and bankers, and magistrates also,
All chatting merrily together in the cabin below;
And also wealthy families returning to their dear native land,
And accomplished young ladies, most lovely and grand,
All in the beauty and bloom of their pride,
And some with their husbands sitting close by their side.

'Twas all on a sudden the storm did arise,
Which took the captain and passengers all by surprise,
Because they had just sat down to their tea,
When the ship began to roll with the heaving of the sea,
And shipped a deal of water, which came down on their heads,
Which wet their clothes and also their beds;
And caused a fearful scene of consternation,
And amongst the ladies great tribulation,
And made them cry out, Lord, save us from being drowned,
And for a few minutes the silence was profound.
Then the passengers began to run to and fro,
With buckets to bale out the water between decks below,
And Gustavus Brooke quickly leapt from his bed
In his Garibaldi jacket and drawers, without fear or dread,
And rushed to the pump, and wrought with might and main;
But alas! all their struggling was in vain,
For the water fast did on them gain;

But he enacted a tragic part until the last,

And sank exhausted when all succour was past;
While the big billows did lash her o'er,
And the Storm-fiend did laugh and roar.

Oh, Heaven! it must have really been

A most harrowing and pitiful scene
To hear mothers and their children loudly screaming,
And to see the tears adown their pale faces streaming,
And to see a clergyman engaged in prayer,
Imploring God their lives to spare,
Whilst the cries of the women and children did rend the air.

Then the captain cried, Lower down the small boats,

And see if either of them sinks or floats;
Then the small boats were launched on the stormy wave,
And each one tried hard his life to save
From a merciless watery grave.

A beautiful young lady did madly cry and rave,

"Five hundred sovereigns, my life to save!"
But she was by the sailors plainly told
For to keep her filthy gold,
Because they were afraid to overload the boat,
Therefore she might either sink or float,
Then she cast her eyes to Heaven, and cried, Lord, save me,
Then went down with the ship to the bottom of the sea,
Along with Gustavus Brooke, who was wont to fill our hearts with glee
While performing Shakespearian tragedy.

And out of eighty-two passengers only twenty were saved,

And that twenty survivors most heroically behaved.
For three stormy days and stormy nights they were tossed to and fro
On the raging billows, with their hearts full of woe,
Alas! poor souls, not knowing where to go,
Until at last they all agreed to steer for the south,
And they chanced to meet an Italian barque bound for Falmouth,
And they were all rescued from a watery grave,
And they thanked God and Captain Cavassa, who did their lives save.
Plaque Commemorating the Sailors’ Home, Marine Drive
Paul P. Davies

A blue plaque was erected on the Sailors’ Home in

December 2012. The plaque was unveiled by Charles
Lewis, the former curator of the East Anglian Maritime

The history of the home has been well documented in

the Society’s Monograph One. Suffice to say that the
building was erected as a Sailors’ Home in 1861 and
closed its doors on 1st January 1965, as improvements
to navigational aids made shipwrecks rarer.

From 1967 to 2002 the building housed the East Anglian

Maritime Museum. The old Sailors’ Home now houses
the Tourism Information Centre.

The Sailors’ Home in 1861

An informative report from the Independent Newspaper of 3rd

Charles Lewis unveils the
February 1872 told of the plight of the shipwrecked and destitute
plaque © Derek Leak

Before the establishment of Great Yarmouth’s Sailors’ Home, it was a source of considerable pain
and anxiety to many people of Yarmouth to know that there was no suitable place in which the
many poor shipwrecked sailors, cast upon our shores or landed here by passing vessels, could
find a temporary home. In numberless cases these poor fellows were landed on the beach,
suffering all the privations of cold and hunger from a long exposure to the perils of the sea and
were more dead than alive. In these instances it was of the utmost importance that they should
have speedy relief and shelter, but in the days before the establishment of the Sailors’ Home
these men had no place to go to until the agents or others connected with shipping had been
seen and consulted as to what should be done. In the meantime the poor half-starved, half-dead
shipwrecked mariners were left to wander about for hours in the cold and wet, unless they found
a temporary lodging in some public house where they frequently obtained the scantiest
accommodation, even if they had the money to pay for it, and were exposed to many

In October 1861, the Illustrated London News stated the extent of the problem in this area:

Forty thousand vessels pass the Sailors’ Home every year and over half the wrecks in the United
Kingdom occur in the sea off the Norfolk coast.
Excursion to Lincolnshire - 24th July 2012
Derek Leak

On Tuesday 24th July 2012, 34 members of the Great Yarmouth Local History and
Archaeological Society travelled to Crowland Abbey and to Spalding for an interesting day of
exploration and discovery in the neighbouring county of Lincolnshire. Ann Dunning had arranged
things perfectly and the sun shone all day long.

The first stop was at the village of Crowland, which

had grown up around the once mighty Crowland

The Abbey is said to have been established in 699

by Guthlac, the son of a Mercian nobleman. He had
arrived by boat at a time when much of the area
was undrained marsh, looking for the seclusion
necessary to adopt the life of a hermit. He and his
companions set up small cells and a simple oratory.
Guthlac died in 714, having impressed the Saxon
King, Ethelbald, sufficiently for him to commission
the monk, Felix, to write his life.

Crowland Abbey, West Front

Above Left : Crowland Abbey, rood

screen detail showing Saint Guthlac in
his boat

Below Left : Crowland Abbey, rood

screen detail showing fishes

Ethelbald did more. He gave land to the monks of Crowland and they were able to set up the first
Abbey, a small wooden affair. This only lasted until 870, when Danes overran the area and
attacked the Abbey. Some monks escaped with Guthlac's remains, plate, jewels and a charter.
Abbot Theodore was murdered and a skull purporting to be his is now displayed in the Parvise

Turketyl was the Chancellor of King Edred. He visited the three remaining monks living among
the ruins of Crowland, became Abbot, and under the direction of the King embarked upon the
building of a new Saxon Abbey. At this time it became a Benedictine establishment, but lasted
only until 1091, when a massive fire destroyed everything, including important manuscripts and
charters. Abbot Ingulphus started rebuilding straight away and must have erected a large
establishment, since it is recorded that 162 monks lived there; but this seems an unlikely figure.
Hereward the Wake was active in the area during this time.

What can be seen today are the remains of the final two foundations. The third Abbey was
masterminded by Joffrid of Orleans, who became the fifteenth Abbot in 1109. His huge and
beautiful Norman dog-tooth arch survives. It was the western arch to the central tower of the
Abbey. Ill luck continued to dog the building. In 1118 there was an earthquake and yet another
fire in 1143. Most of what is now visible was built in the perpendicular style of the 1420s and
constitutes the fourth Abbey.

On 4th December 1540, Crowland was surrendered to King Henry VIII. The Abbot was
dismissed. He received a generous annual pension of £133 6s 8p. The King took the revenue of
the Abbey, which was then running at £1,217 5s 11d a year. The choir, transepts, central tower
and monastic buildings were demolished, leaving the nave and two aisles to serve as a parish
church. In 1720, the nave roof collapsed and 23 years later the south aisle was dismantled to
provide stone for repairs to the remaining buildings. All that remains is the north aisle to serve the
Parish of Crowland. This is no more than one eighth of the original Abbey.

Our party was shown round the site by three guides who gave us comprehensive, if slightly
varying, accounts of the building and its history.

Highlights included the west front of the abbey church with some fine statues and geometrical
tracery reminiscent of Lincoln and Westminster Abbeys. The aforementioned dog-tooth arch is

Inside the church is a rood screen attributed to Simon de Eresby, a brother of the monastery in
1413. This has interesting carvings in the spandrels above the spaces where saints were once
painted. There are dragons, fish and Guthlac in his boat. There is plenty to see and we certainly
ran out of time before we moved on to look at Trinity Bridge.

Only 200 yards away is a very curious bridge, which stands at a crossroads in the village, with not
a drop of water in sight. When it was built about 1360, the River Welland ran where the streets
are today. It divided into two streams at this point. One branch ran past the Abbey and was used
as a sewer, and the main branch continued to Spalding. The construction has three arches, each
at 120 degrees to one another.

We had to leave all too soon and travelled the few miles to Spalding where we lunched, some in
pubs and others on the banks of the sunlit River Welland.

The highlight of the afternoon turned out to be a visit to The Spalding Gentlemen's Society. This
is a society of antiquaries founded in 1710, seven years before The Society of Antiquaries was
established in London. Both were offspring of the Enlightenment. There had been a general
upsurge of interest in archaeology, science and literature at the beginning of the eighteenth
century. Educated men with enquiring minds and money, and time to spare, felt the need to meet
together to share their thoughts and acquisitions.

Early members of the Spalding society included
Maurice Johnson (the founder), Sir Isaac Newton, Sir
Hans Sloane, Alexander Pope, Dr. William Stukeley, Sir
Gilbert Scott, Lord Tennyson and Lord Peckover of
Wisbech; a very high powered group for a small
provincial town.

These men, and members are still all men, often

donated what they had collected to the Society. The
result is an astonishing museum of diverse, often
valuable, and rare items. These are housed in a
labyrinth of interconnecting rooms of varying sizes on
different levels.

The library is very large and varied. The autobiography

of Nelson Mandela, an early Shakespeare Folio, and
Paladio's masterpiece, Quattro Libri dell'
Architettura, sat on the shelves with many thousands of
other volumes. There are collections of fossils, coins,
firearms, glassware, cameras, silverware, stamps and
even hatpins.

Above : Crowland Abbey West Front,

Statues of Saints

The Society still meets every week and

has a programme of lectures in the
winter. So much material had been
collected by 1910 that a new building
was commissioned to act as a museum
and a meeting place. The club is on
Broad Street and well worth a visit if you
are in the town.

Right : Crowland, Trinity Bridge

Our group boarded the coach

for the return to Great
Yarmouth, tired but contented,
grateful to Ann for such a
splendid day, and already
planning the next trip.

Left : Members of the GYLH&AS

entering Spalding Gentlemen’s
Society building

North Suffolk Church Crawl on 19th July 2012
Paul P. Davies

Thirteen members of the society, led by the chairman, Paul Davies, participated in a tour of four
churches in North Suffolk.

The first church visited was at Wenhaston where we viewed the Doom or Last Judgement. This
was thought to have been painted between 1500 and 1520. It would have hung in the chancel
arch as a tympanum to show the ordinary populace their fate, if they weren’t good and pious. The
choice lay between going to heaven or hell. At the Reformation all imagery in churches was
taken down and destroyed or painted over. In this case the Doom was probably whitewashed
and the royal coats of arms painted on it to demonstrate that the monarch was in charge of the
church and not the Roman Catholic Pope. In 1892, the Doom was removed from the church and
dumped in the churchyard to be burnt the following day. That night it rained and the whitewash
dissolved, revealing the original painting.

Church Doom

The Wenhaston Doom is a rarity for three reasons. Firstly, the

crucifix with Mary and John were actually attached to the
tympanum, rather than being free-standing figures on the rood
screen. Their outlines can clearly be seen on the painting.
Secondly, the colours of the Wenhaston Doom are bright and
its details sharp, and thirdly this Doom is painted on boards and
not directly onto the church wall.

This Doom is one of the most important paintings that survive

from the pre-Reformation era, and has featured on a television
programme on religious art.

Also noted in Wenhaston Church was a Jacobean pulpit with

two carved figures, the royal arms of George III and a rare
banner-stave-locker designed to store the long poles that were
used to carry guild and church banners in processions.

Churches can be a depository for all sorts of nick-nacks. In this

case the local constable’s chains and handcuffs hang in the Detail from the Doom
vestry. The mouth of hell
Next we travelled ten miles west and
entered Huntingfield Church to view the
painted ceiling. By the nineteenth century,
when William Holland was appointed the
vicar, Huntingfield Church was in a poor
state of repair. Holland was very wealthy
and his wife was an artist. In the nineteenth
century the Church of England was in a poor
state with absentee incumbents and a
general disinterest in the church. As a
result, a powerful Oxford Movement was
born, which tried to push the Church of
England to return their worship to that of the
ritual of the Roman Catholic Church. This
was led by important clergymen based
mainly in Oxford. Those parishes which
accepted the views of the movement
reconstructed their churches to cater for the
Roman Catholic liturgy. This led to the
return of imagery, rood screens, statues,
stained glass etc. Remnants of this
movement are still apparent, as can be seen
in the differences between the Low Church
and the High Church branches of the
Church of England.

Here at Huntingfield, the Rev’d. William

Holland embraced the Oxford Movement.
He was fortunate that he had an artistic wife.
Between 1859 and 1866, Mrs. Mildred
Holland redecorated the whole of the ceiling
of the church. For seven years, she lay on
The painted ceiling at Huntingfield Church
her back on the top of scaffolding gilding,
lettering and painting the roof. There is no
suggestion in her husband’s diary that she had any help apart from that for the erection of the
scaffolding. The painting is considered to be a masterpiece of Victorian church decoration. It is
painted in brilliant colours with carved and coloured angels with banners, crowns and shields and
saints; all in a medieval style.

The painting and materials for the nave

roof cost £248, of which £16 was paid
for 225 books of gold leaf and £72 for
paint. The mid nineteenth century total
restoration of the church cost £2,035.
Mildred Holland’s husband donated all
the money apart from £400.

The angels in the nave carry a crown

or a banner and the angels in the
chancel carry heraldic shields.
Between the beam ends in the chancel
are Biblical texts in Gothic lettering.
There are two tiers of panels in the
roof. The two lower panels have
pictures of the Lamb of God alternating
with the keys of heaven. Above them
An angel on the ceiling at Huntingfield Church are crowned monograms.
Each of the twelve large panels of the chancel ceiling
shows an angel holding either a scroll with the words:
Blessed be the Lamb God of Israel, or the emblems of
the passion (cross, nails, ladder, hammer, scourge,
lance, crown of thorns and reed). At the east end two
pelicans in piety are depicted, pecking their breast to
feed their young with blood. It has become a popular
image of Christ feeding the faithful at the Holy

Above the chancel arch the Lamb of God is depicted

with the words: Glory, Honour, Praise and Power unto
the Lamb for ever and ever from the book of

The figures on the nave roof are the 12 apostles and

two female saints. Each is painted in the lower tiers
with their symbols and again in the upper tier clothed in
heavenly raiment holding scrolls showing their names.
The roof paintings were restored in 2005.

An angel on the ceiling at

Huntingfield Church

Also noted in Huntingfield church

were: a large elaborate font cover,
which was made in 1878 in memory of
Mildred Holland: an Easter Sepulchre,
which, after the Reformation, was
turned into a tomb for John Paston (a
Norfolk man, the second son of Sir
William Paston): pieces of surviving
medieval glass and a ledger stone with The ledger stone in Huntingfield Church
an engraving of two children wrapped
in shrouds, who died in 1669 and 1706.

Another ten miles further west we came across Fressingfield Church, which sits well next to the
medieval guildhall. It still retains its sanctus bell turret on the roof with buttresses and side panels
of tracery. The sanctus bell was rung when the host (bread and wine) were raised at the most
holy part of the Eucharist. This enabled the workers in the fields and the general populace to
pause and pray.

The glory of this church is its intricately carved pews dating from 1470. At the west end, on the
rear of the pews, are carved the symbols of the passion on one side and, on the other, the
symbols of the saints to which the church is dedicated.

Once again there were remnants of medieval glass in the windows. In this case hares, scallop
shells and small begging dogs wearing bells.

The south porch with its parvise was built in about 1420 by Catherine de la Pole of Wingfield
Castle in memory of her husband, who died of dysentery at the siege of Harfleur in 1415 and her
eldest son who was killed at Agincourt, also in 1415. Hence it is a reminder of the 100 year war
with France. The de la Poles became the Dukes of Suffolk and a very powerful family. William
de la Pole, the first Duke of Suffolk, became too powerful and was beheaded on the gunwales of
a boat in the English Channel in 1450. The family died out in 1525.
The corbels of the porch arch represent Henry V
and his Queen, Catherine.

We finally gazed at a beautiful stained glass

window of Hope and Faith in a Pre-Raphaelite
style by Henry Holliday (1839-1927).

Before leaving Fressingfield Church we paid our

respects at the grave of Dr. John James Raven,
DD., FSA. He was a man of distinction, who
spent many years living in Great Yarmouth. In
1866 he was appointed Headmaster of Great
Yarmouth Grammar School. He remained at the
school until 1885. For four years John Raven
also held the incumbency of St. George’s Church
in Great Yarmouth. He was remembered as a
great preacher and the church became noted for
its musical services. Later he was appointed the
Vicar of Fressingfield, where he died in 1906 at
73 years of age. John Raven had been the
President of the Norwich Association of Bell
Ringers for many years. Nobody knew more than
John Raven about the church bells of
Cambridgeshire and Suffolk on which he wrote
authoritative books. In 1891, he was elected a
The Henry Holliday Window
Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. In his
in Fressingfield Church
memory a reredos was erected at Fressingfield
Church and a tower was built at Great Yarmouth
Grammar School. Many muffled peals were rung on church bells in Norfolk and Suffolk on the
day of his funeral, including two on the bells of St. Nicholas’ Church at Great Yarmouth.

Also buried in the churchyard is William Sancroft, who was born in Fressingfield in 1617. He
became Dean of St. Paul's Cathedral in 1664, greatly assisting with its rebuilding after the Great
Fire of London. From 1678 he was the Archbishop of Canterbury, crowning James II in 1685.
Sancroft tried to crush attempts by King James II to impose Roman Catholicism on England.
Sancroft refused to read out a declaration in public to allow people to be Dissenters or Roman
Catholics and he instigated a petition against the declaration and was put on trial, but was
acquitted. Following the expulsion of James II in 1688, Sancroft felt unable to swear an oath of
allegiance to William and Mary and he was deposed as Archbishop in 1690 at the age of 72. He
returned to Fressingfield, where he died in 1693. It was said that he could never bear to enter
Fressingfield Church for Morning Prayer, because this would mean hearing prayers for the King.
His chest tomb is
immediately to the east
of the porch and the
inscription is remarkably
well preserved for its

Following lunch, we left

the area of the powerful
medieval families: the de
la Poles and the Uffords,
who have left their mark
on the churches, and
travelled across the A140
road to Thornham Parva,
a small thatched church Reredos at Thornham Parva Church
Mary wrings her hands in despair and
St. Catherine of Alexandria holds her wheel
the crucified Christ
on which she was martyred
Thornham Parva Church retable
Thornham Parva Church retable

set alone in a field. This church has, not one, but two
rare survivals from the Middle Ages. The first is a
painted retable (a panel at the rear of the altar). The
neighbouring village is Thornham Magna, and the local
big house, Thornham Hall, was the home of the
Hennikers. The retable had been stored in a stable loft
and forgotten and was probably kept because of the oak
it is painted on. It was found there in 1927 and donated
to this church. It was painstakingly restored between
1996 and 2001 and placed in Thornham Parva Church.

As to the retable’s history: stuck onto the side of the

column of St. Dominic is an auction label stating:
Second Day: Lot 171. The archives show that it had
been bought at a sale in 1778 by an ancestor of Lord
Henniker. Therefore between 1778 and 1927 it was at
Thornham Hall, the Henniker home. The sale was at
Rookery Farm at Stradbroke in Suffolk. The Stradbroke
family were from a long line of Roman Catholics and
possibly saved the reredos and used the retable in
private acts of devotion. This family was connected with
the Howards, the Dukes of Norfolk, who are a notably
staunch Roman Catholic family.

The retable is a miraculous survival of the Reformation.

It is only part of a much larger altarpiece that probably
once stood in Thetford Priory. It was painted in the
1330s. Its companion altar frontal can be found in the
Musée de Cluny in Paris. The retable was rescued and
hidden after the Reformation destroyed the priory. It is
mooted that it was taken by Roman Catholics to use in
St. Margaret of Antioch trampling their private devotions. Because the retable is similar to
the dragon the one in Westminster Abbey, it is thought to have been
Thornham Parva Church retable painted by someone with a royal connection.

It is Britain's largest surviving medieval altarpiece: a
rectangle consisting of painted and gilded timber and
has a row of carved canopies and an arcade of
pointed Gothic arches supported on round columns.
Over these arches is gilded foliage. Within the arches
stand long slim figures of saints, who have peculiarly
small heads. There are eight saints, arranged in pairs,
turning to each other with Christ, Mary and John in the

Analysis of the timber showed that the wood came

from a forest in Poland. The red pigment used in the
painting was made from an insect found on the Polish
coast. The colour used on the reredos is known to
have been used on tapestries in Brussels, but it is
believed to be the first time it has been identified on a
painting in Britain.

One of the saints is St. Margaret of Antioch, who also

appears on the roof at Huntingfield Church. She was
swallowed by a dragon, which burst, releasing her
unharmed. Hence she is the patron saint of childbirth.
Mary with Christ on her lap. Both with She was included from the twelfth to the twentieth
crowns. A shepherd on the left. centuries among the saints to be commemorated
Wall painting at Thornham Parva Church whenever the Roman Catholic Mass was celebrated,
but was then removed from that list because of the
unbelievable story of her survival at the hands of the dragon. Many churches in East Anglia are
dedicated to St. Margaret of Antioch, for example at Haddiscoe, Reydon, Seething, Cley etc.
There are over 250 such dedications in England, including St. Margaret’s at Westminster. Her
cult grew in the tenth century and her veneration was brought back to England by the Crusaders.

Members of the society at Fressingfield with the guildhall in the background

(photo courtesy of Derek Leak)

Paul Davies (Chairman), Mike Taylor and Andrew Fakes (President) view the retable at
Thornham Parva Church from the curved nineteenth century gallery (photo courtesy of Derek Leak)

The walls of Thornham Parva Church are lined with some of Suffolk’s most interesting wall
paintings. They date from the early years of the fourteenth century, and are in two ranges. On the
south wall is the story of Christ’s Nativity. On the north wall is a very rare depiction of the
martyrdom of St. Edmund. At one end was an Annunciation with the angel appearing to Mary.
This is partially lost. A fragment of the next frame survives showing the Visitation. Further along
the wall we see the angel appearing to the shepherds and then Christ sitting on his mother’s lap
while the shepherds adore him. The next frame, the Presentation in the Temple, has suffered
from the insertion of a window.

An ingenious curved wooden gallery was inserted into the west end in 1810, which seated the
ordinary peasants on wooden forms with very little leg room. Above it is a small round Saxon
The graveyard includes the grave of the great twentieth century architect, Basil Spence, the
designer of Coventry Cathedral. He had retired to the neighbouring village of Yaxley, where he

Felicity Griffin, Guide to St. Mary’s Church, Huntingfield, (2006)
The Huntingfield Ceiling, Heritage Lottery Fund
Roy Tricker, St. Peter and St. Paul, Fressingfield, A History and Guide to the Parish Church,
Simon Knott Suffolk Churches,
Anon, Guide to St. Peter’s Church, Wenhaston (nd)
Judith Middleton-Stewart, The Wenhaston Doom, (2006)
Anon, A Guide to St. Mary, Thornham Parva (nd)
Conservation of Wall Painting Department, A Guide to the Wall Paintings at Thornham Parva
Church Thornham Parva PCC (2001)
The Act for Inclosing and Draining Certain Lands in the Parish of Martham, 1807
Ann Meakin

During a study of the claims made to the General Commissioners at the time of An Act for
Inclosing and Draining certain Lands in the parish of Martham, in the County of Norfolk in 1807, I
made some interesting discoveries.

Martham was one of the parishes bordering on the Rivers Bure, Ant and Thurne, where enclosure
(or inclosure) of the common land was rather more complicated than in other places. This was
because enclosure involved an extensive project to strengthen the banks of those rivers and drain
the marshes alongside them. It was therefore necessary for the Enclosure Commissioners to
oversee the work and ensure its maintenance in the future.

It was during the time of the Napoleonic Wars between England and France, when shipping in the
English Channel was almost totally disrupted, that the government realised it would be necessary
to ensure that the United Kingdom was as self-sufficient as possible in food production. If the
marshes bordering the rivers of East Norfolk were drained, it was thought that there would be
considerable additional acreage of arable land available for food production. Drainage could not
be done in a hurry. At Martham, there were numerous wide drainage channels to be dug, and a
wind pump to be constructed to pump the water from the drainage channels up to the River
Thurne. For each parcel of land awarded under the inclosure from the area that had been the
common grazing land, ditches had to be dug to mark its boundaries.

In addition, it was also realised that in many places the ancient method of open field arable
farming was no longer economical and steps were taken to phase it out in favour of creating
fields, surrounded by hedges, belonging to individual farmers. At Martham there were still
extensive areas of open fields, although many hedged fields were already in existence. Some
land owners had fields, which they wished to exchange for others, presumably in more
convenient situations. The planting of hedges, which were of hawthorn, around former open
fields, took some time to complete. It is therefore not surprising that the Inclosure Act took five
years to implement.

Martham, on what had once been the Island of Flegg, had an upland area of sandy loam, covered
many millennia ago with loess (a light-coloured fine-grained accumulation of clay and silt
particles) deposited by strong winds, making it extra fertile for arable farming. On the northern
edge of the parish alongside the River Thurne was a vast area of wet and dry common at more or
less sea level, but subject to flooding if the river overflowed. This can be seen on the
accompanying copy of an extract from Faden’s Map, published in 1797.

The common was used for grazing and numerous other purposes, such as turf-cutting and a
supply of firewood. This common land belonged to the Lord of the Manor, who kept careful
control over it to ensure that it would be maintained in a useable state for the various functions it
provided, and that it was not overgrazed. Many parishioners had various rights over it. The
actual soil in many places was the sort of sandy clay that was ideal for brick making.

Before the award of land could be considered, landowners who wished to make a claim for a part
of the common had to explain in detail exactly what they already owned, and a document drawn
up giving a State of the Claims. Only those who held their land as freeholders, copyholders or
leaseholders were considered to be eligible to make claims. The claims were to be taken into
consideration at a special meeting on 30th November 1807 at the Kings Arms (the local public
house) before queries could be considered and resolved, and allocation of the awarded land
could be authorised by the Commissioners.

A document was printed detailing the claims made by the 90 landowners concerned, 77 men and
13 women, not all of whom appeared to live in the parish.

Area within
heavy lines the
subject of the

From this document I made a detailed analysis of the claims and was amazed to discover the
wealth of information obtained. In addition I copied the Ordnance Survey 6" scale maps of 1884
in order to show on it as accurately as possible the land inclosed and awarded, and was surprised
to realise that almost all of the field boundaries created at the enclosure still existed.

Analysis revealed that 64 of the claimants appeared to occupy part or all of the property they
claimed, whereas the property of the remainder was let to tenants. The claims had to be signed
by either the claimant or the person acting on their behalf.

The claimants themselves signed 57 of the claims, indicating that nearly all were literate people.
All claimed a right of common pasture for all his commonable cattle levant et couchant upon the
said commons and waste grounds in the said parish of Martham, at all times in the year.

To find so many female landowners was a surprise. From searching the parish registers, I
discovered that of the thirteen, Sarah Deary, Elizabeth English and Rebecca Benslin were
widows. Lucy Conyard, Mary Warner, Elizabeth Gray, Eleanor Drake and Mary Boult were
married, Eliza Cookson and Diana Creasey both lived in London and had inherited their land from
their father William Creasey. Sarah Littleboy appeared to be unmarried. Of the other two I could
find no information. When the awards were made, it was the husbands of the married claimants
who were awarded the land.

The Inclosure State of the Claims described dwellings as houses, messuages or cottages. This
proved interesting. I counted eight houses, 52 messuages and 77 cottages, some of which were
described as ‘double cottages’, but there were no further details about how each category was

There were 42 barns listed, which in those days would have been threshing barns. It seems,
therefore, that there may have been about 40 farms as in some cases more than one barn was
listed by a claimant.

There were 36 stables listed. Did this indicate roughly the number of horses owned in the parish?
Horses were precious animals. The farmers who owned large acreages had more than one
stable, but some people who owned only small acreages of land had a stable, which may indicate
that some horses were kept for riding and domestic use, as well as for farm work.
There were 33 outbuildings listed. These included buildings such as shops and blacksmith’s
shops, a windmill and granaries, and a ‘baking office’. By this time there were numerous
craftsmen and tradesmen living in the parish, even though this was not evident from the claims
made. The Parish Baptism Register gives details of the professions of the fathers of children
baptised from 1813 onwards, recording a variety of occupations. It is possible that their
workshops were part of their living quarters, or that they were tenants.

There were 26 yards, 36 gardens and four orchards. Moregrove Manor held a fishery, which may
have been Martham Broad. The Lord of the Manor owned the staithe alongside the River Thurne.

The tenure of land-holding was extremely complicated because nearly all the claimants had some
pieces of land that were freehold and other pieces that were copyhold. There were 93
freeholdings. Other land was leasehold from the Dean and Chapter of Norwich Cathedral and
comprised the Rectorial Tithes. Other pieces of land were copyhold, presumably of the Manor of
Martham, however there was also the Manor of Moregrove and Knightleys, and a small amount of
land was copyhold of the Manor of Scratby Bardolph. Many of the records, until 1928, of the
Manor of Martham survive, as do some of those of Scratby Bardolph, but those of Moregrove and
Knightleys appear not to be traceable.

Martham Manor was, before 1066, held by the Bishop of Elmham, and was passed on through
the changes in the Bishopric to the Priory of Norwich until the Dissolution of the Monasteries, after
which it passed into private hands. Moregrove Manor was always held privately. When the
Domesday Book was compiled, Martham had about 43 free men. Is it possible that the
freeholders of 1807 held land which had passed down in that way for over 700 years?

Discovering that several of those who made claims in 1807 were still alive in 1842/43, when the
Tithe Commutation document was made, it was therefore possible from studying the Tithe and
Inclosure Maps to discover where they lived. A few had died and their properties had passed on
to their heirs, or had been sold to others.

From this information I was also able to identify the very few buildings that have survived to the
present day, even though they have been drastically altered or extended. It is remarkable that
farm buildings have survived longer than dwellings. There are still a few magnificent threshing
barns standing around the village.

For some claimants I could find no award of land. It is possible that for some, the cost of
receiving an award was too great. For each award made, a payment was required to cover the
cost of the legal fees, the cost of the parchment on which the title deed would be written, and the
cost of stamp duty. For one piece of land awarded near where they lived, the claimants were
required to pay £1 11s. 6d, a cost which may well have been prohibitive for those who owned only
a very small amount of land and were on the verge of poverty.

The award, effective from 12th June 1812, is an enormous document written on 45 pages of
parchment. It is very cumbersome to handle and difficult to read with very long lines of
handwriting. It therefore needs very careful concentrated scrutiny to be sure of acquiring the
correct information. Some of the detail on the map is very hard to decipher without magnification.
There is still much research to be done on this most fascinating and interesting topic.

Sources of information

A copy of A State of the Claims Delivered to the General Commissioners named and authorised,
in and by an Act of Parliament passed in the 47th year of the reign of His Majesty King George
the Third, entitled, An Act for Inclosing and draining certain Lands, in the Parish of Martham, in
the County of Norfolk, is included in a large green book kept in Martham branch library.

Martham Enclosure Award and Map held at the Archive Centre, Norwich. N.R.O. Reference PC

The Plaques for Captain Charles Pearson RN
and his daughter, Emma Maria Pearson
Paul P. Davies

The two plaques were unveiled on the home of the Pearson family in the mid-nineteenth century,
now the offices of England and Company of 8 South Quay, Great Yarmouth, on 12th March 2012
by the Mayor, Councillor Barry Coleman.

Photograph by Carl Boult

Captain Pearson was born in 1784 in London and he entered the Royal Navy in 1800. He served
as a midshipman in the lsis of 50 guns at the battle of Copenhagen in 1801.

In 1804, he served as a midshipman on

Amphion (32 guns) and sailed with Nelson’s
fleet to the West Indies. He served next in
the Vanguard, which captured a French Ship
of the Line and three French frigates off St.
Domingo in the Caribbean in 1804. He was
the Lieutenant of the bomb vessel, Meteor,
at the defence of Rosas in Spain and he
commanded her when capturing a privateer
off the coast of Dalmatia.

Bomb vessels were designed to bombard

enemy positions on land, such as towns
and fortresses. For this they were fitted
with one or two mortars that could fire high- HMS Amphion off Cadiz in 1807
trajectory shells over considerable Artist Francis Sartorius
© National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
distances. They were fleet support units,

and as such were not intended to engage enemy ships directly except in self defence, and so
received only light conventional armament. They could also carry explosive shells in addition to
regular shot, and were the only ships in the navy so equipped.

In the Mediterranean he served on Collingwood’s flagship, Amphion, as a Lieutenant.

He continued in many different warships in the Mediterranean and off the coast of Spain. He was
serving in the Columbine during the siege of Cadiz (1810-1812) during the Peninsular War with
Napoleon. By 1814, he was a Lieutenant on the Phoebe, when she captured the U.S. frigate
Essex during the war with
America. The Essex suffered 89
dead out of her crew of
154, while the British casualties
were five dead and ten wounded.
The Senior Lieutenant was killed
in this fight and Lieutenant
Pearson succeeded to that post,
and was sent home in charge of
the prizes.

Pearson was then promoted to

the rank of Commander, and was
employed from 1830 to 1833 in
the Coast Guard at Great
Yarmouth. From 1833 to 1837 he
commanded the Sparrow Hawk
of 18 guns on the South
American station. He then
HMS Phoebe on the left obtained his rank as Post
Captain, and retired from the
service in 1851.

He was a magistrate and the Mayor of Great Yarmouth in 1850, and was re-elected in 1851.

In 1851, Pearson read the Riot Act to the striking seamen of the
town. They were striking over the level of their wages. They
attacked the gaol and threatened the magistrates assembled at
the Town Hall. The aid of the military was required, and the 11th
Hussars speedily arrived from Norwich under the personal
command of the Earl of Cardigan. In three years time, Cardigan
would be leading the Charge of the Light Brigade in the Crimea.
The Royal Naval ship, HMS Black Eagle, was stationed in the
river. This sufficed; and the riot subsided without any bloodshed.

Captain Pearson had married Maria Sayers of Great Yarmouth in

1825. She was the sister of John Sayers, the captain of the
revenue cutter, Ranger. The Ranger was wrecked, while it was
on patrol, on the night of 17th October 1822 in a sudden and
dreadful storm. The Ranger was swept towards the beach. All
30 members of the crew perished, including John Sayers. The
crew took to the rigging and their cries could be heard from the
beach, but rescue was impossible.

Captain Pearson died at the age of 72 leaving a wife and two

daughters. He is buried in St. Nicholas’ Churchyard.

Incidentally, he had sat on the jury at the inquest into the fall of Captain Pearson’s grave
the Suspension Bridge in 1845.
Charles Pearson was a man who had served under the two greatest admirals of the time; Nelson
and Collingwood. He had fought against the Danes, the French and the Americans, and was the
Mayor of Great Yarmouth during troubled times.

Charles Pearson had two daughters.

The elder one was Emma Maria Pearson and she was in Rome when the attack by Garibaldi was
repulsed by the French troops.

Emma Pearson had a good friend called Louisa McLaughlin, who was eight years younger. They
started working for the National Health Society as soon as it was established in 1869. The
Society undertook relief work for the London poor and gave lectures on health education. It was
founded by Europe’s first woman doctor, Elizabeth Blackwell, an Englishwoman who had to go to
America to qualify as a medical doctor. The women were trained in nursing by Dr. Elizabeth

In August 1870, following the

outbreak of war between France
and Prussia, a public meeting was
held in London and a resolution was
passed that a National Society be
formed in this country for aiding the
sick and wounded soldiers in time of
war and that the said Society be
formed upon the rules laid down by
the Geneva Convention of 1864.
Thus the British National Society for
Aid to the Sick and Wounded in War
was formed, giving aid and relief to
all warring armies under the
protection of the red cross emblem.
This was the actual formation of the Franco-Prussian War 1870
Red Cross, although the idea had
been put forward in 1864.

When war broke

out between
France and
Prussia in 1870,
Emma Pearson
and Louisa
signed up for the
Red Cross.
Emma Pearson
and her friend,
L o u i s a
were the first
women to serve
as nurses for the
Red Cross.

Emma Pearson’s medals

A week later they were nursing about 100 men desperately wounded in the Battle of Gravelotte.
She devoted herself to attend at first the wounded of both armies, but after the Battle of Orléans
in 1870, exclusively to those of the French army. They were then invited to join the Anglo-
American Ambulance in Sedan in the
Ardennes by its surgeon-in-chief,
Dr. Sims. After passing through fields
of burned corpses, the nurses arrived
just after the Battle of Sedan had left
5,000 dead and 20,000 wounded. The
ambulance station was set up in a
barracks and had beds for 384. Its eight
British and eight American surgeons
also attended to another 200 wounded
men in tents.

After a month in Sedan, Emma and

Louisa returned to England where they
learned that the Red Cross would not
support them if they set up an Nursing in the Franco-Prussian War 1870
ambulance station for which the Bishop
of Orléans was pleading. They therefore made an independent appeal in The Times. This
enabled them to return to France with 4,000 pounds of stores in November, just after the first
Battle of Orléans in 1870.

They established their Ambulance Anglaise in a convent in a suburb of Orléans. Within weeks
the second major battle broke out. The convent was at the centre of the heaviest fighting.
Despite the turmoil, compounded by shortages of food, drink and supplies, out of 1,400 patients
the nurses lost only 40. This death rate was by far the lowest of any field station in the area
because Emma and Louisa had insisted on exquisite cleanliness at a time when most surgeons
did not wash their hands, and Florence Nightingale scoffed at the notion of germs. They assisted
at major operations of the wounded.

In acknowledgment of her services, she received the bronze cross and diploma of the Société de
Secours aux Blessés, or the French Red Cross, and the Cross of the French Society for the Aid
of Wounded Military.

In 1872, she was presented with the

decoration of the Sarutas Kreuz Militar of
Hesse Darmstadt by the Grand Duke, who
had founded the order in 1870. She also
received the German War Medal and the
Order of the Takova.

Louisa McLaughlin later wrote: the wine,

beef and beer necessary to maintain a
German patient would drive a French
patient into a raging fever. The weak soup,
the vin ordinaire, and over-boiled beef stew
with vegetables would suffice for a
Frenchman’s wants, but would cause
starvation in a German.
Ambulance station at Sedan 1870
When the Serbo-Turkish War began in
August 1876, Emma and Louisa were living in Hampstead. They Immediately set off as
volunteers to work with the Red Cross of Serbia. Armed with green lined parasols and Hartin’s
Crimson Salt Disinfectant, they took care of wounded Serbian soldiers, who had been struggling
against Turkish oppression.

Upon returning to England, Emma and Louisa used their joint capital to set up one of London's
only two private nursing homes. Their Medical and Surgical Home was located at 15 Fitzroy

That same year, 1877, the originator of antiseptic surgery, Joseph Lister, moved from Edinburgh
to become Professor of Clinical Surgery at King's College Hospital, London, and immediately
began placing private patients at the Medical and Surgical Home. Lister soon occupied most of
the ten available beds. Lister visited his patients every morning and did many operations assisted
by Emma and Louisa.

About 1890, the two women sold the nursing home in order to move to Florence, Italy, where
Emma died of cancer in 1893 at the age of 65. Louisa died in 1921 at the age of 85.

Emma Pearson and Louisa McLaughlin co-authored two accounts

of their nursing experiences in Our Adventures During the War of
1870 and in Service in Serbia Under the Red Cross. They also
wrote a brief history of wartime nursing titled, Under the Red
Cross, the last two chapters of which document a multitude of
failings of Colonel Lloyd Lindsay’s chairmanship of the National
Health Society.

As well as writing the travel book in 1870, From Rome to Mentana,

Emma Pearson also wrote novels between the wars. These were,
One Love in a Life, and His Little Cousin: a Tale .

One Love in a Life was dedicated to my dear friend, who is tender

and true, and who shared hardship and danger by my side, Louisa
McLaughlin, in loving remembrance. The story demonstrates that
women’s rights are not needed for good women to overcome their
problems, while other women cannot organize themselves owing
to petty rivalries.

The travel book From Rome to Mentana was reprinted in

2002. She wrote this book whilst in Rome under attack
from Garibaldi.

Emma Pearson's work often appeared in the St. James's

Magazine and in Temple Bar, both literary periodicals
with eminent contributors such as Anthony Trollope.

She twice reported seeing ghosts to the Journal of the

Society for Psychical Research.

Pearson was a brave woman, who was the first Red

Cross nurse working in a war zone, a nurse who worked
with Lister and Elizabeth Blackwell, a writer and a


Palmer, C.J., Perlustration of Great Yarmouth (1875)

Davies, Paul P., Stories Behind the Stones (2008)

Left : Barry Coleman unveiling the plaques

Photograph by Carl Boult

Alfred William Yallop, Photographer of Great Yarmouth and Gorleston
Peter Allard

The name of Yallop the photographer was once a well-known name in the town. Alfred Yallop
had shops in both Great Yarmouth and Gorleston and was very highly respected, becoming
mayor of the town during 1925-26. Together with his son, Sydney, the Yallop period in the town
spanned nearly 80 years.

Alfred was born in Stoke-by-Nayland in Suffolk in 1871, although the

family soon moved to West Ham in London. His father was a
schoolmaster, his mother a bookseller. Alfred was the eldest of
three sons and three daughters. His parents were quickly on the
move again, this time to Norwich, where his father took the position
of a schoolmaster and his mother, a schoolmistress. By 1891, when
he was 20, young Alfred was believed to be working as a
photographer in the Stowmarket and Colchester districts, his parents
briefly being in residence in these areas. Although reported to be in
poor health, he soon moved to Great Yarmouth to take casual
employment in Market Row. By 1894, however, he had opened a
photographic shop at 198 High Street, Gorleston. This shop was at
the top (north) end of the High Street, on the corner with Priory

In 1896, Alfred married Edith Matilda LeGrice, the church service Alfred Yallop
being held at Wangford in Suffolk. Edith was a Bungay girl and four Photographed in 1927
years younger than Alfred. The 1896 Kelly’s Norfolk Directory
describes Yallop’s Gorleston High Street shop as being an artistic photographer and picture
frame maker. Later editions include the additional description of a fancy repository. Their first
child, a son named Sydney, was born in 1899. By 1900, Alfred had also opened seasonal
premises at Brush Wharf, Gorleston, alongside the lighthouse. This was a small wooden building
adjacent to the riverside and situated on a prominent corner position. Business here was
obviously rewarding, as the selling of photographic postcards was now becoming very

During 1904, Alfred acquired the old established Miller’s Royal Photographic Studio in Regent
Road, Great Yarmouth from a Mrs. Elizabeth Miller. These were very large premises on the
corner with King Street. The following year, he had leased both the Gorleston premises to an
Alice O. Yardley, who was a photographer born in London in 1866 and had previously been
working in the photographic business in Sunderland. The reason for his leasing out the Gorleston
side of his business is unknown, but possibly he felt his interests were now spread a little thin and
decided to concentrate on what he considered to be the more lucrative trade in Great Yarmouth.
During the same period, Alfred moved his residence to number 36 Southtown Road, a large
house on the west side, almost opposite St. Mary’s
Church. This was much closer to his newly acquired
Great Yarmouth premises.

In 1905, Alfred published his only book which was

entitled In and About Ancient Yarmouth - a Portfolio of
Reproductions of Old and Unique Pictures of Old
Yarmouth. This large publication, now extremely
scarce, was limited to 250 editions and contained 96
plates of old views of Great Yarmouth and Gorleston.
The introduction was by Alfred himself and his
business address was given as Regent House, Great
Alfred Yallop’s book of 1905 showing front Yarmouth, although the copyright given was the
cover, which was designed by J. J. Hall Miller’s Royal Studio, Great Yarmouth.

There was another addition to the Yallop family in 1909; a daughter, Phyllis. Four years later,
during 1912, Alfred’s father, William, upon his retirement as a school master in Norwich, moved to
Great Yarmouth. William was quickly elected to represent one of the Gorleston wards on the
town council. His stay on the Great Yarmouth town council was however rather short lived, for he
unfortunately died on 14th May 1915, aged 69. The obituary in the following week’s Yarmouth
Mercury mentions that among the many mourners at the funeral were staff from A. W. Yallop and
Son, Great Yarmouth. The Great Yarmouth premises
were now extremely busy with studio work, postcard
production and commercial work for a large number of
local firms.

One of the Yallop Studios at Great Yarmouth

As well as the A. W. Yallop and Son name, Alfred also

continued to retain the name of Miller’s Royal Studios at
his premises on the corner of Regent Road and King The Yallop premises on the corner of
Street until at least 1920. This business was first Regent Road and King Street in the
early 1920s
established by John Sawyer in 1869, and then two years
later he formed a partnership with a Walter Bird. This business was later taken over by Wallace
Miller in 1881. Miller was born in Norwich in 1846 and came to Great Yarmouth to be the
manager for Sawyer and Bird. He remained in this position for ten years. His wife, Elizabeth,
was also an active photographer; a photograph dated 1866/67 and signed E. Miller can almost
certainly be attributed to her. Wallace died in 1882 aged only 36; the business however
continued to be run by his widow, Elizabeth, until the Yallop take-over during 1904. The King
Street premises had been constructed as a photographic studio by Sawyer and Bird. The studio
was on the very top floor and was mainly of glass construction to take advantage of the daylight.
It had a north facing aspect, giving a diffused light, so that the sitters and the photographer were
not troubled by direct bright sunlight. Blinds and curtains were also used to adjust the light.

Sometime around 1923, the firm became known as A & S Yallop and the Yallops returned to
Gorleston to manage their premises in both the High Street and on Brush Wharf. These had
been leased to Alice O. Yardley since 1905. Little is known of Alice Yardley after this date but,
almost certainly, she appears to have left the local area. During the 1930s however, she turns up
working as a photographer at Wimborne in Dorset. In 1937, she travelled alone to New York on
board the Cunard White Star liner Aquitania. She was described as now retired, and aged 70.
She was born in Bloomsbury, London in 1866, her father being a photographic dealer. She died
in 1955 in Blanford, Dorset, aged 88.

Alfred, like his father earlier, became a Great Yarmouth town councillor in 1919 and then a local
magistrate from 1923. He was elected Mayor for 1925-26. One of the highlights that Alfred and
his wife performed during their mayoral year was the opening of the North Denes boating lakes in
July 1926. Sadly, earlier in his mayoral year, their daughter, Phyllis, died on 27th February 1926,
aged only 18. It was during this period that the introduction of Box Brownie cameras to the
general public brought about a revolution in photography. They were first introduced as early as
1900 by the Eastman Kodak Company, and designed by a Frank Brownall. This is possibly
where the name Brownie came from. The sale of films, such as Kodak, brought in new revenue.
It also presented the opportunity to establish premises to suit the new requirements for
developing and printing in the local area.

During 1925, the firm purchased and established a large photographic laboratory at 178 High
Street, Gorleston. This was a large old house called Woodlands, with two acres of grounds, into
which additional buildings were soon erected. This was to become a developing and printing
works. Woodlands was once the home of Robert Hewett, son of Samuel Hewett, and owner of
the Short Blue Fleet, which had moved to Gorleston from Barking. When Robert moved back to
Barking, amongst its other uses, the property became a French convent school for a short period.
Later, the south wing of the house, called The Laurels, was occupied by Mr. Charles Costerton, a
solicitor and councillor. In 1894, within its two acres of gardens, it was described as having
pleasure gardens, tennis courts, carriage houses, stables, vinery and a gardener’s lodge. Large
quantities of water were required for photographic processing on this scale, so Alfred had a small
lake constructed, which held 1,000 gallons of
water, and sunk a well which produced 2,000
gallons of water an hour.

Alfred’s son, Sydney, married Grace Brett in

1925 and, for a wedding present, Alfred built
a new house for them in the north-east
corner of these new grounds and fronting
School Lane, which he named Woodlands
after the old house. Grace Brett was from a
well-known local family and whose own
father was also on the town council. Alfred,
meanwhile, continued to live in his house
along Southtown Road.

The Yallop Gorleston High Street shop on the corner

The mid 1930s were as busy as ever with an
of Priory Road before the Second World War additional shop appearing at 41 Central
Arcade, Great Yarmouth, although the
Gorleston Brush Wharf seasonal shop had already closed by 1936. This had at some stage,
perhaps during the 1920s, been altered from a wooden building into a larger brick shop. Other
Yallop business arrangements include the firm of Smith and Yallop, who were wholesale
stationers in 1938, but this
apparently ceased after the
war. Postcard business
increased and these
included views of other
resorts under the title of
A&SY series. Some of
Yallop‘s advertisements
seen carried the wording
established 1869. By 1936
however, the main studios at
the west end of Regent
Road had been disposed of
and the only Great Yarmouth
shop was now at 41 Central
Arcade, which was trading
under the name of A. W.
Yallop. A. & S. Yallop : Gorleston Brush Wharf shop
1920s or early 1930s

Alfred Yallop retired from the town
council in 1941 after 22 years of
public service. He died soon after
at Hunstanton in north Norfolk, on
Thursday 15th January 1942,
aged 71. He regularly visited this
seaside resort to see his financial
advisor. His death was
extensively reported in the
Yarmouth Mercury on Friday 24th
January. He was later buried in
Gorleston Cemetery close to the
main entrance, alongside his
daughter, Phyllis.

The photographic business Inside view of the Yallop photo finishing premises at Woodlands
continued under his son, Sydney, in the late 1950s
the name continuing to bear the A
& S Yallop name. After World War II, a limited company was formed and Sydney from thereon
traded as A & S Yallop Limited. However, the Great Yarmouth side of the business was totally
closed down, the shop in Central Arcade becoming a fancy goods premises. Woodlands at
Gorleston was extended and was now home to a solely photographic finishing business.
Developing and printing was solely the firm’s main trade now. There was also an enlarging
service. By 1947, their Gorleston photographic shop at 198 High Street, on the corner with Priory
Street, had also been sold. The following year this had become Norris’s, the fishmongers.

The process of developing and printing was very labour intensive and up to 20 people were now
employed at the Woodlands premises. The area served was quite extensive and included
Lincolnshire, Leicester, Rutland and Buckinghamshire. Rather interestingly, during the late
1950s, Gordon Stone, a well known Gorleston photographer since 1919, worked for Yallop for at
least five years. Other Yallop business interests now included premises on Nile Road, Gorleston
and used by other photographic firms together with a business called Perfect Snaps Limited that
traded from the Woodlands site. A. & S. Yallop Ltd. continued in business until at least late 1967
or early 1968, when C. A. Chadwick Ltd. of The Conge took over both the business and the
goodwill of the company. Sydney, however, retained all the property and equipment, selling this
off to various companies and individuals, some of which Chadwick’s possibly purchased.
Although retaining his home in School Lane, the two acre Woodlands site, along with the adjacent
church halls, was sold in early 1969 to become a shopping precinct. After some delay, clearance
work began on the site on 25th August 1969. The site today is home to Farmfoods and
Wilkinson’s, and a number of smaller shops, together with a large car park to the rear.

Sydney’s mother, Edith, died on May 27th

1969 at Magdalen House in Gorleston,
aged 94. She had lived there since
moving from her home at 36 Southtown
Road in 1960. She was buried in
Gorleston cemetery alongside her
husband and daughter, Phyllis. Sydney
and his wife Grace remained in School
Lane until at least November 1987 when,
due to Sydney’s failing eyesight, they
moved away to be with their daughter,
Pamela, in Northamptonshire. Sydney
died in February 1995, aged 96, in
Northamptonshire and Grace died five
Yallop staff in the snow outside the Woodlands, years later close by, in the Huntington
Gorleston premises in the late 1950s area, aged 97.
Prior to the closure of the Gorleston premises in the
late 1960s, Sydney moved a considerable number of
old glass plates into his garage for storage.
However, in 1972, Grace was constantly mentioning
that they needed more space and Sydney decided
reluctantly to dispose of them. Most were in wooden
boxes and upon examination, many were still in
remarkably good condition, although a small number
were found to be either unfortunately broken or
showing signs of damp. I immediately contacted
Alfred Hedges, senior librarian at Great Yarmouth
Library, about their imminent disposal. He fortunately
moved swiftly enough to safeguard a number of
boxes from being destroyed. I was offered two Yallop's Woodlands Premises in Gorleston
boxes, which were destined to be destroyed, whilst High Street, late 1920s
the remainder I believe were taken away by a local
photographer who had a shop close by in Gorleston High Street. The Great Yarmouth Library
collection of Yallop glass plates has now been sent to the Norfolk Record Office in Norwich for
safekeeping. Many of the plates were full-plate size
and dated from the early 1900s. However, there were
a number of smaller sized plates, which were certainly
dated much earlier. There were several which could be
attributed to the 1870s and may well have been taken
by Miller’s and retained by Alfred Yallop when he took
over their business in the early 1900s. It was a close
call, but several hundred rare and unique glass plates
were saved for posterity.

The Yallop legacy is extensive. The firm took many

photographs of the Great Yarmouth and Gorleston area
Sydney and his father Alfred outside showing people, families, businesses, the fishing
Britannia Pier during the 1920s industry and general scenes, many of which we
continue to have in the form of postcards, photographs
and in numerous
publications. Yallop Avenue in Gorleston was named after
Alfred Yallop in October 1938, following the Council’s policy to
name suitable roads after former local mayors. Yallop
postcards and photographs are now very collectable and
hopefully this article will further the interest in them, and remind
ourselves that we are very grateful that Alfred Yallop moved to
this area in the early 1890s to further his photographic career.

References: The damaged Yallop family grave

in Gorleston Old Cemetery
Yarmouth Mercury for May 1915, February 1926, January 1942, April 2012
and August 1969.
Various census records for the period 1851 to 1911.
Kelly’s Directories for the period 1896 to 1972.

This article would perhaps not have been written in such detail without the great help of, and
advice from, Paul Godfrey of Lowestoft. Paul, a professional photographer himself, pointed me in
the correct direction on many occasions. I would also like to thank Colin Tooke, Keith Hastings,
the Time and Tide Museum staff and volunteers at the Great Yarmouth Library, and others for
additional help with advice and photographs. Special thanks also to David and Brenda Leggett of
Gorleston for their patience when presenting them with many questions about their working life at
Woodlands, Gorleston during the 1950s and early 1960s. And, finally, thanks to Paul Williams of
Gorleston Cemetery for kindly locating the Alfred Yallop grave for me.

The Plaque Commemorating Sir Kenneth MacMillan (1929-1992)
Ballet Dancer, Choreographer and Director of the Royal Ballet
Derek Leak

The plaque was erected on the former Little Theatre on

Marine Parade in January 2013. It was unveiled by Barry
Coleman (Deputy Mayor) and the nieces and the nephew
of Kenneth MacMillan. Kenneth MacMillan was born in
Dunfermline in 1929 and died at Covent Garden, London in

Kenneth MacMillan was an enigmatic figure, who laid his

emotions bare in his ballets, which challenged and
provoked his audiences.

His father, William, met Edith Shreeve, who lived in a tied-

cottage at Ormesby Waterworks, during the First World
War. Edith's father was an engine-minder and William was
guarding the waterworks. The couple married, but William
was disillusioned with post-war life. He returned home to unemployment after being gassed in
the hostilities. The family moved to Glasgow, where William obtained work, but was fired for
complaining about the treatment of a fellow worker. He then set up as a chicken farmer. This
business failed and the family did a moonlight flit
back to Great Yarmouth to escape their situation.
They moved in with Aunt Louise, who lived at
Runham Vauxhall and, soon afterwards, moved to
two-roomed lodgings nearby, where the four children
slept in one bedroom with their parents in the other.

Kenneth had learned country dancing in Scotland.

Later, when he attended Northgate Junior School, he
would dance outside the Garibaldi Hotel for pennies.
He won talent competitions at the Britannia Pier and
attended dancing classes at the Little Theatre, where
he was taught by Miss Jean Boulton.

He was evacuated
Kenneth MacMillan
f r om Nor t hgat e
School to Upper
Broughton in Nottinghamshire, but soon returned to Great
Yarmouth, homesick. His house in Swirle's Buildings was
damaged by bombing and the family moved to 12 Stanley

He obtained a scholarship to the Great Yarmouth Grammar

School and was evacuated again; this time to Retford. Kenneth
became so proficient and confident that on school holidays back
in Great Yarmouth, he joined the grandiosely named Empire
Orpheans, a concert party based at the Empire Cinema. They
toured American Air Force bases. Kenneth remarked: my mind
boggles today to think how awful we must have been, but the
airmen were very kind. They would feed us well and give us
chocolates. Edith MacMillan suffered from high blood pressure
and died during a fit in 1942. Kenneth came back for his first Kenneth MacMillan in his
school holiday after his evacuation, to be met at the station by Great Yarmouth Grammar
his father and sister. He was told that his mother had died the School uniform,
night before. He was emotionally devastated. aged 11 years
Phyllis Adams, a local dance teacher, in effect, became his surrogate
mother. She realised that Kenneth was a prodigious talent and taught
him free of charge, shaping his ambition to dance.

Phyllis Adams later said: a lasting memory of mine was watching

Kenneth doing grand jetes across Yarmouth Market Place on his way
home from school.

When he was 15 years old, Kenneth found an advertisement in the

Dancing Times offering scholarships for boys at Saddler's Wells Ballet
School. He wrote to the director, Ninette de Valois, in the name of his
father. The letter obtained him an audition, but did not fool anyone, as
he discovered later when, as Director of the Royal Ballet, he looked
Phyllis Adams through his own files. The audition consisted of participating in a class
with the Saddler's Wells Company. He was placed between Margot
Fonteyn and Beryl Gray and was terrified. Ninette de Valois was
persuaded of his ability and awarded him a scholarship, consisting of free tuition, an
accommodation allowance and five shillings a week pocket money.

In many of MacMillan's ballets the hero or heroine is an outsider. Kenneth said: well, I felt like an
outsider as a child and it all started with the moonlight flit. I had to keep that secret. Then, when
my mother was ill and having fits, I was told never to talk about that. And, of course, in a place
like Great Yarmouth, I had to keep my dancing a secret, because they would have thought it was
appalling. There wasn't one other boy in either of my dancing schools before I came to London.
It all made me feel very out of it, and this creates in a person a kind of schizoid state.

At the Sadler’s Wells Ballet School, MacMillan began to meet kindred spirits of his own age. In
little over a year he was a member of the Sadler's Wells Opera Ballet. Soon he moved to the
larger Sadler's Wells Company, by then based at Covent Garden. He went on the company’s first
American tour, dancing the role of Florestan in The Sleeping Beauty, on the company's
triumphant opening night in New York in 1949.

His elegant classical style attracted admiration. The dance writer, Peter Brinson, remembered a
tall, obviously talented dancer with a terrific jump. However, MacMillan was increasingly troubled
by stage-fright and this was an important reason why he turned his hand to choreography.

His first workshop piece, Somnambulism, showed evident flair. This sureness of touch was
confirmed by Laiderette in the following year. But it was
Danses Concertantes in 1955 that established his
reputation. The following years were intensely productive.
The Burrow, with its heavy evocation of oppressive
enclosure, spoke eloquently to the post-war generation
and reminded many of The Diaries of Anne Frank. The
Invitation pushed ballet’s theatricality to new limits with its
graphic depiction of a rape. Lynn Seymour, on whom he
created both works, became the outstanding of his muses
and would continue to be so for another twenty years.

In 1966, Kenneth MacMillan moved to West Berlin to

become Director of the Ballet at the Deutsche Opera. He
remained there for four years and staged handsome
versions of The Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake. Of his
own creations in Berlin, the multi-media Anastasia, about
a mental patient who claimed to be the sole survivor of Kenneth MacMillan on the beach at
the Russian Imperial family, was an important marker for Brighton
later works, such as Isadora and Mayerling.

In 1970, he returned to London to become the Director of
the Royal Ballet. He greatly expanded the company’s
repertory, doubling the number of Balanchine works,
introducing ballets by Tetley, Cranko, Van Manen, and

Throughout, MacMillan continued to be busy in the studio

making one-act works, including Elite Syncopations, using
music by Scott Joplin. In his concentration on long
ballets, MacMillan was exceptional; no twentieth century
chorographers has produced so many full-length works.

In 1974, MacMillan married Deborah Williams, an

Australian artist and together the couple had a daughter,
Charlotte. His marriage gave him a new emotional
security and helped steel his resilience. After seven years
as the Director of the Royal Ballet, he retired so that he Kenneth MacMillan in Ashton’s
could focus exclusively on his choreography. With the full Valses Nobles Sentimentales in 1947
-length Isadora, he sought to breach the barrier between
ballet theatre and the theatre of the spoken word.
Kenneth MacMillan was knighted in 1983. In 1984, while remaining Chief Choreographer of the
Royal Ballet, he became associate director of the American Ballet Theatre for some five years.

The final years of his life were immensely

productive. After a serious heart attack in 1988
he knew he was living on borrowed time. After
a five-year period, in which he had not created
a new work for Covent Garden, he returned in
1989 to make The Prince of the Pagodas,
choosing the 20 year-old Darcey Bussell as his
young heroine.

Kenneth MacMillan died at the Royal Opera