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Great Yarmouth

Local History and



The first thing you will probably notice about this year’s edition of Yarmouth Archaeology and
Local History is that it is substantially larger than in earlier years. This is partly due to your local
committee taking the logical and sensible decision to publish summaries of the current year’s
various outings in the same year’s journal, however this meant that a larger ‘catch-up’ edition was
necessary for 2016, as there was previously a delay. Therefore, in this issue, you will find articles
covering both our 2015 and 2016 summer outings and events. The size of this year’s edition is
also thanks to the continued high level of excellent contributions from society members. Next
year, I will publish articles relating to 2017 events only, together with members’ articles that I
receive during the next few months.

Over the past year, I have received a wide-ranging variety of articles covering such subjects as
the activities of our newly formed Young History & Archaeologists Club, the town’s architecture,
blue plaque unveilings, past transport and Great Yarmouth’s historic wartime connections,
together with events and personalities connected with Great Yarmouth. My thanks go to all
authors for their time in researching and preparing their contributions. I hope members will enjoy
reading all topical and historical articles in this 2016 edition.

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

John Smail


Telephone: 01493-300999
Address: 36 Yallop Avenue, Gorleston, Great Yarmouth. NR31 6HD

Great Yarmouth
Local History and

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

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

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

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


Registered Charity No. 277272


President: Andrew Fakes

Chairman: Paul Davies

Treasurer: Derek Leak

Secretary Patricia Day

(e-mail :
Membership Secretary Peter Jones

Committee: Carl Boult

Stuart Burgess

Ann Dunning

Alan Hunt
David McDermott

John Smail

James Steward

Michael Wadsworth

Patricia Wills-Jones

Honorary Members: Norman Fryer

Shirley Harris

John McBride

Alec McEwen

John Mobbs

Russell Smith (deceased March 2016)

Colin Tooke

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

12 Russell David Smith : 6th September 1943 - 4th March 2016 Andrew Fakes

14 Excavations and Surveys in the Great Yarmouth Area in 2013 Alice Cattermole

16 The Young History and Archaeologists’ Club Patricia Day

18 Two Roman Sherds do not a Roman Villa Make Stuart Burgess

20 The Percy Trett Archive Collection at the Time and Tide Museum Peter Allard

22 A Mysterious Tower on the Seafront Peter Allard

24 Royal Visits to Great Yarmouth between 1277 and 1899 Chris Wright

30 The ATS Memorial Plaque on North Drive, Great Yarmouth Paul P. Davies

32 How Great Yarmouth Commemorated the Two Hundredth Paul P. Davies

Anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, 2015

35 The Influence of Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Modernism and other Trevor Nicholls
Architectural Styles in Great Yarmouth Buildings, 1900-1950

46 The Armoury (Arsenal, Barracks) at Southtown, Major-General Sir Paul P. Davies

Vernon George Waldegrave Kell KCMG., KBE., CB.

58 Report on Cast-Iron Gun from the Port at Great Yarmouth Ruth Rhynas
64 HMS Lutine, the Financial Crisis and the Great Yarmouth Paul P. Davies

72 The Blackfriars in Great Yarmouth Andrew Fakes &

Paul P. Davies
78 The Bodies in the Tower Paul P. Davies

81 Mother’s Milk Colin Tooke

84 Gorleston Tram Depots and the Carnegie Library Ann Dunning

88 Nelson’s Return from the Battle of the Nile Paul P. Davies

Table of Contents (continued)

90 The Society’s Fourth Church Crawl : 8th July 2015 Paul P. Davies
Trunch, Knapton, Paston, Happisburgh, Barton Turf and Irstead

96 The Society’s Fifth Church Crawl : 15th July 2016 Paul P. Davies
Barton Turf, Worstead, Banningham, Oxnead and Burgh next
Aylsham Churches

102 The Pastons of Norfolk (a talk given to society members who Derek Leak
visited Oxnead Church on 15th July 2016)

105 Summer Society visit to Bletchley Park: July 2015 Paul P. Davies

109 Society Visit to the Wind Energy Museum : 19th June 2015 Derek Leak

111 Society Annual Trip 2016 : Saffron Walden & Audley End Andrew Fakes

114 The Fifth Cemetery Crawl : 8th August 2015 Paul P. Davies

122 The Sixth Cemetery Crawl :13th August 2016 Paul P. Davies

132 The Southtown High Mill, Yarmouth Peter Allard

138 Notes and Reflections on the Life of Professor Gerald Hawkins J. F. Lambert
BSc. PhD. DSc. - The Father of Archaeoastronomy

156 Great Yarmouth Power Station : May 1954 – May 1997 Alan Hunt

162 Alan Hunt - Biography Derek Leak


16th January The Percy Trett Memorial Meeting - short talks by society members

20th February Shrines and Pilgrimages in East Anglia from Saxon Times to the Reformation
Michael Schmolez - Historical Researcher and Writer

20th March The Archaeology of the Cold War

Dr. Ken Hamilton - Archaeologist and Lecturer

17th April Norfolk and Foreign Invasion Attempts during the 1380s
Dr. John Alban - Medieval Historian and Former County Archivist

15th May Annual General Meeting - followed by a short lecture

18th September Shakespeare’s Globe; a Groundling’s View

Mark Mitchels - Lecturer and Author

16th October North Norfolk Ports in the Eighteenth Century

Jonathan Hooton - Author, Historical Geographer, and Lecturer

20th November A North Sea Naval Base: Great Yarmouth in the French Wars 1793 to 1815
David Higgins - Author and Historian

18th December Christmas Social Evening - followed by a quiz

Lecture Summaries 2015

January 2015

An animated video made by young people from the training ship Warrior on the Zeppelin raid in
the First World War, produced by Matthew Harrison, was shown. The premise of the film was
that events were seen through the eyes of the statue of Britannia on top of Nelson’s Column on
Great Yarmouth Denes. Britannia felt the pain and fear of the people of the town in the years
1914-18. The sound on the film the children made, using the voices of animals in the cemetery to
commentate on the people buried there, was less distinct, but the meaning was reasonably clear.

Former mayor Michael Taylor gave an illustrated talk about his career on the railways. He began
working on local railways as an ‘oiler and greaser’, but moved to King’s Cross Station in London
when these lines closed. He told us of the art of firing the boilers to raise steam, which meant
heaving vast quantities of coal, and of when he worked on express trains on the LNER from
London to the north, when Herculean labour was necessary. Diesel trains only required a hand
on the throttle to gain speed. However, Mr. Taylor said that he enjoyed his work on steam trains.

Emeritus Professor Stuart Penkett, who worked on atmospheric chemistry at the University of
East Anglia, was very complimentary about Great Yarmouth Local History and Archaeological
Society, saying he enjoyed coming from Norwich to attend our meetings. He said that the UEA
had produced very sophisticated apparatus to analyse the various gases in the atmosphere. He
told of his work in Tasmania looking into conditions in the Southern Hemisphere. He also told of
setting up a further laboratory in an ex-gun emplacement, which had served as a cow shed in
Weybourne on the North Norfolk coast. Professor Penkett said that the depletion of the ozone
layer had been reversed because of the warnings given, but he was sure there was a distinct
problem with the extra output of carbon dioxide throughout the world as this would lead to climate
February 2015

Mr. Michael Schmolez spoke on Shrines and Pilgrimages in East Anglia from Saxon Times to the
Reformation. He began by recounting that, in a BBC survey of 2002, England was the most
‘secular’ nation on earth and that Norwich was the most ‘Godless’ city in the country. He
wondered how modern people would react to the veneration of body parts and items connected
with saints and martyrs. He then recounted an unsavoury incident regarding a pop singer from
‘One Direction’ who ‘threw up’ beside the road in Los Angeles, where his fans collected the vomit
as a relic of the object of the adoration. Mr. Schmolez said that this was a modern manifestation
of the way medieval people thought of saints.

The veneration of saints largely began in the reign of the Roman Emperor Constantine, who was
a borderline Christian, but the collection of relics of the early followers of Christ, and those
martyred for the faith, began, notably by his mother, St Helena. He was followed by Julian the
Apostate, who wished to keep the dead separate from the living with graveyards outside of towns,
and dead bodies were removed after dark. Some emperors favoured the retention of bodies, as
touching these was thought to provide healing. But Bishop Ambrose of Milan decided to divide up
bodies so parts of corpses could be distributed to churches and shrines all over the world as
objects of veneration and pilgrimage.

Christianity has disadvantages when it comes to the collection of relics of its founders. Christ and
the Virgin Mary were said to have ascended directly into heaven; supposed samples of blood and
milk were collected and 32 examples of Jesus’ foreskin were held at various sites!

In Saxon England there seem to have been lots of local saints of doubtful, but local, origin who
served the Christian population at the time, but their cult died out. However, the veneration of
Norfolk’s Saint Walstan of Bawburgh has survived to this day and many people in Costessey still
have this as a Christian name. The veneration of saints was not always a harmless process as
the elevation of St. William of Norwich shows. William was almost certainly the victim of a child
abusing murderer, but the blame was cast on the Jewish community as the blood libel, which said
that Jews drank the blood of Christians. In fact blood is removed from kosher food. However,
miracles were said to have occurred with William’s help and a bad tempered and intolerant cult
grew up around his martyrdom.

Pilgrimages to shrines were thought to shorten the time a soul spent in purgatory, and to aid the
recovery from illness or, at least, ease symptoms. Pilgrims brought money, jewellery and other
valuables to the shrines, which became rich and some of the monks, nuns and priests may have
become materialistic and less than holy. Norfolk had two major pilgrimage shrines; namely
Walsingham, which was England’s Nazareth, and Bromholm Priory in Bacton, which had a piece
of the ‘true cross’. But Mr. Schmolez said there was nowhere in Norfolk within half a day’s walk
from a shrine.

St. Nicholas’ Church, Great Yarmouth had various shrines and championed King Henry VI, the
weak and ineffective king of England, who went mad. The Wars of Roses began in his reign.
Henry was never consecrated as a saint, probably because Henry VIII separated the English
Church from Rome before this could happen, and the Church of England does not create saints.

At the Reformation the monasteries were dissolved and relics and pictures were destroyed as
idolatry; it was certain that much of the church was tawdry and corrupt, but much that was
destroyed was good and beautiful and it brought comfort to much of the population.

March 2015

Dr. Ken Hamilton gave an illustrated lecture to the Society on the Archaeology of the Cold War.
He began by asking who won and whether it was still going on? It is commonly considered to
have started in 1948 with the first test of a Soviet nuclear weapon, and ended with the collapse of
the Soviet Union in 1991.
The Cold War was characterised by a number of proxy wars financed by the great powers (not
covered in the talk) and by the persistent threat of nuclear war. The first phase of the Cold War
was characterised by the acronym ‘MAD’ or ‘mutually assured destruction’, and involved massive
arms build ups. Following the Cuban Missile Crisis, the second phase, one of ‘flexible response’,
replaced the MAD policy.

In East Anglia, the archaeology of the Cold War is characterised by the physical remains
of attempts to gain air superiority and early warning of attack. The buildings and airfields were
largely the subject of Dr. Hamilton’s talk. The Radar Stations at Hopton, Stoke Holy Cross, and
Neatishead were mentioned, as were the airfields at Marham, Coltishall, West Raynham, North
Pickenham, Feltwell and Wattisham. Also, the nuclear testing range at Orford Ness, and the
bomb stores at RAF Barnham. However the early warning promised by the expensive systems
proved as illusory as ‘state of the art’ computer systems are today. Satellite warning systems
were the true break-through, although the speed of intercontinental ballistic missiles gave only a
short period for response.

Some large underground building works were undertaken to house central and local government
in varying conditions of comfort and numbers. Similarly, measures were taken to provide
emergency food supplies and to maintain utilities and communications networks. Dr. Hamilton, in
his capacity as Senior Historic Environment Planning Officer responsible to Norfolk County
Council, has to recommend what should be done with these structures, particularly if the sites
were required for development. He said that as with any archaeological site, Cold War sites
would be assessed according to their significance, and preserved or recorded in advance of
development, as appropriate.

Dr. Hamilton mentioned a further aspect of the Cold War, which has left little tangible in the
landscape, ie. the Peace Camps surrounding military bases. There was little of this activity in
Norfolk, but there were extensive settlements at Molesworth in Cambridgeshire and, more
famously, at Greenham Common. There were less famous protests at North Pickenham and at
Mepal, where the outline of Patricia Arrowsmith’s buttocks were preserved in concrete, when she
fell or was pushed into wet cement.

A discussion followed and Dr. Hamilton was thanked by the President.

April 2015

Dr. John Alban, former County Archivist, gave a very full and comprehensive lecture on Norfolk
and Foreign Invasion Attempts in the 1380s.

He began by saying that it was generally supposed that there had been no invasions of England
since the fateful year of 1066. However, he listed many attempts to invade these shores recalling
the last invasion on British shores was in 1797, when a force of 1,200 men recruited from French
jails landed at Fishguard in Wales, where they got drunk and surrendered, possibly frightened by
a group of women wearing red clothing, who they mistook for British soldiers.

He said that there had, in fact, been numerous successful invasions of Britain since 1066,
including the so-called Glorious Revolution of 1688. This was when William of Orange landed
with Dutch and English forces at Torbay, in November 1688, and the unpopular James II was
deposed with minimal violence. The crown passed to James’ daughter Mary and her husband,
who became William III.

Regarding the 1380s, England was not in good order. The Black Death had struck in 1348 and
plague returned about every ten years, though in a less virulent form. Edward III’s son, the Black
Prince, had predeceased him and the throne passed to his grandson, the ten year old Richard II.
The Peasant’s Revolt over the Poll Tax in 1381 was put down, and the revenue it intended to
raise was lost.
Although conditions in France were not much better, they seemed to have recovered from the
massive defeat at Poitiers in 1356. A French fleet of 50 ships and 4,000 men invaded England’s
south coast, staying for two weeks in 1377, and they raided from Gravesend to Poole in 1380.

Dr. Alban said that the Norfolk Record Office was fortunate that it had, perhaps, the best set of
records surviving regarding the ‘Defence of the Realm’ from the late fourteenth century. These
gave an indication of the preparations to defend the coast at that time. Norfolk was important,
because it was a rich county containing Norwich, perhaps the second city in England, and the
important ports of Great Yarmouth and Lynn.

A force of men between the ages of 16 and 60 was raised by Commission of Array and the coast
was guarded by a county force called the posse comitatus or 'power of the county', under the
sheriff. The terms ‘sheriff’’ and ‘posse’ were later taken to America by English colonists.

The French put together large fleets in 1385 and 1386 with the promise that their forces would do
as William the Conqueror had done in 1066, and repeat the Norman Conquest. English spies
and agents reported this back to Richard II’s government and great preparations were made to
resist this. The archives record that walls were strengthened, early firearms were obtained and
other weapons were stockpiled. Also England mustered a naval force from the fishermen and
sailors of the east coast.

A French fleet of perhaps 900 ships and 30,000 men was ready to invade England, but it did not
come. Dr. Alban was only able to theorize about the reason for this. It could have been bad
weather, insubordination of the men, or lack of finances that prevented a takeover of this country.

Dr. Alban added: with regard to the invasion of Fishguard, you may be amused to hear that I
recently went to a lecture in Swansea by Professor Prys Morgan, who was speaking about the
Pembroke Yeomanry during the First World War. The Pembroke Yeomanry were stationed at
Thetford, Aylsham and Lowestoft for much of the war, for the defence of the east coast against a
possible German invasion. Because of their earlier involvement in repelling the invasion of 1797,
they had on their cap badge the name Fishguard. This prompted a local Norfolk woman, on
seeing their badge, to say, I've heard about the Scots Guards and the Coldstream Guards, but
I've never heard of the Fish Guards'.

September 2015

Owing to family illness, the speaker listed on the programme was unable to attend, but long
standing friend of the Society, Mr. Mark Mitchels, brilliantly leapt into the breach with a talk
entitled Shakespeare’s Globe; a Groundling’s View.

Mr. Mitchels began by saying that Shakespeare’s greatest curse was that his works were set for
study at GCSE and A-levels.

He felt that that plays should be approached as they would have been by the people attending in
the early seventeenth century. Public entertainment would probably have been a public
execution in the morning, watching a bear or bull being attacked by dogs in the afternoon,
followed by a trip to the theatre in the evening.

Shakespeare’s plays gave people an idea of the history of England and an insight into what
happened in other countries. They portrayed foreigners with the stereotypical vices the English
hold as standard to this day. The audience would have accepted the limitations of presenting a
play without magnificent scenery or lighting, but actors concealed pig’s bladders full of blood to
make the violence more real.

The plays were popular and gained large audiences, allowing Shakespeare’s company to erect a
purpose built theatre, which soon burned down, but the company were able to build another with
a tiled roof shortly afterwards.

The takings for watching the play were collected in pennies put into a box, and further payments
for a better view or a seat were similarly collected. These boxes were taken to a central office
and the term Box Office remains to this day.

Conditions for viewing the play were not comfortable as the theatre was usually filled to capacity
and it was impossible to get out until the play ended. This, and a complete lack of public toilets,
made a visit to the theatre a memorable experience.

Mr. Mitchels addressed the controversy of the authorship of Shakespeare’s plays by saying that
in the Bard’s lifetime he would not have published them, because they could then be presented
by others players. It was after Shakespeare’s death that his friends collected the plays for
publication as a tribute to the great writer they had known, who had brought the players wealth
and fame. Mr. Mitchels said that it was not until the 19th century that the authorship of the plays
became an issue, when the genius of the language and the emotions described suggested that
they could not have been written by a largely uneducated jobbing actor from the English
Midlands. He said that it was not until the 19th century this idea was originally put forward by
a Professor Looney and he felt that the professor’s thesis should be dismissed.

The President, thanking Mr. Mitchels for his talk, said that genius occurred from time to time, such
as Shakespeare, but he felt that the Society had witnessed a work of genius in the presentation of
the of the evening’s talk.

October 2015

The speaker at the October meeting of the Society was Jonathon Hooton, who discussed the
activities of the North Norfolk ports of Blakeney, Cley and Wells during the 18th century.

Mr. Hooton said that three famous admirals were born in this small area: they were: Sir
Christopher Myngs (1625-1666), Sir Cloudsley Shovell, (1650-1707) and one H. Nelson (1758-

These ports provided a haven for ships voyaging between the Wash and Great Yarmouth Roads,
but also acted as harbours for bringing cargoes to and from North Norfolk, serving the rich
hinterland of the north of the county. The ports received a great deal of coal from Sunderland and
Newcastle as well as timber, bricks, tiles, furs and wine from Europe, and sent grain and malt to
London and elsewhere.

Unlike Great Yarmouth, the river Glaven, which served Blakeney and Cley, was a relatively small
stream and was largely unsuitable for inland trade. Its flow hardly kept the channels clear. A
further problem occurred when local land owners embanked the marshes in order to cultivate new
land, as it prevented large run-offs of water, which were needed to clear the channels sufficiently
to allow ships to reach the ports. There was much litigation over this.

Mr. Hooton gave details of the severe storm that had affected the North Sea in 1703, when it is
thought that 700 ships were lost and perhaps 9,000 people drowned.

He also described the legend of Black Shuck, the ‘diabolical dog’, which stated that, should a
person see it, they would die within the month. The legend was propagated by smugglers to
scare people from witnessing their nefarious activities.

The harbours became less important when the railways reached North Norfolk in the 19th
century, but are still in use, largely for pleasure craft.

November 2015

Great Yarmouth born author and historian, David Higgins, began his illustrated talk on Great
Yarmouth as a Naval Port in the French Wars by saying that the Royal Navy’s main yard was at
Deptford in 1793, but the capture of Holland and the Dutch fleet by the French Revolutionary
Government meant that the threat was coming from across the North Sea as well across the
English Channel. Therefore the Navy Board set up a new base in Great Yarmouth in 1796.

The long quays in Great Yarmouth could only accommodate small vessels and even Yarmouth
Roadstead, the relatively sheltered water between the town and Scroby Sands, was insufficiently
deep for the biggest ships of the line, but the port of Great Yarmouth was able to supply and
service many of the Navy’s needs.

The town had three batteries on the beach re-equipped with 6-pound, 24-pound and 32-pound
cannons with furnaces to heat the shot fired, but it was felt that a better defence of Great
Yarmouth would have been provided by powerful guns on the heights at Gorleston. The threat of
invasion had died away after the victory at Trafalgar in 1805 and interest in the town defences
waned, but the offensive war against Napoleonic France continued.

Mr. Higgins discussed the buildings in the town from the old barracks and hospital, dating from
1795, which stood on the site now occupied by Sainsbury’s supermarket, and which expanded
greatly early in the war. Various warehouses were built on South Quay and a considerable
armoury and barracks were built on Southtown Road in 1806. The foundation stone for the Naval
Hospital on the Denes was laid in 1809 and it was completed in 1811. It changed roles between
being a barracks as well as a hospital over the years.

The war brought trade and business to Great Yarmouth including the building of small ships for
the Navy and several local men, including Samuel Paget, had profitable contracts to supply the
Navy with food and stores. However, many of these businesses folded when peace came.

The Press Gang, ie. Naval recruiting and billeting of troops in the town, was not always popular.
Many Great Yarmouth men avoided the Press by joining the Sea Fensibles, which was a
seaborne Home Guard. This made them immune from being forced into service with the Royal

Interestingly, Mr. Higgins said that the Visual Telegraph, or semaphore system for sending
signals to London, was at the end of what is now Sandown Road rather than on the tower of the
Southgate, which had previously been believed.

The President thanked Mr. Higgins for his talk, saying that it was interesting to hear about Great
Yarmouth’s role in the events of over 200 years ago.

(lecture summaries provided by Andrew Fakes)

Russell David Smith 6th September 1943 – 4th March 2016
Andrew Fakes

I met Russell through Great Yarmouth & District Archaeological Society in the early 1980s where
we shared an interest in the history and archaeology of the area. It was during various journeys
to and from conferences and meetings throughout East Anglia when I got to know him. We were
often pleasantly surprised by how welcome we were made by the great and good of academia,
when we said we were from Great Yarmouth and its Archaeological Society.

Russell told me of his early life in Cobholm, where he had a fascination for the history and
geography of the area, particularly where the land and river met. This, unfortunately, came to a
dreadful climax on the night of 31st January (I’m told I said March at his service!) 1953 when,
during a very high tide, Breydon Water burst its banks, flooding large parts of the town. In the
2000 edition of Yarmouth Archaeology, Russell wrote of his experiences of the inundation from
the point of view of the schoolboy he was at the time, but with commendable compassion and

As a young man, Russell wanted to see the world so he joined the Merchant Navy, working on oil
tankers for British Petroleum. This gave him a lifelong interest in the sea and ships. He was
proud of his abilities to tie knots and splice wire ropes, which can be dangerous. However, he did
not enjoy shovelling out the residue from oil tanks after the liquid oil had been pumped out.

Russell left the sea to marry Jean in 1966 and got a job with what was then the Eastern Gas
Board. He was a foreman during the conversion of Great Yarmouth from ‘town gas’ to ‘North Sea
gas’. He became technical supervisor for Transco in the supply of gas by underground pipeline.
He was particularly proud of his ‘moles’, which were machines for dragging a pipe underground
so that it was unnecessary to dig a trench. He said he only lost one which was never found!

Picture of Russell Smith (with measuring wheel) and others, field walking in Hemsby 1989

The various soils Russell encountered in his job increased his interest in the geology and the
archaeology of the county. He became interested in field walking, which involves the systematic
search for items thrown up by the ploughing of fields. Russell’s knowledge of surveying allowed
him to report his finds and their precise locations to Norwich Castle Museum. He also led parties
of our ‘Young Archaeologists’ on field walking trips, and said children tended to be the best
searchers as they generally had better eyesight than adults and were ‘nearer the ground’.

I spent many happy, if cold, hours tramping ploughed fields with Russell, Percy Trett and others.
Percy said we looked the cast of The Last of the Summer Wine!

Russell had an enduring interest in the local landscape, which led him to catalogue wartime pill-
boxes and defensive structures. He was also able to ’negotiate’ the loan of lorries with lifting
gear, allowing the Society to retrieve abandoned cannons etc., and he was active in the
restoration and painting of these items. He was part of a team that put up our first blue plaques in
Great Yarmouth and I recall unofficially entering a building site to ‘borrow’ a ladder early one
Sunday morning to hang a plaque.

Unfortunately, Parkinson’s disease began to limit Russell’s activities, but he carried on his interest
in history and archaeology to the end of his life, thanks to the care and support of Jean and his
extended family.

It is with sadness that we mark Russell’s passing, but I feel we should celebrate the life of our
friend, a good servant of the Archaeological Society, and a decent and honest Yarmouth man.

Excavations and Surveys in the Great Yarmouth Area in 2013
Extracts from Norfolk Archaeology, Volume XLV11, Part 1, 2014,
edited by Alice Cattermole and reprinted with the permission of the Editors.

This annual report comprises summaries of significant archaeological excavations, fieldwork and
surveys carried out in Great Yarmouth and its surrounds during 2013. It is often several years
before post-excavation work on larger projects is completed and a full report is published, while
many smaller projects are the subject of grey reports produced for the client, the Local Planning
Authority and the Norfolk Historic Environment Record (NHER) without further publication/
dissemination. These summaries therefore provide a useful guide to the highlights of recent
archaeological research in the county.

The NHER is maintained at Gressenhall by Norfolk County Council's Historic Environment

Service and may be consulted by appointment (01362 869281 or email
An online version of the NHER database, the Norfolk Heritage Explorer, is available at http:// .

Where NHER monument numbers have been allocated, these are listed as NHER ------. Where
monument numbers have yet to be allocated, NHER event numbers are listed as ENF--------.

Fritton and St Olave’s, Priory Farm (NHER 60512; TM 4588 9957)

Norvic Archaeology

The site lies within the former precinct of St Olave's Augustinian Priory. A watching brief during
construction of a garage/office revealed a medieval ditch, which followed the alignment of a crop
mark visible in the field immediately to the north. Artefacts recovered during the work included
medieval pottery sherds, a medieval glazed floor tile and possible fragments of clay Roman pilae

Great Yarmouth, Breydon Water (ENF131598; TG 5040 0873)

Heather Wallis

Flood defence works being carried out on the north side of Breydon Water revealed an intriguing
pattern of scored areas of clay and black ashy deposits. Alongside this was an area of highly
fired and degraded bricks. These features are thought to be the remains of a brick-making site,
which utilised the local clay and water resources. A map of 1733, held at the Norfolk Record
Office, notes the presence of brick kilns in the approximate area of the site.

and ashy
deposits at

Great Yarmouth, 4a Deneside (NHER 4294; TG 5258

Norvic Archaeology

A watching brief was carried out during conversion of a

commercial unit to residential units, which revealed the top
of the town wall along the full length of the building. A
Victorian storage cellar, which utilised an arch-vaulted niche
in the town wall, was found below a concrete slab. The
embrasure for the arrow loop had been blocked with late
post-medieval brick.

Great Yarmouth 59-61 Beccles Road, Gorleston-on-Sea 4a Deneside, Great Yarmouth

(NHER 10562 TG 5242 0529) An arch-vaulted niche in the town wall

NPS Archaeology

An evaluation was conducted ahead of promised redevelopment of the former Long’s Dairy site,
which lies within the precinct of a medieval Augustinian friary. The most significant remains were
revealed to the south of the site, where two medieval banded footings are likely to be remains of
the friary. A robbed-out tiled surface in the same trench is also thought to have been part of the
friary, possibly belonging to the chapter house identified by excavations in the 1970s, and the
corner of another masonry building was in the centre of the site. A late medieval pit containing
animal bone might have been connected with disposal of food debris from the friary.

Great Yarmouth, Burnt Lane (NHER 60518; TG 5244 0527)

Norvic Archaeology

A watching brief within the precinct of the Augustinian priory revealed a timber structure on the
street frontage of Burnt Lane, where beam-slots and post holes defined the south-western corner
of a late medieval building. Finds from the site included a sherd of imported late Saxon pottery,
fragments of medieval brick, roof tile and wall plaster, and a coin pendant or love token made
from a 1909 Edwardian farthing.

Hemsby, Former Meteorological Station, North Road (ENF131293; TG 4926 1618)

NPS Archaeology

An archaeological watching brief conducted during the construction of a new grain store produced
considerable evidence of Middle to Late Bronze Age activity on the site. There was evidence of
three Bronze Age enclosures, at least six Bronze Age pits, one possible Bronze Age cremation
and a modern pit containing most of a 1930s motorbike. The Bronze Age features produced a
large quantity of pottery, fragments of quernstone and loom-weights, and arable farming was
evident from one of the environmental samples taken. The surrounding fields contain extensive
crop marks of field systems and possible Bronze Age round barrows.

Hopton-on-Sea, land between the A12 and Hall Road (ENF 130583; TG 5237 0018)

NPS Archaeology

An archaeological evaluation revealed archaeological remains dating from prehistoric to Roman

periods. Of particular significance was a large ring ditch comprising inner and outer circuits with
an apparently discontinuous intermediate circuit, interpreted as a Late Neolithic to Early Bronze
Age barrow. Some 80 metres in diameter, it is among the largest examples of this monument
type known from the county. Cremated human remains had been re-deposited within the inner
circuit ditch. Two later circular structures are considered to be round houses of Iron Age or
Romano-British date. The largest of these was contained within a trapezoidal enclosure.
The Young History and Archaeologists Club
Patricia Day

The Great Yarmouth Young Archaeologists is a club that many members will fondly remember as
not only being great fun, but also for inspiring an interest in history, which continues today. It was
with great excitement therefore that, in September 2015, after a gap of several years, the Young
History and Archaeologists Club opened its doors to members. This was in response to a request
from Kate Argyle from Historic England on behalf of young people in the area. A partnership was
created comprising Great Yarmouth Local History and Archaeology Society and Norfolk Museum
Service, which offered the Time and Tide Museum as a base. Historic England provided gener-
ous start-up funding and allowed the club to be free for young people from the area. After pro-
tracted negotiations, the club was accepted as an affiliate to the National Council of British Ar-

At their first meeting, the budding archaeologists got to work straight away, digging up fossils that
were buried in prepared trays to find out more about the archaeology of our Norfolk coastline.
The members enjoyed making their own timeline and were thrilled to take their own belemnite
fossil home.

In October, the group explored the mystery of prehistory as they enjoyed a flint knapping demon-
stration, made nettle twine and tried out their stone-age tools on a red deer skin; some of them
found out just how sharp prehistoric blades really were.

GYLHAS member Stuart Burgess organised a field walking

trip at Fritton in November, where members surveyed a grid-
ded field and had the opportunity to try out metal detecting.
Although the weather could have been kinder, the young
people persevered and some good finds were discovered.
The young people shared these ‘treasures’ at the December
meeting and were fascinated to discover that their finds indi-
cated Roman, Saxon, Medieval and Georgian activity within
the small area they had walked.

Stuart Burgess on field walk with aIn January, the club studied Roman artefacts, which were
YHAC member offered to the group by GYLHAS member David Tubby.
These were from 1950s Caister and discovered amidst exca-
vations for the housing estate. Members also explored some finds that had washed up on Win-
terton beach after a winter storm. These were identified as being part of a Roman salt works and
the group was fascinated to learn about the Roman community that inhabited our coastline over
1,500 years ago. They then tried their hand at defending their own village (dressed in Roman ar-
mour) and followed these exertions by making and tasting some Roman fast food. A visit to Nor-
wich Castle took place in February,
where the group found out more by look-
ing around the Roman galleries.

The March meeting began with Noah

Laws telling us about his amazing mam-
moth find. Inspired by the Roman ses-
sion, Noah walked along the coast near
his home, and much to his astonishment
found a tooth which, he later discovered,
belonged to a mammoth some 450,000
years ago. Noah was subsequently in-
vited to a VIP tour around the Natural
History Study Centre at Norwich Shire-
Noah with the mammoth tooth he found on the coast near hall, where he showed his find to Dr.
his home David Waterhouse, Curator of Natural
History for Norfolk Museum Service, who congratulated Noah on his discov-

In April, the group enjoyed a stroll through time as GYLHAS member, Ann
Dunning, led them through Viking settlement of the region and explored the
derivations of local place names. This was followed by a walk through the
town, when the group discovered why and how the town walls were built.
The final destination was the Elizabethan House Museum where, not only
did they have the opportunity to explore this merchant’s house, but they
were also unexpectedly introduced to Shakespearean characters from the
Bard’s most famous plays.

The weather was friendly when family and friends ventured out to West
Runton. Led by Dr. David Waterhouse, the group saw for themselves shells
Metal detecting and tree bark that was over 500,000 years old and embedded in the Cromer
Forest bed level.
They learnt why flint
is such a rich source of evidential speci-
mens and, as they explored the rock
pools, they found belemnites and echin-
oids, clear evidence of Norfolk’s Jurassic
and Cretaceous past.

At the final session of the year, the young

people were proud to share their knowl-
edge and expertise as they invited family,
friends and important visitors to a pop-up
exhibition at the Time and Tide Museum.
The YHAC group at West Runton
They curated the displays, which varied
from fossils unearthed at West Runton to
WWII debris discovered on the beach. Visitors were encouraged to take part in demonstrations
of flint tools, Viking battle axes and some even sampled the delights of Roman fast food. Kate
Argyle issued each member with a certificate and a goody bag, which was presented by the
Mayor of Great Yarmouth. There were some very proud parents, one of whom commented that it
was: fantastic to see such energy and excitement.

All current members are keen to re-enrol and there is a waiting list for September, when the new
programme of activities begin. 2016/17 looks to be another busy year for Great Yarmouth’s
young archaeologists.

The photographs shown below indicate that although fashions may change, the desire for knowl-
edge and learning amongst our young people is still keen and GYLHAS is once again leading the
way and inspiring the local historians, archivists and archaeologists of the future.

Archive photos
of original GYL-
HAS young

left: at North
Elham around

right: on visit to
the Cutty Sark
in 1976

Two Roman Sherds do not a Roman Villa Make
Field Walking Studies in Ashby, Suffolk.
Stuart Burgess

During the Winter of 2015/6, members of Great Yarmouth Local History and Archaeological
Society and Young History and Archaeologists Club (YHAC) undertook at total of 31 hours of field
walking and metal detecting on a field in Ashby, with the consent of Lord Somerleyton. Though
labour intensive, the technique can provide a significant insight into how an area was utilised,
occupied and developed through time. It can enable large areas to be covered, building up a
detailed understanding of how our local landscape has been transformed by man.

Field walking involves dividing up an

area into a grid. Each grid square
measures 50m x 50m, and is labelled
A1, A2, A3, etc., much like that on a
game of battleships. Each square is
then systematically walked at 5 metre
intervals, collecting any item that
appears man-made, such as pottery,
worked flint, clay pipes, brick and
bone. The most important skills to
possess are a keen eye and a great
deal of patience, because most of the
pre-16th century pottery is made from
local clay, making it hard to spot on
the soil.
Fig 1: Field walking on field HF6 The collected items are then carefully
washed, identified and weighed. The
finds are collated into broad periods: pre-Roman (flints as well as Bronze Age / Iron Age pottery),
Roman, Saxon, Medieval and Post-Medieval (mid-16th to Early Modern).

The Results

The early periods were poorly represented by occasional flint or lithic finds. These took the form
of retouched blades, broken knife blades and simple tools. Roman and Saxon pottery showed a
small background presence (2% and 1% respectively), with a greater density toward the north-
east of the site. Medieval pottery, which accounted for half of all pottery found, showed the most
interesting results. There was a residual background presence of 12th to 14th century pottery
across 75% of the field, weighing approximately 45g per 50 metres square, however three
squares showed significantly higher densities, exceeding 100g. Furthermore, grid squares D3 to
I3 inclusive showed much lower distribution compared to the rest of the field. Post-Medieval
pottery showed a similar distribution, although this did not directly correlate with the Medieval.


The background distribution of Roman pottery is not unusual, but these finds are likely to
represent manuring of the fields, rather than settlement. The region would no doubt have served
Burgh Castle as a cereal producing area, but the locality may well have been just as important for
its grazing, timber and peat. The Saxon pottery is difficult to accurately explore as this seldom
survives well in the soil, and probably relates to a farmstead in the vicinity.

For the Medieval period, the high concentrations of sherds strongly suggest occupation: pottery
concentrations exceed 100g at grids B3, C2 and F2 – see fig 2. It can be concluded that a small
roadside settlement would have occupied the area adjacent to the present road, with their
allotments or gardens extending westward. The pottery suggests this area was occupied from
the 12th until the 17th century.
We are fortunate to have a map of 1652. The survey of the Island of Lothingland (ref. Lowestoft
record Office 295/1) – see fig. 3, shows the field divided up into tenements adjacent to the road.
Four properties are visible on the 1652 Map, and it is probable that several centuries previously
there would have been more. No building is seen in 1652 in C2, suggesting the tenement had
disappeared by the 1600s. The near absence of pottery from D3 to H3 suggests that this was
outside the boundaries of these tenements and likely to be part of a field of permanent pasture.
Indeed, the 1652 map corroborates this hypothesis.

The metal finds tentatively suggest that the property in the vicinity of F2 was of a higher status
due to the discovery of a gilded buckle and 3 jettons. A fine gilded horse pendant from c1300
illustrating a King seated (fig. 4) found in B2, is not thought to be related to the settlement, but
more likely lost from a mounted rider on the adjacent road.

Weight of Medieval Pottery

100g or more



Fig 2: Image to show the relative distribution of medieval pottery on field HF6 (14 acres / 5.6 Ha),
(representing 1.5kg of pottery in total)

Fig 3. Sketch of the same area in 1652 based on LRO Map 295/1 Fig 4. c1300 horse pendant

Future field work is planned, which will test the hypothesis that the linear settlement continued
toward the south, as well as toward the opposite side of the original highway. Latter documentary
research will investigate the Ashby Court Rolls, in which it states that, in 1587: John Wentworth of
Darsham purchased the Manor of Ashby with 4 messuages, 3 gardens, 50 acres of land, 20 of
meadow, 40 of pasture, 10 of wood, 200 of furze and heath, 10 of marsh, and 10 of alder, with
free foldage in Ashby (see

It is too early to guess whether these are the four properties to which this purchase relates.
However, with continued field walking, it will be possible to create a better understanding of the
landscape of Ashby.

The Percy Trett Archive Collection at the Time and Tide Museum
Peter Allard

Percy Trett was a renown and well respected Great Yarmouth historian and naturalist, who died
in November 2012, aged 86. He had been a member of the Great Yarmouth Local History and
Archaeology Society for many years and, for his contributions to this society, was made an
honorary member in 2004. During his life, Percy amassed a remarkable collection of old
photographs of the Great Yarmouth area ranging from the old rows, the seafront, shop fronts and
street scenes, through to local windmills. A number of the images date back to the 1860s. The
collection, numbering over 5,000 images and ephemera, included many from other collections
given to Percy for their safe keeping. Many had his meticulous notes and details written on them.
Importantly, it included a complete photographic survey of the town centre area during the 1970s
and early 1980s, many areas of which have changed completely beyond recognition.

Following his death, the Trett family, in October 2013, very kindly bequeathed this vast
meticulously-kept collection of photographs and ephemera to the Time and Tide Museum in Great
Yarmouth for safe keeping. The collection was moved in several stages from his adjacent house
to the research room at the museum and housed in a newly purchased metal cabinet.

Following a meeting on 8th

October 2013 with James
Steward, then Eastern Area
Manager at Great Yarmouth
Museums, it was agreed that
the collection needed to be
carefully catalogued and
scanned. A team of three
volunteers, Michael Bean,
Rebecca Marshall (Percy's
daughter) and I soon began
the mammoth, but exciting,
task of cataloguing and
scanning the images of Great
Yarmouth through the ages.
Percy's daughter Rebecca,
who works in visitor services at
the Time and Tide Museum,
has inherited her father's love
of local history. Rebecca did a
The collection had an unusual number of photographs of the large percentage of the
South-East Tower. This one is one of the earliest and predates 1865 scanning, whilst Michael and I
referenced and identified all of
the images.

The project began in late October 2013 with the carefully referencing of each photograph,
identifying it and dating it. It was then given a unique reference number and scanned.
Additionally, those that had Percy's notes on them had to be carefully transcribed onto the
computer database. Fortunately, Percy's handwriting was very neat and easily readable so
presented no problems. The PT Project, as it became known, was a huge undertaking. With
assistance from Time and Tide's curator Johanna O'Donoghue, Orla Kennelly, a curatorial
assistant, and Alistair Murphy from Norfolk Museum Services at Cromer, who kindly made an
easy and suitable spreadsheet to work with, the three of us managed to complete it in just under
a year. Having volunteered at Great Yarmouth museums for many years, it was certainly an
excellent project and the best I have been involved with. We certainly enjoyed the challenge of
cataloguing and digitising the legacy of such a respected local historian. Both Michael Bean and I
knew Percy well and he offered us his knowledge and help throughout several decades. It was
with great determination that we managed to finish the project by November 2014.
The collection, having been digitised, is now available to full public access and is freely available
to local history researchers, as well as those curious to find out more about the town. James
Steward, speaking after the completion of the project, said: this huge collection complements the
Museum's 20,000-strong store of photographs, mainly of maritime scenes. He also added: this
also demonstrates the great value that volunteers contribute to the museum services in Norfolk.

Percy, I'm sure, would be pleased to know that his family have passed on this valuable collection
to the Time and Tide Museum at Great Yarmouth for safe keeping and that it will continue to
assist historians and researchers for many years to come.

Many of the collection’s more interesting images are now also available with Norfolk County
Council's 'Picture Norfolk' at

Typical of the collection, this

photograph is of Hammond's shop
in Gorleston on the corner of
Lowestoft Road and Church Lane,
circa 1900

The new filing cabinet which the museum

specially purchased to house the collection.
All the photographs are on blue card so the
blue colour matches these

Becky (Percy's daughter) scanning

photographs on the specially purchased
scanner whilst Michael Bean is identifying
a photograph from the collection, on February
14th 2014

A Mysterious Tower on the Seafront
Peter Allard

Old photographs of Yarmouth are always of great interest. One very old photograph of Great
Yarmouth seafront in my collection, and dating from the early 1860s, has always intrigued me. It
showed an extremely tall, almost square, brick building situated just south of the Marine Tavern.
Since then, three more photographs dating from this period depicting the same building have
been located. Close scrutiny shows it to have two small square openings (or possibly windows)
on the seaward side close to the top, with one on each side facing north and south respectively.
At the top, all four images show what appear to be sturdy iron railings around the perimeter,
several feet high. Judging the height of the building has proved difficult, but most estimates are of
the opinion that it was between 80 and 100 feet high.

Locating the actual site of this tower has

proved very difficult, but it appears to have
been situated at the rear of houses on Marine
Parade in the vicinity of South Beach Place.
A site visit with local historian Colin Tooke in
2015 came to the conclusion that it was most
likely situated on the south side of South
Beach Place. In those days, what we know
today as Marine Parade was split into South
Beach and North Beach, the boundary of the
two being St. Peter's Road. Of the four
photographs, one can fortunately be dated.
The best view of the building one is looking south-
west from the beach and dated circa 1860s

On the Royal Hotel display sign, the name of

Elizabeth Sizeland can clearly be seen. She was
the licensee of the Royal Hotel between 1856 and
1865 and, by 1866, it had been taken over by
somebody else. Photographs that can certainly
be dated to the early 1870s show the mystery
building had disappeared by then. After
considerable deliberation, my personal opinion is
that the mysterious tower is a rather grand style of
lookout for the Hewett (Short Blue) Company that
used Great Yarmouth for landing fish during this Looking from just south of the Royal Hotel and
period. The reasons are given in the following dated to between 1856 and 1865

It is known that Samuel Hewett lived in this vicinity

during the 1860s. He was the founder of the famous
Short Blue fleet of sailing trawlers that had migrated
north from Barking to the Great Yarmouth and
Gorleston area during the previous two decades. He
lived at number 10, South Beach in the mid-1860s and
died there in August 1871. He had total control of the
firm for many years. Later, it became known as Hewett
and Sons, when four of his sons joined him in the
business. Samuel came to live in Great Yarmouth in
1862 and moved into a large house at South Beach.
Previously, a Daniel Hewett lived there, possibly a
Looking from the north from near the old relation, although I can find no evidence of this. From
Shipwrecked Sailor's Home, dated circa local directories, it appears that 10, South Beach was
1860s just north of the Royal Hotel. Although a building with
the correct footprint of the mysterious tower
can be identified on Laing's 1867 map of
Great Yarmouth, it is impossible to say for
certain that this is the building. However, it
does appear to be situated at the rear of the
property that has been identified as the most
likely one Samuel Hewett occupied. Today,
the site of the mystery tower is on the south
side of South Beach Place, where a small row
of houses and flats have recently been built.

The year 1862 was pivotal for Hewett's, as all

their remaining fishing smacks that were still
based at Barking were moved to Gorleston. Laing's map of 1867 with arrow showing what is be-
Only a few sailing cutters were maintained at lieved to be the mystery building
Barking collecting ice for their journey to and
from the fishing grounds much further north. This huge fleet of sailing trawlers had been landing
large quantities of fish on Great Yarmouth beach during the period from the early 1840s up until
1865. This was then transported to Billingsgate Market in London, initially by horse van and then
by the railways, to be sold there. It was a huge operation involving a considerable amount of
manual labour. In August 1862, Samuel Hewett retired from the running of the business. It then
became known as Hewett Brothers and, in August 1864, it became a limited company with one of
his sons Robert Hewett as its manager. From 1865, Hewett's introduced steam carriers, which
delivered all their fish direct by water to Billingsgate instead of landing on Great Yarmouth beach.
This avoided the increasing cost of transportation by rail. It was also considered that fish
transported to Billingsgate by sea arrived in better condition than that landed at Great Yarmouth
and sent by train. It was also handled less and was not available to be pilfered en route. The
Hewett operation at Great Yarmouth was huge prior to this change. The company would have
needed to see their trawlers approaching in the distance, and to make the necessary
arrangements ashore to speed up the delivery to the railway station, before the last train left in the
evening. To miss this would have proved expensive as fish soon deteriorate.

It would seem reasonably obvious that a large company such as Hewett's would require a lofty
lookout to identify which of any approaching fishing vessels was theirs. It was a far superior
building in size and height to the smaller Great Yarmouth beachmen's wooden constructions
close by. A very similar extremely tall lookout, built of wood, existed at Lowestoft. With its great
height, company men armed with brass telescopes could easily have seen approaching Hewett
trawlers many miles away, and then inform the beachmen to prepare themselves to ferry the fish
ashore as quickly as possible. Although, by 1862, Samuel Hewett was no longer in control of the
firm, he still had a great interest in the company, certainly financially, and was also the mortgagee
of many of its smacks. Once the steam carriers commenced taking the fish direct by sea to
Billingsgate Market and, as Samuel had retired, it seems there was little need for this building to
remain. From photographic evidence it seems it soon disappeared from the Great Yarmouth
seafront skyline, the bricks presumably being used elsewhere. As virtually all of the land outside
the town wall was sold leasehold, a search through the Great Yarmouth Borough Council property
records held in the Norfolk Archive Centre may hold the answer to this mysterious building. For
the time being, however, this theory is perhaps the best available to date.

Laing's Map of Great Yarmouth, 1867
Cobb's Directory of Great Yarmouth, 1863
Yarmouth Independent, 23rd August 1862
Yarmouth Independent, 27th August 1864
Colin Tooke, for additional photographs and advice
Robert Hewett, detailed notes on the Short Blue Fleet 2005

Royal Visits to Great Yarmouth between 1277 and 1899
Chris Wright

This study arose from a perusal of John McBride’s Diary of Great Yarmouth and his listing of royal
visits to the town up to 1996. What was the purpose of these visits? What happened? What did
the local inhabitants make of it all? C. J. Palmer’s Perlustration of Great Yarmouth provided
some information. More detailed information was found in the British Newspaper archive, The
Times archive and Yarmouth Mercury microfilms in the local library. There are some variations in
reports and dating.

Royal visits were initially focussed on the fortifications of the town. Others were the port being the
embarkation or disembarkation point for visits to Europe. A number of foreign royals visited;
some fleeing from threats to their crown. The Prince of Wales in the 19th century is recorded as
visiting eight times and combining business with pleasure. In more recent times, visits relate to
formal openings of buildings and lifeboat naming ceremonies. The Duke of Edinburgh has visited
eight times, Prince Charles at least six times and the Princess Royal five times. The World Wars
saw a renewed interest in the town’s defences, and two royal visits.

1277 - King Edward I visited the Black Friars at the Dominican Friary, according to the Victoria
County History.
1342 - King Edward III embarked with the Yarmouth squadron for Brittany. Some sources, how-
ever, note the fleet left from Kent, so he may not have visited Yarmouth.
1382 - King Richard II viewed the town and the defences. He stayed at the Priory. The disputes
with Lowestoft were also addressed. Strengthening of the defences was ordered. The King,
likenge verye well the town and did graunte them such priveleges as before that tyme had been
by himself revoked upon the slanderous report of the men of Lowestoft.
1515 - Mary Tudor, the ex-French Queen and daughter of Henry VII, visited with her husband,
Charles Brandon (Duke of Suffolk), and stayed three days at the Priory. They took good liking to
the towne and would encourage the King to visit. The Duke of Norfolk was, however, sent to re-
view the defences and ordered them to be rampired.
1578 - Queen Elizabeth I was due to visit and preparations un-
dertaken for her reception at the Priory were made. A plague
broke out in Norwich and she left the city. The Earl of Leicester
and Lord Burleigh and other noblemen were sent instead and
stayed at the Priory, and were welcomed by large crowds.
1614 - Christian, King of Denmark, landed, but proceeded
straight to Brentwood and on to see his sister, Queen Anne, and
to be entertained by King James I.
1648 - the Prince of Wales, afterwards Charles II, accompanied
by the Duke of York and Prince Rupert (nephew of Charles I)
who were then in exile in Paris, planned to seize Great Yarmouth.
They went to Helvoet Sluys where they were well received by the
seamen. They set off with eight ships and, on 22nd July, an-
chored in Yarmouth Roads. The town was in a state of defence
and gave no assistance to them. The scheme was abandoned
and they left for the Downs and Kent to try to gain support there.
Parliament thanked the town for their eminent good affection.
1671, 27th September - King Charles II, with the Duke of York
The Priory (later James II), visited with their retinue, who stopped at the Sun
Inn, Bradwell, before proceding to the town. The Corporation
pledged their loyalty to the King and elegantly entertained him at a cost of £1000. James John-
son, the son of parliamentary supporter Thomas Johnson, had been deputed to entertain him at
46/47 South Quay. The soldiers and servants stayed at the Feathers public house. King Street
may have acquired the name to commemorate the visit. The King was infinitely pleased with the
town and had not thought he had such a place in his dominion.
1682, 10th March - the Duke of York, on his return from Scotland, anchored in Yarmouth Roads
on a royal yacht and came ashore to dine with the town bailiffs. He went on to stay overnight at
Norwich and then on to Newmarket to meet the King. On his return from Windsor to Scotland to
collect the pregnant Duchess on 10th May, his frigate, HMS Gloucester, hit the Leman and Ower
Sands. Over 100 lives were lost with all persons of quality and his servants saved.
1687, 12th August - the Prince of Denmark landed from Denmark en route to Windsor to rejoin
his pregnant wife, Anne, who became Queen in 1702.
1692, 18th October - King William III landed on his return from a campaign in Flanders and was
entertained by the Corporation at 69 South Quay at an expense of £106.
1785, 1st July - Prince William Henry, who became King William IV, came ashore en route to
Scotland to undertake surveying and fishing patrol work. The Prince met the most respectable
members of the town and also visited Caister and Gorleston.
1795, 19th January - the Princess of Orange, her daughter-in-law the hereditary princess, and
her infant son landed from a fishing vessel near the jetty, having escaped from Holland as the
French army threatened. They were well received and taken to the house of the Mayor.
1795, 21st January - the hereditary Prince of Orange arrived from Harwich to escort them to
1795, 22nd January - the Duke of York came to greet them, but they had left before he arrived.
He was entertained by the Mayor at the Angel Inn and left at 10am for London. He appeared
pleased with his reception and the town.
1795, 1st April - Princess Caroline of Bruns-
wick, en route from Hanover via Cuxhaven to
London on the Jupiter, was within six leagues of
Great Yarmouth, when it was forced to drop an-
chor due to fog. Hourly fog signals were fired
while awaiting improved weather. On 3rd April, the
journey continued to London, but further delays
meant she did not arrive until the 5th April. On
the 8th April, the Princess married the Prince of
Wales at St. James Royal Chapel. The Princess
left him in 1814. The Prince became King
George IV in January 1820.
1796, 15th November - Prince Frederick of
Wurtemberg landed and, after refreshment at
the Angel Inn, set off for London to see his be-
trothed, Princess Charlotte, daughter of George
III (they married later in the year).
1797, 22nd April - Prince William of Glouces-
ter arrived at the Wrestlers’ Inn. He walked
around the town and the next day reviewed the
Somerset and Durham Militias.
1799, 30th October - Prince William of
Gloucester arrived from Holland following the
defeat of the Army. All that week troops had ar-
rived and the town was quite full with soldiers.
He dined with Lord Duncan before leaving for
1799, 6th November - the Duke of York arrived
from Holland and was met by Lord Duncan at the
Jetty. A large crowd greeted him and dragged
his carriage to the home of Lord Duncan on the
Quay. Thereafter, he went to the Bear Inn before
leaving for Norwich. Norfolk Chronicle 24th January 1795
1800, 28th March - the hereditary Prince of Or-
ange left the port for Cuxhaven and Berlin. He returned in June.
1800, 21st November - the Prince left the port for Cuxhaven to seek an explanation for the de-
tention of a Prussian vessel.
1801, 18th April - Prince Adolphus, seventh son of King George III and Queen Charlotte,
landed on his return from Hanover, where he was Governor. He dined at the Angel before setting
off for London.
1801, 3rd November - the Prince of Orange arrived at the Angel Hotel from Hampton Court
ready to embark for Cuxhaven at the mouth of the River Elbe in Germany. He had to wait, how-
ever, for the winds to calm until the 10th November.
1802, 22nd May - the Duke of Cambridge arrived at the Nelson Hotel to embark for Cuxhaven.
The Nelson was formerly The Wrestlers, but was renamed during Nelson’s visit. Nelson thought
naming it the Nelson’s Arms was inappropriate as he had left his left arm at Tenerife. The Duke
embarked on the Sunday but had to return to his hotel due to the wind conditions. He attended
church and was received by the Corporation. He left the hotel the next day for the voyage.
1803, 13th June - the Duke of Cambridge and Prince William arrived from Cuxhaven, having
narrowly escaped capture by the French army. They proceeded to London.
1807, 30th October - King Louis XVIII of France, under the assumed title of Count de Lille, ar-
rived from Sweden after fleeing France. He was taken to the home of Port Admiral Douglas at 9
Market Row and joined by his brother, the Count D’Artois (who became Charles X of France).
They left for Gosfield Park (Essex) before moving on to Stowe (near Buckingham) and Hartwell
House (near Aylesbury).
1810, 14th November - King Gustavus of Sweden, as Count Gottorp, landed after abdicating
his throne following defeat over Finland and being forced to leave Russia, when pursued by the
Prussians. He was heartily received and retired to the Angel Inn for refreshment before proceed-
ing to London. His arrival was seen as painful and embarrassing for the Government.
1811, 27th March - the King of Sweden arrived at the Angel Inn prior to returning to the Baltic
amidst the exclamation of thousands from the town.
1813, 25th April - the Prince of Orange arrived at the jetty from Sweden and proceeded to Lon-
don to discuss the hope that the House of Orange could be restored.
1813, 5th May - the Duke of Cumberland embarked from the jetty for Cuxhaven and Hanover to
act as the King’s representative after the French had been driven from Germany.
1822, 12th August - King George
IV was expected to pass through
Yarmouth roads in the royal yacht,
The Royal George. Houses near
the shore were decorated and the
jetty crowded, but the King passed
by six miles off shore. Several
pleasure boats, however, went out
to greet him.
1825, 22nd September - the
Duke and Duchess of Clarence
(who became King William IV and
Queen Adelaide in 1830) landed
on their return from Antwerp.
They stayed at the Angel Inn over-
night prior to travelling to Newmar-
ket and London. They had been
forced to land from the royal yacht
due to a heavy gale. They were
returning from a European tour,
including meeting Princess Caro- The Royal George Yacht
1842, 29th August - Queen Vic-
toria and Prince Albert, en route to Scotland, passed through Yarmouth Roads on the royal
yacht, The Royal George. There was a near collision with a Norwegian barge and they also had
a difficult journey due to sea sickness.
1842, 16th September - Queen Victoria and Prince Albert passed through Yarmouth Roads on
the return journey. The beach was lined with spectators and several pleasure boats went out to
greet her, even though it was 5.45 am.
1858, 7th September - Prince Adalbert of Prussia and Prince Von Schwarsburg, with a Prus-
sian squadron, anchored off Great Yarmouth en route to Brest. The latter landed and dined with
officers of the Norfolk Artillery. Locals were allowed to visit the yacht.
1860, 14th September - Prince Napoleon (as Count de Meuden), cousin of Emperor Napoleon
III, arrived from Norwich by train to embark on his royal yacht for Scotland. This was part of a
tour to investigate farming and poor relief.
1861, February - the Norwich Mercury (2nd March) records an unofficial incognito visit: The
Prince of Wales ran down here from Cambridge a few days ago and very much enjoyed, it is
said, a breathing by the seaside. The rumours that HRH intends hiring a country house in Norfolk
is again renewed.
1862, 1st June - Prince Alfred, second son of Queen Victoria, landed, dressed as a midship-
man, whilst waiting for the Channel Fleet to assemble. He attended a cricket match between na-
val officers and the town
on The South Denes.
Crowds gathered and he
retreated to Kimberley
Terrace, where he had
lunch. Later he walked
around the town.
1872, 6th June - the
Prince of Wales (who
became Edward VII) ar-
rived at Southtown station
to open the new grammar
school on Trafalgar Road
and, in his role as Colo-
nel, inspected the Norfolk
Militia on the South De-
nes. He enjoyed a trip on
a steam yacht on the
River Yare, a trip to the
Regent Hall Theatre, the
parish church and other
places of interest. He Shadingfield Lodge
stayed at the Shadingfield
1874, 20th August - Prince Arthur, as the Duke of Connaught and third son of Queen Victoria,
made a private visit to the town. He came from Norwich, where he was serving as Captain to the
Seventh Hussars. He came back the next day and stayed at 3 Kimberley Terrace. He prome-
naded on the Wellington Pier and attended the parish church. He sailed on a Brown’s pleasure
boat to Lowestoft to return to Norwich by train. The visits were private and attracted little public
1874, 1st September - Prince Arthur attended Yarmouth races on South Denes where Prince
Batthyany and Prince Soltkhoff were stewards.
1879, 18th June - the Prince of Wales visited again to inspect the Norfolk Militia Artillery and
saw a display of the big gun at the North Battery. He also visited Somerleyton Hall and attended
the Theatre Royal to see the London Gaiety Company after dining at the Assembly Rooms. He
again stayed at Shadingfield Lodge.

1880, 20th May - the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Alfred, as Admiral Superintendent of Reserves,
arrived to a royal salute at Southtown station. He inspected the coastguards at Great Yarmouth,
Caister and Gorleston, and reviewed the Norfolk Artillery Militia, which attracted a large crowd.
1880, 20th November - the Duke of Edinburgh paid a brief return visit to inspect the naval re-
servists, who performed a gun display on the North Denes. Whilst at Vauxhall station awaiting
the train to take him to Brandon, a lady passenger mistook him for a porter.
1881, 10th June - the Prince of Wales arrived at Southtown station to undertake an inspection of
the Norfolk Artillery Militia, including a big gun display. In the evening he was joined by his son,
the Duke of Cambridge, and attended a performance by the Gaiety Company at the Royal
Aquarium. They stayed overnight at Shadingfield Lodge.
1882, 30th May - the Prince of Wales arrived at Southtown station where huge crowds had gath-
ered. During the visit he formally opened the new Town Hall. He asked a shrimper man to take
him across the river, but was refused as he was not licensed. A firework display was laid on in
the evening near the Wellington Pier, opposite Shadingfield Lodge. The Militia was inspected the
next day.
1885, 30th April - Prince Albert Victor (also called Prince Edward of Wales in some reports)
arrived at Southtown station. A large crowd cheered as he drove off to stay at the Royal Hotel,
although he dined with officers of the Militia. He was to take part in training with the Prince’s Own
Norfolk Artillery, in which he had recently become a lieutenant, on his 21st birthday. The Prince
of Wales was to attend in the last week of the training. The next day, the Prince attended the par-
ish church and was involved in an incident, where one of the pew owners ejected him from his
pew. On 2nd May, the Prince returned to London and attended, with the Prince of Wales, a din-

Photo taken on 21st May 1885 when the Prince of Wales, as Colonel, and his son Prince Albert Victor (who
had just become a lieutenant) visited the town to inspect the Princes of Wales Own Norfolk Artillery Militia
The Prince of Wales is seated centre front
Prince Albert Victor is standing in the back row, facing forward

ner at the Royal Academy of Arts. The next day he returned by train, using the 3.00pm ordinary
train to Colchester and a special train to Great Yarmouth. During the three weeks training, he was
entertained at Somerleyton Hall (4th), was admitted to the Freemasons at a meeting at the Town
Hall attended by 200 brethren (7th), found time to visit the Children’s Convalescent Home and
expressed his satisfaction with the excellent institution (11th). On three occasions he attended
lawn tennis at the Royal Naval Asylum and, on the 18th, attended Romeo and Juliet at the Royal
Aquarium, complimenting Miss Alleyn on her performance as Juliet.
1885, 21st May - the Prince of Wales inspected the Royal Militia and noted his son, Prince Al-
bert Victor, was now a lieutenant with them. A grand ball at the Town Hall was held and his son
attended. He also made informal visits to the Tolhouse, the Smacks Boys’ Home on the Quay,
and the Children’s Convalescent Home.
1887, 18th May - the Prince of Wales again arrived at Southtown station for a Militia inspection
and to lay the foundation stone of the new 40-bed hospital. Outside the station a triumphal arch
had been erected and a guard of honour provided, and huge crowds turned out. He dined at the
Town Hall with the Provincial Grand Lodge of Norfolk Masons, as Grand Master of Freemasons.
The hospital foundation stone was laid with Masonic rites. Afterwards, he visited the Royal Naval
Hospital. In the evening, he attended the Royal Aquarium again. The following day, he inspected
the Militia on the South Denes and saw gun practice at the South Battery. Afterwards, he at-
tended an illuminated fete in St. Georges Park.
1891, 21st May - the Duke of Clarence, Prince Albert Victor, the first son of the Prince of
Wales and grandson of Queen Victoria, arrived at Southtown station to open a bazaar at the
Town Hall to raise funds for the parish church restoration. He also inspected the Militia on the
South Denes and, in the evening, attended a ball at the Royal Aquarium. He stayed overnight at
Shadingfield Lodge before returning to London.
1895, 21st May - the Prince of Wales arrived at Southtown station to be taken to Shadingfield
Lodge amidst streets crowded with spectators. He inspected the billets of the Militia, observed
gun practice, made visits to the Royal Aquarium and visited Somerleyton Hall. Some 15,000 peo-
ple attended the Militia inspection on the South Denes. He returned to London, via Norwich.
1899, 25th May - the Prince of Wales arrived at Southtown station for his eighth visit. He was
accompanied by the Prince of Teck, and inspected the Militia as their Colonel in Chief. He wit-
nessed floating target practice. He attended a ball at the Town Hall and stayed at Shadingfield
Lodge again. The Prince also briefly visited Gorleston and the Cliff Hotel.


Bloomefield, F., An Essay toward a Topographical History of Norfolk, Miller, 1810

Crofton, I., Kings and Queens of England, Quercus, 2006
Druery, J. H., History and Topographical Notices of Great Yarmouth and Norfolk, Nichols, 1826
Finch-Crisp, W., Chronological Retrospect of the History of Great Yarmouth, Finch-Crisp,1884
Leach, N., Never Turn Back, Tempus, 2001
Manship, H. and Palmer, C. J., History of Great Yarmouth, Meall, 1854
McBride, J., A Diary of Great Yarmouth, McBride, 1998
Nall, J. G., Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft, Longman Green, 1866
Palmer, C. J., Perlustration of Great Yarmouth, Nall, 1872
Parkin, C., History of Great Yarmouth, Whittingham,1876
Preston, J., The Picture of Yarmouth, Preston, 1819
Swinden, H., History and Antiquities of Yarmouth, Swinden, 1772
Tooke, C., GY and Gorleston Front Line Towns, Tooke, 1999
Queen Victoria’s Journal 1842, Royal Archive, 2012
British Newspaper Archive, Times Archive, Local Press archive

(A more detailed version of this article is available from Cobholm Miniatures, Broad Row, Great
The ATS Memorial Plaque on North Drive, Great Yarmouth
Paul P. Davies
A memorial plaque, commemorating the
deaths of 26 Auxiliary Territorial Service
(ATS) personnel, was erected in the car
park of the Palm Court Hotel, North Drive.
They were killed in a bombing raid on
Great Yarmouth on 11th May 1943, when
the hostel, in which they were billeted,
received a direct hit. The site of the
plaque was researched and sponsored by
the ATS Association. They decided that
Sefton House (now the car park of the
Palm Court Hotel) was the site of the
ATS hostel. The polished granite plaque,
dedicated to their memory, was unveiled
on 11th May 1994, the 51st anniversary of
the raid, by Lady Soames (Mary Churchill,
the youngest daughter of Winston Churchill) amid much pomp and ceremony at the spot where
the ATS made its greatest wartime sacrifice.

In 1988, while researching for his book, Great

Yarmouth at War, Colin Tooke concluded that
the building used as a hostel for the ATS had
stood on the corner of Sandown Road and
North Drive. This was further evidenced in
2015 when the town’s War Insurance Records
were found in the Time and Tide Museum.
These records showed that the corner property
was demolished in the raid while Sefton House
was only slightly damaged.

The concluding evidence was provided when

Paul Davies obtained a copy of a photograph Sefton House in the 1930s
from the London Evening News, which showed Courtesy of Colin Tooke
the site of the bombed hostel the day after the

Left: Photograph of the site of the ATS hostel taken from Sandown Road. The balcony and the windows
on the rear of the Imperial Hotel can be seen on the left. These balconies were removed after the
Second World War

Right: Pre-war photograph of the front of the Imperial Hotel

In the background of the picture the Georgian House Hotel is clearly seen and in front of it,
Sandown Road. From this evidence it would appear that the plaque has been placed on the
wrong site.

It can be concluded that the correct positioning of the plaque should be on the Imperial Hotel car
park and not the car park of the Palm Court Hotel. Whether the mistake made by the ATS
researchers can be rectified is open to question. It is particularly sad that commemoration
services and relatives of the deceased have paid their respects at the wrong site.

House Hotel
Sandown Road
Remembrance service at the Palm Court
Hotel in 2010 © Archant Press

Remains of the
ATS hostel

* The site of the ATS hostel with Sandown

Road and the Georgian Hotel to its right

© The British Library Board, (LD23, London Evening

News 12th May 1943, page 4)

Georgian House Hotel
and the Imperial Hotel
car park in 2015

How Great Yarmouth Commemorated the Two Hundredth
Anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, 2015
Paul P. Davies

In 1814, twenty-five years of war finally came to an end with the surrender of the Emperor
Napoleon and his banishment to the Mediterranean island of Elba. The European powers began
the task of restoring their continent to normality and peace. However, on 1st March 1815,
Napoleon escaped from Elba and landed in France. Nineteen days later he was in Paris and
resumed his title as Emperor. His army rallied to him and he marched into Belgium. The
European allies reassembled their armies and prepared to resume the war to overthrow the
Emperor yet again.

The Battle of Waterloo was fought on Sunday 18th June 1815, near Waterloo in present-
day Belgium, then part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands. A French army under the
command of Napoleon was defeated by two of the armies of the Seventh Coalition (an Anglo-
allied army comprising British, Germans, Belgians, Dutch and Prussians) under the command of
the Duke of Wellington and a Prussian army under the command of Gebhard Leberecht von
Blϋcher. Waterloo decisively saw the end of 26 years of fighting between the European powers
and France.

It is not generally known that Great Yarmouth has several connections with the Battle of
Waterloo. Therefore, the Borough Council decided to commemorate the event.

On the staircase in the Town Hall is a

large oil painting of the Captive Eagle. It
portrays Corporal Styles of the 1st Royal
Dragoons displaying a captured French
eagle to the cheering Black Watch.
Behind him can be seen Wellington. The
Royal Dragoons captured the eagle of the
French 105th of the Line in the charge of
the Union Brigade and subsequently
adopted the eagle as its badge. It is now
worn as an arm badge by the Blues and
Royals, the successor regiment. James
Prinsep Beadle (1863-1947), the military
artist, painted the scene and it was
exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1897.
The painting was given to the Borough
Council by Colonel A. Lucas in 1926. To
its left is a painting of the Battle of The Captive Eagle by Beadle

On the 200th anniversary of the battle, the Society’s Chairman described the picture on BBC
Radio Norfolk’s Today programme. The programme then moved to the Great Hospital, formerly
the Royal Naval Hospital, to talk about its connection with Waterloo. By the time the Great
Yarmouth Royal Naval Hospital was opened in 1811, the war at sea with France was over, and it
was not required for sick or wounded naval personnel. Therefore, on the 28th July 1814, the
Royal Navy relinquished the hospital to the Army and 600 victims from the Battle of Waterloo
were sent in 1815 and they, as the records state: were very comfortably provided for. There is
also a record dated 13th July 1815: Transported from Ostend, 300 sick and wounded soldiers
removed in keels to the hospital on the Denes (that being the Royal Naval Hospital).

In 1979, during the excavations for a new ward unit (the Mountbatten Ward) in the southeast
corner of the Royal Naval Hospital site, two adult skeletons were discovered about three feet
below ground level. They were thought to be about 150 years old. The possibility of a plague pit

or cholera burial ground (the last major epidemic was in 1849) was discounted because of the
siting of the graves in relation to the town wall and the orderly arrangement of the skeletons.
There were burials recorded on a wooden plaque in the southeast corner of the hospital, which
stated: in commemoration of one sergeant of the 55th Regiment, seven sailors and seventeen
Waterloo soldiers who were interred in this burial ground during the years 1815 and 1816 and
several children. Nomen et Arma Locum Tenent. The Latin translates as their reputation and
achievements are commemorated here.

Skeletons of Waterloo victims unearthed in 1979

The burial ground in the south-east corner of the

Original commemoration board at the burial ground
Royal Naval Hospital

Archaeological studies confirmed that this was probably the burial site for the hospital because of
variations in soil colour at regular intervals. The remains were both male and between 25 and 35
years of age. There was evidence that they had been buried in thin-walled coffins. Eleven days
later, on the 29th November 1979, a further two skeletons were unearthed. The skeletons were
reburied on the site in a service conducted by the hospital chaplain and the other two were left in
situ. The burial plot in the hospital grounds was used from 1811 to 1816.

Skeletons of Waterloo victims unearthed in 1979

On the same day the Mayor of Great Yarmouth, Councillor
Shirley Weymouth, attended a service of remembrance to the
Waterloo victims. This was held in the Naval Hospital’s
Chapel and was led by the Port Chaplain, Rev’d. Peter Paine.
The Mayor, decided that these Waterloo soldiers should be
remembered in a more tangible way. She decided to fund a
blue commemorative plaque at the site of the burial ground.
This was unveiled on Trafalgar Day, 21st October 2015, in
front of many of the residents of the Great Hospital.

Rev’d. Peter Paine at the commemoration service and the Mayor and Chris Stanley
of the Royal Naval Hospital at the unveiling
Furthermore, the Borough Council organised a commemorative civic service in Great Yarmouth
Minster on 16th June led by the Bishop of Norwich’s Chaplain, Rev’d. James Stewart. During the
service a hawk (an eagle not being available) flew down the aisle with a flag in its beak.

Great Yarmouth men served at the Battle of Waterloo and we find

one gravestone (pictured below) in the Old Cemetery to a
Waterloo veteran, John Johnson of the 28th Regiment, who died
on 4th February 1878 aged 81 years at Neptune Terrace, Great
Yarmouth. (see the Fifth Cemetery Crawl 2015 in this journal).

The hawk at the

civic service

The Influence of Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Modernism and other Architectural Styles
in Great Yarmouth Buildings, 1900-1950
Trevor Nicholls
“Form ever follows function” – Louis Sullivan 1856-1924
Founder of Modernism and the sky-scraper

The idea for this monograph came to me in a flash while reading an excellent article in the Daily
Telegraph “Review” of 17th October 2015: How Art Deco made the world a better place, by
Simon Heffer. He mentioned the Firestone Building on the Great West Road out of London,
demolished by its owners, Trafalgar House, in 1980 on the eve of its being listed. And at once, it
is sixty years ago, and this small boy is travelling in what, in those days, some older people might
still have described as a ‘charabanc’ along the Caister Road at Great Yarmouth. He is eating
some Smith’s potato crisps, having first carefully extricated the small twist of blue, grease-proof
paper containing the salt, from the packet. And there is the Smith’s factory seated between the
main road and the River Bure. It is not at all in accord with his conception of a factory, for here is
a handsome building painted brilliant white with perfect geometric proportions. It is Great
Yarmouth’s Firestone. It ranks in his estimation with the bus depot a short way along the same
road, with all the blue buses of happy memory inside and always visible from the street whenever
he passes.

Art Deco, the style of these two Great Yarmouth buildings, had been preceded by and, in some
cases, coincided with several others. Art Nouveau was a prominent movement in the decorative
arts and architecture in Europe and North America from about 1890 to 1910. It took its inspiration
from both organic and geometric shapes; its elegant, often profuse tracery imitating botanic
forms. It over-lapped with Arts and Crafts, a major exhibition that had been held in 1887. Arts
and Crafts abhorred, at least initially, the use of machinery and stressed the value of
craftsmanship and the beauty of natural materials. It was strongly Pre-Raphaelite. Against this,
the Modern Movement - the International Style - from 1850 onwards, looked forward to innovation
and experimentation in forms, materials and technology, including flat roofs, reinforced concrete,
steel-frame construction and the lack of ornament. With Futurism, and Functionalism, Modernism
rejected Romanticism and a pre-occupation with the past. Modernism much influenced the
Bauhaus School at Weimer, 1919-1933. Its founder, Walter Gropius (1883-1969) said, We want
an architecture adapted to our world of machines, radios and fast cars. Globally, Modernism was
to become the pervasive school of the age with which we are concerned.

Yet, at the same time, there was a Classical revival taught at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris,
characterised by the use of stone, lavish decoration, swags, medallions and a massive grandiose
monumentality inspired by Antiquity.

This was the background against which Art Deco (‘Deco’), also known as the Style Moderne
emerged in France shortly before 1914. Between the world wars, it became a major international
style in the decorative arts and architecture following the Exposition Internationale des Arts
Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes, held in Paris in 1925. The term, however, did not come into
general use until after another Paris exhibition in 1966 on the themes of Art Deco, Bauhaus, Stijl
and Art Nouveau.

Deco’s distinguishing features are bold, simple, clean geometric rectilinear and curvilinear forms,
often with a stream-lining element, and towers, obelisks and pylons. As Heffer says, It is a
judicious combination of regularity and curve. A purist would argue that: undecorated, largely
concrete structures in the Bauhaus, Modernist or International Schools are often called Art Deco
because of their boxy, rectilinear shapes but lack of any outstanding ornament, polychromy,
distinctive lettering or ornamental metalwork generally disqualifies them from being classified
under the Art Deco rubric (Patricia Bayer).

Deco did not suddenly emerge as, for instance, a reaction to earlier genres. Rather, as we shall
see in this Great Yarmouth study, it encompassed many of them. Despite the fastidiousness of
the purists, another view of Deco is that it is so broad, it could encompass styles antithetical to it.
In Deco can be found elements of Cubism, Art Nouveau, Egyptian (inspired by the Tutankhamen
discoveries in 1922), Antiquity, Constructionalism, Futurism and Modernism and the International

Art Deco was everywhere; in furniture, jewellery, grave-stones, public houses, council flats and
villas on the Riviera. It went to America on the great liners of the age and became prolific there.
It went to Buenos Aires, to Australia and New Zealand (where, after an earthquake, one whole
town, Napier, was re-built in the style), and at the time of the international concession, to
Shanghai, ‘the Paris of the Orient’. Always far more common in public buildings than private
residences, Deco was found in big hotels, office blocks, town halls, factories, blocks of flats and
transport hubs. It was particularly favoured for buildings without precedent; bus garages,
department stores and, above all, luxurious cinemas, by far the most popular places of public
entertainment during the inter-war period. Great Yarmouth had, and still has, a number of Deco
buildings and a much greater number showing the influence of the styles the genre was to
embrace. Indeed, the reader might identify buildings in the perambulation, which are an amalgam
of styles. This appraisal does not purport to be a complete list of such buildings in the town,
either extant or demolished. It does, however, give, I hope, an appreciation of how the built
environment in the period 1900-1950 reflected Deco and the other pervading architectural
movements of the era. We shall see ornament, geometry, optimism, colour, exuberance and faith
in social and technological progress.

The perambulation begins on the Marine Parade at Great Yarmouth at the site of the original
Marina of 1937, crosses to the Hippodrome, the Art School and then to King Street, Regent
Street, Regent Road, Hall Quay, the Market Place and Newtown. Returning to the Haven Bridge,
we progress through Southtown to Gorleston High Street, the Floral Hall and Cliffs, concluding at
St Peter’s Roman Catholic Church, designed by Eric Gill, described in the National Biography as
the greatest artist craftsman of the twentieth century. I think that the reader will agree with me
that when walking through many towns in this country, of which Great Yarmouth is a good
example, it is so often worthwhile not only to look around but to look up.

Finally, an observer taking the route envisaged in the gazetteer will surely be struck by the
prevalence of terracotta faience. In those localities developed around the turn of the twentieth
century, it seems to be ubiquitous. In any other town in England were architects and builders so
persuaded of its merits? It is found on the Sea Front, in the elaborate frontage of the Windmill
Theatre (formerly the Gem) of 1908 and in the heroic façade of the Empire (1911). The façade of
the Aquarium (1875) (now Hollywood), is an early example of its use in the town. In the public
gardens it is probably the handiwork of J. W. Cockrill (see notes) although he used his signature
concrete for the balustrade at Gorleston Cliffs. Terracotta tiling, sometimes plain, but often with
classical or Arts & Crafts or Art Nouveau ornament can be found, for instance, on the hotels and
boarding-houses directly north of Marine Parade, in Wellesley and Sandown Roads and in that
part of Newtown laid out at the turn of the twentieth century. It was found in abundance on the
old General Hospital, Deneside and is found, still, on the former Fire Station at Greyfriars Way,
now flats, by J. W. Cockrill, 1908-12. Across the river, it ornaments Southtown, Cobholm and
Gorleston. On the Lowestoft Road, beginning at the England’s Lane corner, is a truly magnificent
example of the use of the material in two rows of shops. The one even has two belvederes and
the other, with a billiard hall on the first floor, has balustrading and urns high above the street,
which would not have looked out of place on a grand public building in the Athens of Antiquity. In
terraced houses, terracotta is particularly found on window bays and one is led to the conclusion
that local speculative builders of the period thought that that type of embellishment would find
favour with the potential purchasers of both large and quite modest houses. Great Yarmouth also
embraced opulent Edwardian Baroque, in the National Provincial Bank, later National
Westminster, Hall Quay (1904-06), long-closed, and the Regent Theatre, Regent Road (1914),
now a night-spot.

Amusingly, Pevsner, referring to the town’s location on its narrow peninsula, says that: in its more
intimate way, the situation of Great Yarmouth resembles that of Manhattan. It might be added
that through its following of the international trends in architecture alluded to here, the town, in the
construction of many of its public and some private buildings during the first half of the twentieth
century, was far from provincial; an elegant curve here, a stepped parapet there, hint at Paris and
Chicago, Miami and New York in, as Heffer puts it, the jazz age and the age of the cocktail. Yet,
turn a corner, and there too, is a glimpse of the grandeur that was Rome.

1. The (original) Marina, Marine Parade
2. The Hippodrome
3. Municipal School of Art
4. World War II memorial, St George’s Park
5. Row of shops, King Street, east side, between Rows 86 and 91
6. Boots the Chemist store, east end of Central Arcade, King Street
7. Regal Theatre, corner of Theatre Plain and Regent Road
8. Billiard hall above shops, south side of Regent Road, west end
9. Arnold’s store, corner of Regent Street and King Street
10. Offices above shops, King Street, opposite Regent Street
11. Burton’s store, corner of King Street and Market Place
12. East Anglian Trustee Savings Bank, corner of Market Place and Theatre Plain
13. Co-operative store, Market Place, east side
14. Fastolff House, Regent Street
15. Municipal offices, Hall Plain
16. Telephone exchange, Hall Quay
17. Yare Hotel, Hall Quay
18. Haven Bridge
19. Bure Hotel, Caister Road
20. Smith’s potato crisp factory, Caister Road
21. Bus Depot, Caister Road
22. Iron Duke public house, corner of Jellicoe Road and North Drive
23. Barnard Avenue and Jellicoe Road bridges
24. South Town Station signal-box
25. Half-Way House, public house, Southtown
26. Commodore public house, High Street, Gorleston
27. Palace Cinema, High Street, Gorleston
28. Coliseum Cinema, High Street, Gorleston
29. Struan House, Marine Parade, Gorleston
30. Links Hotel, corner of Marine Parade and Bridge Road, Gorleston
31. Floral Hall, Gorleston
32. Gorleston Super Holiday Camp, Lowestoft Road, Gorleston
33. Roman Catholic Church of St. Peter the Apostle, Lowestoft Road, Gorleston

1. The (original) open-air Marina, Marine Parade, opened 1st July 1937, demolished February
1979 for construction of its replacement in 1981, included in this appraisal not for its few
architectural merits: ovular shape, single-storey, white-tiled, colonnaded interior, but
because it was so very much a product of its time; a period of pre-occupation with health-
and-fitness fads, hiking, cycling, swimming and so on. The Corporation, in its publicity
material, stressed the healthy, bracing air and reinvigorating potential of holidays in the
town. And well the Council might have, for Great Yarmouth drew its holidaymakers from the
teeming industrial areas of London, the Midlands and the North. Both the LMS and LNER,
in their posters, made much of the fact that this is the dry side of the country (see also item
31, the Floral Hall).
2. Hippodrome Circus, Great Yarmouth’s Art Nouveau pièce de résistance, 1903, by R. S.
Cockrill, son of the Borough Architect & Surveyor. Solid concrete behind the terracotta tile
cladding. Art Nouveau leaves and vegetation on the towers. The three semi-circular
windows originally depicted a chariot race in coloured glass; another, Tiffany-inspired,
feature of the period. We shall encounter Cockrill salt-and-pepper pots again.

Open Air Marina, Marine Parade, Great Yarmouth - Courtesy Colin Tooke

Hippodrome Circus Former Great Yarmouth Art College

3. Municipal School of Art, 1912 by J. W. Cockrill, Borough Architect and Surveyor. Steel
frame and brick cladding. The elegant tiled panel in the façade bearing the name of the
building is new though faithful to period. Large windows to let in as much light as possible.
Seven salt-and-pepper pots, but only on the more prominent north and east sides.
Described by Pevsner as a remarkably sensible design and a moderately important early
example of its type, high praise indeed from him, ever swift to chide and slow to bless.
4. World War II memorial, St George’s Park, 1949. Art Deco influence on a particularly small
structure; note especially the geometric towers.
5. Row of shops, King Street, east side, between Rows 86 and 91. Art Deco, much
6. Former Boot’s the Chemists store, King Street, east entrance to Central (now Victoria)
Arcade, 1925-6. White glazed tiling with geometric patterns, tall office building above.

7. Regal Theatre, corner of Theatre Plain and Regent Road, opened on New Year’s Day 1934
by the Hollywood actress, Merle Oberon. It had 1,500 seats. Later became the ABC and
finally, a Cannon cinema. The town’s largest Deco building, restrained interior, but colossal
bas-relief figures in white stone on the exceptionally high frontage. Demolished 1989.
8. Billiard hall above shops, Regent Road, south side, between Alexandra Road and
Deneside, 1923. Deco, stepped parapet and with other Deco embellishments. The twin
cherubs might have come from a mediaeval church and remind us that Deco architects
nevertheless were usually classically-trained, and also of the eclectic range of the genre. In
the case of this building especially, remember the enjoinder, Look up!
9. Arnold’s store, corner of Regent Street and King Street, re-built in 1922 after a fire. White
glazed tiles, large, deeply recessed windows and pattern of verticals and horizontals,
probably enclosing the hidden steel frame, stepped parapet, geometric pattern, letter “A”
upon medallions enclosed by swags. It was Louis Sullivan who proved that decoration and
functionalism can co-exist on a commercial building.
10. Offices above shops, King Street, directly opposite top of Regent Street. Deco windows of
a pattern still popular today.
11. Burton’s store, now Lloyds Bank, corner of King Street and Market Place. Montague Burton
opened their gentlemen’s tailoring shops all over the country during the 1920s. Many have
date-stones, but this one does not. Geometric patterns high above street-level.
12. East Anglian Trustee Savings Bank, corner of Market Place and Theatre Plain, 1939. White
stone cladding with classical embellishments. The interior of
the banking hall, I recall, was pure Deco with light wood
panelling and fittings of the period. Now closed.
13. Co-operative store, Market Place, east side, 1935. Deco
windows and stepped parapet at south end.
14. Fastolff House, Regent Street, 1908, by R. S. Cockrill,
purpose-built speculatively as an office building. Façade
covered with lavish Arts and Crafts faience with typical Art
Nouveau foliage spreading prolifically.
15. Municipal offices, Hall Plain, the Town Hall annexe of 1938
by F. R. B. Haward, now flats. Pevsner says, Featureless
inside characteristic of civic blocks of the time. I can only
think that the writer did not venture very far inside. The
interior doors with their exotic veneers were worthy of
East Anglian Trustee Sav-
Broadcasting House or the Empire State Building. ings Bank

Regal Theatre
Arnolds Corner Fastolff House
Courtesy Peter Jones
16. Telephone exchange, Hall
Quay 1936, entrance up a
short flight of steps. Beaux
Arts classical revival or Greco
Deco? Figure of winged
Mercury, the messenger, in
keystone. Now YMCA
17. Yare Hotel, Hall Quay, 1939.
One of the town’s best
surviving Deco buildings. In
1939, she ensconced herself
among the stately buildings of
the Quay like a flapper
perching upon the dean’s
knee at a meeting of a
cathedral chapter. Now, in Yare Hotel, Hall Quay - Courtesy Colin Tooke
her ninth decade, she is more
decorous than in her salad days as an hotel. Originally, the façade was highlighted by
narrow neon strips and a broad vertical tower of neon stretching from the roof to a point
midway along the first-floor frontage, and probably representing the river itself. Bears a
striking resemblance to another, which stands alongside that famous example of Deco, the
Hoover Building in Perivale, Middlesex (1932), and which is called, The Canteen. Neon
lighting, stepped parapet, tiles, all typical of a cinema of the time. Closed as an hotel in
c1968, acquired by Midland Bank, latterly
HSBC. Upon being vacated by the bank in
Haven Bridge
about 2011, quickly acquired by Messrs.
Wiltshires, solicitors, unlike some adjoining
Quay premises that have long been empty.
18. Haven Bridge, 1930, ‘beauty in utility’; All
ornament should consist of the enrichment of
the essential construction of the building;
Augustus Welby Pugin (1812-1852). The
ornament of the balustrades is pure Deco. The
lamp standards are original, but the original
bulbous lamps themselves have been replaced
in recent years with tapered ones.

Bure Hotel
Colin Tooke

19. Bure Hotel, Caister Road.
Opened 1939, by Steward &
Patterson, closed 1985,
demolished 1986. Of a kind with
The Iron Duke (subject 22) and
the Links Hotel (subject 30).
20. Smith’s potato crisp factory,
Caister Road, next to the Bure
Hotel. Opened 1935, production
ceased December 1982, closed
January 1983, demolished 1985.
Site of the factory and the hotel is
now housing. Great Yarmouth’s
Smith’s Potato Crisp Factory - Courtesy Colin Tooke
Firestone or Hoover building and,
like them, built on an arterial road
through an expanding 1930s suburb.
21. Bus depot, Caister Road. The date of this distinctive façade is a mystery. Barker’s History
of Great Yarmouth Transport refers to the opening of the new depot extension at Caister
Road to house the expanding fleet (of trams), completed in 1928. (The last tram ran on
14th December 1933). The adjoining office block was completed in 1930. When was the
huge façade to the depot added to the earlier garage? The double-deck bus in bas-relief
seems to be a post-1945 model. Since the premises were damaged by enemy action in
1941, the façade could be a post-war reconstruction. The four cream-coloured buttresses
are Deco.

Bus Depot

22. Building of the Iron Duke public house

Iron Duke Public House
for Lacons, at the corner of North Drive
and Jellicoe Road, began shortly
before the outbreak of war in
September 1939, but was suspended
for the duration. During the war, part of
the building was used, but it was not
completed until the early 1950s. Of a
kind with the Bure and Links hotels
(see subjects 19 and 30, and also 23).
Now closed.

23. Barnard Avenue and Jellicoe Road bridges. When the railway opened in 1877, it ran
straight across marrams; the North Denes. As Newtown expanded northwards, level-
crossings were subsequently installed at Sandown Road, Beaconsfield Road and Salisbury
Road, plus a fourth on the Lowestoft line at Nelson Road but, by 1913, both the railway and
local authorities were probably not prepared to countenance the perpetual expense of
maintaining, and the inconvenience to the public, of any more crossings. Barnard bridge
(1913), in concrete, bears the stamp of J. W. Cockrill, rather than that of the railway’s own
engineers, who would surely have opted for a more utilitarian structure. Cockrill has gone
for the grandiose. The salt-and-pepper pots, with their classical embellishments, and which
seemingly have no engineering function, echo some of the great bridges of Europe.
Jellicoe Road, between Caister Road and Beatty Road, was completed by 1929. In May
1939, work began on the bridge, but was suspended in the September for the duration of
the war. It was not finished until 1948, less than 12 years before the railway closed in
February 1959. It is not at all heroic like its older neighbour to the south; the architect has
placed classical capstones, which would look well on both a Beaux Arts structure and a
Deco one. Yet he has used that most vernacular of Norfolk materials, knapped flint, for the
ornamental panels, a reminder that Deco can be eclectic in the extreme. In the American
West, Native American patterns of ornamentation, Pueblo Deco, rather than stylised ones,
often appear in Deco buildings of the era, and that thinking might have gone into the design
of this bridge in the use of local flint.
24. South Town Station signal-box,
1943, replacing the earlier one
damaged by bombing in 1942.
Severe appearance, large,
functional, flat roof, big windows,
yet despite wartime austerity, with
Deco top-lights. Demolished after
closure of the station in 1970.
25. Half-Way House public house on
the Southtown - Gorleston
boundary. An earlier public house
of 1882 was extensively rebuilt in
1938 in Deco. It incorporated a
bus shelter in the north east
corner, which was in the same
style. It had a large, red neon sign
bearing the house’s name in block South Town Station Signal Box
capitals, a very period feature. Courtesy The Andrew Barton Collection
Demolished in 1970 for
improvements to Beccles Road
and council flats.

Half-Way House
Colin Tooke

26. Commodore public house, High Street, Gorleston, re-built in Deco, 1935. Known by the
following names: Commodore, Old Commodore, New Commodore and Pink Flamingo
(when the frontage was
painted shocking pink, a
Deco colour). Now a
children’s nursery, which
appears to be being
engulfed by a giant garden
27. Palace Cinema, High
Street, Gorleston, opened
16th January 1939, bingo
hall since 1964. Severe
appearance; however the
ornamental brickwork
might satisfy the purist.
28. Coliseum, High Street,
Gorleston, 1913, frontage
rebuilt in Deco 1938, with
a tower bearing the
establishment’s name in
neon. Demolished for
building of shops 1970.
Commodore Public House
29. Struan House, south end
of Marine Parade,
Gorleston. One of the few private houses in the town in Deco, and a very good example
with curved ends. It might have come straight from Miami or California. In later years, its
owner regularly re-painted the exterior in appropriate Deco shades of white, pink, purple, or
yellow. Listening-post for enemy naval radio traffic during World War II, demolished 2007.
Housing now occupies site.

Struan House - Courtesy Colin Tooke

30. Links Hotel, corner of Bridge Road and Marine Parade, Gorleston, opened 1939,
demolished 1998, housing now occupies site. Of a kind with the Bure Hotel and Iron Duke
(see subjects 19 and 22).

Links Hotel
Courtesy Colin

31. Floral Hall (see also subject 1) 1939. Described by Pevsner as a piece of drollery by S. P.
Thompson, the Borough Engineer, and a product of the healthy holiday thinking of the time,
as was the adjacent lido. Very much a case of form following function; pleasing circular
shape. Now the Ocean Room.
32. Gorleston Super Holiday
Camp, Lowestoft Road, opened 27th
May 1937, closed 23rd September
1973, demolished for housing 1975.
Main building brilliant white, boxy

Floral Hall - Courtesy Colin Tooke

33. Roman Catholic Church of St. Peter, the

Apostle, Lowestoft Road, Gorleston, opened
14th June 1939. Only church by Eric Gill
(1882-1940). Its all-pervading theme is the
stilted arch, the arches having no pillars and
capitals and the windows no jambs.

St. Peter the Apostle Roman Catholic Church,

Gorleston Super Holiday Camp - Courtesy Peter Jones

Daily Telegraph Review, 17th October 2015, How Art Deco made the world a better place.

Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004

Tooke, Colin, Time, Gentlemen please (public houses & breweries in Great Yarmouth, Gorleston
and Caister, 18th century to present day), published privately 2006

Pevsner, N. and Wilson, B., The Buildings of England, Norfolk, Norwich & North East vol 1, 1962
and 1970 editions, Penguin

White, M. R., Rails to the Coast and The Yarmouth Train (2 vols), published privately 2004 and
2005 respectively

McBride, John, A Diary of Great Yarmouth, published privately 1998

Barker, T., A History of Great Yarmouth Transport (3 vols), published privately 1983

Bayer, Patricia, Art Deco Architecture, Design, Decoration and Detail from the Twenties and
Thirties, Thomas Hudson, 1992


Mention is made herein of Sir Nikolaus Pevsner (1902-1983), Professor of the History of Art,
Birkbeck, University of London, Slade Professor of Fine Art, University of Cambridge and Gold
Medallist, Royal Institute of British Architects; editor of an unrivalled architectural review of the
counties of England, first published 1951.

John William Cockrill (1849-1924), Borough Architect and Surveyor at Great Yarmouth for 48
years, from 1874 to 1922. His sons, Ralph and Owen were also architects. Known by the nick-
name Concrete Cockrill for his favouring the use of that material.

The Armoury (Arsenal, Barracks) at Southtown
Major-General Sir Vernon George Waldegrave Kell KCMG., KBE., CB.
Paul P. Davies

The lodges, part of the barrack block, the armoury and the workshop survive from the original
Board of Ordnance store of 1806-1815.1

The armoury was built to serve the fleet anchored

in Yarmouth Roads during the Napoleonic War with
France (1793 to 1815). This was planned with
parallel ranges of storehouses extending
westwards from a quay on the River Yare to Newspaper report: 1st December 1804
enclose a working area which included a small NB the mistake in naming the town
magazine. The site at Southtown was chosen, as it
was close to the
entrance to the
harbour. Also, it was
easier to find spare
land on the west side
of the river and it was
cheaper to rent. The
less populated
Southtown was a
benefit, if the
magazine accidently
exploded. The site
was well defended
because the South
Battery was on the
opposite shore of the The actual armoury was closed in 1829
James Wyatt river. and had, until that year, a fireproof stone
roof. The internal floor was removed in the
The designer of the armoury was James Wyatt late 20th century 11
(1746-1813). He was the Architect to the Board of
Ordnance from 1782 until his death. Wyatt became the leading architect of his day with a huge
practice and many official appointments. He was equally at home with classical and gothic
architecture. He was the
architect for many buildings
throughout the country,
including Heaton House
near Manchester and the
Royal Military College at
Woolwich. He was
appointed surveyor to
Westminster Abbey and
restored parts of Salisbury
and Lincoln Cathedrals. He
rebuilt the nave of Hereford
Cathedral after the fall of the
tower. He died instantly in
1813, when his carriage
overturned near
Marlborough. There is
scarcely a large town in the
country in which Wyatt did
not erect a private or public
Aerial photograph early 1950s building.
10th February 1819: Bury and Norwich Post

7th June 1832: Norfolk Chronicle

7th July 1827: Norfolk Chronicle

February 1834: Norfolk Chronicle

4th July 1829: Norfolk Chronicle

In 1806, the armoury was built at a cost of

£15,000. As well as a large quayside
working area, it contained six storehouses,
an armoury, a magazine, a workshop,
officers’ quarters, two gate lodges and a
small barrack block. At the level of the
armoury there were gates dividing the area
into working space and the ancillary services 16th February 1855: Royal Cornwell Gazette
and for security purposes.14

During the Napoleonic War, 10,000 pieces of arms were stored at the armoury for the troops. It
could also equip two ships of the line, four frigates and six sloops and carry out repairs to ships
damaged in battle.3 The stores for the warships arrived at the armoury quay, where they were
unloaded and held in secure warehouses until they were delivered to the naval squadron in the
Roads.14 Yarmouth was chosen for the site of such an establishment to control the North Sea
and the Dutch coast. With the Royal Naval fleet frequently at anchor in Yarmouth Roads and the
return of the fleet here after wars with the Danes and the building of a Royal Naval Hospital,
Great Yarmouth became a very important naval base. From the Norfolk Chronicle (13th February
1808), we learn that Mr. J. R. Cromwell was appointed Master Shipwright and Mr. James Russell,
Master Attendant.
At the end of the Napoleonic War
in 1815, the Government no
longer required the armoury and
Great Yarmouth’s era as a major
naval port came to an end. In
1819, the arms and the stores
were sent to London.

The establishment was broken up

and the premises were let as
warehousing for grain and other
uses.3 However, for most of the
time it was not utilised. At the
outbreak of the Crimea War (1853
-6) the store was used as a
barracks for the 2nd Battalion of
the East Norfolk Regiment and
various other militia regiments,
and two new barrack blocks were River Yare with the armoury in the background 1865
built, of which only part of the Courtesy of Peter Allard
north one survives. This block
was gutted in 1971 for use as a light engineering works.11

Map of part of the Lichfield Estate showing the armoury 1855

Norfolk Record Office ref: MC505/31

In October 1855, the Lichfield Estate offered for sale the freehold of 197 acres in Southtown,
which included wharves, warehouses, many dwelling houses, cottages and rich marsh land.
Included in the sale was the armoury of three acres, two roods and 33 perches. The premises
were described as follows: A most important and valuable freehold property situated in the
Hamlet of South Town, otherwise Little Yarmouth, in the County of Suffolk and only separated
from Great Yarmouth by the navigable River Yare. It has the very considerable frontage on the
east to the river and is bounded by the capital Turnpike Road from London to Yarmouth. The
property consists of very substantial buildings, known as the Armoury, on lease to the
Government, all having good frontage with sufficient depth of water for vessels of heavy burden.4

Sale lots 31 & 32 - the Armoury 1855

13th March 1858: Norfolk Chronicle

17th March 1860: Norfolk News
Red Tapeism One of the many boats sold from the
To the Editor of the Norfolk Chronicle Armoury Quay
Sir, the hospital attached to the East Norfolk
Regiment of Militia at Great Yarmouth, being in
need of fuel, light and washing for the building,
application was made to the Barrack Master,
resident at Norwich, for supply of the same. The
Barrack Master referred the regiment to the
Secretary at War. The Secretary at War referred
the Regiment to the Purveyor of the District. The
Purveyor of the district referred the regiment back to
the Barrack Master. The Barrack Master referred
the regiment to the Board of Ordnance. This is now 16th September 1854: Cambridge Independent
the 17th February and the correspondence began
at the latter end of December last and a valuation
of the things wanted is to be sent in.
Who can wonder, if official mystification exists in
matters at home, that the same causes should
operate so fatally for our brave countryman abroad.

24th February 1855 Norfolk Chronicle

13th January 1857: Norfolk Chronicle

Plan of the armoury barracks Southtown 1864 corrected 1878. National Archives W/O 78/4566

Reference to plan of the Armoury
(The original colours have degraded)

Light ochre tint denotes the gravelled surface

Light brown tint denotes the pitcher pavement
Light red denotes the brick pavement
Grey tint denotes the flag pavement
Surface gutters are represented =========
The underground drains are represented --------
The drainage is conducted into the river
Gratings to underground drains are represented by a
small square
Pipes for rain water and water supply are represented .-
Drying posts are represented . . .
Arrows indicate the direction of flow in the drains
Green tint denotes the grass plot
The barracks are lighted internally by candles
The barracks are lighted externally by oil
War Department boundary shown ……..

However, with the outbreak of war with Russia

(Crimea War) in 1855, the armoury was converted
into a barracks. According to the Evening Standard
the armoury belonged to the Admiralty and they
demanded that it was set aside for sailors and that
the War Office (Ordnance) relinquish its
possession.5 But, it appears that the War Office
continued in possession of the premises. 22nd June 1889: Yarmouth Mercury

In November 1855, light was shone on the transaction by Mr. W. England, a gentleman,
instructed by the Government to make the armoury ready for the reception of the Militia Artillery.
He said that in August he received from Mr. Robert Fenn, the storehouses and buildings. These
premises had previously been in the possession of Mr. Watling. Before the handover, Mr. Watling
had employed carpenters and others to rake out all the seed they could and take it away. The
buildings had been used by Watling as granaries. Subsequently, Mr. England found linseed
growing under the floor boards and, in places, dry rot. Local men had been charged with stealing
the linseed that had been left behind.6

By the end of December 1855, the Norfolk Artillery had

occupied the newly created barracks and we are told that they
had comfortably settled.7 In June 1856, a ball was held in the
armoury by the officers. About 60 people attended and kept
up dancing until late.8

The barracks were then occupied by the 2nd Battalion of the

9th Foot (East Norfolk Regiment). During their annual training
the establishment was used by the Norfolk Militia Artillery and
the East Norfolk Regiment of Militia.

Three regiments of Irish Militia subsequently occupied the

barracks in succession: the Fermanagh, Louth and Donegal
Militia. After peace with Russia, the Norfolk Artillery Militia and
the East Norfolk Regiment of Militia resided at the barracks.
They were followed by troops of the line. Troops continued to
be lodged here. For example, in 1870, D troop, B brigade,
which consisted of 150 officers and men, with 120 horses and
six guns, arrived at the Armoury from Norwich and stayed for
19 days before returning to Norwich. East Norfolk 9th Regiment of Foot

The officers’ quarters were in houses
with gardens fronting Southtown Road.
One of these house was occupied by
the ordnance storekeeper. Over the
years, the following were storekeepers:
Mr. Minty, David Jones, Thomas Gibson
and George Gaskoin. The last
storekeeper was Robert Fenn Boult.

In 1868, resident in the barracks were

one field office, five officers, three staff
sargeants, 310 non-commissioned Armoury site in the middle ground from the air
officers and privates, 6 sergeants to
married soldiers, two officers’ horses,
and 18 hospital patients. There were
eight powder magazine barrels and the
water tank held 24,300 gallons.

There was a hospital in the barracks

and, in 1878, during the year, 74 troops
were admitted to this hospital with the
following diagnoses: Febricula (fever) 1,
Scrofula (TB of the glands) 2, Asthma 1,
Ague 10, Tuberculosis 1, Pneumonia 2,
Acute rheumatism 1, Gout 1, Tonsillitis The armoury complex from Southtown Road with the lodges
4, Muscular rheumatism 3, Neuralgia 1, in the foreground
Dyspepsia 6, Primary syphilis 4,
Aneurysm of aorta 1, Colic 1, Secondary
syphilis 4, Bronchitis 2, Suppuration of
glands 1, Gonorrhoea 9, Bright’s
disease 1, Hepatitis 1, Balanitis 1,
Abscess 1, Eczema 1, Erythema 1, Boil
1, the Itch (scabies) 3, Psoriasis 1,
Contusion 5 and Wounds 3.

The average annual number of the men

in the barracks was 121 and the
average number of daily sick was 3.37.
Six women and 41 children were also The armoury complex: left to right the north lodge showing
admitted to the hospital during the year. its later extension

Fifty-five per cent of the children

admitted were suffering with measles.
Five were admitted who did not belong
to Her Majesty’s troops. Two were from
the East Norfolk Militia and two from the
garrison. There were no deaths in
1878. Three of the sick were invalided
out of the army during the year. One of
the men suffered with muscular
rheumatism and had been in service for
20 years. A soldier with tuberculosis,
with a similar period of service, was also
invalided out, as was the man with
Bright’s disease (who died a month The armoury complex: left to right officers’ mess, kitchen,
later).9 ablutions, workhouse and cookhouse (later the north
The armoury complex and the South Lodge The armoury complex left to right showing the
original workhouse

The actual armoury

The armoury
complex from
the east

In 1878, at a medical inspection of the hospital, it was stated that it formed the north part of the
barrack square. The heating and ventilation were said to be good. There were two wards in use,
both on the upper floor. One was 34 feet long, 24 feet wide and 14 feet high and contained 12
beds and the other one was 20 feet long, 12 feet wide and 14 feet high and contained four beds.
On the ground floor of the hospital was a surgery, stores, kitchen and the surgeon’s quarters.
The premises did not contain a mortuary. There was one water closet in the hospital and a latrine
immediately outside in the barrack square, whose drainage was superficial and indifferent for the
want of a fall. The local waterworks supplied water in iron pipes. The baths and ablution facilities
were thought to be unsatisfactory. Zinc basins on a shelf were the only means for washing and
there was no fixed bath, but one slipper and one hip-bath. The walls had been lime washed, to
counteract infection, and cooking was done on a small range. In the area, ague was the only
disease prevalent and this was evident in the establishment, as it was contiguous with the
marshes, which were deficient in drainage. Candles and oil lamps supplied light.9

As to the barracks, the latrines and urinals were flushed daily and emptied into the river at low
water. The ash pits were also emptied daily. The officers’ latrines were on a cesspit system and
lime was used as a disinfectant. Bedding was a straw palliasse, two blankets, one rug and two
sheets. An extra blanket was available in severe weather.9

When the military withdrew from the premises in 1889, the property was put up for auction, but
received no bids and was withdrawn. In 1890, the local press reported that, the removal of the
9th Norfolk Regiment from the barracks had entailed a very great financial loss locally. By 1890,
the Armoury had been condemned as being unfit for habitation and, in 1891, J. & J. Colman
purchased the site, when many alterations were carried out.3 They also extensively rebuilt the
north lodge and added an extension at its east end and extended the barrack block by two bays
and remodelled it internally. They had also acquired the warehouses adjoining the barracks. It is
thought that the site was used for the storage of rice and grain for the manufacture of mustard at
their Norwich factory.

In 1941, the site alongside the river was considerably damaged in bombing raids during the
Second World War. Some of the Napoleonic buildings, including the storehouses and
magazine, were destroyed. 10 Also burnt out were the warehouses erected by Colman’s in

After the Second World War the premises were used for offices and light engineering work.
Today (2016) the premises are occupied by Atlantic Marine and Aviation (on the site that was
bombed, Abbey Chemicals and Elm Contracts).

In 1982, a cannon (of the Armstrong pattern) dating to the mid-18th century was discovered by
the brick gate pillar of the premises. On 25th February 1982, it was unearthed by the Great
Yarmouth Archaeological Society and placed on a replica carriage outside the Fisherman’s
Hospital in the Market Place. Percy Trett organised the immense task of unearthing the cannon
and its transportation. Most of the heavy digging was done by Eastern Electricity, a crane was
provided by Bell Brothers and it was transported by Great Yarmouth Borough Council. The
cannon had been used as an ornamental gatepost at the armoury. Research dated the cannon
to the reign of George II (1727-1760). It is reputed to have been used during the Napoleonic War
(1799-1815). The gun weighed almost two tons and was restored by Maritime Offshore Projects
Ltd. The carpentry and joinery staff of the Great Yarmouth College of Further Education
constructed the replica gun-carriage from plans produced by a member of the society. It was
painted black, but originally it would have been yellow.

During the last few years the gun-carriage had rotted and become unsafe. In 2009, the carriage
was rebuilt by Peter Chandler of Great Yarmouth Borough Services and the cannon was re-
furbished by Coastground Ltd. As it was deemed to be in an inconvenient position outside the
Fishermen’s Hospital, when the Market Place is fully utilised, the council have re-positioned the

The cannon in the Market Place with members of the
Society. Left to right: Andrew Fakes, George Rye,
Colin Tooke, David Bullock, Barbara Blatchford,
Ted Goate and Barry Colman (Mayor)

Unearthing the cannon

Left to Right: Colin Tooke, Ted Goate
and Jim Holmes
The picture appeared in the Yarmouth
Advertiser on 10th June 1983 under the
headline “Naval Cannon to Guard Fishermen”.
The by-line to the photograph stated:
“Yarmouth Council now has firepower to
answer critics who think the council needs

The cannon on South Quay

cannon on South Quay opposite the Town Hall. It

commemorates Great Yarmouth’s significant
maritime and naval history.

In May 2014, a centuries-old cannon was found by

workers carrying out repairs on the flood defence
work along Southtown Road. It had a length of
chain attached to it and appeared to have been
buried to act as an anchor for a ship that had
moored. It was found in the 128 metres of tidal
defences between Richard’s Dry Dock and Ferry
Lane on the Southtown Road quayside; that is on
Armoury Quay.12
The cannon found in 2014

Demolished buildings on
this site include two
parallel ranges of
storehouses, which ran
from the east side of the
armoury to the riverside.
They were built to a
common plan: each
storehouse was a single-
storey building of 15 bays
divided into stores of 5
bays. The rear walls of
these stores formed the
perimeter wall of the site.
Adjacent to the armoury
was a magazine which
appears to have been
built to an adapted version Southtown Road looking north with the armoury on the right and two can-
of the standard Board of nons at the gateway
Ordnance Magazine plan,
but was half the length (35
feet as opposed to 64 feet), and intended to hold less than half the amount of powder. A
cooperage was included within the magazine compound. Other buildings which no longer remain
include the officers' quarters, a stable, the chaise house and the fire engine house, all of which
occupied a single-storeyed building on the south site of the site, west of the armoury.3 The
property was listed as Grade II in 1953.

Major-General Sir Vernon George Waldegrave Kell KCMG., KBE.,

CB., was born in this establishment on 21st November 1873. He
was the founder and first Director General of the British Security
Service (MI5). He was known as ‘K’. Kell was the son of Major
Waldegrave Kell of the 38th Foot, who was stationed at the
barracks, and his wife, Georgiana Augusta Konarska. She was of
Polish extraction.

Vernon Kell graduated from the Royal Military College at Sandhurst

and was commissioned into the South Staffordshire Regiment in
1894 and fought in the Boxer Rebellion in 1896. Kell could speak
German, Italian, French, Chinese, Russian and Polish. After his
return to London from China in 1902, Kell was employed to analyse
German intelligence at the War Office until 1906.

During the span of his appointment, the Government was

Vernon George Waldegrave considering how best to fill a serious gap in the country's defence
Kell arrangements. There existed no organisation to cope with the rising
dangers of German espionage nor one to obtain secret intelligence
on German military expansion. The Cabinet approved the creation of a Secret Service Bureau to
cover these functions. At 36 years of age, in 1909, Kell was chosen as one of its first two
directors and shortly afterwards took over full responsibility for the defensive side. He was to hold
this position for the next 31 years and must therefore be regarded as a founding father of the
organisation which later became known as MI5. The Bureau was separated in 1910. These two
distinct sections were later retitled MI5 and MI6.

By 1914, Kell still employed only three officers, one barrister, and seven clerks. Nevertheless, on
the first night of the war he was able to round up a ring of 21 German spies in an effectively timed
and executed coup, which probably deprived the Germans of any information on Britain's initial
military dispositions. By the end of the war he had accounted for 35 more spies to complete a
wartime record, which impressed the general staff and ensured the continuance of his
organisation into the peace, though on a much reduced basis from his final wartime strength of
800. During the First World War, Kell worked closely with Special Branch of Scotland Yard and
was also successful in tracing the work of Indian revolutionaries collaborating with the Germans
during the war.

In December 1938, having reached retirement age, Kell asked to remain in post on a year-to-year
basis. With the onset of war, MI5 finally were given the hiring and financial resources of which it
had been starved for years. However, MI5 proved unable to deploy them without confusion and
Kell and his deputy, both in their mid-60s, got the blame. On 10th June 1940, Kell was dismissed
on the instructions of Winston Churchill after 30 years in post. He was the longest-serving head
of any British Government department during the 20th century.

Kell was knighted for his services shortly before his death in 1942. He was an officer of the
Legion of Honour and had many other foreign decorations. He reached the rank of major-
general. He was a calm, modest, and patient man and fly-fishing was his chosen hobby. From
first to last he kept himself out of the public limelight. At the end of the 1930s his health began to
fail as result of severe attacks of asthma and he died at Emberton, Olney, Buckinghamshire on
27th March 1942.13

Several contemporary novelists used Kell as a model for their stories.

On 14th June, the Great Yarmouth Local History and Archaeological Society placed a plaque at
the site commemorating both the historic armoury and Vernon Kell. It was unveiled by the Mayor,
Councillor Malcolm Bird.

Photographs by Derek Leak

British Listed Buildings,
Palmer C. J., The Perlustration of Great Yarmouth vol iii, p292, Nall, Great Yarmouth, 1875
Norfolk Heritage Explorer,
Norfolk Chronicle, 6th October 1855
Evening Standard, 4th April 1856
Norfolk Chronicle, 3rd November 1855
Norfolk Chronicle, 29th December 1855
Norfolk News, 7th June 1856
Davies, Paul P., History of Medicine in Great Yarmouth, Davies, ISBN 0-9544509-0-6, 2003
English Heritage
Pevsner N., Wilson, Bill, Norfolk 1: Norwich and North-East, Yale University Press, 1994
Yarmouth Mercury, May 2014
National Dictionary of Biography, Missing Persons, Oxford University Press, New York, 1993
The Royal Ordnance Store, Southtown and Gorleston, RCHME Survey, March 1999
Report on Cast-Iron Gun from the Port at Great Yarmouth
Ruth Rhynas Brown

Over the years a number of cannons have been raised from the waters at Great Yarmouth; recent
works* there has uncovered two more cannons.

Cannon 1

Cannon 1 was raised in the course of works close to the site of a 19th century naval depot. The
cannon was associated with an iron chain and covered in concretion, which was subsequently
removed. Overall the cannon is in reasonable condition.

It is a cast-iron muzzle-loading cannon, 64½ inches (164 cm) long with a bore of 3¾ inches (8½
cm). It bears a number of marks, some of which were made when the gun was being cast, such
as the royal monogram and the damaged founder’s mark on the trunnion. Other marks, which
are cut into the barrel, were made in the course of the gun’s working life.

Royal Cypher Crowned ‘P’

Beginning from the rear of the gun:

The weight is engraved above the touch-hole - 11 - 0 - [ ].

The numbers here represent 11 hundredweight (11 x 112
pounds) + 0 quarters (0 x 28 pounds) + unknown number of
pounds (up to 27), which would have been the last figure.
This gives the gun a minimum weight of 1232 pounds (558.8

Above this is a deeply engraved broad arrow (the mark of

government ownership), a crowned P and, cast onto the
gun, the royal cypher, GR. Guns intended for government
service had to have the royal monogram cast on them.
George II and George III both used the initials GR, with the
number 2 or 3 entwined with the G to differentiate them.
Unfortunately, in this cannon the number is too damaged to

The broad arrow was engraved on guns after they had

passed proof at Woolwich Arsenal and been accepted for
government service. The crowned P is a mark that was first
introduced late in 1749 for civilian guns proofed at Woolwich
(TNA WO 47/34, 422v). Only a limited number of institu-
tions were allowed this privilege, such as the English East
India Company or foreign governments. The presence of
this mark, in conjunction with the monogram and broad ar- Rear of cannon
row, suggests that, although the gun began its life in govern-
ment service, at some point it was sold off.

The other marks were put on during the gun’s working life: the 14 engraved at right angles to the
monogram and the sighting marks dividing the muzzle swell into quarters. The 14 indicates this
was gun number 14 in a battery, probably aboard ship. Such marks are often found on British
18th century ships; for example, one of the lost guns from the Endeavour is marked 13 (http:// The numbers and
notches engraved on the base-ring or rear of the gun and on the muzzle were to help with sight-
ing; the gunner had to line them up to fire his gun and hit the target. These were introduced for
sea service guns in 1736, when Thomas James was paid for placing 6 notches true upon all ships
guns for vertical and horizontal direction according to the 20 articles of Gunners’ Instruction (WO
51/135, 87v). Unfortunately, the gunfounder’s mark on the face of one of the trunnions is too
damaged to read.

All this helps us to identify the gun; it is a 4-pounder Armstrong pattern gun, cast in one of the
ironworks in the Weald in the reign of George II or the early years of George III. It would have
been proofed at Woolwich Arsenal between 1742 and 1783 and marked for service. These guns
were intended as the armament of the smaller types of warships, such as on the quarterdecks of
30- and 24-gun ships built in the War of the Austrian Succession and the Seven Years War which
followed (Lavery 1987: 103).

However, from the 1780s, there was a major change in British naval armament, when the smaller
calibre guns were gradually withdrawn from the great ships and replaced by the newly invented
carronades. The removed guns had a variety of fates. Some were used aboard smaller, non-
standard ships such as sloops and cutters like Captain Cook’s Endeavour. But a simple way to
dispose of old guns, especially at the end of a war, was to sell them, often at public market. In
May 1781, the Board of Ordnance, along with the British government, was in such financial dis-
tress, that they suggested selling all unserviceable ordnance, as well of our own as of Foreign
Founderies, to gain a return as early as possible of all the guns of whatever construction (WO
47/97, 386v). This seems a likely period for the gun to have been sold. The marks suggest it
then began a second phase of life, perhaps as part of the armament on an East Indiaman.
Cannon 2

The second gun is more surprising, as it comes from much further away than the 4 pounder. Un-
fortunately, it is in much worse condition than the British cannon so we can tell less about it, al-
though there is enough to identify its origins.

Again it is a muzzle-loading cast-iron gun. Its barrel tapers gradually from breech to the long
muzzle in one uninterrupted line and is split into three parts by pairs of raised bands. The casca-
bel, the button at the end of the barrel, and the trunnions, the two short arms that stick out at the
side of the guns to pivot it on its carriage, are both missing; the latter were set very low on the
barrel, almost at the lowest point.
The cannon can be identified as a
1 or 2 pounder gun, 157 cm (62
inches) long, with a bore of ap-
proximately 6 cm (2½ inches) cast
in Sweden. The points that indi-
cate its Swedish origin include the
taper of the cannon, the narrow
muzzle and the pairs of broad
bands. This type of cannon is
usually called a Finbanker, named
after Finspång, one of the most
important gun foundries in Swe-
den. Unfortunately, the features
that would help date it, such as
trunnion marks, the shape of the
cascabel and detailed profiles of
the bands are missing or too dam-
Breech aged. Its poor condition suggests
it is probably older than the British
cannon, probably dating between
about 1650 and 1730.
The Swedish gunfounders were
England’s only rival for much of
the 17th and 18th centuries. They
produced a distinctive type of gun,
finbankers, for use on both mer-
chant ships, such as those of the
famous Dutch East India Com-
pany, and state navies, such as
those of Denmark and France
(Brinck 2004 & 2005; Frantzen
Muzzle This slender gun could have ful-
Cannon 2 - Middle section

filled a number of different uses during its working life. It is probably too small and light to have
been aboard the larger trading vessels or naval ships; at a pinch it may have been on one of the
small warships or merchant ships in the 17th and 18th centuries. A less reputable use would
have been on a slaver and pirate ship. These often were armed with a large number of small cali-
bre guns, picked up in ports around the world. A number of slave and pirate ships have now
been excavated and they have a mixed armament of Swedish and English pieces, for example
the Nottingham Galley, lost off Maine in 1710 (Reiss 2008) or Blackbeard’s Queen Ann’s Re-
venge, lost in 1718 off North Carolina, USA (Lusardi 2000;

Post working life

How did these two guns, from such different origins, end their working lives in the waters off Great
Yarmouth? We will never know for sure, but there are a number of possibilities.

The Swedish finbanker could have been captured in war; for example, during the Dutch wars in
the 17th century, a number of Dutch and Swedish cannon came into British hands. Either gun
could have ended up at some point in the flourishing market in second-hand guns in London,
based round Southwark, Thames Street and Wapping in the 18th and 19th centuries. The ship
owner did not even have to buy his cannon; he could hire them from ships chandlers and iron-
mongers by the Thames for each voyage.

When a gun was damaged beyond repair or had finally become obsolete, it could still have a
number of different uses. If the trunnions had been knocked off, it could be used as a bollard, a
post holder, or to protect corners of buildings. One of the most common uses for old guns, which
we can still see today, is as mooring posts on wharves or harbours (Brown 2009).

In October 1766, ten unusable 6- or 9-pounder guns were sent to Chatham for mooring posts at
the Gun Wharf there (WO 47/68, 106r). In September 1780, the Ordnance ordered eight old 9-
pounders for the New Wharf at Woolwich for ships to moor at (WO 47/96,253v). The differential
wear on the G gun (see Appendix), also from Great Yarmouth, suggests this was its fate.

Another use was as the weight for a buoy. In recent years, during work on old ports and har-
bours, cast-iron cannon attached to chains have been recovered, including a number from Lon-
don Docklands and Kingsnorth on the Kent coast. The Ordnance records for 1771 has a request
for an unserviceable 12 pounder Iron Ordnance to be sent to Purfleet, to be sunk at the end of a
chain at Low Water Mark for the warping Vessels out of the Creek (WO 47/78 202 r). With Great
Yarmouth’s position as an Ordnance depot, this is almost certainly how these two cannon from
different countries and with different histories, ended up in the same place.

War Office papers The National Archives: series WO 47, 49 and 51

Printed sources

Brinck, N., Coats of arms on guns of the Dutch Admiralties, Journal of the Ordnance Society 16:
43-56, 2004
Brinck, N., Identification of the marks of the Dutch auxiliary maritime forces in the 17th and 18th
centuries, Journal of the Ordnance Society 17: 39-48, 2005
Brown, R.R., New uses for old cannon in the 17th and 18th centuries, Journal of the Ordnance
Society 21, 2009
Frantzen, O., Finbankers, Journal of the Ordnance Society 13: 5-24, 2001
Lavery Brian, The Arming and Fitting of English Ships of War 1600-1815 (London), 1987
Lusardi, W.R., The Beaufort Inlet Shipwreck Project, The International Journal of Nautical Archae-
ology 29.1: 57-68, 2000
Reiss, W.C., The Nottingham galley at Boon Island: history, archaeology and novel The Northern
Mariner 18,, 2008

* Works to repair and upgrade flood defences were undertaken on the west bank of the River
Yare at Great Yarmouth in 2014. Works were carried out by Interserve on behalf of the Environ-
ment Agency. During these works two cannon and other ironwork were pulled from the river.
CH2M, the environmental co-ordinator, was informed and Heather Wallis (freelance archaeolo-
gists) assessed the discoveries. The site was located at TG 5239, 0686, adjacent to the site of
the early 19th century Southtown Arsenal. Further details are recorded in the Norfolk Historic En-
vironment Record, reference ENF134252. The recording works were funded by the Environment
Agency, and temporary storage was provided by Ventureforth 2000 Ltd. The two cannon remain
in private ownership.


There is another cannon in Great Yarmouth, recovered from this site in 1982, which is now
mounted on the Quayside.

Royal Cypher Trunnion mark


Calibre 4¾ inches (12 cm)

Length 7½ feet (228.6 cm)


Armstrong pattern cast-iron gun


Weight 27-3-19
GR2 monogram
Right trunnion G (or less likely C)


This is a 12 pounder of 7½ feet. This pattern was introduced for the new Southampton class of
frigate. The Captain of the Southampton complained that the 12 pounders of 9 foot issued to his
ship were too long for their position onboard. Special short, 7½ foot guns had to be ordered; this
example with its GR 2 monogram, must have been one of the first, cast between 1757 and 1760.

The trunnion mark indicates it was cast at Gloucester Furnace, Lamberhurst, on the Kent-Sussex
border, the largest of the Wealden ironworks. (The mark can also be interpreted as a C, but this
is less likely as the Conster ironworks was being run down at this time).

The difference in wear across the barrel - the chase, the front half of the gun is very clean, while
the back half is severely corroded and pitted, suggests at some point this cannon was used as a

HMS Lutine, the Financial Crisis and the Great Yarmouth Connection
Paul P. Davies

It is not widely known that, arguably, one of the most famous

ship wrecks in the world happened to a ship that sailed on its
last fateful journey from Great Yarmouth. That ship was HMS

Lutine was built with 32 guns and was launched at Toulon in

1779. On 27th September 1793, during the siege of Toulon,
the French Royalists in Toulon surrendered the city, naval
dockyards, arsenal, and French Mediterranean fleet to a Brit-
ish fleet commanded by Lord Hood. The French vessels in-
cluded: 17 ships of the line, five frigates and 11 corvettes,1
but many were in a poor condition and were burnt. This sur-
render was to prevent the ships falling into the French Repub-
licans’ hands. La Lutine was one of these ships and was
commissioned into the Royal Navy as HMS Lutine and was
rebuilt by the British as a fifth-rate frigate with 38 guns. She
served thereafter in the North Sea and saw service in the HMS Lutine
various battles against the Dutch, including the Battle of Cam-

Before the start of the Napoleonic War, communication from

London to France was via Dover and the short sea route to
Calais. The Post Office packet boats, which carried the mail
not only for France, but also for Germany, Austria and Italy on
this route, naturally were unable to use Dover and Calais dur-
ing the Napoleonic War for the mail sent to countries still unoc-
cupied by the French. Therefore, the Dover packet boats were
transferred to the Harwich Packet Station, whose 60-ton ves-
sels carried the mail to the Dutch ports. Post Office packets
were official vessels and armed with 4 four-pounders. They
relied on speed rather than their armament. Throughout the
18th century the French continental campaigns interrupted the
mail service and made the crossing of the North Sea a hazard-
ous business. Numerous accounts of the capture of the packet
boats have been recorded. In 1785, the Post Office was,
therefore, forced to transfer the Packet Station from Harwich to
Great Yarmouth. Several documents record this move, for ex-
ample: as the foreign mail will
A Post Office packet
regularly be dispatched from
Yarmouth at this time and Your
Lordships have been pleased to
appoint Mr. Warmington as
agent, who will regularly require
some instruction in his duties in
his situation I presume to tell
you to send Mr. Saverland, who
is conversant with all packet du-
ties to proceed to Yarmouth and
give Mr. Warmington such help
as he may stand in need of.
Normal expenses will be in-
The Society’s plaque to Warming-
ton During the Napoleonic War the Mr. Warmington

A letter from Yarmouth, dated August 1st, says: Our fears for the safety of the packets that are due are
eased by the arrival of a vessel this day from Hamburg, by which we learn that they are all detained at
Cuxhaven, on account of the great number of privateers that infest the North Sea, and are coming over in a
convoy of the frigate, HMS Brilliant; which ship, as well as the packets, has a great quantity of money on
board, both gold and silver. The Dolphin packet, with the Hamburg mail of the 7th, has been taken and
carried into Holland and it is feared that the Carteret packet has also been taken.
Hereford Journal 5th August 1797
last exchange of mail with France was on 25th March An express from Yarmouth reached the city
1793 and with the Low Countries, 1795.4 By 1793, on Wednesday afternoon, with letters for
Napoleon's continental conquests began to make the different mercantile houses, which were
landing in Holland very difficult and, in 1798, occurred brought over from Hamburg. It was to
the great frost, which shut most of the harbours with provide for the payment of some protested
ice in the vicinity of Hamburg. bills which came over in the mails, that the
eye-boat was dispatched. Many more
By about 1795, with intermittent war raging across failures have taken place in Hamburg and
much of Western Europe, Hamburg had replaced have caused the greatest consternation in
the commercial world. Seven houses have
Amsterdam as an important hub for the commodities
stopped in Bremen, eleven at Frankfurt and
trade. The sudden shift of activity to Hamburg was fourteen at Amsterdam. The loss of the
accompanied by speculation (centred on the West Lutine will add to the mischief; yet connected
Indies imports: sugar, coffee and spices), a rise in as the merchants of this country are with the
prices, and an expansion of credit. From 1795 to Hamburgers, it is remarkable that Saturday’s
1799, Hamburg boomed. Cheap housing was re- Gazette did not contain a single bankruptcy,
placed with warehouses, rents increased, and mer- and that of last night but two.
chants reaped the profits from a war-torn Europe. Newcastle Courant 26th October 1799
Prices for goods increased, the harbour was full and
the warehouses were bulging. However, the summer Extract of a letter from Hamburg October
of 1798 was dry and the autumn wheat harvest was 12th: The agreeable news brought by
poor. A harsh winter of 1798-99 iced over the har- Captain Searles from London, the 4th
bour, immobilizing ships, and hampering the transfer October, and who came over in a fishing
of goods from ship to shore. As speculation further smack, purporting that a large quantity of
drove up prices, consumption decreased, and by specie (coins) and bullion was to be brought
over by Messrs Goldsmids and others to
spring, supply greatly outstripped demand and prices
relieve Hamburg merchants, occasioned, it is
fell. Bills of exchange, which had previously ex- true, great joy among their drooping spirits;
panded, now contracted, sales fell, and prices plum- but the English mail of the 4th, not having
meted. By August 1799, the crisis had begun in ear- arrived, and four capital houses having since
nest with Hamburg in the grips of a violent commer- been obliged to stop payments, it has
cial contraction. Excess demand and speculation caused fresh troubles among our mercantile
drove up prices. By spring 1799, demand continued men, and almost shaken the foundation of
to be lower than supply, and prices continued falling, the very first houses. Indeed, the
credit tightened, and the decline in prices acceler- consequences of this evil are incalculable, if
ated. The whole finances of Europe were in an eco- the promised succour does not arrive soon
from England. Of the four capital houses
nomic meltdown. Due to severe liquidity problems,
stopped payment, one has declared itself
between August and November, 82 banking houses bankrupt late last night, viz: Berend Roofen
failed and more than 150 firms were declared insol- Solomon’s son, for 1,037,800 marks banco.
vent, with the crisis spreading to other trade centres To the failures at Hamburg, we have to add
like Bremen and Frankfurt.4 the following, announced by this day’s mail:
Oct 9th: Pet. Elert von Resewig, Pierre Aug.
Throughout the period of the Napoleonic War, English Joseph Hamoir du Croizie
merchants and foreign merchants living in London Oct 11th: H. A. F. Kauer, Nicholas
carried out a very large import trade of foreign goods, Dominique le Laevre and Sons, Herm. Him.
not only from continental countries not under the Kols.
But these are not the only failures. We are
French occupation, but also via Hamburg with France
sorry to state, that an express sent by bye-
itself. As the years went by, very large sums of boat, which arrived before the mail, brings an
money owed to continental merchants began to build account of the failure of the house of Wolf,
up in the City of London. With the activities of the pri- Leven and Popert, one of the great banking
vateers and the freeze-up of the winter of 1798-99, it houses.
became imperative to ship the gold somehow and Saunders’ Newsletter 24th October 1799
with the maximum amount of security. Since the Post Office packets were inadequate for the pur-
pose, the merchants sought help from the Admiralty, in the person of Admiral Duncan, the Com-
mander in Chief of the North Sea Fleet based in Great Yarmouth, who agreed that a naval ship
should attempt the passage. Initially, he detailed the cutter, Courier, for the task. He then had
second thoughts and, on reflection, felt a larger vessel was more appropriate. Therefore, HMS
Lutine, captained by 32-year-old Lancelot Skynner R.N., was chosen. Peter Smith writes: that
both the passengers and the cargo were offloaded from the Courier and loaded onto the Lutine.5a
Presumably this took place in Yarmouth Roads.

Skynner was engaged to be

married to the daughter of a
wealthy City of London mer-
chant. The London mer-
chants were secretly in-
formed of the project, and
Great Yarmouth was cho-
sen as the port from which
the frigate would sail. Dur- Yarmouth Roads by Thomas Rowlandson (1756-1827)
ing September 1799, con-
voys of wagons, with armed
escorts, began to carry the gold, silver, as well as thousands of Spanish coins, in boxes to Great
Yarmouth. A few days before departure, bullion to the value then of over £1,175,000 (figures
vary) was put on board the Lutine. It has been estimated that 1,000 gold bars were loaded.5a
The cargo was mainly insured by Lloyd’s of London with
other insurance companies taking a minor part. According to
the Salisbury and Winchester Journal of Monday 21st Octo-
ber she was also taking mail for the army in Holland. Along-
side the crew there were about 20 to 30 representatives of
the London banks, travelling as passengers. On 8th October
1799, a ball was held on board the Lutine with local dignitar-
ies attending. The order to sail came during the ball and the
guests were hurried ashore. She set sail for Cuxhaven (the
port for Hamburg) from Yarmouth Roads in the early morn-
ing on 9th October 1799 with a fortune on board.5 The First
Lieutenant was James Aufrère and the surgeon was Walter

Earlier in October, two journeys had taken place across the

North Sea. Firstly, the frigate Amethyst had taken silver
coins to Texel for the army fighting in continental Europe and
secondly, the armed cutter, Nile, took bullion from Goldsmids
Captain Skynner and Company to Hamburg. These voyages had taken place
without incident.5a When the City of London merchants
heard about these voyages, they pressurised the Admiralty to ship their silver and gold. Thus,
Lutine was delegated for this purpose.

In the evening of 9th October 1799, during a heavy north-westerly gale, Lutine having made un-
expected leeway, was drawn by the tide flowing into the Waddenzee onto a sandbank in Vlie (Fly)
off the island of Terschelling in the West Frisian Islands. There, she became a total loss. All but
two of her 250 (approximate) passengers and crew perished in the breaking seas. The mail from
England was found floating in the sea near the sandbank and returned to the General Post Of-

One body washed ashore, a month later, 350 miles to the north on 11th November on the Isle of
SyIt was a young man, Daniel Wienholt. He was conveying £40,000 for the House of Parish and
Co. of Hamburg.5a Wienholt had fought in the naval battles in the Napoleonic War and was the
brother of a landed proprietor in South Wales and a leading London merchant, John Birkett Wien-
holt.7a John Wienholt was de-
clared bankrupt in 1801. Articles
found on Daniel’s body were a
gold watch of 16 carats made by
Daniel D. St. Leu of London (by
the stoppage of the hands at
3.10am the time of the disaster
was known), a pair of gold sleeve
links with ‘D.W’. on them, and one
pair of small silver knee buckles.
The body was dressed in a black
coat, yellow waistcoat, a shirt and
under it a woollen chest protector,
yellow trousers, white cotton
stockings and boots, and a hand-
kerchief with pink borders marked
‘D.W’. The body was washed
ashore at Hornum and was
viewed coming in by the Starnd HMS Lutine in extremis
Inspector, who had it carried to
Rantum and put in a coffin and then transported to Westerland, where it was buried in the ceme-
tery attached to St. Niels Church. Some years later his nephew, Arnold Wienholt, visited the is-
land and paid for the church to be restored and a tablet erected to his uncle's memory. Daniel
Wienholt's was aboard HMS Lutine to accompany the money, which his uncle, a city merchant,
had put on board for transport to Hamburg.7b On reporting the loss of the Lutine, the Cumberland
Pacquet stated that the armed brig, Courier, had arrived safely at Cuxhaven.8 Did she accom-
pany the Lutine?

Captain Portlock, Commander of the British Squadron at Vlieland, was on board HMS Arrow
close by, but was unable to give assistance and when dawn broke he could not see anything left
of the Lutine. This led to some newspaper reports stating that the Lutine had escaped the sands
and was safe. Portlock reported the loss, writ-
Among the persons of distinction lost on board the ing to the Admiralty on 10th October 1799:
Lutine frigate was the Duke de Chatillon, son of the
Duke of Luxemburg. Sir, It is with extreme pain that I have to state
Chester Chronicle 8th November 1799 to you the melancholy fate of HMS Lutine,
which ship ran on to the outer bank of the Vlie
Lately lost in Lutine frigate, Lieu. Charles Aufrère, Island passage on the night of the 9th inst. in a
third son of Anthony Aufrère Esq., of Hoveton Hall, heavy gale of wind from the NNW, and I am
Norfolk: his unfortunate fate will be lamented by his
much afraid the crew with the exception of one
numerous relatives and friends, to whom his
amiable qualities had particularly endeared him. man, who was saved on a part of the wreck,
Ipswich Journal 9th November 1799 have perished. This man, when taken up, was
His father, Anthony Aufrère (1757-1833 was an almost exhausted. He is at present tolerably
English antiquary, barrister and translator) recovered, and relates that the Lutine left Yar-
mouth Roads on the morning of the 9th inst.
Miss Goldsmid is at present inconsolable in
The following account of the loss of the Lutine is
consequence of the loss of the young gentleman
given in a Hamburg paper by today’s mail.
she was about to bestow her fair hand having
perished in the Lutine frigate. Her father is also Captain Cook of the bye-boat, arrived at
extremely unhappy on the occasion. He regrets Hamburg, reports that the cutter, Espeigle,
more the loss of his friends than that of his property picked up at sea, near Borkum, two men on their
with which the frigate was chiefly freighted. oars, the only survivors of the Lutine frigate, one
Kentish Weekly Post 29th October 1799 of whom expired soon after his arrival at
Goldsmid is the name of a family of Anglo-Jewish Yarmouth; the other deposed, that being under a
bankers, who became great powers in the money press of sail, at about eight knots an hour, the
market, during the Napoleonic War, through their vessel struck on a rock and instantly upset.
dealings with the government Oxford Journal 9th November 1799

bound for the Texel (an error for the ship was bound for Hamburg,
but a crew member would not know of the destination because of
the secrecy of the mission), and that she had on board a consider-
able quantity of money. The wind blowing strong from the NNW,
and the lee tide coming on, rendered it impossible with other boats
to go out to aid her until daylight in the morning, and at that time
nothing was to be seen but parts of the wreck.9

Three officers, including Captain Skynner and Lieutenant Aufrère,

were buried in the Vlieland churchyard and around 200 others,
who were washed up, were buried in a mass grave near
the Brandaris Lighthouse in Terschelling. No memorials mark
these graves. Lloyd’s of London paid the claim in full. In 1838,
the complete archive of Lloyd’s was destroyed by fire, so it is not
possible to know the exact value of the bullion on board HMS Lu-
tine. An uncorroborated newspaper report in 1869 referred to the
Dutch crown jewels belonging to the Prince of Orange, which had Captain Portlock
been recently reset and polished by the well-known London jewel-
lers, Rundell and Bridge, of 32 Ludgate Hill, were on board. Ac-
cording to Peter Smith, this is unlikely as the first official regalia of Holland was not commissioned
until 1840.5a It is thus, lamented Frederick Martin, a historian: history is written and then copied.

The site of the wreck, the Vlie, was notorious for its strong currents and the danger of storms forc-
ing ships onto the shore. The area is composed of sandbanks and
shoals, which the currents continuously shift, with channels through
them. The depth of water also constantly changes, and this has
caused much of the difficulty in salvage attempts. Over the years,
many attempts have been made to salvage the bullion, but shift-
ing sandbanks have disrupted salvage attempts and the majority of
the cargo has never been recovered. The gold was apparently stored
in flimsy casks bound with weak iron hoops and the silver in casks
with wooden hoops. Within a year of the wreck, these casks had
largely disintegrated, and the sea had started to scatter the wreck
and the bullion with sand covering it. Immediately after HMS Lutine
sank, the wreck began silting up, forcing an end to salvage attempts
by 1804. By chance, it was discovered in 1857 that the wreck was
again uncovered, but covered again in 1859.

Within 18 months from the date of the wreck, local fishermen had re-
covered some bullion, comprising 58 bars of gold and 35 bars of sil-
ver, 42,000 Spanish silver pistoles and 179 gold pistoles together
with English guineas. In August 1800, a cask of seven gold bars,
Skynner’s gravestone
weighing 37 kilograms (82 lb) and a small chest containing 4,606
Spanish piastres was recovered. During the next month, two small
casks were recovered, one with its bottom stoved in, yielding twelve gold bars. However, the ex-
penses of this salvage were greater than the recoveries. The salvage operations had to be sus-
pended at the end of 1801, as the sand had covered up the hull of the ship. High tides have peri-
odically uncovered the hull and hurriedly salvage has recommenced. In 1814, Pierre Eschangier
of Terschelling attempted to raise the gold and in 1822 divers went down in a diving bell. They
lost £5,000 in capital and the venture ceased. In 1857, the wreck was once again uncovered by
severe south-westerly gales and £25,000 was brought up, but the operation had to stop in 1861.
An account in 1911 reports the recovery of 41,697 Spanish silver pistoles, 81 double Louis d’or,
138 single Louis d'or and 4 English guineas.7 Sent to England was a packet of silver spoons ini-
tialled W.S and recognized as belonging to the Lutine 's captain; likewise a salvaged sword was
identified as belonging to Lt. Charles Gustine Aufrere.10
In 1886, a cannon was salvaged and presented by the insurer, Lloyd’s, to Queen Victoria. It is
now on display at Windsor Castle. Another cannon is on display at the Guildhall in London. More
are on display in Amster-
dam’s Stedelijk Museum, and
at least four are on the island
of Terschelling.

In 1891, a few small coins

were found.

In 1896, a cannon was pre-

sented to Queen Wilhelmina
of the Netherlands.

In 1898, two hundred weight

of timber was recovered, from
which a chair was made for
Lloyd's of London.

In 1913, the two bower an-

chors carried at the ship's
bow, each weighing 3,900
kilograms (8,600 lb) were re-
covered and put on display in

In 1933, an attempt was Sea Chart of 1886 showing the position of the Lutine
made to salvage the treas-
ure, but was stopped when
the salvage bell was
wrecked by a World War
One sea mine and a year
later another attempt was

In 1938, an attempt was

made to salvage the treas-
ure. Only one gold bar was

In 1858, Lloyd's estimated

the total value at
£1.2 million, made up of
both silver and gold. Despite extended operations, over 80% remains to be salvaged.
Relics, now in the National Maritime Museum, saved from the wreck of HMS Lutine, include
seven naval buttons, a metal plaque marked ICM, eight lead shot, a piece of oak, a spoon in
three pieces, copper sheathing, four nails, a map of the wreck site and two articles (now broken)

The cannon from the Lutine at Windsor Castle

made from the ship's timber. Also the frame of a photograph of the me-
morial to Daniel Wienholt lost in the Lutine made from a rib of the ship.

The ship's bell, engraved ST. JEAN – 1779, (St. John the Baptist under
whose protection the Lutine was launched) was recovered on 17th July
1858. The bell was found entangled in the chains originally running from
the ship’s wheel to the rudder. It was re-hung from the rostrum of
the Underwriting Room at Lloyd's. The bell weighs 48 kilograms (106 lb)
and is 46 centimetres (18 in) in diameter. It remains a mystery why the
name of the ship is not on the bell. At Lloyd’s the bell was traditionally
struck when news of an overdue ship arrived; once for the loss of a ship
and twice for her return. The bell was sounded to ensure that
all brokers and underwriters were made aware of the news simultane-
ously. The bell has developed a crack and the traditional practice of ring-
ing news has ended: the last time it was rung to tell of a lost ship was in
1979 and the last time it was rung to herald the return of an overdue ship Beaker made from a
was in 1989. It is now rung sparingly on very special occasions, for exam- silver bar recovered
ple: when a member of the Royal Family dies, for disasters such as the from the wreck of HMS
9/11 disaster, the Asian Tsunami, etc. It is always rung at the start and Lutine. Dated 1888
end of the two minutes silence on Armistice Day. © National Maritime
There must be still over one million
pounds of the original value in or near the hull. Perhaps one
day we shall hear of a modern treasure hunt and the recovery
of the gold.7 Of course, the bullion belongs to Lloyd’s of Lon-

Eventually, the financial crisis in Hamburg was abated with

funds being sent from Berlin and later, London.5a

In these days of conspiracy theories and claims of cover-ups,

there is an interesting postscript to the disaster. Until 1997, the
loss of the Lutine was always blamed on an unfortunate coinci-
dence of circumstances. When the Musea of Vlieland and Ter-
schelling organised a Lutine commemoration in 1999, they
made some unexpected discoveries. They concluded that the
loss of the Lutine was due to human failure. The Royal Navy at
that time did not accept any human failure. Every minor mis-
take of a captain, and certainly one that involved the loss of a
ship, was investigated fully by the Admiralty. A captain’s failure
could bring a death penalty or disgrace. Furthermore, a dis-
graced captain’s widow did not receive a pension. Strangely
for such a major disaster, there is a lack of detailed archival
The Lutine Bell at Lloyd’s material regarding the actual disaster and the newspaper re-
ports are conflicting. The museum suggested that certain
documents had been removed from the archive. Lutine was in a perfect state of maintenance
with an overhaul and replacement of the rigging the previous year. Indeed, Admiral Duncan had
described the Lutine as: one of the swiftest and best-manned vessel in his fleet. She had been
intensively employed in the area of the Frisian islands in the previous years, thus the crew were
experienced in navigating the area and knew how she handled in different conditions; a north-
westerly gale would have been routine to the crew. It would have been easy to give the danger-
ous area of the sands a wide berth. Indeed, Captain Skynner had been in charge of the Lutine
since 1796 and had travelled the route to Cuxhaven several times. Indeed, just three weeks be-
fore the disaster, he had escorted the packet boat, the Prince of Orange, to Cuxhaven.
But, what of the survivors? Once again reports of the two survivors rescued are conflicting. The
Musea of Vlieland and Terschelling painstakingly searched the muster and pay books of the
Royal Navy and came up with the name, Able Seaman John Rogers. An entry states: he was
from the Arrow, late the Lutine. A muster list of the Lutine confirms that Rogers was a crew mem-
ber. He was next found on HMS Isis, when it was noted that he was unserviceable. He returned
to England and transferred to the hospital ship, Spanker. He seemed to have recovered and he
was transferred from there to the Grãna. The last report on him is dated 14th May 1800: John
Rogers, born in Newry had run (deserted). No more is heard of him and with that an eyewitness
account of the disaster was lost.5a

The second survivor, who is named by some historians as Isaac Hartog Levy Schabracq, a No-
tary Public, did not live very long. He could not give a coherent account of the disaster and died
shortly afterwards before his shattered nerves had mended.5a However, some newspaper reports
state that he was landed at Great Yarmouth and that the other survivor died when his rescue boat
hit rocks. Such is the confusion surrounding the whole episode.

On 21st March 2016, the Society unveiled a plaque commemo-

rating the sailing of HMS Lutine from Yarmouth Roads prior to its
loss off the Dutch coast. The plaque was placed on Maritime
House, Marine Parade, opposite the Roads, as a continuation of
the Society’s policy of publicising the rich history of Great Yar-
mouth. It is appropriate that Maritime House is the former Ship-
wrecked Sailors’ Home.


Ireland, B., The Fall of Toulon: The Last Opportunity to Defeat the French Revolution, p.301,
Weidenfeld and Nicolson, ISBN 0-297-84612-4, 2005
Ireland, B., The Fall of Toulon: The Last Opportunity to Defeat the French Revolution, p.247,
Weidenfeld and Nicolson, ISBN 0-297-84612-4, 2005
Postmaster General Report, February 12th 1795
Narron, J. S., Skeie, D., Morgan, D., The Hamburg Crisis of 1799 and How Extreme Winter
Weather Still Disrupts the Economy, Crisis Chronicles, Federal Reserve Bank of New York,
McBride, J., Yarmouth Archaeology 2000, War, Mail, Bullion and Bell, Yarmouth Archaeology,
Smith, Peter C., Sailors on the Rocks: Famous Royal Navy Shipwrecks, Pen and Sword
Books, 2015
Northampton Mercury, Saturday 2nd November 1799
Stitt-Dibden, W, G., Great Yarmouth Gold, East Anglian Magazine, pp. 552-56, 1960
Lack, C., The Man whom the Lion Bit, Royal Historical Society of Queensland, 1969
Paine, Ralph Delahaye, The Book of Buried Treasure: Being a True History of the Gold, Jew-
els, and Plate of Pirates, Galleons, etc., which are Sought for to this Day, W. Heinemann, 1911

Cumberland Pacquet, 29th October 1799
Van der Molen, S. J., The Lutine Treasure, Adlard Coles Ltd., ISBN 0-229-97482-1, 1970
Chambers, W. and R., Story of the Lutine, Chambers' Journal 53, p. 440, 1876
Sussex, V. J., Smith, S. S., Continental Mail Service 1793-1815, East Anglia Postal History
Circle, 1976
The Blackfriars in Great Yarmouth
Andrew Fakes and Paul P. Davies

There were five religious houses in Great Yarmouth and

Gorleston. Three friaries and a priory were founded inside the
town walls in Great Yarmouth, while one priory was situated at

Over the last ten years the society

has marked two of these sites with
the erection of a blue plaque.
Firstly, on the Quaker Meeting
House in Howard Street in Great
Yarmouth. The Austin Friars had
a cell on this site belonging to a
major Augustinian Friary, which
was founded in Gorleston in the 1250s at the junction of Burnt
Lane and Beccles Road. Secondly, on Whitefriars’ House on
North Quay. This was the site of a large Carmelite (Whitefriars)
friary, which was founded in 1276. This friary was destroyed by
fire in 1509.

Two other establishments in Great Yarmouth have remains in the town, namely the Greyfriars
and the Benedictines. Firstly, the Greyfriars (Franciscan) Friary was founded in 1271 near South
Quay. This friary was dissolved in 1534 with parts of the buildings converted into private
dwellings. Today, parts of the friary remain, including the only remaining vaulted Franciscan
cloister in the United Kingdom. Secondly,
Herbert de Losinga founded a Benedictine
Priory in Great Yarmouth to the south of St.
Nicholas's Church, using that as their priory
church. It was dissolved in 1539 and had been
host to King Richard II in 1382. The early 14th
century refectory survives as the Priory Centre.

The Dominican (Blackfriars) Friary was

founded in the early 1270s at the south end of
the town, on Friars Lane, under the present fire
station. In medieval times, Friars Lane was
narrow and so-named as it separated the friary
from the houses of the town. The lane was
widened in 1866 by removing some of the
houses on its north side. The friary took up all
the land between Friar's Lane and the town
wall.1 Its church burnt down in 1525 and the
friary was dissolved during the Reformation
(around 1534). The friary buildings were
demolished around 1600 to make way for
Drury House and other buildings. Henry
Manship in his History of Gt. Yarmouth (1619)
writes: the walls whereof with the foundations,
twenty years past, were wholly dug up and
dispersed to other uses.2 By the early part of
the 19th century, the whole site had been built
over with streets of houses and fish-houses
and the Clipper Schooner public house was re-
built in 1938. By 1970, the whole area had
A black friar been cleared for re-development.
The Dominican Blackfriars were so-called because of the black cappa or cloak they wore over
their white habits. They were a predicant (preaching) and mendicant (begging) order founded by
the Spanish Augustin Preacher, St Dominic, to combat the Albigensian (more commonly known
as the Cathars; a heretical gnostic sect) heresy in France. The order was confirmed by the Pope
in 1215 and its rules were codified in 1221. Although dedicated to corporate poverty, the order
was a leader in education and learning. The famous medieval scholar, Thomas Aquinus, was
perhaps, its most famous brother.

Friars were involved in the community providing services to the population and became more
popular than many monks and church priests, who were isolated from the people and accepted
money from the public, but doing nothing for it and often living very well.

In 1271, Henry III gave the Blackfriars permission to take in a piece of ground 500 feet square
called Le Stronde (The Strand) in Great Yarmouth. The first buildings were complete by 1273.
Later, Edward II gave them permission to add to their site in 1314. They also obtained some land
from Sir Edward Charles, who owned a fleet of ships. He had the title of Admiral of the North
covering the area from the Thames to the Scottish boarder at Berwick. This title was presumably
granted by the King in exchange for military service. The church for the Friary was said to have
been built by William of Worcester, who died in 1304. It may have been completed after his

The high regard in which the friars were held is indicated by the generosity of rich people, who left
bequests to the Friary, as they thought this would bring them credit in the afterlife. At the end of
the 13th century, Thomas Fastolfe benefited the order and many of his family were buried here.
Richard, Duke of York, who was killed at the Battle of Wakefield during the Wars of the Roses in
1460, was a benefactor of this Friary. Also, there was a desire to be buried in the church, such as
Simon de Ormesby, who died in 1349, the plague year, and he left a bequest of ten shillings.
There were many other gifts to the order.1 However, the riches brought into the friaries eventually
led the friars away from piety to luxury and sloth.

The Blackfriars’ property eventually stretched the

entire length of Friars Lane and was bounded in the
east and the south by the town wall. As well as its
buildings, it had large gardens, orchards and a
dovecote. It had the power to grant sanctuary to
fugitives. For example, in 1295, John Schot of
Norwich placed himself in the Church of the Friars
Preachers (here at Blackfriars) on Friday after the
Conception of the Blessed Mary and acknowledged
that he had stolen goods from merchants of
Winchelsea and Flanders to the value of £30, and
had broken out of gaol. He was allowed to leave
the country and was ordered to take his departure
from Portsmouth within three weeks.1 The power of
sanctuary was not removed until the Reformation.

Records for around the year 1525 state: the

Churche and Queere of the Black Friars in the
Towne of Yarmouthe was burnte with fire. This
was presumably accidental and Manship says that:
before the end of that century the walls were pulled
down and the very foundations were digged up and
diverted to other uses.2

The last Prior was Edmund Hercock and, as the Town wall in Blackfriars Road with pieces of
property was presumably derelict, it was stone, presumably from the friary
surrendered to Henry VIII in 1542 and sold to
various people over the years.
At the time of the Spanish Armada scare in 1588, the town walls were rampired; that is, they were
built up on the inside with soil and sand to reinforce them against cannon fire. The work around
Blackfrairs Road caused the wall to fall down and it was rebuilt with various pieces of stone, some
of which probably came from a religious building, namely the Blackfriars. Also, the town wall was
subjected to damage from tidal surges. For example, in 1557, there was a reconstruction of the
town wall between Friar’s Lane and the South East Tower, it having collapsed or swept away by
a great rage (a high tide).6 Again Friary stone was probably used.

Harry Johnson (the Mercury Cornerman) wrote in

1927 in the Yarmouth Mercury that in about 1850,
skeletons were discovered between the two towers
at the south end of the town wall. In all there were
ten skeletons in two tiers. The coffins were in a
decayed state and situated about 15 feet to the
west of the wall.3

Arch discovered in the Unicorn public house

The red brick arch in Row 143

In 1874, Palmer suggested that the Friary
might have possessed buildings to the north of Friars Lane, as in the mid 19th century the
removal of a wall from the Unicorn public house at 66 and 67 South Quay revealed a lofty and
handsomely decorated stone gateway with a pointed arch. The stone mouldings were set into
squared flints. Also, beyond, in a straight line eastward, in Row 143, was a doorway with a
flattened arch in red brick. It presented a smooth surface externally, and it was found that on the
other three sides it was richly carved,
leading to the belief that it had at one time
formed the base of a pinnacle belonging to
the Church of the Blackfriars. Each side
exhibited a figure standing within a
canopied recess.1

In 1946, medieval stone tracery fragments

were discovered built into the wall of the
yard of the South Star public house (now
the Quayside Tavern) on South Quay.

When the new fire station was being built

on the site of the Blackfriars in 1970, our
former President, George Rye, was given
permission to hold a watching brief on
behalf of archaeological interests. His
conclusions were: there is evidence for a
church over 200 feet long (Great
Yarmouth’s St. Nicholas Church is 230 feet
long); a nave of 30 feet wide with north and
Carvings found on the arch in Row 143
Drawing by C.W.J. Winter
south aisles of 10 feet. The cloister garth

The wall in the yard of the Quayside Tavern

would have been to the south and also the ranges of the friars’ domestic buildings, but no
evidence of these were noticed as they probably lie outside the limits of this site. The east end
may well be on the site of the east wall of the Clipper Schooner yard. The west end may have
been destroyed when the cellars of the buildings on South Quay were being dug.4

During the 1970 excavation, the

following items were found: Roman,
medieval and post-medieval pottery,
medieval stonework and a medieval
millstone from the Rhineland. Also
uncovered were walls, buttresses,
pillar bases, an undercroft, 15
skeletons (including some eight or
nine burials about three feet below
the church floor level), a stone coffin,
a gargoyle, a kneeling figure corbel,
20 fragments of burnt window glass
and part of a central shaft of a
Site of the stone coffin with Friars Lane in the background 1970

of the stone
coffin in

Rye’s site plan of 1970

window tracery. The stone coffin, without a lid, was excavated and contained the disturbed bones
of a human skeleton. It was thought that it had been desecrated and the coffin had been filled
with the surrounding earth. Fragments of mortar, plaster, tile, and the base of a German
stoneware jug of c1550 were found in the fill.5

When properties in the north-west

corner of the site (South Quay/Friars
Lane) were demolished in 1977,
skeletons, medieval sherds, one
unabraded black burnished second
century Roman sherd and carved
stone were unearthed. There was
evidence that the church extended
at least one bay further west than
previously thought. Within this area
stood Drury House, a fine early 17th
century mansion, which was built on
land once the orchard and garden of
the Blackfriars and demolished in

The cellars of the buildings on South

Plan of the Friary site outlined in red Quay, referred to by Rye in 1970,
belonged to Yarmouth Stores Ltd.
and, in 1977, t hese wer e
demolished and a new building erected on the site for the same firm. Two wide trenches six feet
deep were cut north to south across the site to accommodate the new building foundations.
Against the South Quay and against Friars Lane, cellaring had destroyed any evidence of earlier
structures, but towards the centre of the site, the mechanical excavator disclosed some human
burials. On inspection they appeared to be in planned rows and closely spaced. Six or eight
graves in two rows were seen. The bottom strata of the ground showed bands of silt and sand
layers. The silt was taken to be evidence of heavy flooding by the river in previous ages. A small
scraping of some of the grave fills for dating evidence
produced, among medieval sherds, unabraded
Roman black-burnished ware of about the second
century. It is assumed to have been washed up by a
flood tide at some point. Another bore-hole on the site
had produced human bones and, as some of the
graves were south of the width of the church, it was
taken that this was a graveyard to the west of the
church. All building foundations seen in the trenches
appeared to be later in date than the Friary and there
was nothing to suggest the church. A space some 30
feet wide was left between the back of the new
building and the wall forming the boundary of the Fire
Drury House Station. This was to be a car park. Rye was only
allowed one day to dig a trench and then backfill. An
area was plotted out, which he hoped would reveal the juncture of the south wall of the church
with the undiscovered west front. In the event he did find the foundation of the south wall with its
floor level. No trace of the floor survived and the wall continued to the west with no juncture
showing. Time did not permit further work. It can only be said that the church extended at least
one bay further west than previously thought and that the west front could not be more than half a
bay beyond that. In the mechanical excavations three pieces of worked stone came to light, two
of which were pieces of quatrefoil design similar to the pillar bases as found on the church site.7
One of the skeletons was thought to be a male of approximately 20 years of age and to be
between 500 to 600 years old.

Right : the
plaque un-

Left : the
call during
the unveiling

To mark the site of the lost Blackriars’ Friary the society erected a blue plaque on the fire station
on 5th October 2015. Just before the unveiling, the station
received an emergency call and two fire appliances rushed
passed the gathering.


Palmer, C.J., Perlustration of Great Yarmouth, Nall, 1875
Manship, Henry, History of Great Yarmouth, 1619
Johnson, H. B., Yarmouth Mercury, 8th October 1927
Rye, C. G., Great Yarmouth; Blackfriars Church, Norfolk
Archaeology, 1973, Vol. XXXV, pt IV, p498-502
Norfolk Heritage Explorer, NHER Number:4266
Rye, C. G., Great Yarmouth; Blackfriars Church, Norfolk Archaeology, 1973, Vol. XXXV11, pt
11, p208
Potter, J., The Medieval Town Wall of Great Yarmouth, Archaeopress, Oxford, 2008

The Bodies in the Tower
Paul P. Davies
Archaeological discovery at Great Yarmouth
The Ipswich Journal 16th August 1851

There is a tradition that soon after the erection of the fortifications at the south end of the town
near where then stood the Blackfriar’s Priory and adjoining one of the towers, was the garden of a
convent of nuns; that the Lady Abbess, while walking in this garden, overheard four of the monks
talking, and one of them boasting of the familiarity he had had with her; fearing that her reputation
would be destroyed, she determined to get rid of such a dangerous witness; she therefore
poisoned the wine they were drinking. They were seated at a table in the rooms of the tower,
which is still standing; they all perished; and the tradition proceeds to state that they fell from their
seats in the form of a cross, thus + ,and as they fell, so they were buried. The tower belongs to
Mr. George Danby Palmer, who has hitherto been decidedly opposed to any search being made.
But, a few weeks since, when in company with some gentleman, the conversation turning on the
subject of antiquities, Mr. Jay of Market Row mentioned the above tradition and Mr. Palmer gave
Mr. J. H. Harrison, who rents the part of the premises and Mr. Blythe, a conditional leave to
examine the tower. Mr. Harrison proceeded to remove the soil from the lower chamber or cell of
the tower and, very shortly, came to the top of a coffin lying in a direction north and south; the foot
of another was soon uncovered, lying in the direction south to north; while the foot of another was
discovered at right angles; evidently proving that there were four coffins lying foot to foot in the
form of a cross. The tops or lids are of Purbeck, with a double foliate cross and pediment of three

(author’s note: It is not certain which tower is referred to (Blackfriars, Palmer’s or the South-East)
in the above newspaper report. However, a week later a letter in the Norfolk News identifies the
tower as being Palmer’s).

To the Editor of the Norfolk News, 23rd August 1851

Sir, Having heard doubts intimated as to the correctness of the report in the Times of the 12th
inst., and copied into the Norfolk News of the 16th, stating that four coffins had been discovered
at the bottom of a tower on the south wall within the precincts of the ancient Dominican Priory, I
am sure you will do me the favour to give insertion to the following remarks.

It is not necessary here to repeat the tradition, nor the circumstances under which the discovery
was made. Suffice it to say, that although the lid of but one of the coffins has been completely
exposed to view, yet the feet of two others were distinctly visible, so much so as to enable me to
perceive that the bases of the crosses of these two coffins were quite distinct from that of the one
uncovered. The base or pediment of the uncovered coffin consists of three steps exactly like
those of the two coffins in Yarmouth church, while the bases of the other two in the tower are
respectively a triangle and a circle. What, therefore, may be the devices of the three crosses
uncovered, I cannot say; but I think I may safely conjecture that they will be found to be totally
unlike the one uncovered, or those in Yarmouth church. It has been said: Why, when you had
uncovered one, did you not uncover the others? I reply that I did not see them till seven o'clock in
the evening of the second regatta day, and on visiting the premises a second time I found a lock
on the door, and the soil, and loose timber thrown over them. This was by order of Mr. Palmer,
who has a strong objection to the premises being disturbed. The place where the coffins were
found is properly speaking a vault, having no light, but from the doorway; the roof is of stone,
supported by springers in the form of an ‘X’. There is a chamber above, which is paved with
bricks, shewing four raised graves, similar to those seen in churchyards, the bricks being laid on
edge. There is no communication from the interior of the vault to the chamber above. The coffins
are apparently not all of the same length; the one uncovered measures 5 feet 4 inches on the top
of the lid, but appears to be longer at the bottom. The cross, as before stated, is a foliated one,
but cannot be shewn correctly without a woodcut. There is a niche on the west side of the vault,
with a piscina. This would lead one to infer that masses may have been said within the vault for
the health of the souls of the deceased, and also that this was their original burial place, and not,
as has been conjectured, the spot to which they were subsequently removed. It is, of course,
impossible to fix a date, but it is the opinion of a well-known antiquary that they are anterior to the
erection of the walls. The Friars de Sacco, Black, Dominican, or Predicants, as they are
sometimes called, had a house erected for them in the reign of Henry III, of which Thomas de
Fastolph was one of the founders. The same king, it is true, in the year 1260 or 1262, directed
the town to be fortified, but the fortifications did not commence till 1285, and then at the north-east
end, at the corner of St. Nicholas' churchyard, which was barely enclosed. The walls did not
extend to the Black Friars till the 11th year of Edward III, about eighty years after the foundation
of the Priory.

Although the tradition has been the cause of bringing these interesting relics but partially to light,
yet it is not at all confirmed by the discovery, the coffins being probably as early as the
commencement of the 13th century, or the close of the 12th. It is much to be desired that Mr.
Palmer may be induced to forego his
present resolution, and permit the coffins
not only to be uncovered but opened,
when probably rings on the fingers, and
other articles, would be found which would
afford a safe clue to the date, as well as
the rank of the persons buried. That they
are not monks of an inferior order is
evident, for none but ecclesiastics of high
rank had any memorial of any kind; the
monks of every order being buried in their
cowls, and in baskets or coffins of wicker,
quite down to the Reformation. The word
coffin is derived, according to some, from
cophinus, a basket of wicker work; while
others derive it from the Arabic keffen, to
inclose in a winding sheet. The coffins are
wedge-shaped, and lie in the direction
east to west, and north to south. In C. J.
Palmer, Esqr.'s Manship, there is a plan of
the Town Wall, in which the tower No. 5 is
called the (Black)Friars' Tower. This is the Town wall map (Palmer’s Manship)
one at the south-east corner of the wall
with a roadway through it. The tower in
which the coffins have been found is the
one nearer the river, with a roof on it, and no doubt is the real
Friars' Tower.

The whole extent of the precincts of this priory exceeded six

acres. In the Gentleman's Magazine, Volume 61, page 513, may
be seen an engraving of the seal of the priory. It is of an oval
shape. In the front of the priory are three figures standing in
niches, representing the Virgin Mary crowned, and holding the
infant Christ; on her right hand the prior, and on her left a bishop,
habited; beneath is a river (the moat) in which fishes are
swimming under an arch, and above are a star and crescent with
a scroll. The vault contained twelve or fourteen years since about
six feet of sand and mould, which has since been removed and
used as ballast. In 1515, Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk,
disburdened all the gardens alone the walls, and caused them to
be rampired, for which purpose the hills which the easterly winds
had raised without the gates were brought in by the townsmen,
Palmer’s Tower, Mariners’ Road
Courtesy Derek Leak

and in the short space of fifteen weeks were against the French and Scotch strongly fortified.
Manship the younger says: they were not sufficiently rampired till the year of our Lord 1687, when
they were finished to the top with earth and manure forty feet in breadth, and irresistible by God's
help against any battery whatsoever. The vault of this tower appears at one time to have been
completely filled with earth, which it probably was at this time, and the tradition might take its age
at or about this date. The coffins were found about two feet below the present surface of the
tower. The whole ground about bears evidence of having been a cemetery, as at the depth of
four feet a quantity of bones are continually being turned up.

I am sorry to have occupied so much of your valuable space, but I feel the subject to be of
importance, as a further examination may lead to the discovery of something that may illustrate
important points, not only in the history of Yarmouth, but in that of the neighbouring counties.

I remain, yours faithfully,

G. Blythe.

(Author’s note: if the plan progresses to fit up the towers as self-catering holiday let units, perhaps
some investigative work may be carried out in the future).

Mother’s Milk
Colin Tooke

For centuries the town was supplied with fresh meat from cattle reared in the outlying country
districts, mainly to the north of the town. These cattle were driven into the town through the north
gate and slaughtered by the town’s butchers at their shops in the shambles, along the east side of
the Market Place.

Cattle being driven through the Market Place on their way to the slaughter houses in the 1950s

Towards the end of the seventeenth century, slaughter houses were built against the town wall,
just outside the Market Gate. The cattle were reared on the fertile pasture on the denes towards
Caister. The evidence that cattle were reared on the 400 acres of denes can be found in
Swinden, where he records the many disputes between the men of Caister and Great Yarmouth
over cattle straying onto each other’s land, disputes dating back to the fourteenth century1.

During the eighteenth century, gin became a popular drink throughout the country and distilleries
were built in almost every town. Great Yarmouth was no exception and, in 1750, a Yarmouth
merchant, Gerrard Trotter, was granted a 75 year lease on a piece of land outside the town wall,
near the moat surrounding Wend-ham Gardens, with a licence to erect a distillery. The moat
referred to was the Civil War Ditch, at the northern end of the town, a ditch that was already
becoming contaminated by the waste products from the butchers’ slaughterhouses situated just
outside the Market Gate. It was expected that the distillery would produce further pollution, as
Trotter was also given a covenant to dig a pit on the denes for watering horses and cattle in case
the drain from the distillery should taint the moat. This alternative watering place was dug beside
the road from Caister, in the vicinity of what is today Stanley Road, and is shown on a plan of the
town, dated 1842.

In 1762, Trotter was declared bankrupt and the distillery was taken over by another Great
Yarmouth merchant, Thomas Dade. In the following years Dade also became bankrupt and after
a succession of owners the distillery was sold in 1795 to the government. Barracks were erected
on the site, capable of accommodating 1,600 men, and used throughout the Napoleonic Wars2.
In 1815, the site became the silk mill of Grout Bayllis & Co. and today the Sainsbury supermarket
stands on the site.
The Tithe Map, drawn in 1849, clearly marks the site of this watering hole and names it Mothers
Milk 3. The nineteenth century historian, C.J. Palmer, refers to this in 1875 when describing the
area: … there was a stagnant piece of water, popularly called Mother’s Milk, useful for watering
cattle. It was filled up by order of the Local Board of Health in 1854, and is now built over. The
site is marked by a narrow road on the south side called Moat Road 4. A survey had been
conducted in 1850 to identify the many areas of stagnant water in the town, most of which were
used as open sewers and drains. All these were declared as health hazards and had to be
Despite considerable research, the name Mother’s Milk cannot be linked to other such cattle
watering places in Norfolk. It must therefore be assumed that the name is unique to Great
Yarmouth 5.
The pond shown on the plan of 18426 is in the correct position and from it the size can be
calculated as approximately 60 metres x 22 metres. It can only be surmised how the watering
place was constructed, but it was probably quite shallow with gently sloping sides to allow cattle
easy access to the water. Due to the sandy soil conditions in that area the pond must have been
lined with clay and there must have been a well nearby. A spring to supply the water is not an
impossibility but, if so, it is unlikely to have been declared as stagnant water in the 1850s.

Section of
Plan of 1842
showing the
site of
Mother’s Milk
and with
modern road
names added
in red

A short distance to the north of the pond, on the 1842 map, is a site marked ‘Pound’. There are
no other references to a cattle pound in the town and this would be a logical location. Building
work at the rear of the property on the northern corner of Stanley Road in 1989 revealed a flint
foundation wall running east to west 7. An ancient flint wall exists today, from Northgate Street,
running in an easterly direction along the south side of St Nicholas Terrace. Both the foundations
and the extant wall could be part of the pound, but this cannot be proved unless further research
is carried out in this area.
Today, a terrace of houses, numbers 177 to 183 Northgate Street, stand on the site of Mother’s
Milk. The road on the south and east sides of the area was originally called Moat Road, but today
the road on the south side is Hammond Road. The Civil War Ditch, constructed outside the
northern end of the town in the seventeenth century, was several hundred yards south of this
area, so it is possible that at one time the ‘stagnant water’ was mistakenly assumed to be part of
the original moat, hence the road name.
The meat shambles or flesh shambles was built on the east side of the Market Place in 1551 and
here all the town’s butchers were required to sell their meat 8. From this time most cattle would
be slaughtered at a butcher’s own premises at the rear of the shop or, as in earlier times, in the
Market Place itself. In 1676, an Act was passed, which made it illegal for any beast to be
slaughtered within a walled town. To comply with this regulation the town built twelve
slaughterhouses outside, but attached to, the wall off Middle Market Road. It would appear,
however, that small animals continued to be slaughtered in the Market Place as, in 1776, it was
recorded: it is shocking to see butchers daily slaughtering calves, sheep etc. in the centre of such
an opulent town, resorted to by crowds of genteel company from almost every part of England 9.
Bull meat was not allowed to be sold unless the animal had been ‘baited’, a cruel practice but a
favourite source of amusement in the eighteenth century. In 1736, the historian John Ives noted:
I saw a bull baited in the market - good sport 10 and the diarist Youell recorded that, on 25th
August 1775, a bull was baited in the Market Place by bull dogs until 4 p.m. At the beginning of
the twentieth century, there were still five butcher’s shops along this side of the Market Place 11.

The slaughterhouses were a constant source of annoyance; not only from the smell but also the
accumulation of waste, which was deposited in the remains of the Civil War Ditch, which ran
close by. In 1681, in an attempt to improve conditions, a public officer was appointed to inspect
the site twice a week, constant cleaning was implemented and swine were prohibited from being
kept there. Fifteen years later it was ordered that part of the ditch, which had now become a
blood-pit, be filled in. As the town grew, the area became more densely populated and the
problem increased.

Almost 200 years later, the problem had still not improved; the slaughter-houses were still in their
original position and, in 1877, were described as a collection of rotten old sheds adjoining the
east or outside of the Town Wall immediately to the north of Market Gates…horribly offensive and
altogether prejudicial to the public health. It was now proposed to replace them with a new
complex on a site to the east of the workhouse, a site that is today the Corporation Yard in
Churchill Road 12. The scheme was to include a new cattle market with rail sidings leading from
Beach Station, to enable cattle to be transported directly into the town. These plans, however,
never came to completion and the old buildings outside the town wall, in what was now known as
Slaughter House Road, remained in use, the last one closing in the 1960s. As late as the 1950s,
cattle were still being driven through the Market Place, en route to the slaughterhouses.

The town’s first cattle market had been on Priory Plain, which was also known as Hog Hill
because pigs, as well as cattle, were sold there. This sale was held every Saturday. In 1892, a
new cattle market was opened on Station Road, adjacent to the Southtown railway station.
Swindon, H., The History and Antiquities of Great Yarmouth, p343, 1772
Palmer, C.J., The Perlustration of Great Yarmouth Vol. 3, p79, 1875
Great Yarmouth Tithe Map, Norfolk Record Office, TC 36/3
Palmer, C.J., The Perlustration of Great Yarmouth Vol. 3, p72, 1875
Enquiries made through FOND (Friends of Norfolk Dialect) and the archaeological field
services at Gressenhall
Manning, J., Plan of Great Yarmouth, 1842
Newsletter, Great Yarmouth Archaeological Society, May 1989
Palmer, C.J., The Perlustration of Great Yarmouth Vol.1, p82, 1875
Ibid. Vol.1, p87
Kelly’s Yarmouth Directory, 1909
Great Yarmouth Local History & Archaeological Society, Monograph Number 11, 2015
Gorleston Tram Depots and the Carnegie Library
Ann Dunning

On 25th March 1875, East

Anglia’s first horse-drawn tram
service started running from
Feather’s Plain in Gorleston
High Street to South Town
Station. Original plans were for
a service from Southtown to
Southwold, but only this section
and, in 1903, a Lowestoft
section, were constructed.

The system originally ran on

rails 4 feet 8½ inches (143½
centimetres) apart (standard
railway gauge), although these
Gorleston tram shed and library
Courtesy of Peter Jones were replaced by tracks 3 feet 6
inches (106½ centimetres)
apart, in 1882, and the original
stables were alongside the Guardian Angel Public House, which was renamed the Half Way
House to reflect the tram routes. The laying of the tram lines, and future relaying and removal of
them, provided work for the Borough’s unemployed men.

The coaches were open-topped

and each drawn by two horses.
Fares were a 1d. a stage, the
complete journey being two
stages but, for an extra 1d., an
inside seat was provided with
straw on the floor for warmth.
Speed was not a feature of the
service; the complete journey
could take 2½ hours. A small
terminus building was in Baker
Street, Gorleston, which was
enlarged in 1882, when the new
owners extended the service to
the Ship Inn, via Lowestoft Road
and England’s Lane, although
the gradient of the latter to the Last Gorleston horse-drawn tram 1905
former necessitated an extra Courtesy of Peter Jones
cockey or trace horse to be
harnessed. This route was later
extended to Brush Quay.
In summer, customers could make an
almost round journey from the Town Hall
A tram on in Great Yarmouth to South Town Station
Gorleston via Brush Quay, using a river-steamer one
High Street way and a tram the other, or vice versa.

of Len The 1882 extended Baker Street depot
Vincent could accommodate 68 horses and
included repair works and a waiting room.
The Southtown terminus was just west of
Haven Bridge, in the middle of the road
until 1922, when a lay-by was
built, north of the present day
Matalan bus-stop, as the road
was narrower then.

Along the route, more loops were

installed for extra passing points
and, for a more frequent service,
extra stops were included over

Financial problems saw a new

company take over in 1900 (the
British Electric Traction
Company), which intended
introducing electric service
throughout the Borough, but it Opening of electric tram 4th July 1905
was superseded by the Borough Courtesy of D. Mackley
Council’s own scheme, which
introduced electric trams in Great
Yarmouth in mid 1902 and bought the Gorleston line in 1904. For five days, in 1905, horse buses
served Gorleston and Southtown while new tracks were installed and new lines extended from
Feather’s Plain to the newly opened Gorleston Railway Station and to the Pavilion via Pier Plain,
Pier Walk and Brush Quay, although the winter service terminated near the Pier Hotel. The new
service started on 4th July 1905 on the Pavilion Route, with the Mayor, Alderman Mayo, and
Chairman of the Tramway Committee driving, and then a Civic Lunch was held at the Cliff Hotel.
All the Borough’s lines were powered by electricity from the Borough’s own power station.

With electrification, a smaller depot was required in Baker Street and just at that time, the
Carnegie Foundation gave the Borough £7,000 for new libraries and stipulated that £2,000 of that
was to be for Gorleston, but not used for land
purchase. There had been a library in Gorleston
since 1887, originally in the rear of the first police
station, opposite Duke Road, and then in St.
Andrew’s Hall in Priory Street. The Borough
Architect, J. W. Cockrill, was ordered to draw up
plans for the smaller tram depot to the east, and the

library on the corner of Baker Street and Lowestoft

Road. When the new library opened on 4th April
1907, the staff were allowed to work fewer hours than
At Gorleston Station those in Great Yarmouth, because the tram services
Courtesy of Archant Press could be halted or disrupted in bad weather.
The two new tram services ran alternatively, giving a tram every four minutes in summer and
every six minutes in winter from Southtown to Feather’s Plain. The beach service ran from 8 am.
to 11 pm. and the Southtown Station service, 6.30 am. to 11pm., but no service on Christmas

Over a million journeys were made in the first six months and the Gorleston services were always
the more profitable of the Borough enterprise. Each January, two tramwaymen’s dinners were
held, necessitating reduced services on those evenings. Beforehand, collecting boxes for
donations were placed in the trams, with staff strictly forbidden to canvas for donations.

Haven Bridge was the

impediment to a united
tram service. This sixth
bridge, which was in
place in 1905, was a
wooden structure with a
central bascule section
raised by hand winches.

In 1906, there were

proposals for a new
wider bridge to be built,
but Great Eastern
Railway, who owned
South Town Station and
lines across Southtown Plan of
Road to the West Quay, tram shed -
refused to sell any of its Courtesy of
land. In 1913, plans for D. Mackley
a new bridge, with
tramlines crossing it,
were rejected by a
public meeting, because of cost, and the First World War deferred new plans until 1925. By then,
some Borough buses were crossing the bridge (but only if there were no other vehicles on it); the
thin end of the wedge to come. That was the closure of the Gorleston Tram Service, which took
place in September 1930, with a ceremonial last journey by the same vehicle that had made the
first service in 1903. The tramlines were removed and the tramcars dispersed; some to private
owners, others to Caister Holiday Camp.

In the new Carnegie Library a closed system operated. To borrow a book, the customer looked it
up in an index for its number and then checked the appropriate shelf where an indicator showed if
it was in or out. If it was in, the librarian fetched the book, making a manual record of the
borrower and due return date both on the indicator and in the register. This process operated in
reverse to return a book. It was certainly not encouraging borrowing. This system continued until
1931, when the shelves were opened up.

By 1962, the need for a new library was in the news and, in the late 1960s, there was talk of
selling the site and building a new library elsewhere. Judging by the Librarian’s description of the
building in 1971: it is noisy, unattractive, incongruous, dark, cramped and dusty. Staff conditions
are deplorable, lending library a hotchpotch, reading room a complete disaster and book store a
pokey hole; the case was urgent. There were also fears that under the 1974 Norfolk County
Council takeover of the service it would not be replaced at all, so plans were made. In 1971, the
projected cost was £180,000, which increased by £19,000 within a year, but the development
went ahead and the fears about Norfolk County Council’s attitude proved foundless. In 1974, the
new library rose in two stages, with the eastern section built and in use as the old library was
demolished and replaced, with the official opening of the completed project being in 1977, the
whole having cost £320,000.
The Carnegie Library.
The clock is stored in the Churchill Road Depot. Courtesy of M. Tuen

So it was appropriate to erect a blue plaque to commemorate

the buildings that formerly occupied the library site and their
importance in Gorleston’s history.

Below - tram tickets from 1879 -

1880 - Courtesy Peter Allard

Yarmouth Mercury, 5th October 1962, 29th May 1964, 10th
July 1964, 16th October 1964, 12th September 1969, 13th
November 1970, 11th June 1971, 10th September 1971, 30th
June 1972, 12th August 1977
Mackley, D., Great Yarmouth Tramways, including Gorleston
and Caister, (2003), Middleton Press, ISBN 1904474136
Barker, T., Transport in Great Yarmouth, Volumes I and II

Nelson’s Return from the Battle of the Nile
Paul P. Davies

The Battle of the Nile was fought in Aboukir

Bay, near Alexandria, Egypt, on the 1st/2nd
of August 1798. The British fleet was under
the command of Rear Admiral Horatio
Nelson and the French fleet under the
command of Admiral Paul D'Brueys

In 1798, Napoleon Bonaparte planned an

invasion of Egypt, in order to restrict Britain's
trade routes and threaten its possession of
India. For ten weeks, Nelson searched the
Mediterranean for the French fleet and finally
sighted it at anchor in Aboukir Bay consisting
of 13 ships of the line and four frigates.
Battle of the Nile
Although the combined firepower of the
French fleet was greater than that of
Nelson's, he quickly engaged the enemy. The French line was anchored close to a line of shoals,
in the belief that this would secure their port side from attack; D’Brueys had assumed the British
would follow convention and attack his centre from the starboard side. However, Captain
Thomas Foley, aboard HMS Goliath, discovered a gap between the shoals and the French ships,
and he took Goliath into the channel. The unprepared French found themselves attacked on both
sides; the British fleet splitting, with some following Foley and others passing down the starboard
side of the French line. Thus, the French ships were bombarded from both sides.

Towards the end of the action, Nelson received an injury to his forehead resulting in a flap of skin
covering his good eye. Nelson thought he was blinded and dying and was taken below decks for
treatment, waiting in the queue with the injured men. He was later helped back on deck to watch
the latter stages of the battle. In this battle of annihilation, the British suffered 213 killed and 677
wounded, the French lost 1,400 killed and 600 wounded. The French figures are not certain, and
various sources have estimated at between 2,000 and 5,000 killed and wounded. It was a
decisive victory for Nelson. One British
seaman reported: An awful sight it was, the
whole bay was covered with dead bodies,
mangled, wounded, and scorched, not a bit
of clothes on them but their trousers.

The Battle of the Nile was a major blow to

Napoleon's ambitions in the east. The
majority of his fleet had been destroyed
and the forces Napoleon had brought to
Egypt were stranded. The victory at the
Nile helped to raise Nelson’s popularity
further at home, and to cement his
reputation in the navy, as one of the most
able commanders of his generation.

After the battle, Nelson spent the following

two years in Naples, wrecking his marriage
and tarnishing his reputation in the process.
Nelson established his base in Naples, and
subsequently became entangled both in
Neapolitan and Sicilian politics and also
with the wife of the British Ambassador to Battle of the Nile
Naples, Lady Emma Hamilton. Nelson's reputation
came under attack for his part in the suppression
of an uprising in southern Italy at that time. The
rebels had successfully negotiated with King
Ferdinand IV of Naples to end their insurrection
peacefully, but when Nelson's fleet arrived in the
Bay of Naples, events took a bloodier turn.
Instead of an amicable settlement, the rebels were
subjected to a bloody round of trials and hangings,
that earned Nelson the nickname the Butcher of

On 13th August 1799, King Ferdinand gave Nelson the newly created Dukedom of Bronté in the
Kingdom of Sicily as a reward for his support of the monarchy.

He was persuaded to leave Naples for England in July 1800, but the Admiralty had declined to
send a warship to carry the Hero of the Nile home, as Nelson’s actions in Naples between 1798
and 1800 had not been universally popular with Parliament and the Navy Board. For the next
three months he and the Hamiltons travelled overland via Vienna, Prague and Hamburg to
Cuxhaven in Germany, where he caught the mail packet, King George.

It is recorded that Nelson, together with Sir William Hamilton and Lady Emma (who was six
months pregnant at the time with Nelson’s child), landed in Gorleston on 6th November 1800.
This was the first occasion Nelson had returned to England since his victory at the Battle of the
Nile in 1798.

On arrival in Yarmouth Roads, the weather was stormy and there was reluctance to launch a boat
to take Nelson and the Hamiltons to the Jetty, where the dignitaries of the town were waiting.
Nelson was determined not to delay and, it is said, that he was rowed ashore by the sailors of the
King George and carried ashore onto Gorleston beach. Nelson’s party was driven from Gorleston
down Southtown Turnpike (Road) and, on reaching the Haven Bridge, the horses were removed
from the carriage and the men of Great Yarmouth pulled it to the Wrestler’s Inn on Brewery Plain,
where there was much celebration. Here, Nelson was given the Freedom of the
Borough. Legend tells us that when the town clerk was administering the oath he noticed that
Nelson's left hand was placed on the Bible and he exclaimed, Your right hand, my Lord. That,
replied Nelson curtly, is at Tenerife. Another story goes that the landlady of the Wrestler's Inn
asked Nelson if she could rename the pub the Nelson Arms in his honour. Nelson replied: that
would be ridiculous, seeing as I have but one.

While in Great Yarmouth, Nelson attended a service at St.

Nicholas’ Church, where he gave thanks to God for his victory
at the Nile. On entering the church the organ played Here the
Conquering Hero Comes. After the service troops assembled
outside the church, salutes were fired and there was much
jollity. In the evening he was entertained by the Mayor, Samuel
Barker. The following morning Nelson left Great Yarmouth for
London escorted out of the town by the Yeomanry Cavalry. He
left £50 to be distributed to the poor.

It was appropriate to erect a blue plaque, which commemorates

one of the three visits Nelson made to Great Yarmouth. The
proprietor of the Pier Hotel, Rodney Scott, was willing to have a
plaque placed on his building, as a place close to Nelson’s
landing place. The plaque was unveiled by Bertie Patterson of the Nelson Society on 8th June

After the plaque was unveiled the crowd enjoyed tots of spiced rum and the traditional toast was
raised to the Immortal Memory of Nelson.
The Society’s Fourth Church Crawl : 8th July 2015
Trunch, Knapton, Paston, Happisburgh, Barton Turf and Irstead Churches
Paul P. Davies

Twenty-five Society members met in the early morning at St. Botolph’s Church in Trunch. St.
Botolph was one of the earliest and most revered of East Anglian saints and became known as
the patron saint of wayfarers. This is a large 15th century perpendicular church with strong
vertical lines with very large windows with elaborate tracery. A curiosity is the massive
perpendicular priest porch surrounding the door in the chancel with a buttress seated on its roof.
These porches are very unusual, although there is another, but smaller one, at neighbouring

Inside is a rich 15th century hammer-beam roof with intricate

tracery in the spandrels and is more beautiful than the one at
nearby Knapton Church. In the space beneath the tower there is,
what appears to be, a gallery like the plough guild gallery we saw
last year at Cawston Church. This is not as elaborate, but its oak
has silvered and it is painted beautifully with trailing rose foliage.

The font bowl is dated 1350 and is

surmounted by a magnificent font
canopy about 12 feet in height. There
are only three similar canopies in the
country (St. Peter Mancroft in Norwich,
Luton Parish Church and Durham The hammer-beam roof,
Cathedral). It is dated to the early Trunch
16th century, just before the
Reformation. The massive structure is intricate and is made of oak.
On close inspection one can see, amongst the fruit, vines and
flowers, small figures of lions, leopards, squirrels, monkeys, a dog, a
wolf, a rabbit and a pig with a mitre. On one of the six octagonal
columns are lilies denoting the Virgin Mary. The columns are joined
at the top by canopied niches with flying buttresses and a crown. In
the niches there are fading painted crucifixions.

We looked at the Medieval screen of 1502 with its dedicatory

inscription. The twelve figures (eleven disciples and St. Paul) survive,
but their faces have been completely vandalised during the
Reformation and afterwards.

After the Reformation, the chancel was used as a schoolroom and the
Font cover, Trunch choir stalls have inkwells drilled into them and also initials and dates
(1676). Some stalls in
the chancel retain 14th
century misericords with grotesques, angels, winged
animals and the devil.

We travelled two miles down the road to the church

of St. Peter and St. Paul at Knapton, which is set on
a mound. This church was rebuilt in the 15th century
and has large windows, which fills the building with
light. Unusually, the tower is offset. It has a weather
-vane designed by John Sell Cotman, who gave
drawing lessons in the village. The priest door in the
chancel has its own porch with pillars, a smaller
version of the one seen at nearby Trunch Church. Knapton Church

Inside Knapton Church is a double-hammer beam of 1504, said to be
the best in Norfolk. It is one of the widest, crossing about 12 metres in
a single span. Over the centuries, the roof has performed well as
there is no deflection in the walls. It was restored in 1930, when the
lower tier of angels were added. In all there are 160 angels on the

Again, there is a magnificent font cover, but far more simple than the
one at Trunch. This is a white 18th century (1704) design after
Palladio. It reminds one of a bandstand. Around the top is a Greek
palindrome: NIYON ANOMHMA MH MONAN OYIN, which translates
to: wash my sins not my face only.

One of the ledger stones in the nave has the symbols of death (a skull
and a winged egg-timer) deeply engraved into it. Appropriately, the
deceased’s name is Richard Flight. There is also a pre-Reformation
brass requesting
prayers for the soul of
its owner. These
requests were banned
after the Reformation
Font cover, Knapton
as one attained heaven
by one’s own deeds
and not by the living praying for one after death.

In the churchyard lies buried Commander

Jeaffreson Miles, who died in 1866 aged 59 years.
He wrote a 62 page pamphlet in 1843,
exonerating Nelson’s behaviour in Naples. Miles
The hammer-beam roof, Knapton
assisted at the capture of three colonies, the
capture of 26 ships of the line, 18 frigates and 21
sloops of war and privateers. His obituary
described this as a useful career.

The third church visited was St. Margaret’s at

Paston. This lies alongside the mid 15th century
Paston Barn, a Grade II* Listed Building. Similar
great barns are seen at Hemsby and Waxham.
The barn is a Biological Site of Special Scientific
Interest, as it houses one of the three roosts in
Britain for the Barbastelle Bat.

Weather vane, Knapton

The church was re-built in the 14th century,

when Norfolk was a wealthy county. The roof
has scissor-braced beams and the church
contains the royal arms of 1831 (William IVth)
and a 14th century iron-bound chest. In the
1920s, some wall paintings were uncovered.
On the north wall is the top half of a large St.
Christopher. Further along are two parts of a
Three Living and Three Dead painting; a
reminder of mortality: As you are so once were
we, the skeletons point out to the living, as we
are so you will be. The ledger stone of Richard Flight, Knapton

Pews were put into churches from the 15th century and the poppy or
poupée head carved at the end of a pew developed. These were either in
the form of a trefoil with close-knit foliage or with animals and figures. The
term derives from the French, poupée, meaning a bunch of hemp or flax
tied to a staff, and has nothing to do with the poppy. On one poppy head in
the church is the devil with his tongue hanging out.

Many rich and powerful families lived in Norfolk in the 14th and 15th
centuries. The Pastons are more famous than most, because of the letters
they left. The Pastons beautified
Broomholm Priory, near Bacton, with
their money and many were buried
there. Broomholm is now ruined, as it
was closed down by Henry VIIIth.
Poppy head, Paston Paston, their local church, was left a
comparatively modest affair, despite it