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Great Yarmouth

Local History and



Our 2021 edition of Yarmouth Archaeology and Local History follows a very difficult year when the
society’s activities had to come to an abrupt halt, in March 2020, after the outbreak of the global
Covid-19 pandemic. At the time this edition of the journal is being published, in Autumn 2021, the
situation is gradually improving and the hope is that normality will return soon.

Only one of the society’s planned 2020 programme of monthly talks was able to take place, early
in the year, when a lecture was given on the subject of Daniel Defoe’s tour through the Eastern
Counties; a full summary of this appears on page 60. Regrettably, all remaining lectures planned
for 2020, and all of the society’s summer outings for 2020 had to be cancelled, however a series
of ‘virtual’ online lectures was arranged for members between Autumn 2020 and Spring 2021, a
summary of which appears on pages 6 to 7. The programme for our younger members’ group
(YHAC) also had to be cancelled, but it is hoped to restart this in 2022.

Despite the disruptions caused by the pandemic, I am very pleased to report that our regular
contributors to the journal have supplied another excellent series of articles about a variety of
local people and places from the town’s past, which I hope you will find interesting in this 2021

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: Christine Silver

Secretary Patricia Day

(e-mail :

Membership Secretary Peter Jones

Committee: Stuart Burgess

Gareth Davies

Ann Dunning

Alan Hunt

Glen Johnstone

Ben Milner

Patricia Nelson

John Smail

Honorary Members: Shirley Harris

Derek Leak

Judy Leak

John McBride

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

6 Virtual Lecture Programme 2020 to 2021 The Editor

8 The Picture of Yarmouth Project Gareth H. H.

10 Arnold Brothers’ Department Store Colin Tooke

16 The Comings and Goings of Gorleston Beach Ben Milner

22 The Changing Face of Hall Quay - 1870 to 1970 David Tubby

29 Lesser Water Courses around Great Yarmouth Andrew Fakes

36 Napoleonic Prisoner of War Jail, Row 110 (1803-1814) Paul P. Davies

38 The Isolation (Escourt) Hospital, Escourt Road, Great Yarmouth Paul P. Davies

46 Great Yarmouth and its Links with Dunkirk Caroline Buddery

48 Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Expedition Ship, Nimrod, lost on the Paul P. Davies
Barber Sands in 1919
54 Cine Snapped Paul Godfrey

60 Daniel Defoe’s Tour through the Eastern Counties Andrew Fakes

66 Journey to the centre of…Great Yarmouth: Jules Verne’s Visit in Stewart Adams
72 James Holt - a Great Yarmouth Man who helped shape the town Andrew Fakes

74 The Sunningdale Holiday Camp, Links Road, Hopton-on-Sea Ben Milner

78 The Mystery of John Rowe Colin Tooke

80 The Grave of David Bartleman, Master Mariner - Trevor Nicholls

A Link to the War of American Independence (1776-1783)

87 Bromholm Priory - A Local Canterbury or Lourdes? Andrew Fakes

94 The Results of New Research into the History of the Paston Andrew Fakes
Family - Another Paston Woman Discovered

97 The House of the Rising Sun: Edward Peterson, Hosier of Great Adrian Marsden

102 Proceedings of the Great Yarmouth Branch of the Norfolk and Paul P. Davies
Norwich Archaeological Society for the Year ending 31st
December 1932
105 A Gravestone, a Drowning, an Astrologer and an Unpaid Bill Paul P. Davies

106 Ninth Church Crawl 1st September 2021 - Burgh St. Peter, Paul P. Davies
Barsham, Ilketshall St. Andrew, Westhall and Ringsfield

118 The Tenth Cemetery Crawl, 22nd August 2021 Paul P. Davies

128 Panoramic Map of Great Yarmouth Paul P. Davies

Recent publications by the Great Yarmouth Local History and Archaeological Society

The Picture of Yarmouth - 200 Years of Built Heritage, Poppyland Publishing,

ISBN 978-0-9576092-2-8

Recent publications by members of the Great Yarmouth Local History and Archaeological Society

Old Master Paintings in Private Houses in Great Yarmouth in the 18th and 19th Centuries,
Paul P. Davies

Virtual Lecture Programme 2020 to 2021
The Editor

When it became apparent that, due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent
suspension of all face-to-face social activities, the society would be unable to complete its 2020
lecture programme, the committee decided to offer members the opportunity to participate in a
new ‘virtual’ lecture programme between September 2020 and February 2021.

The programme consisted of pre-recorded presentations, which were available at the date and
time of the normal scheduled members’ meetings (3rd Friday in the month at 7.30pm), and for
one month afterwards. Members could create accounts on the Virtual Programme website and
take part in an online ‘chat’ during and after the presentation. Post discussion questions were
picked up and responded to by other members during the period after the virtual meeting.

Some members who did not have internet access at home were offered a DVD postal service by
the society so that they did not miss out. Six members took advantage of this service, while the
online resource was accessed by, on average, 20 members per talk.

The programme schedule:

The Pastons and Great Yarmouth - Controlling the Hinterland (4th September 2020)
Dr. Robert Knee (57 minutes)

Dr. Rob Knee, Chairman of the Paston Heritage Society, talked about the links to Great Yarmouth
of the various members of the Paston family from the early 1400s to the 1700s, with the final
demise of the family as Earls of Yarmouth. The lecture was recorded at the Paston Footprints/
Great Yarmouth Local History and Archaeological Society conference in October 2019.

Britain and the Legacies of Slavery (18th September 2020)

Professor Catherine Hall (42 minutes)
Emerita Professor of Modern British Social and Cultural History at University College, London.

Once abolition was secured, Britons were keen to overlook slavery and emphasise the memory of
emancipation. But Britain and Britons benefitted in multiple ways from slavery including William
Barth, timber merchant and Mayor of Great Yarmouth in 1824, 1826 and 1836. He married Jane
Jeffries, the daughter of Samuel Jeffries, a Jamaican planter. Jane was to claim compensation
for two enslaved people in 1823. The talk asked the question whether British history should be
reconsidered to take into full account the role of the many slave owners who lived here.

What Really Happened at the First Moving Picture Shows? (16th October 2020)
Professor Ian Christie (49 minutes)

The reception of moving pictures between 1894 and 1896 has been much mythologised. Were
spectators really frightened of an approaching train? Did they imagine seeing their departed
relatives reanimated on screen? How much attention was actually paid to this new phenomenon
among so many contemporary novelties and wonders? Moving pictures may not have been the
innovation once claimed, but within a decade few could doubt that they had become a major force
in changing the Edwardian world.

Professor Christie is a renowned British film scholar and currently Professor of Film and Media
History at Birkbeck, University of London, and a Fellow of the British Academy. He has
researched and published on many aspects of film history, including Eisenstein and Russian
cinema, Powell and Pressburger, Gilliam and Scorsese, and is a regular broadcaster on cinema.

Admiral Lord Nelson in Context (20th November 2020)
Assistant Professor Evan Wilson (50 minutes)

Vice-Admiral Horatio, Lord Nelson, is among the best-known and most studied figures in naval
history. This lecture put Nelson in the context of the officer corps from which he emerged. By
looking at the thousands of other officers who fought alongside Nelson, we uncovered a more
complete picture of him and the navy in which he served.

Evan Wilson is Assistant Professor in the John B. Hattendorf Center for Maritime Historical
Research at the U.S. Naval War College.

A Virtual Tour around St. Nicholas Minster (18th December 2020)

Dr. Paul Davies (50 minutes)

St. Nicholas Minster is probably the oldest building in Great Yarmouth. Dr. Paul Davies, the
society's Chair, who has written extensively on the building and related topics, provided us with a
virtual tour of the building. He was available to answer questions during the talk.

Dr. Davies is a member of a number of prominent societies in the town including the Great
Yarmouth Preservation Trust, Great Yarmouth Minister Preservation Trust (Chair), Great
Yarmouth Civic Society and Great Yarmouth Local History and Archaeological Society (Chair).

Cotman in Normandy (15th January 2021)

Tim Wilcox (60 Minutes)

John Sell Cotman, long considered one of the greatest exponents in the field of watercolour,
made three visits to Normandy in 1817, 1818 and 1820. In 1822, he published two monumental
folio volumes, Architectural Antiquities of Normandy, with the support of the Great Yarmouth
banker, Dawson Turner, who had accompanied him abroad and employed him as drawing tutor to
his children. The Cotman in Normandy exhibition at the Dulwich Gallery took place between
October 2012 and January 2013. The talk was given at the opening of the exhibition by Tim
Wilcox, the curator at the time.

Tim Wilcox held curatorial posts in the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, the Victoria & Albert
Museum, Hove Museum and Art Gallery (Director) and the British Museum (Department of Prints
and Drawings). A self-employed curator and consultant for 15 years, he has worked for the Tate
Gallery, the Dulwich Picture Gallery, Asia House and the Norwich Castle Museum, among many

Roman Coins from Rivers and Wells in Britain: Hoards or Gifts for the Gods?
(19th February 2021)
Roger Bland (37 minutes)

Among the 3,300 coin hoards known from Britain, there is an interesting group of finds that come
from rivers and wells, such as the more than 12,000 coins found when the baths at Roman Bath
were drained in the 1970s. Other large groups are known from the River Thames at London
Bridge, the River Tees and Hadrian’s Wall. Why were these groups of coins deposited in these
watery places and are they hoards? The talk looked at this intriguing group of coins as a case
study of research into the huge number of Roman coin hoards known from Britain.

Roger Bland, OBE, FSA is a British curator and numismatist. At the British Museum, he served
as the Keeper of the Department of Portable Antiquities and Treasurer from 2005 to 2013, the
Keeper of the Department of Prehistory and Europe from 2012 to 2013, and the Keeper of the
Department of Britain, Europe and Prehistory from 2013 to 2015. Since 2015, he has been a
Visiting Professor at the University of Leicester and a Senior Fellow of the McDonald Institute for
Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge.

(above notes, DVDs sourcing, and postal distributions kindly provided by Gareth H. H. Davies)
The Picture of Yarmouth Project
Gareth H. H. Davies

In 2019, the society was successful in a £7,600 Heritage

Fund bid to commemorate the bicentennial of the publication
of The Picture of Yarmouth by John Preston. The article that
appeared in the 2019 journal explains the context for the
project which, in brief, was to produce a new Picture of
Yarmouth, highlighting a range of buildings that appeared in
Preston’s book and still existed, or had been lost, and to add
further buildings that were important to the people of Great
Yarmouth in the intervening two centuries. In addition, there
were plans to organise several activities, such as research
groups and events, during the year.

A sub-committee was formed consisting of members, Gareth

H. H. Davies, Janet Davies, Patricia Day and Terry Mills.
They met monthly to keep the project on track and ensure
that the conditions of the grant were met. Their first task was
to canvass opinion on a long list, from which a short list of
buildings would be drawn up. This short list would be used
to conduct a poll among the residents of Great Yarmouth as
to which buildings should be included in the book. The
Maritime Festival was the first opportunity to begin the
survey and many responses were received during the event. The Picture of Yarmouth:
This was followed up by an online survey and stations in 200 Years of Built Heritage
several prominent places in the town, for example, the Priory
Centre and St. George’s Pavilion Café. Publicity included interviews on
The Jack Jay Show on BBC Radio Norfolk and attendance at other
societies’ meetings such as the Civic Society. By the end of the year,
the survey was complete, and the results presented to society members
at the first meeting in January 2020.

In February 2020, the world was hit by a global pandemic leading to

severe restrictions being imposed, not only in the United Kingdom, but
throughout the world. Public meetings and gatherings were no longer
allowed, making the sub-committee’s plans for research groups and
events impossible. However, it was possible to recruit members to write
chapters on the selected
buildings and gather images for
the book. A professional Great
Yarmouth artist, Philip Harvey,
Philip Harvey, the was recruited to provide new
professional artist with
illustrations to complement those
the drawings he created
for the book of Preston. Although wider
aspects of the project had been
curtailed by unprecedented circumstances, the book, as a
legacy and celebration of Great Yarmouth’s rich ‘built’
history, went ahead. Due to finish in September 2020, an
extension was granted by the Heritage Fund, in the hope
that some of these activities could take place in 2021.

By June 2021, the book was complete and, with the lifting
of all restrictions on 19th July 2021, a launch event could
be planned for 4th August at St. George’s Theatre, one of
the buildings in Preston’s original book. Philip Harvey’s illustration of
The Town Hall

The launch took the form of an exhibition together with short
speeches by the Deputy Mayor, Councillor Adrian Thompson, and
the High Steward of Great Yarmouth and Deputy Lieutenant for
Norfolk, Henry Cator, OBE. During his address, Mr. Cator said:
With this book you are securing that there will be a guardianship of
the future because it is the future and young people that will hold
that book up as a reference. It reflects past, present and the future.

Those that could not attend the event had opportunities to view the
exhibition at St. Nicholas Minister and the PrimYarc gallery in the
Market Gates before the project officially ended in September 2021.
In addition, the Great Yarmouth Heritage Guides ran a special
guided walk on a number of occasions during the season.

The book has been well received. A limited hardback edition of 300
copies was produced for the launch and a subsequent paperback
version is generally available.

The committee would like to thank all those who took part in the Henry Cator, High Steward of
project at a difficult time. The successful delivery of a Heritage Great Yarmouth, speaks at
Funded project confirms that our members are keen to share their the launch on
knowledge and engage in new and challenging heritage initiatives 4th August 2021
which reach out to a wider audience.

Right: visitors attend

the exhibition and
launch of the book

Below: an example of
the poll results, in this
case the buildings
regarded as important
for future generations

Arnold Brothers’ Department Store
Colin Tooke

Department stores are disappearing from the nation’s high streets in today’s changing retail
world. They were a Victorian invention offering a wide range of goods and services that small
shops could not match. In Great Yarmouth, three department stores began as single shops,
which quickly grew to embrace several departments. In 1837, Garwood Palmer opened his first
shop in the Market Place, which soon
expanded into a large department store. By
1863, Henry Biddlecombe had opened a
shop at 5 King Street, which soon became
Biddlecombe & Boning. In 1903, this
became Boning Brothers, a department
store that eventually included 3, 4, 5, 6 and
7 King Street, and taken over in 1932 by
Marks & Spencer. The third department
store in the town, Arnolds’, began in 1869
and it this store that the following article
looks at in greater detail.

In May 1869, two brothers, Frank and

William Arnold, purchased the shop of Mr.
James Richardson Cossons at 180 King
Street, Great Yarmouth, a shop which
traded as a drapery shop and silk merchant.
It was not long before the enterprising Frank
and William were able to expand their
business by purchasing adjacent shops,
those of Creak, a grocer at 179 King Street,
and Miss Carrall’s toy and fancy bazaar at
181 King Street. More property, including
houses, a granary, a malthouse, and the
premises of the East Norfolk Printing
Company were bought in Row 63½ and Arnold Brothers’ store at 179-181 King Street
Row 66. in the 1890s

Frank and William Arnold were both involved in many aspects of the town’s social life. Frank
became a member of the Park Baptist Church and a founder member of the Conge Mission. He
lived at 14 Euston Road, a house he named The Haven. He was elected to the Town Council in
1878 and was Mayor three times, in 1894, 1907 and 1911. He was a magistrate for 21 years and
a director of the Great Yarmouth Gas Company and Grout & Co, the silk manufacturers. In 1912,
he received an illuminated address
from the Park Baptist Church
recognising his civic and philanthropic
services to the town and the church,
where the Bible class had, under his
direction, enrolled over 300 members.

William Arnold lived at 4 Norfolk

Square and was elected to the Town
Council in 1891. He became a
magistrate in 1893 and was a founder
member, and later chairman, of the
Great Yarmouth Liberal and Radical
One of the horse-drawn delivery vehicles

In 1889, seeking more space for the
business, the brothers temporarily
transferred the furniture and china
department to Market Row, a building
on the north-west corner with Howard
Street, previously a drapers and carpet

The three King Street shops were now

able to concentrate on the drapery and
silk side of the business. In 1897,
Arnold Brothers were advertising
themselves as: Drapers, Silk Mercers,
Carpet Warehousemen and House
Furnishers at King Street, Market Row
and Howard Street.

When William Arnold died in 1903,

aged 63 years, his sons Spencer and
Percy Arnold were appointed directors
of the business. In 1905, the
opportunity arose to take over the
business of Frederick Fuller at 178
King Street and 1 & 2 Regent Street, a
shop known as The Gt. Yarmouth
Dress House, specialising in silks,
dress fabrics and costumes.

This important corner site now gave

Arnolds’ property at 1 & 2 Regent
Street and 178 to 181 King Street a
large site suitable for redevelopment.
Above: Market Row / Howard
Street furniture and china shop

The old shops were

demolished and a new
building was erected by
James Harman of Northgate
Street, a prominent local
builder and contractor.

Arnolds’ new store, which

also took in part of Row 63½,
opened on 19th May 1906.
To bring the furniture and
china department closer to
the main store, the Market
Row shop was closed in 1909
and the department moved to
a shop that had been
obtained at 9 Regent Street.

Left: Arnolds’ new corner store

which opened in 1906

An illustrated brochure, printed soon after the new store opened in 1906, described the various
departments and gives an interesting insight into the goods available to Edwardian society in
Great Yarmouth:

The commodious Dress and Silk department is beautifully lighted with an arched
skylight and well stocked with the latest novelties and with every description of Black
and Coloured Dress Materials and Silks. We always hold a fully assorted stock of
goods suitable for Mourning, including Grouts’ noted Crepes and durable Black Silks
of the best makes.

Great attention is given to the Manchester Shop in obtaining goods from the best
makers and offering them to the public at the very lowest prices. Our Flannelettes are
noted throughout the County for value and variety, and the constant increasing
demand for Flannels, Calicoes, Apron Cloths, and all kinds of useful Drapery prove a
popular character of this department.

Owing to the demand for our noted Curtains, we have had to devote a new shop for
the sale of Lace Curtains and all kinds of Madras and Fancy Window Muslins.

We have a very convenient and well-lighted department containing Household Linens

of every description, Sheeting, Blankets, Etc.

The entirely new and large Floorcloth and Linoleum Hall is acknowledged to be the
most extensive and well stocked in the Eastern Counties, every description of
Floorcloth, Linoleum, Cork Carpet and Inlaid Linoleum at the very lowest prices.

The Carpet Department consists of a room given up entirely for the display of
Axminster, Brussels and Tapestry Carpets and British and Foreign Rugs and Mats.
Carpets are made by our Carpet Sewing Machine. We stock all sizes in useful and
inexpensive Tapestry and Kidderminster Squares.

The Untrimmed Straws and Flower Showroom is used for Untrimmed Hats, Sailor
Hats, Flowers and Feathers. In the Trimmed Millinery Showroom there is a large
selection of Trimmed Millinery and Novelties during the season. We have a large staff
of Practical Milliners under skilful management and we have every confidence in
inviting a trial.

The increasing trade in the Underclothing Department has necessitated our having a
private room added to our already spacious Showroom. This is well stocked with
every requisite for Ladies and Children’s wear. A staircase leads to our New
Dressmaking, Waiting and Fitting Rooms.

In the Mantle and Costume Showroom we hold a large stock of Mantles, Jackets and
Costumes. Every size stocked in Young Ladies’ and Children’s Garments and a large
selection of Mackintoshes and Golf Caps always in stock.

Frank Arnold died in 1916, aged 73 years, leaving Spencer and Percy to run the business. On
1st February 1919, the firm’s Golden Jubilee year, the store, several small shops further west in
Regent Street and cottages in Row 66 were totally destroyed by fire, one of the largest fires ever
seen in the town. The fire broke out at 9.30pm on a Monday night in the workroom and quickly
spread throughout the building, the limited resources of the fire brigade being unable to have
much effect. The two local fire engines and a horse-drawn steamer from Gorleston were
supplemented by the port tug, George Jewson, which moored at Hall Quay and pumped water up
Regent Street. An additional engine arrived from Norwich some hours after the fire had started
but, by now, it was too late to save anything. One reason given for the rapid spread of the fire
was the amount of timber used in the construction of the building in 1905. The fire quickly spread
to six small shops in Regent Street, destroying two tobacconists, Wigg the watch maker, John
The row of small shops in Regent Street,
including the furniture department at
number 9, destroyed by the fire of 1st
February 1919

Churchyard, an umbrella manufacturer,

and the office of the Prudential
Insurance Company, together with
Arnolds separate furniture shop. By
2.00am the threat to the adjacent
buildings had been averted and the fire The remains of the store after the fire of 1st February 1919
was under control, the roof and internal
walls having collapsed. At 7.00am the Norwich engine and the port tug were withdrawn. It was
estimated at the time that the total damage came to £100,000, a sum that today would equal over

A temporary office was quickly opened at 2 South Quay and ten days later a limited business
began at temporary premises acquired in Regent Road. Within six weeks, the company had
bought the burnt-out shops in Regent Street and plans were in hand for rebuilding the store,
which started almost immediately after the site was cleared. The architects for the new store
were Olley & Howard of Great Yarmouth and the builders were Barrett & Wright of London and R.
H. Carter of Anson Road, Southtown. The Regent Street frontage of the new store was built five
feet further back to allow the street to be widened at this point, and the new store took in the site
of the small shops, 3 to 8 Regent Street, that had
been destroyed. The furniture and china department,
which had occupied the separate shop at 9 Regent
Street, was now able to move into the main store. The
new store was equipped with a pneumatic tube
system connecting the 31 till points to a central cash
office, and had a lift to all floors. It was claimed to be
the town’s most up-to-date store, a store that had
everything for everyone. The first section opened for
business on 11th December 1921, followed by the
remainder of the store early in 1922. It was common
practice at this time for staff in department stores, in
particular female staff, to be provided with live-in
accommodation on site. It had been one of the ladies
living in the staff accommodation who had raised the
alarm when the fire started. Staff accommodation
was, however, not included in the new building and
Arnolds’ staff were housed in two residences at 3 and
4 Wellesley Road, where it was said, they are given all
the comforts of a home. Motor vehicles were now
taking over from the early horse-drawn delivery carts;
the first motorised delivery vehicle, complete with Motor delivery vehicle EX 36, complete with
uniformed driver, was on the road in the late 1920s uniformed driver
with the local registration EX 36.
Arnolds’ second floor restaurant

In the new store, a restaurant opened on the second floor in July 1922, said to be probably one of
the finest restaurants outside London. The walls, tables, upholstery, carpet and waitresses’
dresses all co-ordinated with the colour scheme of black, blue and yellow. The 4,250 square feet
of carpet had been specially made by Crossley Carpets of Kidderminster. The restaurant could
accommodate 250 people and an orchestra platform was included on the Regent Street side,
where an orchestral trio played. There was a luxurious gentlemen’s smoke room and lounge
attached to the main restaurant where businessmen can transact their business in privacy. The
restaurant was advertised as: the shopper’s rendezvous, luncheons served daily in charming
surroundings. It rapidly became a popular venue for private parties, receptions and dinner-
dances and many local clubs and organisations, such as the Rotary Club, used it as a regular
meeting place. In 1953, Arnolds’ Regency Restaurant was offering the best three-course lunch in
town for 2/6 (12½p).

During the 1930s, the store staff fielded their own football team. In 1935, Arnolds’ merged with
Debenhams, at the time the country’s largest department store group, but continued to trade
under the old family name of Arnolds. It was said the company was: at once infused with a new
spirit of drive and enthusiasm under the chairmanship of Debenhams Ltd. The store celebrated
its 66th birthday in 1935, when customers were offered special 1/- (5p) celebration teas in the
restaurant and the store had special offers of ladies’ coats from 19/11, frocks from 12/11, men’s
shirts at 5/- and a three-piece suite for £11.11s. (not cheap, as one pound in 1935 is equal to
about £72 today).

In 1941, the basement was converted into an auxiliary hospital with 50 beds and a well-equipped
operating theatre, used for the duration of the Second World War. In 1946, when the large
Shrublands pre-fab estate was being built at Gorleston, Arnolds’ furnished a show house. The
American way of dining became popular in the post-war period and a self-service cafeteria was
opened in the basement, one of the first in the town. A new Soda Fountain with up to date
American drinks served at popular prices was installed.

In May 1969, the store held a three-week centenary celebration with historic displays, Victorian
room settings, fashion parades and competitions. The store claimed to be: unchallenged and
unrivalled as the hub of Yarmouth’s shopping centre, supplying the needs of ever increasing
Arnolds’ Department Store in the 1950s

numbers of customers. Many goods were now sold under the Debenhams’ brand name
Debroyal. By now the basement cafeteria had been replaced with an up-to-date food hall. At
Christmas, the arrival of Father Christmas was heralded each year with a marching band and
procession through the town before he took his place in the festive grotto built in the basement,
an event eagerly awaited by the town’s children.

In December 1972, the store was rebranded as Debenhams and the well-known name of Arnolds,
which had existed in the town for over 100 years, disappeared from the local retail scene. The
store continued to trade on similar lines as in previous years until June 1985, when it closed with
the loss of 150 jobs. The building was then divided into several smaller retail units. Today the
large white building still stands on the corner of King Street and Regent Street, the only reminder
of the old family firm being the letter ‘A’, still visible on the stonework between the windows on the
second floor.

On 30th October 2008, Debenhams returned to the town, opening a smaller department store in
the newly extended Market Gates shopping centre. Marks & Spencer had closed in 2017 and,
with the closure of Debenhams in January 2020, rapidly followed by Beales, which had taken over
Palmers in 2018, the town had lost all its department stores.

Notes and References:

Davies, Paul P., Stories Behind the Stones pp412-415, privately published, 2008
Poulton, E., Amongst the Flames, p58, privately published, 2018
Yarmouth Mercury, 14th January 1933 and 2nd May 1969
Brochures, catalogues and other ephemera referring to Arnolds, author’s collection
Price comparisons taken from the Bank of England web site:
Postcard showing the restaurant by courtesy of the Peter Jones collection

The Comings and Goings of Gorleston Beach
Ben Milner

The size and shape of Gorleston beach has been a subject of much observation and debate for
many years. Gorleston was first developed as a seaside resort in the late 1800s and at that time
the beach was narrow and extended only a short distance beyond the promenade. Over time, the
beach grew and, by the 1930s, it had extended substantially, making the sea a considerable
distance from the promenade. However, by the late 1960s and 1970s, the beach had all but
disappeared with claims that the new concrete south pier, which had replaced the old wooden
harbour pier, was to blame.

Through the 1980s and 1990s, Gorleston beach began to recover and sand accumulated to
restore the beach to a size not seen since the 1930s. The arrival of Great Yarmouth’s Outer
Harbour in 2008 caused more speculation as to whether that would again be the end of Gorleston
beach. The reverse, however, seems to be true, with the beach growing ever wider and at an
even faster rate. This article charts these comings and goings of Gorleston beach over the last
150 years.

Great Yarmouth’s harbours

Before 900 AD, Yarmouth did not exist and instead the rivers Yare, Bure and Waveney opened
out into a large estuary. The small fishing village of Gorleston was on the southern bank of this
estuary. Over the next few hundred years the sandbank that would become Great Yarmouth
moved closer inshore and eventually closed the estuary, leaving a northern outlet and a southern
outlet. To the south, the River Yare flowed out to sea beyond Corton, separated along its length
from the sea by a spit of sand and shingle. Gorleston became a village on the bank of the River
Yare and would have had no sea-fronting beach, rather like the position now of Orford in Suffolk,
where the River Alde flows past on its way out to sea and forms Orford Ness spit.

By the early 1300s, this southern outlet had begun to get blocked by silt and prevented shipping
from entering the river. For Great Yarmouth, this was financially disastrous. Seven attempts
followed to create a new haven for the river, going as far north to what is now Queen’s Road in
Great Yarmouth and as far south as Corton. It wasn’t until the 1560s that the final and present
haven was cut. This was designed to have a south pier to introduce a right-angle bend that
deflects the river out to sea, known as Brush Bend, and to stop water running to the south. The
services of a Dutchman, Mr. Joas Johnson, were used to build first the north pier and then the
south pier, which was constructed from 1,800 tarred timber piles, each a foot square.

Over time, the north pier stopped longshore drift from the north, which allowed Great Yarmouth
beach to build up. It had the opposite effect to the south and reduced the deposit of sand and
shingle, which had been the spit, to leave Gorleston beach at the base of the sea cliffs. It was at
this point that Gorleston beach started to take shape and begin to look as it does today.


The earliest attempts to protect the land below the south pier and to create a beach began when
several breakwaters were constructed to the south. The largest of these was the spur
breakwater, which projected almost perpendicular from the south pier. It was made from
concrete, with a rocket post towards its end. The spur breakwater remains today and is a
prominent and important structure at Gorleston beach. It also forms a useful marker for gauging
the size of the beach. A south-west breakwater was also built, which was closer to the shore and
made from wooden piles and planking. At this time there was no concrete promenade and
instead the rough shape of the area was defined by the breakwaters, wooden posts and groynes.
On the south pier was the Anchor and Hope public house, which had its own watchtower, and
nearby was a rocket house. The area was very much for commercial seafaring and fishing and
had yet to develop as a seaside resort.

The spur breakwater pictured from Gorleston’s south pier. The breakwater looks very much the same
today as it does in the picture, with the exception of the rocket mast, but the cliffs have not yet been
landscaped and are still in their natural state

Gorleston beach in probably the 1870s taken from the top of the cliffs. The spur breakwater and
south-west breakwater are prominent structures, along with several other groynes and wooden posts that
form the edge of the beach. The Anchor and Hope public house can be seen, which is where the
Pier Hotel now stands. Picture supplied by kind permission of Ron Taylor

Further south of the harbour, Gorleston cliffs were still natural sea cliffs as the landscaping and
gardens that are there today had not yet been developed. Pictures from this era show Gorleston
beach to be small and hugging the cliffs and south pier.

Development of Gorleston beach

Up until the mid-1800s, Gorleston was predominantly a fishing village and centred around the
parish church, High Street and Baker Street area, with little development as far south to what is
now the beach. By the middle of the 1800s, Gorleston began to extend southwards with new
housing, public houses and churches. In fact, when Gorleston Methodist Church was being
planned, questions were asked as to why it was being built so far out of the town.

In the late 1800s, a proposal was made to develop Gorleston into a holiday resort by exploiting its
beach and cliffs and to offer something more genteel than was available at Great Yarmouth.
Work began when a sea wall was built in 1889 at the base of the cliffs to provide an area for the
Victorian visitors to walk along, or promenade. Regulations were introduced to prohibit activities
such as puppet shows, noisy games and even walking or lying on the slopes of the cliffs. In
1896, the beach gardens and a bandstand were opened, and a wooden promenade built to give
easier access to the beach. A row of shops along the Lower Esplanade was also built which
provided more attractions. Bathing machines were introduced to the beach to allow bathers easy
access to the sea, and tents also adorned the sands. To go along with its new identity as a
seaside resort, the suffix ‘on-Sea’ was added to conjure up images of sandy beaches and bathing
in the sea. Gorleston-on-Sea was an altogether different place from the original fishing village of

Before the turn of the century two new hotels were also opened; the Pier Hotel, built in 1897, and
the Cliff Hotel, built in 1898. The Pier Hotel was built on the south pier on the site of the Anchor
and Hope public house, which had been demolished. The Cliff Hotel was built at the top of the
cliffs, overlooking the harbour, although it survived for only 17 years, burning down on Boxing
Day, 1915. These dates provide useful clues to date pictures taken at Gorleston beach around
that time. Pictures and postcards from this era show that the beach was still quite narrow and
took protection from the spur breakwater and south-west breakwater.

Gorleston beach in around 1900. The sea wall now forms a definite edge to the beach, which is offered
protection by the spur breakwater and south-west breakwater. Only a thin strip of beach is present
inside the spur breakwater. The Pier Hotel, Cliff Hotel and Pavilion are all visible. With the exception of
the loss of the Cliff Hotel and the awnings on the shops on the Lower Esplanade, the scene is similar
to how it looks today

More attractions were soon added around Gorleston beach for the increasing numbers of visitors.
These included further landscaping of the cliffs, erection of shelters and the cutting through of the
Ravine in 1903 to connect the lower promenade with Marine Parade. To enhance Gorleston as a
seaside resort, Great Yarmouth council invited proposals for a shelter hall, which was designed
by borough engineer, J. W. Cockrill, and built in 1898. This began by showing band concerts,
and then moved on to films, and became known as the Pavilion Theatre, which still provides
typical seaside summer shows and Christmas pantomimes.

Further to the south, adjoining the lower promenade, a yacht pond was opened 1926. The Floral
Hall was opened in 1938, which was later to be renamed the Ocean Rooms. A year later, the
bandstand and beach gardens were replaced by Gorleston Lido, which opened in 1939 and was
demolished in 1993. By this time Gorleston beach had extended considerably since the late
1800s, with the south-west breakwater almost entirely covered by sand.

Gorleston beach seen from the top of the cliffs in the 1930s showing the recently opened
yacht pond. The beach has extended, now reaching close to the end of the spur breakwater
while the south-west breakwater has become buried by sand

Gorleston beach looking south from Marine Parade in the 1930s. In the foreground are the tops of
the shops along the Lower Esplanade and the observation gallery that was on the southernmost
shop. The yacht pond is a recent addition and numerous bathing huts and tents occupy the beach,
which at this time was wide, but can be seen to narrow further southwards. Housing along
Marine Parade has started, but extends a relatively short distance compared to nowadays

New harbour piers

Both the north and south piers at the harbour’s mouth were wooden structures and in need of
constant maintenance and repair, which was expensive. As the condition of the two structures
deteriorated, the decision was made to replace them by more substantial concrete piers. The
north pier was rebuilt in the 1950s and the south pier between 1962 and 1964, once funds had
been obtained. Removal of the old Dutch pier, as it was known locally, changed once again the
character of Gorleston beach. The old wooden Cosies were gone and the new concrete south
pier was a solid construction that did not allow water to flow through.

Within a few years, erosion had reduced Gorleston beach to just a thin strip of sand below the
promenade adjacent to the lido and Pier Hotel. Further south, the beach had retreated right back
to the edge of the yacht pond. There were serious concerns that the beach might disappear
altogether and the sea undermine the sea wall, leading to a potential collapse. To mitigate this,
granite blocks were built up against the sea wall to provide protection. The old south-west
breakwater was removed and new groynes constructed that were perpendicular to the shore and
positioned at regular intervals all the way south to Hopton. Whether this worked, or whether the
prevailing tides and wave directions changed, but, by the 1980s, Gorleston beach had started to
extend again.

In the 2000s, there was a reduction in the number of northerly storms and an increase in the
number of southerly storms. This had the effect of moving sand deposits in a northerly direction
and further building up Gorleston beach, in some years by as much as five metres.

Outer Harbour

The most recent threat to Gorleston beach has been Great Yarmouth’s Outer Harbour, which was
completed in 2008. Situated only a few hundred metres north of Gorleston beach, and projecting
one-third of a mile into the sea, it was feared that this structure might destabilise the beach and
cause it to retreat again in a manner similar to that which occurred in the 1960s and 1970s.

A few years after the Outer Harbour had been built, a report was written by the Centre for
Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) to examine its impact on the coast
from as far north as Winterton, and as far south as Lowestoft. This concluded that within a
vicinity of 1½ km south of the Outer Harbour, which includes Gorleston beach, the structure
provided shelter against storms and allowed an accretion of deposits. This caused Gorleston
beach to continue to grow, now at an increased rate of up to 15 metres a year. This is very
evident nowada ys, wit h
Gorleston beach extending a
considerable way out from the
promenade and even beyond
the spur breakwater. Further
south in Gorleston, and at
Hopton, the beach had been
eroding and the report found
this to be continuing, although it
stated that this was unlikely to
be a result of the Outer
Harbour. A separate report
was commissioned by Bourne
Leisure Limited, owner of a
holiday park on the cliff edge at
Hopton, which came to a
different conclusion and found
Gorleston beach in the late 1960s. The old wooden south pier had
evidence that the erosion of recently been replaced by the concrete south pier. The size of the
Hopton beach was caused by beach is in decline and the sea now quite close to the promenade with
the Outer Harbour. the south-west breakwater once again almost fully exposed
The future

For the foreseeable

future, Gorleston beach
appears to be safe again
with huge quantities of
sand having built up.

A sand bar even seems

to have formed at its
eastern edge, which
serves to trap water after
high tides or storms to
create lagoons that take
some time to drain away.
However, Gorleston
beach has shown itself to
come and go and, with a An aerial view over Gorleston beach, taken in the late 1970s. The beach
change in prevailing wind below the lido and Ocean Rooms has gone completely and even the beach
directions, it may once around the yacht pond has retreated to leave the structure projecting out
again change its shape. to sea. The south-west breakwater has been removed and a series of
new groynes has been built perpendicular to the shore. These extend
south along the coast to Hopton

An aerial view of
Gorleston beach
captured by a drone in
December of 2020.
The beach is probably
the largest it has ever
been, and in
comparison to pictures
taken in the 1960s and
1970s, its growth is
spectacular. The
picture shows that the
beach has even
accumulated on the
seaward side of the
spur breakwater. After
recent winter storms a
lagoon has formed
alongside the yacht
pond and is prevented
from draining into the sea by a sand bar that has formed as the beach has grown ever eastwards. This
illustrates the constantly changing character of Gorleston beach. Picture supplied by kind permission of
Will Vickers


Great Yarmouth and Gorleston Holiday Guide 1909, reprinted by Great Yarmouth Local History
and Archaeological Society, 2017
Meeres, Frank, A History of Great Yarmouth, Phillimore and Co. Ltd., 2007
Tooke, Colin, Gorleston: Short Blue to Pop’s Meadow, Poppyland Publishing, 2019
Ecclestone, A. W. and Ecclestone, J. L., The Rise of Great Yarmouth, Jarrold and Sons Ltd.,
Centre for Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS), The Impacts of the
Construction of Great Yarmouth Outer Harbour on Coastal Evolution, 2014
The Changing Face of Hall Quay - 1870 to 1970
David Tubby

Many years ago I began collecting postcards of the Town Hall and Hall Quay. In order to better
identify some of the changes to and features of this area, I later, during various researches for my
books, began to put aside written information relating to it, largely from press cuttings and council
minutes. The following is not a comprehensive history of the area, but does record the changing
face of this important area of the town over the 100 year period from 1870 to 1970.

The first description of the area I have is from the Yarmouth Independent of 8th June 1872. It
describes the scenes on the day of the Prince of Wales’ visit to open the new Grammar School on
Trafalgar Road: The decorations on the Hall Quay, as seen from the bridge, were very effective.
All the banks, shops and houses being gaily draped with cloth, draped with flowers and
evergreens. Gurneys’ Bank looked very pretty with scarlet cloth, yellow fringe and flags. Messrs.
Lacons’ Bank also similarly draped with trophies of flags, shields and festoons of flowers under
the windows. The Provincial Bank was similarly decorated. Mr. Clowes had dressed his front very
elaborately with flowers, greenery and flags; and his neighbour, Mr. Hunter, followed his example,
only in a less degree. The other buildings facing the bridge were also gaily attired in their holiday

Messrs. Spellman's’ office had a crystal medallion with the words ‘God bless the Prince’ and the
balcony was dressed with scarlet cloth. Mr. Coleman had erected a balcony which was draped
with red cloth and festooned with flowers. Mr. Johnson exhibited considerable taste in the manner
in which he had festooned and dressed the front of his house with greenery and flowers.

The Royal Oak had a very appropriate decoration in the shape of a transparency of Charles in the
Oak, with flags &c. Messrs. Fenner and Suffling’s office was also garlanded with flowers and
greenery, and a balcony was erected for the accommodation of their friends, who we should think
obtained from this point a very good view of the arrival of the Prince’s party at the hall.

Mr. Foreman also decorated the front of his house in a very artistic manner. In the centre was a
gas plume and on each side a gas star. There were also festoons of flowers, drapery, shields
and trophies of flags, flying from almost every window, making up a very pretty little scene.

In 1887, Clowes Stores inserted an advert in the Yarmouth Independent, which included a brief
history of their business: On January 1st, 1875, the present proprietor of Clowes Stores
commenced business at No.15 Hall Quay in a shop measuring 14½ft by 15ft. During the year the
premises were re-built giving a length of 51ft and a width of 20ft, with two warehouses over, 21ft
by 20ft each, the whole being opened in October of that year.

In 1883 it was found necessary to increase the warehouse accommodation by the addition of two
large rooms 45ft by 16ft each, whilst a further enlargement of the shop was effected by removing
the counting house upstairs.

In 1885 the adjoining premises, No.14 Hall Quay, was added, which secured another shop of 49ft
by 14ft and a warehouse of 26ft by 13½ft.

This Jubilee year, however, an alteration has been effected by which is gained additional shop
room amounting to 840 square feet, thus forming a fine double shop 95½ ft long with a frontage of
39ft. The largest Establishment of the kind in the Eastern Counties.

During the period under review the staff of employees has increased from 5 in 1875 to 40 at the
present date.

This simple history may safely be left to speak for itself, the most obvious inference being that
progress so considerable and so steady could never have been achieved save by supplying
articles of sterling quality at the lowest possible prices.
1904 OS Map of Hall Quay showing the tram lines and the railway line that ran along the quay

In May 1882, rail lines were laid along the quay to the Fishwharf, and in the October of that year a
shelter for cabmen was erected on the quay.
The local press in 1890 reported that the Stone House Hotel on Hall Quay had been changed to
the Cromwell Hotel, with Tudor-style upper floors being added. This remained the Cromwell
Temperance Hotel until 1934, when it was renamed the Star Hotel.
In 1898, the appropriate council committee sanctioned the application of the Steam Boat Co. Ltd.
to place two ticket boxes on the quay in the same positions as they had occupied the previous
year. An application from Messrs. T. Small and Co. for permission to place a ticket box in
connection with the steamers Yarmouth Belle and Walton Belle was also granted.

According to John McBride’s Diary of Great Yarmouth, the end of the 19th century and the
beginning of the 20th century saw many of the old familiar local banks along Hall Quay taken over
or merged. In 1896, Gurney’s Bank was amalgamated with several other banks to become
Barclay’s; in 1901, the Lacon, Youell & Kemp Bank became the Capital & Counties Bank, which
was later merged with Lloyd’s in 1918 and, in 1906, the National Provincial Bank at 23 Hall Quay
was rebuilt; and finally the London County Westminster and Parr’s Bank purchased Owles the
Chemist at 11 Hall Quay in 1918 to build a bank.
My remaining notes relating to Hall Quay are derived from the council minutes, but these short
extracts monitor the gradual changing face of the area through a large part of the 20th century.
In May 1903, the Chief Constable was directed to notify the proprietors of the oyster stalls
standing at the foot of the bridge that stalls would be prohibited from standing there if the practice
of throwing dirty water on the public quays or roadway was not discontinued. Later that year, in
September, complaints were again received of nauseous smells emanating from the oyster stalls
usually standing at the northern foot of Haven bridge. The Borough Surveyor was instructed to
present a plan showing the public thoroughfare contiguous to the bridge, together with an
estimate for paving and draining the portion occupied by the oyster stalls. However problems
with the stalls persisted as demonstrated by this press report of 1908: The Fishwharf and Quays’
Committee had had under consideration a memorial from the shellfish dealers, coffee and
refreshment purveyors asking the council to reconsider their decision and permit them to continue
to occupy positions with their stalls at the east end of the Haven Bridge.

The Town Clerk informed the committee that the stalls had been removed in pursuance of a six
months’ notice ordered to be served upon the stall holders in July last.

The committee adhered to their previous instruction with regard to the stalls of the shellfish
dealers, but resolved to permit a coffee stall to stand on each side of the east end of the bridge
until 9 o’clock a.m.

An instruction was given to the Borough Surveyor to find a pitch for a man named Thompson with
a sweet stall, he having occupied a stall near the bridge for many years.

That same year, in August, a letter from the Local Government Board was reported to the council
indicating that approval had been given to borrow £625 for the provision of underground toilets on
Hall Quay. The board stated that the loan was sanctioned on the understanding that no payment
would be made therefrom in respect of the cost of incandescent lights, and adding that the board
were advised that additional thickness should be given to the outer walls below the ground line. A
report to the Sanitary Committee in May 1904 indicated that the works were complete, and that
they were to be let by public tender.

In February 1908, the council’s General Purposes Committee agreed that the General Post Office
could erect on Hall Quay a creosoted (rather than painted) telegraph pole; it was to have an
ornamental base and top. The following year a report was submitted to the same committee
indicating that the cabmen’s shelter needed re-painting and required a new stove. In December,
a letter was read to the Stables and Roads Committee from Major Macdonald R. A. calling
attention to the uncomfortable quarters of the caretaker at the Hall Quay lavatories; and the
following April Mr. J. R. Nutman, the proprietor of the Cromwell Hotel, complained to the same
committee of nuisance arising in consequence of one of the exits from the lavatories facing the
windows and balcony of his hotel; the Borough Surveyor was instructed to take such steps as
were necessary to deal with the problem.

A Hall Quay scene at the turn of the century showing the cabmen with their shelter on the left in the
distance, the refreshment stalls at the foot of the bridge, the trams and also railway trucks in the
middle distance

A Stables and Roads Committee minute of 29th May 1912 stated that a letter had been received
from Mr. William Shipley, stating that he saw no objection to drinking troughs being placed on Hall
Quay and Marine Parade, especially as provision was to be made for drinking from a pail. He
also suggested it would be to the benefit of cattle coming into the borough if a drinking trough was
placed at the north end of the town near the destructor. An instruction was given to the Borough
Surveyor to arrange for the trough intended for Hall Quay to be placed as indicated by Mr.
In October 1912, the Postmaster General informed the council that he would shortly be
commencing the building of the extension to the Great Yarmouth Head Post Office, and that the
works would as far as possible take place during the winter months. That same month, Mr. A. J.
Johnson was granted permission to take over the site of the coffee stall at the south-east corner
of Haven Bridge from Mrs. Housego at an annual rent of 10/-.
The summer of 1914 saw the council agree to the improvement to the western approach to
Regent Street by setting back the pathway and railings on Hall Quay at an estimated cost of £60.
Later that year the Post Office was granted permission to erect a pillar-box on the pathway
outside the Post Office after the Postmaster assured the council that the box would be cleared at
the same time as those post boxes situated inside the Post Office.

In March 1915, the Borough Surveyor was instructed to construct a granite crossing to be paved
from the refuge on the east side of Haven Bridge to the north footpath of the bridge, and to fix on
the lamp post on the refuge an illuminated sign stating: Foot passengers keep to the right, in an
attempt to regulate foot passenger traffic. Later, in August 1915, the Watch Committee instructed
the Chief Constable to withdraw the extra constable, who had been placed on duty at the Haven
Bridge to assist in regulating foot passenger traffic; and the Borough Surveyor was directed to
cause further notice boards to be placed at each end of the bridge with the words: Keep to the
right printed thereon.
A letter from the local secretary of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was
sent to the council in October 1917, complaining that the water supply to the drinking trough on
Hall Quay had been cut off. The Borough Surveyor explained that this had been done due to the
extravagant waste that had taken place; he was instructed to turn it on during the daytime only,
and to erect a notice in the cabmen’s shelter prohibiting them the use of water for cab washing.

The Borough Surveyor reported that the penny-in-the-slot door fastenings in the underground
toilets at Theatre Plain and Hall Plain had yielded £170.7s for the year ended 31st December
In the autumn of 1919, the Controller of the National War Savings Committee wrote to the local
secretary of the War Savings Committee suggesting that a tank would be presented to the
borough, and stated that arrangements had been made with the Transport and Military Authorities
for the delivery to Great Yarmouth of one of the war trophies in December. The tank would
eventually be displayed on Hall Quay however, in April 1923, the Borough Engineer was
instructed by the council’s General Purposes Committee to submit a report for the improvement of
Hall Quay and to deal with the disposal of the tank and other war trophies that had been placed
there; in May, the Town Clerk was instructed to write to the War Trophies Committee asking them
to remove the tank and inform them that failing to do so would result in it being sold to a local
metal merchant. It was not until August 1929 that a decision regarding the tank was finally made,
with a resolution that a tender by S. D. Harrison Ltd. of £12.10s be accepted to cut up the tank
and cart it away.
In the early post-war days many stalls and kiosks existed in this area, but the council saw fit in
1924 to refuse the application for yet another refreshment stall to be erected between the
cabmen’s hut and the kiosk on Hall Quay; they did however agree to fix the rent of the kiosk
occupied by the United Automobile Services Ltd. at £10 per quarter.

Moves were afoot by the end of 1926 on the reconstruction of Haven Bridge and, in December of
that year, a request was granted by the General Purposes Committee for Sir William Arrol & Co.
Ltd. to construct a temporary building on Hall Quay for use by their resident engineer as an office.
By the following August, the Borough Engineer was pressing for the immediate carrying out of the
proposals included in the Haven Bridge Bill with regard to the removal and reconstruction of the
railway sidings on Hall Quay, as further delay would hold back the opening of the temporary
bridge. A month later it was decided that the works were considered to be less urgent and could
be deferred until after the fishing season. At this time a new layout to Hall Quay was also being

While considering the new layout of Hall Quay, the Post Office was approached, expressing the
desire to remove the three telegraph poles on the quay and to replace the wires underground.
Later on during the development, electric standards carrying overhead lines would also be
replaced underground.

The sub-committee dealing with the proposed new layout decided to arrange for a competition to
take place regarding its design, and advertisements were placed in the local press to this effect.
Four entries were received, with the first prize of ten guineas being awarded to Mr. T. R. Humble.
The Borough Engineer was instructed to submit a plan taking into account suggestions made in
the four submissions. A major problem for the new plan was the siting of the public lavatories.
The proprietor of the Cromwell Hotel had objected to their continued presence outside his hotel,
and finally a decision was made to resite them between rows 59 and 61 on an area of land that
would need to be purchased from Steward & Patteson Ltd; during the interim period of
construction the former Buck Inn, recently acquired by the Corporation, would serve as temporary
lavatory accommodation on Hall Quay. The removal of the kiosk used by United Automobile
Services Ltd. would also require resiting and a temporary arrangement was made for it to be
erected on Church Plain, with the company’s buses standing on Brewery Plain. Final approval for
the scheme was received from the Ministry of Health in January 1930, giving the council authority
to borrow £5,287 for the reconstruction of Hall Quay.

During the reconstruction in 1931, the old cab stand that had been used for over 70 years was
removed. Provision had been made for cabs to stand near the hoarding around the bridge works.
However, owing to the noise of the works and the possibility of the horses becoming frightened, a
recommendation was made for a new stand to accommodate six cabs. A recommendation was
also later made for steel studs to serve as traffic lines on the Hall Quay approach to Haven
Bridge. The Borough Engineer was instructed to enlarge, temporarily, the island refuge at the
east side of Haven Bridge, so as to extend it further westward. Three years later, in 1934, the
Borough Engineer was again ordered to remove the refuge, this time to 14ft nearer the bridge.
This wide roadway was becoming an increasingly busy thoroughfare and it was important to get
the positioning right; the refuge would be installed as a temporary circular wooden roundabout
together with three illuminated direction signs.

Another interesting addition to the Hall Quay scene in 1934 was the placing of an airmail posting
box immediately to the north of the Post Office door as air mail had become a serious rival to the
old surface deliveries. The ever expanding communications sector also added to the street scene
on Hall Quay when Radio Relays Ltd. submitted an application for a 36ft pole to be erected there.

The public lavatories took longer than anticipated to complete and, in January 1935, a letter was
read to the Highways Committee from E. Moore & Sons Ltd. offering a sum of £30 in
compensation for the delays in completing the contract. The following year the Borough Electrical
Engineer was instructed to erect a neon sign on the toilets at a cost of £15. He was also asked to
look into the cost of illuminating Hall Quay and floodlighting the Town Hall until 10.30pm in the
evening during the winter months. In December 1936, his recommendation was agreed by the
council’s Finance Committee.

In July 1937, the General Purpose Committee recommended the approval of a scheme to erect
slipper baths at the rear of the new public lavatories on Hall Quay at a cost of £1,880; it would
provide for five baths and lavatory accommodation for both sexes. In order to complete the
project the council was required to apply to the Minister of Health for approval to purchase an
area of 150 square yards at the
rear of the public conveniences
on the south side of Row 52.
The Minister’s approval was
received in June 1938. Three
tenders were received for the
construction, with the lowest
being £2,329 by R. H. Carter &
Sons Ltd. and the baths were
finally opened in October 1939.
The charges were agreed to be :-
Use of bath (limited to half an
hour), including soap and towel :-
Adults 6d
Children (under 14) 3d
The Borough Engineer and
Alderman Yallop were given
power to act on a request by the
Officer Commanding the 4th
Battalion Royal Norfolk Regiment
for the use of the baths by his
men on two afternoons a week.
Later, the slipper baths were
made great use of by the various
branches of H. M. Forces during
the war as a council minute in
September 1944 indicates: as the
war drew to a close the Borough
Engineer reported that due to the
considerable decr ease in
demand by H. M. Forces for the
use of the Hall Quay slipper
baths he suggested the baths
might be made available for the
use of the general public on
Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays Clowes’ Stores, Hall Quay
of each week, which suggests
that prior to that date their main
use was by H. M. Forces billeted
in the town.
During the war, in August 1942, the library, which had been badly bomb damaged, was moved to
the shops vacated by Clowes’ in Hall Quay. Clowes’ shop had closed in July 1941. The library
would remain there until 1961.

Post-war reconstruction of Hall Quay was undertaken in 1949-50 at a cost of £11,000, which
included what was termed a ‘gyratory’ traffic scheme for the area. Prior to the works, the railway
lines on the quay were realigned to pass closer to the foot of Haven Bridge, to enable the
enlargement of the traffic island at the foot of the bridge.

In 1953, a reinforced concrete and glass bus shelter was erected on the quay at a cost of £300.
Unlike the present shelter, it had panels in the front to shelter passengers from the easterly winds.
In the following year, the Finance Committee rejected a proposal to remove the flagpoles on Hall
Quay, but instead recommended that new flags be purchased prior to the visit of the Duke of
Edinburgh, on 2nd December, 1954.
The ever evolving road layout was tinkered with yet again in November 1957, when the Borough
Engineer was authorised to proceed with improvement of the kerb lines at the junction with Haven
Bridge and the resiting of the pedestrian crossings, with a view to improving road conditions
around the traffic island.

In October 1960, negotiations were under way for the council to purchase numbers 8 and 8A Hall
Quay in order to complete the proposed road from Howard Street to George Street, which would
become Stonecutters Way. These negotiations dragged on and it was not until 1968 that
provision was made to acquire 8 and 9 Hall Quay, together with Selbourne House, in order to
proceed with the link road scheme.

Towards the end of 1963, the Highways Committee received an estimate of £20,500 for works of
reconstruction on Hall Quay and other roads as part of a new one-way system, including traffic
signals, signs and street lighting. The reconstruction scheme required the removal of two well
established weeping elm trees from the quay, which had been planted in the 1930s.


A 1950s Hall Quay scene showing the two weeping elm trees on the right hand side of the photo and the
Haven Bridge traffic roundabout

After the completion of the one-way system it only took a few years for the council to decide upon
further alterations to the Hall Quay road layout and, in April 1967, the Highways Committee
approved the removal of the central traffic island at the foot of Haven Bridge, and the installation
of traffic lights, at a cost of £11,000.

The 100 years since 1870 had seen a gradual change in the layout of Hall Quay inevitably take
place, particularly to reflect the changing modes of transport, but up to this point it had always
remained the town’s centre of commerce: sadly in recent years, with the dispersal of the banks,
this has now drastically changed.

Lesser Water Courses around Great Yarmouth
Andrew Fakes

The landscape and the extensive wide rivers of East Norfolk are the result of torrents of water
from the melting ice of glaciers when the last ice age ended about 18,000 years ago. Vast
quantities of water flowed from the land to the sea, cutting the shallow river valleys of Norfolk and
Suffolk. The huge sea inlet, where Great Yarmouth now stands, was a remainder of this deluge.

It has diminished over the years due to silt carried down the rivers, the lateral drift of the North
Sea, which brought material down from northern Britain, and the efforts of man. East Norfolk’s
wide rivers drain the county’s surplus water, but there are a few smaller streams remaining on this
side of the county that owe their existence to springs, rain water run-offs, and melting snow. As
all water runs from higher to lower ground, streams will form. These drain into the main rivers,
and later into the sea.

Both rivers and broads have a tendency to fill up with reeds, leaves, wind-blown soil and general
detritus unless they are scoured out by water flowing through them, or by the intervention of man.
The pressures of population, and subsequently agriculture, have diminished areas of wetland in
the county. The Enclosure Acts from the 1750s onwards made it worthwhile for a landowner to
drain marshes that had previously been fallow. However, marshland provided fish, wild birds,
turf, sedge and reeds. Ditches were dug and drainage mills built, obliterating natural streams,
marshes and peat bogs. Peat bogs are now recognized as an essential carbon store and their
loss has added to ‘Global Warming’.

The Pickerill Holme: sometimes referred to as ‘Pickerill Gill’ (‘gill’

being the old Norse word for a wooded ravine). This is the stream
running down from the higher land of West Caister to join the River
Bure. Historically speaking, only one mill is recorded in the
Domesday Book in the Flegg Hundreds (actually two half mills; half
belonging to Caister and half to Mautby). It must have been a water
mill as windmills for grinding corn were not introduced to England
until the 12th century and it is reasonable to assume that the
Pickerill Holme was the only site in the area where there was
sufficient gradient to power a water driven mill. The stream was The River Bure with mill.
The Pickerill Holme would
later canalised to carry building materials for the construction of have run into the Bure at
Caister Castle in the 15th century. about this point.

The Muck Fleet: the unromantic title of a further stream that is still running through the Fleggs
today. It marked the border with Trinity Broads, between the Saxon Hundreds of East and West
Flegg. It flows from Filby Broad to the River Bure and takes the overflow of surface water from
the villages around Ormesby and Rollesby Broads, as well as from Filby. It is not possible to join
the River Bure by boat. William Dutt, writing in
1901, states: Yachts and wherries are never seen
at Filby owing to the channel connecting the broad
to the Bure being unnavigable. Jane Hales,
writing in 1969, describes it as a mucky ol’ deeke.
David Tubby recalls fishing in the Muck Fleet as a
boy. There were some good fish and lots of eels.
I recall rowing down it some 40 years ago with my
father and nephews and it was full of small fish
and very tranquil. The water level of the Muck
Fleet is kept lower than the River Bure by a sluice
and a pump maintained by the local drainage
Intrepid explorer on the Muck Fleet 1978
The Hundred Stream: runs toward
the sea at Horsey and disappears
into the marshes and sand dunes.
This was the northern border
between the Fleggs and Happing
Hundreds. Old maps show the sea
had ingress to the River Thurne,
making the Fleggs an island
surrounded by river and sea. When
the North Sea ceased to flow into
this part of Norfolk is open to
speculation. It was certainly not sea
one day and dry land the next
morning, but it would have been
subject to high or low tides and
heavy rain or droughts. In the
Norfolk and Norwich Remembrancer
in 1822, J. Matchett writes of a high
tide in 1797, causing alarm from a
sea breach at Winterton, Horsey and
Waxham threatening the destruction
of all marshes through to Yarmouth
and Beccles. A further breach was
made between Winterton and
Horsey in 1805, which was later filled The Flegg Hundreds. From ‘The Broads’ edited
in, with an artificial bank of sand and by E.A. Ellis (Collins 1965)
shingle, after the Sea Breach
Commissioners consulted the noted engineer William Smith.

Faden’s Map of 1797 showing the ‘Navigation’ to Acle, the Muck Fleet, the Pickerill Holme and the vast
area of marshes. (N.B. the Pickerill Holme is shown as entering the River Bure further west than on current
Ordnance Survey maps) Note: the Acle New Road was not opened until 13th April 1831

The fate of the marshes at Horsey was not a prime consideration of the local authorities in earlier
centuries but, elsewhere in the County of Norfolk, they worried that, should there be a big sea
influx here, the salt water would ruin grazing and agricultural land for miles inland. Funding for
sea defences was therefore forthcoming from county sources.

There was a suggestion that French prisoners of war should be housed at Horsey during the
Napoleonic Wars as it was very remote and inaccessible.

In the 1979 edition of Norfolk Archaeology, the noted Flegg historian Barbara Cornford wrote an
article entitled: The Sea Breach Commission in East Norfolk 1609-1743. In a section entitled
Topographical Information, she states: I had hoped the study of the Sea Breach Commission
papers might throw some light on the topography of the area, particularly on the history of the
Hundred Stream and the outline of the coast. Water broke through the sea banks by the Hundred
Stream in 1601,1608, 1625, 1651, 1715 and 1791, as it did in 1938. (there were further incidents
between 1791 and 1938). It was the most vulnerable spot along the coast. However, there is no
indication in the Sea Breach evidence that the Hundred Stream connected with the sea in the
17th or 18th centuries. The proposal to cut a channel through the marsh to the sea for drainage
does not make use of the Hundred Stream but is further north through the Horsey Marshes. An
Elizabethan map shows sluice gates on the map between Winterton and Waxham, one of which
might be the outfall of the Hundred Stream. The 17th century evidence, including Mr. Briggs’
detailed description of the area, never mentions any existing sluice gates. (Mr. Briggs was Reader
in Mathematics at Oxford University reporting in 1625). It would seem that these outfalls had
been abandoned by that time.

As Mrs. Cornford noted, the last time the River Thurne connected to the North Sea was in 1938.
Following three successive breaches in the sand dunes between January and April, a sea wall
was completed in May of 1938 and there have been no more marine transgressions in this area

Bruce Robinson (former journalist for the

Eastern Daily Press), in a book Norfolk
Byways, wrote in 1994: having recently
swept the beach by a bomb disposal
squad for mines, prior to work being
allowed to begin on a sea wall north of
Winterton, the contractors encountered a
problem with the discovery of the buried
course of the old Hundred Stream’s
former outflow of the Broads system to
the sea.

Grubb’s Haven, or Cockle Water: this

was where the River Bure flowed into the
sea at Caister and it is said that Roman
galleys entered here for their port at
Caister, and to sail to their East Anglian
capital at Venta Icenorum (modern
Caistor St. Edmund). When this channel
became unnavigable or when it became
blocked is not definitely recorded, but E.
A. Ellis in his book entitled The Broads
(Collins New Naturalist, 1965) shows it as
being ‘sealed’ in 1347. This would have
been about the time when Yarmouth was
having great difficulties in keeping the The lower River Bure Cockle Water or Grubb’s Haven,
Harbour’s Mouth open there, so it is a Pickerill Holme and the Bure loop.
likely date. From The Broads by E. A. Ellis (Collins 1965)

The great loop of the lower Bure is somewhat of a mystery to me because its course goes very
near Breydon Water, where an inlet suggests that the two may have been joined at one time. In
my school geography lessons we were told of Ox Bow lakes where rivers meandered so greatly;
they would eventually join the main stream again at a point so as to make the diversion
superfluous, but leaving a horseshoe-shaped lake away from the main river, which has not
happened here.

Patricia Wills-Prior told me that Caister fishermen feel that the North Sea off that village is less
saline than in other areas of the North Sea, so perhaps some of the waters of the River Bure still
flow underground to the sea there.

About five years ago, I contacted Ken Hamilton at the Norfolk Archaeological Unit to see if there
had been any Lidar (light detection and ranging) surveys of this area or if any could be made. He
felt that there had been too much development in the area for anything to show up.

The Fleet Dike: On maps of the Acle marshes there are many watercourses, but these are
mostly straight and almost certainly man-made drainage ditches. However, the meandering
stream known as the Fleet Dike drains from the higher land around Wickhampton and runs about
two miles to the north-west end of Breydon Water at the Breydon Sluice.

Tunstall Dike: A stream running from the higher lands around Acle into the River Bure and
previously known as the Navigation also appears to be natural. The Tunstall Dike now runs
under a humpback bridge on the Acle Straight about three quarters of a mile west of the former
Stracey Arms public house. In the pre-railway age, these minor rivers would have been very
useful for carrying harvested crops to market and for bringing coal etc. to the villages.

River Thurne: there are two small un-

named streams running down from
the high ground at Martham. On
Ordnance Survey maps of the village
of Thurne, two adjoining streams are
shown beginning at the high lands of
Ashby and Repps and running into
the river there. They are called the
Dubeck and the Shallam Dikes. In
1797, Faden’s map shows a small
broad on Thurne Fen, which is no
longer there. According to a book
called: Thurne at the Water’s Edge;
the history of a Broadland village,
compiled by Thurne Community
Archive Group and published by them
in 2010, the area around the Dubeck
stream was possibly the site of
Thurne Broad, or it could have been
near the River Bure. The broad has
since disappeared and waters from
the Shallam Dike now drain into the

Right: 1960 Map showing the Shallam

Dike and the Dubeck stream running into
the Thurne, but there is no broad shown

Faden’s Map of 1797 shows a fair size broad on Thurne Fen which is no longer there. Interestingly,
the Hundred Stream branches from the River Ant to join the Thurne, bypassing the Bure

Hemsby: In his book The Norfolk & Suffolk Broads (The History Press, 2007), Robert Malster
reprints a map of the District of the Broads from the Rev’d. Richard Lubbock’s Observations on
the Fauna of Norfolk and more particularly on the District of the Broads, published in 1845.

He shows a watercourse running from the Newport area of Hemsby to Ormesby Broad. There is
no sign of this today but in my youth, I remember a ditch running beside Newport Road and
progressing through several ponds on Yarmouth Road. This would have proceeded to Hemsby
Fen, where a steam-driven pump would have sent excess water into an arm of Ormesby Broad.

My contacts report that Mr. Harold Hodds was employed as a roadman in the parish. He had a
barrow, a spade, a rake and a hoe and it was his job to keep the gullies and ditches clear to allow
surface water to flow into the drains. Storm water would now appear to go into culverts and
underground pipes when heavy rain flowing off the fields results in flooded roads and houses.
There are now fewer open fields with more houses and caravan sites, and the ground is less able
to contain rainwater so, recently, more flooding has occurred in Hemsby.

The following information is taken from the sale catalogue of: Hemsby Hall Estate by auction by
John D. Wood & Co. at the Maid’s Head Hotel Saturday June 29th 1918 at 1 p.m. (the First World
War had a further five and half months to run). The pump house was on Hemsby Fen and it
pumped the water into the north-east arm of Ormesby Broad.

Brick & Tile Engine House with 10 horse-power Steam Engine by Holmes of Norwich and a
turbine pump capable of delivering 8,000 gallons per minute. The pump, which drains or takes
water from various sites around the village, brings in a gross revenue of £86 p.a.: the drainage
rate being chargeable to the tenants of the land. The new rate commences on 11/10/1918.

Left: Rev’d. Lubbock’s map showing
watercourse from Newport in Hemsby
leading into Ormesby Broad. This would
have been little more than a ditch in the
1950s and gone by the 1970s. Right: The
brick building known as ‘the Pump House’
on Hemsby Fen, which housed a coal-
fired steam engine as it looked in 1980. It
was demolished c2000 and the engine
was removed to the Steam Museum near
Potter Heigham

The Lady Haven: is a stream recorded on the older maps of Great Yarmouth dividing the
Southtown area from what was then Cobholm Island. It is shown on Corbridge’s Prospect of the
town dated 1724 with two bridges. There are two buildings with smoking chimneys shown on the
island, which are presumed to be for the production of salt from brine. In 1875, C. J. Palmer in
his Perlustration of Great Yarmouth writes in
volume III, page 302, in a chapter on Cobham,
writes: Cobham, or as it was formally written
Cobholm, now comprising about twenty-seven
acres, was formed by the accumulation of mud
and silt washed down by the river, which
gradually consolidated until it became dry land.
It was formerly an island (and is still so called),
having been separated from Southtown by a
channel called Lady’s Haven which ran from
Breydon to the river as shown in the Elizabethan
plan so often referred to, at which period there
were no buildings upon it. Cobham ceased to
be an island about the year 1780, when the
water passage at the Breydon end silted up.
The river wall was carried across it and the From Corbridge’s West Prospect of Yarmouth.
channel became a ditch, receiving drainage from The above shows one of a series of small maps
the adjoining marshes. and sketches around the main picture

The late Alec McEwen (a former President of Great Yarmouth Archaeological Society),
contributing to a book entitled: A Yarmouth Miscellany (Ecclestone, 1974), in his chapter entitled:
The Story of Cobholm Island, p.122, wrote: Topographically, the area of the island was about 25
acres disconnected from the adjacent marshes by a channel called the Lady Haven, a name
which exists today to describe a road and a public house. The channel was at one time navigable
commencing in the River Yare some 200 yards north of the Haven Bridge, following a route
parallel to the present Lady Haven Road to its end and on through the marshes discharging into
Breydon Water. The two bridges over the Lady Haven were situated at the point where Steam
Mill Lane turns westward and where Mill Road does likewise. These are both depicted on a map
of 1668 as having a centre opening section, the average width of the channel being about 50 feet
at this time. There is no sign of the stream today. The Lady Haven public house is still trading.
Belton and Burgh Castle: In
his book on Belton, Brian
Callan records that the
Stepshort stream in that village
is the remains of the entrance
to the Roman Harbour at Burgh
Castle. The area around
Stepshort has been subject to
flooding, but recent work by
Anglian Water has straightened
the ditches, and pumping
stations have been built so that
the extensive housing in the
village is now safe from

Faden’s Map of 1797 shows

two streams originating on the
higher lands at Burgh Castle
and Belton flowing into the
marshes beside the Waveney
River. One of these was
probably called the Stepshort
stream when they were
landscape features.
Faden’s Map of Norfolk 1797

view of

From Anglian Water’s Website Article by Regan Harris: Anglian Water’s scheme to upgrade the
Morton Crescent and Stepshort Road pumping station and reduce the risk of flooding in Great
Yarmouth. (Date 30/4/2018)

 Nearly 4 kilometres of brand new sewer pipe has been installed to take overflow away from the
area and reduce the amount of used water passing through the Morton Close Pumping Station at
the same time.

 Alongside the new sewer, a large underground storage facility has been installed to better manage
the flow of used water, particularly at times of extreme rainfall. The storage tank can hold excess
water in the pipe network until there is enough capacity for it to be taken away and treated.

 Finally, the new pumping station on the current site at Stepshort Road will also reduce the risk of
flooding by pumping used water away to be treated before returning it to the river.

Editor’s Note: The author continues with his research however this has been considerably
hindered by ‘lockdown’. A further article on this subject may follow in a future issue.
Napoleonic Prisoner of War Jail, Row 110 (1803-1814)
Paul P. Davies

Until the 20th century Great Yarmouth was a major Royal Naval
base. During the Napoleonic Wars a prison was required to
house the prisoners of war landed in the town. In 1793, two fish
houses with associated yards with a frontage on to Row 135 were
acquired. For some time, the row was referred to as ‘Old Prison
Row’.1 However, large prisons were needed, and one was
established in 1797 at Norman Cross near Peterborough and the
Great Yarmouth facility became a holding establishment before
transfer there. Prisoners were also transferred to hulks at
Chatham. With the signing of the Treaty of Amiens in 1802 by
Britain, France, Spain and the Batavian Republic (the
Netherlands) the row prison was closed. During the Row 135
prison’s existence, 3,340 prisoners were held in it, of whom 2,700
were transferred to Norman Cross.1 After the building of the
Norman Cross Prison, the world's first purpose built prisoner of
war camp with a capacity of nearly 7,000, Great Yarmouth
became, like Deal and Falmouth, a mere receiving port, but an
exceedingly busy one with the
prisoners landed here direct
Row 110 in 1902
from capture.

In a series of articles in the Norwich Mercury in the latter part of

1905, Rev’d. G. N. Godwin wrote: Columns of prisoners, often
1,000 strong, were marched from Great Yarmouth to Norwich
and were lodged there in the Castle. They frequently expressed
their gratitude for the kindness shown to them by the Mayor and
the citizens. One smart captured privateer captain coolly
walked out of the Castle in the company of some visitors, and,
needless to say, did not return. From Norwich they were
marched to King's Lynn, halting at Costessey, Swanton Morley,
East Dereham, where some were lodged in the detached church
tower, and thence to Lynn. Here they were lodged in a large
building, afterwards used as a warehouse, now pulled down. At
Lynn they were given water and were conveyed in barges and
lighters through the Forty Foot, the Hundred Foot, the Paupers'
Treaty of Amiens by Gilray Cut, and the River Nene to Peterborough, from whence they
marched to Norman Cross. In 1797, twenty-eight prisoners
escaped from the prison at Great
Yarmouth by undermining the wall and
the row adjoining. All but five of them
were retaken. In the same year four
prisoners broke out of the prison, made
their way to Lowestoft, where they
stole a boat from the beach and got on
board a small vessel, the crew of which
they put under the hatches. The
prisoners cut the cable and put out to
sea. Seven hours later the crew
managed to regain the deck, a rough
and tumble fight ensued, one of the
Frenchmen was knocked overboard,
and the others were ultimately lodged
in Yarmouth jail.2
Norman Cross Prison
French prisoners of war Row 110

Britain ended the uneasy truce created by the Treaty of Amiens when it again declared war on
France in May 1803. Having disposed of the prison in Row 135, another site was required to take
200 prisoners. In Row 110, later known as Prison Row or New Prison Row, two buildings close to
each other, previously malthouses, were purchased at a cost of £400 in 1803. The prison staff
consisted of four turnkeys, five clerks and ten labourers.1 Charles Palmer wrote: all the apertures
were bricked up except for a door with an iron grating. Bones were thrown through the grating for
the prisoners to carve to pass the time. A sentry was posted at each end of the row and after
dusk a password was required to pass down it. Prisoners frequently escaped leading to lamps
being placed in the row as a precautionary measure. Alterations were also made to prevent
escape through the roof. 3

The first prisoners, five Frenchmen, arrived on 12th December 1803. A day later, 54 prisoners
from the privateers Le Vigilant and Lyonois, captured by the gun boat Vixen and the revenue
cutter Badger, were imprisoned. Prisoners continued to arrive. For instance, after the fall of
Flushing on 16th August 1809, one hundred and eighty prisoners arrived on HMS Agincourt.
Eleven days later, HMS Monmouth arrived with 200 prisoners. A further 200 were brought to
Great Yarmouth by HMS Agincourt in early September.1 Many prisoners of war, especially the
Dutch seamen, were exchanged with the British prisoners of war housed on the continent. Some
joined the Royal Navy.1

The prison along with the Norman Cross Prison closed in 1814.
Over 4,000 prisoners had been confined in the Row 110 Great
Yarmouth prison. Half were Frenchmen with the remainder being
either Dutchmen or Danes in roughly equal proportions.1

During the Napoleonic period, more than 100,000 French prisoners

of war were held in Britain, and French policy was to force Britain to
bear the entire cost of the prisoners in the hope that this would
weaken the economy.4

A plaque was placed at the east end of Row 110 by the Society in
2021 to commemorate the prison.

Higgins, David, Springboard to Victory, Phoenix Publications, 2020, ISBN 978-0-9540684-7-9
Abell, Francis, Prisoners of War in Britain, 1756 to 1815; a Record of their Lives, their Romance
and their Sufferings, Oxford University Press, 1914
Palmer, C. J., The Perlustration of Great Yarmouth, Vol ii, pg 194, Nall, 1874
The Isolation (Escourt) Hospital, Escourt Road, Great Yarmouth
Paul P. Davies

In 1875, the Great Yarmouth Health Board requested Dr. Hubert Airey, from the National Board of
Health, to visit the town to inquire into the causes of the high rate of infectious disease. As well
as detailing the poor sanitary state of the town, Airey recommended that an isolation hospital for
infectious diseases was required and this hospital should have an ambulance for the conveyance
of sick people, a cart for removal of infected bedding and clothes, and a suitable apparatus
available for disinfection. As a result of the Airey inquiry the Corporation resolved, at the end of
1875, to erect an infectious diseases hospital next to the workhouse to be paid for out of the
urban sanitary rate. The cost was £2,000, which included furnishings and laying a sewer, and
gas from Caister Road. An extra £200 would be spent on a high wall 200 feet on each side and
seven feet high to enclose it. Later on, this hospital was renamed Escourt Hospital after the
Chairman of the Poor Law Board. The contractor to build the hospital was Mr. J. F. W. Borg and
he was requested to construct a detached convalescent ward, a mortuary, a disinfecting house,
an ambulance shed, a ward and a laundry with
the necessary offices. All were to be built in red
brick and have slate roofs with the exception of
the convalescent ward that was to be of wood.
There were to be a female and a male ward
separated by domestic offices with a storeroom,
two bedrooms and a kitchen in the central area.
The bedrooms were to be occupied by the
resident nurses, a man and his wife. The two
wards were to be airy and well ventilated by six
windows and 12 wall ventilators (six near the
floor and six near the ceiling) and a large
The hospital (1875) ventilator in the roof. Fresh air and ventilation
were thought to be important in the treatment
and prevention of disease. Each ward was to be heated by two central stoves with iron pipe
chimneys. They were to be lit by gas and furnished with six beds each. The floor of each ward
was about four feet above the ground, which was dry sand and the under-floor space was
ventilated by six ventilators. The
wards contained linen presses, tables
and chairs. They also had open yards
at the end for water closets, sinks and
water taps. A full-size bath on wheels
and furnished with a tap would be
used in each ward.

The wooden convalescent ward was

to be half the size of the main ward,
divided into two in order to separate The two blocks of the isolation hospital 1875. Note the
males and females, with a room different heights of the windows to enable children to see out
partitioned off for a nurse. It was
furnished with six beds. This ward
was constructed as a supplement to
the hospital and would cater for the
needs of the town if it was subjected
to two different epidemics at once.
The disinfection house contained a
Ransom apparatus powered by gas.
The hospital-keeper disinfected, free
of charge, any article of clothing or bedding for the public that was contaminated with fever
poison. For his trouble in fetching and carrying back the articles for disinfection, the hospital-
keeper was authorised to charge one shilling. It was claimed that the disinfection apparatus did
not harm the fabric.
The ambulance shed contained a cab, which was used to convey patients to the hospital and a
large covered barrow for the transit of articles for disinfection. The mortuary was well-lit with gas,
well-ventilated, roomy, paved with brick and had a slate table. As well as receiving the dead from
the hospital it also received those who had died in the town from infectious disease.

The hospital catered for the following infectious diseases: cholera, scarlet fever, tuberculosis,
measles, poliomyelitis, typhoid, smallpox, typhus, diphtheria and whooping cough. It would be
many years before these
infections were treatable.
Cholera and smallpox were
treated at various times at
other places in the town,
viz; the Hospital on the
South Denes (c1871-1875),
the North Denes Smallpox
and Cholera Hospital (1868
-?1893) and the Gorleston
Smallpox Hospital (c1893-

Due to the sporadic nature of infectious disease, the use of the hospital was variable. For
example, in 1892 there were 539 cases of infectious diseases, including 40 cases of smallpox in
the town. Ninety-seven cases were admitted to the Isolation Hospital, including 28 paupers,
whose maintenance was paid for by the Guardians of the Poor. There were 61 admissions
whose financial circumstances precluded any payment and eight patients who had their fees paid
by their friends or relatives. This, of course, was prior to the start of the National Health Service.
During 1898, there were 719 notifications of infectious
disease, of which 281 were treated at the hospital.
These included 663 cases of scarlet fever, typhoid
and diphtheria. Two years later, there were 274 in-
patients during the year including: diphtheria (175
cases), typhoid fever (74 cases) and scarlet fever (25
cases). Fifty-two deaths occurred from infectious
disease in the whole of Great Yarmouth.
The hospital was not free to use by patients and, for
example, in 1900, a charge of one guinea a week
was made for maintenance in the hospital for those
visitors taken ill whilst they were in Great Yarmouth.
A similar charge was made to the inhabitants of the
town whose houses had a rateable value of over £12
a year. This sum was abated or remitted if the patient
or their friends could not meet the cost. The sum of
£65 was received from these charges in that year. Isolation Hospital 1895

In 1894, the Isolation Hospital buildings were

complimented with a two-ward 80-bedded
complex (blocks A and B). The windows on each
side of the entrance were at a different height.
One of the wards was a children’s ward and the
lower windows enabled the children to see out.
Both were faced with decorative flint work. A
tender of £4,747 was accepted for the work. The
Yarmouth Independent wrote, it is a costly affair,
but money well spent. The group of buildings
Ward block built in 1894 with later addition
being about the most complete of their kind for the
at the front
purpose anywhere in the United Kingdom.
Number of cases admitted to the isolation Hospital in 1900 Yarmouth Independent 1887

Ward blocks A and B built in 1894

By 1900, several much needed improvements

were made to the hospital. A boiler house was
erected for the provision of steam radiators to all
the wards and the administration block was
improved at a cost of £250. The existing open
grates had been found to be insufficient for
maintaining a proper temperature. Ten additional
drying closets and steam-heated washtubs were
placed in the laundry to replace the existing hand
laundry. A bacteriological laboratory was built in
the hospital grounds and a porter’s lodge erected
to control the entrance to the hospital and to stop
the public wandering about the grounds and thus
being exposed to danger. A porter was appointed
to man the lodge. He was to be married and his
wife was to assist in the laundry. A Brougham
ambulance was purchased to convey infectious
patients to the hospital.

During 1901, there were 265 cases of diphtheria

(35 deaths), 59 cases of typhoid fever (8 deaths)
The Ransom steam disinfection machine,
and 34 cases of scarlet fever (no deaths) admitted
installed in1876 at the hospital. It disinfected
the following articles in 1899: beds 284, sheets to the hospital during the year. One smallpox
362, mattresses 147, cushions 144, pillows case, who survived, was admitted to Gorleston
655, bed hangings 276, carpets 383, bolsters Smallpox Hospital. The cost of feeding both the
208, blankets 659, counterpanes 356, slips 344, staff and the patients was five shillings and
articles of clothing 1,073, rugs 119 and other threepence per head per week.
items 433

The staff of the hospital and their individual annual wages in 1901
One matron £90 Two charge nurses £30 Three nurses £25
Six probationers £15 Porter and wife £84.10s One gardener £46.16s
One cook £22 One housemaid £22 A second housemaid £15
One scullery maid £15 One head laundry maid £31.4s Two laundry maids £26
Two ward maids £16 Two ward maids £15

Early in 1904, the Yarmouth Independent reported that the town was in a healthy condition, the
death rate was low and the Isolation Hospital was empty and the nurses had little to do. These
gratifying facts were due to the work of the sanitary officials. They urged the inhabitants of the
town, especially those living in hovels, to be clean and pure. In this way there would be less
disease, happier families and less pauperism. The misery, now prevalent amongst the poorer
families, would be less.

However, later in the year the Isolation Hospital was full for months at a time and 531 patients
were admitted. Nearly 70% of the notified cases of scarlet fever, diphtheria and typhoid fever in
the town were isolated in the hospital.

In 1905, the hospital admitted 62% of the cases of

infectious disease in the borough. During the year
there were 120 admissions.

In 1907, an extension for administration and improved

nurses’ accommodation was built.

By 1907, the Isolation Hospital consisted of five

separate ward blocks and an administrative building.
The ward blocks contained 52 beds. A request was
made for a loan of £1,050 to extend the administrative
building to accommodate the different types of
infectious disease. The extension enabled typhoid
fever, scarlet fever and diphtheria cases to be
separated. The staff consisted of a matron, ten nurses,
three ward maids, one housemaid, one dormitory maid,
a cook, and a scullery maid. There were only 14
bedrooms for the staff and some rooms had to be used
as double bedrooms. This meant that staff, who might
be looking after different infectious diseases, had to
sleep in the same room. There was only one
bathroom, which contained a water closet and three Isolation Hospital 1906
basins for all the domestic staff; an objectionable
arrangement, which resulted in discouragement of the use of the facilities.

In 1930, there were 57 beds staffed by a matron, a charge nurse, five nurses, two assistant
nurses and six probationer nurses. In the following year, 96 cases of infectious disease (87% of
the total in the borough) were admitted, of whom five died. The average stay in the hospital was:
scarlet fever, 39 days: diphtheria, 31 days and diarrhoea cases, 41 days.

In 1931, the Isolation Hospital entered one of its wards for the Christmas decoration competition
promoted by the Nursing Mirror. It was highly commended. Over 200 hospitals had entered.
The ward entered for the competition was decorated to illustrate the fishing industry. The walls
had a frieze of blue and green paper representing the sky and the sea on which sailed realistic
looking drifters and other boats. At one end of the ward was a poster of a Scottish girl packing
herring. There was a gutting trough and swills of herring with a model of a fishergirl and a
fisherman. On the other side Father Neptune sat in state. The chimney stack was draped with a

Local tradesmen were asked to tender to provide for
the Isolation Hospital
Yarmouth Mercury 1916 (left) and 1901 (above)

fishing net containing tiny fish. The lights were pale green and shaped like fish. The festoons
were seaweed. The centrepiece was of paper representing waves with a sailing vessel on it. On
the top of the Christmas tree was a mermaid.
The other wards were also decorated.
Scenes of the Nativity, a Christmas tree and
illustrations of popular songs (When the
Poppies Bloom Again and The Lollipop
Shop) decorated the diphtheria ward. The
theme in the boys’ scarlet fever ward was
the highway code with Belisha beacons and
traffic signs. A huge set of traffic lights
guarded the entrance to the ward. In the
girls’ scarlet fever ward the theme was Tulip
Land with artificial flowers, Dutch dolls and
windmills. Twelve children spent Christmas
in the hospital. The matron turned a blind
eye to the usual lights out time of seven
o’clock and granted an hour’s extension.
The maids had their Christmas Day dinner
in the evening waited upon by some of the
nurses. The nursing staff had their
Christmas dinner on Boxing Day night. The
final event of the festive season was the
nursing staff’s dance in the New Year.

In 1934, the hospital admitted 65% of the

town’s cases of scarlet fever, diphtheria and
typhoid fever and the annual cost of running
the Isolation Hospital was £5,610. Three
years later, the hospital accommodated
91% of the total number of cases of scarlet
Statistics for the Isolation Hospital 1937
Gorleston Smallpox Hospital (1893-1953) specialised in fever, diphtheria and diarrhoea that had
smallpox treatment occurred in Great Yarmouth.

Administrative block, sewing room, matron’s flat, Porter’s Lodge
maids’ room and nurses’ home

During the Second World War, on 5th August 1940, the hospital was
closed and the patients were moved to the East Dereham County
Isolation Hospital. The premises were kept open by the matron and a
skeleton staff to look after those patients who were unable to travel.
However, on 7th December 1940, the Isolation Hospital was
reopened. In May 1941, ten high-explosive bombs were dropped in
the north end of the town and one of the four wards at the hospital
was severely damaged. In the summer of 1941, it was necessary to
move the patients and staff to hutted accommodation at Gorleston.

Miss James, a nurse at the Isolation Hospital, recalled her air raid
memories in an essay, which won her a scholarship of £75 from the
National and Local Government Officers’ Association, to assist her to
study for a university diploma in nursing. In part of her essay she Miss Mary Hadway retired
in 1929 as the matron of the
wrote: the burning question at the outbreak of the Second World War Isolation Hospital after
was whether to stay or not? We are to stay. But what need was serving in the post for
there for a fever hospital if the town was evacuated. We are needed, 36 years
more so than ever. The cases are mostly patients suffering with
meningitis, which seems to increase when people are herded together. There were also scabies
and other skin diseases, which were not pleasant to treat. The increase in the number of skin
cases reflects the bad home condition of some places. It made me long for a future where there
may be no more ignorance, dirt, overcrowding and under nourishment. In the wards were steel
and wood shelters with which the nurses covered the patients during air raids and alerts. It was
difficult to get them into position in time during hit and run raids. The nursing of diphtheria,
meningitis and lobar pneumonia was made more difficult with the constant alerts. We invented
ways to counteract the depression arising from broken and blacked-out windows, dimmed lights
and the presence of defensive apparatus. Such treats as late passes for the nurses were
curtailed. There were a host of other activities to occupy the nurses’ minds, including interesting
fire lectures to attend, letting a colleague down on a rope from a second floor window, bringing a
fireman down the stairs of a supposedly burning building and extinguishing incendiaries. How
terrible it was to have the hospital bombed, the fallen plaster and the burst water tanks. I shall
never forget that horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach until everyone was found intact.
Wonderful experience was gained when we moved to allow repairs to be carried out. Before the
war we would have refused to live in a place without water, no sanitation, no lighting and no
wireless. For water there was a pump and for sanitation we turned to sawdust and buckets while
outside latrines were being prepared. Candles and oil lamps gave us enough light to carry on.
Knowledge of gardening was expanded. The nurses grew vegetables, bred rabbits and kept
hens. They made jam for the patients, because of a staff shortage in the kitchen, and knitted for
the forces.

In 1948, the hospital was taken over by the National Health Service and in that year 257 patients
were admitted. These included 93 cases of scarlet fever, one diarrhoea case, five diphtheria
cases and 158 unspecified cases. There was a poliomyelitis epidemic and a considerable
number of the victims were admitted, and it was necessary
to have three iron lungs in constant use. The staff were
overworked and two trained nurses were sent over from Iron lung
the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital to help. Visitors to the infectious patients in the hospital were
required to stay behind a glass window in the corridor.

In 1950, the Ministry of Health stated that in the event of another local poliomyelitis epidemic, the
Isolation Hospital in Great Yarmouth would be restricted to cases of poliomyelitis from the whole
of East Anglia, and other infectious diseases in the borough were to be treated at East Dereham
and King’s Lynn Hospitals. It was observed that one of the hospital’s blocks was still in a blitzed
condition and that its re-instatement should include cubicle accommodation.

With the advent of vaccination and immunisation, the need for an isolation hospital lessened, but
the hospital continued to discharge its prime function for treating infectious disease when

From around 1958, the hospital was also used for post-operative care of surgical patients from
the General Hospital. For example, in 1961, one hundred and sixty-two convalescent patients
were transferred from the General Hospital to the Isolation Hospital. By this means the General
Hospital was able to bring about a dramatic decrease in the waiting list for surgery. In 1966,
admissions for the year amounted to 1,043, which was 168 more than the previous year.

In 1964, thirty beds were upgraded. The bed complement was now fifty-four. In this year the
physiotherapy department was moved from the General Hospital to the hospital.

Six beds were made available in 1966 for patients requiring electro-convulsive treatment (ECT),
who until now had to be sent to Norwich for the therapy, and a new building was erected in the
grounds to relieve the cramped conditions of the Northgate Hospital storeroom, and disused
accommodation was upgraded for use as a sewing and workroom.

In 1971, Mrs. Irene Stoner retired as the last matron. Over the next 30 years
the use of the hospital decreased and it slowly deteriorated. In 1970, it was
now used for the family support team and the health service administration
(Primary Care Trust). In 1990, the headquarters of the Great Yarmouth and
Waveney Health Authority moved into the former nurses’ home and re-named
it Astley Cooper House, after the famous surgeon who grew up in Great
Yarmouth. In 1943, an increase in the incidence of venereal disease in the
borough led to the opening of a special clinic at the hospital in 1944. Prior to
this, patients with venereal disease were treated at the Norfolk and Norwich
Irene Stoner, the
For some years in the 1970s there was a Portacabin in the south-east corner last matron of the
of the site, which housed a home renal dialysis unit. It was used by renal Isolation Hospital.
patients from Charing Cross Hospital, London when they came on holiday to Retired in 1971
Great Yarmouth. The doctors of Central Surgery, Gorleston, oversaw the unit.

The local medical officers of health were responsible for the Isolation Hospital: John Bately 1875-
1899, C. H. Russell 1899-1903, Henry William Beach 1903-1910, Andrew Norris Stevens 1910-
1939, Donald Wainwright 1940-1946, Viner Nicholl Leyshon 1946-1948, K. John Grant 1948-
1968 and Roger Garstang Newberry 1968-1980s.

Part of the site now

contains housing and
the remainder is for
sale for development,
and many of the
hospital buildings have
been demolished.

To commemorate the
site of this important
hospital in the history
of the town, the
Society has erected a
blue plaque on its
boundary wall. This
compliments the
plaques already
erected on the site of
the borough’s General
Hospital and the Royal
Naval Hospital.

Aerial pictures of the hospital before and after demolition

of some of the buildings

Great Yarmouth and its Links with Dunkirk
Caroline Buddery

In late May 1940, England was faced, for the first time in its history, with the possibility of defeat
and the threat of invasion by a foreign power.

With most of our troops stranded on the beaches of Dunkirk, facing great danger from advancing
tanks and with no obvious means of escape, it seemed that only a miracle could save them.

The Prime Minster, Winston Churchill, rose to the

occasion and ordered the Royal Navy to mobilise every
seaworthy vessel. Vice Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay was
put in charge of the evacuation, which was known as
Operation Dynamo. Luckily, the weather was excellent,
and the sea was calm and, surprisingly, Hitler ceased
harassing the British army on land, although he continued
to deploy the Luftwaffe.

Most of the fishing boats from ports such as Great

Yarmouth and Lowestoft were already requisitioned, so it
Dunkirk evacuation
was decided that almost any vessel that could float should
help in the evacuation. Every small inshore fishing boat and even Broads craft were pressed into
service and told to report to Ramsgate.

A motley convoy left Great Yarmouth led by local skipper, Leslie Balls, using a pleasure steamer,
the Bell of the Broads, as his flagship. His small flotilla included half-decked longshore boats,
pleasure cruisers and shrimp boats.

A reliable crew was mustered, which comprised two experienced engineers, two experienced
seamen, as well, of course, as himself. After a frantic search around the quayside public houses,
he was still short of one seaman. All the local fishermen had already joined up, most as members
of the Royal Naval Reserve. At last, he managed to flush out a local character renowned for his
regular excursions to the police cells following drunken brawls or ill-treatment of his long-suffering
wife. Nevertheless, the wharf rat and wastrel when at sea was always well-behaved as he was
away from the bottle. His immediate reaction was one of amazement that he should be asked to
risk life and limb to save those soldiers who had let the Germans run all over them. However,
Leslie Balls’ persuasive appeal to his better nature resulted in a compromise. He would help to
crew the ship to Ramsgate but take no further part. In fact, he would be on the first train back.
The trip took over two days, which was quite an achievement as they had to disregard the order
to darken the ship at night as most of them had no compass, no signalling equipment and no
ideal of procedure if challenged. On one occasion they were approached by a destroyer which,
realising they were on our side, reacted by mustering all hands on deck and giving the ragged
cockleshell heroes a full-blooded
naval salute.

Fortunately, by the time they

reached Ramsgate, Operation
Dynamo was virtually over owing
to the fine weather, and a few
naval vessels were mopping up.
Nevertheless, the tension which
had built up during this epic
operation created an almost
electric atmosphere and our
erstwhile renegade was all fired
up to go over there and finish the
Dunkirk evacuation
Over 330,000 men were rescued during the ten days of calm weather and Great Yarmouth played
an important part. Many of our local drifters were there and two of them were sunk. One was
the Girl Pamela and the other the Queen of the
Channel, a popular holiday attraction in the
1930s taking visitors on day trips to Ostend.
Another was the Silver Dawn, who damaged her
propeller but still managed to struggle back
intact with her passengers. Another local drifter
managed to complete one crossing with over
100 squaddies aboard, which must have been a
record for that type of craft.

Some years later Leslie Balls recounted this

episode to his younger brother, already an
accomplished essayist and author, who turned it
into a short story and submitted it to the BBC,
who preferred it as a play. On one occasion a
flotilla of local craft, including Lord Cavan, Silver Dawn, Fisher Boy, Jacketa and Formidable were
ordered to act as ferries between the harbour and the larger vessels lying outside. They
subsequently decided to sail back to Ramsgate
and, although supposed to take around 100
men at a time, most took between 150 and
200. The record was Silver Dawn, who took
312 men on one trip and managed to get back
with her passengers (it would have been
unsafe in anything but calm weather). She was
bought by Paul Williment (the Gorleston
Lifeboat coxswain) and Bob Stubbs (skipper) in
1947 and took part in the post-war fishing at
Great Yarmouth. In total they brought back
4,085 men, however Lord Cavan was sunk by
gunfire although the entire crew were saved. Queen of the Channel

One soldier, quite weary after three sleepless nights, found a cosy spot below decks. Fast
asleep, he was missed when they disembarked and he went back on the next trip. He claimed to
be the only soldier who was rescued twice.
Paddle steamers also played their part:
Waverley, Marmion, Duchess of Fife and
Oriol. During four sleepless days and
nights they brought back 4,755 troops to
safety. On the first day, Waverley, after
embarking 600 troops, was attacked by 12
German Heinkel bombers. For half an
hour, she evaded salvo after salvo until a
bomb struck her port quarter and passed
through the bottom of the ship, leaving a
hole six feet in diameter. Between 300
Duchess of Fife as a minesweeper and 400 men died, but several drifters
helped to pick up survivors.

Marmion and the Duchess of Fife each made four trips and rescued 2,000 men between them.

On a lighter note, the sea boats, transferring men from the beaches to the larger ships, were
complemented by a 13-foot skiff, which conveyed 30 men to the ship: six trips at five per time.
The Oriol deliberately ran ashore to be used as a pontoon to evacuate men from the beaches.
Eight hundred and sixty boats took part in this evacuation, of which 242 were sunk.

Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Expedition Ship, Nimrod, lost on the Barber Sands in 1919
Paul P. Davies

Ernest Shackleton (1873-1922) sailed in Nimrod during his 1908 British Imperial Antarctic
Expedition to the South Pole. This was the first of three successful expeditions to the Antarctic
led by Shackleton. Its main target, among a range of geographical and scientific objectives, was
to be the first to go to the South Pole.

Nimrod was a schooner of 334 gross register tons that had been used to hunt seals and whales in
Newfoundland. It also had an auxiliary steam engine, which only had a top speed of six knots. It
had been built by Alexander Stephens
and Sons Ltd. of Dundee in 1865.
Shackleton bought the 41-year-old ship
for £5,000 (equivalent to approximately
£400,000 today). Shackleton wanted to
rename the ship Endurance from his
family motto Fortitudine Vincimus (by
Endurance we Conquer), but this name
was to be bestowed on the ship he
would use on his next Antarctic voyage.

Shackleton originally wished to purchase

Nimrod leaving for the South Pole a Norwegian sealer called Bjorn for his
Antarctic expedition, but that ship cost
£11,000 and he could not afford it.
The Nimrod was sailed to England and arrived
in the River Thames. She was battered and in
a poor condition from her sealing voyages and
had weak and decrepit engines. After a refit,
which amongst other things involved changing
the sailing rig from a schooner to a
barquentine with three sails, she was ready to
sail. Shackleton’s British Imperial Antarctic
Expedition took place from 1907 to 1909 with
the aim of conquering both the geographical
South Pole and South Magnetic Pole.

Nimrod Sir Ernest Shackleton

Shackleton was short of funds and he hoped for
the patronage of King Edward VII as this would
give him a respectability that would help to fund
the expedition. Such patronage was not
forthcoming, mainly because Shackleton’s
brother was on the verge of bankruptcy and was
also implicated in the theft of the insignia of the
Order of St. Patrick from Dublin Castle; an event
known as the theft of the Irish Crown Jewels.

Shackleton did not hide the discomforts and

dangers of the mission when he advertised for a
team of men and warned of a hazardous journey Painted board in Shackleton’s hut in Antarctica
with low wages, bitter cold and long hours of
complete darkness. If they made it back to England, which as Shackleton stated, was doubtful,
honour and recognition would await them. Basically, only Nimrod-types need apply, he
suggested. Nimrod was a biblical figure and a mighty hunter before the Lord from the Book of
On 30th of July 1907, Nimrod left her berth at the East India Docks in the River Thames to begin
her voyage to Antarctica. In the Thames estuary she was overtaken by a Royal Navy torpedo
boat with a message commanding her to attend the annual sailing regatta at Cowes on the Isle of
Wight to be inspected by the King, as he saw that his reign might benefit from Shackleton's
endeavour, if he was successful. The Nimrod was given the berth of honour at Cowes next to
HMS Dreadnought, the first modern battleship in the most powerful navy in the world. The grubby
little old sealer was boarded by the King and his entourage in full Edwardian finery. Shackleton
was also honoured by being given a flag by the Queen to take with him to Antarctica.

Nimrod then left for Torquay from where she finally sailed south on the 7th of August. She called
in at Lyttleton in New Zealand for final stores, from where she left considerably laden down with
her plimsoll line almost two feet under water and with only 3 feet 6 inches of freeboard. Amongst
the stores and requirements, there were a motor car in a crate, 20 live sheep and ten ponies.
Therefore, Nimrod could not carry enough coal to take her to Antarctica and back. Although she
was a sail and a steam ship, she needed to use her engines. Shackleton had realised that he
would need a tow, so after an appeal to the New Zealand Government, a tramp steamer of about
1,200 tons, the Koonya, was supplied with the government meeting half the cost. The ship's
owners, the Union Steamship Company of New Zealand, waived the remainder of the fee.
Nimrod was one of the smallest ships to go to Antarctica for over 60 years. The journey south
was stormy and miserable. Water flooded on board and dripped and permeated throughout the

On 9th March some members of the crew climbed Mount Erebus (3,794 metres high) on Ross
Island and carried out several meteorological experiments and collected rock samples. They
were the first people to reach the summit crater
rim of Erebus.
On 29th October 1908, Shackleton with three
crew members set out on a southern journey in
an attempt to reach the South Pole. By 9th
January 1909, with the ponies long dead, the
party had reached a new record by travelling
further south than had ever been achieved by
humans before and only 97½ miles from the
South Pole. They had discovered and named
the Beardmore Glacier and become the first
people to see and travel on the South Polar
Plateau. Forced to turn back at this point, the
return journey was made on half rations. The expedition approaching Mount Erebus

The base camp Journey’s end 97½ miles from the South Pole
Photograph taken by Shackleton

Whilst Shackleton was trying to reach the South Pole, three crew members carried out magnetic
and geological work and they reached the Magnetic South Pole on 17th January 1909. Facing a
return journey of 290 miles and with just 15 days to meet Nimrod, they reached the rendezvous
on 2nd February, but Nimrod passed them that night in heavy drifting snow. Two days later,
Nimrod turned around and the group was seen and they scrambled aboard. With all the crew on-
board, Nimrod returned to New Zealand on 23rd March 1909, where Shackleton cabled an
exclusive report to the London Daily Mail. Shackleton returned to England in June as a hero and
was knighted and made a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order, as well as being awarded a
gold medal by the Royal Geographical Society. Whilst the furthest south record was to stand for
less than three years, Shackleton achieved great acclaim for his achievements. Several
geographic features of Antarctica were named after the ship, including the Nimrod Glacier. 1

On his return to England in 1909, Shackleton used Nimrod as a floating museum telling the story
of the expedition, before selling her to help meet the expedition's debts. She then worked as a
collier for the next few years.

On 31st January 1919, Nimrod was wrecked and battered to pieces after running aground on the
Barber Sands off Scratby in the North Sea.
Ten of her 12 crew were lost with her.

When the bodies of eight of the ten men

lost in the wreck of Nimrod had been
recovered inquests were held in Great
Yarmouth, Ormesby, Lowestoft and
Corton; places where the bodies were
found. The first of the series concerned
the death of George Vasil, the chief
engineer of the Nimrod, whose body had
been washed up north of Caister.
Evidence was given by the two survivors,
James Threwslen, the mate, and Russell
Gregory, the boatswain. They reported
that when 11 men had entered the port
lifeboat and were waiting to get away from
the stranded ship, over which big seas
were breaking, they missed Vasil and
called for him, but they heard no response.
It was hoped that he had been saved in
the starboard lifeboat, which was washed
off the ship and was seen drifting away
The next inquest was held on the body of William R. Doran of St. Andrew's Road, Portslade, the
Captain of the Nimrod. His body was found near the Wellington Pier on Great Yarmouth’s
seafront. William James Moore, a fisherman of Rodney Road in Great Yarmouth, said that at
4.15 am, while walking beside the beach, he saw an object in the sea. He walked into the water
up to his waist and pulled it out. The body was fully clothed and was wearing a lifebelt. He
informed the police, and Police Constable Abbs removed the body to the mortuary.

James Threwslen, the mate of the

Nimrod, who had sufficiently recovered
from his experience to attend the court,
gave evidence of the wrecking of the
Nimrod. He said he lived in Hull and
sailed with Doran on board the Nimrod.
Doran was about 34 years old. The
Nimrod left Blyth laden with coal for
Calais, carrying 12 hands. All went well
until she stuck on the north end of the
Barber Sands when making for Yarmouth
Roads. Threwslen was with the captain
on the bridge at the time. It was a
beautiful clear night and the stranding of
the ship was quite unexpected. A strong
wind was blowing from the east and all The survivors, Threwslen and Gregory
canvas was set and the steam engine
was being used. The only explanation he could give for the stranding was that the vessel made
too much leeway. A heavy sea was running and the boats were not launched as they expected to
get the vessel off the sandbank. The captain stopped the engines and put them astern. Ten
minutes later the chief engineer reported that the propeller would not move. The starboard
lifeboat became unhooked by the sea and was carried away before the crew could reach it. As
the vessel seemed likely to break up, they sent up rockets and saw the Cockle Lightship do the
same. The crew, with the exception of the chief engineer, who had vanished, took shelter under
the bridge, which began breaking up, and eleven of the crew climbed into the port lifeboat, as she
stood on the chocks on the bridge deck, and cut the tackle. A big sea struck her and turned her
over, throwing everybody into the sea. Threwslen was the first to get hold of the keel of the boat
and then the cook and after him the boatswain. Threwslen saw no more of the captain and the
others. Seas kept washing over the boat, wreckage was floating all around and the painter fouled
some of this wreckage. After about half an hour the boat broke adrift, but soon afterwards, the
cook lost his grip and disappeared. Threwslen and Russell Gregory, the other survivor, floated
northwards with the ebb tide towards the Cockle Lightship, and with the flood tide they were
brought back, and eventually washed up near the North Beach at Great Yarmouth.

Russell Gregory, the boatswain, said it was his first trip in the Nimrod. He also attributed the
wreck to insufficient allowance being made for leeway.

The third inquest held at Corton concerned the deaths of George Martin, the fireman, of Newport
in Monmouthshire aged 60 years, Charles Watson, the cook of Laceby, Grimsby aged 24 years,
Frank Doran, the brother of the captain, aged 24 years of Douglas in the Isle of Man, Andrew
Johan Salmonsson, the second engineer, aged 40 years of Cleethorpes, and a fifth man known
only as Charlie, the donkeyman, aged between 40 and 50 years. All the bodies of these five
members of the crew of the Nimrod had been found on Corton Beach.

The fourth inquest concerned the death of Frederick Turpin, an able seaman on the Nimrod,
whose body had been washed ashore at Lowestoft. At the inquest, James Moore, who was a
lifeboatman as well as a fisherman, said that the Lifeboat Institution should allow lifeboats from
more than one station to proceed to a vessel needing assistance.

A verdict of accidentally drowned was returned at all the inquests. 2

At the time of the disaster, during the latter part of the First World War, Shackleton had
volunteered for the army. However, he was suffering from a heart condition, made worse by the
fatigue of his arduous journeys, and too old to be conscripted, he was sent to Buenos Aires to
boost British propaganda in South America. Unqualified as a diplomat, he was unsuccessful in
persuading Argentina and Chile to enter the war on the Allied side.

Shackleton was then briefly involved in a mission to Spitzbergen to establish a British presence
there under the guise of a mining operation. On the way he was taken ill in Tromsø in Norway,
possibly with a heart attack. He was then appointed to a military expedition to Murmansk,
northern Russia, with the role of advising on the equipment and training of British forces in Arctic
conditions. He returned to England in 1919. Therefore, with Ernest Shackleton’s absence, Lady
Shackleton was left to comment on the loss of the Nimrod saying: Sir Ernest will, I know, be
deeply sorry to hear of the sad fate of the ship as he had a strong feeling of sentiment for it. It
seems sad that after withstanding the terrific violence of the Antarctic storms and the buffeting of
the ice floes she should be dashed to pieces so near home. 2

The Yarmouth Independent reported: two men slowly and painfully reached the Great Yarmouth
Sailors’ Home wet and cold in a condition telling only too plainly that something serious had
happened. Enquiries were made and it transpired that Nimrod had met with a disaster. The
Cockle Lightship had been passed safely soon after 10 o'clock at night and the Captain of the
ship, William Frank Doreham, decided to proceed on through Yarmouth Roads, making for St.
Nicholas' Light, but it was never reached.

The Nimrod suddenly struck the Barber Sands. The crew realised that considerable damage had
been done for the water rushed in, soon reaching the boilers. The men saw the Cockle Lightship
send up flares and heard her fire her gun in response to their distress signals, but no help came.
The starboard lifeboat was washed away empty, but it floated off upright. Rockets were sent up
and the captain burnt all his flares, but to no avail. Eleven men entered the port lifeboat and
waited for the tide to take them clear of the ship. The chief engineer’s name was then called out,
but no answer came. After three quarters of an hour a heavy sea capsized the boat. The first
mate, James Threwslen, got on to the keel. He pulled out of the sea the boatswain, Russell
Gregory. Charles Watson, the cook, also clambered on, but unfortunately, after having clung
onto the lifeboat for some time, he lost his hold through exhaustion and sank.

The boat was luckily righted, and Threwslen and Gregory dragged themselves into it. When they
had drifted as far as the Cockle Lightship, they noticed that the tide was changing, and the boat
was eventually driven broadside through heavy surf upon Caister beach about six hours later at
about 4 am. The two survivors called out for help and a man named Woolston of 43 Walpole
Road, who was walking his dog, came to their aid and found them crawling on their hands and
knees along the sand. He took them to his home, where he gave them hot tea and placed them
by a big fire.

As Woolston had to go to work he directed the seamen along Marine Parade and guided them to
the Sailors’ Home. There, they were given a hot bath, fresh clothes, food and hot drinks. Dr. A.
H. Meadows examined them and found Gregory was suffering with a wound to his leg. As all the
crew of the Nimrod were wearing lifebelts a patrol was sent along the beach to see if other
survivors or any bodies had been washed up, but none were found. The Caister lifeboat and tugs
were out all night on a search, but they only found pieces of the wreck. 3

Six weeks later, after a short illness, John Samuel Haylett, the coxswain of the Caister lifeboat,
died. He had received internal injuries during the Nimrod disaster and had taken to his bed and
complications ensued. He had been a member of the Caister lifeboat crew from the age of 18
years, joining in 1883, and became the coxswain in 1902. 4

The local undertakers, H. Brundish and Son of Albion Road, carried out all the arrangements for
the removal and interment of the men who had lost their lives. 2

In 1910, Sir Ernest Shackleton gave a lecture
at the Royal Aquarium, Great Yarmouth on
his historic expedition, in which the heroic
explorers under his leadership reached a
point nearer the South Pole than man had
ever trod before.

Tickets were priced as follows:

First Reserved Seats 5 shillings
Second Reserved Seats 3 shillings
Third Seats 2 shillings
Balcony and Promenade 1 shilling 5


In 1911, the Norwegian explorer, Roald

Amundsen reached the South Pole, followed
by Scott who died on the return journey.

In 1914, Shackleton made his third trip to the

Antarctic with the ship Endurance, planning
to cross Antarctica via the South Pole.

Early in 1915, Endurance became trapped in Yarmouth Independent

the ice, and ten months later it sank. 5th February 1910
Shackleton's crew had already abandoned
the ship to live on the floating ice.

In April 1916, they set off in three small boats, eventually reaching Elephant Island. Taking five
crew members, Shackleton went to find help. In a small boat, the six men spent 16 days crossing
1,300 kilometres of ocean to reach South Georgia and
then trekked across the island to a whaling station. The
remaining men from the Endurance were rescued in
August 1916. Not one member of the expedition died. 6

Shackleton died, heavily in debt, in South Georgia from a

heart attack in 1922 and was buried there. A memorial
service was held in St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.

A sledge used on the British Antarctic Nimrod Expedition

was auctioned in 2019 and was sold for £143,750.

A commemorative £2 coin featuring the Nimrod was

minted to celebrate the centenary of the expedition.
United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust
Yarmouth Independent, 8th February 1919
Yarmouth Independent, 1st February 1919
Yarmouth Independent, 15th March 1919
Yarmouth Independent, 19th February 1910

Cine Snapped
The story of how photographer John Barker used old wooden 35mm cine cameras to take
walking still photographs at Great Yarmouth and other towns
Paul Godfrey

The walking photograph seems to have become popular after the 1914-1918 War.
Photographers, often in seaside resorts, would take photographs on a speculative basis offering
the customer the opportunity to view and hopefully to buy a print a few hours later at a kiosk or
local shop. These photographs were mainly taken using a hand-held single lens reflex camera
and glass photographic plates. The photographer’s output was limited by the number of loaded
dark slides he could carry. Some photographers employed plate runners who would carry the
exposed plates still in their dark slides back to the dark room and then return to the photographer
with more loaded dark slides and so the process continued.

In the late 1920s, a new kind of walking photograph began to appear. These were produced in
strips of three and sometimes four prints in a walking sequence. These photographs were often
taken using old wooden hand-cranked English Pattern 35mm cine cameras that had come onto
the surplus market with the introduction of synchronised sound films to the cinema industry.
Many cine camera walking picture operators sprang up in British seaside resorts, cities and towns
offering this new style of walking photograph. The cine cameras used standard perforated 35mm
film that was preloaded into wooden magazines that could accommodate up to 400 feet of film.
One operator could now take hundreds of photographs in a day. Walking photographs were
known as ‘walkies’ in the photographic trade.

One of the earliest photographers to use this new method was

George Scougall, who was taking three-in-a-strip walking
photographs on the
streets of Edinburgh
from 1926, trading as
Empire Films of 55
Circus Lane, Edinburgh.
Later, Scougall would go
into partnership with
James Hobson and
trade on the streets of Once part of a strip of three, this
Clacton-on-Sea, also as print of a woman was snapped in
Empire Films, taking 1926 by George Scougall’s Empire
Films on the streets of Edinburgh.
three-in-a-strip walkies.

Other operators in seaside towns were Topical Pictures of

Llandudno, run by Auguste Dumont. Also in Llandudno,
there was Happy Snaps, whose photographs were bright
and clear and were only taken on Llandudno Pier. This
was the claim printed onto the backs of the photographs.
In the mid-1930s a strip of three by Happy Snaps cost one
shilling. Further along the coastline of North Wales, A & F
Wrigley offered similar style photographs. Kine Snaps
traded on Barry Island and another Kine Snaps, but this
time Ltd., was in Torquay. Spotlight Photos Ltd. set up
cine cameras in many towns in the 1930s, including
Mr. and Mrs. Bracey were snapped by Felixstowe. Sun Films were in competition with Empire
Spotlight Photos Ltd. in Hamilton Road, Films at Clacton-on Sea and George Coleman took
Felixstowe in 1928. The strip of three walking strip photographs at Boscombe. Leighton’s of
is printed on to a postcard size sheet of Hastings also took what they called cine snaps, and at
paper with the perforations showing. Great Yarmouth a firm called Cine Snaps was trading there
Photograph from the collection from 1930. There were many others.
of John Bracey
Cine Snaps of 63 Rodney Road, Great Yarmouth was the
enterprise of John Barker, who in the 1920s had set up Barker’s
Studio in Lowestoft at 35 High Street. The 1920s must have
been a difficult time to set up a photographic studio and, in
1927, John Barker began offering a mail order developing and
printing service to amateur photographers. Another
diversification of his was to take walking photographs during the
summer months on Lowestoft’s Esplanade. These were
conventional walking photographs that were printed onto
postcard size paper with the back laid out for postal use.
Disaster struck on the 6th January 1929, when John Barker’s
studio was destroyed by fire, forcing him to relocate his business
to 155 London Road South, Lowestoft. It was in around 1930
that John Barker became aware of the use of 35mm cine
cameras to take walking photographs. He also turned his
attentions towards Great Yarmouth and by then he had acquired
some old wooden cine cameras.

Great Yarmouth at that

time already had the firm
of Jackson’s Faces taking
conventional postcard size
walking photographs along
the town’s Marine Parade
in the summer months.
The rights to take
photographs on the streets
of Great Yarmouth was
strictly controlled by the
local council. So, setting
up an unauthorised tripod- A pre-World War II example of a
mounted cine camera on a Cine Snaps strip. Notice that the
Great Yarmouth street was three images are all different and
out of the question. are in a walking sequence. The
hand-written number on the
However, having a camera middle frame was applied to the
small masked off area of the
on private property was a
negative with a mapping pen and
way around the problem black ink. The photograph was
and John Barker set up taken on the sea wall just north of
one of his cine cameras on the Britannia Pier and the Royal
the forecourt of Pownall’s Aquarium is in the background.
fishing tackle shop on
An early three-in-a strip walking
Regent Road. Nick Pownall recalled that empty 35mm film
photograph by John Barker taken
from the forecourt of Pownall’s tins were recycled and used by Pownall’s as containers for
Angling shop in Regent Road, Great lug worm bait. The films were still processed and printed at
Yarmouth around 1930. It is printed 155 London Road South, Lowestoft and this side of the
to postcard size with the film’s business traded as Cine Snaps. John Barker moved to
perforations showing at the edge of Great Yarmouth in the early 1930s and opened a
the print. This style of print is similar photographic works at 63 Rodney Road. Eventually other
to those of Spotlight Photos Ltd. This locations in the town became Cine Snaps pitches. He also
is the only example the author has took his cine cameras to other towns and Cine Snaps took
seen by John Barker/Cine Snaps in walkies in Felixstowe and surprisingly at Milsom Street in
this style. Cine Snaps’ strips are
Bath, and many other unidentified towns. In 1939, with the
usually three frames printed onto a
sheet measuring 3½ x 7 inches with outbreak of World War II, the business stopped trading and
the perforations masked off. John Barker went into the licensed trade, becoming the
Photograph from the collection of landlord of the Admiral Seymour public house at Great
Alice Taylor Yarmouth for the duration of the war.
The author’s parents Bill Godfrey and Sheila
Four fashionable women in cloche hats strolling near the Redgment strolling down Regent Road, Great
South Pier on Lowestoft’s Esplanade were snapped by Yarmouth on the 26th May 1947. They were
Promenade Snaps, Barker’s Studio, 155 London Road snapped by one of Barker’s cine camera
South, Lowestoft on the 10th August 1930. This is a operators from behind the low wall outside
postcard size print. The handwritten number in white is 53 Regent Road. This is one print cut from a
a characteristic of John Barker’s walking photographs strip of three identical photographs

After the Second World War, John Barker resurrected the business and was joined by his sons
Edgar and Leslie. A limited company, J. Barker & Sons (Great Yarmouth) Limited, was formed.
A new works was acquired at 22 St. Peter’s Plain and the cine cameras were dusted off ready to
snap the holidaymakers again. John Barker’s eldest son, Edgar, managed to track down and
employ many of the staff his father employed before World War II. A house, 53 Regent Road,
was acquired and a cine camera on a tripod was set up behind a low wall at the property and
Regent Snaps was born. Barker’s then acquired the sole rights to take walking photographs at
key locations along Marine Parade. A small wooden kiosk was set up near the Wellington Pier
that became Wellington Snaps. Another kiosk further along the promenade became Promenade
Snaps. A shop at 1 & 2 Marine Arcade, in an Edwardian shopping arcade, became Arcade

Photographic materials were in short supply after World War II, especially film. Various sources
of supply were used, including buying surplus short lengths of film from motion picture studios. It
was decided to modify the cine cameras to single frame use, therefore reducing the film usage.
Before World War II, the cameras had taken four frames when the crank handle was turned half a
turn. Three of the four frames were then projection printed on one strip of paper measuring 3½ x
7 inches, producing a strip of three different photographs in a walking sequence. When the
cameras were new and were being used to take motion pictures, they usually had two
crankshafts; one to take single frames that had to be turned anti-clockwise and the main shaft
that took eight frames per revolution. This handle needed to be turned at two revolutions per
second to achieve the film industry’s standard at the time of 16 frames per second.

Ronald Bean had worked for John Barker before World War II at the Rodney Road works and,
following his demobilisation from the armed forces after the war, he returned to working for the
Barker family. Ronnie was the technical man at Barker’s and could turn his hand to many
practical tasks, including modifying the wooden cine cameras to single-frame use. A Williamson
Kinematograph Company wooden cine camera manufactured in 1912 that was owned by
Barker’s has recently been rediscovered after spending many years in Joan Barker’s loft.
Ronnie’s rather crude modifications are clearly visible on the camera. The motion picture shaft
has been cut off and the hole covered over with an old halfpenny coin that was minted in 1940,
indicating the modification took place after this date. Another of Ronnie’s modifications was a
small piece of black paper sellotaped into the film gate to mask off an area and create a black
rectangle on the print that was used to add a negative number.
The late Barry Drake told me he had worked the summer months
for Barker’s during the 1950s and at one stage worked as a ticket
boy on Regent Road, assisting one of the Barker cine camera
operators. Barry clearly remembered the operator turning the
crank handle once anti-clockwise for each exposure. The operator
would describe the group being snapped by saying things like lady
and gent or two ladies, which ensured Barry gave the right pre-
numbered ticket to the right people. Refused tickets had to be
discarded or the critical print numbering sequence would be out of
step. Notes of the first ticket number were made before starting a
session to take the walkies, and a chalk board with the first ticket
number of the day written on it would be snapped first.

A morning’s snapping stopped at 12.30pm and the exposed films

were then taken to Barker’s St. Peter’s Plain works that was
always referred to as ‘the factory’. A frenzy of activity then began
as the finished walkie photos had to be returned to 53 Regent
Road by 4.30pm ready for them to be sold to the customers.
Photographs taken during the afternoon would be ready in the
morning of the following day. It is believed that in the early post A facsimile of a post-World War
World War II period the very long lengths of film were dish II Barker’s walkie ticket. Before
the war a Cine Snaps strip cost
processed but, by later in the 1950s, the ingenious Ronnie Bean
one shilling and sixpence
had made a dunk and dip processor. The film was wound
emulsion outwards around a spiral of nails hammered into wooden
boards, which were lifted in and out of the large
tanks of chemicals by arms attached to bicycle
chains driven by an electric motor.

Once processed, the films were dried in heated

cabinets and hung in a series of loops. When
dry, the next stage was to write the ticket
number into the previously mentioned blank
space on each negative. This was a space of
about 8 x 4mm and numbering was achieved
using black ink and mapping pens. The person
doing the numbering used a watchmaker’s
glass to see what he was doing. Mistakes, if
made, were rubbed out by the negative
David and Maureen Smith enjoying an ice-cream numberer’s thumb while the ink was still wet.
while walking down Regent Road in the summer of
1958. They seem oblivious to the cameraman and The next stage was printing. Barry Drake
it is likely that they knew nothing about having their
described to me how the negatives were printed
photograph taken until the ticket boy thrust a ticket
using a horizontal enlarger. Each frame was
into their hands. Walking photographs where the
printed three times on one strip of paper by
photographer has engaged with the subject are
much better and would have been more saleable moving the easel. Prints were dish processed
than this example. This print was made using aby a human army of print paddlers, developing,
Kenprinter. Photograph from the collection offixing and washing the prints before they were
David and Maureen Smith dried on Kodak Velox print glazers. The dried
prints were sorted and put into order and then
taken back to 53 Regent Road ready for the 4.30pm rush. In the early 1950s this property was
still a house and the front room acted as a shop. John Barker’s wife, Blanche, collected the cash
at two shillings and sixpence per walkie strip. Rejected strips would be torn in half and used as
notepaper, much to the dismay of the holidaymaker who had just declined to buy it.

During the 1950s, advances in the manufacture of machinery for the developing and printing
(photofinishing) trade were being made. Arnold Reginald Kennington, of Kennington and Bourlet
Ltd., 231 High Street, Brentford, Middlesex applied for a patent in 1954 for improvements in or
relating to photographic enlargers. This was the
Kenprinter, a projection enprinter that used a soft
grade of photographic paper in rolls 3½ inches
wide. This printer was introduced, according to
Jack Coote’s Photofinishing Techniques, in
1954/5. A companion roll paper processor and
glazer were also introduced and Kennington and
Bourlet Ltd. became a subsidiary of Ilford Ltd., who
handled the sales and distribution of the machines.

Ronnie Bean and Edgar Barker attended a

photofinishing trade exhibition in the 1950s, where
the Kennington and Bourlet machines were being This is a Kenprinter 600. A scaled up version of
demonstrated. The Kenprinter was designed for the type of enprinter Barker’s used to print their
use in the developing and printing trade and could walking photographs. The Kenprinter 600 could
print all sizes of negative from 6 x 9cm down to print a whole plate-size print. The negative
35mm. Barker’s bought Kenprinters to print their carrier can be seen on the printer table under
three-in-a-strip cine camera walkies as well their the bellows. The unexposed roll of paper was
amateur developing and printing work. The ever- loaded into the top right hand compartment.
resourceful Ronnie looked at the Kenprinter The left hand compartment contained the take-
processor and decided he could make a couple of up reel. The printer was a transitional machine
these himself and, on returning to Great Yarmouth, as it was fitted with a chute to enable shorter
lengths to be printed and dish processed. The
he set about building these and was successful, chute was fitted for photofinishers who did not
however Barker’s did buy two Kenprinter glazers. have a paper processor or for a finisher who did
The processors were twin-track and could process not run his paper processor in the quieter
two rolls of paper at a time. With two processors, winter months.
a large volume of prints could be processed in a An advertisement in the British Journal
short time. Photographic Annual of 1963

The Kenprinter revolutionised the production of the three-in-a-strip walkie at Barker’s factory. The
photographic paper used on the Kenprinters was in rolls 500 feet long and, once exposed, it was
spooled up ready to be processed on the home-made paper processor. The printer was operated
by an electrical foot pedal and, once the negative was aligned in the negative carrier, the pedal
was pressed three times to make the three exposures. The printer’s exposure time was governed
by a photocell, but was equipped with an exposure control of plus or minus three to override this.
Most walkie negatives did not need any adjustment of the plus and minus control.
In the late 1950s, Barker’s acquired six
Leica 250 Reporter full frame 35mm
cameras that took 250 photographs in
one loading. These were used to take
walking photographs that were printed
on the Kenprinters, but as standard
postcard size prints. The Regent
Snaps pitch was the last of the Barker
sites to take three-in-a-strip walkies and
the latest example in the author’s
collection was taken in 1958. By then
the cine cameras were over 40 years
old and were pensioned off.

Two photographs of the Alfred Darling camera of 1904 given One of the redundant Barker wooden
to the East Anglian Photographic Collection by the Barker cine cameras was presented to the now
family. Notice the two film magazines one on top of the disbanded East Anglian Photographic
other in the shot of the inside of the camera. This is one of Collection in the 1970s. This camera
the characteristics of the so-called English pattern of had been made during 1904 by Alfred
wooden cine camera. Photographs by Malcolm Howard, the Darling of Brighton. Alfred Darling was
curator of the East Anglian Photographic Collection an engineer and was one the early
motion picture pioneers known collectively as the Brighton School. Alfred Darling made cameras
for James Williamson, a pharmacist with a shop in Hove. Williamson then began making short
films from 1896 that were distributed across the globe. By 1910, Williamson had given up being a
film maker and had turned to making motion picture cameras and printers at his factory at

The camera recently rediscovered in Joan Barker’s loft was made around 1912 by the Williamson
Kinematograph Company and is a tropical model made of smaller pieces of mahogany joined
together by brass plates, making the wood less prone to splitting in extreme temperature or
humidity conditions. This camera is not in pristine condition and has been modified in a heavy-
handed manner. However, it is a very rare example of a cine camera that was used to take
walking still photographs on the streets of Great Yarmouth for nearly 30 years, much longer than
when it was used as a motion picture camera.

Right: the inside

of the Williamson
camera showing
the flywheel and

Left: the Williamson

Kinematograph Co. tropical
cine camera made in 1912
and modified by Ronnie Bean
after World War II to single
exposure to cut down on film
usage. The motion picture
crankshaft has been covered
over with a halfpenny coin

Right: the Williamson

Paragon camera was
still being marketed
by W. Butcher & Sons
Ltd. in the British
Journal Photographic
Almanac of 1924

Above: the film magazine side of

the camera showing the gate and
claw mechanism

For more information about early motion picture cameras have a look at the website of Sam
Dodge at or, if you are interested in walking photographs, head to
Simon Robinson’s Go Home on a Postcard website:

Daniel Defoe’s Tour through the Eastern Counties
A summary of Sarah Dog’s lecture to the society on 21st February 2020
Andrew Fakes

In the February 2020 talk to the Society, the last before lockdown, Sarah Doig spoke on Daniel
Defoe’s Tour through the Eastern Counties. The book of the tour was published in 1724, five
years after the enormous success of his novel, Robinson Crusoe. As Sarah pointed out, Defoe
always seems to have arrived in the places he visited at the most interesting time of the year in
that location, such as a fair, horse race or annual market day. So, it can be assumed that it was
not a work of actual journalism, but a compendium of several visits or reports by others. The text
suggests that he recounts what his interlocuters told him, and could therefore be subject to
exaggeration, misinterpretation or lies, but nonetheless his book provides a useful and interesting
picture of the places he mentions in early Georgian times.

Daniel Defoe is clearly impressed by Great Yarmouth and writes:

Yarmouth is an ancient town much older than Norwich (debateable) and at present, though not
standing on so much ground, yet better built and more complete; for numbers of inhabitants, not
much inferior, and for wealth, trade and advantage of its situation, infinitely superior to Norwich.

It is placed on a peninsula between the River Yare and the sea, the last two lying parallel to one
another and the town in the middle. The river lies on the west side of the town and being grown
very large and deep, by a conflux of all the rivers on this side of the county, forms the haven; and
the town facing to the west also and open to the river, makes the finest quay in England, if not
Europe, not inferior to that of Marseilles itself.

The ships rode here so close and as it were keeping up one another, with their head-fasts on
shore, that for half a mile together they go across the stream with their bowsprits over the land ,
their bows or heads touching the very wharf, so that one may walk from ship to ship as on a
floating bridge, all along by the shore side. The quay reaching from the drawbridge (the site of
the current Haven Bridge) almost to the South-gate is so spacious and wide that in some places it
is near one hundred yards from the houses to the wharf. In this pleasant and agreeable range of
houses are some very magnificent buildings, and among the rest, the Custom House and Town
Hall, and some merchants’ houses which look like little palaces, rather than the dwelling houses
of private men.

Corbridge’s West Prospect of Great Yarmouth (1725)

William Kip’s Map of Norfolk (Winterton Ness is probably exaggerated)

The greatest defect of this beautiful town seems to be that though it is very rich and increasing in
wealth and trade, and consequently in people, there is not room to enlarge the town by buildings,
which would certainly have done much more than it is, but that the river on the land side
prescribes them, except at the north end without the gate, and even there the land is not very
agreeable, but had they a larger space within the gates there would, before now, have been many
spacious streets of noble buildings erected, as we see is done in some other thriving towns in
England, as at Liverpool, Manchester, Bristol, Frome etc.
The quay and the harbour of this town during the fishing fair, as they call it, which is every
Michaelmas, one sees the land covered with people and the river with barques and boats, busy
day and night landing and carrying off herrings in such prodigious quantities that it is incredible.
I happened to be there during their fishing-fair, when in one tide, one hundred and ten barques
and fishing vessels coming up the river all laden with herrings and all taken the night before; and
this was besides what was brought on shore on the Dean (that is sea-side of the town) by open
boats which they call cobles) 1, which often bring in two or three last 2 of fish at a time. The
barques 3 often bring in ten last a piece.
The fishing-fair (herring) begins on Michaelmas Day (25th September) and lasts all the month of
October (usually considered to end on Martin Mass day 11th November) by which time the
herrings draw off to sea, shoot their spawn and are no more fit for the merchants’ business, at
least those not taken thereabouts. (These are referred to as ‘spent herrings’).
The quantity of herrings that are caught in this season are diversely accounted for; some have
said that the towns Yarmouth and Leostoft (Defoe’s spelling) have only taken forty thousand last
in a season; I will not venture to confirm that report, but this I have heard from the merchants
themselves say, viz., that they have cured, that is to say, hanged and dried in the smoke, 40,000
barrels of merchantable red herrings in one season, which in itself (though far short of the other)
yet a very considerable article and it is to be added that this is besides all the herrings consumed
in the county towns of both counties, for thirty miles from the sea, whither very great quantities
are carried every tide during the whole season.

But this is only one branch of the great trade carried on in this town; another part of this
commerce is in the exporting of these herrings after they are cured, and for this their merchants
have a great trade to Genoa, Leghorn, Naples, Messina and Venice, as also to Spain and
Portugal, also exporting with their herring very great quantities of worsted stuffs, and stuffs made
of silk and worsted camblets, etc, the manufactures of the neighbouring City of Norwich and of
places adjacent.

Besides this, they carry on a very considerable trade with Holland, whose opposite neighbours
they are, and a vast quantity of woollen manufactures they export to the Dutch every year. Also,
they have a fishing trade to the north seas for white fish, which from the place are called the North
Sea cod.

They also have a great trade to Norway and to the Baltic, and from whence they bring back deals
and fir timber, oaken plank, baulks sparrs, oars, pitch, tar, hemp, flax, spruce canvas and sail
cloth; with all manner of naval stores which they generally have a consumption for in their own
port, where they build a very great number of ships every year, besides re-fitting and repairing the

Add to this the coal trade between Newcastle and the river of Thames, in which they are so
improved of late years, that they have now a great number of ships, either of their own, or
employed by them, and it may in some measure be judged of by this, that in the year 1697, I had
an account from the town Register, that there was then 1,123 sail of ships using the sea, and
belonged to the town, besides such ships as the merchants of Yarmouth might be concerned in
and be part owners of, belonging to any other ports.

To all this I must add, without compliment to the town or its people, that the merchants and even
the generality of traders at Yarmouth, have a very good reputation in trade as well abroad as at
home, for men of fair and honourable dealing, punctual and just in their performing, their
engagements and in discharging commissions. And their seamen, as well as masters, are justly
esteemed among the ablest and most expert
navigators in England.

The town, however populous and large, was ever

contained in one parish and had but one church, but
within these two years they have built another very
fine church, near the south end of the town. The old
church is dedicated to St. Nicholas and was built
famous Bishop of Norwich, Will Herbert, who
flourished in the reign of William II and Henry I.
William of Malmsbury (the chronicler) calls him Vir
Pecunoisissimus, considering the times he lived in,
and the works of charity and munificence which he
has left as witness of his immense riches, for he built
the cathedral church, the priory for sixty monks, the
Bishop’s palace and the parish church of St.
Leonard, all in Norwich; this great church at
Yarmouth, the church of St. Margaret at Lynn and St.
Mary at Elmham. He removed the Episcopal See
from Thetford to Norwich and instituted the Cluniack
monks at Thetford and gave them or built them a
house. This old church (St. Nicholas at Yarmouth) is
very large and has a high spire, which is very useful
as a sea mark.
The generosity of Herbert Bishop of Norwich (known
as Herbert De Losinga (Herbert the Smooth Tongue)
Seal of Herbert De Losinga was motivated by the fact that he was guilty of
simony, a sin prescribed by the Christian Church by which the miscreant purchased preferment or
office in the church. It is strictly the acquisition by financial means of any spiritual benefit. De
Losinga, nearing his death, was anxious to shorten his time enduring the tortures of purgatory,
disposed of his fortune by building churches and setting up priories.

Here is one of the finest market-places and best served with provisions in England, London
excepted, and the inhabitants are so multiplied in a few years that they seem to want room in their
town rather than people to fill it, as I have observed above.

The streets are all exactly straight from north to south with lanes or alleys which they call ROWS,
crossing them in straight lines also from east to west, so that it is the most regular built town in
England, and seems to have been built all at once, or that the dimensions of the houses and the
extent of the streets were laid out by consent.

They have particular privileges in this town and a jurisdiction by which they can try, condemn and
execute in special cases without waiting for warrant from above; and this they exerted once very
smartly, in executing a Captain of one of the King’s Ships-of-War in the reign of Charles II, for a
murder committed in the street, the circumstances which did indeed call for justice, but some
thought they would not venture to exert their power as they did; however. I never heard that the
government resented it or blamed them for it.

It is also a very well governed town and I have nowhere in England observed the Sabbath Day so
exactly kept, or the breach so continually punished in this place, which I name to their honour.

Among all these regularities, it is no wonder if we do not find abundance of revelling, or that there
is little encouragement to assembles, plays and gaming meetings at Yarmouth as in some other
places, and yet I do not see that the ladies here come behind any of the neighbouring counties,
either in beauty, breeding or behaviour, to which may be added, too, not at all to their
disadvantage, that they generally go beyond them in in fortunes.

Defoe continues his journey up the coast to Winterton:

From Yarmouth, I resolved to pursue my first design, viz., to view the seaside on this coast which
is particularly famous for being one of the most dangerous and fatal to the sailors in all England, I
may say in all Britain, and more so because of the great number of ships which are continually
going and coming this way in their passage between London and all the northern coasts of Great
Britain. Matters of antiquity are not my enquiry, but principally observations on the present state
of things, and, if possible, to give such accounts of things worthy of recording, as have never
been observed before, and this leads me more directly to mention the commerce and the
navigation when I come to towns upon the coast, as what few writers have yet meddled with.

In the next paragraphs, Defoe makes a couple of errors of geography stating that Winterton Ness
is the upmost northerly point of Norfolk and the dangers of the rocks off Cromer, but he reports
the dangers to ships between Winterton and Flamboro’ Head. He continues:

From Winterton Ness, which is the most northerly point in the county of Norfolk, and about four
miles beyond Yarmouth, the shore falls for near sixty miles to the west as far as Lynn and Boston,
till the shore of Lincolnshire tends north again for about sixty miles more as far as the Humber.
The dangers of this place being considered it is no wonder that upon the shore beyond Yarmouth
there are no less than four light-houses kept flaming every night at Castor, north of the town, and
at Goulston S., (Gorleston) all of which are to direct sailors to keep a good offing in case of bad
weather and to prevent their running into ‘Cromer Bay’ which the seamen call the Devil’s Throat.

I went by land from Yarmouth northward along the shore towards Cromer, and was not fully
master of the reason of those things, I was surprised to see in all the way from Winterton, that the
farmers and the country people had scarce a barn or a shed, or a stable nay not the pales of their
yards and gardens, not a hogstye not a necessary-house, but was built of planks, beams, wales
and timbers etc. the wrecks of ships and ruins of mariners’ and merchants’ fortunes, and some
places were whole yards filled and piled very high with the same stuff laid up, as I suppose to sell
for the like building purposes as there should be occasion.

Defoe recounts a great tragedy resulting from a great storm of the East Coast:

About the year 1692 (I think it was that year) (Manship confirms this date p. 330 Volume I) there
was a melancholy example of what I have said of this place; a fleet of 200 sail of light colliers (so
they call the ships bound northwards to fetch the coal from Newcastle to London) went out of
Yarmouth Roads with a fair wind to pursue their voyage, and were taken short with a storm of
wind at N.E. after they passed Winterton Ness, a few leagues; some of them, whose masters
were a little more wary than the rest, or perhaps who made a better judgement of things, or who
were not so far out as the rest, tackled and put back in time and got back safe into the roads, but
the rest pushing on, in hopes to keep out to sea and weather it, were by the violence of the storm
driven back, when they were too far embayed to weather Winterton Ness, as above, and so were
forced to run west, everyone shifting themselves as well as they could; some run away for Lynn
Deeps but few of them (the night being so dark) could find their way there; some but very few rid
it out, at a distance, the rest being above 140 sail were all driven on shore and dashed to pieces
and very few of the people on board were saved. At the same unhappy juncture, a fleet of laden
ships were coming from the north, and being just crossing the same bay, were forcibly driven into
it, not able to weather the Ness, and so were involved in the same ruin as the light fleet was; also
some coastal vessels, laden with corn from Lyn and Wells and bound for Holland with the same
unhappy luck just came out to begin their voyage, and some of them lay at anchor; these also
met with the same misfortune, so that in the whole above 200 sail of ships and above a thousand
people perished in the disaster of that miserable night, very few escaping.

Daniel Defoe’s book contains two further items that will be of interest to the history of Great
Yarmouth. Firstly, he remarks that the River Waveney does not enter the North Sea at Lowestoft
but goes north to enter the sea at Great Yarmouth. The channel between Lake Lothing and the
North Sea was not cut until 1829 and Lowestoft had been merely a beach port until then.
He writes in his section on Lowestoft:
Some of our historians tell a long, fabulous story
of this river (the Waveney) being once open and
famous for ships belonging to the town of
Leostoft adjoining, but that the town of
Yarmouth, envying the prosperity of the said
town of Leostoft, made war upon them, and that
after many bloody battles as well by sea as by
land, they came at last to a decisive action at
sea with their respective fleets and the victory
fell to Yarmouth men, the Leostoft flee being
overthrown and utterly destroyed, and that upon
this victory the Yarmouth men actually did stop
up the mouth of the said river, or obliged the
vanquished Leostoft men to do it themselves,
and bound them never to open it up again.

I believe my share of this story, and I

recommend no more of it to the reader, adding
that I see no authority for the relation, neither do
the relators agree either in the time or in the
particulars of the fact; that is to say, in whose
reign or under what government all this
happened, in what year and the like; so I satisfy
myself with transcribing the matter of fact and
Portrait of Daniel Defoe
the leave it as I find it.
Modern scholarship would dismiss this story out of hand as there is no evidence that Lake
Lothing was connected to the North Sea until a cut was begun in 1829, but it probably contains
two points that Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft have usually been rivals in trade and occasionally
when they fought each other. Also, the course of the River Yare drifted southward, reaching as
far as Kirkley Roads, making the entrance to the haven nearer to Lowestoft than to the town of
Great Yarmouth.

Defoe goes on to talk of marsh grazing around the rivers, Yare and Waveney:

The vast tract of meadows are fed a prodigious number of black cattle which are said to be fed up
for the fattest beef, though not the largest in England, and the quantity is so great as they supply
the City of Norwich, the town of Yarmouth and county adjacent, but send great quantities of them
weekly in all the winter season to London.

And in this particular is worthy remark, that the gross of all the Scots cattle which come yearly into
England, are brought hither, being brought to a small village lying north of the City of Norwich,
called St. Faith’s where Norfolk graziers go to buy them.

These Scots runts, so they call them, coming out of the cold and barren mountains of the
Highlands in Scotland, feed so eagerly on the rich pasture in these marshes that they thrive in an
unusual manner and grow monstrously fat, and the beef is so delicious to taste that the
inhabitants prefer them to the English cattle, which are much larger and fairer to look at, and they
may very well do so. Some have told me, and I believe with good judgement, that there are
above 40,000 of these Scots cattle fed in this country every year and most of them in the said
marshes between Norwich, Beccles and Yarmouth.

It is perhaps relevant to point out that in the year of 1724, which Defoe is writing about, was
shortly after the Act of Union between England and of Scotland, which was passed in 1707,
allowing free trade between the two countries.
The Scots cattle were driven on drove roads from Scotland into England. These could be several
hundred yards wide to allow the cattle to graze along the way. No doubt the Scottish cattle,
previously eating heather, thistles and nettles, were pleased to eat the lush grass of East Anglia.
The cattle were driven by Scots herdsmen and their dogs and the literature usually speaks well of
the honesty of these men. They would carry a great deal of money back to Scotland, paying the
farmers for their cattle. It is even recorded that their dogs would find their way back to Scotland
when they were no longer needed for droving.
The cobles are open boats which come from the north from Scarboro’, Whitby, etc. and come to
Yarmouth to let themselves out to fish for the merchants during the fair-time.
A last is ten barrels, each barrel containing 1,000 herrings.
The barques come from come from the coast of Kent and Sussex, as from Foulkston, Dover and
Rye in Kent, and from Brithelmston (Brighton) in Sussex, and let themselves to fish for the
merchants during the said fair, as the cobles do from the north.

Journey to the Centre of…Great Yarmouth: Jules Verne’s Visit in 1879
Stewart Adams

Great Yarmouth has many interesting connections to the literary world. The town was the
birthplace of Anna Sewell, the author of Black Beauty, and for a time was the home of George
Borrow, he of the Norwich is a very fine city quote.1 One famous visitor was Robinson Crusoe
author Daniel Defoe, who declared that the South Quay was the finest quay in England, if not in
Europe, not inferior even to that of Marseilles.2 It is also well documented that Charles Dickens
spent time in Great Yarmouth and, whilst there, found inspiration for his book David Copperfield.
However, it seems much less well known that, in 1879, another world famous author was a visitor
to the town.

Jules Gabriel Verne was a French novelist, poet, and playwright. He is

most famous for his Voyages Extraordinaires series of bestselling
adventure novels including Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1864),
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870), and Around the World
in Eighty Days (1873). He was born on 8th February 1828 in the French
city of Nantes, at the head of the estuary of the River Loire. His father was
a lawyer and his mother was from a local family of navigators and
shipowners of distant Scottish descent.

Jules Verne developed a fascination with the sea from an early age. His
childhood was spent in close proximity to the bustle of the port on the River
Loire, with its vessels trading with far-off and exotic sounding countries… Jules Verne
he grew up in this nautical wonderland and dreamed of voyaging himself.3 circa 1878

In 1857, Jules Verne married Honorine Anne Hébée Morel, who he had met the previous year.
Honorine was a 26 year-old widow with two young daughters. Jules and Honorine settled in Paris
and added to their family in 1861 with the birth of their only child together, a son, Michel.

In 1859, Jules Verne had the opportunity to fulfil his long held dream of visiting Scotland. He
embarked on his first sea voyage to Britain as a passenger aboard a steamer sailing to Liverpool.
The day after his arrival in Liverpool, Verne travelled on the express train from Lime Street station
to Edinburgh. Verne was greatly impressed by the entire experience and he would go on to make
about 20 further visits to the British Isles.4

The year 1862 would prove to be a turning point in the writing career of Jules Verne as this was
when he met the Parisian publisher, Pierre-Jules Hetzel. A long-term contract to publish the
works of Jules Verne was later drawn up by Hetzel. These books would become known
worldwide as the Voyages Extraordinaires series of adventure novels.

By the latter part of the 1860s, Verne was a successful author and had the means to become the
owner of a small boat, which he named the St-Michel after his son. In 1876, his financial situation
was such that he was able to purchase a handsome sailing yacht, the St-Michel II, but this itself
was replaced only a year later by the St-Michel III. The St-Michel III was built in Nantes in 1876
and was a 27 metre, 67 ton, two-masted steam yacht. This elegant vessel was finished in
mahogany and light oak and offered the comforts of a lounge, dining room, office, kitchen, three
cabins and 12 to 14 berths. The St-Michel III had a crew of ten sailors under the command of
Captain Charles Ollive of Nantes.

On 11th July 1879, the Eastern Daily Press reported that: The French steam yacht St-Michel, of
Nantes, with Jules Verne, the celebrated French author, and a party of friends, has put into
Yarmouth harbour. She came to Yarmouth from Deal and will go next to Edinburgh. M. Jules
Verne (to whom the yacht belongs) and his friends are on a pleasure tour.5 Verne’s visit to Great
Yarmouth was brought about because he was forced to seek refuge from bad weather. His stay in
the town lasted for just over three and a half days and he then continued on his journey to
Given that Jules Verne was described as the celebrated French author in local newspapers, it is
clear that his name would have been familiar to some Great Yarmouth inhabitants in 1879.6 I
think it would most certainly have been the case that copies of early translations of his books
would have been available in the local area.

It is down to the remarkable survival of a diary of the voyages Verne undertook aboard the St-
Michel II and III that enables me to reconstruct the details of his stay in Great Yarmouth. As
Professor Ian Thompson, a leading expert on the life and works of Jules Verne, points out: These
carnets de voyages…summarise all the sailings made by Verne in these two yachts. The style (of
the entries) is very ‘telegraphic’ and the handwriting difficult to decipher.7

Verne’s diary entries are very succinct indeed; his entire visit to Great Yarmouth is covered in little
more than 120 words. For reasons of copyright I am unable to quote the carnets de voyages
verbatim or to reproduce an image of the entries.8 However, through research I have undertaken,
I am able to reconstruct the details of Jules Verne’s visit to Great Yarmouth here in my own

Tuesday 8th July 1879: Jules Verne arrived at Great Yarmouth aboard the St-Michel III at
midday. The services of a pilot were procured for 25 francs in order to navigate the vessel safely
into the harbour and the St-Michel III was then moored up, presumably at South Quay. Verne
mentions that they cleared customs although it seems unlikely that Verne himself would have
visited the Customs House on South Quay.

This view of Hall Quay and the tree-lined South Quay is as Verne would have seen it in 1879

In the evening, Verne visited Great Yarmouth beach and saw an open-air concert. I assume this
took place in the early evening because he then undertook a horse-drawn tram journey to
Gorleston. This journey would have seen Jules Verne travelling via Southtown Road, High Road
and the High Street, with the service terminating at Feathers Plain.9

One would imagine that Gorleston High Street would have been a rather quiet place on a
Tuesday evening in 1879. It therefore seems unlikely to me that Verne would have simply
finished his journey at the High Street before returning directly to Great Yarmouth on the next
available tram. It is pure speculation on my part, but I feel that, with his passion for all things
nautical, Verne might well have continued on foot to the riverside. Perhaps he may have walked
as far as Gorleston pier and the beach? Sadly, we will never know. In any case it appears that
he only spent a brief time in Gorleston as he was back on his yacht in Great Yarmouth by 9pm.
A horse-drawn tram on Gorleston High Street near Feathers Plain circa 1886.
This scene is more or less as Verne would have seen it seven years previously

Wednesday 9th July 1879: The weather continued to be absolutely dreadful with persistent rain
until dinner time. During the day the St-Michel III took on eight and a half tons of coal at a cost of
25 francs, and Verne received a visit from a Russian professor.

Thursday 10th July 1879: Despite the fact that the weather does not appear to have improved in
the slightest, Jules Verne continued to explore Great Yarmouth. Verne writes that he visited the
pier and the Aquarium and that he saw some skating. I feel certain that the pier Verne refers to
would have been Britannia Pier, given its proximity to the Aquarium. It is particularly interesting to
note that Jules Verne visited the still reasonably new Aquarium building and saw some skating.10
A skating rink and bandstand were installed on the roof of the Aquarium and there was also an
indoor skating rink.11 The Aquarium was extensively remodelled in 1883, becoming recognisable
as the building that we know today as the Arc Cinema.12

The Aquarium as it would have looked at the time of Verne’s 1879 visit. The rooftop skating
rink was accessed via the stairs at the southern end of the building. The bandstand is also
visible to the rear of the rink (photo courtesy of Michael Teun)

This rare illustration of the Aquarium with its bays of fish tanks and indoor skating rink is as Jules
Verne would have seen it in 1879. Remarkably, one of the free-standing fish tanks has survived
and remains a feature of the building to this day

In the evening Jules Verne was once again visited by the Russian professor, who on this
occasion was accompanied by 35 pupils. I have been unable to determine the identity of this
professor, but it seems probable that he may have been from the nearby Great Yarmouth School
of Navigation and Science on South Quay.

Friday 11th July 1879: Verne was visited on the St-Michel III by Mr. Horatio Littlewood along with
four schoolchildren. Mr. Littlewood was a shipbroker appointed to the office of French Vice-
Consul for Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft in 1876.13 Verne also received a visit from a fish
merchant and his son.

Verne noted in his diary that the weather was stormy. With regard to the weather, the weekly
Yarmouth Independent reported that: The weather here during the last few days has been very
boisterous, the wind at times blowing almost a gale…on Thursday morning several steamers
brought up in the Roads, finding the wind and sea too much for them.14

Unfortunately, Verne’s carnets de voyages entries give no indication as to whether he was

impressed with Great Yarmouth and it is impossible to determine whether he enjoyed his stay.
Considering the atrocious weather conditions, perhaps it would have been a tall order for any
visitor to find much to enjoy. That being said, Jules Verne certainly managed to get out and about
and he had a reasonably busy stay. One imagines that the hustle and bustle of the Quay at
Great Yarmouth would have appealed to him and perhaps even reminded him of his home port: I
can see it now, the river Loire, a league of decks linking its many branches, its wharfs piled high
with cargo, under the shade of great elms…Ships, two or three deep, line the wharfs, while others
make their way up or down the river.15

Saturday 12th July 1879: At 3am Jules Verne left Great Yarmouth in the St-Michel III and
embarked upon a stormy voyage to the port of Leith in the north of the city of Edinburgh. Verne’s
departure so early in the morning was down to a need for favourable tides.

It would be beyond the scope of this article for me to attempt to detail Jules Verne’s July 1879
visit to Scotland. I would instead wish to point interested readers in the direction of Professor Ian
Thompson’s book Jules Verne’s Scotland in Fact and Fiction; a fascinating account of Verne’s
1859 visit to Scotland as well as this visit in July 1879. I have taken the liberty of quoting the
following few lines from Professor Thompson’s book in order to provide the basic details of the
visit: At last, after battling the wind and rain, Verne’s yacht entered the port of Leith, not without
extreme difficulty, in the early morning of Sunday 13 July…In some ways Verne’s second visit to
Scotland was more successful than the first. He had a little more time and more money, was less
excitable and covered more territory whilst also revisiting his favourite haunts from 1859…His
departure from Scotland was not to be any easier than his arrival. No sooner had he embarked on
the St-Michel than the weather deteriorated again…Finally, on 23rd July, the weather improved
and Verne sailed in calm conditions, reaching Yarmouth once more the following day. They
paused only off Prestonpans…this time Verne had no need to take shelter, for the excellent
weather held. After anchoring overnight at Dover, the St-Michel finally reached Le Havre on
Saturday 26th July.16

Jules Verne did not return to Scotland after his 1879 visit, but he did continue to sail regularly in
the years that followed. He enjoyed cruises to destinations such as Rotterdam and Copenhagen
as well as a grand tour of the Mediterranean in 1883-84.

It would appear that the mid-1880s was a very bleak period in the life of Jules Verne. Due to the
high cost of maintenance, as well as the expense of a large crew, he reached the decision to sell
the St-Michel III in 1885. In 1886, Jules Verne was confronted outside his house by his favourite
nephew, Gaston, who was in a state of high agitation. Gaston, who was in his mid-twenties,
inexplicably shot his uncle in the foot. This incident left Verne lame and in discomfort for the rest
of his life. Just a few days later, Verne’s publisher and close friend Pierre-Jules Hetzel died, and
there was further grief for Verne when his beloved mother passed away in February 1887.

In 1888, Jules Verne was elected as a town councillor for Amiens and sat on the committee
responsible for cultural activity. Verne was re-elected twice and served for 15 years. By the late
1890s, his health was deteriorating and his sight was weakened by cataracts. On 24th March
1905, while ill with diabetes, Jules Verne died at his home in Amiens, 44 Boulevard Longueville
(now Boulevard Jules Verne).

Over the years Verne’s novels have been translated into more than 140 languages, making him
one of the world’s most translated authors.17 Throughout the last century a number of successful
motion pictures have been adapted from Verne novels. The film 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
first appeared on the silver screen in 1916 and has been remade a number of times, including a
version produced by Walt Disney in 1954. Journey to the Center of the Earth was released as a
movie in 1959 and has also been remade on numerous occasions. Perhaps the most popular
movie adaptation of a Verne novel was Around the World in 80 Days, released in 1956 and
starring David Niven. A 21st century version of Around the World in 80 Days was released in
2004, but this adaptation
was a box office flop.

Given the numerous film

adaptions of his novels it
will come as no surprise
that many of these
movies were shown in
cinemas throughout
Great Yarmouth and
Gorleston. It is one of
life’s odd coincidences
that Jules Verne visited
the Aquarium building
where, in the years that
followed, a number of
feature films based on
his novels have been

The Jules Verne Orbinaut at Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach

(photo courtesy of Archant/EDP Library)

The influence of Jules Verne extends beyond literature and film into the world of science and
technology, where he inspired generations of scientists, inventors, and explorers.17 With this
statement in mind, it seems fitting that I should conclude this article with one further link between
Jules Verne and Great Yarmouth. At the start of the 1980s, Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach
unveiled an attraction known as the Jules Verne Orbinaut.18 I would like to think, given his keen
interest in science and technology, that Jules Verne would have approved of this flight simulator
inspired by him and his Voyages Extraordinaires.

Notes and references:

Borrow, George, Lavengro, John Murray, London, pp. 177 & 178, 1851
Defoe, Daniel, A Tour thro’ the whole island of Great Britain – Volume One, G. Strahan, London,
p. 98, 1824
Thompson, Ian, Jules Verne’s Scotland in Fact and Fiction, Luath Press Limited, Edinburgh, 2011
and eBook 2014, see Chapter 1
William Butcher writes that Verne was decisively marked by the experience of this, his first visit to
the British Isles, in his A Chronology of Jules Verne as published in Jules Verne’s Lighthouse at the
End of the World, translated and edited by Butcher, William, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln,
Nebraska, 2007
Eastern Daily Press, 11th July 1879, p. 3
The news that the celebrated French author Jules Verne had arrived in Great Yarmouth was also
published in the Yarmouth Independent, 12th July 1879, p. 5 and the Norfolk News, 12th July 1879,
p. 8
Thompson, Ian, Jules Verne’s Scotland in Fact and Fiction, Luath Press Limited, Edinburgh, 2011
and eBook 2014, see Chapter 2
Verne’s carnets de voyages are held in the Central Library of Amiens (MS 101440095, St-Michel).
I am grateful to Professor Ian Thompson, Emeritus Professor of Geography at Glasgow University
and a leading expert on the life and works of Jules Verne, for kindly providing me with the bare
facts of Jules Verne’s time in Great Yarmouth as translated from Verne’s carnets de voyages.
For those interested in the early history of the Yarmouth and Gorleston tramway system the
following website is a useful source of information:
The opening ceremony for the Great Yarmouth Aquarium took place on 5th September 1876.
For further details see the Yarmouth Independent, 9th September 1876, p. 6
The rooftop skating rink and indoor skating rink were officially opened on 19th February 1877.
For further details see the Norfolk Chronicle, 24th February 1877, p. 6
Norfolk News, 7th July 1883, p. 11
For further details on Horatio Littlewood see the Yarmouth Independent, 30th September 1876, p. 5
and his obituary, An Old Yarmouth Celebrity, in the Yarmouth Independent, 21st June 1924, p. 3
Yarmouth Independent, 12th July 1879, p. 5
Jules Verne’s Souvenirs d’enfance et de jeunesse, Cahiers du Musée Jules Verne, Nantes, 1991

Thompson, Ian, Jules Verne’s Scotland in Fact and Fiction, Luath Press Limited, Edinburgh, 2011
and eBook 2014, see Chapter 2
The University of Sheffield National Fairground and Circus Archive has two rare colour
photographs of the Jules Verne Orbinaut at Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach available to view
online at:

James Holt - a Great Yarmouth Man who helped shape the town
Andrew Fakes

I have known James Holt for about 20 years had not seen him for some time as he no longer
attended our Archaeological Society meetings on dark evenings. When I saw him in Sainsbury’s,
I remembered something he had told me; that he was involved with the removal of a piece of
Great Yarmouth’s town wall. I wanted to write this incident down for future historians, who might
like to include this in the history of the town wall, but Jim told me of various happenings and
events in his life that are of interest to the historian of recent times. Jim’s life story covers over 80
years of significant events and changes in the life of this town, which I hope will interest readers
of Yarmouth Archaeology & Local History.

Jim Holt was born in 1933 at 35 King Street,

which is now a jeweller’s shop.

Early in the World War I, he was evacuated

with his two brothers to Worksop in
Nottinghamshire, by train, on 2nd June 1940.
His father was an ambulance driver with the
British Expeditionary Force in France. During
the retreat to Dunkirk, the ambulance he was
driving was bombed and all the people in the
back were killed, but Mr. Holt was blown into a

He was taken to a Military Hospital in

Birmingham and, when he was well enough to
travel, he went to see his three sons in
Worksop. He was appalled at the state of his
children, who were undernourished and
unhappy. Jim reckoned his guardians were
only in it for the money that they received.

The boys were taken to live with their father in Birmingham, and with a lady who had been Mr.
Holt’s nurse, and who later became Jim’s stepmother. Dad drove lorries and had other jobs in
Great Yarmouth after the war.

When the family returned to Great Yarmouth, Jim attended the Hospital School on the Market
Place. The winter of 1947 was particularly cold, with fuel shortages, and there were power cuts,
when electric light was not always available. A classroom on the east side of the school had
large windows, but they were very close to the old town wall, limiting the amount of daylight
entering the room. Mr. Finch, a form teacher at the Hospital School, decided that part of the wall
would have to go so he got some of the boys in his class, including Jim, to knock down the
offending section, using hammers, chisels, crowbars and their bare hands.

The job took two days and the rubble was pushed over the wall, where it probably laid until it was
cleared for the car park to be made. No one prevented the work, as planning permission,
conservation areas and risk assessments were unheard of then. No pupils were hurt during the
demolition. Jim remembers Mr. Finch as being a former R.A.F. man who owned a sports car. He
was killed in a motor accident when he was travelling to London. Jim excelled in wood and metal
work as well as English and spelling in his school career.

Jim witnessed the last scheduled train leaving Beach Station on 28th February 1959. He recalls it
as an unspectacular affair, the engine only giving a faint whistle and the train was poorly lighted.

Jim Holt worked for David Greig, the national grocery chain, as a butcher’s boy before joining the
Royal Navy at age 16 years as a junior electricians’ mate. He left the Navy in 1958 as a leading
electrical mechanic (L.E.M.). He briefly worked for Birds Eye as a butcher, preparing meat for
steaklets. He applied for various other jobs and was contacted by telegram by Arthur H. Webber
and Sons, the Great Yarmouth engineering works, at Breydon Road in Cobholm, and asked to
start three days before Christmas 1958, where he worked until 1965. He then worked for various
offshore drilling firms as a rig electrician, looking after electrical equipment from generators,
winches, hoists, cranes etc. Work included servicing the lights and sockets from the top of the
derrick to the living accommodation; in fact, everything electrical.

In 1982, Jim was working in Egypt, when the rig he was on was declared redundant. He then
returned to Great Yarmouth, setting up in business as a manufacturer of bespoke wooden
packing cases.

He retired in 1998 and became interested in the history of Great Yarmouth, and enrolled as a
town guide. He was approached by Aileen Mobbs, one of the organisers of the Great Yarmouth
Maritime Festival, who asked if he knew the history of Lord Nelson. She said, you are the same
size as the Admiral and are a Norfolk man, as well as ex-Royal Navy. Jim enrolled for that year
only but finished up making appearances at 13 festivals and several other functions.

On 1st July 2005, the Nelson monument was undergoing refurbishment and was surrounded by
scaffolding. Jim went to the site and asked the works’ manager if he could climb to the top of the
monument. He said, yes, if you sign a disclaimer, which Jim did. He climbed right to the top and
knelt down on the scaffold boards surrounding Britannia’s head. It was then he discovered she
was not facing towards Burnham Thorpe, as everyone had been led to believe: she is actually
facing towards where the Tollgate was on Southtown Road. Nelson landed at Gorleston on his
return from the Battle of the Nile in 1801, so would have passed through the Tollgate from Suffolk
into Norfolk. It is not recorded if he paid his penny.

Recently, Jim went to hospital with some pain and swelling and was diagnosed with a
strangulated hernia. When the doctor asked him what medication he was taking, and Jim told
him there was none, it surprised the doctor. He then asked what analgesic he took; Jim said he
took something about 37 years ago, but none since. He was successfully operated upon.

Regarding the destruction of part of the town wall, Mr. Holt pointed out that, in 1831, part of the
town wall was removed to build St. Peter’s Church, as were other parts of it for access and

The part of the wall destroyed at the Hospital School is as much a part of the history of the town
as any other changes thought necessary at the time as any other events.

Great Yarmouth
Town Wall by the
Hospital School,
June 2016
(Andrew Fakes)

The Sunningdale Holiday Camp, Links Road, Hopton-on-Sea
Ben Milner

Sunningdale was a small holiday camp on the south side of Links Road in Hopton and opened in
1925. Although the camp was advertised as being in Gorleston, it was actually in Hopton as
Links Road forms the boundary between the two parishes. Furthermore, this was before the
1974 Local Government Act and so Sunningdale was actually in Suffolk. The camp closed in
1970 and was replaced by The Fairway housing development.

Hopton’s holiday camps

Norfolk’s coastline was, and still is, a popular situation for holiday camps with numerous sites all
the way around from Hunstanton to Hopton. Camping first gained popularity in the late 19th
century, although these first camp sites were no more than fields offering basic facilities. The first
proper holiday camp to open in England was at Caister in 1906 and this set the scene for the east
coast to be inundated with similar ventures. Over time, the holiday camps modernised and
expanded, and started to offer more than just camping. Purpose-built accommodation became
available, as did dining rooms, tennis, bowls, live entertainment and open air swimming pools.

Hopton was the location of many such enterprises and the first to open was Hopton Holiday
Camp, in 1920. This was followed by Potter’s, which had moved from its original site in Hemsby
that had opened in 1920. Moody’s and the Constitutional Holiday Camp both followed in 1928
and the Golden Sands opened in 1932. Many more were to follow and at one time Hopton had
as many as 13 holiday camps. The 1950s and 60s were hugely successful times for holiday
camps, with visitors arriving by train, bus and, latterly, by car. It was not until the late 1960s and
1970s that cheap foreign holidays, and the changing habits of the British holidaymaker, became a
threat to their existence.

This was a pivotal time for the holiday camps in Hopton. They tended either to reinvent
themselves and expand, or to close, and ultimately be redeveloped into housing for the
expanding population of Hopton. Of the five original holiday camps in Hopton, only two still
survive today. Potter’s is now a leisure resort and known as Potter’s Resort. The Constitutional
Holiday Camp also remains, now as Hopton Holiday Village, having expanded and encompassed
several of the neighbouring holiday camps.

Gorleston too had a large holiday camp of its own, which was the Gorleston Super Holiday Camp
on the corner of Lowestoft Road and Bridge Road, opened in 1937. This experienced similar
success and expansion in the middle of the 20th century, and latterly was renamed Elmhurst
Court, but it closed in the early 1970s. The Sunningdale Holiday Camp was a much smaller affair
than these larger and more well-known camps.

Pre-Sunningdale era

Many years before the Sunningdale Holiday Camp opened, early maps show that the area to the
south of Links Road was known as Camp Common. This was said to be a place to which
Romany gypsies travelled before camping in their horse-drawn caravans as they travelled around
the countryside. This may have been a precursor to the area eventually becoming a holiday

Links Road at this time began at the junction with Lowestoft Road and headed east towards the
sea. Marine Parade in Gorleston had not opened by then, and instead of joining the seafront,
Links Road turned into Warren Road. This ran south to the manor house in Hopton and past
where the Constitutional Holiday Camp was eventually built. The whole area was very rural and
occupied by smallholdings, orchards and farm fields. The first significant development in the area
was in 1903, when the Great Eastern Railway and the Midland and Great Northern Railway
companies opened a line from Great Yarmouth to Lowestoft. This crossed Links Road on a
bridge with an embankment either side to raise the tracks. The railway eventually formed the
eastern boundary of the Sunningdale Holiday
Camp. Gorleston Golf Club relocated to
Warren Road in 1913, moving from its original
position further north along Gorleston cliffs. It
then opened a clubhouse on the corner of
Warren Road and Links Road. Soon after, the
golf club lobbied the railway company, asking
them to provide a station for the benefit of
their golfers. In 1914, Gorleston Links Halt
was opened and accessed by a footpath
leading up from Links Road. This was
featured in advertisements for the
Sunningdale Holiday Camp, stating that it was
only 80 yards from the railway. For a number
An advert for Sunningdale from the 1958 Great
of years, Links Road was actually named Golf
Yarmouth and Gorleston-on-Sea holiday guide.
Links Road, although it eventually returned to Several types of accommodation are offered, from
its original name. bungalows and chalets to caravans. The camp is
well situated, being only 80 yards from buses and
Opening of Sunningdale the railway, and 400 yards from the beach

The Sunningdale Holiday Camp opened in 1925 on a corner of land bordered by Links Road to
the north and the Great Yarmouth to Lowestoft railway line to the east. The site occupied about
three acres, which was smaller than other camps that were opening at around the same time
further south in Hopton. Like many camps, Sunningdale was basic when it first opened and
offered little more than an open space for camping. As time went on, the camp developed and
started to offer static accommodation. This early permanent accommodation was made from
redundant railway carriages that were converted to provide basic sleeping and living spaces.
They were made from wood and had small windows along each side, and are likely to have dated
from around the 1880s.

Plan of one of the chalets at Sunningdale.

With two bedrooms and a sofa bed, the
chalets were advertised as being able to
sleep up to six people. They also had
Map of the Sunningdale Holiday Camp as it was in the 1950s. mains water, their own toilet, electricity
The entrance was from Golf Links Road (now Links Road) and and gas cooking
the camp offered chalets, bungalows and space for caravans
and tents, as well as a general store

The modernisation continued and, in the 1950s, the former railway carriages were themselves
replaced by more up-to-date brick built chalets and bungalows. The building work was carried out
by Mr. Peacock, the brother of Miss Peacock, who owned the site along with Miss Scott. The
chalets had three rooms, two bedrooms and a kitchen/lounge. They were advertised as being
able to sleep four to six people, the additional space being provided by a sofa bed. The chalets
boasted electric lighting and gas cooking. The bungalows were larger and more luxurious, having
three bedrooms with sleeping for six people. They also offered mains water and came with their
own toilet. Caravans and camping pitches were still available on the southern part of the camp,
and caravans could also be hired at the site. A camp shop was opened, which was situated at
the entrance into the site from Links Road. The shop was advertised as a general store and sold
everything that a camper might need for their stay, from groceries, to newspapers, to beachwear,
cigarettes, camera films and ice-creams.

Looking south from the entrance to the camp. A row of chalets which, according to advertisements,
The larger building on the right was for storage, had three rooms and accommodation for four to six
but had previously been a play area. In the people. In the background can be seen Links Road
background is the area for caravans and tents, and slightly further back the railway bridge and
and beyond that farm fields embankment which was just south of Gorleston
Links Halt station on the line from Great Yarmouth to

The old railway carriages that

were no longer needed, after
being replaced by chalets,
were removed from the
camp. Several of the
properties to the west of
Sunningdale along Links
Road acquired these railway
carriages and used them for
a variety of purposes, such
as playrooms or for storage.
A number even continued to
be used as camping
accommodation in the private
grounds of some of the
houses along Links Road.

Sunningdale remained a
small and select holiday
camp and never did offer the One of the old wooden railway carriages that had been used on the
array of facilities and camp as the first permanent accommodation and likely dates from the
entertainment that was 1880s. They were replaced by brick chalets; this carriage had been
available at the larger camps moved to the property next door and converted into a playroom
in Hopton. Sunningdale was
more secluded with plenty of open space, and surrounded by farm fields and smallholdings,
although it was conveniently close to the railway and only 400 yards from the beach. Families
would typically return to Sunningdale year after year, getting to know the other campers and
camp staff, as was common and part of the charm of the smaller holiday camps. The owners,
Miss Peacock and Miss Scott, lived on the site in the Sunningdale bungalow. Most of the work in
the camp was done by a neighbouring family, the Greens, with the father employed as the
maintenance man, and his sons and daughters also working at the camp, tending to the grounds
and cleaning the chalets. At that time, campers had to bring their own bed linen with them.

Towards the end of the 1960s, demand

for holiday camps was falling with many of
those in Hopton starting to decline. The
holiday trains that brought holidaymakers
to Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft, and to
the villages in between, had also become
less frequent. In May 1970, Gorleston
Links Halt railway station closed along
with the entire line from Great Yarmouth
to Lowestoft. It was also around this time
that the Sunningdale Holiday Camp
closed. The south Gorleston area leading
up to the holiday camp had begun to
change, with much new housing being
built. The Yallop Avenue area was The camp shop, which was on the left-hand side by the
developed for housing and was part of the entrance from Links Road. The shop is selling a good
larger Cliff Park estate. Even the fields range of provisions, from tinned food to fresh milk,
on the north side of Links Road, opposite newspapers and Senior Service cigarettes. The shop has
all the items that a well-equipped holidaymaker might
Sunningdale, were built on and replaced
need: beach hats, postcards, Ilford films, beach balls and
by housing. even Don’s ice-cream, which is advertised as being
smoother, sweeter and richer!
Not long after the Sunningdale Holiday
Camp had closed, the site was sold to a
local builder, Mr. Louis Parker of Ormesby, for redevelopment into housing. This was to be
known as the Sunningdale Estate. Planning permission was granted by the East Suffolk Council
in September 1971 and building commenced. The three day week of the early 1970s was to slow
progress, but the first houses were sold in 1973 and the remaining properties soon after. Once
completed, the development was renamed The Fairway, reflecting its position close to Gorleston
Golf Club. The chalets and camp shop were demolished in the redevelopment for housing, but
the original bungalow at the entrance to the camp survived. It now sits at the entrance to the The
Fairway, although no longer has the name Sunningdale. This is all that remains today of the
Sunningdale Holiday Camp.

The bungalow known as Sunningdale at the entrance The former Sunningdale bungalow that was at the
to the holiday camp, where the owners lived. The entrance to the holiday camp. The picture was
bungalow has changed very little and looks almost taken in 2021 and shows that the bungalow looks
the same today, but is now situated on the corner of almost unchanged, but its surroundings are
The Fairway. The tree, though, has gone unrecognisable since housing development in the
1970s and the building of The Fairway
Many thanks to Mrs. Brenda Green who, along with several members of her family, worked at the
Sunningdale holiday camp in the 1950s and provided the pictures and much information used in
this article.

The Mystery of John Rowe
Colin Tooke

The present parish church of Holy Trinity in Caister dates from the 13th century and, like all
medieval churches, many alterations, renovations and extensions have been carried out since the
original build. The last extension to the Church of Holy Trinity took place in 2004, when building
work commenced to provide a modern multi-purpose room and toilet on the north side of the
church, using the existing blocked up north door as the access to the new facilities.

Before work on the extension could begin, a team from Archaeological Services, based at
Heckingham, carried out an archaeological investigation on the north side of the church on the
site of the proposed new building. The site
was excavated to the natural sand level and
apart from the expected bones only a small
amount of broken pottery was found, pottery
that has been dated to the early medieval
period, contemporary with the building of
the church. No coins or other artefacts
were found.

When the new extension had been roofed it

was necessary to open up the old north
doorway of the church, which had been
bricked up since the 19th century. After the
removal of some plaster and brick, the
doorway was found to have been blocked
The extension on the north side of the church with a large slab of slate measuring 42
inches by 85 inches. The slab, weighing
over one ton, bore an inscription indicating
that at one time it had been a ledger stone covering an interment somewhere inside the church.
It was thought that the north door had been blocked up during the late Victorian restoration of the
church in 1894, a time when among other improvements the church floor had been raised and
heating pipes installed. At this time, the stone must have been lifted from its original, now
unknown, position. Two names were inscribed on the stone: John Rowe, Alderman and twice
Bailiff of Yarmouth, died June 1678, aged 76; and Mary
Hill, widow, died 31st October 1732, aged 81.

John Rowe, Gentleman, was a Bailiff and Alderman of

Great Yarmouth, holding the office of Bailiff three times
(although the inscription states ‘twice Bailiff’) in 1622,
1637 and 1669. He was born in 1602, when Elizabeth I
was on the throne, and lived through one of the most
turbulent times in our history, the English Civil War.

By 1642, the country had become divided in its loyalty

between the King and Parliament, and the town of Great
Yarmouth, safely locked behind its town wall and
governed by two Bailiffs, declared its allegiance for
Parliament. John Rowe was at that time a respected and
prominent citizen of the town, having already held the
office of Bailiff twice. He played an important role in the
town’s affairs throughout the Civil War. Bailiff Rowe lived
in a town house in the Market Place at the south-east
corner of Row 35, a row which at that time was known as
Rowe’s Row. The house had been built for Rowe and his
wife in 1640, a date known from records of a carving on
the chimneypiece. The north doorway opened up

In 1648, Rowe subscribed £20 to a fund
being raised for the payment of soldiers
and the provision of horses, arms and
ammunition in the fight between the King
and Parliament. The years of the Civil
War brought great hardship to the town;
the fishing industry had declined when the
royalist sympathisers dominated sea

After the restoration of the monarchy in

1660, the town swiftly changed its
allegiance and, when Charles II renewed
the town’s charter three years later, John
Rowe was named as an Alderman. In The large ledger stone which had blocked the doorway
1669, he was elected Bailiff for the third
time. Charles II visited Great Yarmouth on 28th September 1671, accompanied by the Duke of
York (later to become James II), the Duke of Monmouth and the Duke of Buckingham. The King
stayed with Bailiff Thomas Johnson at his house on South Quay and the noblemen in the royal
party were lodged with Bailiff Rowe at his house in the Market Place. It was later reported that his
Majesty was: infinitely pleased with the town and port and said he did not think he had such a
place in his dominions. Row 35 does not exist today, but the shop of Hayes Travel, at number 20
Market Place, now stands on the site of Rowe’s fine 17th century town house.

There is no record of Rowe’s baptism in the Caister parish records, but the church registers do
confirm that John Rowe, Gentleman, was buried in Caister church on 27th June 1678, John
Gibson being rector at that time. A person of Rowe’s standing in the town would normally have
been interred in the town’s parish church of St. Nicholas. The question arises why Rowe, a
prominent and well-off Great Yarmouth citizen, who does not appear to have been born in the
village or, as far as is known, had any connections with the village during his lifetime, was interred
at Caister.

Of Mary Hill nothing is known except

that she was an 81 year-old widow
when she died. No record of her
burial can be found in the parish
registers for 1737. Records of the
Caister United Charities show that in
1736 Mary Hill left £100 to a Caister
charity to be used for: apprenticing to
some useful trade or business
deserving and necessitous children
with preference to those who were
Stone inscription for John Rowe orphans. As her name is on the
same stone as John Rowe it must be
assumed that they were in some way
related. The stone was re-laid in the
floor close to the north door when
the building work was completed.
The mysteries remain; why John
Rowe was interred in Caister Parish
Church, what connection did he have
with Caister, and what was his
relationship to the rich widow Mary
Hill? An intriguing story to which
Stone inscription for Mary Hill future historians may find the

The Grave of David Bartleman, Master Mariner
with more than the honours of a conqueror
A Link to the War of American Independence (1776-1783)
Trevor Nicholls

Here, in St. Nicholas' Churchyard, is a link to the War of American Independence. David
Bartleman and Daniel MacAuley lost their lives in the engagement described on the memorial
stone. The origin of the skirmish off the Norfolk coast might be traced to a battle 3,000 miles
away at Saratoga, New York where, in October 1777, British arms under General Gentleman
Johnny Burgoyne were defeated by the American Continental Army, under General Horatio
Gates. The colonists' victory convinced King Louis XVI that the American War was worthy of
French support since together, they would defeat the British. Consequently, early in March 1778,
Great Britain was simultaneously at war, as much at sea as on land, with the colonists, the
French, her Spanish allies from 1779 (although Spain was not formally allied with the republican
Americans), and the Dutch (the Dutch
were supplying the Americans with ships
etc.). Hostilities occurred in America,
the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, the
Channel, the North Sea, the Atlantic and
in the East Indies. Great Britain thus
faced the combined forces of the
Bourbons without a single Continental

Early in 1779, Benjamin Franklin (1706-

1790), who, having been the colonies'
agent in London before the war, knew
this country well, with the Marquis de
Lafayette (1757-1834), planned a full-
scale invasion in which 31,000 men in
66 ships would sail from Le Havre and
St. Malo to attack the Portsmouth area.2
That was not all. On 22nd March 1779,
Franklin wrote to Lafayette: It is certain
that the Coasts of England and Scotland
are extremely open and Defenceless;
there are also many rich Towns near the
Sea, which 4 or 5,000 Men landing
unexpectedly, might easily surprize and
destroy, or extract from them a heavy
Contribution, taking a part in ready
Money and Hostages for the rest.

He envisaged demands of two million

pounds or 48 millions of livres from Bristol
‘for the Town and Shipping’, 12 millions of
livres from Bath, 48 million from Liverpool,
The gravestone is located between the west end of the six from Lancaster and 12 million from
Minster and the gate leading into Northgate Street, and Whitehaven. Franklin then turns his
towards the south-west corner. It is known colloquially as attention to the East Coast:
the Pirate Stone. Previously in a very poor state and in
danger of becoming illegible, it has been restored by the
On the East Side, are the Towns of New
St. Nicholas Preservation Trust through sponsorship.
The letters were found to have been repainted at least twice
- Castle, Scarborough, Lyn and
and to have also been re-cut. Yarmouth from which very considerable
sums might be extracted. He continues:
Photo courtesy of Derek Leak And if among the Troops there are a few

Horsemen to make sudden incursions at some little Distance from the Coast, it would spread
Terror to much greater Distances and the whole would occasion Movements and Marches of
Troops that must put the Enemy to prodigious Expense and harass them exceedingly. Their
Militia will probably soon be drawn from the different Counties to one or two places of
Encampment, so that little or no Opposition can be made to such a Force as this above
mentioned in the Places where they may land .....On the whole, it would be encouraging to reflect
on the many Instances of History which prove that (in) War Attempts thought to be impossible, do
often, for that very Reason become possible and practicable because nobody expects them and
no Precautions are taken to guard against them ..

The invasion did not happen. The Spanish were slow, the French, long at sea, were ill-
provisioned and sickly. Storms had arrived.3 However, the Americans, who had only a few
frigates of their own, the origin of what in our own time would become the most powerful naval
force on Earth, relied very much on privateers: Armed vessels owned and officered by private
persons holding commissions of governments (letters of marque) and authorised to use them
against hostile nations, especially in capture of merchant shipping.4 Privateers were paid by the
governments who engaged them and kept the ransoms they demanded and received. A pirate
on the other hand acted on his own account. Privateers were well provisioned (from France) and,
until the Admiralty was able to find enough frigates, able to outrun Royal Naval pursuers.

Privateering became lucrative. The US Congress commissioned 1,700 privateers and the
individual states a further 2,000. They ranged from under 100 tons to 500 tons and the average
crew numbered 100 men. Between May 1776 and January 1778, those engaged by the
Congress took 700 ships, those by the states, 2,000. Sixty thousand Americans fought in the war
in this way. During the American War, 1776-1783, 3,000 British merchant ships (one-third of the
total) were lost to privateers. In London, marine insurance rates soared, the national economy
was jeopardised.5 To give balance, it should be remembered that Great Britain also used
privateers on a very considerable scale. The Great Yarmouth Admiralty Court had prize

Perhaps the most celebrated success was that of John Paul Jones (1747-1792), seen today as
the founder of the US Navy and who is buried at the Naval Academy in Annapolis. In 1778, fear
had gone through coastal areas, when a raid had been made on Whitehaven in which 30 men
had landed from a privateer, somewhat comically sending one of their number to tell
householders, at three o’clock in the morning, that the town was about to be set on fire, which did
not happen. But, in August 1779, after he had been forced by bad weather to abandon a raid on
Leith to demand ships and a ransom, Jones encountered a Baltic convoy of 40 merchantmen
escorted by H.M.S. Serapis, 44 guns, off Flamborough Head. Jones, with less fire-power and a
motley crew, after a four-hour engagement, forced the brand new British warship with a picked
crew to strike her colours before a crowd of spectators, estimated at 1,500, at Scarborough and
on the Head.6

It was against this background that the action involving Bartleman's ship took place on 31st
January 1781 off the Norfolk coast. Daniel Fall seems to have first appeared in the North Sea in
1780 and remained active there until April 1782, when he moved to the Irish Sea and where he
vanished from the records. A sea-wolf, he sometimes hunted alone, or otherwise with others in
small squadrons, for coastal traders, colliers sailing from Tyneside and the north-east coast to
London, and the Baltic convoys.

On 3rd February 1781, The Ipswich Journal reported that an American privateer had captured two
large colliers off Pakefield, that the Pegasus frigate from Great Yarmouth had gone out in pursuit
and had been unable to find them, but that the Fly man-o’-war from Hollesley Bay had done so
and had re-taken one of the merchantmen. Also, on 3rd February 1781,7 the same newspaper
reported, from Great Yarmouth, Fall's activity off the Norfolk coast in which he took several
colliers and coasters including The John Pearson of Shields (ransomed for 700 guineas), Smelt
Coxon of Shields (400 guineas), Fanny Porter of Great Yarmouth (300 guineas), and a snow from
Shields (400 guineas). In 1780, £100 was worth £8,610 at today’s value. This last vessel must
have been the Alexander and Margaret (a snow is a small sailing-vessel with two masts plus one
smaller one). The paper states that this last vessel engaged Fall for nearly three hours until the
mate was killed and the captain and two crew members wounded. Soon afterwards Fall was
reported off Orford Ness with a squadron of privateers from Dunkirk. In June 1781, Fall angered
his Dutch paymasters by capturing the Harwich packet boat, which the Dutch considered neutral.

Even as the February newspaper was published, a letter written by the Mayor of Great Yarmouth
was on its way to the Admiralty in London. It gave a much more detailed account of Fall's
activities in the preceding few days and the astonishing extent of them. The previous Wednesday
he had taken 24 sail of colliers and cutters off the Humber which, with others, were ransomed and
sent to Dunkirk. Soon afterwards, the Alexander and Margaret had been but one of 20 similar
vessels including five belonging to Great Yarmouth, which were ransomed and returned to their
home port.8 The Mayor complained that not one ship of war was stationed at Great Yarmouth,
apart from the Fly sloop, which had gone out in pursuit of Fall; that the Council had made frequent
representations to the Government about Fall's predations and the unprotected state of the town
and coast, and asked for the ordering forthwith of armed vessels to the Great Yarmouth station.

The Government despatched Lt. Gen. William Tryon (1729-1788), newly-appointed Commander
of the Eastern District, a man of great experience who, for the greater part of the preceding
decade, had been military and civilian Governor of New York and prior to that, of North Carolina
(see GYLHAS Journal, 2020). He established his headquarters at Somerleyton Hall.9 It is clear
that here, on the East Anglian coast, he had entered upon a situation which, until then, had been
characterised by procrastination. In fairness to the Government, once France, Spain and the
Dutch had sided with the American colonists, British arms were exceedingly stretched and it must
have been a matter of weighing the risk of invasion here against other interventions thought more
probable. The district, upon the outbreak of the American War in 1776, had been previously
inspected by Lord Amherst (1717-1797), who had been offered the command-in-chief in America,
but had declined it. Now, instead, he was commander-in-chief of the Army. It was his engineer,
Captain Thomas Hyde Page who, when Amherst had come to the area in 1776, had identified the
need to protect the Yarmouth Roads anchorage from the south: Lowestoft ought to be attended
to, as ships are obliged to come very near to the shore (through the Stanford Channel) to get into
Yarmouth Roads.10 It was also the case that the walled town of Great Yarmouth and the island of
Lothingland, with only four access points (the Haven Bridge, St. Olaves Bridge, Mutford (i.e.
Oulton Broad), and Lowestoft) would have had the potential for a strong base for an invasion
force11 making for Norwich, and the interior. Yet from 1776 until 1781 and the sending of the
Mayor's letter, neglect ensued. Now, in 1781-1782, firm action was taken. It was another military
engineer, Col. Bramham, who appraised the defence of the entire east coast of England, and who
actually recommended the new defences for Great Yarmouth12 : four batteries armed with
eighteen 24-pounders.

This is what was subsequently built on the Denes: the North Battery (star-shaped); the Town
Battery begun by the Council but completed by the Government; the South Battery (star-shaped)
and the rehabilitated old fort built in the 1650s at the Harbour's Mouth, now with a new Harbour
Battery. This last was the most heavily armed, having a total of 27 guns ranging from six to 32-
pounders. A small battery of six 24-pounders was built on the high ground at Gorleston,
overlooking the harbour's mouth (of which more later). Having regard to the earlier
recommendation, at Lowestoft the three existing forts were rebuilt: at the Ness (slightly to the
north of its present-day position); at the present-day Battery Green and a smaller one on the
promontory upon which the Royal Naval Patrol Service memorial now stands in, what is today,
Belle Vue Park. The scheme was completed with four 32-pounders on the cliffs at Pakefield,
which extended, then, approximately a quarter of a mile further eastward than today (the erosion
that occurred between 1840 and 1930 at this location was still many years ahead). Kent13
describes the North and South Forts at Great Yarmouth and the Ness and South Forts at
Lowestoft as substantial and well built. At the latter, under the supervision of Captain Fisher of
the Royal Engineers, the designs of Col. Debbieg were constructed by a team of 300 labourers.
No doubt, much the same applied at Great Yarmouth.

The three cannon at Belle Vue Park, Lowestoft, are 32-
Belle Vue Park pounders. Found at the Corporation depot in 1970 and
mounted on new carriages modelled on those at
Southsea Castle, they are dated respectively 1831,
1843 and 1868. They therefore post-date the
establishment of the battery here in 1781-82. However,
they show the size of the largest cannon at the Great
Yarmouth fortifications. With a range of three miles,
the cannon at this spot were well placed to guard the
southern entrance to Yarmouth Roads through the
Stanford Channel. They, like those at Great Yarmouth,
had furnace-houses for heating shot to red-heat. (Kent
p.211, PRO WO/30/67). Quaere: Is this the origin of
the expression 'Hot Shot'; somebody who gets things
done? Under the 1781-82 improvements, the original
cannon here were four 18-pounders. They were ready
After the vehemence of its letter to the
to fire five celebratory salvos to mark the Treaty of
Admiralty, the Great Yarmouth Council Paris which, in September 1783, marked the end of the
simultaneously and amusingly compromised American War (Kent p.163, PRO SUPP 5-46 p.427)
the merits of its claim for protection and
showed the danger of leaving technical matters to amateurs. Kent14 notes that, following the
appointment of Gen. Tryon, the Council wrote to him explaining the type of defence they would
prefer. They wanted an old 50-gun ship-of-the-line, crewed by superannuated seamen from the
Royal Hospital, Greenwich. This floating battery manned by nautical geriatrics, as Kent describes
them (p. 209), the Council felt, would deter the combined fleets of France, Spain and the
Netherlands and at the same time save the town from the thieving and rapacious soldiery, whose
presence land bases would necessitate. Tryon, who had had years of experience dealing with
both local politicians and those of very great consequence in New York and North Carolina,
persuaded the Council instead to contribute £100 towards the building of what would become the
middle fort on the Denes, hence its name, the Town Fort, and towards the other emplacements.15
The Council ran out of money and, as stated above, the Government took over. Thus, drawing a
line from the Alexander and Margaret incident to the completion of all these works, the objective
of protecting the easternmost ten miles of the coast of England would be well achieved.

Meanwhile, a little under nine months after the deaths of Bartleman and MacAuley, Lord
Cornwallis wrote to Sir Henry Clinton (1730-1795), Commander-in-Chief in America from
Yorktown, Virginia on 20th October 1781: I have the mortification to inform your Excellency that I
have been forced to give up the posts of York and Gloucester and to surrender the troops under
my command, by capitulation on the 19th inst. as prisoners of war to the combined forces of
America and France.16

General Charles Cornwallis (1739-1805), 1st Marquess, of Culford Hall near Bury St. Edmunds,
would be a successor to William Tryon as Commander of the Eastern District. He reviewed the
large number of troops and the defences at Great Yarmouth in 1796. He was later appointed
Governor General of India. Now, in October 1781, it was by no means certain that the American
War was over. King George III wanted it to continue and the colonies returned to the allegiance.
Both sides had suffered similarly large defeats before and New York remained in British hands.
The French were more interested in conquests in the West Indies than in liberating English
colonies17 and Spain in recovering Minorca and Gibraltar from British control. In the case of the
former, she succeeded following a siege that ended after seven months, in February 1782. A
third Spanish attempt to recover Gibraltar in September 1782 was reversed by the Royal Navy
under Admiral Lord Howe (1726-1799), who had previously commanded in North America.

Meanwhile, in Paris, peace negotiations were protracted and difficult. In November, the
Americans signed a secret provisional peace treaty with the British without consulting the
French.18 A formal preliminary treaty was signed at Versailles on 20th January 1783 between
France, Spain and Great Britain. The definitive treaty was concluded at Paris on 3rd September
1783 whereby, among many other agreements, Britain recognised the independence of the
United States of America; and Gibraltar remained British. During this period of international
tension, work on the defences at Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft continued apace: it was far from
certain how negotiations would end, and where the Anglo-French relationship in particular would
stand at their conclusion.
The Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft forts seem to have been maintained on a repair and
maintenance basis and thus were ready to be re-commissioned when, ten years after the Treaty
of Paris, war broke out between Great Britain and revolutionary France in 1793. Now the
defences of 1781-82 at Great Yarmouth came in for harsh criticism. It is of course the case that
in this, as in so many other situations, for every expert who recommends one course, another
specialist of equal competence and repute can often be found to express a contrary opinion.
The three Great Yarmouth beach batteries, it was asserted, were prone to having their protective
ditches filled with wind-blown sand, an eventuality that local knowledge and experience might
reasonably have foreseen and guarded against. Their gun-openings, pointing directly out to sea,
were vulnerable to fire from enemy vessels in the Roads and they were incapable of raking the
beach in the event of an enemy landing. It was proposed to rebuild, so that the guns were in the
sides of the structures. The severest criticism fell upon the Harbour Battery.19 It was totally
insignificant by the command of the heights of Gorleston on which it should have been originally
placed and as had been proposed in 1779. The small installation there should have been instead
a regular fort with 1,000 men, secure from assault by land and sea, and guarding both the
harbour and the anchorage. The fear of a French invasion died down after 1798, only to resurge
after the end of the short-lived Peace of Amiens, the Great Fear, which went through the country
in 1803, with Napoleon assembling his Army of England on the French coast. General J. H. Craig
inspected the town and observed: One thing is certain, the batteries now in existence do not in
the slightest degree tend to give any security to the place.20 He recommended a scheme
originally mooted by Captain Reynolds in 1798 for five Martello towers, from a point north of the
Harbour’s Mouth to the rising ground at Caister.21 With Nelson’s victory at Trafalgar in 1805, the
invasion threat once more declined. The towers were not built. It should be borne in mind that
the fortifications constructed under Tryon’s superintendence, in the event, were never put to the
test; there never was an invasion.
It strikes the author that, scaled
down, there is a similarity between
the situation at Great Yarmouth and
New York with which Tryon would
have been familiar. For a decade, his
official residence was at Fort George
at the southern tip of Manhattan,
having an armament of 90 guns. The
need was for an elevated powerful
military installation at this, an
extremely strategic point, that is,
protecting the tip of a peninsular, with
an important town behind it, an Great Yarmouth, Norfolk - J. M. W. Turner, 1829
anchorage, a river port and a river Turner must have been on or close to the spot now occupied
(the Hudson) giving access to the by the Cliff Hotel. It was this position that a respectable body
interior. Yet, Fort George, like the old of military opinion asserted should have been the site for the
Yarmouth Harbour's Mouth fort, was principal fortification guarding the Harbour’s Mouth, not the
just a few feet above sea level, whilst rehabilitated fort of 1653
across the East River, corresponding
to the high ground at Gorleston, rises Brooklyn Heights, giving a much wider rake of both land
and anchorage. It does not appear to have occurred to the British authorities to have put it to
best advantage, and neither did that happen when Tryon was in overall charge at Great
Yarmouth. That said, a later generation of strategists in 1859, reviewing the Harbour's Mouth
situation, opted for the course he had taken in 1781-82. With French naval power increasing, the
Government initially determined to place five heavy guns on Gorleston Cliffs, the old 18th century
emplacement of 1781-82 having long gone, but then decided instead to build a new battery at the
Harbour's Mouth.22 In the event, they did neither.
The 14th February 2021 was the 240th anniversary of the death at Great Yarmouth of David
Bartleman, aged 24. His epitaph is noble, simple and eloquent. It refers too, to Daniel MacAuley,
the mate of the vessel, who died at sea. If a generation is reckoned as 30 years, eight have
succeeded them. Only a few paces from the grave, in the quiet of the churchyard, the bustle of
the town and world has gone on largely oblivious to the presence here, due to a single episode, a
sea-fight off this coast, of a silent link with a pivotal moment in history, the founding of the United
States of America, which few at the time thought would long remain either united or a republic.

In this essay, the majority of references are to:
Kent, Peter, The Fortifications of East Anglia, Dalton, 1988, ISBN 0 86138 065 7
Wright, Esmond, The Fire of Liberty, (ed), Folio Society, London, 1983
Graham, G. S., The Royal Navy in the War of American Independence, National
Maritime Museum, HMSO 1976, p.8
Wright p.157
Wright p.159
Oxford English Dictionary
Wright p.137, and Strang, Britain in World Affairs, 1961, p.79
Wright p.159
Ipswich Journal, 3rd February 1781
Norfolk Record Office C/36/20 (9)
Palmer, C. J., Perlustration of Great Yarmouth, Vol. II, pp.268, 3 vols., 1871-75
Kent p. 160, BL King's xvii 16 b
Kent p. 211, see also Parker, A. G., The Defences of Lowestoft, (Lowestoft Arch. and
Loc. Hist. Soc. Annual Report Vol 16, 1983-84)
General Report of the tour round the East Coast to Berwick, Col. Bramham, 1781,
Birch Papers, Royal Artillery Institution, Woolwich, (C.J.N. Trollope) and
PRO WO/30/67; PRO WO/30/59 (73-119)
Kent p. 161 and 210 PRO SUPP/5-46
Kent p. 209 NRO C/36/20(9)
Palmer, C. J., The History and Antiquities of Great Yarmouth, p.82
Wright p.237 and Yarmouth Archaeology 1985 Vol. 2 No. 2, p.92
Graham, G. S., National Maritime Museum, ibid. p. 21
Wright p. 245
Kent p. 211 PRO WO/30/101/(21)
Kent p. 211 PRO WO/30/100/(165)
Kent p. 211 PRO WO/30/100/(19)
Kent p. 213 PRO WO/33/10 and Yarmouth Archaeology 1985 Vol. 2 No. 2 p.92
Kent p. 218 PRO WO/192/266
McCullough, David, 1776, p.126, Simon and Shuster, 2005

The author is grateful to the Chairman of the Society, Dr. Paul Davies, for access to his notes on
David Bartleman's grave and to Chris Brooks for his notes on the guns at Belle Vue Park. The
grave is mentioned in Dr. Davies' Stories Behind the Stones, the Churchyard and the Old and
New Cemeteries at Great Yarmouth (2008), ISBN 978-0-9544509-3-9.
This essay is a sequel to that by the
same author, on Margaret Tryon, wife of
Lieutenant General William Tryon, which
was published in the 2020 journal of the
society, Yarmouth Archaeology and
Local History.
If William Tryon, and those under him,
failed to act upon the strategic advantage
of Brooklyn Heights, the Americans did
not. In 1776, they constructed the 8-gun
Fort Stirling there. 24
Readers with an interest in the technical James Stark - The Mouth of the Yare
details of the fortifications, that is, both
structure and armaments, are referred to Kent, Fortifications of East Anglia (see references).
This extremely comprehensive work contains diagrams of all the 1781-82 emplacements at Great
Yarmouth and Lowestoft and, from the mid-19th century, photographs. It also has a print of the
Norwich School painting by James Stark c1830 of the old Harbour's Mouth Fort shortly before
part of it collapsed into the river and the rest was soon afterwards demolished. The
modernisation, but also eventual disuse and decay of the emplacements constructed under
William Tryon's superintendence in 1781-82 and the re-use of the sites, are described. For
instance, the South Battery is still, just, within living memory. The site was sold to Great
Yarmouth Corporation in 1924 for one of the first council housing schemes in the Borough. The
name ‘Battery Road’ is a reminder of the
site's long military association, as, at
Lowestoft, is the similarly named Battery
Green Road.

The subject of the town's defences is

covered in depth in a previous society
publication, Yarmouth Archaeology 1985,
Vol 2, No.2, by George Rye and Colin
Tooke. It mentions the old Harbour Fort
as described by John Preston in his 1819
publication Pictures of Yarmouth, then
mounted with six 24-pounders and four 6-
pounders. Unused for many years, it is
said by Preston to have been kept in
good repair, as were also the three beach Fort and Mouth of the Yare
batteries mounted with 32-pounders. from John Preston’s Picture of Yarmouth 1819

In fact, it would not be until 1940 that heavy guns were placed on Gorleston Cliffs; at the old pre-
1974 county boundary, where today there is a public car park, opposite the Yallop Avenue
junction.23 Their function, as in 1781-82, had been to protect the anchorage, the coast and the
harbour entrance. Also in 1940, as had been anticipated at the 1776 inspection, it was foreseen
that Great Yarmouth might make a stronghold and break-out point for an invading army.
Accordingly, during World War II, gun emplacements on all four main roads, faced towards the
If Benjamin Franklin, who was one of the peace commissioners at Paris in 1783, ever disclosed
the size of the ransom he supposed could have been extracted from Great Yarmouth, it is a detail
lost to posterity!
There was a wooden statue of David Bartleman at North Shields, from which seamen cut pieces
to bring good luck as they set out on their voyages. If Alexander Bartleman was the owner of the
Alexander and Margaret, David Bartleman was sailing his father’s ship.
Bromholm Priory - A Local Canterbury or Lourdes?
Andrew Fakes

Bromholm Priory in the parish of Bacton is a ruined religious house whose story involves many of
the important aspects of English and even European history. Although it was on a remote
location on the east coast of Norfolk, it was clearly important to much of England and beyond. It
had religious and royal connections: dissent, rebellion, the dissolution of the monasteries, as well
as coastal erosion, were all parts of its history.

The Priory was dedicated

to: the Honour of God, St.
Andrew and St. Mary and
was the only major site of
medieval pilgrimage in
East Norfolk. Perhaps of
lesser importance than the
Shrine of Our Lady at
Walsingham, it attracted
pilgrims in large numbers
as it was thought to have
a piece of the true cross.
This was said to have
been a piece of wood from
the cross on which Christ
was crucified. The relic
therefore had great
powers of healing and an
aura of sanctity for the
Christian faithful.
Bromholm Priory was an impressive building housing a large religious
The Cluniac order to community with numerous supporting staff. People from all over England
which Bromholm belonged were attracted as pilgrims and supplicants, including Royalty and great
had separated from the nobles. The picture is an artist’s impression of the funeral procession of
Benedictines in 910 A.D., John Paston in 1466, by James Mindham, for Paston Footsteps
but the monks were
governed by similar rules
without participating in manual labour, concentrating instead on copying out religious
manuscripts. The reforming order did not want to be submissive to church or lay interference, but
was very much under the governance of the Abbot, who was based at Cluny in Burgundy. He
always endeavoured to exercise control over daughter houses and to nominate their abbots and

The first Cluniac House in England was at Castle Acre in north Norfolk. It was founded in 1089
by William, Earl Warenne, who came to England with Wiiliam the Conqueror. He also founded
Lewes Priory in Sussex, and established small communities of monks at Thetford and Methwold
in Norfolk.

In 1113, a priory at Bromholm was founded as a Cluniac house by William de Glanville, Lord of
the Manor of Bacton. His son, Bartholomew, increased the endowment and it was dedicated in
honour of St. Andrew. For 100 years, the Cluniacs built up their community under the patronage
of Castle Acre Priory. In 1295, Pope Celestine relieved Bromholm from the control of Castle Acre
Priory when it was valued at £105.15.11d, indicating the increased power and wealth of
Bromholm, but still disputes went on involving Lewes Priory, which was theoretically the Mother

The story of the holy relic of Bromholm is interesting and shrouded in myth, but it was clearly
important to many people in the Middle Ages.

Richard Le Strange in his book, The Monasteries of Norfolk, recounts a story: Baldwin Count of
Flanders was made Emperor of Constantinople where he reigned for many years. He was
always being harassed by the infidel kings, against whom he marched. Before he went into
battle, he always paraded the Cross of Our Lord, and other relics before him and in front of his
enemies. On the last occasion he neglected to take the Cross with him and his carelessness cost
him his life.

He rushed upon his (Bulgarian) enemies with his small army, paying no regard to the multitude of
his foes, with the disastrous outcome that most of his men were killed or taken prisoner.

Count Baldwin himself was taken prisoner at Adrianople on 15th April 1205, but his own men
knew nothing of this and thought he was dead. He was actually killed the following year.

At this time, he had a chaplain of English extraction who, with his clerks, performed divine service
in the Emperor’s chapel and he had charge of the Emperor’s relics, rings etc.1

It is worth pointing out that Baldwin had not reigned in Constantinople for many years. The sack
of Constantinople in 1204 was one of the most shameful events of the Middle Eastern Crusades.
The city was Orthodox Christian, but a Catholic faction under the Doge of Venice wanted control
of the city’s trade and commercial links.
Constantinople was stormed by western
Christians, who behaved very badly, looting,
killing, raping and committing other atrocities
over three days. There are many artistic
treasures looted from Constantinople in Venice
to this day.2

Baldwin’s chaplain escaped from Constantinople,

returning to England with Baldwin’s ring, jewels,
two fingers of St. Margaret and the two pieces of
wood from the True Cross, which were said to be
about the size of a man’s hand. The cross was
referred to in Latin as Vera Crux.

Matthew Paris, the chronicler of St. Alban’s

Abbey, relates a narrative: although not unmixed
with legend, has added to much of the fame of

The Chaplain first took his loot to St. Alban’s

Abbey, but the monks there doubted its
authenticity of holy cross but they bought other
sacred items from him. At length, he reached the
poore chapel of Bromholm described as
altogether destitute of buildings. Here the prior
accepted him and the relic. He also accepted his
two children (indicating that he had not always
been celibate). This was in the year 1223 and
from that date the Bromholm Priory grew in size
A plan of the ruins of Bromholm drawn by a
and importance and became a place of
Mr. Spurden in 1822 copied from Gleanings
among the Castles and Convents of Norfolk, by pilgrimage.
Henry Harrod F.S.A., published by subscription in Matthew Paris continues: divine miracles began
Norwich 1887. Mr. Harrod says that when
to be wrought in that monastery, to the glory of
Spurden made his plan the foundations were
more distinct. He says the cross aisle was about the life-giving Cross; for there the dead were
115 feet long by 50 feet wide and the building was restored to life, the blind recovered their sight
in the late Norman style and the lame their power of walking; the skin of

lepers was made clean, and those possessed of devils were released from them; and any sick
person who approached the foresaid Cross with faith went away safe and sound. This said Cross
is frequently worshipped, not only by the English people, but by those from distant countries, and
those who have heard of divine miracles connected with it.3

David Dymond in his book The Norfolk Landscape recounts: 39 dead were restored to life, 19
blind people received their sight, others had their power of walking restored, the skins of the
lepers made clean and those processed of devils were released from them 4 (probably epilepsy or
psychiatric disorders).

These were remarkable events but, no doubt, some health outcomes could result from
expectation or faith. Hope of a cure or the forgiveness of sins before entering eternity attracted
many people to Bromholm who might be in despair. Thus, they went on pilgrimage, bringing
money and gifts to Bromholm Priory.

In 1229, during the reign of Henry III, Bromholm was granted a Fair on Holy Cross Day (14th
September) and a Monday Market and, in 1234, he bestowed upon the Priory the privilege of
pillory and tumbrel (cucking stool, instruments of public humiliation, primarily for the offence of
scolding or back biting and less often for sexual offences). Clearly, they had power to administer
justice there. Henry III with his court visited the Priory in 1233. In 1289, the Priory was given the
parishes of Dilham, Honing and Keswick (now claimed by the sea). Records show that at one
time the Priory of Bromholm owned 56 properties in Norfolk and 16 in Suffolk. By 1298, 25
brethren were recorded as living in the priory (with an unknown number of lay brothers as
servants and other workers). Five masses were celebrated daily, three were sung and two were
spoken. King Edward II visited the Priory in 1313.

By 1385, the Priory was in some distress when they sought relief from taxation as their lands had
been much wasted by the sea and their house recently burned (possibly in the Peasants’ Revolt
of 1381).5

Miracles were ascribed to the relic, and its fame travelled as far as St. Mark’s Cathedral in Venice
when the alms collected on a Passion Sunday service were given to Bromholm for its relief.

The Cross of Bromholm is mentioned in medieval English literature and nationally known in two
famous books written at the end of the 14th century.

In William Langland’s poem, the Visions of Piers Plowman, the request occurs:
And Bidde the Roode of Bromholm.
Bring me out of dette.
(The Roode being the Cross and I assume ‘dette’ means debt, both spiritual and financial).

In Chaucer’s Reeve’s Tale the following line is invoked: Helpe Holy Cross of Bromholme. (The
Canterbury Tales was one the first books to be printed in the English language by William Caxton
using movable type).

Inevitably, money, good food and leisure led priests and monks to stray away from their original
vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. No longer administering to the spiritual needs of the
population was noticed. Many people were aware that the monasteries could be corrupt or
hypocritical. The expression used at the time for dissolute clergy was, that they were not in a
state of grace.

John Wycliffe (1329-1384), was sometimes called the Morning Star of the English Reformation.
He was an Oxford don and priest, who voiced his dissatisfaction in various writings against
corruption in the Church. He published his works as the Confessio in 1381 (the same year as the
Peasants’ Revolt). He felt that the clergy should not interfere in temporal (state) affairs. He felt
that transubstantiation of bread and wine in the Mass was doubtful, that veneration of relics was

idolatrous, a celibate priesthood led to sodomy and that the Bible should be available to read in
English. The government and the church hierarchy cracked down on Wycliffe’s followers after his
death. They were known as Lollards, who they called heretics and, in 1401, the church hierarchy
began to persecute them by handing them over to the civil authorities for burning at the stake.
(William Sawtre, a priest of St. Margaret’s in King’s Lynn, was burned at Smithfield on 2nd March
1401 and Thomas Bilney, another Norfolk priest, was burned at the Lollards Pit in Norwich in

There is evidence that Lollardy reached out as far as Bromholm. John Foxe (1516-1587), in his
Book of Martyrs, also known as The Acts and Monuments of the Christian Church, gives a
curious account of the alleged burning of Bromholm’s Cross at the beginning of the 15th century.
One Sir Hugh Pie, chaplain of Ludney,6 was accused before the Bishop of Norwich on 5th July
1424 for holding that people ought not to go on pilgrimage or to give alms save to beggars at their
doors, and that the image of the cross and other images ought not to be worshipped. He was
also accused of having ‘cast the cross of Bromholm into the fire to be burned, which he took from
one John Welgate of Ludney’. (however, Sir Hugh entirely denied these articles, and purged
himself by the witness of three laymen and three priests). At any rate the cross was not burnt, for
it was in evidence more than a century later.

The Paston family were great patrons of Bromholm Priory, so when Sir John Paston died in
London in 1466, his body was brought to Bromholm for burial, where his funeral was on a grand
scale. £5.13.4d was spent on a dole (hand out to the poor) and immense quantities of food and
drink were supplied. A London chandler was paid £5.19.4d and another chandler 33s.11¼d
(which was presumably for wax for candles) in addition to many torches of local supply; is it not
therefore wonderful that a glazier had to be paid 20d for taking out and afterwards resetting two
panes of the windows of the conventual church ‘to late owte the reke of the torches’. By his will
John Paston left to the prior 40/- and to each of the nine monks 6/8d. 9

Inevitably, the Paston family had their detractors as they had become rich from humble
beginnings and used their expertise in the law to profit over others. R. W. Ketton-Cremer
recounts a couple of stories suggesting that the tribe of Paston were not sane, or as they would
have said at the time, they lacked wit. The Paston family are described as, not beene witho’t a
good Foole these fifty yeares and upward. Sir Robert Bell offers to bestow (bequeath) on Mr.
Paston as an insult his wit, for his great-grandfather, his grandfather and father were all fooles.
The family were widely if cruelly mocked locally.

The Paston Family probably gained the reputation of being cursed with insanity arriving from an
incident whereby an unnamed Paston bequeathed money or land to the Priory. However, his heir
disputed this legacy and moved to retake his father’s property. It was said that, This surprise
caused great consternation in ye whole society, and put all upon earnest application to ye
Gentleman to come off his sacrilegious intention as they called it. It seemed they repeated their
address with great Zeal, but to no effect. The abbot and the monks went to the abby prostrating
themselves on the floor and besought him to change his purpose, offering strong arguments and
particularly not to expose himself and family to ye anger of ye Blessed Virgin and ye Saints and
ye curse of God. But the Gentleman remained obstinate and immoveable, Hereupon, all rising up
the Abbot said to ye Gentleman, Sir, since you are thus inexorable and cruel to us and our
Brethren, and house you shall certainly from henceforth always have one of your Family a Fool,
till it is become poor. This said they all turn’d out.

Christopher Paston, son of Sir John Paston, who founded North Walsham Grammar School, was
adjudged to be an idiot by a jury in Norwich in 1611.

This story involving unnamed players became The Curse of the Pastons, supposedly delivered by
the Abbot of Bromholm, but he would have actually have been the Prior, and the Abbey a priory.
Many Pastons went on to great success, but there was a persistent strain of mental illness in the
family. When William, 2nd Paston Earl of Yarmouth, died on 25th July 1732, all his children had
pre-deceased him and he was described as being mentally defective, and his affairs were in a
state of considerable confusion.
Ruins of Bromholm Priory, August 2012 (photo courtesy of Derek Leak)
It is remarkable that Bromholm Priory has survived as well as it has. Norfolk is famously short of building
stone and many monastic buildings have been treated as a quarry by later generations

The fate of the relic has not been established. There is a theory that at the Dissolution it was
taken by one of the Paston family, who were always closely connected to Bromholm priory, and
was sent to a nunnery in Yorkshire.

The Victoria History of the County of Norfolk on the Dissolution recounts: The so-called visitation
of Legh and Leyton early in 1538, noted a cross called The Holy Cross of Bromholm, the girdle
and milk of the Virgin, and pieces of the crosses SS Peter and Andrew. They also alleged that
Prior and three of his monks had confessed to them of their incontinency. (Probably a sexual
misdemeanour). 9

The Victoria History continues: The county Commissioners for Suppression, later in the same
year, described Bromholm as a head house of the Cluniac order, of the clear yearly value of
£109.0s.8d. They found four religious persons, all priests and requiring dispensations, adding
that they bene of very good name and fame. There were thirty three other persons having a living
there, namely four waiting servants, twenty six labourers and hinds(?) and three almoners. The
House was in good repair, and the bells and lead valued at £200. The movable goods, cattle,
and corn were valued at £49, and a hundred acres of wood at £66.13s.4d.

On 2nd February 1537, Richard Southwell wrote to Thomas Cromwell that he had in his charge
the cross of Bromholm, which he would bring up after the suppression or sooner if Cromwell
wished it. On 26th February he wrote again to Cromwell, saying that he had delivered the cross
of Bromholm to the late prior of Pentney (a large Abbey near King’s Lynn) the bearer of both letter
and relic.

Later, Robert Southwell, solicitor to the Court of Augmentation, had grant made to him by royal
warrant of Bromholm Priory with all its manors, lands, advowsons and pensions. Prior Lakenham
(the last Prior) obtained a pension of twenty marks.

The priory (land and buildings) was granted (sold) to Sir Thomas Wodehouse of Waxham.

There are stories that Bromholm was bombarded by cannon fire during the English Civil War.
Cromwell’s forces were supposed to have attacked the priory from Butt Hill. I doubt this story as
there is no mention in Ketton-Cremer’s book Norfolk in the Civil War.7 A cannon ball was
reported as having been found on the site, but this could have been brought here rather than
fired. As in Ireland, all damage and harm are laid at the hands of Oliver Cromwell.

The ruined gatehouse of
Bromholm Priory,
Derek Leak, August 2012

The Chapter House,

Bromholm Priory,
Derek Leak, August 2012

Pill box gun emplacement Bromholm Priory (1940), The ruins still stand at an
Andrew Fakes, August 2012 impressive height,
Andrew Fakes, August 2012
Although St. Nicholas Church in Great Yarmouth had various holy relics, none seem to have
attracted such supposedly devotional items as the objects with direct links to Christ as those at
Bromholm. The pilgrims brought great riches to the priory and no doubt many gained solace and
healing from their visit there. The validity of Bromholm’s relics is, of course, very easy to doubt in
a scientific or any age.

There was no way of testing the authenticity of the revered objects, but many had faith in them.
Eventually many monasteries were seen as being corrupt and the monks lived a luxurious
lifestyle without providing any useful service to the surrounding community. The regime of Henry
VIII took advantage of this, for better or worse. The Almighty chose not to strike down those who
were destroying buildings erected in his glory and, as they say, the rest is history.

When I last visited Bromholm Priory with Dr. Tim Pestell and the Norfolk & Norwich Archaeological
Society, he was upset that a slit had been made in the base one the buildings, to serve as a World
War II pill box. While I have some sympathy for this view, I feel that changes and alterations in the
usage of the buildings are as much a part as any to the history of the site, and its ruins.

Le Strange, Richard, The Monasteries of Norfolk, Yates Publishing, 1973
Bartlett, W. B., God Wills It! An Illustrated History of the Crusades, Sutton Publishing, 1999
Paris, Matthew, Chronica Majora, (St. Albans)
Dymond, David, The Norfolk Landscape, Alastair Press, 1990
Malster, Robert, The Norfolk & Suffolk Broads, Phillimore, 2003, quoting William Dutt
Although the sources quote Hugh Pye a chaplain of Ludney as coming before the Bishop of Norwich, I
cannot find such a place in Norfolk. There is a village in Lincolnshire and another in Somerset of that
name, but I suspect Ludney may be a misreading of a medieval manuscript and it could refer to
Ludham, only a few miles from Bromholm. However, I can find no record of Hugh Pye there
Ketton-Cremer, R. W., Norfolk in the Civil War, a Portrait of a Society in Conflict, Faber & Faber, 1969
Norfolk Heritage Explorer, Document Reference 1073
Page, William, FSA., (edited), The Victoria History of Norfolk, Archibald Constable, London (1906)
From the Original Papers of the Norfolk & Norwich Archaeological Society entitled Two Doubtful
Points of Norfolk History, by R.W. Ketton-Cremer, Vol. XXVIII Part III (1944)

The Priory is on the private land of Abbey Farm, and permission has to be sought before visiting the
The only source for artwork and texts from Bromholm Priory is a 1944 edition of Norfolk Record
Society’s annual publication.
This article was written in 2021 during the lockdown for the Covid-19 virus. It has been written from
books I have available to me and with information from the internet. Further information may come to
light in future.
In Chaucer’s Reeve’s Tale, the following line is invoked:

The miller’s fall started her out of sleep Helpe Holy Cross of Bromholme Keep me Lord! Into thy
hands! to you I call.
The Canterbury Tales was one the first books to be printed in the English language by William
Caxton (using movable type).
The Results of New Research into the History of the Paston Family
Another Paston Woman Discovered
Andrew Fakes

The conference on The Pastons, Great Yarmouth and their World, held at the Imperial Hotel on
19th October 2019, proved a great success, raising the profile of Great Yarmouth Local History
and Archaeological Society in particular, and the town in general.

A further piece of interesting information has arisen as a result of the conference regarding
Constance Paston, which resulted from a conversation between the churchwarden at Clippesby
Church (near Acle), Mrs. Jean Lindsay, and Jane Clayton, a PhD student at the University of
Surrey who has recently uncovered new evidence concerning the life of Constance, the daughter
of John Paston II. The article outlining her research, Discovering Constance Paston: illegitimate
daughter of John Paston II, is soon to be published in the journal Medieval Feminist Forum.

The following records an interview between Jane Clayton and Diane Watt of Surrey University.

Diane: Can you tell me about who Constance Paston was?

Jane: Constance Paston was the illegitimate daughter of Sir John Paston (1442-1479), also
known as John Paston II, to distinguish him from his father, John Paston I, and his younger
brother John Paston III. He was the eldest son of John Paston I and Margaret Mautby Paston,
who is significant as a medieval woman for having composed 104 of the Paston Letters.

Constance Paston’s mother was, almost certainly, the young woman who signs herself
Constance Reynyforth in her single surviving letter, on which John II records the date and her
name as Custaunce Raynsford. Despite considerable research, I have been unable to trace
her. She may have belonged to the Rainsford family of Bradfield, Essex; her letter suggests that
her uncle was a gentleman who employed several men.

Diane: Why didn’t we know about Constance Paston before?

Jane: What we did know was that her mother, Constance Reynyforth, on 21st March 1478, wrote
to her lover, John Paston II, asking for his assistance in a plot to deceive her family into letting her
go, unchaperoned, so that she could secretly meet him. This letter survives in the Paston Letters
collection. The only time when their daughter, Constance, is named in the collection, is when, on
4th February 1482, her paternal grandmother, Margaret Mautby Paston, left Constance a bequest
in her will, to Custaunce, bastard doughter of John Paston, knyght, whan she is xx yer of age x

Beyond these two entries nothing more was known of the child, neither her name nor her
whereabouts. John II died in London in November 1479, probably of plague. The disappearance
of Constance Reynyforth from the record suggests that she may have died as a result of
childbirth, or of the plague that killed her lover, or she may have been compelled to enter a
nunnery for having disgraced her family.

Diane: What did you find out about Constance Paston and how did you discover more about her?

Jane: This research arose from a chance meeting. At a Paston Conference, in Great Yarmouth, I
happened to be sitting next to a churchwarden of St. Peter’s Church, Clippesby, Norfolk, who
showed me a print of the drawing by John Sell Cotman of a monumental brass, which still
survives in the church. One of the heraldic shields on the brass had, on the right, which is the
female side, the Paston arms. Recalling Colin Richmond’s note of Roger Virgoe’s record that a
John Clippesby married an unsurnamed Constance, I immediately suspected that I had found
her, and once I had, theoretically, located her as a married woman at Clippesby, the research
became more focused.

A history of the parish of Clippesby revealed that, in 1515, after her husband’s death, Constance,
with the help of her cousin, William Paston IV, maintained the wardship of her eldest son and
control of the family land and, in 1526, granted the same son his marriage, because of his good
behaviour towards her.

Furthermore, I discovered a letter in the Paston collection to her uncle, John Paston III, in which
she is referred to indirectly as your nyce, which showed that she was a member of his household,
and that, unlike her Paston aunts and female cousins, she had been allowed to marry the man
she loved, John Clippesby. Other sources suggest that she had four children who survived to
adulthood, but that she died before reaching the age of 61 years.

Diane: Today it might seem odd to think that in the Middle Ages illegitimate children were
accepted by their families. Was that uncommon?

Jane: It seems that a tolerant attitude was

taken in the Middle Ages to the sowing of
wild oats by young men, in fact three of
Margaret Mautby Paston’s five sons fathered
an illegitimate child, as did her uncle. In all
these cases the child was taken in and cared
for by the women of the family (except,
fascinatingly, when, in one case, the child’s
mother was married, and the king prevented
the young man claiming the child, as the
woman’s husband was alive).

It is impossible to know whether the mothers

of these children had any say in what
happened to their babies; probably the power
to take or leave an illegitimate child was in
the hands of its father. In fact, the paternity
of many illegitimate children may have been
denied, a situation which probably went
unrecorded, so our evidence about this
subject may be very unreliable. An
illegitimate child seems to have gained in
importance if it was a man’s only surviving
child, though child mortality was so high that
perhaps any surviving child was seen as

The same tolerance of unmarried sex was

not shown to women, in fact the polar
opposite applied; chastity was crucial to a
woman’s reputation, and since, if a woman
was unchaste, the damage tainted the whole
family, frequently she and her child were
disowned. Luckily, no Paston woman was in
this position. In one of the Paston Letters,
Margaret Mautby Paston relates that when a
married neighbour bore a child by another
man, her husband threatened that if she
returned home he would cut her nose off, to
show the world what she was, and that he
would kill the baby. The woman’s family Drawing by John Sell Cotman of the monumental
refused to support her and she was obliged brass in St. Peter’s Church, Clippesby, Norfolk
to enter a nunnery.

Diane: Why is your discovery so significant?

Jane: This discovery is significant for a number of reasons. The Pastons are the most famous
English medieval family, so any discovery about them is important. My research also contributes
to what is known of the treatment of illegitimate children generally in the late Middle Ages.

According to church law, being illegitimate, these children could not inherit; ironically, if John II
had married Constance Reynyforth, little Constance would have been heir to all the Pastons’
wealth. Though they were treated kindly and with affection, it appears that illegitimate children
were not treated completely equally with legitimate family members, viz. Constance did not have
an arranged marriage, as did her aunts and female cousins, and Margaret Mautby Paston’s sons
kept their uncle’s illegitimate son employed, but did not, as they did for each other, seek an
affluent wife for him.

My research, furthermore, suggests that the treatment of an illegitimate girl was equal to that of a
boy in the same position, though Constance’s case may have been special, since she was the
only child of the eldest son, who died soon after her birth, and the uncle who adopted her is
known to have loved her father. Moreover, since the lives of most medieval women are entirely
obscure, bringing to light the life of even one woman is of interest.

A wonderful aspect of the Paston Letters is that sometimes the personality of a female family
member is exposed, warts and all. This cannot be said to be true of Constance; we can glean
little of what she was actually like as a person, but my research has revealed that she grew up as
the big sister in a large and affectionate family and that she was a valued member of her own
family, enjoying a loving relationship with her husband, her cousin and her eldest son.

Diane: In 2019, the BBC reported the discovery of another Paston child, Anna, by the
archaeologist Matt Champion. Do you think there is still more Paston family history out there to

Jane: Undoubtedly. Since Matt Champion’s discovery, the Paston Footprints 600 team have
posted on a blog their findings about the lives of three more of John Paston III’s children who
survived to adulthood, besides the two, William and Elizabeth, recorded in their grandmother’s
will. These are Philip, Philippa and Dorothy, children who were actually cousins, but effectively
younger siblings of Constance.

Discoveries can particularly be made when the neglected female lines of a family are
explored. Very recently I have learned that Constance’s husband, John Clippesby, had a sister,
Christian Clippesby, who married Constance’s cousin, John Calle, eldest son of Constance’s
disgraced aunt, Margery Paston Calle (the family disapproved of Margery Paston’s marriage to
one of their servants). This couple had a daughter whom they named Constance, which suggests
that Constance Paston was also a godmother.

There is so much still to be found.


The House of the Rising Sun: Edward Peterson, Hosier of Great Yarmouth
Adrian Marsden

One of the relatively common 17th century Great Yarmouth tokens is that issued by Edward
Peterson (Williamson 334). It shows, on the obverse, a smiling sun with the legend EDWARD
PETERSON and, on the reverse, the triad of initials P/ E M with the legend OF GREAT
YARMOVTH (figures 1-2). Williamson notes that an Edward Peterson, vintner, non-apprenticed,
was admitted to the Freedom of Norwich on 14th August 1634, but this man was surely not the
token issuer although he may, perhaps, have been his father.1

Figure 1: Token
of Edward
Peterson of
Great Yarmouth
(Norweb 3344)

Figure 2: Token
of Edward
Peterson of
Great Yarmouth
(Norweb -)

The tokens are known from two pairs of dies. Each is very similar but there are several
differences. Most noticeably, the sun-face on the first die has thicker rays whilst on the second
these are narrower and the face has a less benevolent aspect. The letter puncheons used also
appear to be different in most cases and, as might be expected, the spacing of the legends
relative to the central designs also differ. The first die was prepared using a puncheon known
from other tokens, such as an issue of the Sun Tavern on Bridewell Stairs, London (figure 3).
Dating the tokens is difficult since they do not appear to be Ramage products but, on stylistic
criteria, Michael Dickinson has suggested a broad date of circa 1660 to 1666.2

All of Peterson’s issues seem to be produced from an alloy described in the Norweb catalogue as
being mixed metal, but which is perhaps more accurately described as brass.3 Ten examples are
known from public collections and the Norweb and Strickland Neville Rolfe collections with three
more having been recorded as metal-detected finds. A fair number are also known in private
collections of which the author is aware and the issue cannot be described as anything but

Figure 3: Token
issued at the
Sun, Bridewell
Stairs, London

We know little of Peterson’s early years. No convincing baptismal record can be found and the
surname was a common enough one in early 17th-century Norfolk that a likely origin cannot be
suggested.4 He was presumably not a native of Great Yarmouth since he purchased the freedom
of the town for the sum of ten pounds in 1668 (figure 4).

We might surmise that Edward was born in the 1630s and moved to Great Yarmouth where he
set up in trade as a hosier around 1660. Evidently, given the proposed date of his tokens, he did
not initially regard acquiring the Freedom of Great Yarmouth as necessary to conduct business in
the town. Apart from the record of his purchasing the freedom of the town in 1668 mentioned
above, his name does not occur in the Town Books of Yarmouth and there do not seem to be any
documents relating to his commercial career in the Norfolk Record Office.

Figure 4: Edward Peterson purchases the freedom of Great Yarmouth for £10 in 1668

Edward Peterson’s name does not occur in the Yarmouth Hearth Tax assessments of 1664 nor is
it found in the Hearth Tax exemptions of the early 1670s. It is possible that the rising sun on his
tokens refers to one of the rows of Great Yarmouth called Rising Sun Row. An inn sign or
signboard depicting a rising sun may well have given the row its name and this signboard may
also, at one time, have advertised Peterson’s business premises.

Peterson’s first marriage was to Martha England, a single woman, at Bradwell on 5th September
1661 (figure 5). It is clearly her name that is referenced by the ‘M’ on the tokens. Martha, the
daughter of William and Mary, had been baptised at Great Yarmouth on 13th July 1642. Only two
children born to Edward and Martha can be traced in the records, Samuel (baptised on 8th
January 1664 and buried on the same day), and Martha (baptised on 24th September 1667 and
buried on 17th June 1668). Given the contents of his will discussed below the couple must have
had another son, Edward, at some juncture in the 1660s or very early 1670s.

Figure 5: Edward Peterson marries Martha England at Bradwell in 1661

Martha must have been dead by 1673 since Edward Peterson married the widow Elizabeth
Thornbrow (the surname spelled in a variety of ways) on 26th September of that year (figure 6).
This lady, the daughter of John and Elizabeth, had been baptised Elizabeth Humphrey on 26th
July 1640 and had married her first husband, Thomas Thornburough, on 1st November 1659.
The burial of an infant is recorded on 14th July 1660. John and Thomas, presumably twins, were
baptised on 12th September 1661. No further records can be traced but Thomas and Elizabeth
evidently had another son, Samuel, at some point. Their son Thomas was buried on 2nd
September 1665, probably a victim of the plague then ravaging Great Yarmouth and the burial of
a Thomas Thornborough on 1st January 1666 was surely that of Elizabeth’s husband.

Thomas Thorneburgh was assessed for three hearths in First North Ward in the Michaelmas
1664 Hearth Tax assessments.5 A widow Thornborrow was exempted from Hearth Tax for one
hearth in Second South Ward on 17th February 1673/4 but this cannot have been Elizabeth since
by then she had taken Edward as her second husband. 6

Figure 6: Edward Peterson marries Elizabeth Thornbrow in 1673

Peterson made his will on the 16th February 1673/4 (figure 7), not very many months after his
marriage to Elizabeth.7 The contents of the document occasion some surprise and suggest that
any love between the newlyweds had quickly grown cold. Elizabeth was left only five pounds to
buy her a piece of [silver] plate (figure 8) and was otherwise cut out of the will in every way.
Everything else of Peterson’s property, all other of my goods and personal estate of what kind or
nature whatsoever, was left to Edward Peterson junior when he reached the age of twenty-one
years. In the event of his death before attaining his majority, everything was to be divided
between his brother William, his six children, and his sister Sarah Sowell and her three children.
Peterson’s kinsman, Edmund Peterson, was appointed executor; in the event of his not being in
England the duty was to devolve on Benjamin Lynes.

Figure 7: Opening section of Edward Peterson’s will

Edward Peterson senior, described as a hosier, was buried at St. Nicholas’ on 14th September
1675. Three months afterwards, on 26th December, Ben, son of Edward and Elizabeth
Petterson, was baptised at Great Yarmouth. This makes the terms of Edward’s will even more
surprising; he must surely have been aware of Elizabeth’s condition before his death. Why then
did he not change his will to make provision for his unborn child? Perhaps he felt that there would
be time later and he died suddenly but, given the contents of the will written less than two years
earlier, this argument is not overly convincing. A more likely conclusion is that Edward did not like
his second wife very much and this translated into a disinclination to include her unborn child in
his bequests.

Figure 8: Edward Peterson leaves £5 to his widow Elizabeth to ‘buy a piece of plate’

It should be considered that Elizabeth might have had money of her own and that this was the
reason why she was left so little in her second husband’s will. Even if this was the case then
Edward’s failure to include his unborn child among the beneficiaries of his will would still be
puzzling. As it was, Elizabeth was clearly not very well off as her will, written on 18th September
1677 and proved on 9th February the following year, shows.

This will is a moving document. It is concerned solely with the welfare of Elizabeth’s three sons,
John Thornburgh, Samuel Thornburgh and Benjamin Peterson.8 Her brother, John Humphrey, is
appointed executor and charged with ensuring that the three boys may be looked after and bound
out to some honest trade or occupation so as by God’s blessing they may be able to get their own
livings (figure 9). Her brother must be the John Humfry baptised at St. Nicholas’ on 8th
September 1644.

Figure 9: Elizabeth Peterson makes arrangements in her will for her three sons

Elizabeth was buried on 20th September 1677 so the will was clearly made very soon before her
death. She does not sign the document but leaves her mark only. This might be because she
was illiterate but an equally likely interpretation is that she was too ill to write her name properly
and could only make a simple mark on the paper.

Ironically, Edward Peterson junior, evidently the apple of his father’s eye, was not very many
years in following his stepmother to the grave. It was not disease that carried him off but an
accident that perhaps highlights the lack of health and safety concerns in 17th century Great
Yarmouth. He was, described as a single man, buried on 8th September 1686, and the manner
of his death is noted: kilt by a fall of a mast (figure 10). Perhaps Edward Peterson, having come
into his inheritance, was preparing a ship to broaden his burgeoning business interests. If that
was the case then, tragically, the money left to him by his loving father was to prove a very
unlucky inheritance indeed.

Fig. 10: The death of Edward Peterson, ‘kilt by the fall of a mast.’

Very little can be traced of Elizabeth’s three sons. It seems likely that Samuel and Benjamin died
soon after their mother since no records can be found that mention either of them. John must
surely have been the John Thornebourough whose wife Isabel had a child Clementin, who was
buried on 11th August 1691. A John Thorneborough was buried on 4th October 1691. Some
four months later, on 23rd February 1691/2, the widow Isabella Thornebourough married Michael
Owner, a single man and the son of token issuer Edward Owner.9

Despite the sunny imagery on the obverse of Peterson’s token, issued in the early years of his
marriage to Martha, the story ended very sadly indeed with not one of the family members seeing
anything approaching old age. Peterson was probably barely 40 years of age when he died, his
first wife Martha probably 30 years at most, and his second wife Elizabeth 37 years. All of their
respective children died young or in early adulthood, John Thornborough within a very few weeks
of celebrating his 30th birthday.

It seems likely that the death of Edward Peterson senior and the stark terms of his will split the
surviving family members, leaving his second wife and her sons to struggle on as best they could
whilst Edward Peterson junior inherited all of his dead father’s estate. His early and unfortunate
death brought to an end the direct line of the issuer of Williamson 334.


I should like to thank Michael Dickinson for his suggestion on the dating of Peterson’s token.
Norfolk Record Office have kindly allowed reproduction of documents in their care, Jean
Weetman has assisted with the online research.


Williamson 1967, 881, no. 334
Dickinson pers. comm.
Thompson & Dickinson, 1994, 3344
All records from and
Frankel & Seaman, 1983, 113
Seaman, 2001, 201
ANW will register 1674-5, fo. 333, Microfilm 305
ANW will register 1676-7, fo. 401, Microfilm 306
Marsden, 2017


Frankel, M. S. & Seaman, P., Norfolk Hearth Tax Assessment Michaelmas 1664, Norfolk
Genealogy XV (Norwich), 1983
Marsden, A. B., Edward Owner of Yarmouth, Token Corresponding Society Bulletin 12.5,
pp164-9, 2017
Seaman, P., Norfolk Hearth Tax Exemption Certificates 1670-1674, Norfolk Record Society LXV
(London), 2001
Thompson, R. H. & Dickinson M. J., Sylloge of Coins of the British Isles 44, The Norweb
Collection. Tokens of the British Isles, 1575-1750, Part IV, Norfolk to Somerset, Spink, London,
Williamson, G. C., Trade Tokens Issued in the Seventeenth Century volume I (reprint), Seaby,

Proceedings of the Great Yarmouth Branch of the Norfolk and Norwich
Archaeological Society for the Year ending 31st December 1932
Paul P. Davies

Alan Hunt, a Society committee member recently found the report at a car boot sale.

In the 1880s, it was suggested that the dilapidated Tolhouse should be demolished. An energetic
local campaign prevented this from happening. One of the results of saving the Tolhouse was,
that from 1883 to 1886, it was restored, a public library opened there, and the gaol was opened to
the public. Furthermore, the Trustees of the Tolhouse met with the committee of the Norfolk and
Norwich Archaeological Society, which was founded in 1846, and a decision was made to form a
Great Yarmouth branch of that Society on 24th January 1888 to encourage a study of local and
district antiquities as the town possessed rich remains of archaeological interest.

In 1953, it was decided to separate from the Norfolk and Norwich Archaeological Society and
change the name to the Great Yarmouth and District Archaeological Society. To reflect changing
interests, the phrase Local History, was added to the Society’s name in 2009.

In 1888, the first year of the Great Yarmouth branch’s existence, a visit from the Norfolk and
Norwich Archaeological Society was arranged. Over 200 people attended St. Nicholas’ Church
when an organ concert was performed and a paper on the church was given by Rev’d. Dr. Raven.
Lunch was provided by the Mayor in the Town Hall. In the afternoon there was an opportunity to
visit the Greyfriars, the Tolhouse, the town walls, the Star Hotel and the Town Hall, where the
town charters were on display. At this time a photograph of some of the attendees, mainly the
committees, was taken outside St. Nicholas’ Church.

The Norfolk and Norwich Archaeological Society visit to Great Yarmouth on 21st June 1888
outside St. Nicholas’ Church
Reading from left to right
Front row: Rev’d. E. Farrer, Dr. and Mrs. Bensly, Mrs. Herbert Jones, Lady Florence Cecil, Mrs Donne, -----,
W. J. Hall
Second row: -----, Rev’d. C. R. Manning (Hon Secretary), F. Danby Palmer, Rev’d. W. Hudson, Richard
Martins, Rev’d. Dr. Raven, Rev’d. Herbert Jones, Rev’d. P. Oakley Hill, E. J. Lupson
Third row: H. J. Lincoln, H. Banham, ------, Rev’d S. Smith, R. H. Teasdel, Alderman Newman,
R. H. I. Palgrave, Mrs. & Miss Raven, Mrs. Olley, Miss Greeves, H. Tooley, J. W. Cockrill.
Back row: A. S. Hewitt (with hat), R. H. Tunbridge, W. H. Willis, J. T. Bottle, Lovewell Blake, Dr. J. Bately,
Lord William Cecil, Rev’d. F. Baggallay, Agas Goose, Bosworth Harcourt, Henry Olley, Rev.’d W. H. Harden
Fortunately, the photograph is labelled with the names of the people and it is possible to discover
their status:
R. H. Tunbridge, a tallow chandler of Great Yarmouth.
J. J. Raven, the headmaster of Great Yarmouth Grammar School and incumbent of St. George’s
Chapel and a campanology expert.
Henry Olley, an architect and local historian and author of Great Yarmouth.
John Cockrill, the Surveyor for Great Yarmouth Borough Council.
Sir Robert H. I. Palgrave, FRS FSS, an economist, banker, author and statistician of Great
Rev’d. William Donne, the Vicar of Great Yarmouth.
Lord Cecil, a Curate at St. Nicholas’ Church of Great Yarmouth.
Robert H. Teasdel, FSA, an accountant and honorary secretary of the Great Yarmouth branch of
the Norfolk and Norwich Archaeological Society for 26 years and a former president of the parent
Richard Martins, a tailor and businessman and twice Mayor of Great Yarmouth and a
Churchwarden of St. Nicholas’ Church.
Frederick Danby Palmer, a solicitor of Great Yarmouth and local historian and author.
A. S. Hewitt, an architect of Great Yarmouth.
E. J. Lupson, the Verger of St. Nicholas’ Church and local historian and author.
Lovewell Blake, an accountant of Great Yarmouth.
Bosworth Harcourt, a dentist of Norwich.
J. T. Bottle, an architect of Great Yarmouth.
Dr. J. Bately, the Medical Officer of Health of Great Yarmouth and local historian.
Rev’d. F. Baggallay, the Vicar of St. Peter Mancroft, Norwich
Rev’d. C. R. Manning, the Rector of Diss, Norfolk.
Rev’d. W. Hudson, the Vicar of St. Peter’s Mountergate, Norwich.
Rev’d. Herbert Jones, the Rector of Sculthorpe, Norfolk and a Canon of Norwich Cathedral.
Rev’d. P. Oakley Hill, the Vicar of Upton, Norfolk.
Rev’d. S. Smith, the Perpetual Curate of Slionldham and Shouldham Thorpe, Norfolk.
Alderman Newman, a silversmith and jeweller of Norwich.
W. H. Willis, engineer and manager of Great Yarmouth Gas Company.
Agas Goose, a bookseller and publisher of Norwich.
Rev.’d. W. H. Harden, the Vicar of Hemsby, Norfolk.
Rev’d. E. Farrer, the Vicar of Hinderclay, Suffolk.
Dr. W. T. Bensly, Doctor of Law an antiquary, solicitor, the Norwich Diocesan Registrar and
Chapter Clerk
W. J. Hall, an author and journalist.

Following are brief notes on other activities carried out by the Great Yarmouth branch in 1932:
 There were 186 members and funds had increased from £25 to £36.

 Subscriptions raised just under £50.

 Members were elected to the Society.

 There were three excursions during 1931. Firstly to the churches at Irstead, Barton Turf,
Beeston St. Lawrence and Catfield, Irstead Old Hall and St. Lawrence Hall, where Sir Edward
and Lady Preston gave tea for the 70 attendees. The attendees gave one shilling each
towards the repairs of Irstead Church. Secondly, Elsing Hall and Church, North Elmham
Church and the remains of the Saxon cathedral and Houghton Hall were visited. Thirdly, an
excursion was made to Castle Rising Church and Holy Trinity Hospital and Holkham Hall.
There was a deficit of twelve shillings on the excursions.
 A lecture was given at the 1931 AGM entitled Norman Castle Rising.

 Two guineas were subscribed to the excavation fund at Caistor St. Edmund, near Norwich.

 Photographs were presented to the Society.

This was the fourth report by the Society and it was stated that it would preserve for all time the
life of the Society.

There was only one lecture at a meeting during the year. Miss B. McClenaghan, who was the
first woman to talk to the branch in the 44 years of the Great Yarmouth Branch’s existence,
lectured on Tudor Housekeeping.

The three excursions during 1932 included a visit to Caister Castle by the Norfolk and Norwich
Archaeological Society, where a member of the Great Yarmouth Branch gave a talk on Sir John
Fastolf. The visit continued with a tour of the town wall, a visit to St. Nicholas’ Church and a view
of the charters and the regalia at the Town Hall. Talks were given by members of the Great
Yarmouth Society. Tea was taken at Hill’s and Arnold’s restaurants. The second excursion was
to the Bure Valley from Potter Heigham to Coltishall. The next excursion was by Mr. Page’s Bee
coaches to Lavenham and Long Melford. An al fresco lunch was taken in the rectory gardens at
Lavenham and tea at the Bull at Long Melford. The last excursion of 1932 was to North Norfolk
churches by coach visiting Salthouse, Cley, Blakeney and Binham Priory.

The report of the Great Yarmouth Historical Buildings Ltd. was presented at the AGM. It stated
that it was gratifying that visitors to the town continued to take an interest in the historic buildings
under their care. No fewer than 4,915 people paid the admission fee to visit the Greyfriars
Cloisters and the towers and 2,340 postcards had been sold. It was gratifying to note that the
new town by-pass from North Quay to Caister Road (Lawn Avenue) had not interfered with the
north-west tower.

The report continued: in 1931, the Corporation had demolished some buildings on Market Road
thereby exposing part of the town wall. The Education Committee in erecting the new Hospital
School on the site of the old school had not affected the access to the Hospital Tower from the
Market Place. The Dissenters’ Cemetery would be more accessible rather than the present
access from Market Road via the slaughterhouses. By the demolition of the old school and
adjacent buildings, a further stretch of the town wall had been revealed with arcading to the north
of the Hospital Tower. It was hoped that the wall would be preserved and open to view. With
regard to the new school it was expected that it would be built away from the wall. As F. R. B.
Haward, a member of the Archaeological Society Committee, was the architect it was suggested
that this would happen. The old school had been built right onto the wall and had been

The Great Yarmouth Historical Buildings Ltd, was formed in 1906 principally by members of the
Great Yarmouth Branch of the Norfolk and Norwich Archaeological Society. Their mission was to
acquire and preserve property of archaeological and historic interest in the borough and adjacent
district. Five hundred shares of £1
each were on offer. The original
subscribers were four local
solicitors, two local bankers and a
local doctor. Their first action was
to purchase the Greyfriars’
complex. The company ended in
1979, when its role was taken over
by the Great Yarmouth
Preservation Trust, which was
supported by the Council.

The report ended with a list of

members and their addresses, the
excursions and the lectures
Directors who were members of Great Yarmouth Archaeological organised by the Great Yarmouth
Society: Orde, vice president; Ferrier, president; Branch from 1888 to 1932. In the
Stephens, member; Teasdel, secretary early days many were taken by
water and bicycle.
A Gravestone, a Drowning, an Astrologer and an Unpaid Bill
Paul P. Davies

In the afternoon of Sunday 9th August 1829 at about four IN THE MEMORY OF
o'clock, a party of young men and ladies were returning MARY ALDRED Aged 25 years
from a sailing excursion on Breydon Water in a small ANN BROMLEY BAX Aged 22 years
boat. When near the half mile point from the town and ELIZABETH WATERS Aged 20 years
running before the wind, they passed in the lee of a who were unfortunately drowned on
wherry. The wherry’s large sail took the wind out of the Breydon on the 9th August 1829 near
boat's sail and, on passing it, the wind filled the boat's sail the Half Mile Stake Cut
and capsized her. The whole party were thrown into the Oft were we in life’s fair bloom
water and three ladies were drowned. On the boat were From pleasures here below;
And rest beneath this sacred tomb
Mary Aldred and Ann Bax, dressmakers, Eliza Waters,
From sorrow, grief and woe
employed in the silk factory, John Callow, and James and
William Aldred, the brothers of Mary Aldred. James Logdon
Aldred tried hard to save his sister and Eliza Waters, to
whom he was to have been married in ten days time, by keeping them above water, but when he
became exhausted, they gradually sank. John Callow was rescued from the bottom of the boat,
to which he had clung, and the two Aldreds succeeded in swimming to the shore. The accident
caused a great sensation in the town and had occurred at about the time that the different
congregations were returning from their places of worship. The bodies were picked up the
following day and the three ladies were interred in the same grave in St. Nicholas’ Churchyard. A
great number of spectators attended the funeral, who appeared deeply affected by the
melancholy scene. The coroner recorded accidental death.1
Near the west wall of the church a
gravestone was erected to the three
young ladies. It appeared that the
astrologer, John Fletcher Cooper,
had warned Mary Aldred and Ann
Bax less than a month previously to
be aware of imminent danger on
water excursions and sea voyages.
Cooper was an astrologer in Great
Yarmouth at the turn of the 19th
century living in Lion and Lamb Row
(No. 109) and, above his doorway,
he displayed a signboard describing
his art. Previously, he was
employed by three local solicitors.

Within 12 months of the erection of

the gravestone to the three ladies, it
St. Nicholas’ Church burial register 1829 was minus the name and the age of
Elizabeth Waters. The poor family of
Waters had not contributed a proportionate share of the stonemason's charges and the name was
erased; presumably by the stonemason, John Logdon.

A search for the gravestone was made in the 1920s, but it was not found.2

The churchyard and the Kitchener Road cemeteries hold the remains of very many local
inhabitants who had drowned in the sea, and the rivers and Broads.

Norfolk Chronicle, 15th August 1829
Mercury Cornerman, Great Yarmouth Mercury, November 1927

Ninth Church Crawl 1st September 2021
Burgh St. Peter, Barsham, Ilketshall St. Andrew, Westhall and Ringsfield
Paul P. Davies

The Society members met at St. Mary’s Church at Burgh St. Peter by the River Waveney. It has
the most extraordinary church tower in the country. It was built by Rev’d. Samuel Boycott in
1793. It is said to have been inspired by a church that Boycott’s son had seen in Italy.

The church now dates from the 13th to 14th century church. A bequest of 1539 left £20 towards
the building of the steeple of Burgh. In 1793, the vicar, Rev’d. Samuel Boycott, obtained
permission to repair and build up the steeple which had long been in a
ruinous condition, but one wonders if Boycott submitted plans along
with it. Permission was granted, and so Boycott's tower was built at
his own expense. It was struck by lightning in 2015, which split some
bricks and shattered a marble slab on top of the tower. Samuel
Boycott also had a fashionable house in Yarmouth Rows. The tower’s
base is patterned brick and flint and is early 16th century. There are
four stages of brick boxes with gothic style windows. Originally there
was a fifth stage made of wood. At the base is a mausoleum with the
bodies of some of the Boycott family. The thatched roof caught fire in
1996, probably from a rocket fired from the neighbouring caravan park. Burgh St. Peter Church
It cost £200,000 to repair.

The interior shows a fairly typical High Church restoration of the 1880s. The Marian (Mary)
dedication of the church may have been a result of the High Church re-ordering, and changed the
name from the St. Peter dedication. A rood screen was erected with the crucified Christ flanked
by Mary and St. John. A rood screen is a physical and symbolic barrier, separating the chancel,
the domain of the clergy, from the nave, where lay people gathered to worship. Screens were
solid to waist height and could be decorated with pictures of saints and angels. Concealment and
revelation were part of the medieval Mass. When kneeling, the congregation could not see the
priest, but might do so through the upper part of the screen, when he elevated the Host as this
was significant for the congregation.

The pulpit of 1811 is covered in many brass plaques to members of the

Boycott family, who as patrons presented their own sons as the rector here
for 135 years continuously from 1764-1899. There were five Boycott rectors.
The Boycotts still hold the patronage; the present patron is Major Charles
Boycott, who lives in Shropshire. Not all the
Boycotts became priests. Samuel's grandson
Charles did not follow his brother William into
the ministry, but became a land agent in County
Charles Boycott Mayo, Ireland. In the agricultural depression of
the 1880s, he attempted to enforce rent rises on
behalf of the absentee landlord. He was shunned by everyone in the
parish. When his carriage drove by, the people turned their backs on
it. Servants refused to work for him. Shops refused to supply him
with goods. Nobody spoke to either him or his family for more than a
year. Thus, he gave his name as a new word to the English
language. Boycott returned home a broken man and became the
Flixton Estate manager. He died in 1897, aged 65 years, in Burgh,
and is buried in the churchyard.

The organ was built by Norman and Beard, a firm that was founded
in 1851 in Diss. The organ came to Burgh St. Peter in 1896 from St.
James’ Church in Great Yarmouth. The previous organ had been The brass Boycott memorial
plaques on the pulpit
built by William Christmas Mack, a Great Yarmouth organ builder,
courtesy of Derek Leak
and came from St. Peter’s Church in Great Yarmouth.
The next church visited was at Barsham. In the
churchyard there is a very large chest tomb to the
Cooper, Rede and Turner families and in particular to
Samuel Lovick Cooper, who was the son of the Vicar of
St. Nicholas’ Church, Great Yarmouth from 1780 to 1800.
Samuel was the incumbent of St. George’s Church in
Great Yarmouth from 1802 to 1817. He married Sarah
Lemon Rede, by whom he had 12 children. Sarah
Lemon Rede’s sister, Elizabeth, became the second wife
of the Rev’d. Richard Turner, the Vicar of St. Nicholas’
Church, Great Yarmouth from 1800 to 1831. Samuel’s The tomb of the Cooper, Rede and
brother was Sir Astley Cooper, the famous surgeon. Turner families

The lower part of the tower is Saxon and the roof of the nave was destroyed
by fire in 1979 and was subsequently re-thatched.

The architect and stained glass designer, Frederick Charles Eden (1864-
1944), carried out a lot of work here. Eden first joined William Butterfield's
office and was also a pupil of Charles Kempe. Another Kempe apprentice
was the young Ninian Comper, who re-designed the flamboyant Anglo-
catholic work we saw a few years ago at Lound. In 1889, Eden joined the
firm of George Bodley whose work we saw at Pulham. Bodley had been a
pupil of George Gilbert Scott. Bodley was the first architect to use the firm of
William Morris. Eden had a profound influence on the church architect,
Stephen Dykes Bower, who rebuilt St. Nicholas’ Church, Great Yarmouth. All
these architects are well-known to avid church crawlers.

One of the unusual features of The lower

the church is the chancel east so-called leper
wall. It is covered with a lattice window
of stone strips set in flint
flushwork in a lozenge shape. Its date is uncertain.

On the south side of chancel is a priest’s door with

an adjacent 13th century lancet window, alongside
the lower part of which is a small window. This was
thought to be where lepers received Mass, but this
is unlikely.

In the churchyard is the grave of Adrian Bell (1901-

Barsham Church 1980). He was a journalist and wrote several books
on the East Anglian countryside. He also wrote the
Countryman’s Notebook column in the Eastern
Daily Press from 1950.

Inside on the north wall of the nave are the remains

of a painting of St. Christopher. There are several
stained glass windows. One shows the Virgin and
Child with two women with a background of a
harbour with shipping and the sea. Another window
commemorates the Suckling family. Nelson’s
uncle, William Suckling, is buried here and Nelson’s
grandfather was the rector here, and his mother
was born in the rectory. The central part of the
window commemorates the Trafalgar centenary of
1905. The Sucklings held the living at Barsham
The east end of Barsham Church
from the 17th century for about 300 years.
courtesy of Derek Leak
Part of the Suckling window commemorating
Nelson’s mother

An unusual First World War memorial in the

south aisle was designed by Eden. Those
written in red were killed, those wounded in
blue, the letter ‘P’ denotes those taken
prisoner, the officers are in capital letters
and members of the church’s staff are
Barsham war memorial The stained glass in the north aisle was
designed by Eden. It consists of ovals
surrounded by wreaths showing the nativity, the magi, the
transfiguration, Christ being mocked, the crucifixion and the

The relatively plain rood screen dates from the 17th century. It
was noticed recently that the rood cross is illuminated for four
minutes at the autumn and spring equinoxes from the window in
the tower. Eden erected a canopy arch over the screen in 1919. It
is painted with cut-out figures of the annunciation, St. Elizabeth
and St. Joseph.

The window with a harbour The chancel roof was replaced in

with shipping 1906 following a lightning strike, by
Eden. It is decorated with
monograms, pomegranates, roses,
lilies and a pelican.

The window in the chancel glass

above the so-called leper window
shows Jesus healing the ten
On the north side of the altar is the
tomb of Sir Edward Echingham, The equinox sun
who died in 1527. It is constructed
of terracotta and is one of a very few in East Anglia. The style was
imported from Italy in c1500. Echingham was a naval commander
and briefly the Constable of Limerick Castle and also the Collector
of Customs at Ipswich. His chantry chapel was sited in the north
aisle chapel, but was demolished late 18th century. It was rebuilt
in 1908 to commemorate Nelson’s mother by Charles Kempe and
Thomas Missenden’s grave
re-done by Eden.
The Te Deum window at Barsham Church The Echingham terracotta tomb

An unusual ledger stone lies in the chancel to Thomas Missenden, who died in 1771. Missenden
was the minister at St. George’s Church in Great Yarmouth in 1724. He became the Rector of
Barsham from 1740 to 1774. The inscription is in both Latin and Greek. The Greek at the head
reads: Fortune and hope, a long farewell, For I have gained port, Henceforth I’ve naught to do
with you, Of those to come to make sport. The Latin inscription at the foot reads: The present
hour is thine, The next no man can claim. The stone is breccia marble and is believed to come
from Northumberland.

A brass in the chancel commemorates Sir Robert atte Tighe, who died in 1415, or possibly Sir
Thomas Echingham. The 48 inch figure in armour wears a SS collar and ‘RS’ is engraved on the
scabbard, meaning a royal steward.

The east window is an early Kempe work and illustrates the te deum laudamus, now out of
fashion with the downgrading of the service of Mattins. Angels and many saints are depicted.
The Te Deum was sung to us by Society member, Terry Mills, to a chant by Trent: We praise
thee, O God: we acknowledge thee to be the Lord: All the earth doth worship thee: the Father
everlasting. To thee all Angels cry aloud: the Heavens, and all the Powers therein. To thee
Cherubim and Seraphim : continually do cry, Holy, Holy, Holy : Lord God of Sabaoth: The glorious
company of the Apostles praise thee. The goodly fellowship of the Prophets praise thee. The
noble army of Martyrs praise thee. The holy Church throughout all the world doth acknowledge
thee, etc.

The organ was built by Hill in 1877, just a few years before he built the organ now in St. Nicholas’
Church, Great Yarmouth.

St. Andrew’s, Ilketshall contains a very rare wall painting
of the wheel of fortune. A restoration in 2001 uncovered the
painting and it was conserved in 2005. It is the only known
example in East Anglia and is dated 1320-1330. On the left
a figure is being pulled up and on the right a figure wearing
a crown is being pulled down. On top there is a seated
crowned King or Queen of Fortune turning the spoked wheel
and each segment contains a large eye painted black, which
represents the eye of God. Intermingled with the wheel are
scenes of the Last Judgement. The painting is dull because
it is the under-painting, as the highly coloured top coat has
been lost.

Pigment found on the falling figure showed his robe was

painted in rich vermillion with yellow dots.

Around the wheel are other figures, including the dead rising
from their graves, and east of the window are a queen and
an angel, probably part of a larger scene.
The Wheel of Fortune, Ilketshall

The Wheel of Fortune is a variation on

the usual Judgement scene, with a
seated figure at the top, and two other
figures apparently tied to the wheel,
one rising and the other falling. In
medieval times the Wheel of Fortune
was a symbol of the erratic nature of
Fate. The wheel belongs to the
goddess Fortuna who spins it at
random, changing the positions of
those on the wheel: some suffer great
misfortune and fall, others gain
windfalls and rise. Fortune appears on
all paintings as a woman, sometimes
blindfolded, spinning the wheel.
Fortuna was the goddess of fortune
Wheel of Fortune, Ilketshall Church and fate and was popular through the
Middle Ages.

Hamlet wrote of the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and, of

fortune personified, to break all the spokes and rim from her wheel.

Fluellen in Shakespeare’s Henry V says: Fortune is painted blind, with

a muffler afore her eyes, to signify to you that Fortune is blind; and
she is painted also with a wheel, to signify to you, which is the moral
of it, that she is turning, and inconstant, and capricious, and variation.

On the tower wall are two interesting shields set in a Garter motif.
They denote Thomas Howard, the 14th Earl of Arundel, who died in
1646. He owned property locally and the shields probably came from
the family pew. When he died he possessed 700 paintings, along
with large collections of sculpture, books, prints, drawings, and
antique jewellery. Most of his collection of marble carvings, known as
the Arundel Marbles, was eventually left to the University of Oxford.
In 1995, the Getty Museum in Los Angeles mounted an exhibition of
Wheel of Fortune
his extensive art collection.
© British Library
The brass of Tighe, courtesy of Derek Leak
Wheel of Fortune detail: Last Judgement, woman arising from a Norman doorway Ilketshall Church
coffin, and a queen courtesy of Derek Leak

The north door is Norman, and halfway down the nave is a brass of John Verdon which reads:
forsaken of his soul 28th day of May 1624 but expects it again at ye day of resurrection. A grave
in the nave remembers Thomas Else who died in 1705; his wife died 50 years earlier. The church
was struck by lightning twice.

The two shields set in a Garter motif and the royal coat of arms of Charles II

Over one hundred plants have been documented in

the churchyard.

Charles II arms, Ilketshall Church.

courtesy of Derek Leak

At Ringsfield Church by the north transept is the grave of Princess Caroline Murat, the great-
niece of Napoleon Bonaparte and a grand-daughter of the King of Naples. She was born in
America, where her father had been exiled along with other members of the Bonaparte family.
After the 1848 Revolution, she and her family returned to France and became part of the inner
circle of the Second Empire. In 1870, following the defeat of France by Prussia, she fled to
England in the company of John Garden, a wealthy English friend of her brother Achille. In 1872,
a year after her first husband's death, Caroline and John Garden were married and lived at
nearby Redisham Hall. Princess Caroline Murat died in 1902 at Redisham Hall.

The grave of Princess Caroline Murat at Ringsfield Church

Adrian Bell, the Eastern Daily Press’s columnist, wrote about the
grave: The angel, with her wings in the angle of an alighting swan's,
has just touched down; one delicate finger of her alabaster hand is
pointing upward. She seems to be admonishing two kneeling child
angels with faces of misery at either corner of the tomb saying ‘you
two, get back to heaven at once, and if I ever catch you playing
around the tombs again ...' her swirling draperies, her rococo
nightgown seemed actually to float and move. Her perfect face,
unassailable by any
human love, would be
likely to send men mad.
You are drawn to it, a
fascination of distaste.
Your eyes roam from the
dramatic forefinger aloft,
down the arm to the
shoulders, the dragged Princess Caroline Murat
neckline of the robe, the
trumpet in the other hand parked against the thigh, to
the toes, ballet poised, and you end by liking her.

A vast brick memorial is attached to the outside of the

south wall to Sir Nicholas Garneys, who was the High
Sheriff of Suffolk and who died in 1599. The monument
was moved here at the time of the Victorian restoration.
Memorial window to Princess Caroline
It has a large arch enclosing a terracotta mermaid.
erected by her daughters, Ringsfield
Church. The three Marys: the Virgin
Strangely for an outside memorial, a brass is fixed to it,
flanked by Mary Magdalene and Mary of
showing a man wearing Tudor armour; his wife Anne,
Bethany, the sister of Lazarus wears a mantle showing her arms and six sons and five
daughters kneeling with their parents.
The mermaid crest was granted to Sir Thomas Garneys’
predecessor by Henry VIII for saving his sister, Mary Tudor
Nicholas Garneys’ memorial, (1496-1533), from drowning.
Ringsfield Church
courtesy of Derek Leak The Tudor Porch has a stepped gable showing a Dutch
influence. The mesh door of 1964 has a copper roundel with
two robins, commemorating the robins that nested on the
lectern, which made
national news.

By the mid-19th century,

the church was dilapidated
and cluttered inside. Apart
from the tower and the
western end of the nave,
the church is almost
entirely Victorian and is the
work of William Butterfield
in the 1880s. Butterfield
extended the nave and
rebuilt the chancel which
gives the sense of being in
a long tunnel. Butterfield
took out the box pews and
a western gallery, so this
interior must have been
very cramped.
Annunciation window,
Ringsfield Church A vivid window mainly in
blue and red is the
Annunciation scene under the tower by Bell & Beckham, a
London firm, and dates from the 1890s.

There is a good series of saints and Old Testament figures by

Clayton & Bell along the north side. The firm was one of the
most prolific and proficient English workshops of stained glass
during the latter half of the 19th century and the early 20th
century. The windows are known for their luminosity, rich Continental glass
colours and great detail.
On the north nave wall is a
memorial to John Garden.
On it is a serpent in a
sunburst. The
stonemason was Charles
Harriot Smith, who carved
the capital on Nelson’s
Column and pieces on the
Nat ional Galler y in
London. Snakes and
serpents are ancient
symbols of everlasting life,
and are often depicted on
gravestones to create a
The east window, Ringsfield Church circle, another symbol of

On the south of the nave, there are two pieces of continental

glass in a roundel, probably dating from the 17th century, which
were a gift and erected in 1967. One depicts the Adoration of the
Magi, and the other is of Mary and Joseph looking for the infant
Christ. However, he is seen through a doorway standing on a
table, preaching in the temple.

In the east window is Christ in Majesty, St. Peter and St. Paul set
out as cut-outs and backed with clear glass.
Screen, Ringsfield Church
There is an usual screen of the early 17th century. It is gold and
black, with Latin texts and carving. The finials are pyramidal shaped. The Latin translates: The
church; interpreter and guardian if the truth; simulated holiness is a special sort of wickedness.

Westhall Church boasts an array of historic features to equal any parish church in England, from
a painted screen, two Norman doorways to a stunning Seven Sacrament font which retains its
original painted panels. At the heart is a small Norman church,
which has been greatly extended. The late 13th century tower
covers the splendid large west doorway (dated c1100) of the
Norman church. The doorway has billets on its rim, four
petalled flowers, masks of animals, chevrons and nail-head
ornamentation. To the
north, a large 13th
century nave and a
large 14th century
chancel were added.


scene on the

Above: Norman north

Below: Norman window,
Westhall Church

courtesy of Derek Leak

Westhall Church has a

famous 15th century font, The Westhall font and the gesso work between the panels
one of the several seven Penance with the devil
sacrament seen in courtesy of Derek Leak
Norfolk and Suffolk
churches, and it retains almost all of its original colour.

The panels show the Mass, Matrimony, Confirmation, Baptism, Ordination, the Last Rites and
Penance, with the devil leaving the scene in shame with his tail between his legs. The eighth
panel shows the Baptism of Christ. The other unusual feature is the gesso work of figures
between the panels.

The wall painting on the north wall shows St. Christopher with two other figures of Moses with his
horns. The horns result from an early medieval mistranslation of the Latin. In the book of Exodus
it says his face was shining with light when he came down from Mount Sinai with the
commandments. Qaran means radiant, but a related word, qeren, means horns. The second
figure shows God standing beside Moses holding the tablets of the ten commandments.

The next treasure is the screen, which has lost its upper structure, featuring St. Etheldreda, St.
Agnes with a lamb at her feet, St. Bridget, St. Catherine, St. Dorothy, St. Margaret of Antioch (one
of the 14 Holy Helpers, a
group of saints venerated
together in Roman
Catholicism because their
intercession is believed to
be particularly effective
against various diseases),
St. Apollonia, St. James,
St. Leonard, St. Michael,
St. Clement, the
Transfiguration (a rare
subject for a screen) and
St. Anthony of Egypt with a
pig at his feet. An
inscription asks for prayers
of the souls of the donors
and can be dated to 1512.
Wall painting, Westhall Church. God with the commandment tablets and
The top section of the Moses with his horns
screen was probably
destroyed at the Reformation. There is a ring in the ceiling from where the cross was probably

Mortlock, D. P., and Roberts, C. V., The Guide to Norfolk Churches, Lutterworth Press, 2007
Knott, Simon,
Various Church guides

The Transfiguration with Christ flanked by

Moses and Elijah
The female saints on the south screen
courtesy of Derek Leak
courtesy of Derek Leak
The medieval north screen at Westhall Church

courtesy of

The Tenth Cemetery Crawl, 22nd August 2021
Paul P. Davies

About 25 Society members met at the Kitchener Road gates to the New Cemetery on 22nd
August. Over the last nine years we have covered over 150 of the interesting lives of the Great
Yarmouth citizens who are commemorated in the
churchyard and the New and the Old Cemeteries.

Firstly we visited the grave of William Miller, a

cabman, who died in 1912 at the age of 32 years
after eating three potted mackerel.

An inquest was held in the Mariner’s Chapel when

it was said that Miller had died shortly after eating
the mackerel when he complained of pains in his
chest. A post-mortem was performed by Dr. Ley
who came to the conclusion that the deceased had
died of poison. He sent the stomach contents to
William Miller
Norwich for analysis.

William Miller for more than a year had complained of his chest being bad, painful and he thought
it was indigestion. Two days before he died William Miller had purchased mackerel from a fishing
boat. William Miller’s wife cleaned and spiced the mackerel and laid them in vinegar before
sending them to the bakehouse. The fish were collected the next day and had seemed to be well
-baked. On the same evening William Miller ate the mackerel with bread and butter. The next
morning he went to work at seven o’clock in the morning, but returned home two hours later and
sat in a chair complaining that he was feeling bad and had chest pain. His wife applied hot
flannels and a mustard plaster to his chest. Dr. Ley attended and he found that his patient was
seriously ill, pale, with a cold perspiration and had vomited three times that day. He diagnosed a
stomach ulcer, which was bleeding. Later, William Miller seemed to sink and he died about two
hours later. A post-mortem performed by Dr. Ley showed that the inside of the abdominal cavity
was enlarged in keeping with excessive
alcohol consumption, the heart was fatty
and the inside of the stomach was
congested and haemorrhagic. Dr. Ley
said that the cause of death was acute
gastritis. Yarmouth Independent headline

A week later the results of the analysis of the stomach contents were available. The public
analyst had found no evidence of metallic or alkaloid poisons, except bismuth and opium, which
no doubt had been administered by the doctor. There was a strong reaction to acetic acid due to
vinegar in the stomach contents, but corrosive acids were absent. All ordinary poisons were
tested for and found to be absent. The analyst stated that the negative results indicated the
death was due to the ingestion of toxins produced by the decomposition of the mackerel.
However, it seems more plausible that William Miller had died of a heart attack.

Society members taking

part in the tenth annual
cemetery crawl

Next was the gravestone of Henry Smith, the landlord of the
Royal Albert public house, which had a near full house of
freemason symbolism with an equilateral triangle, a square
and compass, King Solomon’s temple, an anchor, the
Masonic keystone, alpha and omega, a circle and the eight
letters; HTWSSTKS. The letters stand for Hiram the Widow’s
son sent to King Solomon, which are carved on the grave
headstones of masons who have gained the third degree
level. The Masonic third degree is the highest in

Robert Pratt, was a carpenter and he died as a result of an

accident in 1938. He was 59 years of age and worked for
Messrs. Lacon’s. He fell to his death from the side of a lorry
on South Quay. His headstone has been knocked over. Masonic symbols

The lorry was carrying several men and two to three hundredweight of rubbish. The rubbish left
sufficient room for five men to sit on the back of the lorry. As the lorry was passing some coal
trucks on the quay a little boy ran out and the driver had to swerve to the right. As there was a
lamp post in the middle of the road the driver had to swerve again, almost immediately. The
driver then felt a bump. The driver at once stopped the lorry and on getting out of the cab, he saw
Robert Pratt lying on the ground. It was thought that a wheel of the lorry had passed over him. At
the time of the accident the lorry was travelling at no more than 15 miles per hour.

Robert Pratt

Dr. Conway, the house surgeon at the hospital, found that Robert Pratt was in a state of shock,
which steadily increased. He lapsed into a coma and died shortly after his admission to hospital,
before his wife could arrive.

Edwin Duley was a well-known fish merchant. He died in 1897 at the age of 48 years. Duley
was prominent in the early days of the Primrose League in Great Yarmouth and never failed to
attend its events. The Primrose League was an organisation for spreading Conservative
principles in Great Britain. It was founded in 1883 and was active until the mid-1990s. It was
finally wound up in December 2004. Edward Duley did not support the Great Yarmouth
Conservative candidate, but supported the Liberal one. Consequently, Duley was expelled from
the committee of the Conservative Working Men’s Club.

His son, 2nd Lieutenant Edwin Joseph Duley, was killed in action on the Somme on 2nd
November 1916. He was a member of the 7th Battalion the Border Regiment. Edwin Duley had
worked for the firm of solicitors, Wiltshire and Sons, before he moved to Gravesend, Kent. He
enlisted in the Army at Seaford in September 1915. His army training took place at Pembroke
College, Cambridge. He was in the thick of the fighting at the opening of the great advance on
the Somme on 1st July 1916 and afterwards survived the Delville Wood battle in which many
were killed. Later, he became ill with trench fever. On his recovery he re-joined his regiment 13
days before he was killed in action.
Edwin Duley

Edwin Duley’s mother received letters from two of his brother officers: It is with the very deepest
regret that I write to inform you that your son was killed in action on 2nd November 1916. His
death was instantaneous as he was struck in the stomach by a piece of shell and fell back into
the arms of his brother officers. I hope it will be of some consolation to you to know that he died
doing his duty on a day when the regiment carried out a most successful operation. His death
came as a great blow to us all and we have indeed lost a true Englishman.

The second letter read: I deeply regret to inform you that your son was killed in action. It may be
of some consolation to you to know that he was killed instantaneously by shrapnel and did not
suffer any pain whatsoever. Your son was a great favourite in the battalion, both with the officers
and the men, and he will be a great loss to us all. Your son was properly buried and a cross has
been placed over the grave. I will be up there in a few days and will see that everything is alright.

Another son is commemorated on the grave, who died in Delhi, India in 1902 at the age of 20
years from typhoid fever. The family grave has been vandalised by damage to its obelisk.

In an overgrown area of the cemetery lies Wendle

Wisker, who was 27 years of age. An accident
occurred on Breydon Water on 28th December 1879
when two men drowned. The occupants of the boat
were Richard Sutton, Wendle Wisker (the son of a
marine stores’ dealer at the south end of Great
Yarmouth) and Robert Crome (a shrimper who lived on
Town Road). The three men were sailing across
Breydon Water in squally weather with the intention of
pumping out the smack, Fortitude, which was the
property of Wendle Wisker. The men pumped the boat
out for about four hours and left it at about four o’clock
The grave of Wendle Wisker in the
in the afternoon to return to Great Yarmouth. A foreground
sudden gust of wind capsized the boat throwing them
into the water. Richard Sutton managed to swim to the
shore, but Wendle Wisker and Robert Crome both drowned. The two drowned men were married
and Robert Crome had seven children.
Five days later the body of Wendle Wisker was
recovered about 300 yards from where the boat
sank and it was transported to Great Yarmouth.
There, Police Sergeant Fisk searched Wendle
Wisker's body and found a silver watch with a
chain, a pocket knife, a two shilling piece and a few

Wendle Wisker’s parents, John and Catherine,

were German but had taken British nationality. The
Wends were a Slavic people living between the
Elbe and the Oder.
The Great Yarmouth Mercury of 6th April 1886 gave their usual account of fishing accidents,
which had occurred during the previous week.

The schooner, Eleanor, of Great Yarmouth was towed into Grimsby Dock with the loss of her
head gear. She had been in collision off Flamborough Head with the steamer, Emmy Haase, of

The fishing lugger, W. H. M. belonging to W. H. Makepeace of Great Yarmouth was run down
whilst at anchor off Winterton Ness, by the smack Hettie of Lowestoft. The W. H. M. was struck
amidships on the starboard side and sank after five minutes in seven fathoms of water. The crew
of six managed to get on board the Hettie. The W. H. M. was one of the finest vessels sailing
from Great Yarmouth and had been built two years previously. The Hettie sailed for Lowestoft,
discharged her fish and then sailed for Ramsgate, where she was arrested. The W. H. M. was
insured for £1,300.

The steamer, Speedwell, of Great Yarmouth arrived in the harbour

with the crew of the iron smack, Topaz, which belonged to Burdett
Coutts of Gorleston. The Topaz had been run into and sunk in the
fishing grounds by the smack M. A. A., also belonging to Burdett
Coutts. The Topaz had only left Great Yarmouth the previous week
after a re-fit. The smack, Rose, also helped in the rescue of the crew
of the Topaz and in the process one of their crew, the third mate
Joseph Church, was drowned.

The smack, Lottie was run into by the fishing ketch, Norman. Both
vessels sustained some damage, which was considerable in the case
of Lottie.

The Audax, belonging to Mr. Harvey of Gorleston, arrived in Great

Arthur Gibbons
Yarmouth and reported the loss of one of her crew, Arthur Thomas
Gibbons. His gravestone boasts an engraving of the
Audax and the stone has a rope carved on its edge,
which denotes a mariner. He was 27 years old.

Henry Olley died on 26th May 1924 at his home, 6

St. George’s Terrace. He was 69 years of age and
had been ill for five months.

Henry Olley was born in Great Yarmouth, the son of

James Olley, a licensed refreshment room keeper of
the Market Place.

Henry Olley first practised as an architect in Great Yarmouth as a

partner with Jonathan Tebbs Bottle from about 1880. In 1864,
Jonathan Bottle had moved into the offices of the Town Surveyor,
A. W. Morrant, at 28 Regent Street. In the mid 1890s, the practice
moved to 5 Queen Street. In about 1900, Jonathan Bottle retired
and he died in 1912 at 79 years of age. In 1901, Frank R. B.
Haward became Olley’s partner.

Henry Olley was in practice for 45 years and was the surveyor to
the Great Yarmouth Grammar School Foundation. He designed
the Sailors’ Home on Marine Parade and the old and new Great
Yarmouth Grammar Schools. He restored the Tolhouse in 1885.
He also remodelled Great Yarmouth Aquarium and drew plans for
several Norfolk county schools.
Henry Olley

He was very interested in archaeology and carried out many church
restorations including St. John’s and St. Nicholas’ Churches in Great
Yarmouth. He completed St. James’ Church in Great Yarmouth, which
had taken many years to finish.

In 1889, Henry Olley wrote a pamphlet on the Grey Friars' Cloisters and
was a member of the Great Yarmouth Archaeological Society.

A double family tragedy in 1890 is related on the Salmon Family

gravestone. In September 1890, Herbert James Salmon, aged three
years, died from burns when his nightgown accidentally caught fire. He
was living with his widowed mother at his grandfather’s eating house on
Hall Plain, Great Yarmouth. It appeared that the child was playing with
some matches when one of them ignited and set fire to his nightdress.
His screams summoned help and the flames were immediately
extinguished. He was taken to hospital, where he died in the evening of
the same day.
Henry Olley
Albert Coleman, a waiter, heard cries and
ran upstairs and saw that the front of the
nightgown, which the child was wearing, was in flames. Coleman
tore the nightgown off and a lodger in the house threw a
counterpane over the child and the fire was extinguished. Albert
Coleman had found the child at the top of the second flight of stairs
and had noticed that a box of matches was in his hand and that two
burnt matches were lying on the floor.

Nurse Mary of Great Yarmouth Hospital stated that the child had
been brought in conscious and in great agony. He was burnt on the
chest, back, face and leg. The child told her that he had gone into a
lodger’s room and taken the

Six months earlier, Herbert

James’ father, Charles
The Salmon grave Goodwin Salmon, had
drowned. He was 33 years
of age. In thick fog the screw steamer, Circassian Prince
of Newcastle and bound for the United States of America
with water ballast and 700 tons of coal, had grounded on
Happisburgh Sands. The Winterton and Sea Palling Circassia Prince
lifeboatmen set off to reach the stranded ship. Also, the
tugs, Gleaner, Tom Perry and Star set off from Great
Yarmouth. Hundreds of tons of water were pumped out of
the ship and about 500 tons of the cargo of coal was

Eventually, four days later, the ship was floated off the
sand and brought into Great Yarmouth Roads. Eighteen of
the crew were taken off the boat and lodged in the Sailors’
Home in Great Yarmouth.

Three days after the grounding the tug, Gleaner, left Great
Yarmouth with supplies for the salvage crew. Charles
Goodwin Salmon, a shipping agent and the secretary to
the New Mutual Smack Fishing and Total Loss Insurance
Company, was a passenger. Charles Salmon was sent to Gleaner
superintend the salvage operation on behalf of
Lloyd’s Shipping agency in Great Yarmouth. The
Gleaner left the Circassian Prince in the late
evening, with Charles Salmon and four beachmen
on board. The night was dark and it was raining.
The Gleaner collided with an anchored schooner.
There was panic aboad the Gleaner and a cry was
made that the boat was sinking. Charles Salmon
made a jump for the schooner. He caught the
rigging but failed to hold it, fell into the sea, and
was carried away and drowned. Although the tug
was damaged it was able to make for Great
Yarmouth harbour. Charles Salmon was missed by
the crew of the tug, but it was assumed that he had
got aboard the schooner. At daylight, the Gleaner
went out to the schooner expecting to find him on
board. The schooner captain related that Charles
Salmon had jumped from the tug, held onto the
rigging for a few moments and then fell back into
the sea. A rope was thrown to him in the darkness,
but it failed to reach him.

Luckily Charles Salmon had recently insured his life

for £300 and the first premium had been paid two
days before his death. An appeal for money was
made by the Mayor of Great Yarmouth to give aid
to the deceased’s family. The mayor called a
meeting of the owners of fishing boats to consider
what steps could be taken to help Salmon’s family.
A circular was produced, which was circulated
around Great Yarmouth, Lloyds the insurers of
London, and the ship owners of the North of Appeal for Mrs. Salmon and family

Charles Salmon was the father of five children, the eldest of whom was seven years old, and his
wife was pregnant when he died.

Five months later his decomposed body was found in the North Sea by Ostend fishermen, but it
was headless. Fortunately his name was written inside his watch case.

William Francis Veale died in 1914 at the age of 78 years. When he was about 12 years of age
he wrote to his mother from Plymouth in January 1850, where he was working on a boat:

My dear Mother, Father and brother,

I write these few lines to inform you that we shall go to sea in the morning, if the wind changes a
little. I am afraid that there is a mortification in my foot. I have been crying day after day with it
and no one to look after it, but myself. The men that come on board say it was a shame that the
captain did not let me come home with it, but I hope, please God, it will get better. He treats me
very bad with it, he swears at me and finds fault with me. I hope it is not for long. I have made up
my mind to come home. I have made up my mind to be a carpenter.

A second letter followed:

I am sorry I have not heard from home, but only once. If I could have got ashore tonight I should
have run home. I will be glad when the voyage is over and hope to come home and be
comfortable, for I shall never be it here. I take good care that I shall never be a sailor. I would
come home and go to the workhouse first. I hope it is not for long. I hope you are quite well dear
mother, father and brothers. I shall be glad when I can sit by my dear mother. Accept my kind
love to you and all. I cannot find any friend like my dear beloved mother, but never mind dearest
mother cheer up your heart. I hope, please God, my foot will get better in a few days.
Dear mother, dear mother, dear mother, cheer up,
dear mother, dear mother, dear mother,
dear mother, I remain your loving son,
Wm Veale.

By 1861, William Francis Veale was a

fish merchant and living in St. Peter’s
Road, Great Yarmouth. Ten years later
he was still living at St. Peter’s Road
and was living off an annuity. By 1881,
he had moved to 4 St. George’s
Terrace and was living off income from
rented houses.
left: William Francis Veale in
William Veale’s obituary in 1914 reads: 2013. right: by 2021 it had
a link with the past has been severed in been vandalised
his death, which took place at his
residence at 4 St. George’s Road. The
deceased gentleman, who was in his 79th year, was the youngest son of Robert Veale, the
founder of the well-known mast and block-making business, which was carried out on Southgates
Road. The deceased was educated by the late Mr. Barrett, whose school was in St. Peter’s
Paved Row East. It is believed that William Veale was the last surviving scholar of that school.
The deceased intended to follow the sea as a vocation, but after two or three voyages abandoned
the idea and he settled down ashore becoming financially interested in mercantile shipping.

Edward Pycraft of Drury House, 75 South Quay was a shoesmith and a

wheelwright. His health had been deteriorating for some time with a failing
heart. He was a member of the Board of Guardians, an active member of
the Primrose League and for 42 years he was a member of the St.
Nicholas’ Church choir. He was buried after the church service in pouring
rain with a very large crowd of mourners.

He owned four houses in Lowestoft,

three houses in Great Yarmouth, a
three-floor warehouse in Garden
Lane, with a stable, a coach house
and yards, and a shoeing forge on
Southgates Road. All were auctioned
after his death. Drury House, where Edward Pycraft
he lived, was also auctioned.

In October 1968, Drury House was damaged by fire and was

then demolished a year later. There was a great effort to
save it. It had been built in the early 17th century and
Drury House damaged in the Second World War.

John Ditcham has a typical sailor’s gravestone with rope edging and a fouled anchor sitting in
waves. A fouled anchor is an anchor with a rope around it and represents the trials and
tribulations sailors are forced to endure on a daily basis.

On the 1st April 1878 at the Melbourne Hospital, Victoria, Australia, John Ditcham died, aged 35
years. The death notice continues: he was a native of Yarmouth, who arrived in the colony in
1875 in the ship Robert Morrison, which was a convict ship until 1869. He came from a fishing
family and held a master’s certificate.
John Ditcham Joseph Sutcliffe

The Rev’d. Joseph Sutcliffe was the minister of the Primitive Methodist Church in Great
Yarmouth and he lived at 16 Mariners’ Road. In 1861, he had been the Methodist minister at
Leek, Staffordshire. In 1871, he was the Methodist minister at Margaret St. Clee in Shropshire
and, by 1881, he had moved to be the minister at Stratford upon Avon.

He died in 1894 at the age of 69 years. He chose a book for his headstone, presumably a Bible.

Wilfred Hunt’s name was added to the family memorial. He was killed in action in France on
28th February 1917. He served in the Middlesex Regiment and was the eldest son of a cattle
dealer and butcher of 20 Harley Road, Great Yarmouth. He was 25 years old. The death notice
in the Yarmouth Independent read:

He has gone on his last commission.

To that beautiful place called rest,
Now his head is safely pillowed,
On the great Commander’s breast.

Wilfred Hunt

His wife received official confirmation that her husband had been killed four months after his
death. Previously he had been reported wounded and missing. Hunt joined the army in May
1916, and went to France in December and took part in some severe fighting.

Wilfred Hunt was a constant attendant with his father at Messrs. Maddison and Miles’ at the
weekly sales at Southtown cattle market.

His father died three weeks after his son was reported missing and his death was thought to be
due to shock. He was 48 years old and had attended the weekly cattle market for 34 years.

Private Hunt’s mother lost her husband, son and daughter in the course of five months. Another
son was on active service in Egypt.

His memorial is in the form of an obelisk, which is a symbol of Egypt with its cult of death-worship.
It was in the 19th century when the tall, three dimensional obelisk really became popular, above
all in the late Victorian and Edwardian cemeteries.

The typical example is a tall shaft tapering slowly upwards with a pyramidal top. There is usually
a square base and perhaps one or more steps. There are opportunities for sculpture on obelisk
monuments around the base or a wreath around the middle, a portrait roundel on one side, or lion
feet or a scroll corner piece. However, this is not the norm and most obelisk monuments are long
and smooth objects with no ornament at all. Greater public awareness and appreciation of
Egyptian monuments is generally attributed to Napoleon’s conquest of Egypt and Admiral
Nelson’s defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of the Nile in 1798. Egyptian art gained popularity
again after the discovery of Tutankhamen’s grave in 1922, when many elements were absorbed
in Art Deco design styles.

Robert Hovell drowned in 1907 at the age of 21 years. Exactly a week after Robert Hovell, a
lighter-man mysteriously disappeared; his body was found hanging on a mooring chain of a
Scottish drifter in Great Yarmouth harbour.
At the subsequent inquest his father,
also a lighter-man of Row 33, stated
that on the morning of 5th October
1907 he and his son, Robert, had left
their home at 5.30 am. They were
going to work on the lighter, Keystone,
which was moored at the A. B. C.
Wharf, Great Yarmouth. The deceased
went on ahead to light the fire in the

When his father arrived on the lighter

he found the fire lit, but his son was not
there, though his coat was lying on a Robert Hovell
bunk. The Keystone, which was laden,
was moored outside the steamer, Eastern Counties. Robert Hovell’s father was unable to
account for the drowning of his son. He said that his son did not have any worries and it was
unlikely that he had committed suicide.

The coroner pointed out to the jury that as there was no evidence to show how the deceased
came to be in the water, the proper verdict would be an open one. The jury returned with a
verdict of found drowned (which is an open verdict), but added that the death was accidental (a
closed verdict). The coroner told them that the verdict must be one or the other, but not both.
After further discussion the jury agreed on a verdict of found drowned (open).

His gravestone has an engraving of the lighter, Keystone.

It was the custom of many of the Scottish fishing boats to hire a Great Yarmouth fisherman for the
season. They were employed as pilots, who could use their local knowledge to navigate to and
from the fishing grounds and to avoid the many sandbanks in the area.

The Inverness boat, Violet M. Hope (INS 263), had hired Samuel Fuller of Collingwood Cottages,
Marine Parade, Great Yarmouth as its pilot.

On 17th October 1902, when the Violet M.

Hope was ten miles off Great Yarmouth,
the wind was blowing strongly from the
north-west and a heavy sea was running.
The skipper of the boat had ordered that
the sail be taken in so that the nets could
be thrown. As Samuel Fuller and the crew
were taking in the foresail the boat lurched
and the sail knocked Samuel Fuller into the

A crew member in the stern of the boat

reached over the gunwale to catch hold of
Samuel Fuller, but only his finger tips
reached him. An oar was thrown to the
struggling man. The skipper went to fetch Samuel Fuller
a lifebuoy, but by this time Samuel Fuller
was too far away. The sail was reset and after two tacks the boat was manoeuvred to come
alongside Samuel Fuller. He was floating face down. His oilskin frock had kept him afloat. With
the aid of a boathook, he was pulled on board. Water was drained from his lungs by turning him
onto his front and he was placed in front of the fire in the cabin. Resuscitation was continued for
some time, but to no avail.

Samuel Fuller was 62 years of age at the time of his death. At the inquest the jury returned a
verdict of accidental death. As the crew of the Violet M. Hope were leaving the inquest, the
coroner wished them better luck with their next pilot.

Davies, Paul P., Stories Behind the Stones, !SBN 978-0954450939 (2008)
Great Yarmouth Mercury, various
Great Yarmouth Independent, various

Society members
taking part in the
tenth annual
cemetery crawl

Panoramic Map of Great Yarmouth
Paul P. Davies

This fine pictorial folded map of Great Yarmouth was produced by Jarrolds. It is not dated. As
the Gorleston Tramway Terminus is shown, we can date the map to the very early 1900s.


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