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Recreation ground dig unearths Victorians had the throwaway habit

PUBLISHED: 11:57 22 April 2018 | UPDATED: 12:07 22 April 2018

Dr Tom Licence from the UEA led the dig at the Beaconsfield Road Recreation Ground.
Picture: Anthony Carroll

Dr Tom Licence from the UEA led the dig at the Beaconsfield Road Recreation Ground. Picture: Anthony Carroll

Archant

The phrase the throwaway society is commonly accepted to describe our living habits as households dispose of packaging in their bins in their droves.

Dr Tom Licence from the UEA led the dig at the Beaconsfield Road Recreation Ground.
Picture: Anthony Carroll Dr Tom Licence from the UEA led the dig at the Beaconsfield Road Recreation Ground. Picture: Anthony Carroll

And now an archaeological dig in Great Yarmouth has shown that same behaviour existed 120 years ago.

On Saturday, part of the Beaconsfield Road recreation ground was dug up so history hunters could unearth a Victorian rubbish dump.

The dig was led by Dr Tom Licence, director of the Centre of East Anglian Studies at the University of East Anglia, as part of his wide-ranging “What the Victorians threw away” research project.

The excavation showed it had last been used as a rubbish dump in 1898 and a vast array of soft drinks bottles, clay pipes and ornaments were found.

Dr Tom Licence from the UEA led the dig at the Beaconsfield Road Recreation Ground.
Picture: Anthony Carroll Dr Tom Licence from the UEA led the dig at the Beaconsfield Road Recreation Ground. Picture: Anthony Carroll

Among the finds were ginger beer and lemonade bottles and the remains of shellfish and a measured half pint cup from a pub.

Some of the bottles were from Yarmouth firm H Lawrence, which ran from 1860 to 1970.

Dr Licence said: “We are looking for the origins of the throwaway society. We know Yarmouth’s rubbish was being buried here in the 1980s and that’s when waste packaging begins.

“All the plastic and stuff we have nowadays begins with glass and ceramics in the 1890s.

Some of the bottle and artefacts found at the Beaconsfield Road Recreation Ground dig.
Picture: Anthony Carroll Some of the bottle and artefacts found at the Beaconsfield Road Recreation Ground dig. Picture: Anthony Carroll

“We are also getting a snapshot of life of everyday Great Yarmouth in the Victorian period.”

Dr Licence said there was evidence soft drink bottles had been bought by holidaymakers from Luton and London as they travelled to the resort on trains and then threw them away.

He added: “There was a real love of lemonade and ginger beer.”

Evidence also showed residents at the time enjoyed shellfish and fish at mealtimes.

The scene of the dig at the Beaconsfield Road Recreation Ground.
Picture: Anthony Carroll The scene of the dig at the Beaconsfield Road Recreation Ground. Picture: Anthony Carroll

The team from the University of East Anglia were joined by members of the Norwich and Norfolk Archaeological Society and the Norfolk Bottles history group. All the items found have been removed.

The Beaconsfield Road recreation ground was created in the 1890s by levelling up the sand dunes with dry domestic waste – mostly ash and cinders - and covering it with turf.

The dig results will be featured on Dr Licence’s research website at www.whatthevictoriansthrewaway.com

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