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Mayors meet at riverside site that has historical connotations

PUBLISHED: 17:16 19 July 2017 | UPDATED: 17:21 19 July 2017

Norwich Lord Mayor David Fullman, Great Yarmouth Mayor Kerry Robinson-Payne and Cllr John Overton from the South Norfolk District Council at Hardley Cross. Picture: Broads Authority

Norwich Lord Mayor David Fullman, Great Yarmouth Mayor Kerry Robinson-Payne and Cllr John Overton from the South Norfolk District Council at Hardley Cross. Picture: Broads Authority

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A tradition thought to date back to 1556 has seen the mayors of Norwich and Great Yarmouth meet at Hardley Cross.

Hardley Cross. Picture: Julian Claxton Hardley Cross. Picture: Julian Claxton

Norwich Lord Mayor David Fullman and Great Yarmouth Mayor Kerry Robinson-Payne re-enacted a meeting at the site that began with the creation of Hardley Cross in 1556 to confirm the legality of due collection from River Yare traffic travelling to and from Yarmouth.

The cross is located immediately south west of the confluence of the rivers Yare and Chet and marks the boundary of the legal powers of Norwich and Yarmouth on the River Yare.

Norwich’s control of the river upstream of the cross was settled by Queen Mary I in 1556 and the city was given “full power to perambulate these bounds yearly, or whenever they please”.

This is thought to be the conception of the meeting of the mayors, which is understood to have taken place during one of these perambulations of the bounds.

As the years went on this annual meeting became a celebrated affair.

An 1824 publication called The Monthly Review published a quote from Dr Frank Sayers in reference to the meetings: “Annually in July the mayors of Norwich and Yarmouth meet in their state–barges on the River Yare at Hardley Cross, which separates their respective jurisdictions... All the many pleasure boats on these rivers assemble; the commercial craft is in requisition to stow spectators, to waft music, to vend refreshments.”

As time passed, the tradition fell out of favour but has been resurrected in recent years. Last Friday, the mayors shook hands at the site in a tradition that spans centuries.

Joining them was chief executive of the Broads Authority John Packman and councillor John Overton amongst others.

Mrs Robinson-Payne said: “I am really pleased to be able to participate in this revived tradition. While Great Yarmouth and Norwich no longer share a municipal boundary, we have a shared history and retain many fantastic links, which are important to celebrate. Travel and trade along the Broads rivers are very much a part of that history, so this tradition is very fitting.”

Mr Fullman added: “This has been a historical day to remember, I hope that in the future it can be more widely shared with the public again.”

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