All the sevens reveal historic news from Great Yarmouth’s past
- Credit: Archant
It could be my imagination, with no basis in fact, but if someone is asked to pick a number, the chances are that it will be an odd one, not even. Limit the choice to a single figure, and my bet is that seven will prove a favourite.
The seven deadly sins (and a film about them, Se7en) plus The Magnificent Seven and umpteen more cinema releases, Snow White’s dwarves, the rainbow’s colours, Seven Pillars of Wisdom...
The latest was possibly the “Seven!” score dramatically announced by Len Goodman as head judge on TV’s Strictly Come Dancing.
So, as it’s 2017, for a look into the past I opted for seven as a year-ending digit.
Take 1987, for example, the year a hurricane caused extensive damage. Weather was also in the news 60 years earlier: in December 1927, a cold spell was so intense that ice floated in Great Yarmouth harbour, making it even harder work for the ferrymen rowing boats across the river.
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Of course, this was decades before our homes were centrally heated and well insulated.
Recently I wrote about the demise of the great herring fishery in the 1970s so was surprised to read later that as far back as 1927 the industry was in sharp decline, with associated firms closing and drifters being sold - for example, Horatio Fenner’s business was wound up and his drifter Fennew sold for £1,270.
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A South Denes road near Nelson’s Column still bears the family name.
In November 1937, former pupils of the Edward Worlledge School - still open in Southtown - put on their best suits and frocks and headed for the Bridge Hotel for the 11th annual reunion dinner of the Old Worlledgers’ Association with president J W May in the chair.
Toasts were proposed by the Mayor, Mrs Eve Carr, Captain Percy Crickmer, Mr H Thornton and Edgar Stanley, responses coming from Mr F J Gosling (the association secretary), senior boy and girl Norman Rudd and Sylvia Bennett, and Old Priorians secretary Mr H W Holdsworth. Some of those names were still in public life post-war.
Later there was dancing... and a game of whist, the first time I have encountered that after-dinner pursuit despite attending countless dinner-dances as a newspaper reporter.
It was just a puff of black smoke from a 380ft high chimney in 1957 but it was a significant sign that the new oil-fired South Denes power station would soon start generating. The smoke was part of a boiler and chimney test, the only previous emission being caused when fire accidently broke out inside the chimney during its construction.
That power station ceased production in 1985 and the buildings and landmark chimney were demolished by explosives... in 1997, another year in the seven cycle. That power station has been replaced by a successor.
Two familiar roll-on/roll-off ferries in the port, Norfolk Line’s Duke of Norfolk and the Duchess of Holland, were sold in 1987. Fishery giant Bloomfield’s distinctive Ocean House headquarters on South Denes Road was demolished that year.
A decade earlier, in 1977, the GPO sorting office moved from Regent Street to North Quay; and the girder-work Bure railway swing bridge, Southtown Station and the Harbour’s Mouth cafe were demolished.
1967? St Peter’s Church was rededicated as the Greek Orthodox Church; traffic wardens were introduced here; the Maritime Museum opened in the former Shipwrecked Sailors’ Home on Marine Parade; and the East Quay “round house” and Gorleston gasworks were demolished.
Whenever my bus stops outside Gorleston’s Ferryside, a wry smile is prompted by a notice forbidding skateboards, cycles and football, if I recall correctly. All three are well-nigh impossibilities because of the overgrown state of the grounds of the once-elegant but now empty and privately-owned building once used as our register office and for other civic purposes before it was sold.
In 1947 the borough council had bought it for use as a children’s home.