Amazing dates in Great Yarmouth from down the years

The wreckage of Caister lifeboat Beauchamp was finally broken up in 1966. She capsized on a rescue l

The wreckage of Caister lifeboat Beauchamp was finally broken up in 1966. She capsized on a rescue launch in 1901, with the death of nine of her crew. - Credit: Archant

Because this weekly column often delves into Great Yarmouth and Gorleston’s past, dates are all-important.

The Windmill on the Golden Mile, possibly in 1952.

The Windmill on the Golden Mile, possibly in 1952. - Credit: Archant

Sometimes it is difficult to pinpoint when something happened, but I want to read the original. Archant library colleagues require basic information to search for me - turning the pages of umpteen old Mercurys is not always successful.

So I have been grateful to local researchers Bill Ecclestone and John McBride whose published diaries of events save time and frustration, the former listing 1886-1936, the latter AD43 to 1997.

Now a third volume is available which will not only facilitate research but will also interest everybody who enjoys Yarmouth's colourful history. None is staid and dull: anything but!

Great Yarmouth 1937 to 1969, assembled by our Local History and Archaeological Society members, is a collection of snippets in chronological order. Their subject matter is all-encompassing and ranges from pre-war, through the hostilities until the so-called Swinging Sixties were nearly exhausted.

Prefabricated homes on the Shrublands estate in Gorleston. Yarmouth council was praised for its prov

Prefabricated homes on the Shrublands estate in Gorleston. Yarmouth council was praised for its provision of these dwellings. - Credit: Archant

The most headline-making and the humdrum, the sad and smile-provoking, are all treated equally: about 50 or fewer words, with few exceptions. All are in the date order of their publication.

Probably there are 2,000 or even more covering all aspects of the borough's life and activities. As each one is little more than a headline or introductory paragraph, the publication is impossible to review.

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For example, in 1939 when the council discussed the possible provision of a tunnel under the river, members were allowed to smoke after three hours! As we are well aware, many more hours were wasted on this topic over the decades... but no tunnel ever resulted.

On a lighter theme: that 1939 December a suggestion that beer may be rationed was thought to be unlikely... "although it may have to be diluted".

I have plucked a selection of the entries almost at random to provide examples, although they may not be a balanced cross-section of the content. But be prepared for some memory-jerking inclusions... and a few surprises.

1937: A faulty 2in spring in the Haven Bridge lifting mechanism resulted in "the greatest traffic hold-up in Yarmouth's history" while the ferry reported record business.

1938: The council accepted tenders of £64,243 to build 148 houses on the North Denes estate.

1939: Palmers department store offered free estimates for the preservation, repair and storage of customers' fur coats.

1940: The Vicar of Yarmouth, Canon Aubrey Aitken, was fined 10 shillings (50d) by magistrates for a blackout violation.

1941: Drapers anticipated a boom in sales of white fabric so people could be seen in the blackout. There had been a 40% rise in road deaths since the blackout.

1942: A Gorleston dairyman was fined £1 for selling milk 10% deficient in milk fat.

1943: A lad of 15 living in Chaucer Road was killed playing with a mortar bomb; two other lads were badly injured.

1944: A woman was fined £10 or two months imprisonment for sketching in a prohibited area without a permit.

1945: A man running a Pleasure Beach hoopla stall for betting was fined £10 or jailed for a month.

1946: The first bananas since pre-war arrived: the 2200 bunches were for under-18s.

1947: Yarmouth led East Anglia by completing 685 prefabs.

1952: East Suffolk County Council agreed to add "on-Sea" to Hopton's name.

1955: Iron-Age gold bracelets were found in a garden on Ormesby Road, Caister.

1958: One-Man-Operated buses were introduced to serve Cobholm and Vauxhall Station.

1960: The Tour of Britain cycle race ended a leg on the sea-front.

1966: The ill-fated Caister lifeboat Beauchamp, unused since the 1901 disaster when she capsized with the loss of nine crewmen, was broken up.

1969: Proposals were published to demolish the Windmill and Empire, replacing them with shops and an amusement arcade, with cinema and theatre accommodation above them.

The downside is that only a limited number of the new publication were printed, Cobholm Miniatures in Broad Row selling any spare copies.