WHILST I sympathise with landlords who are lashing out and blaming the government for their loss in revenue, they should not lose sight of the fact that the smoking ban has actually encouraged non-smokers, such as myself, to return to the social circuit.

WHILST I sympathise with landlords who are lashing out and blaming the government for their loss in revenue, they should not lose sight of the fact that the smoking ban has actually encouraged non-smokers, such as myself, to return to the social circuit.

After suffering chest illnesses for years, I reluctantly had to give up socialising in pubs and clubs (and also playing in bands) because the smokey atmospheres were causing me uninvited harm.

Some people might say I had an option, which I exercised, which was to stop going to pubs and clubs (your financial loss). But now I am once more able to join friends and family for lunches and evenings out, without having to reach for medication.

Having an outdoor/rooftop smoking area satisfies both parties and does not force the smoke on to the non-smokers... result - smokers and non-smokers patronise venues. I also note that a lot more venues are family-friendly as well.

As to blaming the reduction in revenue on the smoking ban, this is a bit narrow-minded because alcohol of every shape and size is vastly cheaper when purchased at a supermarket. So why go to a pub where the prices are higher?

Answer? If supermarkets did not sell the alcohol, then pubs would be able to revive their successful off-licences and most likely have some success at controlling its purchase by the underage (or risk losing their licence).

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Removing the vast cheap alcoholic stocks in supermarkets would direct customers back to the pubs.

Name and Address withheld

About 10 years ago I was helping to clear out a junk shop owned by a friend of mine in Leamington Spa, when I came across a torn sepia photograph about A4 size of a boxer posing as a “bare knuckle” fighter.

I asked if I could have it and I took it to be restored and framed as it really made an impression on me. Across the top is written “LDG: Sea: G Slater Gt Yarmouth”

He is posing in a pair of dark shorts. There is no other writing but I would guess it to have been taken in the 1930s.

As I am now doing my family history - I realise the importance of any photographic family records, so I would like to see if this G Slater has any family in the area who would like him back.

I don't want any money for the picture, but it would have to be collected as, I'm afraid, I could not afford to post him.

I have Googled him, but nothing came up that was relevant. I would think also he would have been boxing at light or welterweight, as he is quite a slight figure.


1 Sharpe Close


CV34 5BY

It was with great interest I read the story by Peggotty about the late John Blake

It brought back many memories because I remember so well having swimming lessons as a schoolchild in the 1950s from the late John Blake.

In those days, it was in the open air unheated swimming pool on the sea-front, a wonderful pool that measured 100 yards long and 25 yards across, complete with diving boards and water chute.

Our swimming lessons included life saving and we weren't expected to hang about. We all had to line up along the side of the pool and, when he gave the word, jump in - no matter what the weather was like. John Blake himself who taught us in the 3ft shallow end did indeed tread the water wearing high black waders.

Oh that that pool could have been covered in and heated! As a local resident I watched with great sadness to see it demolished.


Camden Place

How well I remember being taught to swim by Mr Blake.

I was about eight years old and at St Mary's School at the time. We practically had to break the ice to get into the pool as the water was so cold.

Mr Blake stood at the side of the pool in thigh boots and a large fisherman's jumper. We stood in the 3ft end and made the arm movements for the breaststroke, then we had to hang ont o the side of the pool and practise the leg movements. We were then told to “let go and swim”. No one dared to argue.

We all swam and I don't remember anyone drowning. We didn't have armbands or rubber rings, so these days health and safety would have a field day.

Also it wasn't the photo of Mr Blake's Army and Navy Pub that interested me, but the shop next door. Tudmans sold wallpaper and I can still imagine the smell of newness when you entered the shop.

People used to wallpaper much more often than they do today. Mum would collect the sample book and we would spend hours pouring over and deciding which paper to choose.

The only criteria being nothing with gold leaf as the gold would turn green because the walls were damp.

Perhaps it was just as well I had those swimming lessons!


Mill Lane


Great Yarmouth

Without doubt, were it not for Peggotty's weekly reviews of matters of interest in the history of our town, the achievements of many of our predecessors would have remained forgotten.

I found his memories of an old friend Bandsman Jack Blake most interesting and inspiring.

There cannot be many in our district who do not owe their ability to swim to the instruction of him and his wife.

It is well to remember that as amateurs we competed only for the honour of taking part until quite recently.

In Jack Blake's day the rewards for boxing professionally were extremely meagre by today's standards.

The bouts lasted twice as long and the gloves, when worn, were half the weight of today's. Is it any wonder that he sustained those injuries described in Peggotty's column. Who would agree to enter the ring under those conditions today?

Once again our thanks to you Peggotty for stirring up another almost forgotten memory.


Middleton Road


l PS It is indeed true that when Jack Blake was in the water in his beloved rubber suit instructing beginners, he frequently, much to the amusement of his pupils, teasingly uttered a loud “Tarzan” as I ploughed past him during training sessions.

Having just managed to catch up with some back copies of the Mercury, I was interested in your article regarding container ships that had visited the port in the past, and it stirred my memory of two other very short-lived container services that operated from Yarmouth

I remember when working as a driver for Lanhams, when they had a yard in Cobholm, and I was sent to Ocean berth to pick up from a container boat that had docked some hours earlier.

The facilities were very primitive by today's standards, with only a large crawler crane to unload, none of the large container cranes that now grace the outer harbour.

I seem to remember that Spandlers handled the transport side and sub contracted it out to other local hauliers, perhaps some of your readers, perhaps an ex docker or driver may may be able to enlighten me.

One of Norfolk Line's biggest customers, Pilkington Glass, also experimented with containers of imported glass into Atlas Wharf, but most of the haulage was carried out by their own haulier Suthrells, although I believe a local haulier, John Fairweather also moved a few.

At the risk of getting boring, does anyone remember Careline which also used Ocean berth and ran a daily Ro-Ro service from


Sad to see that the Norfolk Line name is to be phased out after their takeover by DFDS, with all the vessels being renamed and repainted.


Weavers Close


Reading the Mercury of August 27, the front page had an article about boy racers causing a nuisance and possible loss of life on the seafront.

In the same issue, on page seven, there was a plea from one of the country's senior police officers to Norfolk's council not to switch off the speed cameras.

Why is there not a speed camera on the seafront to catch these boy racers?

The police seem very adept at catching the few miles an hour over the limit drivers and raking in millions of pounds but not the drivers who are a real menace on the roads.

It seems a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing.


Station Road


My wife and I decided to take a walk along the cliffs to Hopton at the weekend, and we too were shocked at the amount of erosion that has taken place to the beach.

This, however, was overshadowed as we watched one of the property owners along the cliffs at Hopton depositing barrowful after barrowful of garden waste whilst they cut their lawn.

Evidence of this was also apparent outside every property along the cliffs. Flytipping? Not if you live in Hopton it seems, oh they're probably hiding behind some ancient by-law that allows them to do this, but the end result is a disgusting unattractive area that no-one wants to visit.

This, along with the large stretch of public footpath along the cliffs that seems to have been claimed by the holiday camp, has really changed my views about the plight of the beach erosion.

Do the locals really care or are they just worried one day they may lose their dumping ground. Oh, and if you were wondering, that property owner's lawn looked lovely.


via email

It appears that the Union Flag is losing its status and respect as more and more people don't know which way up it is supposed to be hung.

I feel it is an insult to have it hanging upside down - it is like sticking the Queen's head the wrong way up on an envelope.

With reference to the photograph in last week's Mercury of the 901 Troop Marine cadets, it appears that even our military youngsters are not being shown this as part of their discipline.

Come on Britain let's be proud of our flag and show it the respect it deserves.


via email

Sir, I am writing to sympathise with the lady who wasn't hit by a letter falling from Corals street sign. You see, I too was not hit by the self-same falling letter.

Granted, I was in Ormesby at the time but, as my brother has rightly said: “You could have been there on that day had you been visiting your dentist. There, but for the grace of God, go you.“

And what if it had been an even heavier letter that fell, like a Q, which as you know is like an O but with an extra little squiggly bit down near the bottom making it much heavier.

Did any of Coral's staff get in touch with me for not getting hit? Did they send me a “sorry you didn't get hit” card. No Sir, they did not! I think that says everything you need to know about them!

Anyhow, I have now such a phobia about not getting hit by falling shop signs that I now walk down the middle of the road, just to be on the safe side.

May I add, to save me writing a further letter, that I think all dogs should be kept on a lead. I was almost bitten by one once,



Ormesby St Margare

AT last Thursday's council meeting the Great Yarmouth area museums' committee was abolished. This had been a local forum that enabled private museums, individuals and so on to attend and speak.

You may think this has nothing to do with you? This is only the start. How safe are the local services that you cherish?


Former chairman of Great Yarmouth Area Museums Committee

Please publish in your letters the compliments of the Gorleston Yacht Pond users to the GYBC personnel who have done a sterling job this year in keeping the water clean and weed free.

The entire beach and seafront are a credit to the personnel who pick up the rubbish left by uncaring people and keep the area tidy.

In particular the Gorleston Model Boat club wishes to thank Mark for his hard work all through the summer in collecting the seagull feathers and debris thrown in by the public so that propellers are not fouled and for topping up the water level when needed.

We realise that the pond does not actually generate any income but both visitors and locals appreciate a “free” facility where it does not cost a fortune to entertain the young children.



Gorleston Model Boat Club

I was surprised and saddened to read such an ill-informed editorial “rant”, her word not mine, about the recent council decision concerning the selection of the council leader.

The action taken was a direct requirement of Labour's Local Government Act which severely restricts the choices councils have in this respect.

All councils, not just our borough, are required by law to amend their constitution by May 2011. The cabinet did not want to change the current system but were required by law to do so.

The irony of this is that the Coalition Government is preparing a Local Government White Paper with new radical proposals for running councils, which will replace the current legislation before it becomes activated next year.

This means that the status-quo will remain in the meantime.

All this was debated and explained at the cabinet meeting of August 25 in the presence of a reporter who, I believe works in the same building as the editor.

If only she had spoken to him, her blood pressure could have been controlled and the “rant” unnecessary!


Leader of Great Yarmouth Borough Council

There is a place which belongs to us all in Great Yarmouth, it is our local park.

Just a few minutes from the market place we find ourselves walking in this very well cared-for gigantic garden, which also has a great atmosphere of quietness and peace. There is an area for the youngsters to have fun. It costs absolutely nothing to visit and enjoy its surrounds and pleasures.


Admiralty Road

Great Yarmouth

Many thanks for publishing our letter last week, Columbia lives!.

It is strange that there still appears to be confusion about the business operation of the Columbia and customers are still enquiring about the supposed closure they read about in the paper.

Could I please state once again that the Columbia is open for business.

It has not changed hands, it continues to serve the same high quality food under the same ownership as it has for the past 20- odd years.



Columbia Restaurant