Letters, December 25, 2015

Sad to see the shutters on Star

I was shocked and dismayed to read of the Star Hotel’s closure as it is probably one of the last places of its type in Great Yarmouth that I would have thought to be under threat.

When working as a young journalist in the borough in the 60s and 70s, I well remember that the Star then was run by Roger Bondi and his family, and later, by my friends Edward and Frances Algie (who subsequently left to manage Danny La Rue’s Walton Hall Hotel in the Midlands – after meeting the entertainer on several occasions in The Star). I seem to recall that Roger Bondi’s son Peter may have taken over when the Algies left.

It ranked alongside establishments like the Imperial and Carlton Hotels as the tops in Great Yarmouth, and was highly popular as a venue on the then flourishing dinner dance season.

The Star side bar, in particular, played a huge part as a hub in the borough’s social life. We young reporters on the Mercury staff regarded it as “our” local (as did many other business people).

On Saturday lunchtimes it was a place you could walk into and pretty much guarantee that someone you knew would be there. It was hugely popular in the pre-Christmas run-up, too.

I have many happy memories of socialising with friends and colleagues there, and it saddens me to see shutters go up on such a distinctive building. Let’s hope someone, somewhere will be able to breathe new life into the Star.

Most Read


Trowse, Norwich

We need better transport links

It was interesting to read of Anders Larson’s visionary ideas for an improved travel infrastructure for Great Yarmouth. It is clear no forethought has ever been put into how people get around in the town – or get to the seafront.

The traffic system itself is an absolute mess and as a professional driver I frequently find myself apologising to visiting friends and relatives for the “long way round” trip just to go from A to B. And the far too many traffic lights we have.

I feel sorry too for those who want to see the beach and sea in the late autumn and winter months as the only way there if you haven’t a transport is to walk or take a taxi. No other resort in the UK has no public transport to their seafront.

Of course, all our councillors have cars and so do not need to walk so have no cares about it. It probably never comes into the heads of tourism bosses or indeed tourism businesses because they’re probably doing well financially.

There should also have been a transport link from the railway station to the bus station and thence on to the seafront. A light railway or tram system would have been perfect and I seem to recall a former borough councillor mooting the idea.

Nothing will ever change here because the council want it as it is, they see the seafront area is still making money and there is no need to invest. When it does collapse they won’t be councillors… and so it passes on and nothing will ever get done.

Name and Address withheld

Thanks for help after my fall

Thank you so much for the people that helped me after my fall on Tuesday lunchtime at the top of Victoria Arcade, opposite Greenwoods shop; the lovely lady who stayed with me and called an ambulance, someone brought a chair for me, and the men who went to inform my husband at the end of King Street, also all the people who stopped to see if they could help. Thank you also to the lovely paramedics.

Well done to the people of Great Yarmouth. Happy Christmas to you all.


Port statements a case of deja vu

In last week’s Mercury Cllrs Plant and Castle’s statements on the new company Peel Ports is a case of déjà vu; in 2007 when our river port and all Port Authority’s land plus £20m in grants was gifted to International Port Holdings (IPH), these same two councillors along with Peter Hardy and other council officers, all acclaimed the Outer Harbour as a saviour for the borough and indeed the county.

The deal promised 1,000 new jobs, a ferry service and containers, not forgetting a knock-on boost for tourism.

None of these promises materialised, so would it not be prudent for the said councillors to bite their tongues and wait to see if Peel Ports can bring to fruition the promises of eight years ago?

I for one will bless the day if the new owners, Peel Ports start off their tenure keeping the promises of jobs etc. that NCC and GYBC boasted about but failed to provide.

What concerns many, is out of the published estimated £50m that the port management was sold for, has the leader of GYBC been in talks with IPH on a return on our £20m grant? And not forgetting the gift of our river port to IPH, which is worth ,what, £30m?

On May 25, 2007 ratepayers pumped in £20m in grants to build the north and south arms of the outer harbour, without these there would be no outer harbour.

And due to negotiations the Quays on the Gorleston side (West) have been, since 2007, the responsibility of the borough ratepayers.

What provision has the leader of the council put in place to secure a percentage of the sale so the west bank can be repaired?

The editor’s comments on the letter page sum up our aspirations for the new company. They will, I am sure, look at the past eight years.

Where does the Port Authority stand in this sale; since 2007 they have been supported by IPH, will this arrangement continue with Peel Ports? We know in 2013 IPH lost the case where they wanted to take over the position of Harbour Authority from the Port Authority.

Hopefully by this time next year Peel Ports will have repaired all the quays, our councillors will have negotiated with IPH for a percentage of the sale of the port management and the promise of repairing the west bank has come to fruition


Burnt Lane,


Ooops, do we need spellcheck?

Mohammed Ali is a street in Cairo, Dom Perignon a Mafia boss and the Caesarian section a district of Rome - I continue to get the names of people and places mixed up.

And now I can add to my list Oaklahoma, (Mercury, 18 December), a tale of derring-do in which singing trees uproot themselves and take over the whole forest.

Thank you so much and Merry Christmas.


Collingwood Road,

Great Yarmouth

Thrilled to see swim pictures

I was so thrilled to see the photo of the swimmers with Father Christmas in the Mercury on December 11. His name was Martin Carter and he was a Red Cross worker. In those days he used to pick up disabled members in the ambulance and he and his wife were great supporters of the The Marina Centre Physically Disabled Swimming Club which was started in 1981when the Marina Centre first opened, and here we are still swimming 34 years on.

Pat Hollis and myself helped start the club with a group of helpers and we are the remaining two with just a few of the original members two who are now in their 90s.

Our Saturday mornings are very precious to our members old and new so a big thank you to all who have helped us over the past 34 years especially the Marina Centre for all their continued support.



My vision is not as ambitious

It seems the Mercury art department have made my scheme far more ambitious than it really is, so I’d like to clear up just a few mistakes in an otherwise wholly accurate article.

My proposed tram line does not begin at the train station. Instead, I propose a dualling and extending of the existing Norwich-Yarmouth train line through to Market Gates, and then on to the seafront and the outer-harbour. This then directly connects the surrounding region to the town’s civic (Marketplace); commercial (M-Gates); entertainment (Seafront), and industrial (Outer Harbour) areas, as well as these areas with each other.

Secondly, I do not propose a north-south tram line, which would be way too expensive! Instead I propose using Market Gates as a “hub of transference”. This means that buses which normally come and go from Market Gates, instead run from area-to-area, connecting with each other (and the proposed tram line) at Market Gates. This results in fewer, simpler transportation lines (at the same or less cost). Not only does this maximise mobility throughout the town on a limited budget, it again places focus on Market Gates as its centre. An idea of what I propose can be seen in the illustration provided (the orange line is the tram).

I would like to thank everyone for the positive feedback thus far, and invite them to read the full report on my blog (https://amglarson.wordpress.com/) or to send me an email, with the subject line Great Yarmouth to amglarson@gmail.com.



Thanks for your sleigh support

I would like to take this opportunity through your letters column to thank all those people who have supported the Santa’s Sleigh Appeal for 2015 as organised by the members of the Great Yarmouth Lions Club.

In addition to delighting many hundreds of children with Santa’s visits I am pleased to announce the club has raised in the region of £7,000 for its charity account.

Great Yarmouth Lions Club has donated in the region of £10,000 this past year to the local community in the form of larger donations to recognised charities together with smaller amounts to organisations and individuals sometimes in the form of sponsorship. The club has also supported worthy causes further afield through the Lions Clubs International Foundation.

Yarmouth Lions has been established for more than 60 years and was one of the first to be formed in the UK. Members are proud to be part of the World’s largest service organisation. The club raises funds throughout the year to support its charity work with further details to be found on the its website and Facebook page. New members are always welcome.

The Santa’s Sleigh committee would like to thank Yarmouth Police for their support in keeping the sleigh on the road, Page Trailers for vital repairs and also Kingswood Conservatories for providing a stable for Santa’s reindeer during the appeal. Further thanks go to customers at the Belton Tavern, Gorleston Entertainer and Hopton White Hart for their continued support.

The club would like to thank your readers for their support throughout the year and wish everyone a Happy New Year.


Club President

The original Star was demolished

I was sorry to hear of the closing of the Star Hotel and sorry for the staff losing their jobs at this time of year.

The article in the Mercury was correct. The panelled room was in the Star, but not this one. The original Star was demolished in 1935, transferring it’s name to the Cromwell, a temperance hotel next door. The fine panelled room was shipped to America and sold by auction to the Metropolitan Museum. My late brother David went to see it when he was in the States on a business trip.



Star fittings are in New York

Several members of Great Yarmouth Local History Society were saddened to read about the closure of the Star Hotel on Hall Quay; they would drop into the bar there after meetings.

However, members asked me to point out that the report repeated the oft stated fallacy about the building. The premises until recently occupied by the Star was the Stone House until 1890 when its name changed to the Cromwell Temperance Hotel and the Tudor-style upper floors were added. Its name was changed to the Star Hotel in 1934.

In 1936, the telephone exchange was built on Hall Quay on the site of old Star Hotel immediately south of the premises currently occupied by the Star. It was from this building that the elaborate fixtures and fittings were removed to the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

The telephone exchange did not extend to the corner of Regent Street. There was another building on the corner site.



Dog poop bags on top of drains

After reading Mr Harrison’s letter in last week’s Mercury about a person leaving a dog poop bag at a lamp-post, I felt I had to highlight what people do in and around Bradwell: dog poop bags are thrown on top of drains in the street. I imagaine they hope they will be washed away. No wonder the drains get blocked. Is it really a problem to carry the bag to the nearest bin, which I may add are few and far between in Bradwell; or just take it home and put it into your own home?

If you can’t be responsible for your dog then don’t have one.



Steaks grilled on the hot coals

Re your delightful insert in the Mercury, Back to the Eighties (December 11), Page 11, the centre picture captioned “What’s the celebration?” It was the official opening of the Old Forge and Stable Bar, created from the original forge building. Steaks were actually cooked on the grill over hot coals, aided by the repaired old bellows.

My late husband, Colin Grapes, renovated the Norfolk Barn; in 1976 we opened as a restaurant and in 1982 the Forge was added. All hard work but very enjoyable with wonderful staff. Happy days!



Cinderella full of fun and laughter

I have just visited, with my family, St George’s Theatre to see the pantomime of Cinderella. What a wonderful performance from the entire cast, a joy to watch from start to finish.

A truly lovely experience of what panto is all about. Fun and laughter for all ages. I cannot praise it enough. If you have not already booked for this local based entertainment, I do urge you to do so, because not only will you enjoy a wonderful show but your support for this and any future shows will help to keep the theatre up and running because to lose it would be a great tragedy for the town.


St Peter’s Plain,

Great Yarmouth