Letters, January 14

Roll up for end of the pier show

GORLESTON Pier closed to the public!” No, not yet but it will not be long: “Health and safety, not fit for purpose”, and so on.

The condition of the pier has deteroriated rapidly over the last few months. The good people of Gorleston will soon lose one of their favourite amenities, used by ship spotters, fishermen, photographers and strollers.

The forecast of a public inquiry cannot come soon enough and Messrs J Cooper and D Durrant need all the backing they can muster for the county council scrutiny committee hearing. I wish them well in taking on the “heavies”.

Hopefully, the outcome will be in the interests of the Gorleston and Great Yarmouth council tax payers.


Bateley Avenue

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Maritime heritage to be lost forever

ON Tuesday, the development control committee will decide on the borough council’s planning application for “Complete destruction of the pier structure known as the jetty.”

Before this decision is taken, I hope the significance of this site to the history and development of Great Yarmouth and the United Kingdom will be reconsidered by our 21st century burgesses. For half a millennium, Norfolk and Suffolk were the richest, most densely populated and most powerful counties in England. Great Yarmouth, centrally placed as it is, became the key port of East Anglia.

In 1340, John Perebrown, a burgess of Yarmouth, led the King’s Fleet in the great Battle of Sluys. Seven years later, Edward III laid siege to Calais. His fleet had more ships sent from Yarmouth than from London.

The first jetty was built in 1560 in time to serve during the Armada menace, which came in 1588. This makes it the oldest known pier in England. One hundred feet of the structure was carried away in a single night during a huge gale in 1767.

It was soon rebuilt by the burgesses and was ready to play its part during the Napoleonic Wars, when England was threatened once more with invasion. Yarmouth again became a frontline town with thousands of troops billeted, ready to fight the French invaders. Yarmouth, at the end of the 18th century, mirrored Dover’s position in the 1940 anti-invasion precautions against the Nazis.

This association of our Jetty with Nelson’s part in the defeat of Napoleon has passed into legend. It is a matter of huge importance to the history of the Nation – on a par with the Battle of Britain during the second world war.

When the committee meets, it will know that a decision to destroy the jetty is irrevocable. With that one act, they will sweep away a vital link with Great Yarmouth?s maritime history. The structure has inevitably been rebuilt many times in its history, but the site is the same and it is this present building which links us directly to 1560.



Great Yarmouth Local History and Archaeological Society

Extend berm for long-term good

AT the moment it is sobering to visit the beach between Scratby and California as I do every day with my little dog, and reflect on what the scenery would have been like had the berm not been there.

At high tide, the sea swirls about the base of the rocks exposing the white matting they rest on. At low tide, there is almost no sand left, only the clay base with the strange patterns of a vanished landscape.

Whereas weather has a short timescale and climate a long timescale, it must be said that the beach will probably be replenished before long, from a growing sandbank offshore.

However, the pattern I have observed over the last decade of daily visits is that the sea covers the entire beach at most high tides, when in the past it was only at the turn of the moon phases and equinox.

So, in my opinion, the extension to the rock berm would be a jolly good thing and the very best way of spending money for long term benefit. The rocks are of proven worth.


North Road


Nigel’s demise broke the rules

HOW delightful that Mercury editor Anne Edwards should share her devotion to The Archers with a full page about the world’s longest soap opera and its 60th anniversary.

The last time it featured with a spread in this way, believe it or not, was the 25th anniversary when I was the paper’s chief reporter and had the privilege of spending a day in Ambridge which, at that time, was the BBC’s Pebble Mill studios in Birmingham. Ah, the power of the press!

Not only did I lunch with both Walter Gabriel (Chriss Gittens) and the then (and best) Dan Archer (Edgar Harrison) but I sat in the production gallery to watch the New Year’s Day 1976 episode recorded, in which Tony and Pat’s first child, John, was named. Like Anne, I too shed tears when John died in a farm accident many years later.

For BBC Radio Norfolk’s 20th anniversary, I was able to interview, sadly only on the phone because he was ill, Norman Painting, the long-serving Phil Archer. Amazingly it turned out that in his pre-Ambridge days when he was a producer for the old Midlands region, he had come to Gorleston and been taken out on the lifeboat by my grandfather, coxswain Bertie Beavers, to record an item on Scroby Sands.

I’d always had a vague memory of my grandad talking about “someone from the BBC”, but never realised it was such a significant someone!

One of the leading people behind the daily serial, scriptwriter and web page editor Kerri Davies has family in Gorleston and visits the town regularly, which is probably why Clarrie Grundy’s sister, Rosie “lives” in Great Yarmouth.

Like many others I’ve escaped to Ambridge for most of my life, rarely missing an episode in more than 50 years, which is why the 60th anniversary and the sacrificial death of Nigel Pargetter left me, and countless others fans, so disappointed.

This broke all the rules. The Archers, unlike TV soaps, has rarely resorted to cheap stunts. True there was a brief period in the early 1970s which is best forgotten in the mists of time. To fans, Ambridge isn’t fictional and life in the village has always followed a similar pattern and timescale to reality. Deaths have been what might best be best described as “organic”.

Generally they either follow the real death of the actor (as in the case of Norman Painting last year) or a genuine reason for an actor’s departure. Sam Barriscale, who played John, had indicated he would like to leave so this gave the scriptwriters a year’s notice; the actress who played Betty Tucker emigrated to New Zealand and, most recently, Alan Devereaux was unable to continue in the role of Bull landlord Sid Perks, which led to one of the genuine surprise Ambridge deaths of last year.

Unless my memory is failing, never since the celebrated death of Grace Archer in a burning barn in 1955 has a leading character been unceremoniously axed or, in the case of the unfortunate Nigel, thrown off a roof with a blood curdling scream. This was needless sensationalism which might be appropriate in Albert Square or Emmerdale, but is not worthy of the Archers.


Lowestoft Road


Please support us one last time

I WOULD like to inform your readers that the Friends of Animals Charity Shop at 6 Lowestoft Road, Gorleston, opposite the library, will be closing down after almost 13 years.

We have been supporting animal charities, mainly Venture Farm Cat Rescue and more recently the Animal Respect Dog Rescue in Greece and have provided food for thousands of dogs and cats over the years.

The shelter in Greece has approximately 160 dogs at any one time. Due to ill health, I’m afraid we have had to make the very hard decision to finally close the doors.

We have raised more than �100,000 for Animal Respect in Greece and also supplied them with many items which have been sold at bazaars out there.

I would like to thank all of the very loyal volunteers and valuable supportive customers and also family and friends for understanding the importance of the way I run the very cluttered shop, and lastly to my understanding husband who has suffered in silence. Please come in to support us for one more time. Everything must go.

Any other charity shop requiring stock, please get in touch on 01493 780644. We will also be selling the clothes rails, shop fittings and fire extinguishers. Cat and Dog Food is still greatly appreciated by Foxy Lodge Wildlife Rescue in Hemsby and can be collected.

A big thank-you to Morrisons Supermarket in Gorleston and their customers who donated for our Christmas appeal. We have already taken one car load to Foxy Lodge.


Too much vested party interest

TO read some of the comments in this newspaper you might think that we had already elected a mayor despite the fact that we have yet to vote on whether we want one.

In a previous letter on this subject I made the point that an independent mayor was unlikely because of the party support for their own candidates. I think my case has been borne out by the first people to throw their hats into the ring.

Messrs Coleman and Castle are, or were, leaders of their parties so if a referendum decides that we want an elected mayor you can pretty much guarantee that one of them will get the job. How will that improve democracy?

Both of these men are also the biggest supporters of the outer harbour. They would be, they have both been members of the Port Authority that allowed this travesty.

Why did the people who started this petition think that on top of paying for the aforementioned project, the council tax payers of this town would like to fork out again for a referendum, and if it succeeds, for a mayoral election.

The latest insult was to use this page to complain that the council wants to combine this vote with the local elections in May, rather than spend however many thousands to hold it in March. All I can say is that this has nothing to do with democracy, just the same old vested interests trying to get even more power. You’ll never see Independent Joe Bloggs as mayor, so whenever it comes, kick it into touch – where it belongs.



Join our church celebrations

ON May 8, St Nicholas’ Church celebrates 50 years since its re-consecration after being gutted in the second world war.

On that day there will be a civic service and the Bishop of Norwich will be preaching. This will be followed by a buffet lunch for which there will be a charge of �10. An early choral evensong will follow at 3pm.

We are particularly anxious that all those married or baptised in St Nicholas Church in the 12 months after May 8, 1961 be invited.

If you wish to be involved, you can contact me on 01493 843647 or by email at paulpearce@yarmouth8143.freeserve.co.uk.

During May, the St Nicholas Church Preservation Trust has organised many varied events to celebrate the huge achievement of re-building St Nicholas Church.

These events will raise funds, which are urgently needed, for repairing the deterioration of the fabric of the church and the repair of the historic organ.



Chairman of St Nicholas’ Church Preservation Trust

Still waiting for bus seat repairs

FOR some months now I have been trying to get the missing seat replaced at stand D at the Market Gates bus shelter. This has been missing for more than two years, having been vandalised.

I first reported it to First Bus, and having been passed from one firm to another and after several phone calls and letters, have been advised that it is the responsibility of Norfolk County Council, with a First Bus representative advising me that he would take the matter up with them.

This was on December 7, but the seat remains unrepaired, leaving only a four-inch base on which to sit.

Now that your paper has again given publicity to the general sorry state of the bus station as a whole, may I hope that Bradwell residents can have somewhere to sit, albeit in somewhat Spartan conditions.


Warbler Close


Course just adds insult to injury

AFTER reading that Great Yarmouth College was to be offering a childcare course aimed specifically at males, I felt deeply patronised.

As a female nursery practitioner myself, I find it hard to believe that the college has taken steps to offer this course when only last month it was announced that the college was to close its successful day nursery.

With it went nearly 100 children, 17 already qualified and experienced staff and the loss of an enriching learning environment in which childcare students go to on placements.

With childcare jobs already hard to come by for those already qualified where are these male practitioners supposed to seek employment – especially now there will be one less nursery within the area to seek employment from?

Name and Address withheld

Encouraged by words of support

OUR group is more than a little pleased at the words of support from different people in the Letters pages of the Mercury these past few weeks.

Thank you for your numerous letters, if you would like to know more about what has happened with our port since the year 2000, please email us on saveourport@btinternet.com


Burnt Lane


Same name but different people

THE Mercury last week published a letter, headed “Keep fighting this medical scandal”.

The letter is of concern as it contains factual inaccuracies, which could lead to unnecessary suffering and worry to users of local NHS services. The letter is also signed M Weatherstone.

Due to the rarity of this name, and the fact I am the only person with that name working within the NHS in the Eastern Region, it must be recorded that the letter was not written by me, that the email address supplied with the letter has no connection with me and that I do not agree with the statements made by the author of the letter.


MSc MRPharmS (IPres) GPhC

Enjoy music in a convivial setting

WOULD anyone like an evening of music that is far removed from the crash bang noise of pop groups?

If so they might like to try the Recorded Music Circle, which meets on the second and fourth Monday of each month at Christchurch in Great Yarmouth.

Here a wide and varied selection of music is played in a quiet and relaxed atmosphere.

All are welcome to come along and give it a try.

When I went for the first time I didn’t know what to expect but I am still a member of the circle after 25 years. The programmes start at 7.30pm.


Caister Road

Great Yarmouth

New Mayor on Cheap? No thanks

THE spin coming out of the town hall at the moment is steadily reaching dizzy heights with so many cooked up reasons why the electorate shouldn’t have the opportunity of choosing a business minded mayor to work on our behalf as opposed to a politically driven amateur.

It takes a small minded businessman to think that the head of a multi-million pound organisation such as our borough can be got for under �70,000.

Like any thinking voter I would like to see a CV from every potential councillor who asks for my vote. I don’t need to know where they were born, how many children they have or any other useless information. I want to know their experience of life and business, what have been their occupations and how they have progressed, their character and what they have done and can do for our community etc. Would any employer choose a person for an important job without knowing this and more?

I would much rather vote for someone worth more than �70,000 per annum, than an amateur who thinks he can give good value for �9,000 and has limited experience in the ways of business. I want a Mayor who will be his/her own person, can make important decisions, choose from the best of all parties for their cabinet, has valuable business experience over a wide field, bears no allegiance to any political party and is dedicated to the community and job. Not an easy find but I know they are out there and we have to attract one of them to take our town forward.

When the position of Mayor was resumed in the borough we were told we needed a figurehead to entertain important businessmen and represent the borough in attracting new business to our town. When I read the Mercury I see no evidence this duty being performed, but with no disrespect to present and former mayors this should be the work for a professional mayor and our ceremonial mayor should carry out the present duties they so ably do now.

Finally a couple of incidents where councillors have cost our borough money. One is the “big TV affair”, nearly �1m it cost us, another the gardener fiasco, also �1m. An experienced business person could have saved this and it would have paid for his/her salary many times over. The adage “you get what you pay for” is perfectly true and don’t forget it.


Brett Avenue,


Investigation must throw up the truth

“WOE is me” is probably what is said of some of the letters I penned to The Mercury concerning the outer harbour, but woe is us all if this project is not investigated thoroughly by Norfolk County Council.

At what stage did the presenters and the acceptors get together and agree to this folly? Had this debacle been studied properly it would have been seen as inconceivable on this part of the coast, which is unapproachable from either land or sea. When did Messrs Eastport and Singapore realise that once this barrier was in place, flat-basing and levelling would start? I would say, quite soon. Hence the reason for the closure of Gorleston Pier. Did they become aware of the situation that is now manifesting itself, early, whereby the sea to the south side of the pier, due to the levelling, would throw itself in wave form over the car park to make its way eventually to the river. Had marine studies been made clearer, I am sure a different solution would have been reached.

Add to this the outcry from various people, why did it go ahead?


Gonville Road


Dubious start for an old favourite

RECENT references to Birds Eye Fish Fingers in the Mercury reminded me that an old school friend went to work on new products at the factory.

He told me that the original name conceived by the advertising department was ‘Frozen Cod Pieces’ and he had to point out its rather dubious connotations to them.

Nick Pownall

Seafield Close

Great Yarmouth