When Great Yarmouth was viewed as a a’paradise’ resort

The Star and Cromwell Hotels are among the Hall Quay buildings in this 1906 photograph, behind the b

The Star and Cromwell Hotels are among the Hall Quay buildings in this 1906 photograph, behind the berthed passenger steamer from London.Picture: MERCURY LIBRARY - Credit: Archant

You can almost hear the Honesty in Advertising bureaucrat’s censorious “Tut-tut” as he gleefully anticipates challenging a holiday area’s claim to be “The Resorts that Have Everything!”

The Star's oak-panelled Nelson Coffee Room. That panelling is now in a New York museum.

The Star's oak-panelled Nelson Coffee Room. That panelling is now in a New York museum. - Credit: Archant

That, of course, was Great Yarmouth and Gorleston’s post-war publicity slogan, happily accepted then as a proud statement aimed at attracting more visitors but, if resurrected today, would probably contravene strict rules about dishonesty in advertising.

The billiard room.

The billiard room. - Credit: Archant

Where do you draw the line? Well, just consider the following, penned perhaps a century ago and painting a blissful word picture.

“It is idyllic summer. Over the gasping town, the sun sheds his fervent radiance and mingles his genial influence with the sweet indolence of holiday which animates – or rather pervades the place.

“In the sunlit streets, in the surrounding country lanes, even on the steaming waters of the rivers and broads, the ardent sunshine holds almost as absolute sway as in the teeming City or Midland Borough, whence so many have come in search of coolness and rest. The heat is scorching.

“But between the sun baked houses and the dancing, shimmering sea, there is a wonderful stretch of fine yellow sand, fringed with fragrant green gardens, and apparently of illimitable length; and here, and here alone, is to be obtained the glorious nectar which, in these hot days, is the sole palliative for the broiling heat under which the remainder of the world is palpitating.

“Close by where the tiny waves splash with petulant musical murmur, a gentle breeze, which has its beginning far away across the seas, wafts soothingly over the blue waters, fanning hot cheeks, bringing the vigour of robust health to the frame, and inducing a feeling of perfect enjoyment. However sultry elsewhere, here is always a paradise of refreshing coolness and air, which is unsurpassed anywhere.

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“Such, then, is one of the chief glories of Great Yarmouth – a town which always could boast of an enviable popularity, but which of late years has attained great prominence, and has become a well-known favourite all over the country.

“Few watering places have made such rapid and delightful additions to its natural charms. Like other resorts, it possesses special characteristics which appeal to the love of change and variety.

“While others have their solemn grandeur of their mountains, their rocks, their cliffs, Yarmouth affords the contrast of a vicinage resembling the picturesque particular; and the round of amusements (which includes two Theatres where excellent dramatic performances are given) is as varied in extent as it is thoroughly good in quality.

“No mean advantage is derived from the proximity of such a jolly little watering place as Gorleston, and of the Norfolk Rivers and Broads, communication with which by boat, tram, brake and rail is irreproachable. It is, indeed, difficult to overstate the many allurements which Yarmouth – the King of the East Coast – holds out with such a lavish and unstinting hand.”

Bluntly, Benidorm sounds more appealing.

The anonymous author penned the flowery preamble to a brochure about the Star Hotel on Hall Quay - not the present one, which had been the Cromwell Temperance Hotel until adopting the name of its near-neighbour in the 1930s, the original long-established Star being demolished to make way for a telephone exchange.

The booklet is one of the many fascinating oddities acquired over decades by antique dealers Malcolm and Joy Ferrow of Gorleston. It goes on to describe the “admirably located” 100-guest hotel and its facilities in straightforward style.

“A special feature is a daily table d’hote at separate tables in the celebrated historic oak-panelled Nelson Coffee Room over 300 years old,” it says.

That is the famous panelling Yarmouth Council shamefully refused to buy, resulting in its export to the United States where it adorned luxury homes before being permanently exhibited in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Arts.