Search

Closure of a long saga

PUBLISHED: 18:19 01 April 2010 | UPDATED: 17:18 30 June 2010

The sign for Vauxhall and is it South Town or Southtown station?

The sign for Vauxhall and is it South Town or Southtown station?

IT is very much a favourite word these days: “closure”. We come across it often in television and radio news bulletins and in the papers, usually in the context of the family of a victim awaiting the court conviction of a perpetrator so they can try to put the heartbreak behind them and seek to rebuild their lives.

IT is very much a favourite word these days: “closure”. We come across it often in television and radio news bulletins and in the papers, usually in the context of the family of a victim awaiting the court conviction of a perpetrator so they can try to put the heartbreak behind them and seek to rebuild their lives.

So, today my theme is Closure: by this I mean ending topics aired in recent weeks.

First, the war of words between my journalist son and me about the style of our long-gone railway terminus - South Town, or one word - had a topical twist because, during our difference of opinion, publicity was given to the sale by auction of a souvenir from the era of British Railways, which axed the line in 1970. The blue enamelled sign pointing to “Vauxhall & South

Town Stations” was bought for a surprisingly high £2,200 in Gloucestershire. My son felt it his duty to draw my attention to BR confirming his belief by spelling South Town as two words...

Still, we both agree the neighbourhood and main road are one word: Southtown.

The Southtown saga caused me to stray across questionable boundaries into adjacent Cobholm at the instigation of Trevor Nicholls, of Lowestoft, retired registrar of births, marriages and deaths for the Great Yarmouth district. He provided some of the original information on Southtown and now adds: “When I began working in Yarmouth in 1965, there were people still living who had been brought up in the area during the 19th century and referred to 'Cobholm Island'.

“Mr Robert Hollis, who conducted the registration of births and deaths in the front room of his house in High Road before the second world war, always assiduously distinguished between Cobholm and Southtown in the register. Those not on the 'island' were recorded as in Southtown. Eventually Cobholm became the name of a locality or neighbourhood within the parish of Southtown and, civilly and

ecclesiastically, a parish is a legal entity with defined boundaries. 'Locality' and 'neighbourhood' are not always precisely determined. A ward is an electoral or administrative division.”

An answer to the conundrum could be the actual designation of St Luke's Church, suggests Mr Nicholls. “I cannot remember... whether it ever attained the status of parish church. If it did, its parish will have precise boundaries and they will delineate for ecclesiastical purposes the parish of Cobholm, if it is so called,” he says. “Similarly, for the purposes of local government, the locality or neighbourhood popularly known as Cobholm was not part of the civil parish of Southtown. Since leaving the office, however, I have occasionally heard of an entity called 'Lichfield and Cobholm'.”

Yes, there was indeed a Lichfield and Cobholm ward (or Cobholm and Lichfield) that in recent years morphed into Southtown and Cobholm.

“On the other hand, I think it more likely that St Luke's is a licensed chapel within either the ecclesiastical parish of St Mary, Southtown, or that of St Nicholas, Yarmouth,” adds Mr Nicholls.

Incidentally, it is exactly half a century since St Luke's (be it officially a parish church or chapel) reopened in 1960 after £90,000 repairs to war and 1953 flood damage.

Next, Nelsons, a sweetmeat made of various ingredients and once very popular in the Yarmouth area and far beyond. The last word goes to Daphne Traynier, of Charles Close, Caister, for whom mention of Nelsons took her back to 1944, when her soldier husband Reginald was in hospital in Scotland, very ill after being in icy February water while training for D-Day. Immediately she went from London, where she was stationed, to Scotland to be with him, staying “with a lovely lady and her aged mother who used to come to Yarmouth for the herring fishing”.

Her letter continues: “One day she asked me to go to the bakery for her and to ask for two 'fly cemeteries'. I asked her what they looked like but all she said was: 'They'll know.'

“At the bakery I asked for them, and what I got was two Nelsons! I suppose they called them 'fly cemeteries' as they used left-over currants to put between the pastry.”

Her husband's stay in hospital was so protracted that he was not discharged until the September, thus missing D-Day.

From food to drink, and we looked at horse troughs, relics from the 19th century, one or two of which are still in evidence in the borough although in most cases they are disused - or, in the case of one that is part of the entrance wall of the Priory Restaurant on the main road at Fritton, a decorative feature.

Historian Peter Allard, of Mallard Way, Bradwell, tells me that the trough that once stood near the Britannia Pier, convenient for the landau horses in summer, has been moved a few yards to a prominent position on Marine Parade.

He is eager to obtain a photo of a trough we both believe was positioned just into the little road beside the Pleasure Beach entrance. I have also learned of the possibility of the existence of two others in the distant past: one on Beaconsfield near the recreation ground gates, the other in Caister Road opposite the Jellicoe Road junction. Also, I am reminded of the public drinking fountain provided on the Jetty fore-court by Robert Steward, a mayor of Yarmouth in the 19th century.

Incidentally, Peter and I would love to see a picture of the Green Ace Garage in Gorleston (another recent Porthole subject) which traded at the junction of the main Lowestoft and Middleton Roads from before the war until the 1950s.

Pill-boxes? One column featured the location of many of these anti-invasion defences, but one or two readers have pointed out that some dated from the 1914-18 war and were not built at the start of the last war as I had suggested. And one I listed at West Caister was, in fact, a Royal Observer Corps post built in the 1960s.


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Great Yarmouth Mercury. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Great Yarmouth Mercury