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Dual Acle Straight.. deja vu?

PUBLISHED: 18:43 24 September 2009 | UPDATED: 15:08 03 July 2010

CENTENARIAN: Ormesby resident Richard Elkington, who died aged 102 in 1959

CENTENARIAN: Ormesby resident Richard Elkington, who died aged 102 in 1959

TRANSPORT by road and rail occupied headlines in the Yarmouth Mercury a half-century ago. Here we are, 50 years on, and the same road is still vexing us, the problem promising to become even more acute if the number of heavy goods vehicles comes up to the expectation of those who have provided us with the new outer harbour.

TRANSPORT by road and rail occupied headlines in the Yarmouth Mercury a half-century ago. Here we are, 50 years on, and the same road is still vexing us, the problem promising to become even more acute if the number of heavy goods vehicles comes up to the expectation of those who have provided us with the new outer harbour.

Yes, of course: we are talking about the Acle New Road. It was in the Mercury in 1959 and still crops up regularly in this newspaper in 2009. I have lost track of the myriad of vain hopes and broken promises down the decades.

One of the 1959 headlines announced: “Acle New Road may become a dual-way in 5-7 years.” Perhaps a rare Mercury error had crept in and the “5-7 years” had acquired an unwanted hyphen, and the figure ought to have read “57 years”. So, can we expect the road to be dualled in seven years' time? Unlikely. I doubt if it will be dualled in my lifetime

As for rail, it was doom-and-gloom time with the total abolition of the Midland and Great Northern Railway (Yarmouth Beach, cross-county to destinations beyond Norfolk's border), the biggest single closure in railway history; also, the Yarmouth Southtown-Beccles link with the main line to London Liverpool Street was axed.

But our borough council astutely looked ahead and offered £59,000 for 36,174 acres of M&GN land, including Beach Station (for a coach park), the track from Euston Road to Beaconsfield Road, embankments from Nelson Road to the River Bure, and the Bure to Acle New Road, including level crossings and bridges. The deal took time, but was done.

Platforms at Vauxhall Station were lengthened to accommodate the 12-coach special trains diverted from Beach Station.

Six years after the great 1953 East Coast flood, improvements to riverside defences were now completed, apart from the length from Bollard Quay to the Gorleston river bend. A new sea wall at Caister cost £416,888 and an expert opinion reckoned that “the threat of inundation of the Broads is now considered beyond the bounds of possibility”.

Next, entertainment and show business...and Ormesby residents vehemently protested to the Director General of the BBC over an item broadcast on the Tonight news magazine television programme. The BBC film crew and personnel, in Ormesby in response to a rumour that elderly people - the majority of its population - were being neglected, allegedly paid little attention to strong rebuttals and “persisted in preconceived ideas”.

Richard Elkington, of East Road, Ormesby, died aged 102, but there is no suggestion that he was among the elderly residents allegedly being neglected and arousing the interest of BBC Television.

A 1959 Mercury told its readers that a London West End cinema had begun screening Having a Wonderful Time, a light-hearted teenage musical filmed in Yarmouth the previous summer. Now, that puzzled me because I cannot remember the picture being made here, and cannot find it listed in film directories or on the internet. Any suggestion that the film was made because the young stars were already here in summer shows is scotched by the fact that more seasoned performers occupied the resort's stages in 1958, not the new wave of teenyboppers.

The only possibility in my mind is that the teenage link was awry, and that it might have been a straightforward travelogue supporting picture premiered in the West End and extolling the holiday attractions of Yarmouth and Gorleston, with a voice-over by Franklin Engleman, a top BBC broadcaster.

I am confident to assert that the screen career of a budding young actress rejoicing in the name of Orrena Elder never took off in the way that she and those celluloid moguls to whom she was contracted had hoped. But however disappointing her professional career might have been, she did at least have the satisfaction that the starred at the Gorleston Trades Fair, helping to attract a record attendance.

Miss Elder, billed by the Mercury as “the film starlet”, performed the official opening at Gorleston Super Holiday Camp, and as a token reward was given a basket of herring-shaped bread rolls baked by the long-gone Matthes giant bakery. The event was attended by a total of 14,000 people, compared to 9800 two years earlier.

If Yarmouth wanted a pageant as part of the programme to celebrate the granting of the royal charter 750 years earlier, more people were urgently required as actors, scenery painters, costume makers and general helpers, said the organiser, accusing the borough council of half-heartedness. There was no encouraging response, so the pageant was dropped from the overall charter programme.

The Royal Navy inshore minesweeper HMS Reedham and her crew were given a warm welcome when she sailed upriver for a goodwill visit to the Broadland village whose name she bore.

Cluers Cars was founded in a lock-up garage in Hamilton Road. Mrs Doreen Moore opened Doreen Fashions in Market Row. The new £2 million factory of Hartmann Fibre on South Beach Parade was opened. Gorleston Priory was pulled down so public gardens could be created. A new silo was built on the bowling green at Watneys maltings at Southtown.

A new secondary modern school was opened at Acle for 300 boys and girls, at a cost of £105,000. But Belton and Somerleyton parents refused to send their children to the temporary Lothingland Secondary Modern School at Lound for three weeks because the roads were dangerous, they claimed. Church Road Junior School in Gorleston was closed.

A developer's scheme to build holiday and residential homes on Gorleston golf links was rejected by planners because it would “destroy a major amenity”. Yarmouth and Lowestoft Lions opened a holiday home for the blind in Avondale Road, Gorleston, the first in the history of the movement in the United Kingdom.

Seventeen-year-old Pat Sewell, of Alderson Road, a window dresser, was crowned Miss Battle of Britain by comedian Ken Dodd at the open-air Marina.

To rebuild public lavatories in the borough would cost £500,000, the council learned.

Mrs Rachael Eastick, of Addison Road, Gorleston, Britain's oldest herring boat owner, celebrated her 100th birthday. This member of a prominent local fishing family owned the Yarmouth drifter Wydale, a model of which - presented by town centre store Jarrolds - topped her birthday cake.

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