Great Yarmouth's best days are in the past - and the future

PUBLISHED: 13:21 15 January 2018 | UPDATED: 13:21 15 January 2018

The South East Tower on Great Yarmouth's medieval town wall. Picture: Nick Butcher

The South East Tower on Great Yarmouth's medieval town wall. Picture: Nick Butcher

© Archant 2015

Great Yarmouth has a wonderful history. So let's celebrate it - and the future - says Anne Edwards.

I’ve recently become part of a group of people who have set up a Civic Society of Great Yarmouth.

Our aim is to bring a sense of civic pride into the town and hopefully encourage people to look after it and see it in a different light.

It is a unique town and port with a long, long history –the Town Wall is said to be the second best-preserved medieval town wall in England, after York. The wall, a Scheduled Ancient Monument, traces its origins to 1261 when King Henry III granted permission to enclose the town with a wall and ditch. It took years to complete – the main work was finished in 1346 but continued until about 1400. The fortification, which was last manned during the English Civil War, was more than 23ft high and 2,280 yards long, with 10 gates and 16 towers.

And there are lots of other gems such as The Tolhouse, one of the UK’s oldest gaols, dating back to the 12th century, with its original cells used to imprison thieves, smugglers, pirates – and even witches.

But there is much more…

Today, Great Yarmouth is probably thought of as being just a faded seaside town – wrong! It’s actually a thriving seaside town with thousands of visitors a year but holidaying habits have changed and day and weekend visitors keep the seafront busy.

And this is where the new Civic Society comes in; we want to show people there is so much more to see and enjoy, and learn. And this also applies to local people who maybe don’t know about their town’s long history.

But a Civic Society is also about being proud of what we have and shouting about it – and improving it. We intend organising regular litter picks for example, asking for the roundabouts to be manicured and florally beautiful at the road entrances to the town – and borough. And have lots more ideas such as people taking responsibility for their own streets – a big ask, and a hard message to try and get through.

And it is the young people we particularly want to inspire – a generation who will have different ideas about how the took should look and what it should offer. The young are the key to the future prosperity of any town or city.

We all have a duty to preserve the history/heritage for future generations no matter where we live, in town, city or village, but it must not be at cost of jobs or vital new homes. There are ways around to find a solution which suits all.

The next meeting of the Civic Society of Great Yarmouth is at 7.30pm tonight, January 16, at Christchurch in King Street when historian, author and designer Paul Patterson will talk about Great Yarmouth’s Town Wall. Paul’s talk will be controversial as he has uncovered many facts not previously known and his findings will be illustrated by computer graphics.

The old is not something to be automatically demolished and replaced by the new. The old can be something which can be adapted to suit the next generation. Something unique.

After all, look at Cambridge, York, Newcastle – so why not Great Yarmouth, once the town and port feared and courted by the ruling royals in the past to safeguard their reigns?

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