Great Yarmouth’s maritime heritage marked

BACK in the days when Britain ruled the waves the barrels of rum would have flowed amid the hearty sailors songs.

But in 1797 one Yarmouth drinking den hosted some reluctant guests at His Majesty’s pleasure when Dutch naval officers were held there after the Battle of Camperdown.

That little known event 213 years ago was marked this week with the unveiling of a commemorative plaque at the old Ship Inn by the Mayor, Michael Jeal.

The 18th century hostelry in Greyfriars Road was a pub for more than two centuries before becoming part of the Yarmouth walk-in medical centre.

However, The Ship proved to be a less than secure location to detain the officers, seven of whom escaped, all of them surgeons.

The episode had previously been commemorated by a Dutch flag which hung outside the pub until it closed in 2008.

A significant victory for the Royal Navy, the Dutch lost 11 ships during the battle while the British fleet emerged unscathed.

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It is not known if the escapees were recaptured, but the remaining officers were moved to Eye, in Suffolk.

Before they were moved one of the prisoners Captain van Ryswort died of his wounds and was buried with full military honours in St Nicholas Parish Church.

The fleet was supplied in record time by Yarmouth man Samuel Paget who received a gold medal from its commander, Admiral Adam Duncan, for his efforts.

After the battle The Ship’s sign was repainted as a man-of-war with the name of Venerable Admiral Duncan’s flagship.

The blue plaque is the latest unveiled honouring notable people and places by the Great Yarmouth Local History and Archaeological Society.

Society vice-chairman Paul Davies said: “Not many people realise that Yarmouth was a great naval town. We wanted to commemorate the association with the Royal Navy and the Dutch connection.

“The plaques have generated a lot of interest locally.

“And I hope they demonstrate that the town has a rich history.”

Other places associated with the Royal Navy locally include the Royal Naval Hospital, the Nelson Monument and Admiral Duncan’s Well in Gorleston.

Anyone interested in marking a historic place or person in the Yarmouth area or sponsoring a plaque should call society chairman Andrew Fakes on 01493 843811.