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Legacy and memory event marks Suspension Bridge disaster

PUBLISHED: 21:32 10 March 2016 | UPDATED: 21:32 10 March 2016

Remembering the Suspension Bridge Disaster in Great Yarmouth. Photo: Steve Adams

Remembering the Suspension Bridge Disaster in Great Yarmouth. Photo: Steve Adams

The author of two books relating to the Great Yarmouth Suspension Bridge Disaster in 1845 will be the main speaker at a Yarmouth Legacy and Memory event in the town.

Gareth H H Davies will be at the Priory Centre, Priory Plain - a building that became a school as a direct result of the tragedy - on Saturday April 30, 10-12.30pm.

He will deliver two talks called The Fall of Yarmouth Suspension Bridge: Anatomy of a Disaster, and Arthur Nelson: The Clown King.

There will also and an opportunity to take part in a short tour of the places related to the disaster.

The disaster took place on May 2 1845 and was the result of crowds gathering on the Suspension Bridge over the river Bure to watch Arthur Nelson, a clown from a visiting circus, perform a stunt on the river.

He was to sail up the river in a washtub pulled by four geese, yet as he neared, the throng dashed from one side of the bridge to the other, a metal chain link snapped and the structure collapsed, throwing many spectators into the cold waters of the river below.

Boats were mobilised to mount a rescue, but some 78 people mostly women and children perished.

More recently, a memorial to the victims has been installed near the spot where the bridge crossed.

Mr Davies said: “The Suspension Bridge disaster was an event that caused the greatest single loss of life in the town, and although it is perhaps better known now due to the tremendous efforts of Julie Staff to raise money for a memorial, there has been little opportunity to learn more about the wider circumstances, and the clown that was its catalyst.”

Mr Davies, a former Lynn Grove High School teacher, has been aware of the disaster for 30 years having used it as a local history subject for his pupils.

Both his books will be available for purchase at the event and from Cobholm Miniatures, 14 Broad Row, Great Yarmouth.

Tickets £5 are available online at http:bit.lysbcktalks, from Cobholm Miniatures, or on the door.

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