Lord Nelson’s Jetty is history

PUBLISHED: 14:27 21 January 2011

Engraving of Yarmouth jetty in the nineteenth century

Engraving of Yarmouth jetty in the nineteenth century

IT is documented as the place Nelson landed to great acclaimation after the Battle of Copenhagen in June 1801 and it has a claim to being the oldest pier in the country.

But Great Yarmouth’s seafront jetty was itself consigned to history this week when the borough council’s development control committee voted by seven votes to two to demolish it.

Councillors were shown photographs showing the structural decay of the jetty, which has forced its closure to the public for more than two years.

And they were told that there was no prospect of the council finding the necessary £300,000 to refurbish it.

Local historians had led a passionate campaign to save what has been described as Yarmouth’s first outer harbour, but their hopes were effectively dashed when English Heritage scotched the idea of listing the structure.

Its experts argued that although it may have been first built in 1560 it had been rebuilt too many times to warrant listing.

Committee chairman Charles Reynolds said: “Everyone in this room is sad at having to make the decision, but there is not the money available to refurbish it. Sometimes, you have to put the old dog down.”

Michael Taylor opposed demolition, saying the jetty was historically important and arguing that money had been found to save Nelson’s monument.

Right up to the meeting, Andrew Fakes, president of the Yarmouth Archaeological and Local History Society, had hoped for a stay of execution, arguing for the jetty to be mothballed until funding became available.

He said: “It represents a link to a very valuable aspect of Yarmouth’s past.

“The Nelson connection is well established and warships from that era were serviced from the jetty by lighters.

“The jetty has also featured in several paintings over time, including one by J W M Turner.”

Mr Fakes said the jetty had always been popular with fishermen and people who could not get on to the beach.

“Its potential for tourism has never really been tapped and once it is gone, it is gone,” he said.

Michael Boon, another prominent town historian, had called for a thorough archaeological excavation ahead of any demolition.

The committee’s decision will mean the 75m timber structure being demolished with just a 30m concrete promontory being kept.

A condition of planning approval is that a scheme for a monument and interpretation panels to mark the site should be agreed ahead of demolition.

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