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Mystery of these photos is solved

PUBLISHED: 12:59 04 December 2008 | UPDATED: 12:26 03 July 2010

DEDICATION: The opening of St George's Plain following a refurbishment

DEDICATION: The opening of St George's Plain following a refurbishment

Laura Bagshaw

THE mystery surrounding photographs taken during a civic event at Great Yarmouth St George's Theatre has been solved.

The pictures were sent anonymously to the King Street theatre in June 2007 and following an appeal in the Mercury last week we can reveal the pictures were taken at the official opening of St George's Plain following a refurbishment.

The dedication of a bronze plaque to Gurkha soldiers in 1982

THE mystery surrounding photographs taken during a civic event at Great Yarmouth St George's Theatre has been solved.

The pictures were sent anonymously to the King Street theatre in June 2007 and following an appeal in the Mercury last week we can reveal the pictures were taken at the official opening of St George's Plain following a refurbishment.

The ceremony, on May 13, 1982, was attended by local dignitaries including the then mayor and mayoress Gordon and Mary Chapman and involved the dedication of the bronze plaque to Gurkha soldiers.

Valerie Howkins, a local jewellery and fundraiser, contacted the Mercury after reading the appeal and said the opening of the plain was one of two events held in May of that year, with the plaque also being unveiled around that time.

The photographs featured in the Mercury last week show the opening of St George's Plain and Mrs Howkins submitted these pictures to the Mercury showing the unveiling of the plaque.

Recalling the plaque unveiling Mrs Howkins said: “The Gurkhas marching band were due to take part in the ceremony but they were unable to attend as they were embarking for service in the Falklands war.”

The Gurkhas bronze plaque was funded by Eric Williams, a tireless campaigner and fundraiser for the Gurkha Welfare Fund, and although the marching band were unable to attend, two Gurkha pipers sent specially from Buckingham Palace travelled to Yarmouth for the event.

Mrs Howkins played the role of a booking secretary and fundraiser for St George's Theatre in the 1970s and 1980s. Having already played a key role in netting thousands of pounds for furnish and equip the interior of the building Mrs Howkins tasked herself to raise money to improve the exterior setting.

She explained: “I felt that such a gem of a building deserved a beautiful setting so set about to raise the money to completely re-landscape the Plain south of St George's in memory of my son David who died in 1979.”

A memorial to her son is mounted on the wall of St George's Theatre above the Gurkha plaque.

The entire project, which included new paving featuring cobbles, trees, shrubs and flowers, was funded through public donations. The family of a local second-world-war hero paid for a rose bed and after gaining permission his ashes were brought from Australia and back to Yarmouth where they were scattered over the rose bed, explained Mrs Howkins.

Modelled on St Clement Dane in London, St George's was built by order of the town council in 1714 as an overflow chapel to ease the pressure on St Nicholas Church in Yarmouth.

The grade one listed building was re-opened as a theatre in 1975 and in December 2006 it was closed after the borough council, which owns the building, found it to be in need of essential repairs. A council-backed bid for a grant to refurbish the building is being processed and a result is expected after Christmas.

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