'This is beyond my wildest dreams' - family's pride as new Wetherspoon pub opens in Gorleston
PUBLISHED: 18:59 13 March 2018 | UPDATED: 19:29 13 March 2018
Archant © 2018
For years his name was above a humble beach hut on Gorleston's sands from where he hired out tents to bashful bathers.
Now it sits above a new £2.2m Wetherspoon pub, which opened its doors to the public today.
With it comes a level of public recognition for William Adams which was “beyond the wildest dreams” of the legendary lifesaver’s great great grandson who was among guests at the opening.
And it puts him on a footing with other famous names like Mary Shelley, Eric Morecambe and Peter Cushing who are also now Wetherspoon pubs.
For the last 21 years Stewart Adams from Norwich has made it his mission to make sure his heroic and much decorated relative is remembered.
“I never imagined it would come to this,” he said. “I just wanted to raise his profile, this is beyond my wildest dreams.
“I think he would have been proud.
“He seemed to be someone who was well-loved by the people of Gorleston during his lifetime, his funeral report bears that out.
“Flags were flown at half mast, shops along the High Street were closed and town footballers wore black arm bands.
“I think its going to take a while to sink in.”
The pub officially opened to the public at 8am.
Drinkers and diners were quick to cross the threshold and see for themselves the new building, on the former GT Motors site.
Manager John Harrison, from Little Plumstead, said it had been busier than expected.
Mr Harrison, 27, the former deputy manager at The Bell, in Norwich, said: “The turnout has been outstanding.
“It is a great addition to the high street and people have come out in force to welcome us.”
The ribbon was cut in the traditional way by town mayor Kerry Robinson Payne.
Members of Gorleston-on-Sea Heritage Group (Gosh) were also on hand to unveil a blue plaque commemorating the key site once home to a Methodist chapel which stood on the site in various forms for 150 years.
About William Adams
William Adams saved some 140 lives making his first rescue at the age of 11.
Coming from a family that was deeply connected to the sea he was a boatman and hired out tents to bathers on the beach.
He is one of only four people to a bronze award from the Royal Humane Society with three clasps.
He also appears on the Carnegie’s world roll of heroes, twice.
In his day he was also well known as a swimming instructor gaining the epithet ‘The Professor.’
In 2003 a Blue Plaque was placed on his house in Bells Road.
The road into Gorleston is from the bypass is named after him.
He died in 1913 aged 49, just a month after his last rescue.
About the Methodist Chapel
According to Gorleston-on-Sea Heritage Group it was built in 1807, the first purpose built Methodist chapel in Gorleston.
By 1843 the old chapel had become too small and was replaced with the new Wesleyan High Street Methodist Chapel.
In 1873 it became a United Methodist Free Church when several factions of the Methodism united
About 1881 the building was sometimes referred to as the Temperance Hall or the Templers’ Hall having become the base for the Star of Gorleston Lodge of Good Templers.
However, within a few years it was again referred to as the Free Church chapel although the Star of Gorleston Lodge of Good Templers still held some activities there
The United Methodist Church was formed in 1907.
It was bomb damaged during the Second World War and officially closed 1948.
It was sold in 1959 to help to fund the building of the Methodist Church on the Magdalen Estate and demolished.
One fragment remained as the back wall of GT Motors shop and workshop.
The new pub is number 885 in the pub chain.