Not a pastoral scene - but an urban view of Gorleston

Where is it? The location surprised Peggotty.

Where is it? The location surprised Peggotty. - Credit: Archant

A Sunday morning, long ago. Worshippers walk towards a country church along a narrow lane between high fencing and overgrown hedgerows, presumably summoned to worship by the tolling of the bells.

Flight of fancy: steps provide a reminder of the long-gone Gorleston Super Holiday Camp.Picture: MER

Flight of fancy: steps provide a reminder of the long-gone Gorleston Super Holiday Camp.Picture: MERCURY LIBRARY - Credit: Archant

An incongruity is the lad in the foreground, inexplicably leading not his pet dog but a lamb.

That was my first impression on seeing this old postcard from correspondent Tom Gilbert, of Church Road, Gorleston, a reaction which did not stand closer scrutiny: for it swiftly transpired that this was not a pastoral scene but an urban one.

Yes, admitted, it was a lane but not rural, for this was Church Lane, in Gorleston, close to Tom’s current home, a realisation confirmed when I came to a caption: “Entrance to Recreation Ground, Gorleston.”

The left-hand fence conceals Gorleston “Reccer”, while opposite, a rough hedge borders land where the Alderman Leach School (now a college) was built in 1931.

The date is unclear, but it was after 1889, the year the mayor of Great Yarmouth, John Johnson, formally opened the recreation ground where Gorleston Football Club played until its move to Emerald Park in 1983.

Just beyond the “Reccer” can be seen a house where today there are about 10 between the sports field and the church. I assume that in 1889 Church Road went off to the left as it does today and Church Lane continued down to Gorleston’s centre, but there was neither Middleton Road (created in 1923), the roundabout (1933) nor Baliol Road, a pre-war development.

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The “Reccer” was dear to generations of Gorleston supporters, especially those at the most important fixture ever played there – the 1951-52 FA Cup first-round replay between the Greens and Football League professional club Leyton Orient, the sides having drawn at Brisbane Road in front of 11,796 spectators.

Although the “Reccer” replay was on a Thursday afternoon, 5,000 fans crowded in for the goalless draw, resulting in a decider on the neutral Arsenal ground at Highbury where a 12,000 gate saw the cup run sadly end in a 5-4 defeat.

And we go from the “Reccer” to Gorleston Super Holiday Camp (Elmhurst), in business from 1937-1973 and a recent topic here. I wrote that the only reminder left is Elmhurst Close, but old chum Joe Tills, of Avondale Road, pointed out that a more tangible one remains: steps up the embankment to Bridge Road which once crossed the railway.

There is a twin flight of 14 broad concrete steps leading into a single one of 11, once enabling visitors to reach the sea-front but now available for residents of the housing estate on the former camp land to get to schools, shop and buses.

From Surrey, Gary Seeley emailed to draw attention to the website he edits, dedicated to the camp:

He adds: “Regarding your question of the name Elmhurst, this was the name of the original large Victorian house extensive grounds that later became the grounds for the camp. The house survived until 1975 when the camp was demolished.

“In the last two years of the camp’s life, it changed its name from Gorleston Holiday Camp to Elmhurst Court.”

Gary still enjoys visiting the Gorleston/Hopton area. “After the Gorleston camp closed in 1973, we started going to, and still go to, Potters Holiday Camp, now Potters Resort, at Hopton.”

Finally, our daughter in Peterborough sent a photograph of a “GORLESTON” 17in by 3in metal sign. I wonder where it was used – probably not at the railway station because rail signs would have included “ON SEA”, as discussed here recently.

Miss Peggotty explains: “My friend Fiona bought the sign at an antiques fair in Stamford and gave it to me for my birthday. The stallholder was puzzled as to why she was so excited about a sign with ‘Gorleston’ on it!

“I have no idea how authentic it