Soul returns after years of silence

THE word “appeal” has a double significance for Great Yarmouth Parish Church this year. One is straightforward, the other phonetic, but both refer to the bells.

THE word “appeal” has a double significance for Great Yarmouth Parish Church this year. One is straightforward, the other phonetic, but both refer to the bells.

The Mercury reported in winter that the ringing team was more than half-way towards its £5000 appeal to restore fittings like pulleys so the 13 St Nicholas' Church bells can continue to peal for decades to come. By coincidence the work, found to be necessary after a thorough inspection by the Whitechapel Foundry in London last year, comes exactly half a century after they were cast there.

In 1958 the mayor of Yarmouth, Mrs Kathleen Adlington, visited the foundry to see the casting in three moulds of new bells for our church that was being restored after extensive incendiary bomb damage in 1942.

The Mercury summed up the significance by noting that “the old peal ended as a mass of molten metal, and the new peal began as a spout of molten metal.” And the mayor declared: “The soul is coming back to Yarmouth”.

Thirteen bells were planned for the new peal, one more than the old.

Also 50 years ago, two long-familiar characters on the waterfront at Gorleston experienced major changes in their professional responsibilities of helping others in times of trouble. One seafarer retired after a lifetime afloat, the other was promoted.

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The elder of the pair was tug master Sam Spilling, aged 73, who stepped ashore on to the quayside for the last time after 62 years at sea. Latterly he was master of the Port and Haven Commissioners' tug, the Richard Lee Barber, and a few months before he retired, he and his crew were praised for their help with no fewer than five shipping casualties in six days of foul weather.

First came a call to tow the Yarmouth trawler Autumn Sun into port because her propeller was out of action and her helm jammed, a mission complicated by the fact that the tow rope snapped during the operation. Next, the drifter Ocean Harvest was towed to safety when her engines became disabled.

Then came a voyage down to Orford Ness where the derifter Faithful Star had run aground on a Suffolk beach and was damaged beyond repair; that time there was nothing the tug could do. But as the Richard Lee Barber stood by, a call came from the Pepita, in trouble and in danger of running aground, so the tug manoeuvred close enough to pass a tow rope despite the shallow water and pounding waves, hauling her into Felixtowe.

Although Mr Spilling had lived in the borough for most of his life, he moved from Lower Cliff Road in Gorleston to spend his retirement in Norwich.

Also in the Mercury news was 47-year-old George Mobbs's appointment as coxswain of the Yarmouth and Gorleston lifeboat, replacing Paul Williment. Mr Mobbs had been a lifeboatman for 27 years, 18 of them as mechanic.

The great autumn herring fishery that had been a mainstay of the economies of both Yarmouth and Lowestoft for a century was already in decline when, in a bid to conserve dwindling stocks, a strong plea to give the herring legal protection was made by a senior member of the industry.

At a dinner at Yarmouth Town Hall to present the Prunier Trophy, awarded annually to the biggest autumn single-night catch by a drifter working from Yarmouth or Lowestoft, Mr Arthur Suddaby called for the herring to be made a protected fish under a new convention about to be signed to try to halt the decline in their numbers. Mr Suddaby, head of the Lowestoft-based Boston Deep Sea Fishing, blamed the fall in stocks to over-fishing and trawling for herring.

The Prunier winner was the Lowestoft drifter St Luke with 162 cran, and Mr Suddaby pointed out that when her skipper won it six years previously, his catch was nearly double at 314 cran.

Three more mines were discovered on Caister beach by sappers of the Royal Engineers who safely detonated them. But there was concern because this was only a year after two labourers were killed when a bulldozer struck a hidden mine and exploded as they worked on an extension to the sea wall near the golf links, despite the fact that the beach had been open to the public for 11 years since the war and a team of sappers had spent seven months sweeping the sands.

A Mercury photograph of three members of the Deneside Over 60s Club in costume and make-up ready to entertain an audience of 900 of their fellow pensioners provided a powerful example of how our culture in 2008 has been changed by political correctness and awareness of racism.

Land between the Market Place and Howard Street North was cleared for a new Woolworth store, its front being where the old Plaza cinema stood.

A two-day inquiry heard objections to a plan for caravans and holiday chalets at Church Farm, Winterton. At Acle there were objectors at a planning inquiry into a scheme for a caravan site at The Grange, Great Ormesby.

Houses and shops in Gorleston High Street and Church Lane were flooded after a thunderstorm and torrential rain and hail. The swirling water caused damage and nuisance, one of the worst-hit premises being the tobacconist shop of Norton's at the town centre crossroads.

At the Air Ministry meteorlogical station at Hemsby, the 10,000th balloon was released, carrying instruments high into the sky to gather data to help forecasting. Staff sent up a balloon four times every day for six and a-half years, costing £25 each - a total of £250,000. The unit was closed years ago.