Search

The bravery that created heroes

PUBLISHED: 18:52 22 May 2008 | UPDATED: 11:06 03 July 2010

FIRE! When that cry went up on the warship HMS Warspite, berthed off Yarmouth, it was not an order to fire her massive guns. A major conflagration ashore had been spotted from the ship which depatched a fire-fighting party of matelots to help the Yarmouth

FIRE! When that cry went up on the warship HMS Warspite, berthed off Yarmouth, it was not an order to fire her massive guns. A major conflagration ashore had been spotted from the ship which depatched a fire-fighting party of matelots to help the Yarmouth

AN ACT of heroism three-quarters of a century ago resulted in misfortune for the young rescuer who dived fully-dressed into the river to rescue a four-year-old lad from drowning.

AN ACT of heroism three-quarters of a century ago resulted in misfortune for the young rescuer who dived fully-dressed into the river to rescue a four-year-old lad from drowning.

The hero-turned-victim was Edward Perfrement, of Rodney Road, who was pile-driving on Trinity Quay when he rescued Don Smith, son of Mr and Mrs Sidney Smith, of Shakespeare Terrace, Garden Lane, from being borne away by the strong tide.

Mr Perfrement's cold water immersion caused his health to deteriorate and he ended up in Kelling Sanitorium. According to the Mercury: “He is a young man with a wife and two children to support and his plucky action has placed his family in dire necessity as it has temporarily robbed them of the breadwinner.”

His brave deed had not been officially recognised, and friends were rallying round by organising a whist drive and dance under mayoral patronage to raise funds to help the Perfrements. “The relief fund deserves wholehearted support,” added this newspaper.

Another rescuer in 1933 was Tom Neal, of Northgate Street, 15-year-old son of Mr G W Neal, manager of the Regent Street branch of Barclays Bank. In bitterly cold weather that caused some Broads to freeze over, the teenager was ice-skating at Ormesby when the ice near the road bridge gave way under two more enjoying the sport, Mr W Dobson, of Camden Road, and his granddaughter, Dorothy.

Mr Dobson managed to push her to safety but could not save himself, and his cries for help were heard by teenager Tom who hurried to the scene. Although he reached the distressed man with his scarf, he overbalanced and fell into the water himself.

“He did not lose his presence of mind and supported Mr Dobson till other skaters rescued them,” said the report. For his plucky action, Tom Neal was awarded a Royal Humane Society testimonial on vellum that was formally presented to him by the mayor who praised his deed.

An award of £5 was made to each of the four people who helped to rescue two corporation workers overcome by sewer gas on Bollard Quay.

Firemen dealt with some major outbreaks in 1933, among them the blaze that devastated the King Street showrooms and shop of music specialists Wolsey and Wolsey. Dense crowds watched “the most destructive fire in the town centre for years” and they appreciated the sterling efforts of firemen who toiled for three hours in freezing weather to get it under control and stop the flames spreading to the neighbouring premises of men's clothier Tom Green, photographer Yallop, and hairdresser R J Ward.

Another big fire gutted the Swanstons Road-Barrack Road four-storey fishery depot of Henry Sutton, the flames intensified by the amount of wood shruff on the floors of a store. It was clearly seen from the huge battleship HMS Warspite anchored offshore during her second courtesy visit to the town, and those sailors and Royal Marines of her 900 crew who were not on shore leave but on duty watch were ferried into the harbour to reinforce the Yarmouth Fire Brigade.

The Yarmouth Barrel Company's factory in Cobholm was also razed to the ground by fire.

Out at Belton, the occupants of the Rectory were trapped in their bedroom when it caught fire and was almost destroyed at one in the morning. The Rev Thomas Jones knotted bedsheets together, went out on to the verandah and slid down to the ground, fetching a ladder so his wife could escape safely.

In sport in 1933, Gorleston FC were beaten 3-2 by Nottingham Forest, of the national Division 2, in a friendly at the Reccer watched by 4118 spectators paying £132 at the turnstiles. The Greens conceded the winning goal only five minutes from the final whistle. It had been many years since a professional side other than Norwich City had played in the borough.

The borough council decided to spend £100 on building the first half of the new stand at the Reccer in 1933 and to spend the same sum the following year to complete it.

Eight-year-old Maureen Last, of Nelson Road South, completed a 1000 yard sea swim between the Britannia and Wellington Piers in 15 minutes 21½ seconds, two years after her sister Marjorie, a Yarmouth Swimming Club member, swam from Yarmouth to Lowestoft.

Tantivy, a special steam railway car, was introduced on the Midland and Great Northern line between Yarmouth Beach Station and the holiday camps in neighbouring coastal villages. Also on that line, the unmanned Newtown Halt was provided on Salisbury Road.

An era of public transport on the Yarmouth side of the river, including Caister, passed with the winding down of the tramway and its replacement by buses. The last tram, driven by the mayor, made a ceremonial final journey in December. Eight trams were sold and two scrapped.

Three Yarmouth Corporation bus conductors were punished in court for “the wholesale theft of tickets”. One stole 15,000 worth £145, the others 637 (£9) and 288 (£1 16s). The ringleader was jailed for three months and his two companions were fined.

Yarmouth decided to get lit up by floodlighting various summer amenities - like the Venetian Waterways, boating lakes, tennis courts and bowling greens - and the council voted to spread the £1885 cost over five years.

Ratepayers were urged to strive for “a Greater Yarmouth” using the borough's natural attractions. “More publicity will build it”, ratepayers were assured. Hoteliers and owners of guest houses launched the Hotel and Boarding House Keepers Association.

To clear the central beach for deckchairs, bathing machines were moved to the north beach. The council earmarked £1500 towards the expenses of a 1934 carnival. A byelaw was adopted to stop dogs fouling footpaths. Nowadays, despite the use of poop-scoopers, the problem remains.

Finally in this look back 75 years, a headline that would never be seen in any newspaper in politically correct 2008. Said the Mercury, in innocent 1933: “Everybody can sing! Deaf and dumb excepted”. The claim was made at a meeting of the Middlegate Literary and Debating Club by Mr W R Hunn, a Bachelor of Music lecturing on the development of singing.

Another controversial statement was made by Mr D Hardman at a lecture in the town on playwright J M Barrie whose enduring work was children's favourite Peter Pan. But he told his audience: “Peter Pan did not wish to grow up because he shirked the responsibilities it would involve. He was a heartless little wretch.”


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Great Yarmouth Mercury. Click the link in the orange box below for details.

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Great Yarmouth Mercury