Will roadworks bring back glorious mud?

PUBLISHED: 20:00 24 September 2018 | UPDATED: 20:00 24 September 2018

Venetian gondola? No, holidaymakers enjoying a boat trip through Great Yarmouth's Venetian Waterways before the war. Picture: CLIFFORD TEMPLE

Venetian gondola? No, holidaymakers enjoying a boat trip through Great Yarmouth's Venetian Waterways before the war. Picture: CLIFFORD TEMPLE


It is not strictly train of thought, but occasionally something rings a figurative bell triggering a recollection from yesteryear.

Mud, mud, inglorious mud...the new Lynn Grove in Gorleston in the 1950s. Picture: KEITH HARRISONMud, mud, inglorious mud...the new Lynn Grove in Gorleston in the 1950s. Picture: KEITH HARRISON

That happened recently when some Gorleston residents protested about a plan for a new road they claim will adversely affect their neighbourhood.

They live in Claydon and Lynn Groves and The Walk, and foresee problems, particularly extra traffic generated, if the developer of the adjacent Claydon Park Estate is allowed to demolish a bungalow so an access road can be built.

This wrangle reminded me of a photograph taken in the 1950s by the schoolboy son of my long-serving predecessor as Peggotty, Joe Harrison, when his family moved into their new Lynn Grove house before their road had been completed.

Road? More a quagmire! And keen photographer Keith (Jack) Harrison, now a retired pilot living in Scotland, snapped the scene.

A serene scene in the North Drive boating lake in Yarmouth pre-war. Picture: MIDDLETON LTDA serene scene in the North Drive boating lake in Yarmouth pre-war. Picture: MIDDLETON LTD

Despite parental “Wipe your feet!” commands to their children, no doubt some floor coverings were despoiled and offspring admonished severely.

As a large school was erected off Lynn Grove, today’s residents are accustomed to heavy traffic and brief jams as parents drive to deliver and collect their offspring, all aged 11-plus.

So a new access road into neighbouring Claydon Grove will surely increase traffic in the area, but its volume and impact are guesswork at present.

If that link road into Claydon Grove is sanctioned, I trust that the scene pictured in the accompanying photograph will not be repeated, even temporarily, while the new road is built...

A recent topic here was the 1912 Titanic disaster when the luxury liner sank in the North Atlantic on her maiden voyage after striking an iceberg, with the loss of 1513 of her 2224 passengers and crew.

I was surprised to learn that two of the victims had local links: crew member Thomas King, born in Great Yarmouth, and third-class passenger William Alexander, whose parents lived in Belvidere Place.

Nigel Dowe, a former Fritton resident now living in Kent, went on-line to discover more information about William Alexander.

The family home was in Belvedere Place off Kitchener Road, he says, and William was the son of John and Emma who were in their 50s.

Their three sons were victim William, listed as a general labourer, plus brothers Charles (25) and Sidney (18).

Thank you, Nigel.

Now, is there an “e” or an “i” in Belv?dere?

Nigel’s spelling with an “e” was from the 1911 official census, mine (i) from local maps and directories.

And although I have heard mentions over the years of Belvidere Place, I cannot find it on a pre-war street map or in a directory so cannot assume it was destroyed by wartime bombing.

Belvidere Road, yes, but no Place. Strange...

A stroll away, on North Drive, are the splendid 90-year-old Venetian Waterways which, with the adjacent boating lake, are being renovated, thanks to a £1.7 million Lottery grant.

The peaceful meandering Waterways (the “Venetian” was quietly dropped years ago) through which passengers will sail are in sharp contrast to the nearby Golden Mile’s razzmatazz.

But they were not always serene.

I recall that when they underwent a revamp decades ago, they incurred the derision of Mercury chief reporter Eustace White because the illuminated capital letters above the roadside entrance boldly announced: WATERWAY’S

The apostrophe ‘S was grammatically wrong because it indicated a possessive and not a plural which should be apostrophe-free, he seethed in his Mercury column written under his pen-name of Scout. It was basic grammar!

How could the apostrophe have slipped through unnoticed by anyone in the Town Hall or the contractors, he asked scathingly.

I cannot remember how long it took the council to remove the errant apostrophe, but it did go.

If Town Hall memories are long, perhaps the council will retaliate belatedly by not inviting the Mercury to any official reopening ceremony, or even ban us from the occasion.

That could make headlines again.

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