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Yarmouth Jetty: An illustrious history remembered

PUBLISHED: 09:41 13 January 2012

The Jetty on Great Yarmouth seafront during the Great Yarmouth Carnival.

June 30th 1923


Picture: Supplied

The Jetty on Great Yarmouth seafront during the Great Yarmouth Carnival. June 30th 1923 Picture: Supplied

© 2012

THE jetty has been used by Admiral Lord Nelson, was fitted out with guns in the second world war and was featured in a painting by the artist John Constable.

And these are just a few of the jetty’s claims to fame according to Darren Barker, conservation officer for the borough council.

Most notably, Nelson landed at the original jetty structure in 1800 after the Battle of the Nile. The following year, Nelson embarked from the jetty to sail with the fleet to the Battle of Copenhagen, and disembarked there after the battle to visit the wounded at the nearby Naval Hospital in Yarmouth.

During the Napoleonic Wars, the fleet was frequently assembled in Yarmouth Roads sheltered waters because ships were too large to enter the harbour, and would be too vulnerable to attack there. Officers, men and stores were transported to and from their ships from the jetty.

In 1813 William III landed at the jetty when attempting to raise Dutch troops to oppose Napoleon Bonaparte.

The jetty has also been used in modern wars, and there was a small gun emplacement - two Bren guns - at the end of the jetty during the second world war.

The structure was also partially demolished to stop it being used by potential invaders in the second world war, and this is documented by aerial photos taken in 1946.

It has been a favourite subject for artists including John Constable, and painters of the Norwich School.

Great Yarmouth jetty was originally constructed in 1560 as a place to land fish, and import and export goods.

At the time the town was a major trading and fishing port, and the harbour was continually silting up, forcing new outlets to the sea to be cut.

The jetty, which in the early days had a crane at the east end, provided a reliable means of loading and unloading boats.

It was rebuilt in 1701, but 100 feet of it was swept away in 1767 and later carried away by storm in 1791. The entire structure was nearly destroyed by a storm in 1805.

It was rebuilt without a crane in 1809, and was lengthened in 1846 and again in 1870. A glass roof was added in 1927 which was then declared unsafe and removed in 1959. In 1961, the timber structure was entirely replaced with a metal version. None of the original timbers of the jetty survive, with the possible exception of the timber piles.

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