Gorleston mural brings back memories of herring days

PUBLISHED: 07:00 23 December 2018

A section of a mural in the Gorleston pedestrian underpass.

A section of a mural in the Gorleston pedestrian underpass.


There is seldom a spring in the step when heading to our James Paget Hospital for a visit, however routine it might be, but my spirits were lifted recently by a surprise discovery.

The Beverley Sisters step out, with producer Dick Hurran, outside the ABC-Regal Theatre in 1979.The Beverley Sisters step out, with producer Dick Hurran, outside the ABC-Regal Theatre in 1979.

Mrs Peggotty and I changed our usual route... and chanced upon a delightful flash-back to a favourite topic.

We parked on Gorleston’s Bridge Road, intending to walk across busy Lowestoft Road, but instead diverted through a pedestrian underpass we noticed, emerging in the JPH grounds.

To my surprise, tiled walls on both sides of the tunnel were covered in attractive murals depicting in stylised fashion our long-gone herring fishery. Perhaps pupils at nearby schools designed those murals, but I cannot confirm it.

An oil-skinned and sou’westered fisherman is depicted, casting his net over the bow of the drifter YH22

Long gone: the North Star public house on Fullers Hill in Yarmouth.Long gone: the North Star public house on Fullers Hill in Yarmouth.

YH22? Was that number chosen by accident or design?

If a pupil picked it, its significance probably would not have registered whereas an adult might have been aware of our herring fishery.

For YH22 was the Yarmouth drifter East Holme = boarded by our future King during a day’s visit here in October 1930, primarily to open the new Haven Bridge - a royal occasion featured in this column in August.

The itinerary of the Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII) included an inspection of the fishing industry, which was in full autumn swing.

At the Fishwharf he boarded the newly-arrived East Holme, watching several cranes of herring being winched up from her hold and emptied into swill baskets on the quayside.

However, four years later, out in the North Sea, the East Holme was run down by the Danish teamer Paragon and sank. Thankfully, the drifter’s crew of ten were saved and taken into Grimsby.

Reader Stephen Curtis enjoyed my memories and photographs of the 1968 drama off Yarmouth when the Hewett A gas rig suffered a blow-out.

Urgently arriving to evacuate personnel, the stand-by vessel Hector Gannet collided with a rig leg and capsized.

A Lowestoft trawler, the Boston Hornet, came to the rescue, and Texan oil-well fire specialist “Red” Adair flew here to extinguish the fire.

Those photographs rekindled for Stephen memories from 1985 when worked as a fabricator at Norwell’s yard near Yarmouth harbour’s mouth.

His friend and colleague, the late John Tipper, a welder from Lowestoft, “brought in the photographs of the platform and of the ship to show us guys and told of us what had happened.

“As he was working out there at the time, he was able to point out himself and named some of the other guys with him standing on the hull of the ship waiting to be rescued. All the guys in the tea hut were gobsmacked and amazed at the pictures.”

Stephen describes John Tipper as “a man who had great stories of people he had worked with and great experiences he had endured.”

Those of us who remember the star-studded entertainment staged at our several theatres in post-war decades, helping to attract holidaymakers here, will be saddened to learn of the recent death of one of the Beverley Sisters.

They were a popular glamorous close-harmony singing trio who spent two summer seasons here and appeared in weekly variety in other years. “The Bevs” were genuine sisters, comprising Joy and younger identical twins Teddy and Babs.

Babs recently died, aged 91, three years after elder sister Joy. Only twin Teddy survives.

The trio, always wearing matching outfits on stage and about town, appeared at the Royal Aquarium in summer 1955, supporting comedian Cheerful Charlie Chester, and returned here in 1963 to the Britannia Pier with comic Stan Stennett.

I mentioned here recently that my maternal grandmother was landlady of the long-gone North Star public house on Fullers Hill before the war. At last, I have seen a photograph of her pub (which closed in 1933), thanks to Colin Tooke, author of books about the borough’s “locals.”

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

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Great Yarmouth Mercury