Newly discovered pictures show Great Yarmouth lit up for 1935 silver jubilee
PUBLISHED: 07:28 31 March 2019 | UPDATED: 13:48 01 April 2019
Major seaside resorts like Great Yarmouth and Blackpool delight in their illuminations, aware that they attract many visitors and trippers each year.
Hereabouts, our famed Golden Mile is renowned for its lights.
But twice in the Thirties our flagship building and the area fronting it drew many admirers from the town and its environs when royal occasions prompted our council to indulge us in a light fantastic.
Nowadays I am seldom in Yarmouth after dark to check, but doubt if our Victorian Town Hall is routinely illuminated, other than its frontage flood-lit, if that.
Recently, however, a reader sent me some unique photographs showing the Town Hall and Hall Quay looking splendidly elegant and picturesque, richly illuminated to celebrate two milestone royal occasions in the Thirties.
It gives me great pleasure to be able to share those pictures today. I do not recall my parents wheeling me there in pram or push-chair to gaze at them in those pre-war days, perhaps because I was too young to appreciate them.
These photographs have only recently come to light, having been discovered by the nephew of the man who took them, not on roll film but on glass plates.
Terry Farman, an Ormesby St Margaret resident for 35 years, has had them processed, with remarkably satisfying results.
Two capture our Town Hall decorated and illuminated for the 1935 silver jubilee of King George V and Queen Mary, while the other was taken two years later to mark the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth - parents of our present monarch.
That photographer was the late George Skinner, Terry’s uncle, who was a television engineer working for Radio Rentals in the 1950-60s.
As for Terry, Yarmouth born and bred 70 years ago, until the age of eight or nine he lived with his parents Donald and Lily and brother Michael in John Street.
“This was a street that led south off Charles Street and consisted of two rows of seven very small two-bedroom houses,” he explains.
After being evacuated in the infamous 1953 floods, the family returned home but the houses gradually deteriorated and they were eventually re-housed in the newly-built Middlegate flats in the mid-1950s.
Terry and his wife Lynn and have two sons, Scott and Adam. For 25 years before retiring at 63, Terry was a senior general manager of a multi-national company servicing the offshore, power generation and oil refinery industries.
“My father worked for many years at the Henry Sutton fish-house in Charles Street,” he adds.
John Street? Sorry - I have never heard of this long-gone road. Charles Street remains, behind Yarmouth’s Friars Lane fire station.
In one or both royal celebrations, townsfolk had a comprehensive programme providing them with a wide choice of things to do - civic processions of robed councillors and officials led by the mayor, church and chapel services, celebratory meals, sports meetings, a Hippodrome Circus performance for children, gifts and mementoes, firework displays...
Our weather was unkind in 1937, washing out the Coronation procession and military parade which were postponed till the next day when “huge crowds of cheering sightseers lined the route,” according to the Yarmouth Independent. There was a 21-gun royal salute on Marine Parade.
Before wartime bombing destroyed many of the Rows, they were inhabited by tight-knit residents, proud of their homes.
The local newspaper Coronation coverage noted: “Many of the walls were newly white-washed and there was an atmosphere of cleanliness about these ancient surroundings” - sounds like a back-handed compliment!
Row 123 occupants were angered and saddened when two teenage vandals ripped down their Coronation decorations, causing 15s (75p) to be spent on replacements. Two women residents stayed up on watch all night to prevent any recurrence.
“Gay Procession” said a headline over one event, explaining that it included “contests for decorated vehicles and fancy dress.” That would be misleading nowadays, and probably provoke controversy.