The ghost signs that point to Great Yarmouth's former haunts
PUBLISHED: 07:00 03 March 2019
Today, a ghost hunt - not an eerie "things that go bump in the night" experience but simply long-outdated signs still prominent hereabouts.
Those are enduring originals, not blue heritage plaques.
Regular correspondent Trevor Nicholls, a Great Yarmouth retired registrar, keeps alert for ghost signs.
Part of the pleasure for nostalgia lovers spotting them is striving to recall the enterprises once based there, although sometimes it is a struggle to bring details to mind.
One Trevor offering is familiar: in Yarmouth’s Deneside, behind St George’s Church, where “HOSPITAL” and “NO PARKING DOCTORS’ CARS ONLY” is painted on brick walls in large white capitals.
That instruction, perhaps post-war when cars began proliferating, has stood the test of time although the Victorian Yarmouth General Hospital, to which it refers, was demolished in 1984 and replaced by apartments, the current James Paget Hospital in Gorleston succeeding it in 1982.
Hall Quay, for decades our banking location but now with none, still has “Lloyds” and “NatWest” visible in stonework.
At the Regent Street corner, we find “POST OFFICE” separated by “GRV” (King George V, who reigned when the building opened in 1914). “POST OFFICE” is also inscribed into the Regent Street stonework of the building that was our GPO until its controversial closure, its services transferred to a shop.
Just off the town centre in North/Middle Market Roads stands the former Canterbury Tavern which closed as a pub in 1914, becoming a boarding house and then a restaurant. “CANTERBURY” is still prominently painted on its roof-high stonework.
Another ex-pub, Northgate Street’s White Horse Inn which closed early this century, has an elegant Lacon’s Brewery trade-mark falcon carved into its brick frontage.
Neighbours on the busy corner of Southtown Road and Mill Road in Yarmouth are a Pizza Hut and a mobility store. High above them a sign reminds us that the Railway Hotel once occupied the building when Southtown Station stood opposite.
Trevor and I share a vintage favourite - an outbuilding to the former Gorleston Station Hotel offering, in prominent white-painted lettering on brickwork: “GOOD STABLING. MOTORS AND CARRIAGES CAREFULLY STORED.”
The property, long-since a dwelling, stood beside the busy A12 main highway to Lowestoft and London, but road re-routing relegated it to a backwater where it is seldom seen nowadays.