Latch key, piano and food were Great Yarmouth’s lure to holidaymakers

PUBLISHED: 15:54 31 March 2017 | UPDATED: 15:55 31 March 2017

Happy to be here! Holidaymakers arriving at Beach Coach Station in 1962.

Happy to be here! Holidaymakers arriving at Beach Coach Station in 1962.


As trains steamed into our railway stations, hundreds of summer visitors piled out, humping luggage along platforms before heading for their holiday accommodation. Excited children clutched buckets and spades they had brought with them.

It was a similar scenario on Brewery and Church Plains - and, after 1961, Beach Coach Station - when charabancs disgorged visitors relishing the promise of our seaside delights. Anyone who had not pre-booked faced a trek, seeking “Vacancies” signs in windows.

Strangers losing their bearings were anxious not to waste precious time searching for their reserved accommodation. Lads earned pennies, lugging visitors’ baggage on make-shift trolleys or old prams.

A mid-1930s street plan of Great Yarmouth and Gorleston featured here recently included scores of small advertisements offering rooms, bed-and-breakfast, full board or apartments. They provided a nostalgic glimpse of holiday requirements 80 years ago.

“Homely” was a description liberally used by small advertisers, contrasting with the “very superior private apartments” let by Mrs Nicholson in Royal Avenue..

“Spencer” in Princes Road assured potential guests: “Good table, English meat only.” H Bower, of Albion Road, and Mrs Fuller, of Trafalgar Road, stressed, “best English food.” Charles Haigh’s Trafalgar Road premises pledged, “Excellent catering.”

Attended apartments in Hamilton Road owned by Miss Freeman promised electric light and bathroom. Double-bedded apartments offered in Paradise Place by Mrs McLaughlan were “reasonable for Working Class.” In Kent Square, Mrs Duffield’s enticements included a piano. On North Denes Road, Mrs Keith promised “latch key” so her guests were free to come and go.

Several advertisers gave guests four meals daily, one more than most. Another lure was separate tables. Mrs Pike on Lichfield Road charged 3s (15p) nightly for bed and breakfast, rising to 3s 6d in August.

Modern indoor sanitation was stressed by several landladies, including Mrs Andrews (Walpole Road), Mrs Naunton (Palgrave Road), Mrs Farrant (Wellington Road), Mrs Chapman (North Denes Road), Mrs Gilham (Fisher Avenue) and “Baldwin” (Princes Road). Mrs Maxwell (Trafalgar Road) drew attention to her bathroom. Mrs Duffell (Kent Square) listed electric light, bath ...and piano!

On Walpole Road Mrs Lawn and Mrs Newman, and Mrs Frank Boyce, of South Beach Parade, mentioned feather beds as likely to attract guests, while Palgrave Road’s Mrs Frank Boyce “guaranteed good beds.”

Mrs and Miss Marwood (Blake Road) were “all electric”. In Trafalgar Road, Twelveaye promised “varied liberal table” and “no restrictions.” Alastair House, a “home from home” on South Quay, was “ten minutes from Jetty”. Mrs Wright (Eden Place off Northgate Street) was near St Nicholas’ Parish Church.

Specifying location, several Yarmouth premises mentioned proximity to seafront tennis courts, a sporting provision unlikely nowadays to help strangers pinpoint their whereabouts. Over in Gorleston, closeness to railway station, buses and cliffs were often emphasised, as were uninterrupted sea and harbour views.

As in Yarmouth, indoor sanitation in Gorleston was another reassurance, particularly in terraced streets: Mrs Wase (Lowestoft Road), Mrs Wilkinson and Mrs Mole (Upper Cliff Road), Mrs Ball (Cross Road), Mrs Peacock and Mrs Fisher and Mrs Annis (Springfield Road), Hurrell (High Street), Mrs Thompson (Sussex Road), Mrs Barrett (Clarence Road), Mrs Wright (Church Road) and Mrs Bass (Avondale Road) all listed it; Mrs Wright also mentioned her bath.

“Electric light, gas cooker, garage” were inducements (or assurances) from Mrs Wood on Pavilion Road; electric light was specified by Mrs Russell (Cliff Hill); private garage (Miss Cook, Bernard Road); “ own garden produce and eggs” (Clarence Road).

The only advertisements by big hotels were for the Victoria in King’s Road and the Goodes on Marine Parade. The Victoria’s daily inclusive rate was 15s (75p) to £1 depending on room and season. Bedrooms - all with hot and cold water and gas fires - cost 5s-8s (25-40p) nightly.

An orchestra played daily at the Goodes which also boasted hot and cold water in every bedroom. The inclusive daily tariff varied between 12s 6d and 17s 6d (62p-87p).

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