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Trains, planes and boats - getting around Great Yarmouth still provides surprises

PUBLISHED: 07:00 28 July 2019

Not the sort of passenger train Peggotty seldom sees in Yarmouth but a News Chronicle

Not the sort of passenger train Peggotty seldom sees in Yarmouth but a News Chronicle "special" giving pleasure rides in Great Yarmouth's Wellington Pier Gardens in the 1950s.

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Trains and Boats and Planes... This travel trio was the title of a Dionne Warwick 1966 hit song written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David.

Planes? Rowing and motor boats did a roaring trade locally, taking sightseers out to admire this flying boat a few yards off the water's edge in 1932.Planes? Rowing and motor boats did a roaring trade locally, taking sightseers out to admire this flying boat a few yards off the water's edge in 1932.

Mrs Peggotty and I idly reflected on that transportation threesome recently, neither at a railway station, port or air terminal, nor while travelling.

In fact, we were sitting in sunshine in the riverside grassed grounds of the Bell Inn at St Olaves, sipping coffees and enjoying some chips!

No fewer than three times during our hour or two there, passenger jets flew into view as they headed for the coast, presumably on route from Norwich Airport and bound for the continent. They were quite low but climbing gently in the cloudless blue sky.

We speculated on their possible destinations, on holiday flights we had made down the years and the one we are making soon.

Over and under...the new Haddiscoe Bridge towers over the old hand-operated twin-leaf bascule bridge in 1961as a Broads cruiser passes along the New Cut.Over and under...the new Haddiscoe Bridge towers over the old hand-operated twin-leaf bascule bridge in 1961as a Broads cruiser passes along the New Cut.

Why that interest in passing airliners? Well, because we could not recall seeing any similar aircraft that low over Great Yarmouth and Gorleston, so we presumed some flight paths from Norwich Airport routinely pass over St Olaves and Haddiscoe.

Occasionally we hear the distant drone of an aero engine but either clouds or height prevent any sighting.

Yes, admitted, down the decades we have seen umpteen aircraft hereabouts, especially helicopters servicing offshore gas and oil installations, and small private planes, but nothing like those passenger jets above St Olaves.

A couple of days later, the azure cloud-free sky over Peggotty's Hut in Gorleston was criss-crossed for hours with high-altitude vapour trails reluctant to disperse, but the planes making them were neither visible nor audible.

After our coffee and chips, we strolled past the veteran St Olaves Bridge and the new high one, beginning the "boats" section of that Dionne Warwick trilogy.

It is a spot we pass regularly, and I naively wonder why so many people pay a small fortune for large cruisers but leave them on stocks in riverside yards, apparently seldom or never bothering to launch them to enjoy Broadland's delights.

Yes, there were lots there, still high and dry - but, I discovered, they were on premises belonging to yacht brokers and were for sale.

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That had never occurred to me.

At the new bridge, a chap about to moor his cruiser asked if we knew of anywhere close by where he and his companions could enjoy a drink and a meal.

We replied that the Bell was only a short walk although we believed there was a way to reach it by water and tie up at the hostelry's quayside.

Then, as we looked along the river, we were astonished to see a paddle-boarder approaching. We had never seen one hitherto, here or abroad.

The man was standing on the long flat board - on which stood his small bag - leisurely drawing closer, his single oar (perhaps 10ft long) alternating sides as it entered the water.

He too enquired about a place for lunch and a quencher, so we gave him the same information we had given to the cruiser crew. After we returned to the Bell Inn's garden, they all arrived.

So, what about the trains element?

Residents of Yarmouth and Gorleston could be excused for thinking they live in a train-free zone.

The only time we see a train is either by going to Yarmouth Vauxhall Station, or if we are driving along the Acle New Road, at the right time.

They seem few and far between, and you might still be disappointed at seeing none in the station or on the parallel roadside line.

It is hard to believe that the old borough once had three main-line termini (Yarmouth South Town, Beach and Vauxhall) plus Gorleston Station and some "halts".

So there was a frisson of excitement as we ambled near those twin bridges when a silver-painted streamlined train quietly swished past, heading from the remote Haddiscoe Station towards Norwich.

A train! Quite a revelation!

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