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Scroby - always a source of interest

PUBLISHED: 13:17 13 January 2011

By PEGOTTY

Not all questions about yesteryear posed by Mercury readers are directed at this column. Sometimes the queries have been raised in the Letters pages by correspondents seeking information. If no subsequent writer addressing the problem is published, I assume that the inquirer has not received the details sought. So, perhaps I can help about two pleas to the editor.

First, a Mrs Durrant, aged 78, said for many years she tried to find out who or what was the Scroby that gave the treacherous sandbank off Great Yarmouth its name.

In fact, in February I devoted this column to a learned paper about the probable derivation of names of sandbanks off the East Anglian coast penned during the war by a doctor named H Muir Evans, possibly the Gorleston general practitioner, Hugh Evans.

He wrote: “The name has undergone many changes in spelling. Originally Scroutebye, the village from which it takes its name is now called Scratby and consists only of a manor and a farm.”

An enforced charge levied to cover the cost of creating the Yarmouth Haven in 1573 assessed Scroutebye at 7s 11d (40p today), Caister at 10s (50p) and Ormesby at 13s 1d (65p). From those comparative figures, Dr Evans deduced that Scroutebye “must have been then a considerable village” but the sea had subsequently so wasted the coast that “little is left of the place.”

Other 2010 columns have looked at excursions to Scroby and activities on it, which prompted Mrs Susan Thompson to send me an 80-year-old photograph of members of the Jary family enjoying a fun-filled visit to the sands.

The happy-go-lucky paddlers belong to the family running the long-established Yarmouth business of Arthur Jary & Sons, the funeral directors and monumental masons based in Northgate Street. Susan is the great-granddaughter of founder Arthur Jary

Other Scroby events mentioned here included the 1963 one when Yarmouth beach was thronged with crowds eager to see star comedian Ken Dodd purportedly aiming to swim in company with his old swimming teacher, Channel conqueror Bill Pickering, who hoped to add Scroby to his feats.

But Doddy did no more than a token few strokes, if that, and his involvement was attributed to a publicity stunt, I wrote. Pickering had to abandon his bid.

Shortly after that column was published, I logged on to the newsreel archive website www.britishpathe.com – as reported here recently – and discovered that the 40-plus Yarmouth vintage clips included 90 seconds of the Dodd-Pickering episode, in colour! The comic was fooling about on the shore and in the support boat as the experienced Pickering ploughed on, then he jumped into shallow water to wade on to a deserted beach, probably Scroby.

That same summer, artistes in Yarmouth summer shows included comedian Stan Stennett and singer Rosemary Squires, and another clip – filmed at the Caister Road airfield – pictured her boarding the Welsh comic’s private plane to go to a recording session in London.

There is a variety of non-herring clips to view if you type “Great Yarmouth” into the website’s search box, including the famous Red House railway. I tried in a past Porthole to paint a word picture of this unique feature, and there it is for all to see on screen, filmed in 1950.

The interior of the Market Place hostelry (“Yarmouth’s unique pub,” said the commentator, erroneously calling it the Red Horse) was designed to resemble a railway station (the mythical Yarmouth Central), and inserting an old penny into a slot in the ticket office activated a model railway that ran around the bar at picture-rail level, the train passing settings of various capital cities with some animations – like a Dutch windmill turning, Nazis goose-stepping in Berlin, and a ski-lift in action on the Alps.

Then the house lights would dim and the model acquired a fresh dimension as New York skyscrapers and other features lit up.

The Pathe Gazette cine cameras recorded the 1951 pea harvest being gathered for quick freezing at Birds Eye’s South Denes plant, “the largest quick-freezing factory outside the United States,” audiences learned from the voice-over. Also shown was a special train of 40 new refrigerated Birds Eye trucks laden with 80 tons of frozen peas being waved off by the Mayor, Ernest Applegate, on the quayside rail line in 1959.

There is a silent piece of film 90 years old taken on a cool day in 1920 of a new boon to parents: a picket-fenced children’s play area on the central beach run by the Daily Express, with see-saws and swings...and a policeman walking in carrying an apparently lost child.

Among other Yarmouth items are a 1936 brass band rally in the Wellington Pier Gardens (20 bands, 500 musicians); Daily Mail cartoon characters Pip, Squeak and Wilfred in the resort in 1920; a captured German U-boat in our port in 1914; the burnt-out steamer Porthcawl on the North Beach in 1933; a 1974 beach and sea-front tour; and damage caused by first world war shelling.

Next, Mr W D Gee, from Felixtowe, recalled in a Mercury letter that in August 1951 he visited Gorleston’s Floral Hall where he saw “a musical troupe, the Musical Elliotts” and also learned about “a singer well-known in the area, Helen Hill, who was very popular years ago.” He wondered if anyone could recall them.

I do not know about the Floral Hall gig, but the musical father, mother and daughter trio spent that summer in the cast of the Wellington Pier Pavilion summer show. During its run, Yarmouth entertainments and publicity department embarked on a new advertising drive to attract visitors to “The resorts that have everything!” and chose long-legged daughter Viona Elliott as the face of the 1952 campaign. She appeared on the front of the 1952 official Yarmouth and Gorleston guide and in advertisements for the resort.

Helen Hill? This Yarmouth-born soprano broadcast on radio regularly during the war, and local people used to make a point of tuning in to hear her. Usually she was in serious musical programmes but did make several appearances in the popular comedy show Much Binding in the Marsh, written by and starring Richard Murdoch and Kenneth Horne.

My grandma told me she was the daughter of Salisbury Road butcher Arthur Hill, but I have also been assured that her father was chemist Philip Hill, who lived and traded in Gorleston High Street. Or, perhaps, she was local but unrelated to either of those?

Scroby always a source of interest

First, a Mrs Durrant, aged 78, said for many years she tried to find out who or what was the Scroby that gave the treacherous sandbank off Great Yarmouth its name.

In fact, in February I devoted this column to a learned paper about the probable derivation of names of sandbanks off the East Anglian coast penned during the war by a doctor named H Muir Evans, possibly the Gorleston general practitioner, Hugh Evans.

He wrote: “The name has undergone many changes in spelling. Originally Scroutebye, the village from which it takes its name is now called Scratby and consists only of a manor and a farm.”

An enforced charge levied to cover the cost of creating the Yarmouth Haven in 1573 assessed Scroutebye at 7s 11d (40p today), Caister at 10s (50p) and Ormesby at 13s 1d (65p). From those comparative figures, Dr Evans deduced that Scroutebye “must have been then a considerable village” but the sea had subsequently so wasted the coast that “little is left of the place.”

Other 2010 columns have looked at excursions to Scroby and activities on it, which prompted Mrs Susan Thompson to send me an 80-year-old photograph of members of the Jary family enjoying a fun-filled visit to the sands.

The happy-go-lucky paddlers belong to the family running the long-established Yarmouth business of Arthur Jary & Sons, the funeral directors and monumental masons based in Northgate Street. Susan is the great-granddaughter of founder Arthur Jary

Other Scroby events mentioned here included the 1963 one when Yarmouth beach was thronged with crowds eager to see star comedian Ken Dodd purportedly aiming to swim in company with his old swimming teacher, Channel conqueror Bill Pickering, who hoped to add Scroby to his feats.

But Doddy did no more than a token few strokes, if that, and his involvement was attributed to a publicity stunt, I wrote. Pickering had to abandon his bid.

Shortly after that column was published, I logged on to the newsreel archive website www.britishpathe.com – as reported here recently – and discovered that the 40-plus Yarmouth vintage clips included 90 seconds of the Dodd-Pickering episode, in colour! The comic was fooling about on the shore and in the support boat as the experienced Pickering ploughed on, then he jumped into shallow water to wade on to a deserted beach, probably Scroby.

That same summer, artistes in Yarmouth summer shows included comedian Stan Stennett and singer Rosemary Squires, and another clip – filmed at the Caister Road airfield – pictured her boarding the Welsh comic’s private plane to go to a recording session in London.

There is a variety of non-herring clips to view if you type “Great Yarmouth” into the website’s search box, including the famous Red House railway. I tried in a past Porthole to paint a word picture of this unique feature, and there it is for all to see on screen, filmed in 1950.

The interior of the Market Place hostelry (“Yarmouth’s unique pub,” said the commentator, erroneously calling it the Red Horse) was designed to resemble a railway station (the mythical Yarmouth Central), and inserting an old penny into a slot in the ticket office activated a model railway that ran around the bar at picture-rail level, the train passing settings of various capital cities with some animations – like a Dutch windmill turning, Nazis goose-stepping in Berlin, and a ski-lift in action on the Alps.

Then the house lights would dim and the model acquired a fresh dimension as New York skyscrapers and other features lit up.

The Pathe Gazette cine cameras recorded the 1951 pea harvest being gathered for quick freezing at Birds Eye’s South Denes plant, “the largest quick-freezing factory outside the United States,” audiences learned from the voice-over. Also shown was a special train of 40 new refrigerated Birds Eye trucks laden with 80 tons of frozen peas being waved off by the Mayor, Ernest Applegate, on the quayside rail line in 1959.

There is a silent piece of film 90 years old taken on a cool day in 1920 of a new boon to parents: a picket-fenced children’s play area on the central beach run by the Daily Express, with see-saws and swings...and a policeman walking in carrying an apparently lost child.

Among other Yarmouth items are a 1936 brass band rally in the Wellington Pier Gardens (20 bands, 500 musicians); Daily Mail cartoon characters Pip, Squeak and Wilfred in the resort in 1920; a captured German U-boat in our port in 1914; the burnt-out steamer Porthcawl on the North Beach in 1933; a 1974 beach and sea-front tour; and damage caused by first world war shelling.

Next, Mr W D Gee, from Felixtowe, recalled in a Mercury letter that in August 1951 he visited Gorleston’s Floral Hall where he saw “a musical troupe, the Musical Elliotts” and also learned about “a singer well-known in the area, Helen Hill, who was very popular years ago.” He wondered if anyone could recall them.

I do not know about the Floral Hall gig, but the musical father, mother and daughter trio spent that summer in the cast of the Wellington Pier Pavilion summer show. During its run, Yarmouth entertainments and publicity department embarked on a new advertising drive to attract visitors to “The resorts that have everything!” and chose long-legged daughter Viona Elliott as the face of the 1952 campaign. She appeared on the front of the 1952 official Yarmouth and Gorleston guide and in advertisements for the resort.

Helen Hill? This Yarmouth-born soprano broadcast on radio regularly during the war, and local people used to make a point of tuning in to hear her. Usually she was in serious musical programmes but did make several appearances in the popular comedy show Much Binding in the Marsh, written by and starring Richard Murdoch and Kenneth Horne.

My grandma told me she was the daughter of Salisbury Road butcher Arthur Hill, but I have also been assured that her father was chemist Philip Hill, who lived and traded in Gorleston High Street. Or, perhaps, she was local but unrelated to either of those?

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