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Great Yarmouth, often known to locals as Yarmouth, is a coastal town in Norfolk, Englandmarker. It is at the mouth of the River Yaremarker, 20 miles east of Norwichmarker.

It has been a seaside resort since 1760, and is the gateway from the Norfolk Broads to the sea. For hundreds of years it has been a fishing port dependent on the herring fishery, and today it services offshore natural gas rigs. The town has a popular beach and two promenades.

Geography and demography

The town itself is on a thin spit sandwiched between the North Seamarker and River Yare. It is home to the historic rows and the main tourist sector on the seafront. The area is linked to Gorlestonmarker, Cobholm and Southtown by Haven Bridge and to the A47, A149 and A12marker by the Breydon Bridge.

The unparished urban area that makes up the town of Great Yarmouth has an area of and according to the Office for National Statistics in 2002 had a population of 47,288. It is the main town in the larger Borough of Great Yarmouth. The ONS identify a Great Yarmouth Urban Area, which has a population of 66,788, including the sub-areas of Caister-on-Seamarker (8,756) and Great Yarmouth (58,032). The wider borough of Great Yarmouth has a population of around 92,500.


Yarmouth (Gernemwa, Yernemuth) lies near the site of the Roman fort camp of Gariannonummarker at the mouth of the River Yare. Its situation having attracted fishermen from the Cinque Ports, a permanent settlement was made, and the town numbered 70 burgesses before the Norman Conquest. Henry I placed it under the rule of a reeve.

The charter of King John (1208), which gave his burgesses of Yarmouth general liberties according to the customs of Oxfordmarker, a gild merchant and weekly hustings, was amplified by several later charters asserting the rights of the borough against Little Yarmouth and Gorleston. A thirteenth century charter was granted by Henry III (1207–1272) to the town of Great Yarmouth. The town is bound to send to the sheriffs of Norwich every year one hundred herrings, baked in twenty four pasties, which the sheriffs are to deliver to the lord of the manor of East Carlton who is then to convey them to the King.

In 1552 Elizabeth granted a charter of admiralty jurisdiction, confirmed and extended by James I. In 1668 Charles II incorporated Little Yarmouth in the borough by a charter which with one brief exception remained in force until 1703, when Anne replaced the two bailiffs by a mayor.

A grammar school was founded in 1551, when the great hall of the old hospital, founded in the reign of Edward I by Thomas Fastolfe, was appropriated to its use. It was closed from 1757 to 1860, was re-established by the charity trustees, and settled in new buildings in 1872.

From 1808 to 1814 the Admiralty in Londonmarker could communicate with its ships in the port of Great Yarmouth by a shutter telegraph chain.

The town was the site of a bridge disaster and drowning tragedy on 2 May 1845 when a suspension bridge crowded with children collapsed under the weight killing 79. They had gathered to watch a clown in a barrel being pulled by geese down the river. As he passed under the bridge the weight shifted, causing the chains on the south side to snap, tipping over the bridge deck.

During World War I Great Yarmouth suffered the first aerial bombardment in the UK, by Zeppelin L3 on 19 January 1915. That same year on August 15, Ernest Martin Jehan became the first and only man to sink a steel submarine with a sail rigged Q-ship, this off the coast of Great Yarmouth. It was also bombarded by the German Navy on 24 April 1916.

The town suffered Luftwaffe bombing during World War II but much is left of the old town, including the original 2000m protective mediaeval wall, of which two-thirds has survived. Of the 18 towers, 11 are left. On the South Quay, there is a 17th century Merchant's House, as well as Tudor, Georgian and Victorian buildings. Behind South Quay, there is a maze of alleys and lanes known as "The Rows"marker. Originally there were 145. Despite war damage, several have remained.

The northern section of the two-mile A47 Great Yarmouth Western Bypass opened in March 1986, and the southern section in May 1985. It is now the A12marker.

More recently flooding has been a problem, the town flooding four times in 2006. In September 2006 the town suffered its worst flooding in years. Torrential rain caused drains to block as well as an Anglian Water pumping station to break down and this resulted in flash flooding around the town in which 90 properties were flooded up to 5 ft.

The town was badly affected by the North Sea flood of 1953. On 9 November 2007 the town braced itself for more flooding as a result of a tidal surge and high tides but disaster was avoided and only a small area was under water.


The Tollhouse, with dungeons, dates from the late 13th century and is said to be the oldest civic building in Britainmarker . It backs on to the central library.

The Market place is one of the largest in England, and has been operating since the 13th century. It is also home to the town's shopping sector and the famous Yarmouth chip stalls. The smaller area south of the market is used as a performance area for community events and for access to the town's shopping centre, Market Gatesmarker. In November 2008, a new section of Market Gates opened, including high street retailers such as Debenhams, New Look and Starbucks.

Great Yarmouth railway stationmarker, which serves the town, is the terminus of the Wherry Lines from Norwich. Before the Beeching Axe the town had a number of railway stations and a direct link to London down the east coast. The only remaining signs of these stations is the coach park where Beach Station once was and the A12marker relief road which follows the route of the railway down into the embankment from Breydon Bridge.

Britannia Pier
Yarmouth has two piers, Britannia Pier and Wellington Piermarker. The theatre building on the latter of the two was demolished in 2005 and is currently being rebuilt as a family entertainment centre. Britannia Pier is home to the Britannia Theatre which during the summer months features well known acts including; Jim Davidson, Basil Brush, Cannon and Ball, Chubby Brown, Chuckle Brothers and The Searchers. The theatre is one of a few end of the pier theatres left in England.

The Grade II listed[14824] Winter Gardens building sits next to the Wellington Piermarker. The cast iron framed glass structure was shipped by barge from Torquaymarker in 1903. It is said this was done without the loss of a single pane of glass. Over the years, it has been used as ballroom, roller skating rink and beer garden. In the 1990s it was converted into a nightclub by comedian Jim Davidson. Today, The Winter Gardens are used as a family leisure venue, although its future is under threat owing to the cost of repairing the aging framework. During the winter of 2005 there were worries that building might collapse, and during high winds it was often closed.

Great Yarmouth's seafront, known as "The Golden Mile" attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year to its sandy beaches, Pleasure Beach, indoor attractions and amusement arcades. Great Yarmouth's Marine Parade has 12 Amusement Arcades located within 2 square miles, including: Atlantis, The Flamingo, Circus Circus, The Golden Nugget, The Mint, Leisureland, The Majestic, The Silver Slipper, The Showboat, Magic City, Quicksilver and The Gold Rush, opened in 2007.

The South Denes area is home to the Grade I listed Norfolk Naval Pillar, known locally as Nelson's Monument or Nelson's Column. This tribute to Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson was completed in 1819, 24 years before the completion of Nelson's Columnmarker in London. The monument, designed by William Wilkins, shows Britannia standing atop a globe holding an olive branch in her right hand and a trident in her left.There is a popular assumption in the town that the statue of Britannia was supposed to face out to sea but now faces inland due to a mistake during construction, although it is thought she is meant to face Nelson's birthplace at Burnham Thorpemarker. The monument was originally planned to mark Nelson's victory at the Battle of the Nilemarker, but fund-raising was not completed until after his death and it was instead dedicated to England's greatest Naval hero. It is currently surrounded by an industrial estate but plans are in place for the improvement of the area. The Norfolk Nelson Museum on South Quay houses the Ben Burgess collection of Nelson Memorabilia and is the only dedicated Nelson museum in Britain other than one in Monmouthmarker. Its several galleries look at Nelson's life and personality as well as what life was like for the men who sailed under him.
Small boat at the time and tide museum
Central Beach close to the Jetty
Charles Dickens used Yarmouth as a key location in his novel David Copperfield. The author stayed at the Royal Hotel on the Marine parade while writing David Copperfield. Anna Sewell (1820-1878), the author of Black Beauty, was born in a 17th century house in Church Plain. The house is currently being used as a restaurant after being renovated in 2007.

The Time and Tide museum on Blackfriars Road which is managed by Norfolk Museums Service was nominated in the UK Museums Awards in 2005. It was built as part of the regeneration of the south of the town in 2003. Its location in an old herring smokery harks back to the town's status as a major fishing port. Sections of the historic town wall are located outside the museum.

The Maritime Heritage East partnership, based at the award winning Time and Tide Museum aims to raise the profile of maritime heritage and museum collections.


The Yarmouth area is home to a number of rare and unusual species. The area between the piers is home to one of the largest roosts of Mediterranean Gulls in the UK. Breydon Water, just behind the town, is a major wader and waterfowl site, with winter roosts of over 100,000 birds. This, and the surrounding Halvergate Marshes are specially protected, and the majority of the area is now owned by conservation organisations, (principally the RSPB).

The North Denes area of the beach is an SSSI due to its dune plants, and is home to numbers of Skylarks and Meadow Pipits. It also hosts one of the largest Little Tern colonies in the Uk each summer, as well as a small colony of Greyling butterflies. Other butterflies found here include Small Copper and Common Blue.

The near-by cemetery is renowned as a temporary roost for spring and autumn migrants, and sometimes sees spectacular 'falls'. Redstart and Pied Flycatcher are often seen here during migration. It has also been the site for the first records of a number of rare insects, blown in from the continent.

Grey Seal and Common Seal are frequently seen off-shore, as are sea-birds such as Gannet, Little Auk, Common Scoter, Razorbill and Guillemot.

Sports and leisure

Market Square close to Market Gates Shopping Centre
Yarmouth has an important horse-racing trackmarker which features a chute allowing races of one mile on the straight. The local football teams are Great Yarmouth Townmarker and Gorleston, both of whom play in the Ridgeon's League.

Speedway racing was staged in Great Yarmouth before and after the Second World War. The meetings were staged at the greyhound stadium in Caister Road. The post war team were known as the Yarmouth Bloaters (after the smoked fish). Banger and Stock car racing is also staged at this stadium.

The main Leisure Centre is the Marina Centre. Built in 1981 the centre has a large swimming pool, conference facilities and live entertainment including their famous Summer Pantomimes and Summer Variety Shows produced by local entertainers Hanton & Dean. The centre is run by the Great Yarmouth Sport and leisure Trust. The Trust was set up in April 2006 to run the building as a charitable non profit making organisation.

At the beginning of the 2008 summer season a worlds first Segway Grand Prix was opened at the Pleasure Beachmarker gardens.

Pop Beach

In 2003 and 2004 T4 hosted their music festival at Great Yarmouth. It saw acts like Emma Bunton, McFly and Blue hit the stage. The event brought over 20,000 people but in 2005 the show changed its name to T4 On The Beach and has been in Weston-super-Maremarker since then. There is currently a campaign to get the show back to Great Yarmouth.



Great Yarmouth is connected to Norwichmarker by the Wherry Lines from Great Yarmouth railway stationmarker. It is the only remaining station of the three once in the town.

Current Station

Former Stations

Several other stations were located on the outskirts of the town including Belton railway stationmarker and Yarmouth Newtown railway stationmarker.


The Southern Belle
Since 2006, the restored pleasure steamer the Southern Belle has provided regular river excursions from the town's Haven Bridge. Built in 1925 for the Earl of Mount Edgcumbe. Today, she is owned by the Great Yarmouth and Gorleston Steam Packet Company Limited.


The A12marker terminates in the town as do the A143 and the A47 roads. The relief road was built along the path of the old railway to carry the A12 onwards to Lowestoftmarker and London. Congestion is a major problem in the town and roundabouts, junctions and bridges can become gridlocked at rush hour. Construction work on the Outer Harbourmarker began in June 2007, the harbour which is being built in the South Denes area plans to bring trade to the area and possibly provide a new ferry link with the Netherlandsmarker, it is due to be completed by 2009.

First Eastern Counties and Anglian Bus operate the main bus routes with the major stop in the town being Market Gates Bus Station. The Excel coach service operates a direct link to Peterboroughmarker, Norwich and Lowestoft. Other local bus services link the suburban areas of Marthammarker, Hemsbymarker, Gorlestonmarker, Bradwell and Belton as well as longer distance services to Dissmarker and Becclesmarker. In recent years the bus service in the area has been severely cut back after its privatisation.

Proposed third river crossing

Location of the four proposed new bridge options.

Plans have been put forward for the construction of a third river crossing in Great Yarmouth. This would consist of either a bridge or tunnel, connecting the Southtown area with the South Denes industrial area and the Outer Harbour. Estimated costs for a bridge or tunnel are £80m-£100m and £180m respectively. If the bridge option is chosen, four possible locations have been put forward, all connecting the A143/A12 roundabout to the east side of the river. These include two high bridges, one connecting to Southgate Road and the second to South Beach Paraded. Also two low bridge options have been forward, one connecting to Main Cross Road and another to Beevor Road. Public consultation into the proposal started on June 19 2009 and will end on August 28 2009. An announcement on the preferred crossing type and route is expected by the end of 2009 with an estimated four years of the design and planning process to follow.
The earliest estimate for the start of construction on any crossing proposal is 2013.

Lifeboat station

There has been a lifeboat in Great Yarmouth since at least 1802. The early boats were privately operated until 1857 when the RNLI took over. The lifeboat station is located on Riverside Road ( ) from where are operated the Trent class lifeboat Samarbeta and the B class (inshore) lifeboat Seahorse IV.

Notable residents


Great Yarmouth is twinned with:

See also


External links

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