Great Yarmouth, or Yarmouth as it is also called, is about 20 miles east of Norwich, at the mouth of the River Yare. It is one of the oldest towns in England, having been granted a charter by King John in 1208, but its origins can be traced further back to a Roman fishing settlement. Near the town market you can still see remnants of the old city walls.
Great Yarmouth has been a seaside resort since the mid-1700s. When the railway opened in 1844 tourism boomed and its two piers, Wellington Pier and the grade 2 listed Britannia Pier, were opened in 1854 and 1858 respectively. With its promenade, pubs, trams, fish and chip shops and theatres the town was and still is still a popular tourist destination.
While we were staying in Norwich we were chatting to the waitress in the pub at dinner one night and she suggested that we should take a drive out to Great Yarmouth before we left Norwich. Finding Great Yarmouth was easy; just get onto the A47, head east and keep going until you hit water. Parking was a bit expensive but we don’t really have a problem with that, the money raised goes towards maintaining the town’s amenities and anyway, when we were there all the car parks near the beach were full suggesting that, despite the price, demand still outstripped supply.
After we parked the car we headed towards the beach and took a walk along the boardwalk, towards the Venetian Waterways and the Boating Lake. Dug by hand using shovels and wheelbarrows, the waterway was built in 1928 as part of a relief program for the unemployed. The walk along the boardwalk, beside the waterways, was a relaxing stroll and we stopped for coffee at a kiosk on the Boating Lake before heading back to the main part of the town.
Great Yarmouth is unashamedly a tourist town and it doesn’t pretend to be anything else. There are ice cream parlours dotted along the beach and the main street is mostly souvenir shops, fish and chip shops and restaurants, exactly as you would expect in a tourist town. Although there were lots of people around, there weren’t many large groups, most people wore a face mask in public and everyone maintained a socially distant distance.
One thing we didn’t see on the main street was betting shops and charity shops. Betting shops and charity shops along a main street usually indicates that a town is struggling to survive so their absence tells us that the economy in Great Yarmouth is healthy.
We spent about an hour and a half looking around the town and browsing through the souvenir shops, although we didn’t buy anything, before settling on an Italian restaurant near the town market for lunch. After lunch we looked around the market for a while before going back to the car and back to Norwich.
We enjoyed our day in Great Yarmouth. The streets are clean, there was almost no litter and we didn’t see any graffiti, all of which tells us that the town has a healthy economy and the residents take pride in their town.