Yarmouth – Could I have a time machine please?

royal hotelGreat Yarmouth on the east coast of Norfolk was once visited by Charles Dickens. Apparently he stayed for a couple of days at the Royal Hotel on Waterloo Road in 1849. If you’ve every read or seen film/TV versions of David Copperfield you will know that David goes to stay in Yarmouth. Here’s young David’s description of Yarmouth.

When we got into the street (which was strange enough to me), and smelt the fish, and pitch, and oakum, and tar, and saw the sailors walking about, and the carts jangling up and down over the stones, I felt I had done so busy a place an injustice; and said as much to Peggotty, who heard my expressions of delight with great complacency, and told me it was well known (I suppose to those who had the good fortune to be born Bloaters) that Yarmouth was, upon the whole, the finest place in the universe.’

Winter beach huts

The facade of the Royal Hotel is looking a bit tired these days, but facing the North Sea it probably needs repainting annually. Unlike the beautiful Victorian Winter Gardens which has been closed since 2008 and needs a lot more than paint. According to Darren Barker, senior conservation officer at Great Yarmouth Borough Council, the building requires extensive renovations as much of the glass is barely held in place by rotting wood. This elaborate glass palace was originally built for Torquay, but was bought and re-erected on the seafront at Yarmouth in 1903.

Winter Gardens

It looked very miserable and sad today. I wish I could have seen it in its heyday. These fish didn’t look to too cheery either!

Herring  Herring fishing was once the major industry of Gt. Yarmouth
A Barrel of Herring
Herring fishing was once the major industry of Gt. Yarmouth

UPDATE – sadly as of 2018 the Great Yarmouth Winter Gardens is now in the Victorian Society’s top 10 endangered Victorian and Edwardian buildings in the UK.

Author: agnesashe

Artisan, blogger and passionate East Anglian working from home.

7 thoughts on “Yarmouth – Could I have a time machine please?”

  1. One can imagine how the hotel would look with fresh paint, curtains and so. But these places are just so expensive to renovate and then keep maintained. Anyone prepared to make the investment should be congratulated.

      1. I have been there, about 10 years ago and, surprisingly, it works well. It isn’t as beautiful as Kew Gardens, but it definitely has something not caught in the photographs – which I admit looks like giant plastic bubble wrap. It is much bigger than it appears and the domes are glass. I think the website is an attempt to attract lots of younger visitors and families as they know the hardcore plant/gardening people are going to visit anyway.

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