A. D Bayne.

Royal illustrated history of eastern England, civil, military, political, and ecclesiastical .. (Volume 1) online

. (page 33 of 70)
Online LibraryA. D BayneRoyal illustrated history of eastern England, civil, military, political, and ecclesiastical .. (Volume 1) → online text (page 33 of 70)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

fidmirable effect which the old builders knew how to produce by flint
walls, by jiorch and parvise, by oriel, gallery, and balustrade.

The edifice known as the Dutch clock, dating from the last quarter of
the sixteenth century, has religious as well as commercial associations.
Morning prayer was once offered therein under the sanction of the
Corporation. The Dutch and Flemings, who fled from persecution in
their own country to this town, had permission to use it as a chapel. The
old clock still marks the hour, and the mariner^s compass, three feet in
diameter, carved in stone, still stands in front ; but an old custom is
discontinued of the town waits assembling on the top of the building',
and performing on musical instruments. Now the house is occupied by
Haven Commissioners, and a Public Library containing ten thousand
volumes. Another relic is masked by the front of the Star Hotel, a
house that carries our thoughts back to one of the decisive periods in
English history. The Nelson room in this Hotel is so called because
Nelson once dined in it ; his portrait, by Keymer, a Quaker, who was an
admirer of the famous Admiral, hangs at the end. The walls are
decorated with antique cai'ved work, oaken panels, and pilasters, styles
formed of a half-length female figure, supported by the head of an
aiiimal, arched fillets and diaper work, and quaint devices wrought in
wood .


Here are long ranges of handsome buildings, extending from the north
end to the south end, a niile in length. Here are many first-class hotels
and lodging-houses for visitors.

The Marine Drive is a long straight highway, which stretches along the
whole seaward side of the town from the north to the south, and forms
one of the principal attractions to visitors. On a fine breezy day it is a
very agreeable resort, with an outlook upon a busy sea and a busy shoi-e.
The Drive, from one end to the other, cannot fail to interest a strangei-,
especially a health seeker, as he passes many hotels, bath houses, and public
lionses, throngs of men and women busy around heaps of fish, groups of
beachmen sauntering up and down near the graceful yawls, in which,
when required, they go out on the stormy sea with right good will.

The Sailors' Home was opened in January, 1859. The building is in
the fi'ee Italian style, the character and colours of the materials at the
different storeys being most skilfully diversified. On the basement storey
are the night refuge, the drying closets, the kitchens, larder, water


closets, lavatoiy, receiving room, &c. On tlie ground floor there is a
large news room and cofteo room, from wliicli there is a view of the
beach and roadstead. On this floor there are several fine rooms, and
the entrance hall froin the front, ont of which hnll there is n stnironso
to the rooms above.

The Naval Asylum on the South Denes forms a large quadrangular
building, with piazzas aud a detached range of offices, built in 1809, at a
cost of £120,000, and used as a Naval Hospital until St. Nicholas Gat,
by shoaling its waters, rendered that entrance to the roads unsafe for
men of war, and the Admiralty consequently ordered that the building
should be converted into Foot Barracks. Afterwards it was made a
Military Lunatic Asylum, and then an Hospital for Invalid Soldiers ; but
in I860 it was re-transferred to the Admiralty and adapted for the recep-
tion of naval lunatics.

The Militia Barracks, a handsome range of buildings on the South
Denes, were built in 1 85(3, for the East Norfolk Militia and the Norfolk
Artillery Militia.

The Royal Armoury, in Southtown, was built in 1806, at a cost of
£15,000, for the reception 'of naval and military stores, but after being
disused for many years, in 1855 it was converted into Militia Barracks.

The Coast Guard Station on the South Beach is a good building of
white brick, erected in 1859, at a cost of £3500. It occupies three sides
of a triangle, and comprises residences for an officer and twelve men.

The Jetty was erected in 1808, at a cost of £5000. It is twenty-one
feet wide and 520 feet in length. During the fishing season the Jetty is
the most amusing place in the town. The Britannia Pier, constructed in
1856, consisted of eleven bays of twenty feet, and thirteen of thirty-five
feet span, terminating in a circular head ; extremity 750 feet from the
entrance gates ; width twenty-four feet. During a storm in the winter of
1 859, a sloop was driven by a high wind against the Pier, taking oft'
seventy feet. The present circular head was subsequently added ; but the
Pier was again seriously damaged in 1868 and 1869. The Wellington
Pier, more south, is constructed entirely of timber, the platform being
upon piles. The Pier is thirty feet wide, and 700 feet in length, the head
being 100 feet wide. This Pier was erected as a memorial to the Duke of
Wellington, but he never had any connection with the town. A standard
emblazoned with the arms of the Duke is hoisted on the anniversaries
of the great battles in which he was engaged, as at Waterloo. 'J^he
Welhngton Pier is the most fashionable resort in the evening during
the season, the company assembling here do so to meet their friends, and
to enjoy the sea breeze, or to listen to bands of musicians playing en-
livenino' airs.


The New Assembly Rooms, opposite the Pier, were built iu 1862 by a
Limited Liability Company at a cost of £4000. They comprise a hand-
some Assembly-room in the centre, a reading-room, a spacious billiard-
rDom, ladies^ I'eading-room, and other apartments, all well furnished.


To the memory of the gallant Nelson, stands on the South Denes, about a
mile from the towu, and was erected by the contributions of the gentle-
men of Norfolk, under the direction of William Wilkin, Esq., the
architect. T\\\h beautiful monumental pillar is of the Grecian Doric order,
elegantly fluted, and 144 feet high, ascended by an easy flight of 270
steps. Upon the plinth are the names of the four ships, " Vanguard,^'
^■^ Cnptain,'^ " Elephant,'^ and '^'^ Victory,^^ on board of which the heroic
Admiral's flag was so valorously displayed, and on the coping of the
terrace are inscribed the names of the four principal battles, Aboukir, St.
Vincent, Copenhagen, and Trafalgar. On each of the four sides of the
pedestal is a flight of steps leading to the terrace, which affords a prome-
nad(; round the shaft. The roof is supported by Caryatides, surmounted
by a ball and a figure of Britannia, exquistely cast, holding iu her hand a
trident and laurel wreath. On the west side there is a very elegant Latin
inscription from the pen of Mr. Sei'jeant Fi'ere. The view from the top
of the column will repay anyone mounting 270 steps. On a clear day
Norwich is visible, and the eye wanders over leagues of the flat inland
country, over the expanse of Breydon water, along the course of the river,
and from the cheerful heights of Gorleston to the Suffolk cliffs near

Then turning round the spectator looks forth upon the broad blue sea,
and the roads thronged with vessels and fishing boats sailing to the mouth
of the river, and the red lightships which. mai'k the gatways, and the
tossing billows in the distance where the Knoll and Scroby sands form
dangerous shoals, the foaming tumult in those spots contrasting with the
comparative calm within the great banks which Nature maintains, protect-
ing tlie roads as with a breakwater. Yet notwithstanding this-protection
this part of the coast is as dangerous to the mariner in a north-easterly
gale as any part of our eastern shores.

Yamnouth in the summer season has become the resort of many thou-
sands of pleasure-seekers ; as many as ten thousand visitors have been in
the town for months together. Of late years this watering place has been
greatly extended and improved. A new Marine Parade, three miles in
length from north to south along the beach, affords visitors opportunities
for healthy walks and drives close to the sea. The new piers, extending
far into the sea, invite ladies to walking exercise to inhale the invigorating


brce^se, and to feel the influence of the foam-crested waves, or to watch
the foaming billows as they dash on the beach, or to see the mild, silvery
splendour of the rising moon.

It is curious to notice the increase of watering-places along the Eastern
coast. Formerly, Yarmouth and Lowestoft had a kind of monopoly ; but
now we have Hunstanton, Cromer, Southwold, Aldborough, Felixstow,
Walton-on-the-Naze, and Dovercourt, all claiming a share of public
favour. The effect upon Yarmouth has not been injurious, a result which
is probably attributable to the growing wealth of the country and the
tendency of families to pass a few months in each year at the seaside ;
and the large number of lodging-houses at Yarmouth. Here, as at other
watering-places along .the coast, we may observe a great variety of
characttrs, all in pursuit of pleasure, and all more or less amusing. Some
few really come for health, some for meditation, some for flirtation, but
more for idleness. There are others without any object hi life — mere
vacant loiterers, to whom every day and every hour in the day is much
too long, n they had the run of Paradise for three months, they would
like to go to the other place for a change.

The late Mr. Dickens, in a paper entitled " The Norfolk Gridiron," full
of humorous conceits and pleasant gossip, and which appeared in Hoiisvhuld
Wordti, says : — " St. Nicholas, the patron of fishermen and children in
general, and of Great Yarmouth in particular, has no special or legendary
connection with gridirons ; and yet Great Yarmouth is one vast gridiron,
of which the bars are represented by 'Rows,' to the number of 156.
llepel the recollection of a Chester Kow, a Paradise Row, or a Rotten
Row. A Yarmouth Row is none of these. A row is a long narrow lane,
or alley, quite straight, or as nearly so as may be, with houses on each
side, both of which you can sometimes touch at once with the finger tips
of each hand, by stretching out your arms to their full extent. Now and
then the houses overhang, and even join above your head, converting
the row, so far, into a sort of tunnel or tubular passage. Many and
many a picturesque old bit of domestic architecture is to be hunted up
among the rows. In some rows there is little more than a blank wall for
the double boundary. In others, the houses retreat into tiny square
courts, where washing and clear starching are done, and wonderful
nasturtiums and scarlet-runners are reared from green boxes, filled with
that scarce commodity, vegetable mould. Most of the rows are paved
with pebbles from the beach ; and, strange to say, these narrow gang-
ways are traversed by horses and carts which are built for this special
service, and which have been the cause of serious misunderstanding
among antiquaries, as to whether they were, or were not, modelled after
the chariots of Roman invaders. Of course, if two carts were to meet in


the middle of a row, one of the two must either go back to the end again,
or pass over the other one, hke goats upon a single-file ledge of precipice.
The straightness of the passage usually obviates this alternative. A few
rows are well paved throughout with flagstone; carts are not allowed to
enter them, and foot passengers prefer them to the pebbly pathways.
Hence they are the chosen locality of numei-ous little shopkeepers. If
you want a stout pair of hob-nailed shoes, or a scientifically-oiled dread-
nought, or a dozen of bloaters, or a quadrant or compass, or a bunch of
turnips the best in the world, or a woollen comforter and nightcaj) for one
end of your person, and worsted overall stockings for the other, or a
plate of cold boiled leg of pork stulfed with parsley, or a ready-made
waistcoat, Avitli blazing pattern and bright glass buttons — with any of
these you can soon be accommodated in one or other of the paved rows.
Here, you have a board announcing the luxurious interval during which
hot joints are offered to the satisfaction of a salt-water appetite ; from
twelve till two no one need suffer hunger. Elsewhere is the notice over
the door, that within are — ' Live and boil'd shrimps sold by the catcher.'
(Shrimps unadulterated, caught and sold by the very catcher himself — the
original article, and no mistake ! From time immemorial there has been
a Market Row, in which two people aui walk arm-in-arm, as they stare at
the vlitc of Yarmouth shop-windows ; and there is a Broad Row, across
which, if an Adelphi harlequin could not skip fi-om first floor to first floor,
he would get from the manager very significant hints about his abilities."

Every reader of " David Copperfield " will remember Dickens' sketch,
in which he jots down the first impressions occasioned by a sight of the
Denes : '' It looked rather spongy and soppy, I thought, as I carried my
eye over the great dull waste that lay across the river ; and I could not
help wondering, if the world were really as round as my geography book
said, how any part of it came to be so flat. But I reflected that Yar-
mouth might be situated at one of the poles, Avhicli would account for it.
As we drew a little nearer, and saAv the whole adjacent jDrospcct, lying a
straight low line under the sky, I hinted to Peggotty, that a mound or so
might have improved it ; and also, that if the land had been a little more
separated from the sea, and that the toAA'n and the tide had not been
cjuite so much mixed up, like toast-aud-water, it would have been nicer.
But Peggotty said, with greater emphasis than usual, that we must take
things as we found them ; and that, for her part, she was proud to call
herself a Yarmouth Bloater."

A more recent article from the same pen fHout>ehoId ]\ onU, No. 147)
gives a more accurate and less fanciful description of these levels :—

" The highest portion of the South Denes is a ridge running parallel
with the shorcj and raised not many feet above it, but still commanding a


most pleasing panorama of sea and land, town and country. It is annually
used as a i-ace-coursc ; and for a walk or a canter, there are not many
more cheerful and healthy spots on the face of the earth. Only, if a
squall comes on, there is no shelter to be had, unless one could, rabbit-like,
scoop a cave in the earth. But the whole peninsula is nearly a level
plain. It is covered with herbage, so short and fine, that to turn sheep
and cattle to feed there, seems almost as cruel as driving them to gra/o
upon a green Brussels carpet which has undergone a dozen years of family
service. It is marvellous that they do live and grow. Numbers of
brood geese also find the materials whence to produce their eggs and
young. The main agent which iioav causes any change in the level of
the Denes is the wind, which not only deposits the drifting sand around
every tuft of grass, but also opens a wider -gaj) at any spot left bare of
vegetation. On the North Denes (where stand the mills immortalized in
Kobinson Crusoe), every tuft of furze is the foundation of a hillock ; just
as the African sand-winds raise a small mound over the carcase of every
camel left exposed on the surface of the desert. They are admirable hills,
m small, for infantile geographers to explore, with a reckless determina-


For a thousand years, the inhabitants of the town experienced great
difficulties, and incurred continued and heavy expenses, in constructing
havens and in preserving them from decay, owing chiefly to the level
state of the adjoining coast, the extensive shoals of sand, silt, and gravel
in the roads, and the scanty flow of water, even at the highest Spriug
tides, which seldom exceed six or seven feet, whilst the neap tides only
rise about four feet, and the depth of water at the mouth of the haven is
seldom more than eleven feet during the Spring floods.

When the north channel of the estuary was entirely choked up, a
powerful impulse was given to the inland waters down the south channel
of the river Yare, which then flowed into the sea near Gorton, four miles
south of the present haven, but the place called Newton has been long
since covered by the sea. This channel subsequently forced an opening
a little further to the south beyond Gorton, but about too? it became so
choked with sand banks at the entrance that the navigation was entirely
stopped. Under these distressing circumstances, the men of Yarmouth
obtained permission from Edward III. to cut a new haven opposite the
village of Gorton, but this, after costing an immense sum of money,
became so filled with stones and gravel as to be navigable only for boats.
After this, a second haven, then a third, then a fourth, then a fifth, then
a sixth haven was formed, each at a vast expense, and each a failure


In 1 559; tlie burgesses, liaving somewhat improved their finances, with a
highly commendable perseverance, determined on beginning the present
luivcu, the seventh formed by artificial means, and in this their efforts
were ultimately crowned with success.

The last haven was projected antl constructed by Jans Johnson, a native
of Holland, and affords secure anchorage at all times. There are two
piers at the mouth of the Yare ; one on the south 1230 feet in length, and
one on the north 400 feet in length, erected on timber piles, and secured
by iron railings. These piers are noteworthy monuments of the energy
and perseverance Avhich still maintain them, but cannot preserve them
from decay.

Among causes of decay is the teredo, which eats out the heart of the
piles by innumerable borings. As naturalists tell us, the same species
prevails on the coast of Holland, and this is an enemy against which
defence is perhaps impossible in ports that open directly to the sea.

Yarmouth is surrounded by a vast extent of sand, and the consequence
of this is that the tide only rises five feet at Yarmouth. The tidal scour
at Yarmouth is greatly reduced, and occasions a large outlay in main-
taining the bar and extending the draught of water. But if the tide rose
as high at Yarmouth as at Lynn, it might produce disastrous results, and
would probably drown the town.

The result of the convergence of the rivers we have mentioned at
Yarmouth is to give that port a monopoly of the carrying trade of the
district ; and so injurious was this monopoly, that forty -three years since
the late Sir William Cubitt obtained an Act of Parliament for the con-
struction of a harbour at Lowestoft, the capital for Avliich undertaking
was mainly supplied by a Norwich company, but the money subscribed,
.t 150,000, was insufficient to carry out the works on a scale adequate for
the harbour to be made available to any great extent.

When the Eailway Company took the matter up, and made the port of
LoAvestoft what it is now, then its full advantages began to be realised.
The Yarmouth people then set about improving their harbour and
lowering the port charges, the result being great benefit to Norwich and
to the surrounding district. There are now two harbours within a few
miles of each other, constituted on totally different principles — that if
Yarmouth being maintained by the flow of water from the land, while
that of Lowestoft is maintained chiefly by dredging.

Engineers believe that the result of a thorough investigation, conducted
by competent persons, Avould show that the land water gave very little
advantage in secuiing power to the port of Yarmouth, and that of the
rivers were allowed to pass through to the sea in other directions, a large
area of laud situated in their ueisrhborhood, which is now rendered


unproductive by the flood and tidal waters^ would be utilised and rendered


The situation of" the town affords many advantages in a commercial
point of view. The Yare is here navigable for vessels of 250 tons bur-
den, and to Norwich, a distance of thirty-two miles, for smaller vessels,
without the intervention of locks. The "Waveney, which falls into the
Yare, is navigable to Beccles and Bungay, a distance of twenty-two miles ;
and the Bure, which flows into the Yare, is navigable to Aylsham, thirty
miles ; and another branch to North Walsham, twenty-five miles hence —
thus opening an extensive channel of inland communication. Most of
the produce of East Norfolk is brought to this port by water conveyance
to be exported.

At spring tides, vessels of sixty or seventy tons can get up to Norwich.
The number of registered vessels belonging to the port is about 400,
exclusive of about 500 fishing smacks and small craft, and the seamen are
able navigators. From thirty to forty vessels, some of them from 800 to
500 tons burthen, are built here yearly for London and other merchants.
There are several extensive bonding warehouses, with no limitations
except tobacco.

The Custom House is a large building near the centre of the South
Quay, and belonging to it there is an extensive warehouse on the South
Denes. The gross receipt of customs here in 1833 was £56,487; in
1841, £79,726 ; and in 1862, £23,000.

Yarmouth has been the chief port of Norwich and Norfolk for centuries
past, and is likely to continue so for centuries to come. There has always
been a great exportation of grain, malt, &c., and a considerable importa-
tion of coals. Formerly, the exports of grain coastwise amounted to
480,000 quarters per annum ; but after the opening of railways, the
exports declined. Before 1858, the imports of coals varied from 150,000
to 200,000 tons of coal, and from 64,000 to 90,000 tons of other goods.
For ten years prior to 1858, the customs dues of the port ranged from
£46,000 to £60,000 per annum, and the haven and pier dues from
£10,000 to £12,000. After the construction of the present haven (the
seventh), the trade of the port rapidly increased, and about 500 vessels
were registered as hailing from the port before 1824. In 1848, the num-
ber of coasting vessels inwards laden was 8123 ; of foreign vessels laden,
275; and of coasters outwards, 1414. In 1849, the number of coasters
inwards laden was 2915 ; of foreign vessels inwards laden, 261 ; and of
vessels outward laden, 1462. The number of unregistered vessels in 1849
was 1025, and of registered 105. Formerly, from the North of England,


immense quantities of coaLs^ salt, and other heavy goods were brought by
sea to Yarmouth, and by river to Norwich, for distribution over the
eastern side of Norfolk and Suffolk. The importation of coals has been
diminished at Yarmouth, not only by the opening of railways, but also by
the working of the central coal fields of England, which were formerly
kept out of the Eastern market by the want of facilities of transit.
Various coal companies have been formed in this Eastern district, and by
means of railways they take the lead in that branch of business, and
larger quantities of coals are brought in at greatly reduced rates.

The exports of corn, malt, &c., have been about 180,000 quarters
yearly, and the imports from 150,000 to 200,000 tons of other goods.
The imports in the year ending March, 1863, were — of coals, 146,856
tons ; of other goods, 68,220 tons ; of corn, 87,584 quarters. During
the year ending March, 1863, the exports were — of corn, 162,605
quarters ; of other goods, 34,182 tons. In the haU-year ending March,
1867, the imports and exports of coals amounted to 45,878 tons; of other
goods, 110,516 tons; total, 156,414 tons. The imports and exports of
corn amounted to 79,603 quarters. The dues amounted to £3337 3s. lid.
under the old Act,

During the year ending March 25th, 1869, the quantity of coals
imported into Yarmouth was 106,025 tons, the port and haven dues on
which were £1 770 13s. Od. The quantity of corn and seed exported and
imported was 276,052 quarters, the port and haven dues on which were
£1725 3s. Od. The dues upon ships, fishing vessels, and sundry goods
were £6859 10s. lid. The total amount of port and haven dues was
£10,355 5s. lid. Barley is the chief article exported. There are many
large malting-houses in the town, and one large brewery which supplies
two thousand barrels of ale weekly to London alone. This brewery is the
largest in the provinces, and Messrs. Lacon and Co. are the proprietors.
But the chief business of the port lies in its extensive and unrivalled

Online LibraryA. D BayneRoyal illustrated history of eastern England, civil, military, political, and ecclesiastical .. (Volume 1) → online text (page 33 of 70)