Transcript of a High Street Sound Walk in Great Yarmouth

This is a transcript of ‘Knapped Flint Cracked Concrete’, a High Street Sound Walk in Great Yarmouth by Oliver Payne.

[music and chimes / bells]

[music and sound continue under the voice - soft sounds of the street and traffic in background - seagulls and distant voices]

Karl Trosclair: I'm an anarchist community activist based in Great Yarmouth on King Street. It's got a lot of resonance for me being here. I was born probably 100 yards from where we, where we sit right now on Deneside in the old Great Yarmouth General Hospital, a building that is sadly no longer there. The hospital probably got demolished in 1982. I also lived 100 yards away from this spot for the entirety of the '80s in what was the closest thing Yarmouth ever came to, like a squat scene. And at that time, King Street was a hub of activity - it was a vibrant, kind of scene that gradually got dissipated, I suppose, towards the end of the '80s, by the mid-90s, that had kind of fallen into disrepair, where a lot of the people who'd had businesses here, couldn't sustain them for one reason or another.

Narration Ritestuff: Great Yarmouth Wall, site of New Gate, demolished 1776.

[soft ambient music and sound continue under the voice]

Paul Patterson: I've specialised in looking at the wall for a number of years now. So, having spent a fortune on books, finding out the description from historians, I decided to build it. When it came out, I was amazed. I placed it in the position and followed the wall back and this is when I became to get really interested in it - because the wall didn't make much sense! There were certain angles of the wall where a builder would never have done a right angle. He would have taken a short length for economy reasons and speed. But this had all kinds of manner of turns, which nobody had actually looked at before. The wall took 111 years to complete. And it was finished in 1396.

Narration Ritestuff: Great Yarmouth Wall, site of Oxney's Gate, demolished 1776.

[seagulls and distant voices]

Roberta Lovick: Today, we're in our shop on Theatre Plain in Great Yarmouth, where we have knitting displays and we're trying to raise money for the Louise Hamilton Trust. The shop is on what used to be the site of the ABC cinema...

Sandra Lodge: ...previously known as The Regal...

Roberta Lovick:...The Regal, yeah, and it was a lovely site where lots of people performed over many years, and they used to have an annual pantomime. And I think, Sandra, you saw somebody really special...

Sandra Lodge:...yes, I did. In my younger days, I did happen to see The Beatles here...

...I remember in my day when I was a teenager, the highlight of a night was not going to a pub or anything. It was literally walking up one side of Regent Road, if you could walk because there was so many people and then turn around and come back on the other side. And that's what you did all night long enough...

...But you see, them days The Regent Road was open till about 11 o'clock at night wasn't it...

...yeah the shops, innit, the shops...

...And even at that time of night, it would be heaving and wouldn't it with different people...

...When I said to my son one day, you couldn't really walk on the pavement, down Regent Road, you had to walk on the road because there were so many people. Always.

[distant chatter]

Vic Ecclestone: I was born in Great Yarmouth in 1950, and I was born in a small terraced house on Priory Gardens. My mum took in visitors. My dad was a plumber. And part of taking in visitors was you were given posters to put up in the window. And with those posters came free tickets. You could go and claim a couple of free tickets and go and go and see the shows. So, I got to see, when I was six and seven, large numbers of shows, music hall stars, and then subsequently, later on, these sort of emergent sixties bands, which all came to Yarmouth.

[sound of music introduced... distant jazz]

Now, my dad being a plumber was called in one evening to sort out a hand basin in the ABC Regal and was able to get me a ticket to see The Beatles. The Regal was demolished. It was a beautiful 1930s art deco cinema, but it was versatile. It would show films. I can't remember the number, but it's got to have been about 1500 plus. And at that time, growing up, shall we say, between 13 and 18. The music scene in Great Yarmouth was second to none in the country. I mean, even London almost, I would say. So, it was absolutely an astonishing place to be. The Beatles tickets, in money now, were three pounds and the top tickets were, I think, eight pounds. So, music was accessible. But if your mum stuck a poster up, you were able to see lots of other things as well for free, which which was absolutely amazing.

[ambient music, chimes]

[music ends - sound of outdoors - distant children playing]

Paul Patterson: The wall is a prehistoric monster in a lot of respects, and what I mean by that is that somewhere right in the middle is the original wall. On the outside of it, it's been it's been refaced several times. The Victorians did a lot of refacing. They wanted to keep it. So, there are very few parts of the wall that are original. But underneath there, there is. It's a simple wall, really. Basically, it's two walls, two brick walls filled with rubble and then faced on the outside, with knapped flint. The wall is one mile long, just over, by a quarter of a mile. Now, that makes the actual town inside the wall only a quarter of a mile square. So originally you could stand at St. Nicholas Church before any buildings were there and look all the way down right to the other end of the wall.

[whistling]

...morning...morning...

[traffic noise - then music introduced - light bells]

Dr Paul Davies: Now in Victorian times there was a shortage of bodies for dissection and of course, there was a great interest in finding out how the body worked. So, anatomy became very important to surgeons, particularly they wanted to know how things work and how they could correct things. And the church, under the Minister, entertained some body snatchers. People became very worried about their deceased in churchyards. So, a dissenters' churchyard was created just off the marketplace behind the old Co-op building, and this was surrounded by a high wall with a watchtower. So, a person was paid to keep watch over the graves. People think dissenters means nonconformist, whereas, you know, the other interpretation could be the word means that people who dissented from being buried in the churchyard around the Minster.

Narration Ritestuff: In 1827, Thomas Vaughan snatched at least 10 recently buried bodies from the churchyard, sent them to London and sold them to surgeons to dissect.

[road noise]

Rachel Harrison: We're at The Great Yarmouth Fisherman Hospital. This hospital was erected at the expense of the Corporation of Great Yarmouth, Anno Domini 1702. At a Common Council on the 3rd of July 1711, it was ordered that no person be admitted under the age of 60 years; that fishermen only be admitted, but if married their wives to accompany them ; that if any fisherman becomes a widower in the hospital, he shall not marry out of the said hospital without the approbation of the committee; that no person be allowed to lodge in any house other than...

[music - trumpet]

Rev Jemma Sanders-Hayes: So, what can I tell you about the Minster? This is one of the biggest parish churches in the country. There's always a little bit of dispute about that. Some places have a cloister that they can include and measure, but ours doesn't. It was founded in 1101 by Herbert de Losinga. And at the time, Great Yarmouth was one of the wealthiest places in the entire country. After York it actually has the most complete medieval walls. It was really an incredibly wealthy market town and of course, was also a gateway into Norfolk and from the sea. So, the herring fisheries and a lot of other industry coming across from Europe would land here.

Chapels were added for each of the guilds of the town because the guilds wanted God's favour. They wanted to sponsor a place where they'd look ...all of their luxury, all of their wealth could be seen as well. And of course, the church was the main social gathering place. So, each of these sort of alcoves we see and some that you no longer can see throughout the building would have had an aside chapel...

[bells]

...and it used to be, traditionally, you could only celebrate the Eucharist once at an altar every day. So, if there were 16,18 guilds that wanted mass said for them, they needed 16 or 18 altars. So that's why they paid for their own specific side chapels. And then a priest would have said mass at one one hour and then next side chapel, someone else would have said one of the next hour. So, if you'd come in here at any time of day, it would have felt like a bustling, kind of, probably a marketplace with a service going on at the side. So, we have quite a diverse congregation, not a big congregation, maybe only maybe only 60 to 80 on an average Sunday. It tends to be really, local people. People from the town, people who work maybe in the chicken processing factories, some people who've just grown up here and helped out. Quite a few people are sadly unemployed, because we do have very high unemployment here and then retirees and just just a quite a quite a mixture. It's very nice. I think it looks like an intimidating building from the outside. But when people come in and get to know people, they realise it really is actually a beautiful space for the everyday person. And I love that. I think it's one of the reasons I like ministry.

[bells continue - then trumpet music returns - traffic noise introduced]

Narration Ritestuff: Anna Sewell, the authoress of Black Beauty was born here on March the 30th, 1820.

Rachel Harrison: ...that the committee make no weekly or other payment to those who do not live and lodge in the said hospital,unless some extraordinary reason for short nonresidence should be allowed by the said committee. And in case any persons willfully and without leave, absent themselves for seven days, such persons shall be suspended by the said committee and discharged at the next meeting ;that the outward gate of the hospital be locked exactly at nine of the clock every night, and that the key of the said gate be kept by such dweller in the hospital as the committee shall from time to time direct ;that the benefactions and the above orders be painted and affixed at the gable's on each side of this hospital gate...

[light applause - sounds of the market - clatter trolleys being pulled, cough]

Alan Pitt: My dad- mum and dad had a stall on there from virtually when I was born. We used to help out from the age of 10. I was always going to be a market trader: Parents didn't want me to do it, but that was always what I was going be. Went from- left school, went to college just for a laugh, then started up my own business and within a week had seven markets. And then gradually it went seven days a week, six days, five, four. And now it's two days a week. It's just Wednesdays and Saturdays. Shopping habits change but we still serve some of the same people that we've served for- for thirty years. People come; they want to chat to you. They like to talk. And you don't get it in the shop.

Oliver Payne: Well, what about the development plan? What are your thoughts about that?

Alan Pitt: It definitely needs doing. Infrastructure is looking tired. The market stalls themselves. They've got history. But you do have to move on a little bit. Hopefully when it's done, it will- hopefully people will go 'Let's go and have a look'. It will be nice when it's done. Yeah, we're moving on now. We've got obviously... we've got a diverse culture. Yeah, we've got people who've come in and settled here and they're now starting to take market stalls on. So you will get that cultural balance, which a lot of places- you go to London markets they're already like that and we are starting to get that now. It'll be good in the end, I think, but it's them lean times in the middle when the work's being donethat's really tricky.

Terry Smith: When I was little, about 10, 11 years old, my uncle used to own the "Norwich Bell" what went to Scroby Sands. And I used to go down and see him, and I used to the docks, take all the fish, all the herring and go and sell it for fresh herring all round the town with a little wheelbarrow. And then from there, I worked on the market helping market stalls. And then from there I went into business, pottery and glassware on the market about 26, 30 years ago. And then I come out of the market because you buy things cheaper on the internet than in the market. I couldn't buy them on the stall, but I could buy them on the internet. The internet is changing everything these days.

Narration Ritestuff: Soprano Ruth Vincent, 1874 to 1955, Butcher's daughter, lived on this site as a child, 1875 to 1894, became a prima donna at the D'Oyly Carte Opera and the Royal Opera, Covent Garden.

Jonathan Salmon: So, my business- well, the family business in itself -started back in 1946. And it was run by my grandfather, who got the idea from up north. He went around the Midlands, a place called Mansfield to do peas. So, we took that idea, came down here and started it. And that's how it sort of came about. Three generations of just, you know, doing the same recipe, all cooked in there with all our ingredients, which was bicarb, a little bit of salt, you know, water, you know, mixed in. And we also get a little minced meat pies, you know, from down the road. So, they come and get delivered. And hopefully when the new market comes in, we'll be able to sell a little bit more than just that. So, fingers crossed, you know, it goes well, and you know, we still can carry on. We don't know how much exactly we gotta put into the store. But whatever the cost, hopefully we can carry on, you know, and yeah, looking forward to the changes happening in the next few months.

[background music - jazz]

Lenny Gordon: Yeah, people's habits change, and everyone knows everything about everything. The internet is the best and worst thing that's ever happened, really. You had lines, you could go to work with- people used to come out in the villages and, and everywhere from all over the country just to be entertained and see stuff that they would not see every day of the week.

...you can have enough for one pound, two pound. I'll let you have two for five pounds or...

Sarah Gallant: At the moment, the arcade's doing really well. In the last year, nearly all the units are now being filled, which is really good, and that helps the whole community really help and try and drag more people down. But we enjoy it. You know, you meet many different people. Some you do want to meet, some you'd rather not meet. We're having a get together thing in July, later on in the month to try and draw more people down. So, everyone, all the shops are doing little things and just to get people down here really.

Mick Nembhard: I've been here from 1995 till now, so it's about 26 years, you know, and maybe like the first years I've been here, first 10 years was fine ever since that and it's just constantly gone down down down. All the listed of buildings, they all got like their own colour code. I think what friends said that they got about six colours they got to choose from. And as you can see out there they're that dark blue, dark brown. I mean, there's one there that's got yellow, but I mean, I don't think there's anything brighter than that. So where like I'm not listed, I can paint my shop any colour I want,which I don't mind doing. But the only reason I'm doing it up because just... One, to try and brighten up the street and two, I'm still trying to make the decision whether to stay on or not stay on. But I need something which I can sell in this town. A lot of people say, I mean, you always hear on the news: Great Yarmouth, Great Yarmouth this. But they always spend money down seafront, but places like this, they don't. When I've finished painting my shop orange, I mean, my shop would be the brightest shop in Yarmouth, I think.

[background chatter]

...I'm going to make a video about...

Kaavous Clayton: Our work is very place focused. So, it's about connecting with the heritage of a place and the communities and industries and working with artists to make those things visible or to animate them or to change them and present new ways of seeing the place that you live in. For the last three years, we've been taking on various spaces on a meanwhile basis. Some of them- one was an old record shop. One it was the former Mercury office, the local newspaper. Then we had the old M&S, which is a big purpose-built building in the centre of town. And we're currently in the former Debenhams, a space we've called Primeyarc.

Julia Devonshire: Which is a completely different space, actually, because it was built at the very into the 70s and 80s as a purpose built mall. So we're sort of buried in the middle of it. So it's an interesting context for us, because previously, you know, we've been scaling up our operations from smaller shops to a larger shop with Marks and Spencer, which had a very easy public footfall at street level, which kind of piqued people's curiosities. And then here we're currently opposite the vaccination centre, which is an interesting, actually really convenient link in the current times as well.

Kaavous Clayton: Yeah, since we've moved here, we've worked with lots of people sort of organically, I guess, through bumping into people. Yeah. And all those people bring bring their stories and heritage.

Julia Devonshire: And I think what we are particularly interested in as an organisation is that sort of intersection between past heritage and the future of the place and the people that are going to occupy it and what drives them. And yes, certainly kind of using the material of the High Street and kind of, it needs to be animated. It needs to kind of, it's been here for hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of years. So, it's got to keep going.

Kaavous Clayton: Yeah, heritage can inform the future rather than just be sealed and viewed in the past.

[traffic]

Narration Ritestuff: Young Crome, John Berney Crome, 1794-1842, English landscape and Marine painter and president of the Norwich Society of Artists, died here.

[percussion begins slowly - bells]

Ana Moreira: I came to Great Yarmouth about 10 years ago, and since I came, I created like the group of dancers in here in Great Yarmouth. And it was more to bring a little bit of cultural events in Great Yarmouth because was nothing like happening around King, especially on King Street. King Streets is like the place that you can sometimes relate it to to London, because it's such a cultural, like, street. And we have done a lot of events in King Street. Up till like now, we are, we've been like using different venues, but now we sort of base here in the Primeyarc, which is, sort of like, brought us here in and gave us like a lot of freedom. I feel like this is a multicultural like place, like different artists. I call this place as a community centre.

[music - bells]

Pedro Cassimo: I do work with them - with the the group for a long time. It's called Afroluso Bay Dancers. So, yeah, I work with them. Lately, I work on with map group and the young people, they help obviously build up this story. It's about migration, you know, and races.My work over this is word speech that actually speaks about what can I say, my adventure from from Mozambique up to England, you know, but also what I try to do on that word speech is actually get the public to know who the migrant is like, who we are and what's our backgrounds and everything. I always got this side of, like, keeping people together, motivation, bringing people to the best of themselves, like, what they can be.

[traffic and street noise - occasional seagull]

Lotte Lewis: And I thought ‘Ah like I'll go see what this place, Great Yarmouth, is like.’ So I came, I just stayed there for like two nights and I walked down King Street and I really remember King Street and being like, wow, there's like a there's like some kind of vibe on the streets. And I liked it and I felt quite free. And I feel like in a lot of places, there's no street life anymore, that much. But I felt like in Yarmouth there was. So having this space is like a nice way to have somewhere where people can come and you don't have to pay anything, like there's no expectation. And to be able to do workshops with kids and stuff. I like, I started meeting so many people who wrote and I thought, like, there should be some way that people can publish stuff if they want and also give it to people that they know. And so, I thought, well, I'll set up like a press and do that so that people could publish stuff and distribute it and do readings and things here.

Karl Trosclair: We do workshops for children who are either in the fostering system, children who have been excluded from formal education and for people who are home schooling children as well. So we offer facilities, you know, we've got three floors, we've got basement area, ground level area and an upstairs area that can be used for a variety of things. People no longer come into town centres to shop, so, really part of the community activism that we're trying to do is to have spaces that were former retail spaces used for other purposes, repurposing those buildings and those things to give something back to the community. Making them kind of community based and encourage people to come back into town centres

Paula Thompson: Certainly on the on the King Street, yeah you're seeing changes. I mean, we we never had coffee shops... Yeah. Something that Holland has. Ain't what we had. And now we've got rows of coffee shops. And when you walk down King Street and smell fresh coffee, I mean, we we never had that. It was very basic: butcher, baker, candlestick maker. You know, we didn't have that kind of sort of mixed cultures of Polish and Portuguese up and down the street. Very exotic. I mean, you know, years ago, you had a basic butcher, you had a pork chop or a pound of mince. Walk down King Street now, you know, you're watching a load of blue lobsters fight in a tank. It's very different from from what I knew growing up and that, you know, so they, you know, you've seen a lot of changes coming and things have come in. Maybe they work, maybe they don't.

[ambient music begins to take over the traffic noise]

Ligia Macedo: What I like the most in Yarmouth is this sense of being home, especially because of the languages. Because when I go around King Street, when I go Market Place, and when I go down St George's Theatre, I always hear Portuguese voices. I always hear other voices. And I don't feel as lonely. I think Yarmouth is a place where people can reinvent themselves and they can take other other choices, other venues and explore other things.

[music grows]

Russell Hughes: Every day when I walk around, I see something different. If I'm looking at the buildings, I'll see a different gargoyle here or a different feature in the buildings that I never noticed before. So, coming to these groups and stuff I can be involved in the activities is really kind of opened my eyes to being aware of my surroundings.

Mel Barron: We're part of Herring House, Herring House Trust. Before the lockdown, we were doing a project on the Wellsley. We've done the carnival in Yarmouth. We've batiked big flags to take to the carnival. So, yeah, it's all been really good.

Yeah, I think the history in Yarmouth, I quite like the history of Yarmouth. I suppose when I first got here, I didn't pay much attention to it. I came I was moved I’m from Essex originally, and I was I was in prison and I got moved to Blundestone Prison and I finished my sentence there and I didn't want to go back to Essex. So, luckily someone there at the prison found me Herring House in Yarmouth. And I came here, and I've been here ever since. Things were a bit up and down when I first got here. Once I started to deal with them, then I became aware of like, wow, it's got real history. And especially with the hostel I was in, I could get involved in lots of groups. I was amazed at how much history there was that I didn't know was there until somebody’d pointed it out. And for example, the town wall. We did a town wall walk and I didn't realise there were so many entrances to that town that used to be enclosed behind the wall, which was amazing to then think that we were on this wall walk and hearing about the fact that soldiers would have been doing God knows what a thousand years ago and it's amazing that the two worlds collide all those years later.

[music]

Paul Patterson: I started to see how the town was changing. People will say the town was dying. It was shops, basically. They couldn't support themselves anymore because people buying online. So how can you get the footfall back? Yarmouth still has enough to become a medieval centre of excellence. So, I put a presentation together and I took it to the town hall and several others. And I gave this presentation and I suggested to them quite boldly that they should get rid of the shops, open the marketplace up and show people what it was like during the medieval times. And also, while you're at it, why don't we put one of the gates back? Beautiful market gates. And why don't we do it? We'll have flags, we'll have gate opening ceremonies! They didn't exactly laugh at me, but they did look at me for a long time.

[music fades to end]


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