Returning to Great Yarmouth for the first time since moving away in May 2021, this post touches on some of the trepidation of returning to the deprived seaside town and catching up with the Haphazard Business blog posts.


Leaving Waking London

Leaving the slowly waking, pandemic-damaged city giant of London for the almost destitute Norfolk seaside town of Great Yarmouth provides an odd sense of trepidation.  As the 13:30 Greater Anglia train out of Liverpool Street whisks through the new glass towers of East London, a sense of almost despair at what to expect on my return is on my mind.  London has a long way to go to recover from the pandemic, with major thoroughfares like Fleet Street, Theobalds Road, Strand, and Bloomsbury at times almost like ghost towns with retail casualties littering once busy streets.  Great Yarmouth was already like this before the pandemic, and worse on my leaving in May, so I can only brace myself for what is to come.

Images L-R: Chancery Lane, Saturday afternoon; Bloomsbury, weekday afternoon; Strand, weekday evening (All summer 2021, photos: John McKiernan) 

As we travel, the train reduces to a slow pace and the train crew announce that there will be a lengthy delay due to a fatality on the line. 

Fake Optimism 

I should be really optimistic about this journey.  From the turn of the year there has been money pouring into Great Yarmouth in the form of multimillion-pound grants.  The approval of the new third bridge is around £120m, the swimming pool on the seafront £26m, Winter Gardens £10m, Town Centre deal £18m and a number of other public grants, all awarded within the past 12 months (numbers approximate). Private investment that I could see was mainly property speculation, people planning to cash in on an expected rise in house prices, no doubt creating yet another false bubble as elsewhere in the UK.    

Having met the leadership of Great Yarmouth, observed and documented the town from 2019 through to 2021, and spoken with a great number of people I have no confidence in the slightest that any of this money will make a significant change to the lives of the tens of thousands of people trapped inside this poverty strewn district.  There is a denial that pervades the town’s power brokers and firms that is more akin to 1970s cartels, with business reluctance to invest in the future; instead choosing to gloss over the past with a lick of paint.  

New Blog Posts

Since leaving Great Yarmouth in May 2021 a lot has occurred.  The intention of this blog from the outset was to document the journey and accompanying push and pull that goes along with setting up any new business.   Time and energy has made keeping up with the posts difficult, leaving a number of half-written pieces that I intend to complete and publish over the coming 4 days.  

The Great Yarmouth posts will outline why, in my personal view, I think the approach of the local authority, the county council and other government agencies is folly under the present leadership in the town.  I will set out my reasons and include photos, films and personal experiences and conversations from my time in the town.  

I also intend to publish how the learning and observations in Great Yarmouth shaped the emerging Fourth Portal and look to explain the interconnectivity that informs how tiny experiences and events shape ideas.

John M

One thought on “TREPIDATION

  1. Well done, Jonny! John

    John Wood Emeritus Professor of Design – Goldsmiths University of London Professor of Practice – Swansea College of Art, UWTSD

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