A series of photo snaps providing the first impression of Great Yarmouth at the mid-point of peak holiday season shows a town still struggling badly, although the rate of decline appears to have slowed and there is a tiny glimmer of potential for recovery. 

Because of a heavily delayed train journey from London, I went out later than I would have hoped.  It was almost 8pm, with the August light beginning to fade, cloud gently covering a large moon that appeared over King’s Street.  The temperature was mild, air calm, a good evening for a stroll.

Top left to right: Midnight Lady, The Conge; Market square; New market roof construction; Town Deal announcement; Old market roof; Looking towards King’s street; All Greek to me; Regents road; Poets entrance; Britannia Pier; Pier advertising August events; Pier walkway; Ghost train pier rides; Britannia Pier Fire Department game; Seafront restaurants; Seafront towards Big Wheel; Giant Wheel; Raining over Leisureland; New indoor bierkellar and stalls.

First impression

Walking up an empty The Conge, nothing seemed to have changed except the window of Midnight Lady.  Before turning into the Market Square the very loud music and singing of pub karaoke could be heard.  It was therefore a bit of a surprise to find the pubs all virtually deserted and by my return around 9.30pm the Market Tavern had already closed for the night.  The new £3m market roof is still being built even though work began in January.  There was hardly a person around the centre, despite it being the midway point of high season.  Around McDonalds there was a reasonable amount of customers, however Wetherspoons will not be keeping the crown of being ‘in the top 10 of busiest pubs in the group during summer’ based on the small number of customers on this mild August evening.  

Regents Road did have people on it but customers only sparsely occupied the restaurants that are still open.   All Greek to me was closed and has been put up for sale, and many others were not open or only had a couple of staff members.  

Approaching the Britannia Pier, the only noticeable change was the lights are beginning to go out.  The posters were all the same as from 2019 (see Great Yarmouth post 24 June 2019 ).  On getting closer there was realisation that most of the acts have been rebooked for this summer!  Only Jimmy Jones seems to have disappeared.  The oddness seeing these old posters, untouched or updated except for new dates sort of captures the time warp that I believe Great Yarmouth is trapped within.  On the pier itself there were few people.  Although after 8pm now, on the continent a similar space would be abound with kids running around and families strolling on such a pleasant evening, however just one young girl travelled around and around on the merry-go-rounds with a few family members watching on.

The seafront promenade and restaurants were quiet, the street stalls were busier selling ice cream, chips and candyfloss. The “Giant” wheel had more people on it than I had previously seen, however it would be an exaggeration to say it was busy. This said, those who were coming off and boarding the 1970s style cabins seemed excited enough.  

Then in good English style, the heavens suddenly opened and I was soaked in moments. I made my way to the new bierkeller that has been opened temporarily by a guy who grew up in the town and spent time in London and elsewhere.  Although drenched and my glasses were steaming up, it was a totally different feel to everything else in Great Yarmouth.  I will be returning to this when I visit properly in dry clothes, as this space could have potential to hold, or at least attract people who could bring fresh thinking to the town.  

Neglect: Train station path

Despite the millions of pounds of grants, no money has yet been found to fit more lighting for the path from the train station to the town, in fact not even enough to change the lightbulb on the lone lamppost on the station side.  This lamp has been out since at least February 2021 making the path treacherous when covered in ice, which was never salted or cleared.  Now as the nights close in during August, holidaymakers and locals arriving in the late evening by train may feel they have to run a gauntlet as they walk this dark, and some may find menacing walkway that even by daylight is ugly and uninviting.   

Only path between Great Yarmouth train station and Asda superstore and the town. Note iPhone camera actually provides more light in the photo than actually exists, it is a very dark path.

John M

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