Uncover Great Yarmouth’s rich history

A new series of guided heritage walks throughout the borough of Great Yarmouth have been announced.

The walks – which run from April to October – cover a wide range of topics and locations and provide an opportunity for people to discover more about the rich history of the area.

Each walk is led by an official Great Yarmouth Heritage Guide, who will take people back through time to explore the fascinating history of the seaside resort, fishing port and market town.

There are ten walks happening regularly:

  • Medieval Town Wall: This provides an opportunity for people to explore the Scheduled Ancient Monument that surrounds Great Yarmouth, which dates from the 14th century and, after York, is the best-preserved medieval town wall in England.
  • Quayside and Seaside at Gorleston-on-Sea: This explores the stories and history of Gorleston’s seafront, including the demise of the elegant, turreted Victorian hotel, how the pier came into being and where the lido was. It also includes a look inside the Edwardian Gorleston Pavilion Theatre.
  • Sun, Sea, Stars and Circus: Take this enjoyable walk to learn more about the role of the holiday and entertainment industry in shaping Great Yarmouth’s world-famous seafront and Golden Mile.
  • Rows, Fishwives and Red Herrings: This tour tells the story of Great Yarmouth’s historic alleyways known as Rows and the people who lived and worked in them. It takes in historic South Quay, the rise and fall of the herring industry and its importance in the town’s growth. The walk also includes a visit to the Lydia Eva – the last-surviving steam drifter and which recently enjoyed Hollywood fame with an appearance in 2023’s Wonka movie.
  • Gravestones and Tombstones of Great Yarmouth Minster: This walk provides an opportunity to find out fascinating stories about the characters laid to rest in the cemetery of the magnificent church, including sailors, merchants and circus owners. Selected dates also include a stop at Kirsty’s Cakery after the walk for tea, coffee and cake.
  • Gory Stories on a Wicked Walk: Prepare to be shocked and appalled at the murders that took place in the Rows and the press gangs that would tour the town’s brothels, as well as stories of the stocks and pillory, whippings and hangings. The final walk of the season includes a gory reception at Kirsty’s Cakery.

·       2,000 Years of Caister-on-Sea: The village of Caister-on-Sea can be traced back more than 2,000 years. Discover how the village became the base for heroic lifeboat crews from the Roman period and how the phrase “Caister men never turn back” came into existence.

·        Yucky Yarns: In this walk, families will learn all about the horrible history of Great Yarmouth while taking in gory stories, ghastly goings on with pirates, graveyard tricks and secret chests. Aimed at primary school-aged children (6-11) an activity book is included. Selected dates also include a yucky-themed afternoon tea at Kirsty’s Cakery.

·       Forgotten Inns and Taverns of Great Yarmouth: In 1908 there were 295 licensed properties in Great Yarmouth, now there are fewer than 45. Discover the story of the landlady who was hanged because she would not reveal the identity of a murderer, the tavern run by a Pilgrim Father, the inn where Dutch officers were kept as prisoners of war and where teetotal tourists would stay on holiday. The walk also includes a voucher for Lacons Brewery for all adults.

·       Tales of the Old Cemetery: The quiet, older sister of Great Yarmouth, Gorleston has had many interesting residents over the centuries. Join this walk to learn about heroes, clowns and a pioneering woman all within the surroundings of a quaint Victorian cemetery where ordinary people with extraordinary lives are laid to rest.

Great Yarmouth Borough Council marketing and events officer Ruth Cockrill said: ‘’Our new season of walks offers something for everyone and for all ages.

‘’We’re grateful to our superb heritage guides who bring the fascinating history of our borough to life through this series of guided walks which are always very popular with residents and visitors.

‘’We’d also like to thank the local businesses who have worked with us on curating these walks and provide an extra dimension for people to enjoy.’’

This year’s heritage walks are being presented in collaboration with a number of local businesses, including the Pavilion Theatre, Kirsty’s Cakery, the Lydia Eva and Lacons Brewery and tickets cost £5.50 for adults, £3 for children (7-17 years old) and are free for under sevens. Yucky Yarns costs £4 per person.

Amy Hancock, marketing manager at Lacons Brewery, said: “We’re delighted to be supporting the Heritage Walks because Lacons Brewery holds a special place in the history and heart of Great Yarmouth.

‘’Immersive storytelling is a wonderful way to help people remember, connect with and celebrate our shared past. By teaming up with Great Yarmouth Borough Council on this project, we’re strengthening our ties with the community we love.” 

Fran Southgate, a Lydia Eva crew member, said: “A visit to the Lydia Eva, Great Yarmouth’s last surviving herring fishing boat, gives people a great insight into how fishermen worked and lived. Once onboard, people can explore the fish hold, engine room, crews’ quarters, galley and wheelhouse.”

Booking for the guided walks is essential, with bookings for each walk closing 48 hours ahead them taking place.

Private walks for groups of a minimum of eight people are also available to local groups, clubs, schools and educational groups (teachers and accompanying adults go free). Private walks have a discounted cost of £4.50 per person. 

A number of special free walks will also be available as part of Heritage Open Days in September and will be announced shortly.

More information and booking information can be found at www.heritage-walks.co.uk