Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Wish you were here...

Actually no, I wish I was there… back in the day when Nelson’s Monument in Great Yarmouth (the precursor to Nelson’s Column in London’s Trafalgar Square) was surrounded by cobbled stones. I’ve just searched on the internet and discovered (courtesy of Google Earth) that the road is now a common tarmac and the very stylish old warehouse buildings that once surrounded this awesome and curiously undiscovered landmark are now rather nasty looking light industrial units. Apparently, the ferry across the river Yare at that point no longer exists – but does anyone else in the blogosphere have fond memories of that delightfully cute little rowing boat?

It doesn’t get much better than when you are 8 years old and on holiday at your grandmother’s in glorious Gorleston-on-Sea, Norfolk. Mine lived in an annexe to my aunt’s house - formerly the Globe Inn, where it was said Nelson once stayed – and that was reputedly haunted (how cool is that?) Added to this were the attractions of plentiful supplies of sand, sea and Della Spina ice cream, plus divinely doughy smells wafting over the garden wall from the nearby Matthes bakery.

Great Yarmouth and Gorleston were resorts that were really in their heyday before I got to know them – during the 1950s and early ‘60s – so I decided to take a look at how they used to be. Here are some of the pictures I found on the internet. Plus this wonderful 1950s tourism video.

Noodling around on the net, I discovered that the iconic statue of Nelson was actually built before Nelson’s Column in London. Nelson was born in Burnham Thorpe in Norfolk and his first sailing was from Great Yarmouth. After the victory of the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, where Nelson died aboard the Victory, the townspeople of Great Yarmouth erected a statue in his honour. The 160 foot column was built to be seen from all sides of the town, though I'd hazard a guess that the magnificently monolithic power station now wins hands down - (note chimney on horizon in this pic).

The statue in London was built slightly later, by clearing some slums to create the open space now called Trafalgar Square and copying Great Yarmouth’s original version, but making it a few feet higher – and, therefore, more important (it was in London, after all!) ... and, besides, the seaside town later spawned a host of other famous landmarks.

The best thing of all for me as a child, was that Nelson's extravagant monument was on the way to the Pleasure Beach ... A place where you could enjoy the scariest of rides and the most curious of excitements – and, if you were lucky, take home a few interesting curiosities, ranging from candyfloss and bars of rock to goldfish in little plastic bags, ornaments made of shells and paperweights – plus star prizes that might include collectable seaside chinaware and dressing table sets.

Now sought after by the fashion and style conscious, an eclectic selection of these retro treasures is currently available at ShopCurious. Today they make rather unusual gifts, or uniquely quirky ornaments for the home – what's more, many of these are collectors' items that could turn out to be a great investment too.

By the way, do let us know if you’ve got any vintage seaside memories you’d like to share.

Will you?


Make Do Style or Film Upstart said...

Ah yes Yarmouth - I only visited it a few times when I was at uni in norwich but my grandparents came for their summer holidays and it was quite funny given they lived at a seaside resort themselves. I always went to Wells next the Sea.

The Nelson info is fab.

Style Porn said...

I love all these pictures...they make me want to quit my job and travel, dammit!