Great Yarmouth is a large coastal town in Norfolk, at the eastern edge of the Broads. Originally a herring fishing port it is now a popular seaside resort with a Victorian pier, traditional seaside attractions and museums. Plus five miles of excellent sandy beaches backed by a Marine Parade with restaurants, shops, entertainment and amusement arcades.

South Quay on the River Yare © Travel About Britain

Great Yarmouth has two piers: Britannia Pier with a theatre and Wellington Pier with its pavilion. The seafront promenade (Marine Parade), which runs the full length of the town, is home to a host of entertainment and tourist attractions including a pleasure beach, adventure golf, bowling greens, tennis courts, boating lake, swimming pool and theatre, all brilliantly illuminated at night.

South Quay

Great Yarmouth Town Hall © TAB

The old town (ancient Yaremouth), owes its development to the convergence of three rivers, the Bure, the Waveney and the Yare. The town was granted a market charter by King John in 1208. At the height of the medieval wool trade the ports of King's Lynn and Great Yarmouth were two of the most important in all England.

Although Yarmouth's herring fishing trade has seen better days, the Quay area is a still a vital seaport, where tugs tie up between visits to North Sea oil rigs. The mile long quayside is one of the finest inland-facing waterfronts in Britain, with a number of notable Tudor, Georgian and Victorian dwellings, once owned by wealthy merchants. These include a number of interesting museums, such as Elizabethan House and the Old Merchant's House. The old Customs House (circa 1720) was originally the home of John Andrews, believed to be the greatest herring merchant in Europe.

Just before South Quay is Hall Quay, with a fine red-stone Town Hall of 1882 (see above), Barclay's Bank (by Salvin 1854) and the Duke's Head Hotel (1609).

Town Walls

Medieval Town Walls © TAB

Parts of the old medieval town wall still stand, behind South Quay, along with a 13th-c toll house. The walls date back to the 13th/14th century, enclosing the town right up until the 1700s. It was originally fortified with 16 towers and 10 gates, and no building was permitted between the town wall and the sea. Well preserved sections of the wall can still be seen from Blackfriar's Road to Rampart Road.

The narrow medieval streets in this area are called The Rows. It was in these cramped conditions that the local fisher-folk and other humble market trades people lived. Although decimated by WWII bombing, a few of the original row houses still remain. One of which has been renovated, providing a typical example of small town houses in the 17th-c. Just off South Quay are the remains of a 13th-c Franciscan friary (Greyfriars).

The market place in the town centre is a large open space leading to King Street, one of the main shopping thoroughfares. To the north-east of the market are some interesting almshouses (1702) called the Fishermen's Hospice. A fine gabled single storey structure with an inner courtyard - one of town's the most attractive buildings. Near to this is the timber-framed Sewell House (1646), the birthplace in 1820 of Anna Sewell, writer of the famed novel Black Beauty.

Nearby is the 12th-c Priory Church of St Nicholas, considered to be the largest parish church in England. The great Norman tower and Early English west end are well preserved. The church was gutted by air raids, but rebuilt with modern stain-glass windows that depict the age-old local themes of fish and the sea. The buildings of the priory school next to the churchyard are mainly Victorian, but include the refectory of the original 13th-c priory.

Great Yarmouth Beach and Britannia Pier © Travel About Britain

Market days: Wednesday and Saturday also Friday in summer. Events: Great Yarmouth Week (June), Carnival (July), National Raft Races (August) and St Andrew's Arts Festival (November).

Along the peninsula that separates the River Yare from the sea stands the great Nelson Column, designed by William Wilkins (1817). At 144ft (43m) high it is almost as tall as it's counterpart in Trafalgar Square.

Just a few miles south of Yarmouth is Fritton Lake and Country Park, a popular family attraction in summer.

Places of Interest to Visit in Great Yarmouth

Lydia Eva

One of the last surviving, coal fired, steam drifters from the original herring fleet. Now a floating maritime museum located on Great Yarmouth's historic Quayside - open in the summer for visitors.

Fully restored and operational, she also offers bespoke voyage experiences (prebooking required).

Opening times: see website for details - Admission Charge
Location: opposite Great Yarmouth Town Hall, S Quay, Great Yarmouth NR30 2QH

Elizabethan House

A 16th-c merchant's house with an Elizabethan style interior and a fine Georgian facade. Within it are many fine 16th-c paneled rooms with carved chimney pieces and richly moulded ceilings. The rooms are decked with period furniture and exhibits of Victorian domestic life, glass, porcelain and civic regalia.

Visitors can experience the lives of the families who lived in this splendid quayside house, from Tudor to Victorian times. Where they can dress in Tudor costumes and discover Victorian life, upstairs and downstairs. At the rear is a small but delightful walled garden.

Opening times: see website for details - Admission Charge
Location: South Quay, Great Yarmouth, NR30 2QH
Tel: 01493 855746 - run by National Trust

Old Merchants House & Row Houses

The 17th-c Old Merchant's House is fine red brick building with a later west front, wooden, mullioned windows and fine plaster ceilings.

The site includes examples of the Row Houses and remains of a Franciscan friary with rare early wall paintings.

Guided tours explain how both the rich and poor lived in these properties, over various time periods.

Opening times: see website for details - Admission Charge
Location: South Quay, Great Yarmouth NR30 2RG
Tel: 0370 333 1181 - run by English Heritage

TolHouse Museum

The 13th-c Tolhouse with its rough stone walls, pointed windows and an external staircase is believed to be the oldest municipal building in the town. Formerly a civic office, courthouse and gaol it now houses a local museum, which illustrates the history of the town. There are exhibitions on medieval Yarmouth and the growth of the holiday industry. Also a brass-rubbing centre. The original jail cells can still be seen along with the dungeons in the basement.

Opening times: see website for details - Admission Charge
Location: 12 Tolhouse St, Great Yarmouth NR30 2SQ
Tel: 01493 858900

House of Wax Museum

Displays a varied exhibition of historical wax figures and scenes.

Opening times: see website for details - Admission Charge
Location: 18 Regent Rd, Great Yarmouth NR30 2AF
Tel: 01493 844851

Merrivale Model Village

Attractively set in over one acre of attractive landscaped gardens, this enchanting 1/12th scale miniature village features lakes and waterfalls, a working fairground, quarry, houses, shops and a model railway. Other attractions include mini crazy golf, an old penny arcade and traditional tea rooms.

Opening times: daily 10am to 5pm - Admission Charge
Location: Marine Parade, Great Yarmouth NR30 3JG
Tel: 01493 842097

Time and Tide Museum of Great Yarmouth Life

Set in one of the UK's best preserved Victorian herring curing works, Time and Tide tells the story of Great Yarmouth from its Ice Age origins to the present day.

Opening times: - Admission Charge/Free Entry
Location: Blackfriars' Rd, Great Yarmouth NR30 3BX
Tel: 01493 743930

Map of Great Yarmouth


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