Gorleston & Great Yarmouth History

The Histories of Great Yarmouth and Gorleston-on-Sea have been and always will be inextricably linked. They are located either side of the mouth of the River Yare and have provided England's first line of defence against any would be invaders, for over a thousand years.

After the Romans conquered 'Brittania' they soon realised that the River Yare provided a gateway to Caistor (Norwich). In order to prevent raids by tribes from Northern Europe they constructed two forts one at Caister and the other at Burgh Castle. Both forts had cavalry which could be despatched to aid the other when needed. The fort at Burgh Castle still stands, however the walls of the fort at Caister stand at about three feet.

In 1276 during the reign of Henry III the building of a wall to protect Great Yarmouth was started. The wall was originally 2,238 yards long, twenty-three feet high and was defended at intervals by sixteen towers. The west side of the town was defended by the River Yare. Much of the wall still exists today with many of the principal features still standing.

In both World Wars Germany attacked Great Yarmouth. In the First World War the town was shelled from the Yarmouth Roads by the German Grand Fleet. Zeppelin airships also made the short journey across the North Sea to bomb the town.

The Second World War saw the greatest devastation to Great Yarmouth. Most of the medieval town was destroyed and a unique town layout was lost to the world forever. Of course England being England decided to rebuild Great Yarmouth in a utilitarian fashion unlike our continental cousins who recreated their devastated towns.

I leave you to judge who made the best decision.

Today, Great Yarmouth is undoubtedly the more prominent of the two towns with its brashness, lively pubs, amusement arcades and Piers but this does not mean that Gorleston-on-Sea is without its own merits and its own individual history. Many visitors continue to be seduced by Gorleston's air of tranquility. A stroll along it's upper and lower promenades viewing the golden sands must surely evoke memories of a calm that now belongs to a bygone era.

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