Great Yarmouth lies on the East coast of England, approximately twenty miles from Norwich, the only city in Norfolk. It takes its name from its position at the mouth of the River Yare, and the ‘great’ was adopted as a prefix in 1272, to differentiate it from the Southtown which was also known as ‘Little Yarmouth’. In addition to being a popular seaside holiday resort since the 1700’s, it is rich in fascinating historical information, such as being home to the Tolhouse, the oldest municipal building in England dating back to 1362. It is also famous for its Rows, these are a series of alleys that during the Middle Ages totalled 150, and a few remain even today minus some lost in the wars. During the First World War, Yarmouth was an obvious target and on the 19th January 1915 a Zeppelin dropped nine bombs and as a result the first two people in Britain to be killed by an air attack died.
Due to its rapidly growing popularity as a holiday destination, Yarmouth was the first Norfolk coastal town to have a railway link, which was opened in 1844. In its busiest days, there were multiple stations, making it easy for visitors to come and enjoy the ‘Golden Mile’.
Whilst having a reputation for being a major fishing port for hundreds of years, once the biggest in the world, during the latter half of the twentieth century this was in steep decline. Yarmouth was once a prominent supplier of herring, with most of the towns exports heading to Italy. Other industry in the town has included the discovery of oil in the North Sea in 1970, leading to a flourishing oil rig supply industry, as well as offshore natural gas rigs. Just off the coastline is a windfarm on Scroby Sands, which is within sight of the town and now firmly part of the view of the fifteen miles of sandy beach. More recently Yarmouth has one of the largest offshore marine bases in Europe.
Through combining intriguing and sometimes humorous snippets of history, with documentary images, this work aims to demonstrate that there is more to Yarmouth than the ‘Golden Mile’. Aside from asking what is ‘great’ about Great Yarmouth, this work is making a statement about Great Britain, suggesting that Yarmouth is a microcosm of Britain losing its ‘Great’. This is a closer look at a town often dismissed, standing defiantly on the far East of England, waiting to be rediscovered and celebrated as it should be.
In 1918 a woman was summoned for taking a photograph of Hall Quay, an area in Great Yarmouth comprising of the Town Hall and the Post Office, once described by Daniel Defoe as the ‘finest quay in England, if not Europe’. One hundred years later this work serves as a document of the area today.
Yarmouth is not just a seaside holiday destination, beyond the seafront it has a long industrial history, and the historic South Quay is full of interesting stories. The age of the town means that there is a number of significant buildings, some of which have been saved by the Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust. This was an initiative set up in 1979 to preserve the historic built environment of the Borough. Culturally Great Yarmouth has always been busy too. The Hippodrome, which was built in 1903 is one of only two surviving, stand-alone permanent circus building in Britain, and one of only three circus rings in the world that converts into a pool. Great Yarmouth is the only place you can see such a show in the whole of Europe. Boasting two piers on the beach, built within four years of each other in the 1850’s, it is the gateway from the Norfolk Broads to the North Sea. Other places of note include the market place, famous for its chip stalls, which is the largest open-air market in England, and St. Nicolas’s Church, a parish church which is one of the largest in the country, as well as having the highest spire, second only to Salisbury.
Could you tell us a little about yourself as a photographer?
"I have wanted to be a photographer since I was eleven years old, I was inspired by a local female photographer called Lilian Ream who had spent her career documenting my home town. Upon discovering her work, my interest in both photography and archives grew. I then went onto study A-Level photography and then moved to London at 18 to study BA (hons) Photojournalism and Documentary Photography. During my time here my work really developed, and I learned more and more through regular critiques with people such as Jocelyn Bain Hogg, Roger Hutchings, and others like super successful, established members of Magnum and Vii, which really helped refine my way of storytelling. I achieved a first-class honours degree in July 2018 and since then I have been working on a long-term commission for the Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust that developed as a result of my project. Alongside this I have been continuing to shoot more and more of my own personal work to build on the collection of Great Yarmouth photographs I already have. I am always up for a chat about any potential collaborations, commissions or projects".
Great Yarmouth: ‘The Finest Place in the Universe’ has had its own solo exhibition, when and where was this?
"Yes thats right, After exhibiting the work twice in London, I held a solo exhibition at the Skippings Gallery in Great Yarmouth. The exhibition was on for the duration of August 2018, and was attended by the local Mayor, locals, holiday makers, and various artists. I was so happy to have such a fantastic opportunity to show the work at home in Yarmouth, especially in such a historical building too. It was a brilliant way to finish my degree, and also a great start to the commission that followed".