The Port of Great Yarmouth is the administrative center of Norfolk County on England’s southeastern shores about 30 kilometers east of Norwich. The Port of Great Yarmouth has been a popular seaside resort since the late 18th Century, and it has been a busy fishing port for centuries well-known for its smoked herring. Modern Great Yarmouth also serves offshore natural gas rigs in the North Sea. In 2001, the Port of Great Yarmouth was home to over 58 thousand people, and almost 91 thousand lived-in the borough.
The area of the Port of Great Yarmouth, which is today covered by a sandbar, was part of the sea. First Century Roman coastal forts on today’s Caister-on-Sea and Burgh Castle are now kilometers inland. The sandbank upon which the town is built was inhabited by Saxons.
King John granted a charter to the town of Great Yarmouth in 1208. By the late 13th Century, the town was walled, and the old port was growing. In 1551, the great hall of the old hospital in the Port of Yarmouth was converted to a grammar school. Queen Elizabeth I granted a charter of admiralty to the town in 1552. The sandbank continued to accumulate and, in 1567, a channel was cut to open the harbor to the sea.
The Port of Great Yarmouth was a key location in Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield, and he stayed in the Royal Hotel while writing the famous novel. The author of novel Black Beauty, Anna Sewell, was born in a 17th Century house that is now a restaurant. In 1845, a terrible bridge disaster ended with the drowning of 79 children who had gathered on a suspension bridge to watch a clown pass under the bridge.
The Port of Great Yarmouth was the first target in the United Kingdom for aerial bombardments from a German Zeppelin in 1915 during World War I, and it was also bombed by Germany’s Navy in 1916.
While the Port of Great Yarmouth was also bombed by the Nazi Luftwaffe during World War II, much of the old town survived, including two-thirds of its medieval wall and 11 of its 18 towers. On the South Quay, a 17th Century merchant’s house remains along with buildings from the Tudor, Georgian, and Victorian eras.
The Port of Great Yarmouth is now an important base for oil and gas exploration in the North Sea as well as for recent offshore wind power facilities. The city’s economy benefits from light industries that include engineering, electronics, brewing, and furniture-making. With a long 27-kilometer sandy beach, the Port of Great Yarmouth is also a popular boating center and vacation resort. The town has invested heavily in its seafront area in recent years.
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