Portside Memories

New Recording Project

By Colin Stott

Do you have memories of working at Great Yarmouth Port?  Do you work there today?  Do you have memories of visiting the Port and watching the ships unload cargoes from around the world?  Were you a crew member on one of the ships working out of Great Yarmouth?

If so, then we would like to hear from you.  To celebrate the forthcoming opening of the new Outer Harbour, Great Yarmouth Museums are recording people's experiences of Portside life, today and in the past.

If you would like to become involved, then please leave a comment on the website or contact Colin Stott on 01493 745526.

Photo:Photograph of Jewson's Yard, unloading timber

Photograph of Jewson's Yard, unloading timber

Gt Yarmouth Museums

This page was added by Colin Stott on 01/05/2008.
Comments about this page

The photo of the timber ship being unloaded brings back memories to me. I was secretary of the British Soviet Friendship Society and I visited just about every Russian ship that came into the harbour. This is from the late 1950s to 1990. We had a wonderful time on these ships and me and my group took Russian sailor's to the local pubs and to Norwich. I have photo's of nearly every Russian ship that came into our harbour. The first Russian ship was in 1924 and the flag was half mast owing to the death of their leader. I think one of the crew fell into the hold and was killed and I think he was buried in Gorleston graveyard. Inthe late 70s a Russian captain was killed walking across a crossing by a bus. The stewardess was badly hurt and I visited her in Yarmouth Hospital. There was quite a bit in the EDP and Mercury and I sent the cuttings to Klaipeda where the ship was stationed. I had a nice letter from the mother of the stewardess. We also used to take the captain and some of the crew to the Town Hall and met the Mayor-Mayoress. Anything you want to know about the Russian ship,let me know. Ivor Steadman.

By Ivor Steadman
On 07/05/2008

My father William Hodds was a stevedore down at the docks in Great Yarmouth, employed on a casual basis in the fishing season from September to December. When he was not doing this, he would get work wherever he could whether it was on the beach on the fruit stalls or street sweeping for the corporation. We lived at no.2 Row 50.

Usually, he would queue each day as the ships came in, and be allocated to a job by the gang master who would say how many men were needed for the day. They would load barrels of salted fish or coal onto the ships by crane. The ships were bound for Russia, Germany or Lithuania. He would work all day for a days wage - not an hourly rate - until the work was done. I remember once he came home injured after being hit by a load of coal being loaded by crane into the hold. He told us he had to struggle up the ladders back up to the deck from the hold, before losing conciousness. No compensation in those days!

The fish wharf was on the docks opposite the timber yards on the other side. There were bustling lines of Scottish girls on the wharf gutting the herring, and any other fish would be gutted and thrown to the side. We, as children were allowed to pick up these fish usually mackerel whiting or codling, and we would take them, six on a piece of string, and sell them to the neighbours for a penny a piece. This would supplement our Dads wages.

I would go on to the ships as a boy of about ten and ask for stamps as I liked to collect them. I would walk around the ships with ease, into the engine rooms and talking to the foreign crew. I didn't feel in any danger.

We would recognise where the fishing boats came from by their id's, and we would watch them come in through Gorleston harbour and even in the fog the ferryman would weave his way across the river through the 'traffic' of the ships and fishing boats coming in.

The steamers with tourists on would go up and down the river and we would run as children to keep up with them, and every now and then the tourists would give us a penny if we managed to keep up!
Where the river met the sea (at the 'bar'), people on the steamers would often be sick due to the swell of the water. My sister took me on one of these boats when I was about 5yrs old and I was sick too.

My brother and I would fish in the harbour overnight some times, with a candle in a jar for light, catching dabs or whiting. I would have been about 12 at the time.

By Albert Hodds
On 15/08/2008

I have just started researching my family tree, and my grandparents hail from Gorleston. My great grandads profession is listed as a 'port corrage boy'. Has anyone heard of this? I cannot find any information on this. Hope someone can help!
Many thanks, Amanda

By Amanda Smith
On 15/08/2008

Just like to add a few words. I worked on the s/s Queen of the Broads and my uncle Mr G Cooke of Girton Road used to run the steamers and try and beat them to their mooring and was given a penny or half penny depending on how generous people were who travelled on the steamers.

By Neil Cox
On 19/12/2008

Im sorry but this is not related to the above, but I must tell you, my sister and I were recorded on promo film visiting the beach by the Iron Duke with one deckchair we had to share. I knew they were filming, but took no notice. I think its "the resort that has everything" thanks.

By david leggett
On 21/01/2009

i worked on the M.V. Norwich Trader of Great Yarmouth shipping co from 1962-1964. I also worked on two supply boats in 1967 for IOS I was on The Lady Brigid and the Lady Fiona. I also worked for FT Everard &Sons and frequently took coal to Norwich Power Station. We also took scrap metal from Riverside Norwich to Rotterdam on the Norwich Trader. It is about time that Great Yarmouth shipping co. had some recognition relating to the history of Great Yarmouth. As an addendum I am the only person still alive of the crew I sailed with on the nor trader.

By chris sibellas
On 01/06/2009

My great grandparents and their family lived in Great Yarmouth from 1862. On the 1881 Census my great grandfather's occupation is listed as "Smack Owner Last Head Out Provider". Can anyone tell me what this means exactly please.

Many thanks. Erica.

By Erica
On 10/08/2009

I worked at Fellows & Company Shipbuilders on Southtown Road until I was 18 and did my National Service in the RAF at Hopton. I have many happy memories of that period and can remember the MV Singularity being launched in time for the Coronation,it was painted cream and looked great - I have a picture and also a picture of the dry dock when we had the flood. After N.S they were unable to re-employ me so I worked with The Great Yarmouth Shipping Company for a while. I also have many stories of that time. I once fell into the river just opposite the Customs House after being given too much Dutch gin by a jolly Dutch Captain. It was a week before Christmas! I also worked at The Little Theatre and Britannia Pier but this info' is all ready on your site. I now work in professional theatre and would love to visit and record some memories.


PS Through the magic of your Site,
I'm now in contact with Colin Brown - an old Prioy School Boy. Many Thanks.

By Jon Hunt
On 04/05/2010

I came across your page while searching the net, and found the comments about the port very interesting. I was involved with the port all my working life. From 1953 to 1956 I worked for the Gt. Yarmouth Shipping Co. on the ABC Wharf as a warehouse stock clerk then after 2 years National Service from 1956 to 1958, I returned to the GYSC and worked as a shipping and forwarding clerk clearing various cargoes through Customs & Excise that were shipped into Yarmouth on the "Lowestoft Trader", "Norwich Trader", "Norfolk Trader", "Plover" & "Mavis" until 1965. I then joined Brown & Root Wimpey (which later became Wimpey Marine) as Senior Customs and Agency clerk preparing customs & shipping documents for materials that were shipped to the rigs on the supply vessels until 1984 when the company was taken over by Ventureforth. I continued there as Customs and Agency Supervisor until being made redundant in 1994. I joined Seletar Shipping in 1995 and worked as Sales Invoicing Clerk until my retirement in 2002.

By Derek Barker
On 04/05/2010


im sure that during the late 1970s early 1980s, one of the NORFOLK LINE ferries sank in the river whilst on her way to her birth. Does anybody else recall this event or have I been dreaming?

By shaun woods
On 21/01/2011

I'm not sure but I think it was the "DUKE OF HOLLAND" she hit the south pier on the way in, and as she was taking in water the Pilot or Master put her alongside Gas Quay. They welded pad eyes on her stern and lifted her up so they could repair the damage. Peter George

By peter george
On 17/02/2011

My dad Edward Malyshev was a captain of Soviet timber ship "Yakutskles" who visited Yarmouth several times around 1968-1972. He established good friendship with Mr. and Mrs. King of British Soviet Friendship Society. Mr. King was always the first in the port to visit my father. My father remember Mr. King family with warmth as they were very nice showing him surrounding countryside. My dad has a photo with them and his son David. He was telling me about this photo and I googled and found your site - 40 years later!

By Sergei Malyshev
On 19/04/2011

Dear Shaun woods and Peter George. It was the "DUCHESS OF HOLLAND"that hit the south pier in 1978. The ship was closed for water intake and left for Holland after 1 week for the main repair. Later the ship was sold to a company in Spain and renamed "ISLA DEL HEIRO". 26-10-1992 sank at Malaga and later raised and repaired and sold to Sealand Maritime and renamed "SEA EXPRESS I. Total Loss after fire in the engineroom and laid up at Port Au Prince. Further record not nown. I sailed many times to Great Yarmouth with Norfolkline and have been for 15 years on holiday in Gt.Yarmouth.

By Bert Knorr
On 03/08/2011

I actually worked on the duke of holland through the night as a carpenter sealing the split in its hull with wooden wedges, then formed shuttering to take concrete for temporary repair what an experience that was. We had to climb Down through the decks filled with lorries down to the bilge with our material for our work Worked for brown & root in yard at Gt Yarmouth at the time.Myself and a chap named John Naylor from Liverpool did the work.

By Ivan Chamberlain
On 01/04/2014

Further to the above reminiscences about the sinking of the DUCHESS OF HOLLAND, I was a diver working for North sea Diving Services on Main Cross Road at that time. We were given the job of sealing the long split in the starboard side of the hull below waterline. I well remember the two chaps from Brown & Root producing loads of soft wood wedges of various sizes, which we then took down within the river and drove into the split from outside. We needed slack water to be able to work, and this was limited to about 20 minutes at low water and 40 minutes at high water. What became apparent, was the tidal bore here when the tide turns at low water, it is particularly pronounced and gave very little leeway, the diver had to leave the bottom the minute it was felt, any longer and one would hang off the down line like a flag off a pole. We were diving 4 tides a day at one point, and I was sleeping between tides in a transit van at the docks - a glamorous job it was not! The welded pad eyes referred to above, were only installed at the stern to enable a sheer leg (lift barge) from Rotterdam to exert an upward stabilising force to prevent the ship from rolling over when the water was finally pumped from the interior of the hold. Most of the diving work was done from the river, very little was done from within the confines of the hold for obvious safety reasons, from memory limited to placement of a huge centrifugal pump to finally pump out the water when the boat was raised. There was a lorry deck within the hull and below that, a cattle deck with a low ceiling, fortunately there were no cattle on board, otherwise it would have been a very different job indeed.

By Mike Barnes
On 30/03/2016

Last comment on this subject misleading.

My mate and I (the carpenters) worked all night down in the bilge driving wedges from inside with water jetting in against us as I said in my previous then shuttering the split to enable concreting inside hull.

There were no thoughts of safety that night.

We were actually filmed down there by a foreign film crew as this was in progress.

Ivan Chamberlain





By Ivan chamberlain
On 30/01/2017

Sailed on the Norwich trader from may 64 to Oct 64 as SOS then edh good times remember captain mate engender but not names other ab nickname darkie and old syd the cook retired trawlerman when in Yarmouth at weekend done Saturday night shift at the soft drinks factory extra money 

By Gordon Kerr
On 03/02/2017

DUCHESS OF HOLLAND......IN SUPPORT OF MIKE BARNES !..After reading the previous comments by Mr Chamberlain regarding Mike Barnes so called "misleading" comment/information regarding the salvage/repairs of the Duchess Of Holland in 1978 I feel the time has come for me to set the record straight....I also worked as a diver on this job after receiving a call from North Sea Diving Services who needed me to join their team to enlarge the for'ard hatch using the "standard" carbon ark underwater cutting equipment (which if anything) was my speciality,  to make way for a Giant electric submersible pump to be placed deep inside the hull on the lower deck. At the time I arrived the Barge from Holland was in place and was holding the Duchess Level to prevent her rolling over and the top deck was just above the water line. I can also remember Dennis pearce and his right hand man Bob, from United Towing who were in charge of the job, and that the Submersible pumps were so powerful (6,000 gal per min ?) that a special electrical supply had to be installed off the grid to run them and this was delaying things because it was a Major Task to achieve. But the thing I remember the most was the team from Nordive !!! including one or two that i'd previously worked with in the N Sea, that were flogging their gut's out in Freezing cold, BANGING WOODEN WEDGES INTO THE SPLIT IN THE HULL FROM THE OUTSIDE......Yes, THE OUTSIDE ....And that's a FACT !...Now without wishing to "blowing my own trumpet".....On my first dive down to inspect the hatch the pump was "stuck" in the hatch after several divers had already spent hours trying to get it through to the lower deck, but it really did seem to be impossible. However, after several hours of wrestling, shoving, wriggling and even swearing at this Beast of a pump, I struck it lucky and to everyone's amazement I found a "magic" spot/position and down it went. That bit of luck avoided the time and need for me to cut the hatch and it wasn't long before Dennis Pearce gave the order to turn it on. Unfortunately for Dennis the silly sod was standing astride the 8-10 inch flat hose trying to secure it to the hand rail and over the side when it came on sooner than he expected and before he'd secured it, the hose went vertical with Dennis holding it in a bear hug.......I recon he got about 6ft off the ground before the pump was switched off !!! ... As well as claiming that little bit of credit for getting the pump down the hatch, I think I deserve just a little bit more for this.........As the pumps slowly reduced the level of water inside the hull the water pressure on the outside became immense and was forcing it's way through the gap's between the wedges back into the hull at an alarming rate and the pumps were having trouble beating it.......But I found a way to stop the flow Permanently ......At my suggestion I did a dive into the semi flooded hull, the split and the wedges were just above the water line and the water was coming in with such a pressure it made it difficult to get close enough to the split to inspect it and also take measurements which were then used to fabricate several pieces of steel plate that I welded in place and after many hours I managed to construct a large box with a large gate valve in the top plate  that was left open to relieve the pressure until I finished the welding and the Gate Valve was closed and my idea worked, THE HULL WAS WATERTIGHT and from then on the ship began to float...I can vaguely remember others coming down to the lower deck when the level dropped while I was still working, BUT, Mr Camberlain I don't remember anything about carpenters heroically bashing wooden wedges into the split in an attempt to save the sinking ship,all the wedges were fitted from the OUTSIDE by the Lad's from NORDIVE while the split was well below the water and you must have held your breath for a long time mate !? one or two were used to plug large gaps from the inside, but as this risked loosening the ones already in place from the outside so only a few were used...... Nor do I remember anyone either suggesting or attempting to hold back the force of Hundreds of Tons of water with SHUTTERING ?  that would then be filled with CONCRETE ? to form a "PLUG" ?   I left the job completely knackered on the night the ship had almost been pumped dry and She was well afloat there was no need for me to do any more and I was proud that My idea worked. I did leave before the big celebration/Lash up at the Bear Hotel ? That Dennis Pearce treated the Divers to on the next night and in my opinion it is those Lad's who deserve a very big portion of the credit as well as others involved and a special mention for the Carpenters for the very nice wedges ! and a bit for me A? Your's Sincerely  Paul Day 

By Paul Day
On 04/02/2018

Further to the Duchess of Holland post.

 I can assure Mr day, that I did, work as I said down in the bilge that night. And carried out work as explained. And was actually reminissing with B&R Worker about this event just lately who remembers me carryinng  this out.And the shuttering was carried out to form a concrete wall in front of split in hull. As temp. Repair. Our then foreman at B&R came from Gt Yarmouth, his name was Robin Brown. Perhaps someone knows this gentleman. He was the person who organised the job. He would verify my comments.




By Ivan Chamberlain
On 14/02/2018

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