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A Trinity of Bygone Trinities.

Updated: Sep 2, 2023

A trinity of now supposedly being shielded, the seemingly perpetual June rain and the legs still not having recovered from my last, unusually vertically-challenging ride has seen me key-tapping even more than usual.

Facebook threw up a memory from several years ago – a picture I'd taken whilst out for a ride when back in Gorleston, visiting Dad. My key-tapping led me onto Google Maps to see what changes had taken place since and I came across a building I'd never really noticed before. It looked as if it could have been a lost pub, and that's exactly what it turned out to be. The Trinity Arms.

The former Trinity Arms in April 2016 © J Thomas

The Trinity Arms. Delving into its history hasn't been the easiest, what with changes in road layouts and names. South Quay, Monument Road, South Denes Road, Southgates Road... Take your pick. Its current address is 11 Southgates Road, Great Yarmouth, but an earlier quoted location is that it stood on the north-west corner of Row 142. Row 142 ran between the modern Middlegate and South Quay. As I said, all this changing of street names doesn't make for easy directory digging. (If Great Yarmouth's old mediaeval rows are new to you then Evelyn Simak, a number of whose images I have made use of in previous posts, has a nice illustrated account of the town's old street layout on the Geograph website, which is accessible here.) Palmer's Perlustration of Great Yarmouth, published in 1870, has this image of the row, then known as Peacock Row, and later Fishing Boat Row, after a pub at its eastern end. A possible future subject, maybe.

Row 142.

Our subject for this post stands on the site of an even earlier boozer according to some. I've seen it written that in the early part of the seventeenth century a house belonging to sometime bailiff of the town, a Thomas Felstead, stood on the corner of what was then known, rather immodestly, as Felstead's Row. It seems that changing street names are not a new phenomenon. Felstead died in 1705 and in the early part of the eighteenth century, possibly following his death, the house was converted into a tavern. I've read that it was called the Black Lion (or even the Black Lyon) before changing its name to the Trinity Arms and that this was demolished sometime after 1750, being replaced by a new structure.

I'm not totally convinced. I do wonder if some confusion hasn't arisen involving another house a little way away on South Quay as the first reference to a pub being on this site that I've found is from around 1841. There's no mention of it in Pigot's directory of 1830, nor in the edition which they published nine years later. The 1841 census gives a Benjamin Howard living on the appropriate stretch of South Quay and in the same year the Quarterly Magazine and Literary Journal of the United and Ancient Order of Druids, admittedly not one of my regular reads, announces the formation of a new lodge in Great Yarmouth. The Trinity Lodge will meet fortnightly at the Trinity Inn with one of the founding members being... Benjamin Howard. This is the earliest reference to the pub by name that I've come across.

Interestingly, in 1841 something else happened involving a trinity. Trinity House established a new depot in town. A new depot at what's now known as Trinity Quay which is not a million miles away from... you've no doubt guessed it - the Trinity Arms. I reckon that the name of Trinity Arms came about around the same time that the Trinity House depot was established and that no pub of that name existed before, but I'm quite happy to be persuaded otherwise.

The pub makes it into another publication a few years later. One with a shorter title. On December 20th 1845, Great Yarmouth was hit by a flood and the Trinity Arms got a mention in the edition of The Economist published a week later:-

MAKING THE BEST OF IT. - During the flood occasioned by the late high tide, the landlord of the Trinity Arms, at Yarmouth, finding the water rising at his door, closed it, caulked the crevices, and actually served some of his customers, who rowed up in a boat, out at the window.

That landlord was Benjamin Howard. Benjamin's wife Sarah dies in 1863 and he moves on. He remarries in London in 1869 and that same year he's to be found back in Great Yarmouth - at the Clarence Tavern. Another two years finds him back on South Quay in the First and Last. Both of these, along with the Trinity Arms, are now no more. Benjamin's own personal trinity of bygone boozers

For the last three decades of its life as a pub it was kept within the same family. James Pitchers and his wife Marjorie were running it from 1935. James dies in the pub in 1948 whereupon Marjorie takes over the license. She remarries early in 1957 and in 1960 her husband Donald becomes the licensee. Donald died early in 1963 and this perhaps was the catalyst for the pub's demise too, as it ceased trading on the 10th April. Almost exactly a century after Benjamin left it.

In happier times. Probably around the mid-1930s.

After its closure it was in residential use for a while but now seems to be used for storage. It does appear to be in a sorry state.

A forlorn frontage. July 2019 ©2020 Google

Its neighbour was demolished in 2011 or 2012. I do wonder how much longer it will be before this bygone boozer is a bygone building.

The Trinity Arms in October 2011. ©2020 Google

If it actually existed, the Trinity Arms' predecessor has gone. The Trinity Arms has gone and so too has the Trinity House depot. It lasted for another forty years until Trinity House, deciding to concentrate their operations from Harwich, closed it in 2003 making a trinity of bygone trinities.

The top image is © Copyright J Thomas and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

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Marjorie Pitchers (nee Ebbage) was my great aunt. She's second from the left in the group photo. Her husband James is fourth from the left.

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Thanks for that information. It's always nice to be able to put names to faces in these old photographs.

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