Back in the 1880s Great Yarmouth was growing in size with a need for a considerable increase in housing stock, so it was decided that an estate was to be constructed on the northern edge of the town. The 1:2500 1887 Ordnance Survey map shows the initial four or five terraces and the Admiral Seymour pub, named but standing alone, with no streets, let alone named streets.
Built by brewers Steward & Patteson, and opening in 1886 to serve the planned new housing, the Admiral Seymour eventually found itself on the corner of Arundel and Salisbury Roads with Alfred Osborne as licensee. Alfred didn't stay long and moved on to the Yew Tree (which closed in1904) and then the Falcon (closed 1940). It took a while longer before the Admiral Seymour would shut up shop, but close it eventually did.
I've read somewhere that during WW2 the building suffered damage but I've been unable to determine the exact date or extent. At some point, possibly because of the damage, but maybe before, or maybe after, it had a facelift and ended up as bit of a hotch-potch - keeping its Victorian sash windows and having a bit of Deco-esqe glued on, as seen in this postcard of the time. There certainly had been bomb damage to the area around the pub prior to February 1942 when Albert and Beatrice Wiseman ceased being licensees. Another certainty is that it's no match at all for Yarmouth's proper Deco bygone boozers.
Let's jump forward about eighty years from Arthur Osborne's time. The fourth of September 1967. My first day at seconday school. Clutching a brand new satchel bought for me by Great Aunt Elvie, sporting a natty blazer and cap (Yes! We had to wear a school cap.), I was driven along Salisbury Road and past this pub for the first time. The first of many such transits. Despite its proximity to school I never entered it. I was of course underage - and anyway the Golfers Arms would've been nearer.
Moving on another couple of decades. To Easter weekend 1986. Rugby tour. Old Ashbeians hit East Anglia. Four days, four matches and three nights back in Great Yarmouth. One match to be played at Lowestoft & Yarmouth's, my old club's, Easter Festival. I just had to go. And go I did.
The coach left the clubhouse in Packington, near Ashby-de-la-Zouch, on Good Friday at 7am. At 7.15 the first beers were opened in Coalville and, to the background of The Pogue's Rum, Sodomy and the Lash, we headed towards Southwold, scene of our first match. Perhaps that should read first defeat. A pint or two in the Lord Nelson and then on to Great Yarmouth and our accommodation on North Denes Road - just a hundred yards or so from the Admiral Seymour.
Easter Saturday. Festival day. Match number two - against Esher. A few beers in the clubhouse at Gunton Park and back to the guest house for a few more in the bar.
Easter Day. South to Beccles for match/defeat number three. A yard of ale in the clubhouse and then back to Yarmouth. In need of sustenance, tighthead prop Gary and I head for the fish and chip shop just around the corner, where somehow or other he gets into a pickled egg-eating contest with another customer. After thirty, yes thirty, eggs his opponent admits defeat. Gary then consumes another two simply to empty the jar and we head to the Seymour as he feels the need for something to wash them down. At this point I have to say that I was sharing a room with Gary. More precisely, I was sharing a double bed with Gary.
Easter Monday. Off to Norwich to face Lakenham/Hewitt and then back home. As a consequence of going on tour with a dearth of forwards I was playing blind-side flanker and so for half of the scrums I had my left shoulder jammed firmly against Gary's right buttock. Just twelve hours after he'd consumed several pints, fish, chips, mushy peas and thirty two pickled eggs. Sufficient to say that I remember the experience well. We didn't lose that one.
Three achievements of OARFC on this tour:-
A playing record of P4 W0 D1 L3
A pickled egg-eating champion
Two appearances in front of an emergency sitting of the local magistrates bench.
Three things I will never do again:-
Share a double bed with a prop forward
Have a pint in the Admiral Seymour.
I played my last game of rugby in 1995. The Admiral Seymour kept going a bit longer, serving its last pint in June 2008. It has since been converted into flats.
Thanks to Debbie Larke for the old photo and to Russell Walker for the image of the postcard.
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