Updated: Aug 23, 2020
I thought it time to wander. To both wander away from Derbyshire and to wander back in time to some of the bygone boozers from the bygone days of my bygone youth.
I haven't been back to Great Yarmouth since my father died in 2014, but it had – and still has – some cracking hostelries. In this nostalgic post I'll simply concentrate on three of the many establishments that used to abound in this sin city of the east. All three have a couple of things in common other than simply having closed. All three were Lacon's houses and all three were designed by the architect A.W. Ecclestone.
The first is the Links Hotel that used to stand on the corner of Marine Parade and Bridge Road in Gorleston. My best friend and my inamorata of the day both lived within a couple of hundred yards of this place so I spent a fair bit of time in here, playing bar billiards whilst listening to Dylan's Lay Lady Lay on the juke box and forcing down pints of Titbread Wankard. The town was a decent beer desert at the time.
In spite of being built and licensed by 1939 I don't think the Links opened until 1952 because of WW2, a situation that differs from that of the final pub in this post.
This wonderful Ecclestone designed art deco building was demolished in 1999 and houses were built on the site. In a strange twist, my step-sister and her husband bought one so in some ways I have had the odd drink or two at the Links since then. No bar billiards though. Mr. Google drove by in July 2019...
I have to admit that I never had a drink in the second but always loved its appearance. The Clipper Schooner used to sell ale from 19 Friars Lane and was operating as a beerhouse from the middle of the 19th century.
It was granted a full license in 1938 when it re-opened after being rebuilt to an Ecclestone design.
The Clipper Schooner closed a few years ago and was converted to holiday accommodation, so even though I never entered the place when it was serving the possibility still exists should I fancy a brief return to my roots. Nice to see that the Lacon's falcons are still in place. They disappeared from the final pub.
The Links, closed and demolished. The Clipper, closed and converted. The Iron Duke, just closed. Just closed for now and the past decade. The construction of this Ecclestone designed pub on the corner of Jellicoe Road and North Drive started just prior to the outbreak of WW2 and halted for its duration, but it didn't stop the partially finished property from being awarded a special license in 1940 to allow it to serve the troops that were billeted to protect the northern end of the town.
The building was finally finished and fully opened in 1948, with the wood for the bar being teak taken from Admiral Jellicoe's flagship at the WW1 Battle of Jutland, HMS Iron Duke.
I recall making the odd summer visit to the Duke with the aforementioned best friend and a couple after fishing from the north beach. Dennis Battle had it. Always thought that was a good surname for the landlord to have. Have to say though, the Titbread Wankard was just as dire as that served up at the Links. But we were young then, so didn't care too much!
Bourne Leisure, owners of the adjacent caravan park, purchased the pub early this century and subsequently closed it down. It's remained boarded-up and decaying ever since. If I were an individual of a cynical nature I might believe that they wished to remove the possibility of their guests having a source of much cheaper beer than that served on site within walking distance.
In 2017 a proposal was made for its demolition. The Lacon's falcons were removed, as were the rain hoppers, but in May the following year Historic England granted it Grade II listed status.
East Anglia has relatively few Art Deco and Streamline Moderne buildings. I can recall some having been flattened. There is an active movement to preserve and reopen this iconic building. They have a Facebook page and can also be found and contacted here. I wish them every success.
Thanks to Caroline Jones for the use of the pictures.
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