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No Laughing Matter.

Updated: Jan 13

There is a street in Great Yarmouth whose name produces a furrowing of the brow with visitors and also baffles some the the town's younger residents as well.

Laughing Image Corner is a tiny side street whose short stretch of tarmac runs alongside the town's telephone exchange to meet the A149, North Quay, a few yards south of the former White Swan pub. It takes its name from an old house, probably dating from the seventeenth century, but possibly even medieval, that used to have a pair of statues housed in niches in its front façade. The name may be a bit of a misnomer for one version of the tale explaining its origin tells of a grieving father who placed the figures there in memory of two lost children. Hardly a laughing matter you must agree. The cottage no longer stands, having been demolished in 1912. The figures were lost, but the name lives on.

The cottage which gave Laughing Image Corner its name.

Floods were something else that were no laughing matter. In the past, a pretty regular occurrence in the town. This image shows the 1905 flood with the White Swan on the extreme left and the Lord Collingwood, with scaffolding, on the corner of Laughing Image Corner and North Quay.

The Lord Collingwood, with scaffolding, being converted into a house in 1905.

The view today looks like this. The former White Swan is visible on the left in mid-distance. The building on the right is the telephone exchange and the narrow road running in front of it is Laughing Image Corner. The Lord Collingwood would have stood in the middle of the main road in front of the telephone exchange... can be made out in this map overlay. The PH shown is the White Swan with the Lord Collingwood, unmarked, on the northern corner of the junction with North Quay.

Originally the Dog and Duck and then the Wherry it was renamed after a vice-admiral who served at Trafalgar. Whilst Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson led one line of the British fleet in the Battle of Trafalgar in HMS Victory, Cuthbert Collingwood led the other in HMS Royal Sovereign and was the first to engage with the French. Just over a fortnight after Trafalgar Collingwood was given his title and presumably the pub took on his name shorty after that. It was certainly known as that when Pigot's 1822 directory was published showing that John Bessey was in residence.

Extract from Pigot's 1822 directory.

John was still there eight years later when it seems that Horatio beat Cuthbert 3-1!

Extract from Pigot's 1830 directory.

John was followed at the Lord Collingwood by his son Robert and between them they ran the pub for over half a century. Another of John's sons, Benjamin, was running another nearby boozer in 1877, the Lord Nelson, which featured in this post.

Extract from Harrod's 1877 directory.

It looks as if it's another victory for Nelson, as he's name-checked and Collingwood isn't.

The Lord Collingwood continued to supply the public with Lacon's Ales until it closed in1904, its licence being transferred to the newly built Three Tuns in Gorleston, which will feature in some future post. After closure it was converted into residential use...

The recently converted Lord Collingwood in 1906.

...before eventually becoming victim to the bulldozers to allow for road improvements.

Apologies to some subscribers who had an additional notification or two (or even more!) of this post. Hopefully the publication problems with the blog's host site have been resolved.

The map/overlay is reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland under this licence.

If you've read this far, then thank you. Possibly, like me, you may have some sort of interest in bygone boozers. Clicking here will take you to a searchable/sortable index which you can use to see if I've already featured any lost locals from your locality. You can also subscribe to ensure that you don't miss any future posts. Simply click here to return to the home page (opens in a new tab), follow the 'Subscribe' link and complete the form to receive an email notification of any future post. Or you could simply follow the link at the top of this page.

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