Why Great Yarmouth really is great


With a title like Great Yarmouth, Norfolk’s premiere beach resort has PLENTY to live up to. From the Norfolk tourist board the description for Yarmouth says: “ For candy-floss, ice-cream cones, seafront illuminations, amusement arcades, theme parks, donkey rides, entertainment, nights out on the town, razzmatazz * and beautiful sandy beaches, Great Yarmouth’s golden mile has it all. Play all day and party all night in our upbeat, tempo sea seaside quarter”

*Yes, they actually used the word razzmatazz.

Yarmouth is brilliant, for the most audacious of reasons: its sheer tack. The place is gaudy, crass and stuck in a time warp; however it doesn’t need any improvements. I love Yarmouth, perhaps way too much. Who couldn’t love a place that spawned the Puppet Man regularly seen in Norwich, or even a shop dedicated almost solely to Daniel O’Donnell CDs. Here are my favourite aspects of the town:

Fish and Chips:

Fish and chip shops makes Yarmouth what it is today. Nobody comes and doesn’t get chips (unless they’re really rather weird) and they’re a staple for the locals. Unsubstantiated reports have even claimed residents have chips for breakfast, lunch and dinner. If Las Vegas has casinos, Yarmouth is killer for cod. When I went to Yarmouth I avoided all the modern chip shops, with the key words I normally look for such as
‘award-winning’- instead I went straight to the restaurant with seventies decor and Sherry Trifle: it was the only way forward. Plus there was something enormously exciting about seemingly being placed on an extended Life On Mars stage .

Luckily, you don’t need to hit the restaurants to get finger-licking fish and chips. The shops literally own the golden mile. The chips are thicker and tastier than pretty much anywhere in London and as well as getting enormous fish, the workers are not above making battered sausages jokes that hark back to the glory days of the Carry Ons…

The finer things in life:

Yarmouth isn’t well known for its fine dining, high culture or celebrity endorsements, however, it does have Sara’s tea rooms. The tearooms evidently go further back through the decades, looking rather fifties-esq with lace doilies and Tommy Cooper memorabilia all over the joint. Offering British cakes and tea, it’s the perfect way for tourists to see the more highbrow face of Yarmouth. Sadly, the cakes are not presented in a practically engaging fashion – although the taste supersedes the presentation. So whilst the presentation of this tea room looks more like a run of the mill bakery, eating a delicious cake with a cup of Earl Grey with Tommy Cooper watching from the wings is a win win situation.

The Britannia Pier:

The pier is somewhere I have yet to go to, which totally devastates me. However, I have been more than tempted on my visits to Yarmouth. Recently they bagged ultimate TV and z-lister, Jane McDonald to do a circuit. I personally was rather keen on watching Coach Trip champions, The Chuckle Brothers in action. Seventy minutes would have been more
than enough time to watch these two rally the audience to the dizzying heights of the brothers’ slapstick antics. Sadly this pier does also get the lower end of humanity. Jim Davidson performed a show called Sinderella at the pier. The only sin I can think of is that Jim Davidson still has a job, and worse, as a comedian.

The Pleasure Beach:

Supposedly ‘world famous,’ if the writer from Wikipedia is a), telling the truth and b), doesn’t work for the Norfolk tourism board, a day out at the Pleasure Beach can only provide thrills. When my friends and I went, we ventured on one of the simplest rides due to time issues. Snail Tails is literally a ride on a snail through the land of famous fairy tales, which are told through cardboard cut-outs. Sadly the ride lacked a plot, good animation and a basic purpose. On the plus side riding on a Mexican/Spanish/German snail is so delightfully kitsch that the ride actually becomes brilliant by proxy.

The arcades:

It is no surprise that Mecca Bingo is positioned in the very centre of Great Yarmouth. Gambling is an acceptable, normal way of life for the locals. You can literally see pensioners converting their pension into quick collateral which they’ll gamble away for several hours. The arcades are hideously addictive and another thrilling way to while away the hours. The possibility of winning a fake fiver through the two penny machines should be so cheap a prize it makes me laugh at anyone foolish enough to try and win it. Sadly however, I’m first in line to win the absolute tack constituted as ‘prizes…’

And finally: The Waxworks

Ridiculously cheap, ridiculously central, ridiculously good, the waxworks make virtually no sense. Starting from The Beatles, the waxworks go right up to… well, about 1998 actually. It’s testament to such a continued disaster that the last three figures in the museum are amongst the worst. Michael Owen first of all doesn’t look like Michael Owen. He doesn’t even remotely like a famous sportsman. With the mouth agape, the eyes listless and a general lack of focus, Owen doesn’t look like he once played for Liverpool, instead Michael looks unemployable. David Beckham looks more metrosexual than usual (if that were possible) and weirdly looks a bit like a French fisherman. Victoria Beckham looks suitably dazed and confused, and also largely shit. Virtually every waxwork appears poorer than the last and the laughs just keep on coming. Particularly amazing is the superb house of horrors. It’s just awful – awful good! Perhaps the best of the very best of this amazingly bizarre experience – namely looking at random people of different generations, professions and talents being thrown together in different rooms – is a machine placed in the room with Mr Blobby and J.R Ewing. The ‘how sexy are you machine’ has an image of a woman looking in the throes of an orgasm whilst you ask the machine just how much of a stud/fox you are: tacky, pointless, inappropriate and, once again utterly brilliant.

Once you go to Yarmouth you forget about reality. Yarmouth is a place of simple pleasures. From misplaced, bizarre souvenirs, to odd country music blaring out of several shops on the strip, you can’t help but love the town. The lights are indeed much brighter there and you can forget all your problems in a heartbeat. For pure unadulterated razzmatazz- hit Yarmouth today.

 (The author visiting Great Yarmouth)

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