Great Yarmouth History

River Yare - Silt, a perennial problem

1347 - Edward III gave permission for a new river mouth, which was much nearer Great Yarmouth, to be cut to the North Sea.

1372 - The mouth of the River Yare was again choked with silt deposits. Ships had to anchor on Kirkley Roads while their cargoes were transferred to small boats to enable the cargoes to be landed at Great Yarmouth. Kirkley Roads was annexed to Great Yarmouth which resulted in their merchants benefitting from the cargo transfers much to the chagrin of Lowestoft merchants.

1392 - Richard II sanctioned another "cut" to the North Sea but this was shorter lived than the previous effort and by 1408 the River Yare was again silted up at its entrance to the sea.

1500 - During the last hundred years much money was spent by various monarchs in an effort to maintain the harbour mouth. They all failed.

1508 - Henry VII sanctioned the building of yet another harbour entrance, again, nearer the town. Within 20 years this haven was silted and Henry VIII allowed another harbour entrance to be cut which is near to the present day harbour mouth at Gorleston.

1535 - Over 50 vessels were destroyed in a storm as they were laying at anchor off Great Yarmouth waiting to be unloaded.

1548 - The building of another haven became necessary. Church plate and vestments had to be sold to finance the work which was dogged by ill luck and was finally abandoned in 1557 although incomplete. Trade in the town suffered because of this failure as only the smallest vessels could navigate the river. The rest were hauled across the sands to the towns quays.

1559 - All the towns inhabitants were ordered to help build another Haven. The works were halted temporarily in 1567 when the river broke into the new harbour works. Joas Johnson from the Netherlands was sent for and under his direction two stone and timber piers were built at the harbour entrance. His work survived until 1962 when "The Old Dutch Pier" was replaced by the present concrete structure. As a result of this change Gorleston lost part of its beach. The configuration of the pier was changed by modern engineers who did not know best!