Great Yarmouth History

Christmas Oranges

For the average person living in Great Yarmouth before the First World War the sight of an orange meant it was Christmas. Well it was 'Christmas' for the people of Great Yarmouth when a ship shed its cargo of oranges. The 'fruit de mer' bobbed in on the waves saved from tainting by sea water by their thick oily skin. The word soon got round and if it could hold oranges it was used.

It is said that, 'lightning never strikes twice' that may or may not be true but oranges bobbing in on the surf at Great Yarmouth did happen twice. In December 1948 the steamer Bosphorous ran aground on the Happisburgh Sands and yes, you've guest it, the cargo was oranges. The oranges were deliberately dumped overboard to lighten the ship so it could be towed off the 'Sands'. Imagine the surprise of the locals when they found thousands of oranges being washed up on the beach.

As with the previous incident the people of Great Yarmouth were soon mobilised to help in the 'Great Orange Clearup'. So what was destined to be an orangeless Christmas, as there were none for sale in Great Yarmouth, turned out to be a glut. Customs Officers' warned the locals that all the oranges should be handed in to them as they were classed as salvage.

Ah Bless!