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Great Yarmouth bridge tragedy features in new novel - The Stealing by Elisabeth Hewetson

PUBLISHED: 17:27 07 August 2017 | UPDATED: 08:18 14 August 2017

Elisabeth Hewetson, author of a new novel called The Stealing, which features Great Yarmouth. Picture: Elisabeth Hewetson

Elisabeth Hewetson, author of a new novel called The Stealing, which features Great Yarmouth. Picture: Elisabeth Hewetson

Archant

One of the darkest pages from Great Yarmouth’s past serves as the springboard for a new novel.

The Stealing by Elisabeth Hewetson, who writes as  Elisabeth Clare. Picture: Elisabeth Hewetson The Stealing by Elisabeth Hewetson, who writes as Elisabeth Clare. Picture: Elisabeth Hewetson

Elisabeth Hewetson, a former nurse and now UEA teacher in healthcare law and ethics, has published her first novel called The Stealing.

Ms Hewetson, who lives in Aylsham, said the story’s main character, Ruth, becomes fascinated with the fall of the Yarmouth Suspension Bridge in 1845 in which 78 people lost their lives.

She said: “I too became fascinated by this when I read about the commemorative events more recently. I couldn’t believe I had never heard of this before.

“Ruth and her husband - she meets and marries him during the course of the narrative - both become interested in the community endeavour and commitment and sheer hard graft required for maintenance of piers.

Remembering the Suspension Bridge Disaster in Great Yarmouth. Photo: Steve Adams Remembering the Suspension Bridge Disaster in Great Yarmouth. Photo: Steve Adams

“The focus is on Great Yarmouth and Bognor piers. They plan a visit to Great Yarmouth to see the memorials, piers, etcetera, as family of four - and things happen.”

Ms Hewetson, who has written under a pseudonym, Elisabeth Clare, said the book was about family secrets, who knew them when, and whether the main character’s past will catch up with her. She said the seed of the story came to her when she saw a boy staring into a shop window with no parent in sight.

She said she had many contacts in Yarmouth through her work in the health service, and found the town inspiring.

Ms Hewetson said: “I find Great Yarmouth’s brave facing of the elements, literally and figuratively, in so many ways really appealing. “There’s something kind of ‘against all the odds’ about it.

Julie Staff is campaigning for a memorial to comemorate the people who died in the Yarmouth Suspension Bridge disater in the 19thC. Julie Staff is campaigning for a memorial to comemorate the people who died in the Yarmouth Suspension Bridge disater in the 19thC.

“The chequered history of its piers, fires, etcetera, all get a mention through Ruth and are duly referenced as are the commemorative events.”

Ms Hewetson said she was working on a second novel which will be called The Lifeboatman’s Daughter.

She said it was a “mysterious tale of a disappearance” and would be set mostly in Cromer.

Ms Hewetson said: “Again, battling against the odds is in there, endeavour, commitment, sheer hard graft. Our Norfolk coastline features strongly, obviously.”

Work on a memorial to those who lost their lives in the Great Yarmouth suspension bridge disaster has begun. Work on a memorial to those who lost their lives in the Great Yarmouth suspension bridge disaster has begun.

The Stealing is available from Jarrolds in Norwich and Cromer, Holt Bookshop, and Barnwell’s in Aylsham, or on amazon.co.uk

It is also available to borrow through Norfolk Library Services.

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