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Great Yarmouth’s seafront snails are a heritage highlight: Do you remember going on the retro rides?

PUBLISHED: 11:24 19 February 2014 | UPDATED: 12:09 19 February 2014

Joyland fun park on Yarmouth seafront, pictured in 1958. Photo: Archant library.

Joyland fun park on Yarmouth seafront, pictured in 1958. Photo: Archant library.

For generations of people growing up in Norfolk, riding the snails at Joyland has been a much-loved summer pastime.

The traditional Snails ride at Joyland in Great Yarmouth, 64 years after it opened.  Picture: James BassThe traditional Snails ride at Joyland in Great Yarmouth, 64 years after it opened. Picture: James Bass

The colourful creatures have been travelling on tracks at Great Yarmouth seafront since the Joyland fun park opened in 1949 – but only now are they being touted as a heritage site.

Yarmouth’s rich history is no big secret – the resort is as much associated with Admiral Nelson as it is with bucket-and-spade summer holidays, but a heritage expert looking at how to invest in historic assets says we mustn’t forget to look in more unusual places.

“The brilliant thing about Yarmouth’s heritage is just how varied it is,” said Laura Crossley, a consultant working with Great Yarmouth Borough Council to update the region’s cultural heritage strategy.

“The variety is what makes the town so distinctive.

The ride was designed by park founder Horace Cole. Pictured here in 1958.The ride was designed by park founder Horace Cole. Pictured here in 1958.

“So as well as being this ancient port with amazing medieval town walls and a Minster church which dates back to 1101, we’ve got the retro chic of the seaside.

“For me, Joyland is just as important as a heritage site.”

The borough council is updating its heritage strategy – a formal document that sets the scene for heritage investment for years to come, in light of recent investment in buildings such as the Time and Tide Museum and St George’s Theatre.

The report being written by Miss Crossley will not only tell the council where to spend money but it shines a spotlight on what makes Yarmouth great – ice creams and donkey rides aside.

“It’s really no exaggeration to say Yarmouth has something for everyone,” said Miss Crossley, who has previously worked with Norwich Heritage Economic and Regeneration Trust and Sheringham Museum.

The borough, she said, has important heritage sites from almost every era – Roman remains at Burgh Castle and Caister, Medieval town walls, Victorian rows and Edwardian architecture.

“And it’s not just for tourists,” she added.

“Getting to know these amazing places in your own towns is brilliant and, with the deals available, it’s often an affordable family day out. The focus groups I’ve worked with all commented that it is the variety in Yarmouth that makes it so distinctive.

“That is a selling point.”

The final draft of Miss Crossley’s report will be finished next month, to go before the council in April.

Email comments to laura@lauracrossley.com by 5pm tomorrow.

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