It is known as one of Britain's favourite seaside resorts. But for the hordes of summer visitors its enduring appeal stretches far beyond sandy beaches and amusement arcades

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Pleasure Beach, Great Yarmouth

Where is Great Yarmouth?
Follow the A47 from Norwich and brave the treacherous nine-mile Acle Straight: Still the narrowest A road in the country for fear of disturbing water voles and other marsh wildlife.

About Great Yarmouth

From a traditional, hard-working and prosperous fishing town Great Yarmouth became one of the top holiday resorts in the UK.

Bombed in the first air raid - by Zeppelin in the first world war - it became a major port target for the Germans in the second world war.

Wellington Pier, Great Yarmouth

The changing fortunes of the town meant it had to turn away from its dependency on herring, and instead turned its attention to tourism, attracting millions of holidaymakers to its hotels, guest houses and burgeoning number of caravan and chalet parks.

Major stars of showbiz mingled with happy holidaymakers who flocked to their shows... but when the holiday on the Continent became more attractive, the resort's fortunes dwindled once again.

It's heritage is recognised as being one of the best in East Anglia, with ancient town walls and many museums and places of interest, including the award-winning Time and Tide Museum, Elizabethan House, Tolgate Museum, Nelson's Monument and the majestic Town Hall next to the still-working River Yare.

What to see and do in Great Yarmouth

The Market Place, with permanent stalls operating throughout the week, attracts large crowds on traditional market days on Wednesdays and Saturdays, plus Fridays in the summer.

Surrounded on three sides with a variety of stores - including family-owned Palmers department store, founded in 1837 - as well as pubs, the historic Fishermans Hospital and a school, the open side of the square provides a view of the ancient parish church of St Nicholas, founded in 1101.

Probably the busiest shopping area during the summer months is Regent Road, which leads from the town centre towards the seafront. Its mixture of souvenir shops, restaurants and indoor markets is a magnet for holidaymakers.

And in the summer, the Golden Mile - which in fact covers just over two miles between Britannia Pier and the Pleasure Beach - is where all the action takes place. The Marine Parade provides a huge variety of seaside-style entertainment for people of all ages.

The Town Hall, opened in 1882, still dominates the riverside area of Hall Plain, even though it is dwarfed by the nearby Havenbridge House tower block several yards away in North Quay, which was completed in the early 1970s.

With the golden days of the silver darlings - the herring industry - long gone, it is now the gas rig supply vessels which tend to provide a focal point of interest for tourists and visitors as they stroll along South Quay.

History of Great Yarmouth

Two thousand years ago it was nothing more than a desolate spit of sand across the mouth of a vast estuary, now known as Breydon Water, and surrounded by lonely marshland.

Today, its name is synonymous with the tourist and holiday business, attracting at least three million visitors a year and regarded as the third most important resort in the country after Blackpool and Bournemouth.

In the intervening centuries, the fortunes of Great Yarmouth - perched on the edge of east Norfolk and facing the North Sea - fluctuated according to the rise and fall of the economic pressures of the times.

First mentioned in the Domesday Book in 1086, when the town had 70 households and 24 fishermen, it has developed into an area with a population of about 89,000 today.

Its prosperity has inevitably always been linked with the sea from the earliest days. In the Middle Ages Yarmouth was an important port, serving one of the richest regions of the country and protected by a thick flint wall - with its remains in many parts of the town still serving as a reminder of those days. Wine, building stone, timber and a variety of other goods were imported from Europe, while coal, cloth and perhaps most importantly, herrings, were exported.

Mud and timber buildings were complemented by the stone-built homes of wealthy merchants and the famous Rows - long, narrow lanes running from east to west with picturesque names like Snatchbody Row and Kitty Witches Row - were, and still are to some extent, a unique feature of the town.

Yarmouths links with the Royal Navy date back to medieval times, when local man John Perebrowne was appointed Lord Admiral in the early 1300s and the town provided ships for royal service.

And in November 2000 the town celebrated the 200th anniversary of the triumphant arrival in Yarmouth of Norfolks most famous son, Admiral Lord Nelson, after his victorious battles of St Vincent and the Nile.

The herring industry - at its peak just before the first world war - ended in the 1960s when stocks were destroyed by over-fishing but this virtually coincided with the beginning of the North Sea oil and gas industry. The port began to prosper again and the town was reputed at that time to be the largest offshore marine centre in Europe.