Great Yarmouth Minster to hold special service to mark 75 years since it was destroyed by German bombs in Second World War

A service to mark 70 years since St Nicholas Church was devastated by bombing is being staged on Sun

A service to mark 70 years since St Nicholas Church was devastated by bombing is being staged on Sunday June 24. - Credit: Archant

One night of aerial bombardment during the Second World War changed the face of a seaside town forever.

View from the top of Havenbridge House.
Great Yarmouth Minster / St Nicholas / Scroby Sands windfar

View from the top of Havenbridge House. Great Yarmouth Minster / St Nicholas / Scroby Sands windfarm. October 2015. Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2015

Next month will mark 75 years since a devastating bombing raid on Great Yarmouth which destroyed the iconic parish church of St Nicholas and killed three people.

Now, a series of events are being held at the church to mark the occasion including a special service at the Minster on Saturday, June 25 at 11am.

It took two decades before the building, the largest parish church in England, was restored and rededicated.

German planes dropped around 1,500 incendiary bombs and eight high explosive weapons over the town in the early hours of the morning on June 25, 1942.

Great Yarmouth - WWII
Churches - G
St. Nicholas Parish Church after bomb damage at Yarmouth

Great Yarmouth - WWII Churches - G St. Nicholas Parish Church after bomb damage at Yarmouth Dated June 1942 Photograph C1666


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The church clock stopped at 2.35am, exactly when one of the bombs fell.

Historian Colin Tooke relayed the story of an eye witness to the raid, Mr Marshall, who was just a child when the bombs fell near his home in Palgrave Road.

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Mr Tooke said: 'He told that incendiaries were burning in front gardens and in the passage at the rear of the houses and neighbours were trying to put them out with sand bags, which were always kept at street corners and near lamp posts for such occasions.'

The church was being guarded that night by the boys' brigade, who had been on firewatching duty, but they were overwhelmed by the magnitude of the blaze.

A service to mark 70 years since St Nicholas Church was devastated by bombing is being staged on Sun

A service to mark 70 years since St Nicholas Church was devastated by bombing is being staged on Sunday June 24. - Credit: Archant

Within five minutes of the bomb hitting the building was well alight, and 15 minutes later the church spire had collapsed in on itself.

Large fires raged throughout the town, despite great efforts of firefighters and staff, the parish church of St Nicholas was destroyed.

The then reverend of the church, LJ Baggott, started a restoration fund for the church and said at the time: 'The parish church will rise again, of that I have no doubt.'

Next to nothing from inside the church survived, except for the cross and ornaments from the high altar, the music library and some of the vicar's robes.

Several Dornier aircraft from their base in Holland, flew across the North Sea and unleashed their hellfire on the town, destroying other notable buildings including the barrel store of Lacon's Brewery and Brett's Furniture Store in North Quay.

Events

• From June 23 until July 12, a free Second World War exhibition is being hosted by the Great Yarmouth Local History and Archaeological Society and local schools daily at the Minster from 10am until 3pm.

• On Sunday, June 25 a 1940s fair will be taking place in the Market Place from 11am until 4pm. There will be stalls selling wartime food and live music.

• There will be a special hour-long guided tour of the town's wartime defences and some bomb sites. The tour begins at the Fisherman's Hospital at 1pm and again at 3pm, book at minstertrust@gmail.com

• On Friday, June 30 at 7.30pm is a dance event called Jive Bunnies at the Minster. The free event will offer basic tuition on jiving throughout the evening.

• On Saturday, July 1 at 3pm Kitty Collins will also be singing a tribute to the 1940s and 1950s at the Minster.

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