Story about 'bustle' of Great Yarmouth airs on Historic England podcast

Great Yarmouth's Golden Mile. Seaside towns need to find creative ways to challenge deprivation acco

Great Yarmouth's Golden Mile. Seaside towns need to find creative ways to challenge deprivation according to a House of Lords report Picture: James Bass - Credit: James Bass

A Great Yarmouth writing duo have explored what they love about the diverse but "misunderstood" seaside town in a new short story series dedicated to the high street.

"Under the watchful eyes of seagulls" was co-written by Ligia Macdeo and Ellie McKinlay-Khojinian as part of a weekly Historic England podcast the "High Street Tales", which aims to breathe new life into 68 long-forgotten town centres across the country.

Great Yarmouth writers Ellie McKinlay-Khojinian and Ligia Macedo

Writers Ellie McKinlay-Khojinian and Ligia Macedo have co-written a short story on Great Yarmouth for High Street Tales, a new podcast and ebook, part of High Streets Heritage Action Zones Cultural Programme, 2021 - Credit: Historic England

The story follows a kind Portuguese woman, Maria, who befriends an elderly man with a pretend-hatred for seagulls and an obsession for "the war".

While James frequently reminisces about Yarmouth's "golden years", his time spent in the now-closed Palmer's store and "how much better" the "dying high street" was before, Maria is more hopeful.

She sees Yarmouth as a wonderful melting pot of different cultures and nationalities - a bustling environment with a peculiar charm and big plans for the future.

Ellie McKinlay-Khojinian and Ligia Macedo

Writers Ellie McKinlay-Khojinian and Ligia Macedo have co-written a short story on Great Yarmouth for High Street Tales, a new podcast and ebook, part of High Streets Heritage Action Zones Cultural Programme, 2021. They consulted with members of the local community as part of this - Credit: Historic England

Growing up in Lisbon, Ms Macedo was born in Mozambique but now lives in Yarmouth and has done so for the past 10 years. Ms McKinlay-Khojinian, meanwhile, lives in Norwich with her Iranian husband and young family.

Together, they are making waves in the writing-world, and were commissioned by the National Centre for Writing (NCW) to take part in the £7.4m cultural project.

Ligia Macedo, co-author of "Under the watchful eyes of seagulls"

Ligia Macedo, co-author of "Under the watchful eyes of seagulls" - Credit: Historic England

Their podcast went live on March 17 and can be found on the Historic England website. 

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Peggy Hughes, programme director at the NCW, said their proposal stood out because their "love for Great Yarmouth and the bustle of King Street" was clear.

She said: "They had a really clear vision of how they wanted to co-create a piece that showcased the town centre and gave a voice to the migrant communities who have settled in Great Yarmouth and made the town their own."

Ellie McKinlay-Khojinian, co-author of "Under the watchful eyes of seagulls"

Ellie McKinlay-Khojinian, co-author of "Under the watchful eyes of seagulls" - Credit: Historic England

The two writers themselves said during the research phase of their project interviewees most commonly used the words "diverse", "historical" and "misunderstood" to describe their town, with council leader Carl Smith noting that the millions received through government funds will go a long way in "repairing, conserving and building" a better understanding of the area.

He said: "On top of the £1.9m High Street Heritage Action Zone, Yarmouth has successfully bid for £13.77m from the Future High Streets Fund plus a £20.1m Town Deal."

Councillor Carl Smith, deputy leader of Great Yarmouth Borogh Council. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

Councillor Carl Smith, deputy leader of Great Yarmouth Borough Council - Credit: Archant

Some of the upcoming projects include a new Cultural Hub, restoration of the Winter Gardens and Ice House and a new marketplace.