Six to a bedroom and three families sharing a loo - personal memories of life in Yarmouth’s Rows
- Credit: Archant
For most of us talk about Great Yarmouth's historic Rows triggers thoughts of sepia-tinged images and a nostalgia for simpler times when life was hard but happy.
But for the fifty or so people gathered at St George's Theatre today it was part of their real life experience, some of it mixed.
Their first hand memories are a vital part of a new project to revive the unique narrow streets, making them safer and more attractive as well as a destination in themselves.
For some it was a chance to get misty-eyed about relatives now long-gone, while others were happy to leave memories about the cramped conditions- just a step away from the workhouse - in the past.
Vida Haylett, 93, was a goldmine for conservationists who mined her memories for nuggets of gold.
Born in Row 24 she remembers a carefree childhood, joining her chums at the two playgrounds nearby.
With herself, three siblings and her parents all sleeping in one bedroom and an uncle renting the cold attic room space was at a premium, but they knew nothing else.
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Baths were taken in a tin tub, and a trip to the one toilet meant going outside and probably a wait since three other families were sharing it too.
Her father was a taxi driver and her mother worked in a nearby cafe, supplementing their income by selling toffee apples from the kitchen window.
Within ten years they had made enough to move out of the Rows to a house with a garage and four bedrooms in St George's Road.
Mrs Haylett, who now lives in Caister, said she was delighted the history of the Rows was going to be recognised under the £50,000 project to bring four of them back into general use.
'It is marvellous,' she said. 'I would like to see Great Yarmouth as it was in the 1930s. At 17 I was the first lady to have a taxi licence and I drove a taxi all through the war.'
John Holmes, 79, of Hamilton Road, said the project had encouraged him to find out more about his family history.
As a six-year-old returning to the town after some three years away as an evacuee, he was taken to visit his grandmother Richander Holmes in Row 26, Norman's Row.
Suffering from 'milk leg' she was being nursed downstairs in a two up/two down once home to eight people including her husband Charles, their five children and her father in law.
Charlotte Paddock, heritage advisor for the Preservation Trust which is leading the project said the day had been a great success with so many personal memories being shared that could not be found in the records and added to the town's story. 'We have been overwhelmed,' she said.