They're making tracks to the past

STEPHEN PULLINGER At the very moment Norfolk's top resort is making tracks for a bright, new future, a reminder of its colourful past has been unearthed. While excavating tarmac along Yarmouth's Golden Mile as part of a £2m revamp, contractors from May Gurney have exposed the seafront track of the town's old tramway which carried holidaymakers and locals around in the early years of the last century.

STEPHEN PULLINGER

At the very moment Norfolk's top resort is making tracks for a bright, new future, a reminder of its colourful past has been unearthed.

While excavating tarmac along Yarmouth's Golden Mile as part of a £2m revamp, contractors from May Gurney have exposed the seafront track of the town's old tramway which carried holidaymakers and locals around in the early years of the last century.

Electric trams began operating on routes from Wellington Pier to Newtown and Wellington Pier to Vauxhall Station in June 1902 and over the next decade the network rapidly expanded to include an extension to Caister and a separate system in Gorleston.

By the 1920s the system was already in decline and the last ceremonial run by tram number six in a once proud fleet of more than 30 vehicles took place on December 15 1933.

Plans to revive a Yarmouth tramway, using state-of-the-art Parry People Movers, were discussed in council as recently as 2004 but the scheme has since been shelved.

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Jools Tinsley, the borough council's regeneration officer, said of the exposed tracks: “There is something symbolic about the meeting of the town's past and future.”

Contractors are on course to finish the second phase of the town's multi-million pound InteGreat regeneration project - stretching from Regent Road to St Peter's Road - in time for Easter.

A separate slow lane has been created in Marine Parade for road trains and the resort's famous landaus, while the road has been narrowed to allow broader pavements with continental-style tables and chairs outside cafes.

Ms Tinsley said: “Special decorative lighting has still to be added and the area will be enhanced with new planting. The whole impression will be one of giving more space to pedestrians.”

The council is confident of finding funding for further phases of the seafront work, taking the scheme as far as the Pleasure Beach.