Great Yarmouth History In Old Photos & Film

Categorised as Norfolk
Great Yarmouth Norfolk England UK local history videos

Glimpse the past through fascinating old images of Great Yarmouth in Norfolk, England.

Great Yarmouth, which became a seaside resort as far back as 1760, is located in the English county of Norfolk, the area of East Anglia and the region called East of England.

The town has been heavily filmed through the years thanks to its popularity with holidaymakers from across the UK.

Local History On Archive Film

This section of Local History Videos shows vintage film and video compilations of old photos of Great Yarmouth up to the end of the 1940s.

You may also like to see the videos on another page of this website, about Great Yarmouth in the years between 1950 and 1979.

Images Of The Town’s Past History

A History of Great Yarmouth’s Golden Mile In Pictures 

This footage from YouTube channel Norfolk Now looks back at the historic “Golden Mile” along Great Yarmouth’s sea front.

The Great Yarmouth “Witch” hanged at Salem in 1692

Norfolk Now uploaded this video to YouTube on 26 May 2017. 

Rebecca Nurse was born in Great Yarmouth in February 1621.

Her family emigrated to Salem, where she brought up a large family with her husband Francis.

In 1692, the frail 71 year old found herself accused by the notorious Salem Witch Trial of killing 7 babies with her spirit.

By law she was forced to defend herself, although 40 neighbours bravely signed a petition defending her piety and innocence.

She was hanged as a witch on July 19, 1692, and was denied a Christian burial in a churchyard.

Her sister Mary Eastey met the same fate, while her other sister Sarah Cloyce was not found guilty.

Great Yarmouth Bridge Disaster of 1845

In August 2013 YouTube channel Ryan Kirkpatrick uploaded this informative video about the Great Yarmouth Bridge Disaster of 1845.

The Chapman Family of Great Yarmouth 

In December 2014 YouTube Channel The Forum Norwich uploaded this video about former East Suffolk police officer John Chapman. 

He was researching his family history and came across the mystery of how a family living in the Rows of Great Yarmouth ended up in one of the most wealthy areas of London, just for all the money to disappear. He was also surprised to discover two cousins he didn’t know existed.

Earliest Films Of This Norfolk Town

Car Driving Along Great Yarmouth Promenade (1910s)

Filmed before even the Great War began, this footage from Great Yarmouth in the 1910s is part of the Kinolibrary collection. 

The filmmaker sat in a car and captured the sea front, trams, buses, horse drawn carts, a policeman and many pedestrians.

Great Yarmouth Beach In Summer (1910s)

This 1910s footage from the Kinolibrary collection shows the beach at Great Yarmouth.

People sit on deck chairs as children play on the sand or ride the donkeys.

Great Yarmouth Fishing Boats (1910s)

Very early footage of Great Yarmouth’s important herring fishing industry, part of collection held by the Kinolibrary.

Zeppelins Bomb Great Yarmouth & Kings Lynn (1915)

HistoryPod introduces this fascinating footage of a Great War (World War I) incident few people remember. 

Shortly after 8.30pm on 19th January 1915, a Zeppelin German Airship (the L3) dropped ten 110lb bombs and seven incendiary devices onto the densely populated St Peter’s Plain in Great Yarmouth. 

Two local women died. One was 72 year old Martha Taylor, who was walking home at the time of the raid. The other was Mrs. Gazely, whose husband had recently been killed on active duty in Belgium during the first few months of the Great War.

Meanwhile another Zeppelin (the L4) dropped eleven bombs on Sheringham and King’s Lynn. That attack killed two people including 14 year old Percy Goate, whose mother saw the bomb drop through a skylight onto her sleeping son.

The irony is that the intended target had been industrial buildings in Humbershide. But engine trouble with a third airship (the L6), and later bad weather, meant that housing in Norfolk was used as a convenient alternative.

Great Yarmouth In The 1920s

Great Yarmouth (1920s)

This footage was recorded during the July carnival week of the 1920s, nicely filmed from the procession above the heads of the huge crowds.

Great Yarmouth (1920s) 

Uploaded by YouTube channel kentohv.

Great Yarmouth In The 1930s

Great Yarmouth and Blackpool Pleasure Beach (1930s)

From the Kinolibrary collection, this films show various scenes of the beaches at popular English holiday resorts.

Great Yarmouth Carnival (1930s) 

  • Carnival floats pass along with crowds of people lining the route.  
  • Good close up shots of the general public. 
  • Some very patriotic with Union Jacks and Herring fishing very evident as a local industry.  
  • Some of the floats with titles…  
    • Stenards  … Pale ale.  
    • Herrings ready for despatch.
    • Lacons (Brewery) float.
    • Dine…. 26 King Street.
    • YH 1934 … Eat more Herring. Herring catcher.
    • Doesn’t Yarmouth build chubby kids.
    • Eat more fish.
    • Bretts Ladies
    • Collins Pleasure Beach (A turning windmill on the float).
    • Alfred Filers Orchestra
  • Crowds of people.  
  • Excited ladies in costume in a car/float wave and get out. 
  • They dance on the street and one of the ladies has lst pinned on her.
  • Rows of deckchairs with people in them, sitting fully clothed and many wearing hats, and a large number of men included.  
  • Sign for flower show and the Pier can be seen in the background.  
  • The busy promenade with gardens and beach huts on wheels can be seen in the background.
  • More of floats, a chimney in background.  
  • Floats moving off including…
    • A.G. Parker
    • Chapman and Smith
    • ‘The Solution’ Join the league of Nations Union.
    • Please do not kiss the Children
    • Bases Beauty Corner
    • Merry Brothers ‘Depression Killers – Our dynamite cure is very uplifting’.
  • A man and woman are dressed in costume as Cavaliers.  
  • A float with Mermaids, a model house, Indians and L Andrews & Son ‘Humpty Dumpty’ followed by GTY Co Amateur Dance Club Band.

Great Yarmouth (1930s) 

Huntley Film Archives has footage of Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, East Anglia, in the 1930s.

Includes aerials and long views of the beaches, on the promenade, and beaches crowded with holidaymakers.

Great Yarmouth 1937

Two years before the outbreak of World War II, this family enjoyed their seaside trip with no inkling of what was to come.

Oh I do Like to be Beside the Seaside Yarmouth 1937 9.5mm cine film – Dave Eldergill on YouTube

Great Yarmouth In The 1940s

End The Strikes (1946) 

This British Pathé film includes scenes from Lowestoft in Suffolk and Great Yarmouth in Norfolk.

Local fishermen were on strike to support their demands for bigger rations and the herring fishing trawlers lay idle against the quay.

Although they won, the narrator is clear in his condemnation of this strike, and all the other (mostly unofficial) waves of strikes which had been plaguing the British population just months after the end of World War 2.

The following scenes are from London’s Savoy Hotel. The workers at this top luxury hotel were on strike in 1946 because their demands for union representation had been refused.

Things got worse the following year with a strike called in the build up to the Queen’s marriage to Prince Philip, when many royal and aristocratic guests were due to arrive at the best hotels in London.

Health minister Nye Bevan (busy setting up the NHS) was worried about Communist workers spying on their wealthy guests, while foreign secretary Ernest Bevin thought the strike was a Russian plot.

It took a government inquiry to settle the matter in December 1947.


British Movietone brings us this film, probably from the 1940s.

The herring harvest was reported as not so good in this year, but the scene is brisk at Great Yarmouth when the drifters come in.

Herring Fishing (1947) 

From the British Pathé collection is this unissued / unused material of the Yarmouth drifter ‘Ocean Dawn’ on a fishing trip.

Includes footage of the fish in nets and a whale swimming near the boat.

Herring Harvest In Yarmouth (1948) 

This Unissued / unused material of the Herring harvest in Great Yarmouth is from the British Pathé collection.

The film shows how women were gutting, smoking and processing the fish in huge quantities.

Fishermen looked after the nets, prepared meals on the trawler, scrubbed the decks, and went out to fish after nightfall.

While the trawler was on the quayside, coalmen brought bags of coal on board.

More Norfolk pages


Frequently Asked Questions about Great Yarmouth

What is Great Yarmouth famous for?

Great Yarmouth used to be known for its port, which brought in much of England’s herring catch. Today it’s famous for being a historic seaside resort which still attracts crowds of holidaymakers each year.

Is Great Yarmouth in Norfolk or Suffolk?

Great Yarmouth is definitely in Norfolk. But its proximity to Suffolk makes it a good base from which to explore the neighbouring English county.

What sea is Great Yarmouth on?

The whole eastern border of Great Yarmouth meets the North Sea. Because of that, it offers sandy beaches, sandy dunes and stunning cliff top views. Swimmers and surfers usually enjoy local sea temperatures of 15 to 19°C (59 to 66°F) in August each year.

How long is Great Yarmouth beach?

Great Yarmouth offers a sandy beach which is 15 miles long! That’s why it continues to draw visitors and holidaymakers throughout the year. There are plenty of cafes and pubs nearby to keep you well fed and watered after a day at the beach.

Look for other locations on our Sitemap for England or see Great Yarmouth 1950-1979