From The Murky Depths

News in London and beyond

Coastal resorts

Easy trips to the coast: Great Yarmouth

My recent post about direct trains to the Kent coast gained a great deal of positive feedback so I thought why not do more listing places within easy reach of south east London by public transport?

Ok, so this trip isn’t direct but may be easier than some imagine. For one, as Stratford has grown as a transport hub it now offers fast (ish) trains to East Anglia as well as coaches and has easy DLR links from much of SE London.

Sandy beaches abound.

Looking towards the pier

Megabus now run direct coaches starting at Stratford so you can avoid Victoria. National Express run from Victoria and also stop at Stratford. Both regularly have fares from a fiver.

There’s worse beaches

If you prefer a train and if you get down there in the next few weeks you can ride what is one of the oldest trains still running on the UK mainland that isn’t a heritage railway. It shuttles back and forth between Norwich and Great Yarmouth , but only for a few more weeks. And only one of two trains every other is this type.

Three 50 years old  carriages hauled through the Norfolk Broads

A train from Stratford to Great Yarmouth will set you back £13 each way if booking around a week in advance (though weekends are a bit more). With a railcard a third is knocked off. At Norwich a change is needed to one of these beasts which are pushing 60 years old, which are leaving the route in about a month’s time:

Locmotive dates from around 1960

The line is being upgraded as we speak (though not without issue) and the old semophore signals will be replaced soon:

Newer signals covered by plastic bags replacing old tech

The track approaching the terminus isn’t the smoothest:

It reminds me of Angerstein branch line

It’s very much a step into the past, as is a lot of Great Yarmouth.

Faded seaside glamour

There’s some wonderful buildings around the town, which is very much along the lines of your family resorts like Southend and Margate with amusements arcades and Bingo plus a rather stunted pier.

Beautiful buildings are seen on most streets:

Not a great modern addition

 

A rich history is evident:

Character abounds

The signs of High Street decline are seen all over. Marks and Spencer recently upped and left. The features of this building revealed it to be almost certainly an old M&S even with signage gone. A Google Streetview search confirmed it:

Tell tale signs of an M&S

Whilst the town has issues like many seaside resorts, improvements to the public realm have lifted it from the 1970s car dominated design malaise seen so often in coastal towns.

Open design

Severance is limited between the beach, pier and shops. There’s far less post-war clutter and obstacles making it more appealing all round.

A well maintained St George’s park lies just inland. Again, the lack of clutter enhances the space no end.

St George’s park

No need for many railings, bollards and assorted detritus here. Not one car was parked on paving – and this is outside of London where laws are much more lax on doing so.

Walking to the sea

It’s not all good though. The walk from the station to the town has been enhanced by converting part of a former bridge to pedestrian access in 2013 – but it’s still far from great:

Direct link to station

This involves much underused brownfield land:

Car park on right – vacant land on left

And of course all the public realm work in the world isn’t going to fix a moribund local economy – and many coastal resorts have faded as local employment away from tourism dried up. A strategy to rectify that, as highlighted this week, is sorely needed. The scale of homelessness is evident across the town.

Still, if you want to do your bit and ride a train like this before it’s gone, you could do worse than pay it a visit.

Not long left for these carriages in this part of the world

A train from Stratford to Norwich takes around 1hr 45 mins, then the local train takes about 20-30 minutes. Megabus does it in around two and a half hours direct from Stratford. Longer of course when it’s busy and the local roads are congested.

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2 Comments

  1. Jo

    Looks very quiet!

    Great Yarmouth is ok but some lovely quieter places to the north. Good for kids though.

    And yep, it’s another place that makes much of Greenwich borough look like a timewarp when it comes to street design and parks (aside from Greenwich town centre of course and parts of Woolwich).

    How can so much of Greenwich borough be in the dark ages with design when much of London and the country adopted modern design a decade or two ago at least?

  2. Mr_chas

    Chalkwell/Leigh-on-Sea!

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