The Time and Tide Museum focuses on the history of Great Yarmouth but most especially its fishing heritage. Housed in the Grade II listed museum buildings where the herring were processed, it builds an authentic picture of the past. The smell of the smoked herring still lingers. Visitors to the museum can not only learn about the industry but see the original works and artefacts.
Go Back: [Top of Page] [Articles
Around the year 1000 what was to become the town grew from a small sandbank. As it expanded more people were attracted to the area, especially fishermen. Thus herring fishing began here as early as 1085. The herring were caught by drift netting, mostly in October when great shoals of them were found in the area. By the end of the 1200s herring was a favourite food in England. Wealth came to Yarmouth as a result. Demand grew and by the 1800s thousands of people were employed in the industry. Yarmouth’s herring industry was the largest in the world and the fish were shipped around the world.
A great number of these people came from Scotland, and a market for pickled herring was developed. Scottish fisher girls were especially adept at gutting and packing the fish in barrels and salting them down.
Herring were taken to market and sold by auction. The herring then went to the pickling or smoking houses where they were rinsed and sorted. Racks where the herring were cured still hang in place in the museum. Once the herring were cured they were packed for shipment.
Herring shoals had virtually disappeared by 1966 due to overfishing and the industry came to an end. From the 1840s and continuing until after World War II, Great Yarmouth became a holiday resort with the advent of the railroads.
Row houses became a popular means of housing both the rich and poor, and the life in these houses is also depicted in the museum. World War II bombing destroyed most of the houses still in existence, however a few surviving row houses from the period can be visited.
There are many interesting artefacts to see in the museum and much fascinating information to discover. Plan on a minimum of two hours for your visit; three is better.
Time and Tide Museum
Blackfriars Rd, Great Yarmouth
Tel. 0 1493 743 930
Open: Easter-end Oct, daily, 10am-5pm; Nov-March, Mon-Fri, 10am-4pm; Sat and Sun, noon-4pm
Audio guide; film shows; family activities; hands-on displays; café; use town parking
Website: Time and Tide Museum
Other Yarmouth Historic Attractions
Great Yarmouth Row III and Old Merchant’s Houses and Greyfriar’s Cloister
117 South Quay, Yarmouth; follow signposts to historic south quay
Directly behind Norfolk Nelson Museum
Tel. 0 1493 857 900
Open: April-end Sep, Mon-Fri, 11am-4pm; Greyfriar’s Cloister by pre arrangement only
English Heritage property; two 17th century row houses (presented as 1870 and 1942 time periods) collection of fittings and fixtures, plaster ceilings; shop; nearby Greyfriar’s is 13th century friary remains bombed in WWII; early 14th century wall paintings
Elizabethan House Museum
No. 4 South Quay, Great Yarmouth
Tel. 0 1493 745 526 or 0 1493 743 930
Open: April-first week Nov, Mon-Fri, 10am-4pm; Sat and Sun, noon-4pm
National Trust property; 1596 merchant house shows life 'upstairs and downstairs' in quayside house to Victorian times; Tudor costumes to dress in; toy room; walled garden; shop; special events; use town car parks
Web: Elizabethan House Museum
All photos © by Barbara Ballard