Great Yarmouth’s Hisitoric Quay ©James Bass, Great Yarmouth Borough Council

Great Yarmouth

Great Yarmouth is an historic port town which first established itself on an estuarial sandbank over 900 years ago and from small beginnings has developed a wide trading network particularly with Northern Europe commencing in the early and later Middle Ages. The town was a strategic strong point in eastern England and in 1262 King Henry III gave it consent to build town walls and a moat as a defensive feature. The town walls were completed in 1396 and encompass both the large Market Place and the remains of three medieval friaries. Many of the sections of the walls and towers remain intact to-day.  The 12th century parish church of St Nicholas, at the north end of the marketplace, is the largest parish church in England and was designated by the Bishop as a Minster church with its sister church in Kings Lynn in 2005.

 During the 13th century Great Yarmouth had become the largest herring port in Europe having an annual Herring Fair which was attended by merchants, traders and port representatives from across Europe and the Baltic. In terms of national ranking in England Great Yarmouth was the fifth most highly assessed town to national taxation in 1334. In 1369 the port was first designated as a staple port for the wool export trade. Thereafter it became a Hanse trading post with a representative merchant and a warehouse was established on the town’s oldest and most historic South Quay.

In addition to its economic importance in its fisheries and its situation as the key defensive port on the east coast Great Yarmouth was also an important maritime base. Many of its townspeople were ship-owners.  Opportunities for mutual trading between Great Yarmouth and the Hanseatic League were always explored. Throughout the 14th century Yarmouth had exported wool and cloth from Norfolk to the northern ports of the Hanseatic League and imported goods from the Baltic. Hamburg merchants were prominent in Yarmouth in the 15th century and continued to operate the trading post there until it closed in 1416. Anglo Hanse commerce continued in the warehouse during the 15th century.

In the 18th century Great Yarmouth became an important supply port for the Royal Navy. It also developed as a centre for sea bathing and has been as a major seaside resort for over two centuries. The town is Norfolk’s premier beach resort with 7 miles of sandy beaches and is  surrounded by holiday residential facilities.     Having been a major base for North Sea gas and oil exploration in the 20th century, the port was expanded with a deeper, outer harbour in 2007 and is now increasingly important in the renewable energy sector, supporting the construction and maintenance of the some of the world’s biggest offshore windfarms.

Together with Gorleston and coastal villages to the north, the town became a popular beach holiday destination, with two seaside piers, and the tourism sector remains the area’s biggest, with an estimated worth of £648m a year. Potters Resort in the south of the borough hosts the annual World Indoor Bowls Championships.

Notable buildings include the 12th century Great Yarmouth Minster, the third largest parish church in England; the 13th century Tollhouse goals and civic building; and the Grade I listed St George’s Chapel, now a theatre. Much of the town is based around a series of narrow Rows houses set within its medieval town walls, with 80 of the original 145 remaining.

In recent years Great Yarmouth has been established as an international centre for circus and acrobatic skills, inspired by the 1903 Hippodrome circus building – one of only three worldwide that has a circus floor that can sink to become a swimming pool.

Facts & Figures

Icon Founded


Year 900

Icon Location


52.60717 latitude and 1.731484 longitude

Icon Population



What is the city known for?

Bloaters – smoked herring 

Britannia Monument to Nelson - built 24 years before Nelson’s Column in London’s Trafalgar Square

Modern port and historic Hanseatic port

The area is a popular visitor destination, with tourism valued at over £600,000 to the local economy. There is no shortage of things to see and do. Exciting theme parks and amazing animal and sea life attractions are in abundance. Celebrate the area’s arts and culture offering by enjoying the spectacular Hippodrome Circus or visit one of the fantastic free festivals such as the Out There and Wheels Festivals. The town is rich in heritage, indulge yourself by visiting the numerous local museums including the renowned Time and Tide, take in a guided heritage walk or enjoy the newly restored historic Waterways. The miles of coastline available offer a variety of activities including seal watching, daredevil rides, splash pad fun, dune exploring and relaxing in the sun! The town is also on the edge of the Broads National Park, one of only 15 protected National Parks in the UK. There is a great selection of places to eat out in the area from well-known eateries to fine dining restaurants. The rich diverse culture offers new tasting experiences and you will find many hidden gems in the surrounding villages.

Great Yarmouth has one of the most successful Enterprise Zones in the country and is England's offshore energy hub.


Breath-taking spectacle and quirky comedy combine in a festival woven through with quality performance, family-friendly atmosphere and more than a fair dose of seaside silliness! Out There has quickly built a national and international reputation for world class artistic quality, new and diverse work, regional artistic talent, international collaboration and innovative community engagement.

The Eastern Festival is a prestigious three-day racing festival which takes place every year at Great Yarmouth Racecourse during September. With around 12,000 visitors over the three days, it is a big draw to Great Yarmouth

Fire on The Water is a new experiential Fire trail on the Venetian Waterways, first delivered in the autumn of 2021. The event commissions artists to produce a range of arts works, installations and sculptures. The annual event is illuminated with dramatic outdoor arts, hypnotic water projections and shining installations and was a 33,000 person sell out in 2021 for Great Yarmouth’s cultural landscape.

The highlight of the indoor bowls calendar, Potters Resort hosts bowls’ biggest tournament which is now in its 24th year. Experience the world’s best players competing for the most prestigious titles in the sport over 17 days of championship action, live from Potters Resort’s International Arena.