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29 October 2014

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You are in: Norfolk > Local Radio > Northenders > Watch: A tour around the North End

Watch: A tour around the North End

Fishermen bringing home their haul, women working in their yards and pubs the places to enjoy a sing-song - the North End of King's Lynn housed a close-knit community. Take a video tour to find out about the people who lived and worked there.

Map of North End video tour.

Around the turn of the last century it's believed 900 people lived in the fishing community of North End, or Fishers End, in King's Lynn.

Their houses lined yards and alleys which were grouped around three main streets: North Street, St Ann's Street and Pilot Street.

Slum clearance and new road schemes meant that most of the area was knocked down.

However, a few parts still remain including True's Yard, a section of the cobbled Pilot Street, St Nicholas' Chapel and The Tilden Smith pub - now known as The Retreat.

With the help of people who know the area well, you can find out what life was like and what you can still see today.

1. True's Yard

This living history museum is named after a former owner of the properties, William True. It is the last remaining example of the type of tiny cottages which were typical in the North End.

They were used as outbuildings for a ship chandler's shop but retired teacher Pat Midgley, who lived in Pilot Street, noticed them and began a campaign to save them and turn them into a museum of North End life.

Local historian and lecturer Dr Paul Richards is chairman of the True's Yard Museum and our guide. He was born and brought up in King's Lynn and has written a history of the town.

Northender Brian Chase.

Brian Chase has an emotional tie to the church

2. St Nicholas' Chapel

Brian Chase is a member of one of the well-known North End fishing families, which has had a long association with St Nicholas' Chapel.

Brian was a member of the chapel's choir for 50 years. The church is no longer used for regular worship and is looked after by the Churches Conservation Trust.

Brian is the chairman of the Friends Of St Nicholas and our guide to the largest chapel of its type in the country.

3. North Street

Arthur Paynter is a trustee of True's Yard Museum, who was born on the corner of North Street in the 1930s.

He explains what life was like in what was then a narrow, bustling street, surrounded by yards and alleys.

He also tells us about the old Pilot Cinema - now Zest nightclub - which was built just before WW2 by North End businessman Ben Culley and was opposite his house.

4. Retreat Pub

This is the only pub which remains of the 20 or so hostelries in the North End, and is run by Northender Ray Rudd.

It was originally named after a fishing boat, The Tilden Smith. Composer Vaughan Williams visited the pub in January 1905 to listen to the fishermen's folk songs.

He found plenty to please his ears and stayed for a week, writing down tunes which have become world famous. Dr Paul Richards tells us why the young Williams was so captivated.

5. Pilot Street

This was a main thoroughfare in North End until a road improvement scheme created John Kennedy Road and almost led to its total destruction.

But the King's Lynn Preservation Trust stepped in to save this group of houses and former shops, nestling behind St Nicholas' Chapel in this delightful cobbled street.

Local businessman Bill Irwin, vice chairman of True's Yard Museum, was born in Pilot Street and is our guide.

6. The Exorcist House

Bill Irwin reveals how he used to find the Exorcist House, otherwise known as the Haunted House, a chilling sight.

He recalls how used to run past the building as a young scared choirboy.

last updated: 06/07/07

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