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You are in: Norfolk » A Sense Of Place

22 March 2005 1210 GMT
A sea of changes at Time And Tide

Thousands of herrings were smoked at the old Tower Curing Works, now Time And Tide.

Pieces of Great Yarmouth's history have been shored up at a new museum.

Visitors will be able to get a glimpse of what life was like living and working in a town that depended on the herring industry.


INTERNET LINKS

Norfolk Museums Service: Time And Tide

BBC Nation on Film: Archive footage of herring industry

Great Yarmouth: Maritime

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FACT FILE
Time And Tide is on Blackfriars Road, off St Peter's Road, Great Yarmouth. It's just opposite a stretch of Town Wall. Tel: 01493 745526. It's a short walk from the seafront and South Quay. Accessible for wheelchair users.
  The museum will be open between 14 July and 31 October 2004 from Mondays to Sundays 10am-5pm.
  Winter opening times are: 1 November 2004 - 24 March 2005 from 10am-4pm on Mondays to Fridays and midday to 4pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Closed 24-26 December.
  Admission is £5.45 for adults, £4.90 for concessions and £3.50 for 5 to 16-year-olds.
  Time And Tide has a cafeteria, education room and two temporary galleries.
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Long forgotten scenes of Great Yarmouth's fishing industry have been brought back to life at a new museum.

Time And Tide is the latest jewel in the county's historical crown - and it is now Norfolk's third biggest museum.

Picture: A sailor mends his sails.
A sailor occupies one of the row's shops.

More than £4.5 million has been spent on converting it from a herring curing works, which closed in the mid-1980s.

Time And Tide, in Blackfriars Road, has brought the town's past into the 21st century with a variety of interactive displays.

The museum - which is centred around the building's life as an old fish factory - is home to life-size models, puzzles, games, exhibitions and film shows.

Recreated scenes

Visitors can walk down a row recreated from the turn of the century and peek into shops and houses, take to the helm of a 1950s steam drifter and see how an old sea wharf used to work.

Picture: Sea wharf.
It was heavy work on the sea wharf.

Parts of the Victorian building have been preserved so people can see how it was once used.

Visitors can walk into the tall smoke sheds where fires used to be lit on the floor to cure thousands of herrings at a time.

The fish used to be pierced on speets (long sticks) and then these would be laid across loves (wooden bars).

Sights and smells

Although the building was unused for nearly 20 years, the smell of smoked herrings still hangs heavily in the air.

Picture: Model of worker balancing on loves in the smoke shed.
It used to be a balancing act for workers in the smoke sheds.

One of the worst parts of a herring worker's job has also been recreated.

A deep pool of brine was used in which to soak the fish and then a worker would be sent in to the cold, smelly tanks to retrieve the herrings.

In the days before brine, the fish used to be preserved in salt piles - and the white mineral marks can still be spotted on the walls.

Barrel makers

When the workers finished collecting the herrings from the brine they could warm up in front of the fire in the barrel-makers or the coopers, which was based on site.

The barrels were used to store the fish and they were made at the factory to keep up with demand.

Picture: Coopers.
Barrels used to be made on the site of the works.

A life-size model now stands in front of the old fire along with tools and materials used to make the barrels.

The museum is centred around the original courtyard which is home to three old fishing boats as well as one for children to play on.

Rachel Kirk, area museums officer for Great Yarmouth, said the project gave the museums service the chance to finally pool their exhibits in to one place.

"The boats have been dotted around various sheds in Norfolk so it's nice to get them out," she said.

"This has been building up for so long so we're excited."

Exhibitions and collections

The former Tower Curing Works now boasts collections and exhibits from the town's Maritime Museum, which closed in 2002.

Picture: Swimsuit display.
We do love to be beside the seaside in Great Yarmouth.

Time And Tide traces Great Yarmouth's history from when it was part of mainland Europe and mammoths roamed the land.

There is a display of bones excavated from the North Sea as well as a clump of mammoth hair.

These pieces sit alongside the Gorleston Hoard - a collection of Bronze Age weapons and axes which were found in 1952.

The exhibition in the old packing area also features an Anglo-Saxon boat carved out of a tree trunk.

From the Ice Age, the exhibitions go on to tell the stories of wrecks and rescues, wartime Great Yarmouth, the town's life as a top seaside resort and its industrial history.

There are lots of nuggets of information to be gleaned from the displays.

For instance, did you know Grouts of Great Yarmouth made the black silk crepe that Queen Victoria wore while in mourning?

Fun and games

Picture: Herring game.
Children -and adults - can try to catch the herrings.

The museum is peppered with a range of interactive displays and games to enchant children.

There are also viewing posts where you can watch old footage of the town's fishing industry and listen to people's memories and hear sea shanties.

It was important to the museum's staff that Time And Tide would appeal to a wide range of visitors.

"We have involved the local community and have done public consultations over the years," said Rachel Kirk.

"We've tried to incorporate what people want and that's to make it fun and appeal to all audiences," she added.

 

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