Holiday Crowds and Fish Wharves

Recollections of Diana Harrold

My memories would be in the 1930's, early rather than late. I can remember South Town Station (very imposing). I was put on the train there, in the charge of the Guard to travel to London alone, aged 7 years. I arrived safely and made the return journey the same way.
I had an Aunt who lived in Cobham, opposite the station, and one thing I always remembered were the boys, some of them quite small, with their boxes on wheels and old prams, meeting the London trains in the holiday season. A fee was agreed, the name of the Hotel or Boarding House etc. noted, and off they went with the luggage and took the visitors to their destination.
These young boys must have had a wonderful memory for the names of the Boarding houses, as they used to set off with no hesitation at all. I remember their shabby clothes, flat caps, worn jackets, or shirt sleeves, baggy, too big trousers, some tucked into socks or shortened with string, just tied below the knee.
Beach Station used to serve the holiday camps at Caister and Hemsby. There were two camps at Hemsby, Maddisons and Seacroft, and the trains were always met by the camp representative (suitably attired in coloured blazer and straw boater). They each collected their own guests, and marched them up the road singing.
Reference the fish wharf railway, I can remember seeing the trains going backwards and forwards, and jumping out of the way as the lines and the quay were all one.
My father was seconded to run the Fish Wharf Post Office during the herring season, and we used to go up there after school when he was there. It existed (the Post Office that is) to enable the Scottish fishermen and fishergirls to send their wages back home to Scotland.
I remember, if my Mother had a basket, you were allowed to pick up any herring which slipped off the crans, and we often had herrings or Red Herring (baked in vinegar) in the Autumn.
The Fish Wharf, the Drifters, 3 and 4 deep, the sheds, the fisher girls and the trains made noise, smell and movement like Dante's Inferno, a sight never to be forgotten.