"A Row is a long, narrow lane or alley quite straight, or as nearly as maybe, with houses on each side, both of which you can sometimes touch at once with the fingertips of each hand, by stretching out your arms to their full extent."
In 2020, Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust completed a Making Waves Together project, focused on the shared heritage of the towns of Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft. The historically important thoroughfares of the ‘Scores’ in Lowestoft and ‘Rows’ in Great Yarmouth were once heavily populated areas, filled with the hustle and bustle of people living and working in the towns during the heyday of their maritime and fishing industries. Great Yarmouth originally had over 145 Rows with some 80 remaining while Lowestoft now has 11 of the original 13 Scores.
To visit the Rows' Facebook page, please click here.
To learn about the Lowestoft Scores, please click here.
The projects were funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Arts Council, East Suffolk Council and Great Yarmouth Borough Council, with supplementary funding for the Rows Project provided by the Coastal Revival Fund.
A Research Project was launched in 2018 as part of the Great Yarmouth Rows Project.
Opportunities were provided for volunteers to research the Rows using Great Yarmouth Library's archives, research trips to the Time and Tide Museum, the English Heritage Row House Museum and Lacon’s Brewery Museum. Oral history training was provided by Colin Stott from Norfolk Museums Service and local historian Michael Teun provided a talk on the ‘Origins of the Rows’. Throughout the project there was much valued support and guidance from local historians and authors Colin Tooke and Paul Godfrey, as well as from the Great Yarmouth Library staff.
Participants were invited to take on the challenge of exploring a Row each. They were tasked with discovering the names associated with their Row, its inhabitants, and images and stories which illuminated its history. The project concluded with participants presenting their findings at a private exhibition for the other volunteers. Some volunteers continued beyond this point by expanding their research and planning additional research group activities, focused on further events and exhibitions.
Conservation and repair
Despite the historic importance of the Rows, long periods of neglect have resulted in structural damage and disrepair. The project worked to conserve and repair historic elements in the Rows, including sections of unstable wall and two period windows that were previously broken and boarded over.
Other works included repairing damaged guttering, improving poor lighting and pigeon-proofing – all common problems in the Rows which distract focus from their historic interest and present an uninviting route for pedestrians. Rows 85, 89, 90 and 93 were selected for targeted improvement works to serve as examples of what can be achieved. With further future funding, we hope to apply these improvements to other Rows across the town, revealing their fascinating histories to the public and creating pleasant spaces for people to explore.
The Rows were further improved by the efforts of the fantastic Street Level volunteers, who teamed up with Iceni Care and the Great Yarmouth Civic Society. This group began doing weekly litter picks along the Rows, later widening their focus to gardening in the surrounding areas. The removal of litter and weeds has made a significant improvement to the appearance of the Rows and people's perceptions of them.
The group has now merged with Great Yarmouth Civic Society and meet on Fridays at 10.30 behind the Neighbourhood Centre at 135 King Street. To learn more about volunteering opportunities, please click here.
As part of the project, funding was invested into improving the signage of the Rows. The Rows Project sought to enhance this unique medieval feature of the town’s landscape, celebrating a once heavily populated area where townsfolk worked, lived and played for centuries.
The Rows have changed names many times, with names like ‘Kittywitches Row’, ‘Body Snatcher’s Row’ and ‘Mack the Tin Maker’s Row’ revealing fascinating insights into their histories. Due to the confusion that several successive name changes were causing, in 1804 the authorities decided to standardise the Rows by assigning each a number, allocated from north to south. The Rows Project has brought these original stories to life once more by commissioning cast metal signs for all 62 of the remaining rows, using the names they are most commonly known by today. Opportunities for the community to get involved in the project included conservation training, historical research, recording and creative activities.
The signs were delivered in 2018, and are now all on display. Over the coming years, Norfolk Conservation Ltd. will undertake necessary maintenance.
A series of bespoke interpretation panels have also been installed in Rows 3, 116, 125 and 85, providing information about the history of the Rows and those who have called them home.
Paper-works* is a printmaking studio in Lowestoft. For the Rows Project, Hugh Davies and Lisa Hurcum from the studio led a one day sketching and lino printing workshop, based at Great Yarmouth Library. Participants either sketched on location or worked from photographs to develop their lino prints. These prints were available to purchase as postcards over the Heritage Open Days 2019.
The Rows Project was also represented as part of the 2019 Great Yarmouth Arts Festival. The Rows Creative Perspectives Exhibition brought together artistic commissions, including:
Photography by Jaime-Lea Taylor, alongside research work on the photographers of the rows developed by photographic historian Paul Godfrey. Limited printed copies of Jaime-Lea Taylor's book are available at Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust, Great Yarmouth Library and the Time and Tide Museum for public viewing;
A display on Art and Artists of the Rows by Catherine Allen;
A film documenting the history of the Rows, produced by Joe Malcolm, which can be watched here
Heritage Open Days 2019
Based at Skippings Gallery, the Rows Exhibition took place over the two weekends of the Heritage Open Days 2019. This event brought together all the elements of the Rows Project: historical research, Joe Malcolm's film, Jaime-Lea Taylor's photography, oral history interviews, lino prints and poetry. Lacon's Brewery kindly loaned some of their museum collections relating to the history of brewing in the Rows, and there was also information about Palmer’s Department Store, which absorbed some of the Rows during their development. Over the four days we welcomed 235 visitors.
Carol Desborough led guided tours around the Rows during the exhibition days, while Catherine Allen created a Rows walking trail app, which can be downloaded for free here.
The Rows and Scores Project Book
To mark the end of the Rows and Scores Projects and celebrate their achievements, a book has been produced. It shares the findings of historical research, outlines the different stages of the projects and highlights the creative commissions involved. Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic ended the projects prematurely, with lockdown preventing the end of project exhibition from being held as planned. We hope this book will go some way towards marking the great achievements of both projects.
Rows and Scores - The Hidden Passageways of Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth is available to download for free below. Where printed copies become available, they will be printed for no financial gain for not-for-profit organisations. The copyright for this book where professionally printed and sold is with Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust.
Making Waves Together
Making Waves Together is an ambitious three year programme which is designed to bring the communities of Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth together through shared engagement in a wide variety of art and heritage activities and events. The programme aims to use culture as a driver, enhancing wellbeing, promoting civic pride and uniting local communities; making them more attractive places to live in, work in, visit and learn about.
The programme is focused around sixteen bespoke activities, delivered by nine partners. To learn more, please click here.