True’s Yard is all that remains of King’s Lynn’s old fishing community, the North End, which existed for hundreds of years, and which was finally demolished in the clearances of the 1930’s and the 1960’s. Once hundreds of families lived within a stone’s throw of their chapel of St Nicholas, which still dominates the area, and the North End had its own boat builders, chandlers, sail makers, pubs, bake houses and school. Now, although the fishing fleet still sails regularly from King’s Lynn, the old way of life has gone.
But the hard and sometimes dangerous life they led, bred a fierce loyalty in the Northenders – they supported each other in times of crisis, seldom married anyone from outside the North End (adultery was virtually unknown), and cared for their widows and orphans. The menfolk, in their traditional ‘ganseys’, would sail up to 100 miles away to bring in their catch, and their women would tend the children, wait and pray, and mend the nets when they came home. A visit to True’sYard today, which is dedicated to preserving the memory of those people, still conveys much of that feeling of gritty endurance against the odds.
Paul Richards takes me around the museum along with Jimmy and Greg who were with me.