Yarmouth, Isle of Wight
Yarmouth town centre
Yarmouth shown within the Isle of Wight
|Population||791 (2001 Census)|
|OS grid reference|
|Unitary authority||Isle of Wight|
|Ceremonial county||Isle of Wight|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Fire||Isle of Wight|
|Ambulance||Isle of Wight|
|EU Parliament||South East England|
|UK Parliament||Isle of Wight|
Yarmouth is a town, port and civil parish in the western part of the Isle of Wight, off the southern coast of mainland England. The town is named for its location at the mouth of the small Western Yar river (there is also an Eastern Yar on the island). Yarmouth is a crossing point for the river, originally with a ferry, replaced with a road bridge in 1863.
Yarmouth has been a settlement for over a thousand years, and is one of the very earliest on the Isle of Wight. The first record of a settlement here was in King Ethelred the Unready's record of the Danegeld tax of 991. It was originally called Eremue, meaning "muddy estuary". The Normans laid out the streets of Yarmouth on the grid system, a plan which can still be seen in the layout today. It grew rapidly, being given its first Charter as a town in 1135. The town became a parliamentary borough in the Middle Ages, and the Yarmouth constituency was represented by two members of Parliament until 1832.
Until the building of the castle, regular raids on the island by the French continued, and in 1544 the town of Yarmouth was reputed to have been burned down. Legend has it that the church bells were carried off to Cherbourg or Boulogne.
Yarmouth Castle was built in 1547. It survives, and is now in the care of English Heritage. It is effectively a gun platform built by Henry VIII to strengthen the Solent and protect the Isle of Wight, historically an important strategical foothold for any attempted invasion of England.
In St. James's Church there is a monument to the 17th-century admiral Sir Robert Holmes who based his operations at Yarmouth. He obtained it in a raid on a French ship, when he seized an unfinished statue of Louis XIV of France and forced the sculptor to finish it with his own head rather than the king's.
Yarmouth Pier was opened in 1876. It received Grade 2 listed status in 1975. Originally 685 ft (207.5m) long, it's now 609 ft (186m) but is still the longest timber pier in England open to the public, and is a docking point for the MV Balmoral and PS Waverley.
As a port and market town Yarmouth has long had local commercial significance. It still has some boat yards and chandlery, and although relatively small in size it still supports a number of shops, hotels, pubs and restaurants, supported partly by passing trade from the ferry terminal and by visiting yacht-owners in the harbour.
Southern Vectis operate bus services from Yarmouth bus station, a small building near the ferry terminal, the main route being route 7 serving Totland, Alum Bay, Freshwater, Newport and Shalfleet as well as Yarmouth. To reach Yarmouth, route 7 uses Pixley Hill, which has caused some controversy amongst local residents who do not believe the road is large enough to send buses down. The controversy was initially started by former route 11 being extended to serve Yarmouth and using the lane in September 2008.
In the spring and summer, Southern Vectis also operate an open top bus route called "The Needles Tour" which runs through Freshwater Bay to Alum Bay and onto The Needles Battery down a bus only road along the cliff edge; returning to Yarmouth via Totland and Colwell. For the more athletic, Yarmouth is on the Isle of Wight Coastal Path.
The parish was once served by Yarmouth railway station, with services to Newport. Passenger services ended in 1953, and the track has long since been removed; the trackbed between Yarmouth and Freshwater has been converted into a bridleway.
Size and population
- English Parishes & Welsh Communities N&C 2004
- A Timeline History of Yarmouth compiled by Ian Dallison on behalf of The Yarmouth Society
- English Heritage
- BBC DNA page about Robert Holmes
- "Southern Vectis route list". Southern Vectis. Retrieved 2009-12-22.
- "Road row rumbles on". Isle of Wight County Press. Retrieved 2009-12-20.
- "We could be in line for a wonderful hoo-ha". Isle of Wight County Press. 2009-01-23. Retrieved 2009-08-11.
- "Southern Vectis Needles Tour". Southern Vectis. Retrieved 2009-12-22.
- "2001 Census". Retrieved 10 September 2011.
- "Yarmouth Old Gaffers Festival". Yarmouth-harbour.co.uk. 2002-07-22. Retrieved 2013-09-17.
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