I had always found it fascinating when young, to listen to tales from the older generation. I only wish I had paid attention, and so retained more of these stories. Now I find that I have joined the ranks of the older generation myself. However I feel that I can possibly pass on to those of you who take an interest in such things as the above mentioned nicknames. Many older people, who today, live close to the harbour entrance in Gorleston, will be totally unaware that 100 years ago it was known by the locals as Tiger Bay.

In this area lived the families of the Beachmen, many had nicknames which are now long forgotten. Here are the ones I can recall which I hope you will find entertaining.

My family (Sixy Bensley, a local fisherman in the 1800’s) My uncle, Teedles Bensley, uncle Biff Bensley, My uncle Slasher Eddie Watts the Barber. His father Bertie Watts, who, when not giving his customers a Fourpenny All Off, was a popular entertainer whilst playing his Concertina on stage at Filmland on Beach Road between the wars.

(Note I paid two pounds ten shillings for Bertie’s concertina, complete with its polished mahogany case, in the mid 1940’s. I wish I had it now.) Others outside the family include Peddler Palmer, who owned the Harbour Dining Rooms next door to the Belle Vue Tavern.This was close to the Lighthouse. He would tout for customers during the summer seasons before the Second World War by parading outside his Restaurant dressed in his white apron and stressing the quality of his (Blue Duck and Green Peas luncheons for one shilling and sixpence!) Sharkie Rose who owned the wooden, white painted store selling Fruit, Confectionery and Ices immediately opposite the entrance to the Ocean Rooms which was of course the Floral Hall and before that, the site of the Gorleston Bandstand Gardens. Then there was Boko Bush, who I can recall selling wet fish from a handcart in the late 1940’s. Also Doddy Haden, General Dealer, who fought in the Boar war. Soapy Hudson the Green Grocer on England’s Lane. (This was opposite the end of Bells Road.As a lad I did war damage repairs on his property in 1945. After this it was taken over by Matthes Bakeries and demolished.) Barny Boko, or Mr. Barnes who had a sweet shop on Cliff Hill in the mid 1940’s. Plus Lord Haw Haw who ran the chemist shop on the corner of Pier Plain and England’s Lane, when the war finished. Not of course the British traitor William Joyce.but the chemist who had a laugh like a donkey!  

Shoots Parker. Crimo Crisp. Sidney (Sparkes) Harris. Edward (Laddie) Woods. Pingo Fleming.

All ex coxswains of the Gorleston Lifeboats.

Lifeboat crewmembers. Coddy Harris. Dido Brown.Panser Palmer.Sailor Simons.Thomas  (Tut) Gooch. Dollar Leggett, Tol Lay. (Sappy) Charlie Chilvers.To name a few. 

Here are some others long before my time, of which Kirsty Stevens a relative of mine, living in Surrey, who takes a keen interest in researching our family history has discovered. These were all local beachmen living in our area of Gorleston in the Mid. to late 1800’s with romantic nicknames from our distant past.

“Swash”. “Pippin. Duffy”. Bloke”. Wagner. Dutch. Cutty. Sigh. Rough.Tipper. Chesapeake. Old Elevation. Young Elevation. Green’s.

Dibro. Ponge. Troopo.and Bimbo.

I believe I have managed to get through life without a nickname, my brother was nicknamed Ben, and as yet nobody has attempted to call me Aussie Arthur. I hope to God it stays that way!

Arthur Edward Bensley



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