April 1974 saw Suffolk lose more villages to its northern neighbour, as Government boundary changes took another bite out of the county.
Belton, Bradwell, Burgh Castle, Hopton, Fritton and St Olaves were all places on a map that were in Suffolk – but that all changed this week, 40 years ago – with Norfolk extending its boundary south once more.
In a move made to bring income from local rates to Great Yarmouth – and at the same time boost population numbers for the town’s parliamentary constituency – the traditional county border which had followed the River Waveney was altered.
From inland at Diss to the coast at Great Yarmouth, nearly all of the River Waveney remains a natural ‘traditional’ border between the two counties.
Changes to the county boundary in 1974 were not the first. During the 19th Century, Gorleston – being south of the river, was therefore in Suffolk – and was annexed as part of Great Yarmouth in 1832.
With the River Waveney having merged with the River Yare as it approaches the North Sea – this meant that the expanding town of Great Yarmouth actually straddled two separate counties.
Rather than move Great Yarmouth into Suffolk, in 1835 Gorleston changed county hands from Suffolk – into Norfolk.
Also in 1835 but further west along the same border there were other changes. Thetford, which sits on both sides of the ‘traditional’ Little Ouse River county border, was also annexed by Norfolk.
Local historian, David Butcher said: “Although fairly recent local history, many of those living in this part of East Anglia are unaware of the changes to the county status of where they live”.
Today – the James Paget Hospital in Gorleston is just a couple of miles outside Suffolk. This means that by referring to the original county border – all those born at the hospital actually means those births are taking place in traditional Suffolk.