Hospital for the Sick and Wounded, site of


In 1895, Palmer wrote in his Perlustration: that the first road running eastwards from the town led from Pudding Gate to a windmill and a well, called North Well, and continued down to what was later, Marine Drive.  This was called St. Nicholas’ Road. There were very few buildings outside the town wall in the 1790s.

In the 18th century there was a distillery on the site, which is now Booker’s Wholesale Warehouse.  Next to the distillery was a hospital for the Sick and Wounded of the Armed Forces, which had been erected in 1793.  The hospital remained in the south-east corner of the complex, when the barracks were built on the distillery site in 1795 and the hospital then served the barracks.   From 1653, a Commission for the Sick and Wounded of the Armed Forces was periodically convened to administer a wartime medical service.  It was responsible for hospitals and sick lodgings, scattered throughout the country, for the fighting forces.  As England was at war with France in 1795, the Government ordered that an extra 200 barracks were to be erected in the country.  Thus the distillery here and ground to the east of it were purchased.  Earlier in 1782, the Duke of Richmond, then the Master General of Ordnance, had applied to buy the site.  However, it was not until 1795 that the distillery was purchased by the Government and wooden barracks were erected on the site, capable of housing 1,600 men.   Several eminent surgeons worked at the hospital.  

After the Battle of Camperdown, which was fought in October 1797, the wounded were brought to this hospital.  It took three days to land the wounded at Great Yarmouth and they were conveyed to the hospital at the barracks in St. Nicholas’ Road, where the wounded were given every humane effort for their comfort.  

Great Yarmouth Corporation granted a further extension to the Commissioners of Sick and Wounded Seamen to continue to use the premises. 

In 1801, the wounded from the Battle of Copenhagen were landed at Yarmouth and taken to the barrack hospital.  Later, Nelson landed at the Jetty from HMS Kite and came straight to this hospital to visit the wounded.  Over the years several of the sailors, both British and foreign, who had died in the hospital, were buried in St. Nicholas’ Churchyard.  They mainly died from cross-infection and gangrene.  

The dead were transported from the hospital to the churchyard through a door in the churchyard wall.  This door, now bricked up, can still be seen.  In December 1814, the Norfolk Chronicle wrote that: the barracks were sold and the naval storekeeper was ordered to send all the stores away.  The Commander of the Signal Station and the Officer of the Ordnance Department were discharged.  At the end of the Napoleonic War in 1815, the Government sold the barracks to Yarmouth Corporation who rented it to Grout’s to be used as a silk factory.  The last regiment to be quartered in the barracks was the 69th Foot.