Historical meeting of the mayors at Hardley Cross

On Friday 14th July at 10:30 am the Mayor of Great Yarmouth, (Councillor Kerry Robinson-Payne) and the Mayor of Norwich, (Councillor David Fullman) met at Hardley Cross in the resurrection of a historical tradition that is thought to date back to 1556.

The meeting of Mayors at Hardley Cross began with the creation of Hardley Cross itself in 1556 to confirm the legality of due collection from river traffic travelling to and from Great Yarmouth. The city of Norwich’s control of the river upstream of the cross was settled by Queen Mary I in 1556 and described in detail the area of land and river within the influence of the City of Norwich and gave “the corporation of the city full power to perambulate these bounds yearly, or whenever they please.” This is thought to be the conception of the meeting of the Mayors which is understood to have taken place during one of these perambulations of the bounds.

As the years went on this annual meeting became a celebrated affair which is documented in an 1824 publication called The Monthly Review which published this quote from Dr Frank Sayers in reference to the meeting of the mayors at Hardley Cross, ‘Annually in July the mayors of Norwich and Yarmouth meet in their state–barges on the River Yare at Hardley Cross, which separates their respective jurisdictions, and in the afternoon fall down into Breydon… All the many pleasure boats on these rivers assemble; the commercial craft is in requisition to stow spectators, to waft music, to vend refreshments.’  As time went on the tradition fell out of favour but has been resurrected in recent years, with this year being the first to mark the occasion by travelling out in the traditional month of July. 

The Mayors of Norwich and Great Yarmouth shook hands on the historical site in a tradition that spans centuries. Among the party joining them was chief executive of the Broads Authority John Packman, the Lord Mayor’s consort Paul Goymer, Cllr Robinson-Payne’s consort Niamh Payne, Cllr John Overton, and Broads rangers Polly King and Clive Rushworth.  

Cllr Kerry Robinson-Payne, the Mayor of the Great Yarmouth borough, had this to say on taking part in the Hardley Cross tradition, ‘I am really pleased to be able to participate in this revived tradition. While Great Yarmouth and Norwich no longer share a municipal boundary, we have a shared history and retain many fantastic links, which are important to celebrate. Travel and trade along the Broads rivers are very much a part of that history, so this tradition is very fitting.’

Cllr David Fullman, the Lord Mayor of Norwich, was equally enthusiastic stating, ‘This has been a historical day to remember, I hope that in the future it can be more widely shared with the public again.

Tuesday 18 July 2017