Darby's Hard is a very small section of land near the mouth of the River Yare on the Gorleston side , extending a short distance along the bank above the high water mark and below the foot of the cliff - a strip of ground about 12 yards wide, along which Riverside Road runs. The people of Gorleston associate the area in the vicinty as being Darby's Hard. It was here that , for many years, boats were either mended or completely broken up.
The name comes from the DARBY family who lived in the area from about 1850/60.
Beaumont Darby, who was born about 1830 in Beccles Suffolk. His father Robert had been a Waterman in Geldeston, Norfolk. Beaumont was one of a very large family, the eldest of at least eight children. He married Charlotte and eventually settled down at the "Rising Sun Inn" on High Road, then known as Southtown, on the boudary of Norfolk and Suffolk. The address is still a problem as the building which was the Rising Sun is now no. 1 High Street, next door to no. 75, High Road. The tradesmen still find this a problem!
Trying to trace the family through Directories and census forms, tells us that eventually the Darby family were taking over most of the small houses that overlook Riverside Road where the Hard is.
In 1874 Beaumont was listed as a Boat Builder and Inn Keeper, Rising Sun Inn, Southtown. By 1881 Charlotte was a widow of 53, head of the family and living at the Rising Sun with her Son William aged 29, and daughter Charlotte aged 11.
By 1892 William Darby had done well for himself and eventually moved into his own home 79, High Road,still in the Darby vicinity and close to his mother Charlotte. His full title was "Relieving Officer and Vaccination Officer for Southtown and Gorleston District of Yarmouth Union and Registrar of Births and Deaths for the Gorleston-sub-district. He died on May 15th 1911,aged 59. His obituary in the Yarmouth Independent gave a list of all his titles and went on to say: "Mr Darby never married. He lived at 79, High Road. Among the mourners present at his funeral were:- Messrs. H.Watson,P.R.Hill,W.P.Leake,Dr.E.Tipple,R.Keymer,W.Harvey and L.W. Matthes."
By 1900 Henry Darby was running the Rising Sun Inn and was also listed as a Shipwright.
By 1904 there was no more mention of "The Rising Sun" and by 1912 Henry was still listed as a Shipwright on Riverside and Percy Darby was listed as a butcher, 1, High Street. This means that the "Rising Sun" had now become a butchers.
In 1913 Charles Darby was living in 75, High Road which was next door to the Rising Sun. Charlotte was living a few doors away at no. 79, which she presumably took over after William died.
By 1915 Charles Darby was at no. 76, High Road and was still there in 1957.
Notes from Mr George Emms written in the 1950's?:Darby's Hard is, in fact, a very small section of the riverside, extending but a short distance along the bank above high-water mark and below the foot of the cliff - a strip of ground, barely a dozen yards wide, along which Riverside Road runs. Gorlestonians associate the area in the vicinity as being Darby's Hard - whereas the precise location of the hard is between low-water and high-water mark and an indifinable area of fringe between it and the roadway. For that reason activities or references adjacent are described as being "on Darby's hard". Of these some are noted below.
One of the most picturesque parts of the river is Darby's Hard. Numberless portrayals of it in water-colours, oil paintings and sketches exist in art galleries and homes. Seldom has an Art Exhibition in the town been without one or more of a representation of this unique part of Gorleston.
The towns auctioneers of the past have had frequent professional contacts with the area and the Hard itself, as the following few random selections from advertisements in the local press testify and which may provide some idea of the parish economy in those days. The first selection is in 1874 when a very well known auctioneer and fish salesman, and public figure in Yarmouth , Mrs J.W. De Caux, offered on February 10th:
"Upon the Hard opposite the Rising Sun public house, the fishing dandy "Alliance" of Yarmouth, with all her stores as from the sea." As already mentioned, the designation "Darby's Hard" did not arise until 1856, prior to which date all such sections, of which there were many before modern quayheads were constructed as trade grew.
the next advertisement selected is one in 1882 on 1st July:
"Mrs Rushmer to offer for the mortgage, where she now lies on Darby's Quay, the nearly new fishing dandy "William and Charlotte" of the port of Yarmouth. Length 53 feet, breadth 7 feet; together with her stores as per inventory. Apply E.T.Rushmer, Fish Wharf, Yarmouth."
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