Palm Court Hotel: Great Yarmouth News

History of Norfolk hotel revealed as old safe is cracked open

Published: 28th February, 2020

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Owners of a Norfolk hotel were on tenterhooks as they broke open an old safe re-discovered during refurbishment work.

But rather than bundles of cash or priceless heirlooms, all they found was an old newspaper cutting from the summer of 1966 about the history of the 70-room Palm Court on Great Yarmouth’s seafront.

The find comes after an old letter revealed how Joe Delf, the grandfather of co-owners Jason and Nick Delf, had pleaded to be released by the Royal Air Force at the end of World War II so he could save his ailing hotel business.

“We had no clue what was in there” said Jason, “so we thought we might as well break it open and if there is money, we’re laughing. But all that was in there was a scruffy bit of old newspaper.”

The faded cutting – dated 12 August 1966 and headed ‘North Drive hotel changes hands’ – had been torn out of the Great Yarmouth Mercury. It reveals the full story of how the hotel was sold by Harry Smith to the Delfs, who owned the Burlington Hotel next door.

Fascinatingly for Jason and Nick, the article has helped fill in the gaps in the information they had about their grandfather, explaining how he was trained as a chef at the Bayswater Hotel and Restaurant in London.

“I imagine Mr Smith put it in the safe back in 1966, so it’s been like a little time capsule,” said Jason. “I knew he trained in London and he said he had all these knives which were made in a foundry in Soho. Now I know all the details thanks to this story.

“My dad was chuffed when we showed it to him because it names him in there.”

Previously, it was reported how Joe Delf typed a letter to his superiors in the RAF from his barracks at Sambre, near Belgaum in India on 17 September, 1945. He pleaded to be released from his service as the Imperial Hotel had finally been returned to him by the military, exposing him to significant debts, and he needed to reopen it.

It was in 1959 that Mr Delf bought The Burlington and seven years later he acquired The Palm Court at auction.