The whole purpose of the navigation was to connect Aylsham and the other communities on the navigation with the sea at Great Yarmouth. This was a port of altogether different proportions to Cromer (see Coastal Connections 1) having a long and distinguished trading history. Also, of course, for most of its history it was also known for the fish that was landed there.
The traditional (river) port at Great Yarmouth is not an easy one to navigate as there is a considerable tidal race at the river mouth and dangerous shallows off-shore. This did not prevent it becoming one of the most important trading hubs on the east coast. It also had a large water borne hinterland in the shape of the Broads. Much cargo would have been trans-shipped here in both directions and it was a very busy place. Now it is less so, the traditional cargoes have all but gone. There is no deep sea fishing and very little inshore. Even the late 20th century salvation of rig supply is in decline.
However the port does attract cargoes and there is a small ship building and repair yard which is still busy.so with an economic upturn it may have a renaissance.
In the navigations day it was the destination for most of the agricultural produce carried which would have been trans-shipped in to sea going vessels such as those in the photograph below for onward transport to London or the industrial cities of the north-east. Likewise bulk cargoes for transport upstream would have been brought to Yarmouth by sailing ship and latterly steamer.
This photograph was taken by Donald Shields in 1904 and is reproduced here courtesy of the Broadland memories website (http://www.broadlandmemories.co.uk )
If anybody knows Great Yarmouth this scene will be instantly recognisable as, sailing ships apart, the quay has not changed much over the last 100 years. This photograph was taken at a time when the navigation was open and some idea of the scale of business enjoyed by the port can be seen.